Archive for April, 2008

Greta Garbo … and … Jean Harlow

Posted on April 25, 2008. Filed under: Movies |

Garbo —

“What, when drunk, one sees in other women, one sees in Garbo sober” – Kenneth Tynan.

And Jean Harlow —

“Her technique  was the gangsters technique. She toted a breast, as a man totes a gun” – Graham Greene.

Greta Garbo (1905 – 1990). Swedish-born actress during Hollywood’s silent film era and part of its Golden Age. One of the greatest and most inscrutable movie stars of  Hollywood.  She received an Honorary Oscar, “for her unforgettable screen performances.” Ranked  by the American Film Institute, as the all time, Fifth greatest female star.

Jean Harlow (1911 – 1937). American actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. Her films were designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal and strong screen presence. Her “laughing vamp” image was in distinct contrast to her personal life, which was marred by disappointment, tragedy and her sudden death at age 26.

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Charlie Chaplin – the Legend!

Posted on April 21, 2008. Filed under: Movies |

Among Charlie Chaplin’s many talents —-

“The son of a bitch …….. is a ballet dancer ……………. He is the best ballet dancer that ever lived ……………….. and if I get half a good chance ……….   I will kill him with my bare hands”. WC Fields

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889 – 1977). Academy Award-winning English comedy actor – among the most famous. Also a notable director, composer and musician in the early to mid Hollywood cinema era. Considered one of the finest mimes and clowns ever caught on film. Eventually he acted in, directed, scripted, produced, and eventually scored his own films. One of the most creative and influential personalities in the silent-film era. His working life in entertainment spanned over 65 years – from a child performer, almost until his death. Chaplin’s high-profile public and private life encompassed  both highs and lows. His principal character was “The Tramp” – a vagrant with the refined manners and dignity of a gentleman. The character wears a tight coat, oversized trousers and shoes, and a derby; carries a bamboo cane; and has a signature toothbrush moustache.

W. C. Fields (1880 – 1946). American comedian and actor. He created one of the great American comic personas of the first half of the 20th century—a misanthrope, who teetered on the edge of buffoonery but never quite fell in, an egotist blind to his own failings, a charming drunk; and a man who hated children, dogs, and women – unless they were the wrong sort of women!

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Orson Welles … and … ‘Citizen Kane’

Posted on April 20, 2008. Filed under: Movies, Personalities |

“When I have seem him ………. and when I have talked with him, ……….. I feel like a plant that has been watered” – Marlene Dietrich.

“I began at the top …….. and gradually worked my way down” – Orson Welles.

George Orson Welles (1915 – 1985). Academy Award-winning director, writer, actor and producer for film, stage, radio and television . His Macbeth and allegorical Julius Caesar became legendary. Welles was also an accomplished magician. He also became a serious political activist and commentator through journalism, radio and public appearances – closely associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1941, he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in Citizen Kane, often chosen in polls of film critics as the greatest film ever made. His later career was obstructed by lack of funds, incompetent studios, interference and the like. Still his Othello and Touch of Evil won top prizes and acclaim. He remained on the margins of the major studios as a director/producer, but his larger-than-life personality made him a bankable actor.  He is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important dramatic artists of the 20th century,

Citizen Kane is a 1941 classic dramatic film, the first feature film directed by Orson Welles, who also co-authored the screenplay. The story – often considered to be a veiled portrayal of William Randolph Hearst – is fictional. The film traces the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a man whose career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research of a newspaper reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate’s dying word, “Rosebud”. It is often cited as being one of the most innovative works in the history of film. In 1997, the American Film Institute placed it at number one in its list of the 100 greatest U.S. movies of all time. In a poll of film critics and directors conducted by the British Film Institute, Citizen Kane was ranked the number one best film of all time.

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Darrow on Al Capone and kin …

Posted on April 16, 2008. Filed under: Personalities |

“You can hardly be surprised at the boys killing each other. …….              The business pays very well but its outside the law. And they can’t go to court — like shoe dealers or real estate men or grocers . So when they feel an injustice has been done to them, or unfair competition has arisen in their territory. they just SHOOT!” – Clarence Darrow.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone (1899 – 1947).

