January 11, 2015

"Rod Taylor?"

Bill Harshaw makes a suggestion in the comments to "If there's a rule of 3 about celebrity deaths, we have a set of 2." I connected Anita Ekberg and Taylor Negron based on their appearance in iconic movie scenes — "scenes so utterly memorable that when the death is announced, everyone seems compelled to put that scene first."

I saw the obituaries yesterday, but I'd skipped blogging Rod Taylor's death, even though I love the movie "The Birds."

I don't think of him as being iconic in any scene in "The Birds" though. He was just continually around for Tippi and Suzanne to bounce off of. And Veronica and Jessica. That's a woman movie.

The man is only there because you've got to have a man somewhere, like to put a table in front of the fireplace when birds take it into their heads to come down the chimney.

The table-in-front-of-the-fireplace is perhaps the 20th image you'd think of from "The Birds."

Camille Paglia has a book about "The Birds." Too bad it's not on Kindle, but at least Amazon has a "look inside" function for it, so it's possible to see the extent to which she saw Rod Taylor as important. I searched for "Taylor," and got 6 hits, excluding the index, and 2 of them aren't Rod Taylor — they're Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor is, of course, not in "The Birds." The remaining 4 mentions are minimal, with the only substantive statement being: "Taylor is all male, with a bluff Australian heartiness that doesn't qu...."

I actually have this book and have read it, but I can't find it, so I have to go on memory and what Amazon gives me before clipping it short. (A bluff Australian heartiness that doesn't quite... what?!) But I think it's fair to say that Taylor is in "The Birds" to be the hunk of masculinity for the actresses to play against.

There's also "The Time Machine":



I've seen the movie. It's much worse than that poster, but that's a great poster.

I need to get back to my "tidying up" project. If I'd only gotten through the book stage — which comes second, right after clothing — I would have easily found Camille Paglia's "The Birds," assuming it passed the "spark of joy" test:
"The criterion [for books] is, of course, whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. Remember, I said when you touch it. Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgment. Instead of asking yourself what you feel, you’ll start asking whether you need that book or not. Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?"

32 comments:

D.E. Cloutier said...

I met Rod Taylor during the filming of the 1973 movie "Trader Horn." A young lion with me bit him on the arm. Taylor shrugged the whole thing off as I helped him bandage his arm. He was a very nice guy.

- DEC (Jungle Trader)

Original Mike said...

I like The Time Machine. I've always lusted after the machine itself, but Sheldon and Leonard got it first.

JK Brown said...

I always think of the movie 'Hotel' in relation to Rod Taylor. He was the central role as general manager.

Ann Althouse said...

This post made me realize that the "tidying up" standard about what to keep among your possessions also applies to the decision about what to take possession of in the first place — when shopping or accepting offered gifts — and — more significantly for me — which of the various items on the internet at any given moment should be taken in as items that belong on this blog.

Yesterday, I saw Rod Taylor, and I held his story in my mind for a moment and had to decide if I wanted to bring him in here, and I did not get the feeling — the thrill or whatever — that lets me know I need it here.

Imagine what it would be like to have a blog filled only with items that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves blogs, what greater happiness could there be?

Anonymous said...

I liked Rod Taylor in his early TV series Hong Kong, with Lloyd Bochner. He played a tough-guy journalist.

EDH said...

Remember, Hitchcock picked Tippi Hendren (a Swede) to play Melanie Daniels in "The Birds", an heiress who was supposed to be infamous for jumping into an Italian fountain naked, which became a focal point of the sexual tension between her and Rod Taylor's character Mitch Daniels.

The Clip.

