November 14, 2009

"Frank Sinatra is downright fascinating — or what the youngsters would probably call 'cool'..."

"... He is beautifully casual with a bottle, bullseye-sharp with a gag and shockingly frank and impertinent in making passes at dames."

From the 1959 NYT review, written by Bosley Crowther, of the movie "Some Came Running," which is playing here in Madison tonight, and on the list of things we might do. Here's the 50s-era disrespect for the stuff I assume is the reason the cinemaphiles want to screen the film today:
[The story is] so oddly garbled that John Patrick and Arthur Sheekman, who did the script, have to go for a melodramatic shooting to bring it all to a tolerable end. And Vincente Minnelli, the director, who has kept it flowing naturally to this point, has to hoke it up with grotesque action and phantasmagoric stuff with colored lights. This isn't consistent with the foregoing excellence of design in color and Cinema-Scope, but it is not surprising in this mixed-up pattern.
Phantasmagoric colored lights and Frank Sinatra making passes at dames? What more do you need?
... Arthur Kennedy does a crisp and trenchant job of opening the shirt-front of a Babbitt and exposing a measly and rather pathetic boob inside.
The youngsters would probably call that a moob.

UPDATE: Movie seen and reasonably well enjoyed. Unlike Bosley Crowther, I loved Shirley MacLaine and thought Arthur Kennedy was awesomely bad. I laughed quite a lot at Kennedy though. He was bad and delivering bad lines that were supposed to be funny, and, by some strange math, that ended up funny.

21 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I happened on a most excellent bakery today on the east side. If I lived closed I'd be there all the time, the stuff was fabulous. It's near the end of Willy Street just were Cantwell comes in -- so just west of the Yahara. Don't know the name.

That and La Baguette on Mineral Point are my two favorite bakeries now.

I walked too much today, so nothing is happening tonight but a nice drink and a warm bed.

rcocean said...

Ha Ha. Those "youngsters" and their crazy lingo.

Thought Shirley M overacted the part. Sinatra does a good job at portraying Hirsh as an intelligent, tough combat vet, who drinks and has a talent for writing, but he's simply incapable of displaying any real in-depth emotion or conflict. He's supposed to be deeply in love with the unattainable school-teacher and be crushed when she spurns him - but "old blue-eyes" just can't convincing act that. He always seems on the verge of saying "dames are a dime a dozen" and leaving for the nearest bar. The part really called for Brando, Dean ( had he lived) or Clift (before his accident).

The same is true of "Ginny" the Shirly M role. McClaine is good at portraying her as a good hearted girl - but she's incapable of expressing the vulnerability and sweetness needed. Like most Hollywood movies they mistakenly equate ignorance or lack of education with intelligence. McClaine over-emphasizes the characters stupidity. You wonder what Geraldine Page would have done with the role.

victoria said...

Love this movie.
If you ever watch it on TCM there is an small documentary that chronicles the making of the movie and on the 40th anniversary an extra in the cast takes the viewer on a tour of the town and the spots where scenes were shot. Fascinating. I am a total movie buff so TCM is my go to place for movies,in addition to netflix and my own bookcase.


Vicki from Pasadena

Kurt said...

I was tempted to ask you, "which Madison"? "Some Came Running" was filmed in and around Madison and Hanover, Indiana. Madison is on the Ohio River about halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati. It is a nice little town filled with a lot of charming old architecture.

Darcy said...

I think it's a beautiful film. Very memorable for me.

SMGalbraith said...

A Babbit?

Today they'd be called what? A teabagger? Red neck?

Named after Irving Babbitt (two "t"s) by, I believe, Sinclair Lewis or Upton Sinclair.

NoName said...

I saw an interview with Harry Connick Jr where he talked about a gig he did at Frank Sinatras Bday, he waited in line to meet his hero, and Sinatra blew him off, and hit on Connicks wife...

save_the_rustbelt said...

The Sinatra albums from the Capital days, with the great bands and producers behind him, are still some of the best ever.