Nicknamed ‘Scar Face’, was an Italian American gangster who was a crime boss indulging in smuggling, bootlegging and other ‘activities’ during the Prohibition  Era of the 1920 – 30s. Indeed he is the Original Gangster. In Chicago he eradicated competition with the 1929 St Valentine’s Day massacre.  His business card described him as a used furniture dealer.   Although never successfully convicted of racketeering, Capone’s criminal career ended in 1931, when he was indicted and convicted by the federal government for income tax evasion.

Clarence Seward Darrow (1857 – 1938).  ” I do not believe in the law of hate”. 

Famed. lank, lincolnesque lawyer who dominated hundreds of court rooms for over forty years. Noted for his wit, he was a great humanitarian and champion of the underdog. A life long opponent of capital punishment, he saved over a hundred clients, charged with murder, from the death sentence. Alongside his wit were kindness and compassion. A judge who heard one of his famed cases said, “He is the most Christ like man I have ever known” – and Darrow was a militant agnostic. In the 1926 Dr Sweet case, Darrow won an acquital, which in Darrow’s words,     ” … meant simply that the doctrine that a man’s house is his castle, applied to the black man as well as to the white man“. It was probably the first time that an all white jury had vindicated this principle. 

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‘Inherit the Wind’ – Darwin and Darrow!

Posted on April 15, 2008. Filed under: Movies |

“The set for ‘Inherit the Wind’ was’nt quite ready. ……………. I could’nt figure out why, ….. so I went around to see the  carpenters, who were supposed to be building it. …………………………………. I found them deep in dispute as to ………… whether man could have descended from apes” – Stanley Kramer.

The Scopes or “Monkey Trial” . A high school teacher was charged with teaching Darwin’s theory. The trial pitted two of the preeminent legal minds of the time against one another. Three time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan headed the prosecution while prominent trial attorney Clarence Darrow stood for the defense. The famous trial has been fictionalized in a play, in a  movie and in TV serials.

Clarence Seward Darrow (1857 – 1938).  ……………….  ” I do not beleive in the law of hate”. Famed, lank, lincolnesque lawyer who dominated hundreds of courtroooms for forty years. Noted for his wit, he was a great humanitarian and champion of the underdog. A life long opponent of capital punishment, he saved over a hundred clients, charged with murder, from the death sentence. Alongside his wit were kindness and compassion. A judge who heard one of his famed cases said, “He is the most Christ like man I have ever known” – and Darrow was a militant agnotic. In the Scopes case, Bryan secured the conviction of Scopes but Darrow convicted obscurantism before the world and won the wider decision.


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Joe Di Maggio …

Posted on April 11, 2008. Filed under: Sports |

“Joe himself has declared that his kid brother, Dominic, was a better fielder than he;  which recalls the occasion when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees and Don fled across the county line to grab a drive by Joe that no one but a DiMaggio could have reached.

And the late Sid Mercer, shading his thoughtful eyes under a hard straw hat, remarked to the Press Box at large,  ‘Joe should sue his old man on that one’ ” – Red Smith

Joseph Paul DiMaggio (1914 – 1999). Baseball player who played only for the New York Yankees. Widely hailed for both offense and defense, as well as for the grace with which he played the game. A “picture-perfect” player, DiMaggio – amongst other records (including marrying Marilyn Monroe) – achieved a 56-game hitting streak that has been called baseball’s most mythic achievement.  


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‘Guru’ Bakshi – The man for all seasons!

Posted on April 11, 2008. Filed under: From a Services Career |

I first saw ‘Guru’ when he got out of the chopper and briskly walked towards me. He was my boss and had decided to inspect me when I asked for help to organize a regimental show. His logic was that he was new and I was new and it would be a good idea if he saw things for himself. He was sharp and sized up stuff fast – his sole interest was a rather high standard.

Thereafter till the event, he would land without warning to see and discuss stuff – not disconcerting as he was the most genuine of men and his decency shown.

The Army Commander was another matter. He was a coarse bully and a bit of a maneater. To compound matters, I had had an unfortunate run in with him when he was a Corps Commander so now I anticipated being on the chopping block.

Hence it was no big surprise that on the day after New Years he had me in his office ostensibly to justify my request for expediture but in reality to chop me up. With Guru sittiing on my right, the chief of staff, a General Nanda, sitting on my left, the guy butchered me! Despite both Guru and the COS solidly backing me up, alas, it was to no avail.

Immediately thereafter, Guru had to go for an inspection but the COS invited me to his office and over tea, very kindly tried to cheer me up.

But I knew what I had to do. I awaited Guru’s return at the Guest House he was staying. He was a bit surprised to see me.