Mitch Brenner: Be able to find your way back all right?
Melanie Daniels: Oh, yes.
Mitch Brenner: Will I be seeing you again?
Melanie Daniels: San Francisco's a long way from here.
Mitch Brenner: Well, I'm in San Francisco five days a week with a lot of time on my hands, I'd like to see you. Maybe we could go swimming or something. Mother tells me you like to swim.
Melanie Daniels: How does Mother know what I like to do?
Mitch Brenner: I guess we read the same gossip columns.
Melanie Daniels: Oh, that. Rome.
Mitch Brenner: Yeah, I really like to swim, I think we might get along very well.
Melanie Daniels: In case you're interested, I was pushed into that fountain.
Mitch Brenner: Without any clothes on?
Melanie Daniels: With all my clothes on. The newspaper that ran that story happens to be a rival of my father's paper.
Mitch Brenner: You're just a poor, innocent victim of circumstances, huh?
Melanie Daniels: Well I'm neither poor nor innocent, but the truth of that particular...
Mitch Brenner: Truth is you were running around with a pretty wild crowd, isn't it?
Melanie Daniels: Well yes, that's the truth, but I was pushed into that fountain, and that's the truth, too.
Mitch Brenner: Uh huh. Do you really know Annie Hayworth?
Melanie Daniels: No. At least I didn't till I came up here.
Mitch Brenner: So you didn't go to school together?
Melanie Daniels: No.
Mitch Brenner: And you didn't come up here to see her.
Melanie Daniels: No.
Mitch Brenner: You were lying!
Melanie Daniels: Yes, I was lying.
Mitch Brenner: What about the letter you wrote me, is that a lie, too?
Melanie Daniels: No, I wrote the letter.
Mitch Brenner: Well what did it say?
Melanie Daniels: It said 'Dear Mister Brenner, I think you need these lovebirds after all. They may help your personality.'
Mitch Brenner: But you tore it up?
Melanie Daniels: Yes.
Mitch Brenner: Why?
Melanie Daniels: Because it seemed stupid and foolish.
Mitch Brenner: Like jumping into a fountain in Rome?
Melanie Daniels: I told you what happened!
Mitch Brenner: You don't expect me to believe that, do you?
Melanie Daniels: Oh, I don't give a damn what you believe!
Mitch Brenner: I'd still like to see you.
Melanie Daniels: Why?
Mitch Brenner: I think it might be fun.
Melanie Daniels: Well it might have been good enough in Rome, but it's not good enough now.
Mitch Brenner: It is for me.
Melanie Daniels: Well not for me!
Mitch Brenner: What do you want?
Melanie Daniels: I thought you knew! I want to go through life jumping into fountains naked, good night!

Renee said...

My ten year old is reading H.G. Well's The Time Machine, we watched clips on YouTube as CliffNotes. Difficult read if you don't know the plot. He loved the mannequin scene.

Book can be downloaded for free.

EDH said...

Whoops, Mitch Brenner (not Daniels).

Simon Kenton said...

He really didn't touch you. A post about Rod Taylor, and no tag for his name?

Bill said...

"Taylor is all male, with a bluff Australian heartiness that doesn't quite catch the queasy-making possibilities here."

Gahrie said...

He really didn't touch you. A post about Rod Taylor, and no tag for his name?

How about a post about Rod Taylor where she spent more time discussing his female co - stars than him?

David said...

Taylor's hunk of masculinity is quite ineffective against the birds, and yet the women seek his protection.

ddh said...

I think Rod Taylor was the first Australian actor in Hollywood who was able to speak in a believable American accent.

"Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?"

I think having only books I really love would be horrible because that would mean that I have stopped reading new material. Similarly, spending time only with people I love would mean that I've become a shut-in.

Terry said...

!960's The Time Machine featured Yvette Mimieux as the lovely Weena.
In the novel by Wells, there is a cataclysmic event -- class warfare -- that creates a dystopian future. In the 1960 film version the cataclysmic event is nuclear war. In the 2002 film version the cataclysmic event is man-caused ecological disaster.
Science fiction is always about the present, it can't be about anything else.

Fandor said...

Rod Taylor, was a sixties leading man who needs to be rediscovered.
Everyone knows, "The Time Machine".
Some are familiar with his brief, but highly entertaining TV series, "Hong Kong" (some episodes on YouTube).
And, of course, there was Hitchcock's "The Birds".
But, there are many others worth viewing.

Here's a list:

"Raintree County "his debut with Monty Clift and Liz Taylor.
"Seperate Tables" Burt Lancaster, Rita Hayworth, Debrorah Kerr, Wendy Hiller and David Niven. Niven won an Academy Award for his role.
Two films with Doris Day, "Do Not Disturb" and "The Glass Bottom Boat", both good, humorous fun.
Rod played a Nazi doctor trying to extract D-Day plans from allied spy, James Garner, in "36 Hours", in an ingenious plot to fool the disorientated op into thinking the war is over and it's 1950.
"Dark of the Sun", Rod and James Brown as mercenaries in the Congo, a very gritty and brutal tale of men who owe allegiance to the highest bidder.
"The V.I.P.s with Taylor and Burton. An interesting all star film along with Orson Welles which takes advantage of the sixties golden couple's notoriety.
"The Hell with Heroes" is a small action picture finding Rod as a former WW2 bomber pilot, flying around in a surplus B17, carry cargo, any kind, legal or illegal, for anyone who can pay the freight.
By the 70's, Mr. Taylor was still making films and did another short lived TV series, but his bankability was on the wane.
The last notable picture, to my mind, that he made was "The Train Robbers", with John Wayne and Ann Margret.
I'm sure others may have their favorites, but these are the ones that stand out for me. He had a long career and is said to have been a regular guy and a true professional who enjoyed his work and life.
That's saying alot.
Well done.
RIP, Rod Taylor.

