Monday, April 27, 2009

one of my favorite scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains


At the Racetrack

Dev: Hello!
Alicia: Oh hello!
Dev: I thought I saw you.
Alicia: How are you?
Dev: Fine thanks. Great turnout, isn't it?
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Dev: Where are they?
Alicia: In a box, in the stands. Alex and his mother. I don't think they can see us.
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Dev: Don't telephone me anymore, just rely upon my popping up.
Alicia: Can you hear me?
Dev: Sure, go ahead.
Alicia: Ever heard of a Dr. Anderson?
Dev: No.
Alicia: He's some kind of a scientist. Kind face, 60 years old, grey hair, deep crease in the forehead.
Dev: Tall or short?
Alicia: Short. Emil Hoopka, heard of him?
Dev: No
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Alicia: He made quite a stir about a wine bottle the other night.
Dev: Didn't like vintage?
Alicia: He seemed to think there was something else in the bottle.
Dev: Was there?
Alicia: No, it was wine, we drank it.
Dev: Has he pulled anything since?
Alicia: I haven't seen him since.
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Dev; Anything else?
Alicia: Nothing of importance, just a minor item you might want for the record.
Dev: What is it?
Alicia: You can add Sebastian's name to my list of playmates.
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Dev: Pretty fast work.
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Alicia: that's what you wanted, wasn't it?
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Dev: Skip it.
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Alicia: Are you betting on this race?
Dev: No.
Alicia: Alex says Number 10 is sure to win, he knows the owner.
Dev: Thanks for the tip.
Alicia: Alex says they have been holding him back all season, they-
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Dev: I can't help recalling some of your remarks, about being a new woman, daisies and buttercups, wasn't it?
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Alicia: Oh you idiot. What are you sore about? You knew what I was doing.
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Dev: Did I?
Alicia: You could have stopped me with one word but no, you went and threw me at him.
Dev: I threw you at nobody.
Alicia: Didn't you tell me to go ahead?
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Dev: A man doesn't tell a woman what to do she tells herself. You almost had me believing in that little hokey pokey miracle of yours, that a woman like you could ever change her spots.
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Alicia: Oh you rotten-
Dev: That's why I didn't stop you. The answer had to come from you.
Alicia: I see, some kind of love test.
Dev: That's right. I thought, she'll never be able to go through with it, she's been made over by love.
Alicia: If you only once had said that you loved me. Dev-
Dev: Listen you've chalked up another boyfriend, that's all. No harm done.
Alicia: I hate you.
Dev: There's not occasion to, you're doing good work. Number 10 is out in front, looks as if Sebastian knows how to pick them.
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Alicia: Is that all you have to say to me?
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Dev: Dry your eyes, baby, it's out of character. And keep on your toes it's a tough job we're on.
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Snap out of it here comes dreamboat.
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Alicia: Oh hello Alex! It was so exciting, a beautiful horse. do you remember Mr. Devlin?
Alex: How do you do?
Dev: Hello, Alicia tells me you had a bet on Number 10, sorry I didn't get the tip earlier. So long.
Alicia: See you sometimes, Dev.
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It was a wonderful race, did you have much money on the winner?
Alex: I didn't see the race.
Alicia: Didn't you? I thought I saw you looking through your field glasses.
Alex: I was watching you and your friend, Mr. Devlin. I assume that's why you left my mother and me, you had an appointment to meet him.
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Alicia: Don't be absurd. I met him purely by accident.
Alex: You didn't seem very anxious to get away from him.
Alicia: Oh he's just-
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Alex: I watched you. I thought...maybe you were in love with him.
Alicia: Don't talk like that, I detest him.
Alex: Really? He's very good looking.
Alicia: Alex I've told you before, Mr. Devlin doesn't mean a thing to me.
Alex: I'd like to believe that. I'd like to be convinced. Would you maybe like to convince me, Alicia, that Mr. Devlin means nothing to you?


And Scene

Saturday, April 25, 2009

gotta dance! thoughts on the pso's salute to gene kelly

I remember when I went to the accepted student's day at my current University, the opening introductions involved a powerpoint that might as well have been titled 'this is why we're awesome' as opposed to whatever scholary, scientifically motivated title they may have come up with. At one point in the proceedings, as will happen at any University, a point was made of all of the successful people who have passed through the same hallowed halls.

If I said that the fact that Gene Kelly walked the same halls, occupied the same city once upon a time had absolutely no bearing on my love for my school, I would be forced to wash my mouth out with soap (and throw away my orphan annie decoder).

Pittsburgh loves Gene Kelly, and Gene Kelly loved us right back through his dance. He never took to a top hat (as only Fred Astaire could) and maintained a tie to his roots. I know someone in the area who met him at least once, and all he said was that he was 'just a guy from Pittsburgh.' That's really all that needed to be said.

On thursday evening I was fortunate enough to attend the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's program "Gotta Dance!: A Film salute to Pittsburgh's own Gene Kelly" which, surprisingly, was not actually all about Gene Kelly. A giant screen was suspended above the stage (blocking the poor brass section from view) and, aside from the opening number, the evening entailed seeing clips from some of the greatest musical sequences of all time, with the live accompaniment of a full orchestra.

It's a film (musical) lovers dream, right?


The Program
Hooray for Hollywood! Medley - - Richard Whiting (Arr: Bill Holcombe)

There were no clips for this one, but it involved a lot of fun interludes like the Merry Melodies theme and some of those famous opening orchestrations i.e. 20th Century Fox that were just a joy to hear in such a format. Yet again, film lovers dream.

2001: A Space Odyssey - - Johann Strauss & Richard Strauss
Opening titles through Waltz of the Spaceships

Kubrick absolutely made the right choice with the score for this film. The opening credits alone give me goosebumps.

Brigadoon starring Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse - - Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe
"Heather on the Hill" and Dancing Forever!

Still haven't seen this movie, but it's a lovely number. Cyd Charisse I still refuse to believe that you're really gone (and even though the evening was more about gene kelly/the freed unit this made me wish that they had done the "dancing in the dark" sequence from The Band Wagon)

Singin' in the Rain starring Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse - - Nacio Herb Brown
When You're Gene Kelly, You Gotta Dance! (Singin' in the Rain & The Broadway Melody)

I can't even begin to explain how amazing it was to see this iconic number (and portions of one of my favorite films of all time, really) not only on a large screen, but with the full, glorious sound of that orchestra. Gene made it pretty hard on them because I never realized that his "do's" at the beginning change tempo (or at least he changes tempo sporadically) and of course this is a one sided arrangement where the conductor had to keep up with him no matter what. And the "Broadway Melody number" was fascinating for me because 1) I don't know how they removed some of the tracks and 2) There were instances where Gene's voice sounded like an echo or certain portions of the chorus would be included and other's not, supporting my notion that sound mixing is something of a mystery I can't even begin to comprehend.

Madame Bovary starring Jennifer Jones & Van Heflin - - Miklos Rozsa
Great Waltz to Disaster Amid Smashing of Glass

I haven't seen this film either, and now I absolutely must. It's just another testament to the brilliance of Vincent Minnelli and the most interesting integration of music of the evening, as unlike everything else it was not a straight musical number, it integrated itself into the narrative in a more intrusive way than the straight forward character development or aside quality of most musical numbers. Beautiful.

An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly & Leslie Caron - - George Gershwin
The Date to End All Dates in the City of Lights-Complete Ballet

I wasn't too fond of the film when I saw it, but i suppose that's why they added on this million dollar sequence at the end which is absolutely deserving of all the praise it garners. Such a fantastic achievement. I've never been fond of Leslie's acting (and yes, I've taken the language difference into account) but she was simply a marvelous dancer.

