Monthly Archives: March 2010

40’s movies marathon – part 91

Notorious (1946) - Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman

Notorious (1946, USA, Hitchcock) – Ingrid Bergman goes drunk driving with Cary Grant, which leads to all sorts of troubles with gangsters/anarchists/Nazis.  This may be Grant’s first serious role where I’m actually able to take him seriously.  Watched it all.  Btw, why is it that these fascists-in-hiding always have such creepy, domineering mothers?

The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946, USA, Levin, Sherman) – Robin Hood is possibly the most awesome story premise in the history of storytelling, but this son-of-Robin version is quite stupid: Old Robin Hood gathers together his former comrades, (who all still live in the forest, wtf?), because the Lord Regent wants to overturn the Magna Carta and thus End Freedom and Democracy.  Robin gets help from his son, who has been educated in all things Robin Hoody, up to and including the smirk. Watched: 8 minutes.

The Razor's Edge (1946) - Tyrone Power

The Razor’s Edge (1946, USA, Goulding) – Somerset Maugham’s novel about a man who goes loafing around the world in search of enlightenment has stayed with me ever since I read it at an impressionable young age.  I’ve done my searching in other ways, (the whole Indian guru thing was ahead of its time in 1944, but hasn’t aged well), but the story has always been a model for me.  It works fairly well as a movie, more superficial, but some of the message comes through.  Watched it all.

Valley of the Zombies (1946, USA, Ford) – A man jumps off a ledge with his cape flapping around him.  I guess the movie’s trying to tell us he’s a vampire.  Watched: 7 minutes.

40’s movies marathon – part 90

Pink String and Sealing Wax (1946) - Mervyn Johns

Pink String and Sealing Wax (1946, UK, Hamer) – Mervyn Johns drives his kids away by being an asshole in the good old patriarchal tradition.  He believes in sobriety, religion and respectable family life, but the kids want to hang out with loose women and do something in media and fall in love with someone outside their social class and all that.  Watched it all.

Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946, USA, Butler) – Some fancy foreign prince befriends a New York taxi driver to see how the common people live.  He’ll probably learn valuable life lessons.  Watched: 12 minutes.

Cinderella Jones (1946, USA, Berkeley) – A man dies and leaves behind a will with amusing stipulations that must be fulfilled before the movie is over.  Watched: 3 minutes.

The Captive Heart (1946) - Michael Redgrave

The Captive Heart (1946, UK, Dearden) – British officers are taken prisoners, and spend the war reading about and dreaming of home.  It’s not such a bad life.  In fact, all things considered, I think they’re pretty lucky.  Look at them, garden and everything!  Watched it all.

London Town (1946, UK, Ruggles) – A British attempt at a big, expensive, technicolor musical, Hollywood-style.   Watched: 2 minutes.  The movie was a flop – that ought to teach them.

The Story of Menstruation (1946, USA) – This Disney animated short was made for health education classes and explains that menstruation is a normal part of life.  It advises girls not to worry, but stay healthy – and stop slouching, (it looks bad).  Wikipedia says this was the first movie ever to use the word “vagina”.

Ikke noe anonymt styre med en liten Willoch som de putter frem ved enkelte anledninger

Jan Ove Ekeberg, Jan Arild Snoen - Kong Carl

Fremskrittspartiet er det ene av de to ekte opposisjonspartiene i Norge.  Det er riktignok ikke klart hva slags opposisjon de representerer.  Andre partier har politiske plattformer, FrP har personlighet, og da først og fremst Carl I. Hagens personlighet.  En vinglete, opportunistisk personlighet som har introdusert noen av de beste og de dårligste ideene i norsk politikk.

Kong Carl av Jan Ove Ekeberg og Jan Arild Snoen er ikke en god Hagen-biografi.  Vi får en skisse av personen Hagen, men den går sjelden i dybden.  Derimot er dette en interessant fremstilling av FrP’s historie, og spesielt av FrP’s personlighet, blandingen av liberalistiske, konservative og populistiske strømninger som Hagen etter et par utrenskninger til sist fant en levedyktig balanse mellom.

Det er spesielt fascinerende å lese hvordan Hagen bygget en partiorganisasjon ut av Anders Langes Parti.  ALP var ment som et anti-parti, Langes personlige folkebevegelse.  Hagen brøt med ALP nettop derfor, og det var kun Langes død som fikk ham tilbake igjen.  Lange skapte FrP helt utilsiktet.

Jeg kunne forresten tenke meg å lese mer om Anders Lange.  De puslespillbitene jeg har funnet fra hans liv gir inntrykk av en blogger før sin tid: Egenrådig og uforutsigbar, med en så sterk vilje til å dytte sine personlige meninger på folk at han stiftet både Anders Langes Avis, Anders Langes Frihetsbevegelse, og Anders Langes Parti.  Fantastisk!

