sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-08-28 12:45 am

Between the bed and the door there was acres of ground I'd not noticed before

I had clam chowder for dinner tonight. Last night, at Saint Anthony's Feast in the North End, I had a plate of fried shrimp, steaming hot, which I ate as [personal profile] spatch and I wandered among the stalls. The night before that, fried clams with my mother. I do not know if I can make up for a month's absence of shellfish from my diet before I run out of summer, but I am going to do my damnedest to find out.

1. Well, if I was disappointed in the lack of personal letters from Alan Turing, tonight I discovered Gilbert Bradley and Gordon Bowsher. I'm not sure how I missed hearing about them in February except I guess my country was on fire, never mind. I think one of the things I like best about their story is that while it did not apparently end with a happily ever after, it doesn't look like a tragic ending, either: neither of them was lost in the war, nobody got queer-bashed to death, they just broke up. Looking for more information on the internet, I found this project upcoming as part of Heritage Open Days: "Gilbert & Gordon: Then All the World Could See How in Love We Are." It would be a nice thing to attend with [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for our anniversary if we had a teleporter. I hope there will be a published book.

2. Right before I left the house this afternoon, [personal profile] ladymondegreen sent me a photo of a flyer for a "genderbending surrealist burlesque" by the name of Tiresias' Tits. I hoped from the name that it was a burlesque version of Apollinaire's original surrealist play Les mamelles de Tirésias (1903). It was. I couldn't have seen it even with a teleporter, but I'm delighted.

3. Dorothy Arzner's Get Your Man (1927) was delightful if fragmentary; it lost two reels out of six to nitrate decomposition during the decades it was out of the public eye and was reconstructed with stills by the Library of Congress. The proto-screwball romantic denouement is intact, but much of the set-up is missing, frustratingly including the majority of the night in the Parisian waxwork museum where Clara Bow and Buddy (credited as "Charles") Rogers fall in love among the exhibits, mixed-up files-style. Not only were the tableaux considered one of the highlights of the film on release, they were choreographed and staged by Marion Morgan, Arzner's long-term partner, and performed by dancers from Morgan's troupe. What survives on either side of the lacuna where the film bubbles and flickers out certainly looks elegant, with the uncanny valley double whammy of human actors imitating imitations of human life. Otherwise the film is a funny, freewheeling showcase for the force of charisma that is Bow, a New York girl with her sights set on a French boy resigned to going through with his arranged marriage for the honor of his aristocratic family—I don't think it's a spoiler to say that anyone who backs tradition against our heroine is going to lose their shirt. It's not just that she can charm anyone in this film she feels like, and the audience just as effortlessly; she always looks like she's having fun and she wants us to have fun with her. We're in on the joke when she arranges herself dramatically among the scattered luggage of the taxi that fortuitously crashed outside her love object's ancestral chateau, then powders her nose in afterthought before languishing again. She doesn't undertake to bust up a seventeen-year engagement without first verifying that the other woman has her own man on the side, but the middle-aged marquis playing a hopeful flute underneath her balcony had better watch out. She's as tricky as fate; she's exuberant and sweet. David the projectionist introduced the film with an anecdote included by David Stenn in Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild (1988), concerning Bow's initial disappointment at being directed by a woman: "After all, girlfriends like me she could lose, but a gorgeous man was 'divine,' and Dorothy Arzner was going to make one less man around." To which I am afraid my response is: come on, have you seen Dorothy Arzner? Here as Exhibit A is my favorite photograph of the director, actually taken with Bow on the set of The Wild Party (1929), their second collaboration and Bow's first talkie:

Seriously, Clara. Go for it. That was a woman who knew how to wear a suit.

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