Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

“Women keep busy in towns like this. In the cities it's different. The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands dead, husbands who've spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. Then they die and leave their money to their wives. Their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands. Drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge, playing all day and all night. Smelling of money. Proud of their jewelry but of nothing else. Horrible, faded, fat, greedy women.”

Joseph Cotton gave this speech in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. For me, Hitchcock seemed to have two different kinds of films. Incredibly personal, dark introspection and pure escapism. I love them all.

I think I’ve seen every one that’s available, including the silent ones. Hitchcock made England’s first talkie. He had almost finished shooting Blackmail, when he talked the studio into adding sound. He ended up slapping audio onto the silent stuff. He knew sound was bringing us into a new age of film, so as a joke he used the shadow cast from a lamp to look like a mustache across the lip of the bad guy. Kind of an homage to vaudeville bad guys ala Snidely Whiplash.

Shadow of a Doubt has always been my favorite. Joseph Cotton was so hip with his matching white shoes and hat. I learned it was Hitchcock’s favorite too.

For sheer escape, you can’t beat his “running man” films though. They were a great roller coaster ride across some continent. North by Northwest, Foreign Correspondent, and Saboteur come to mind. They were probably all the same film but they never got boring.

Valerie knows how much I enjoy this stuff and used North by Northwest as the theme for my birthday card this year. What she didn’t know was Cary Grant’s birthday is January 18th, same as mine. It seems like everyone I know shares a birthday with Elvis, Hitler or Martin Luther King. I get Cary Grant!

Dylan almost brought up another coincidence. He said, “Wasn’t that film made in 1958, the same year you were born?” I was thinking, “Wow!” Turns out it was made in 1959.

My buddy (and old boss) Dan Holt turned me onto the composer Bernard Herrmann. North by Northwest was one of his best soundtracks.

Another film in this category was Torn Curtain with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. An odd combination, but it worked for me. Herrmann’s original soundtrack for it was just too dark for the studio execs. Hitchcock was forced to use another composer.

In the 80s Hermann’s was finally released on vinyl. I’ll never forget Dan editing it back into the movie. I wonder if he still has it?

Dan, a friend of ours named Mark, and I used to dub our own voices onto TV shows using Dan’s VCR. They were pretty new and expensive at the time. This was years before Mystery Science Theater 3000. I remember them being hysterical. I’m hoping Dan puts them on YouTube one of these days.

Dan was a fellow Hitchcock fan. The films I didn’t watch with him, I watched with my buddy Tracy who was also a big fan.

I was going to add the second installment of My Axes, but I have to show off my card.

It took a day and a half to go through my FaceBook birthday well wishers. I never go on FB, but the birthday messages were forwarded to my email.

Thanks everybody!


...Sharon said...

Cool card. Kinda ties in with your skydiving too. Here's David escaping a plane again, as quickly as humanly possible.

Oh, and I share my bday with Etta James. Crazy huh.

Dominic said...

Great card, indeed!

Oh, and I share my bday with a couple of Andersons you may know of. Crazy, huh.

Doggie said...

I've been in an open cockpit of a bi-plane too. Maybe I'm trying to shoot myself down! Benet's got Elvis and David Bowie.

Anonymous said...

I share my birthday with Sally Field! Oh, well! Your Dad shared his with Gregory Peck. Hubba, hubba!

Your Mom

P.S. Love the card!

Valerie Pennington said...

I get Louisa May Alcott, Chuck Mangione and Andrew McCarthy. What a craaaaazy dinner party that would be, huh?

Tracy said...

I get Sonny Boy Williamson and Fritz Lang...

Anonymous said...

Hi David! John Gorski

Anonymous said...

Mines not too bad although I do share with Chaka Khan and Perez Hilton, John Pinette isn't bad plus I'm proud to say I share a bday with Joan Crawford and Ric Ocasek. I started to get a little depressed when all I saw was Perez, Chaka Khan's a bit better, then I saw John Pinette and thought I can live with that. But then, just when I had all but given up hope, I saw Ric Ocasek and thought Okay, I'm happier now, then I saw Ms. Crawford and realized Maybe I do have a good bday. Haha

Anonymous said...

I almost forgot! I also share my birthday with Mike Nichols. Incidentally, I saw him many, many years ago at the Crystal Palace, with the Compass Players. Very blond, very pale, dressed in black.

Your Mom