Det er FrP han vil bli husket for, men jeg mistenker at Lange er en langt mer interessant person enn Hagen.  Hvor i all verden er den store Lange-biografien?

40’s movies marathon – part 89

The Big Sleep (1946) - Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

The Big Sleep (1946, USA, Hawks) – Humphrey Bogart runs around L.A. getting involved with beautiful women.  Meanwhile somebody is doing something wrong to somebody, for some reason.  The details are unclear, but whatever it is, Bogart’s not going to stand for it.  Watched it all.

The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946, USA, Renoir) – Paulette Goddard learns to think for herself and question authority.  Yay!  Watched: 11 minutes.

The Brute Man (1946, USA, Yarbrough) – The Creeper creeps again.  See House of Horrors instead.  Watched: 4 minutes. Rondo Hatton was so ugly that his film studio invented a super-villain’s origin story for him: He had suffered a gas attack during World War I, which transformed him into a movie monster.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - Fredric March

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, USA, Wyler) – The boys come home from war, some broken on the outside, and some on the inside, and they realize they’ll have to spend the rest of their lives as soda jerks and bank functionaries.  Watched it all.

The Secret Heart (1946, USA, Leonard) – June Allyson likes to be alone and play the piano.  Her psychiatrist takes us back into flashback mode to learn why.  Watched: 8 minutes.

Song of the South (1946, USA) – In the post-Civil War south, former slaves live in harmony with their former masters, and entertain themselves with fairy tales.  Disney was concerned about wandering into racial controversy here, but the larger problem is how dull this is.  Enough live-action now, Walt.  Watched: 25 minutes.

Turning high-volume RSS feeds into low-volume feeds

I added a few too many feeds to my RSS reader recently, and it crossed the line from “a bit hard to follow, but I’ll manage” to “there are how many new items since an hour ago now??!”

Nobody suffers from information overload, just from poor filters, so the first thing I did was split the feeds into high-volume feeds, typically news sites that post 20 times a day that I usually  just skim the headlines of,  and low-volume feeds, personal blogs that post once a day or less and are usually worth reading when they do.  I ended up with 30 feeds in the high-volume folder, at 500 posts a day, and 100 feeds in the low-volume folder, at 50 posts a day.

A good start.  Then I thought: Is there some way I could randomly pick a post now and then from a high-volume feed and show it in the low-volume folder?  Sort of to simulate dropping by a news site occasionally, just to see what’s going on.

And yes there is.  Using the amazing service Yahoo Pipes, I’ve made a public pipe that takes a feed and “randomly” outputs just a few items from it.

To use it, go here, and fill in the URL of a feed, and the approximate factor you want to limit its content by.  Click Run Pipe, then Get as RSS, and add that URL to your RSS reader.

It’s not really random, (“publication minute” % “the number you input” == 0), but it works, and I think it’s pretty cool.

40’s movies marathon – part 88

Its A Wonderful Life (1946, colorized) - James Stewart

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, USA, Capra) – An angel teaches James Stewart that if you’re the warmest, kindest, most giving person in town, you shouldn’t kill yourself, because people will miss you.  Also that you should give loans to people who can’t afford them, or your town will become a fun place to hang out.  Watched it all.  Actually, another message here is that you don’t need a government program to do good.  The good deeds done here are inspiring precisely because they are done voluntarily, by individuals.  Btw, I love the current state of colorization technology.  It looks perfect – not technicolorful, which would be distracting, but just right.

The Yearling (1946, USA, Brown) – A boy grows up among all the happy woodland critters, accompanied by uplifting choir music.  Watched: 9 minutes.

Shock (1946) - Vincent Price

Shock (1946, USA, Werker) – Nervous wreck Anabel Shaw witnesses a murder and goes into a state of “shock”, a diagnosis about as plausible as Padmé dying from grief, but it allows us to see Vincent Price being EVIL, which is about time.  One first step towards this.  Watched it all.

The Truth About Murder (1946, USA, Landers) – Ah, the quaint old 1940′s, when people thought the magic power of a “lie detector” could be used to tell when people were lying!  Watched: 3 minutes.

The Time of Their Lives (1946, USA, Barton) – Was I unfair to Abbott and Costello when I said earlier that the Marx Brothers were the only comedy team of the 30′s and 40′s that was actually funny?  No, I don’t think I was.  Watched: 8 minutes.

Oh no – we’re being overtaken by “American conditions”

One feature of this daily barrage of anti-Americanism is the tireless reference to “American conditions”. The term crops up again and again in reports on undesirable trends in European society. (Its connotations are always negative.) Is traffic getting worse? Are children getting fatter? Oh, no – we’re being overtaken by “American conditions”. The versatility with which the term has been used is impressive. When I recently googled its Norwegian version – “amerikanske tilstander” – I got 1,600 hits. I looked through the first hundred or so; most were newspaper articles about a wide variety of topics. Was money playing more of a part in Norwegian politics? American conditions! Was personal wealth increasingly determining the level of health care one received? American conditions! [..]