Suffice it to say that as someone whose life is film (and film scores), and as someone who loves the 50s mainly for the golden age of musicals, hearing the work of Gershwin, of Rozsa, performed so superbly, as the likes of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse danced before my eyes larger than life, their voices echoing through the superbly designed Heinz Hall....

It was really and truly a glorious feeling.

-Meredith


Saturday, April 18, 2009

learn to act your age, young lady

In the past few decades there has been a growing gap between adults and children commonly known as the teenager. The teenager is characterized by loud angry music, clothing that is either a size too small or too large, and an excessive use of eyeliner. Common symptoms of the teenager are bouts of moodiness, an obsessive need to slam doors, and feelings of alienation. Parents may feel that their children are in fact extra terrestrials, and not the cute kind that you can easily handle with a package of reeses pieces.

This relatively new phenomenon is now viewed as a rite of passage, a step in natural development. To parents, it is a nightmare, a second childhood for the immature at heart.

There is a sub-breed that is not oft mentioned, too frightening and weird for a person not of the Krell capacity to imagine. I was such a species, a teenager whose goal was not to be excessively weighty....

It was to be eighty.

If there was any morbidity it was that my tombstone might read-born nineteen oh eight. Boy she was swell, keen, moidergate.

I never wished to dye my locks black, only to wear a multitude of hats. I'd enjoy an instant sanka over a brewsky, and did not treat grammar loosely. To Sinatra and Garland about my room I would twirl, I desperately wished my hair would pin curl.

This was my rebellion, but it lead to a different form of alienation. Not from my parents, but from my peers. The difference is that this was not a phase. There is no cure because I have never viewed it as a sickness.

I never wanted to be different. I do not wear individuality like a pin on my sleeve, a thing to parade for the sake of show, because I know that I wear pieces of past conformity.

And Rhett Butler taught me not to give a damn.

I now view that alien-ness, that sense of utter alienation, as a true blessing, because I have always been able to think for myself. I have never wished, if I only had my own brain, my own heart, my own thoughts that are not wrapped up in how to wear my hair just so or what celebrity I should plaster on my wall. I escaped the herd, and thus I escaped the slaughter.

Don't dare to be different. Dare to be yourself.

And I'm not puffing on my slightly overwrought and cliched cigar.

Monday, April 6, 2009

one's company, two's a crowd, and three's a party (a personal post)

This past weekend was a great prelude to the head banging, teeth gnashing, r.i.p. roaring good time of university finals. That said, I'll take scholarly punishment any day over anything the real world can dish out.

On Saturday my partners in classy crime, Rachel, Kelly, and I headed downtown to the Andy Warhol Museum where we played pretentious by overanalyzing everything in sight (is that chair part of the artwork? are the number of steps in the staircase symbolic of ?)and enjoyed their Darth Vader exhibit. No pictures because the hipster at the front desk told us not to. The weather was absolutely stunning (the force was with us, apparently) so we walked along the water and I felt it necessary to sing songs from Show Boat. We pretended to be guests at The Renaissance and evaded suspicious maids to attempt a peek at one of the waterfront rooms. Operation Eloise was not successful. We then made our way to the William Penn Hotel and snuck into the Grand Ballroom on the tip top floor which looks like it was pulled from the watery depths of the Titanic. We enjoyed imagining the grand parties that must have taken place there a hundred years ago and attempted a waltz, which failed because our middle school dance etiquette in this day and age only extends to the macarena and mindless grinding. 

It's hard to be Dorothy Parker in today's world.

Spent the rest of the afternoon with secret agent Rhette Butler listening to free music, re-enacting flash dance and jumping for Gene Kelly.

Evening involved a choreographed toast to music from 2001: A Space Odyssey and 90s nostalgia.

Saturday + midnight waffles and real!Spike Lee sum up the week nicely. Yes, Spike Lee gave a lecture at my university. It was wonderful. And free.

I love college.