Bluntly I asked whether I should go ahead with the celebration or cancel the whole damn thing. He thought for a moment and then said seriously that I should go ahead but should ensure that I did not sign anything beyond my power. When I told him I had already done that, he said to send those expenses for his ex post facto sanction. He thought the figure would be a couple but when I told him it was more between 20 to 30, he was unfazed!!!

We often met and when we travelled together there were opportunities for long discussions on most things. I once asked him that in this age of bull shitting maneaters, why was he so nice to everyone. His reply, “If you are nice to people on the way up, they will be nice to you on the way down!”

In due course Guru took over a Corps. But then ‘bad’ days dawned. There was this Army Chief hell bent on sorting out the infantry and getting his pet gunners go up. So it was no chance that this armored corps Army Commander, obviously at the behest of the Chief, gave Guru an annual report which read, in Guru’s words – as if Guru were a kitchen commander!!!

I had perchance come close to the Gunner guy who was being made an Army Commander with Guru’s sidelining. The guy was honest, upright and the most decent of men. I asked him what he thought of Guru and he thought for a moment and said that Guru was a nice guy but maybe he was ambitious – but then he too was ambitious!

Of course Guru was duly sidelined and the gunner became army commander. Unfortunately a horrible tragedy struck when his chopper got entangled in some wires and all aboard including his family met the most violent of ends.

Guru once narrated that the Military Secretary rings him up and having got him over in his office tells him that the Chief has recommended his case for Army Commander. Guru’s retort, “Having given me poison thrice, now is he calling for the doctor?”

Now much retired, Guru has made a great carreer for himself. Yet he is still fighting the Army’s battles with his comments on the latest Pay Commission report and like matters.

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James Dean … Elvis Presley

Posted on April 10, 2008. Filed under: Movies |

“I know why girls, …. at least the young uns, ……  go for us………………. We are sullen, ………….. we are brooding, ……………. we are something of a menace. ……………… I dont understand it exactly …………….. but i know you can’t be sexy if you smile. ……………. You can’t be a rebel if you grin” – Elvis Presley.

James Byron Dean (1931 – 1955). His status as an icon is best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film, ‘Rebel without a cause’  in which he starred as a troubled high school rebel. His enduring fame and popularity rests on only three films, his entire starring output. His death at a young age helped guarantee legendary status. He remains the only person to have two Best Actor posthumous nominations.

Elvis Aaron Presley (1935 –1977), American singer, musician, actor and cultural icon  known as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, or simply “The King”. To date, he is the only performer to have been inducted into four music Halls of fame. Throughout his career, he set records for concert attendance, television ratings and recordings sales. He is one of the best-selling and most influential artists in the history of popular music. Health problems plagued Presley in later life which, coupled with a punishing tour schedule and addiction to prescription medication, led to his premature death at age 42.

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Sharp stuff from Mae West …

Posted on April 8, 2008. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Movies |

“Scimitar eyes with sword length lashes, the white skin, white as a cottonmouth’s mouth, the shape, that Big Ben of hourglass figures”. Truman Capote.

Mae West was an actress and sex symbol, famed for her bawdy double entendres –  (If I asked for a cup of coffee, men would look for the hidden meaning) – One of the most controversial stars of her day.

In her own words” –

I have been in more laps than a napkin. When I am good, I am very good; but when I am bad, I am better.

I like only two kinds of men, domestic and imported. I speak two languages, body and english. The score never interested me, only the game.

It takes two to get one in trouble. I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure. I am a woman of very few words, but lots of action. Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.

The best way to hold a man is in your arms. It’s not the men in my life that count, it’s the life in my men. A hard man is good to find. A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.

An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.

I never worry about diets; the only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.  When women go wrong, men go right after them.

A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that’s subtraction. Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you.

Good sex is like good bridge – if you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.

She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong. I didn’t discover curves; I only uncovered them.

I wrote the story myself. It’s about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it.

Look your best – who said love is blind? Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.

Sex is emotion in motion . Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.

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Cecil B DeMille

Posted on April 4, 2008. Filed under: Movies |

 “He kept sex, … sadism, … patriotism, … real estate, … relegion, … and public relations … dancing in mid air — like jugglers balls – for fifty years”. – Agnes Demille

 Cecil Blount DeMille (18811959). Successful Academy Award winning American filmmaker, known for the flamboyance and showsmanship of his movies.

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