Saint Croix said...

"I view it as a perverse ode to woman's sexual glamour..."

Camille Paglia, The Birds

Saint Croix said...

"Hitchcock sees the house in historical terms as both safe haven and female trap."

dreams said...

I liked Rod Taylor and the first movie I saw him in was A Sunday in New York with Jane Fonda, I remember seeing it somewhere while traveling home from Japan in !965, it probably isn't considered much of a movie but I enjoyed then and I watched it again on TV a couple of days before he died. In the nineties his daughter Felicia Taylor was an anchor on CNBC.

Phil 3:14 said...

Professor;
You are an Eloi. The Morlocks are not amused. They will summon you.

Saint Croix said...

Anita Ekberg...

Everyone wants to talk about her splashing in that fountain

That scene in La Dolce Vita is stolen by Hitch for a bit of off-screen innuendo in The Birds.

Mitch's mom (Jessica Tandy), talking about his new girlfriend: "She is the one who jumped into a fountain in Rome last summer, isn't she? I suppose I'm old-fashioned. I know it was supposed to be warm there, but...well, actually the newspaper said she was naked."

"Darling," Mitch replies, kissing his mother on the cheek, "I think I can handle Melanie Daniels by myself."

William said...

I saw some of his movies, but the only one that sticks in the mind is The Time Machine. If there's one constant about the future it is that in the future the women will look like bikini models and wear short shirts.

Saint Croix said...

Sunday in New York is great! Not as amazing as The Birds, but it's very underrated.

Rod Taylor also was the voice of Pongo.

Brando said...

Best scene in the Birds--Melanie is waiting outside the schoolhouse as the kids inside sing, and you gradually notice the crows gathering behind her. Perfect Hitchcock!

Also, a lesser film would have tried to explain in some hokey way why the birds were attacking. I like hat Hitchcock felt that was irrelevant.

Ann Althouse said...

"Remember, Hitchcock picked Tippi Hendren (a Swede) to play Melanie Daniels in "The Birds", an heiress who was supposed to be infamous for jumping into an Italian fountain naked, which became a focal point of the sexual tension between her and Rod Taylor's character Mitch Daniels."

Now, that is interesting. Great material for believers in the supernatural.

Ann Althouse said...

"Best scene in the Birds--Melanie is waiting outside the schoolhouse as the kids inside sing, and you gradually notice the crows gathering behind her. Perfect Hitchcock!"

I agree, and I think most will. I posited 19 images before the birds coming through the fireplace business, and I'd put Melanie obliviously smoking while the birds gather on the play set behind her first.

Other stuff on that list:

2. Melanie in the phone booth (again, with some key cigarette smoking, as the gas ignites).

3. Melanie attacked in the attack.

4. Annie discovered dead.

5. Shuffling through the birds in the end.

6. Melanie in a boat attacked by a seagull.

7. Melanie in the diner, accused of bringing trouble to the town and confronted by an ornithologist.

8. Oh, maybe it is the scene with the birds pouring out of the fireplace... right after Veronica says "Look at those lovebirds."

Ann Althouse said...

"3. Melanie attacked in the attack."

LOL. Story of the whole movie.

That should have read: 3. Melanie attacked in the attic.

AJ Lynch said...

I know you are a chick and all but The Time Machine was a great movie!

Dr Weevil said...

Best thing about the Time Machine movie: the Morlocks all look like Boris Johnson, mayor of London. Seriously, Google him if you don't believe me.

EDH said...

Althouse said...
Now, that is interesting. Great material for believers in the supernatural.

And believers in Mitch Daniels.

Or is that being redundant?

Saint Croix said...

What I like is when the two lovebirds are in the car, swaying together.

Jeff Teal said...

I would contend that Rod Taylor is at least as important as the quirky Taylor Negron at least for "The Birds".And then was Dark of the Sun and Trader Horn and The train Robbers.And I actually liked "Bearcats".And The Time Machine was important social commentary.
Not everyone watched the same movies or shows.

Jeff Teal said...

And then he played Scobie Malone(one of my favorite Australian characters ever) against Christopher Plummer in The High Commissioner.