I found the term equated with macho behavior, the prescribing of antidepressants to children, Internet spam, overpaid executives, long working hours, animal abuse, lack of sensitivity to needs of convicts, the use of terrain bikes in heavy traffic, ponds being stoked with fish for “sports fishermen”, interest-free financing on cars, schools advertising for students, and the “chaos” of having many commercial radio and TV stations instead of one nice, tidy government-owned station. Perhaps the most outrageous examples I found were an article equating “American conditions” with “long hospital queues” (sorry, that comes under the category of “European conditions”), and another article claiming that “Ruper Murdoch controls the American presidential election through Republican propaganda on Fox News” and asking whether Norway’s wonderfully objective media might someday fall victim to such dastardly ideological control.

- Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept

40′s movies marathon – part 87

The Beast with five Fingers (1946) - Peter Lorre

The Beast with Five Fingers (1946, USA) – A mad pianist dies, and the vultures descend on his estate.  Then his ghost descends on the vultures.  Best moment: Peter Lorre screaming, over the top of his voice, “I tell you, it’s alive!”  Also, Peter Lorre displaying various contorted facial expressions.  Watched it all.

Genius at Work (1946, USA, Goodwins) – Bela Lugosi has fallen so low that he’s not the master criminal who toys with the police by sharing secrets with a radio show – he’s just the henchman, to some guy.  Oh, Bela.  Watched: 9 minutes.

To Each His Own (1946, USA, Leisen) – Olivia de Havilland goes into flashback mode to explain how she got that way.  Watched: 15 minutes.

The Flying Serpent (1946, USA, Newfield) – I guess one reason the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl doesn’t feature in more movies is his name.  Que..what?  And then there’s his fellow gods Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli and Chalchiuhtlicue, who do not appear in this movie.  Try saying them out loud, it’s fun!  Watched: 5 minutes.

A Scandal in Paris (1946, USA, Sirk) – A crook makes good in 18th century France.  All the best lines are voice-overs, such as “Emile was that grimmest of characters: An early morning optimist.”  Watched: 12 minutes.  The main character is so ironically detached that he probably doesn’t mind.

Strangler of the Swamp (1946, USA, Wisbar) – There’s so much fog in the swamp that there’s bound to be all sorts of evil things hiding in it.  I’m with the superstitious village women on that one.  Watched: 9 minutes.

Suddenly their smug certainties were gone

Bruce Bawer - While Europe Slept

There are two books in Bruce Bawer‘s While Europe Slept: One looks at the anti-Americanism and multicultural delusions of the Netherlands and Norway in the years around the 9/11 attacks.  It’s based on Bawer’s personal experiences as a resident of both countries.  It’s hard-hitting, subjective – and worth reading every word of it.

The other retells the Bat Ye’or conspiracy theory about Eurabia, about how the European establishment made an agreement with the Arab countries decades ago to turn Europe into a Muslim continent, and now all the angry Muslims are turning the rest of us into dhimmis.  It’s a retarded theory, and Bawer presents it uncritically.

And even at its best, the book is marred by that tone of angry sarcasm that is so common in anti-p.c. rants.  I got enough of that in the warblog years.

But read it anyway, especially if you’re Norwegian.  Bawer is the grumpy outsider who impolitely exposes the assumptions and delusions of our society, who observes things native Norwegians don’t, and comes at issues from unexpected angles. We need that perspective.

There’s a lot here that matches my own views exactly, for instance his criticism of the Norwegian media coverage of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I believe the Iraq war was wrong, but most Norwegians commentators didn’t even understand why it was fought.  They assumed they already knew, and didn’t bother to find out.

It’s such perspectives that make this a valuable book, major flaws aside – far more valuable than yet another boring insider’s view.

A profound discomfort with the idea of “them” becoming “us”

The pillars of U.S. immigration policy are integration and emplyment; officials in Western Europe, by contrast, thought they were doing immigrants a favor by not requiring – or even encouraging – either. One might wonder why European authorities didn’t try to learn from the spectacularly successful history of U.S. immigration. I’ve lived in Europe long enough to know why: they didn’t see it as a success story. In the eyes of the Western European establishment, America is a fundamentally racist and materialistic nation that cruelly compels immigrants to shake off their identities and fend for themselves under a heartless, dog-eat-dog economic system. [..]

While immigrants to America are encouraged to become full members of society – and are rewarded for doing so – in Europe (where the native-born children and grandchildren of immigrants are actually called “second- and third-generation immigrants”) the establishment prefers its minorities unintegrated. Why? The supposed reason is that it respects differences; the real reason, as I gradually came to understand, was a profound discomfort with the idea of “them” becoming “us”. Immigrants to Europe are allowed to perpetuate even the most atrocious aspects of their cultures, but the price for this is that no one, including themselves, will ever think of them as Dutch or German or Swedish.

- Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept