The other day I was saying to a friend that in 1960 industry attitudes about films like Psycho (shock and scare, psychologically twisted protagonist, knife murders and perversion) were regarded as basement-dwelling genre films, and that the most that could happen, even with Psycho‘s phenomenal financial success, were Oscar nominations and not wins.
The friend reminded that Bernard Herrmann‘s Psycho score, easily one of the most distinctive and influential ever composed, wasn’t even nominated. Obviously a major snub — Herrmann’s score should have won.
All I can figure or theorize is that Herrmann might have been personally disliked or otherwise regarded askance by colleagues. (Or something in that realm.) I’ve never read a biography of the man. Has anyone?
Alfred Hitchcock was handed a Best Director nomination that year, but Billy Wilder won for The Apartment. Janet Leigh was nominated for Best Supporting Actress (an odd call as she didn’t deliver in any kind of striking way), but Elmer Gantry‘s Shirley Jones won. Psycho was also nominated for best black & white cinematography (John Russell), but Freddie Francis won for Sons and Lovers. Psycho‘s black & white art direction and set decoration was nominated (Joseph Hurley, Robert Clatworthy, George Milo), but the Oscar was won by The Apartment‘s Alexandre Trauner and Edward G. Boyle.
Incidentally: Whatever happened to the idea of Universal releasing a Bluray of the slightly more risque German version? I’d buy it without blinking.
I’d like to agree. Okay, I do agree. To some extent. I’d like to think that things aren’t as bad as certain headlines have indicated. Okay, maybe they’re not. Editors know that fear sells, and we know that they know this. So while the actual reporting is reliable and commendable, headline suspicion is an okay thing. (Right?) Otherwise all I know is that self-imposed imprisonment is no way to live. Well, it is but at such a cost.
From sea to shining sea Americans are undoubtedly drinking more, getting stoned, dropping Percocets, etc. It’s all part of the general atmosphere of depression and stasis. Time is standing still. Writing for writing’s sake is the only thing that keeps me going. That and phone surfing, watching films, taking strolls and safe (if technically illegal) hiking.
Last night Tatiana wanted to get high, so we walked up to The Artist Tree and bought a $51 container of Crescendo plus some rolling papers. For roughly the same cost they sell four pre-rolled joints, but where’s the fun in that?
Tatiana tried to talk me into joining her, but I can’t even flirt with the idea. Getting ripped has been out of the question since my mid 20s, which was when I realized that cannabis potentially re-ignites “the fear,” a state of acute anxiety and terror that I don’t even want to think about as we speak. I accidentally re-experienced this in the late ’90s when I stupidly ate a pot brownie. I don’t know what I was thinking.
But Tatiana had fun, got the munchies, etc.
I intended to watch the first three episodes of Mrs. America on 4.15, when they began streaming. So what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. Last Wednesday arrived and I didn’t get around to it. I kinda sorta forgot, to be honest. Plus I painted the hallway between the living room and the bedroom, above and beyond my column duties. Ditto Thursday and Friday. A three hour commitment isn’t a simple or easy thing. But today I will hunker down.
From Linda Holmes’ NPR review (4.15): “Mrs. America doesn’t ask you to sympathize with Phyllis Schlafly, exactly; it is unsparing in drawing her as a tremendously unkind and destructive person — and, increasingly as it goes on, a dishonest one. But it does seek to explain something about her. It seeks to use the story of her as a way to explain how power works and how politics works, as well as how the ERA came to fail after looking like it was on a clear path to ratification.
“But perhaps we are past needing all of this explained. Perhaps that is why the story of Schlafly feels wearying.
“To be clear, Mrs. America is made well (directing editing, acting). There are some playful and clever juxtapositions in the editing, as when you jump from a very sexy scene to one in which Schlafly is dutifully rubbing her husband’s tired calves. The re-creation of the aesthetic of the period is gorgeous and feels truthful, looking like the 1970s rather than a send-up of the 1970s. Across nine episodes, it never feels dull, even though it does sometimes feel a bit speechy. It doesn’t give in to too many of those moments in historical pieces in which names are dropped in a wink-wink kind of way, as when Schlafly meets two young men late in the series who seem unimportant and then introduce themselves as Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. Or when a young woman helping with the legal work is told, at the close of her one significant scene that perhaps she should assume a higher-profile role — and then she is addressed as ‘Mrs. Ginsburg.’ Winkety-wink.
“But something seems amiss, separate from the filmmaking, separate from the artistry. Maybe it’s just that it can be hard to separate Mrs. America‘s utter bleakness from its quality. Its conviction that determined public figures can persuade people to turn on their neighbors in response to invented threats is hard to argue with, but hardly a proposition for which one needs to turn to fiction — even historical fiction. As the old Palmolive ad of this era would have said: we’re soaking in it.”
Several times over the last few weeks I’ve told myself (not verbally but awash in my streaming mind waves), “This isn’t a dream…this is really happening.” And then, for a minute or two, I fall into a pit of depression. And then I gradually climb out of it.