And Sinatra was a character, no doubt. But the voice...

JSinAZ said...

Frank may have been fascinating to some, but he was also an ornament kept by gangsters - and during that time frame, he pretty much rolled like one. That's not admirable. Associate with scumbags, likelihood is you're a scumbag too.

Roger von Oech said...

It's said (with a fair amount of truth I believe) that 40% of the children born between in the 1950s were conceived when their parents were listening to Frank Sinatra!

Beth said...

NoName, I wonder if that's about the time Harry Connick started sounding less like a Sinatra imitator.

Penny said...

Frank Sinatra is, dead!

Now what?

ricpic said...

I've never understood why the book itself almost ruined the career of its author, James Jones. The reviews at the time were universally godawful. I've read Some Came Running, once all the way through and a second time dipping into it here and there and I think it holds up quite well as an exploration of the out of placeness of an artist in the midwest, circa 1950 or so. Of course it's a lot of other things as well. Left out of the movie is a sub-plot about Dave Hirsch's businessman brother - his ambitions and obsessions - which is one of the few sympathetic in depth portrayals of a small businessman in American fiction. Some Came Running is a big sprawling book from a hugely ambitious writer -- something in short supply nowadays. Give it a try.

kentuckyliz said...

Harry Connick Jr's wife is a lingerie model. Perhaps Frank's behavior is more understandable in that light.

Poor Harry. He can come over to my house and I'll comfort him. He should have met me and fallen in love with me and not that *harumph* underwear model.

somecamerunning said...

The book is fascinating and the movie is wonderful. Of course I WOULD say that, wouldn't I?

About those colored lights: they meant a lot to Minnelli, whose on-set meticulousness really irritated Sinatra and co-star Dean Martin. One of Frank's many hissy fits on the film's set was spurred by Minnelli's insistence that the ferris wheel had to be moved just so many feet in order to get the composition he was looking for. Such attention to detail struck the Rat Pack boys as so much arty farting around.

Bissage said...

Way back in the 1970s, my father put a little black and white poster of Frank Sinatra on the wall of our rec room.

It was a photo of Mr. Sinatra, on stage, in front of the musicians, holding a glass of booze in one hand and a microphone in the other.

I’m not sure if he was holding a cigarette in the same hand as the booze, but he probably was. Such manual dexterity was considered an awesome mark of sophistication, back in the day.

IIRC, that poster had on it the words “Ole Blue Eyes is Back.”

I’m pretty sure you got that poster for free when you purchased the latest Sinatra album.

My father stuck it to the wall with thumbtacks.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

As a kid in the 1970's I would watch any movie made before 1965 just to see adults dress like adults and not greasy carny workers who need a shave and a haircut...

Some Came Running is great sub-Hemingway post-war angsty melodrama. None of these people know what to do with themselves, oh the horror...

I put it up there with the best Douglas Sirk and his latter-day imitators, Fassbinder and Almodovar.

Kurt said...

That's interesting, Jeff with one 'f.'" I'd seen an interview with Fassbinder talking about Sirk, but I didn't know enough about Fassbinder to consider him an imitator. And although I've seen several Almodovar films, I never would have considered him in any way like Sirk--except perhaps in their love of color.

William said...

Dean Martin was in the movie, and his is the performance that doesn't pass into oblivion. Martin had lived the role. He had been a professional gamber in a small town. He also picked up a few bucks as a club fighter. He was no great shakes as an actor, but he really was the coolest member of the rat pack.

rcocean said...

Unlike Bosley Crowther, I loved Shirley MacLaine and thought Arthur Kennedy was awesomely bad. I laughed quite a lot at Kennedy though. He was bad and delivering bad lines that were supposed to be funny, and, by some strange math, that ended up funny.

Interesting. Thought Kennedy was OK - of course its hard to make an inconsistent, narrow minded Babbitt likable.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Kurt: perhaps admirers would be a more appropriate adjective than imitators; in either case both Fassbinder and Almodovar have acknowledged their admiration for Sirk.