Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Meet me in yonder window embrasia

Two of the best character actors of early cinema (according to me) were Eric Blore and Robert Grieg. Both were masters of the uppity servant role. As soon as is humanly possibly, I demand that you see a film with one of them, or better yet both. As it turns out, they were both in The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels. It was in Sullivan’s Travels that Grieg (playing the part of the Burrows the butler) delivers the following admonition to his employer:
"You see, sir, rich people and theorists - who are usually rich people - think of poverty in the negative, as the lack of riches, as disease might be called the lack of health. But it isn't, sir, poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms. It is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. It is to be shunned."

And speaking of Sullivan's Travels, this is a movie worth seeing. The main character is a movie producer that sets off to make a movie of social commentary, a "message movie". In the end he discovers that a) he isn't really qualified to make a movie about the poor, because he doesn't really understand the subject matter and b) movies are entertainment (who knew? certainly not the Hollywood of today) and as such, entertainment provides the only social benefit it needs to. It distracts the audience from the cares and complications of the real world for 90 minutes, and that's a good thing.

Preview THE LADY EVE at