The weather has been god awful in New Orleans most of the week. Cold, cloudy, and gloomy. It’s enough to make me mutter “Bah Humbug” under my breath as I write this. I also envy Claire Trevor her fur coat and ability to lie close to the space heater without catching on fire. One of our former cats, Window, singed her whiskers on an old-fashioned wall space heater in our old place on Pine Street. So it goes.
I’ve been listening to The Band a lot the last few weeks. Just call me a throwback music buff. Robbie Robertson wrote this week’s theme song for The Band’s 1975 album Northern Lights Southern Cross. The album remains overlooked and underrated; I’ve always liked it, especially this song. It’s a perfect album opener and a fine Odds & Sods theme song.
We have two versions of Forbidden Fruit for your listening pleasure: the studio original and the Band live in 1976.
Now that we’ve tasted the forbidden fruit and been banned from the garden of eden, we might as well jump to the break.
Since I have fruit on my mind, let’s try warming things up with a song involving a summer fruit:
I don’t know about you, but I’m still chilled to the bone. Oh well, it was worth a shot.
We begin our second act with a piece about an election challenge that’s still relevant today. It’s time to set the Wayback Machine:
The Ghost Of Voter Fraud Past: The 13th Ward Rambler is taking a holiday hiatus from the Bayou Brief, but my publisher Lamar White Jr. is hard at it. He’s written a piece about the challenge to Mary Landrieu’s victory in her 1996 Senate race against wingnut GOPer Woody Jenkins. Jenkins screamed fraud and pointed the finger at then New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial as the main culprit.
Sore loser Woody took his challenge to the Senate itself. The good news for democracy and Senator Landrieu is that then Virginia Senator John Warner was in charge of the inquiry. Warner is a fair man and things were eventually resolved in Landrieu’s favor. Lamar has the gory details at Bayou Brief.
Before moving on, a musical interlude from The Band and Bobby Charles:
What’s not to love about a song with this lyric: “Gonna get too loose on Toulouse Street.” Not a damn thing.
Francis Ford Coppola Revisits Godfather III: Coppola is famous for revisiting and reworking his movies. He’s done it again.
The noted winemaker and director recently sat for an interview with Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri about the recut of the unjustly derided last act of The Godfather trilogy. It’s been forgotten that III originally got good reviews and an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. It’s been turned into a running joke over the years. Coppola acknowledges that to Vulture:
At first, the picture had a good reaction. Following its original release, New York Times critic Janet Maslin called The Godfather Part III, “a valid and deeply moving continuation of the Corleone family saga” that “daringly holds forth the possibility of redemption.”
Owen Glieberman at Entertainment Weekly described it as “pure opera,” where “Coppola rediscover[ed] his voice.” It was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture., but then, little by little, the opinion of Godfather Part III started to erode. I was haunted by how I had missed the boat, so to speak. What was wrong with the picture? I felt the story wasn’t clear. And the story was really interesting. You probably don’t know this, but at that time, there was a guy named Charlie Bluhdorn. Bluhdorn approved the hiring of Coppola for the The Godfather and the subsequent casting selections., who was the head of Gulf and Western, and he bought Paramount, but what no one knew was that the Paramount studio was [linked to] the Vatican. The Vatican had a huge real-estate company under Archbishop MarcinkusPaul Marcinkus’s life at the Vatican was marred by scandal, and as president for the Vactican Bank from 1971 to 1989, he was indicted in conjunction with the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in ‘82. Not convicted, Marcinkus and the Vactican denied any wrongdoing., who was somewhat corrupt, or involved with some very corrupt people. They had this huge corporation called Immobiliare, and [Bluhdorn owned both Paramount and part of Immobilaire].
Charlie Bluhdorn told me all of this stuff to amuse me, I guess. And so I thought, Wouldn’t it be ironic if I used what Charlie Bluhdorn had told me about the Vatican’s involvement? And the more I learned about it, the more corrupt it was. But I hadn’t really made that clear enough in the first cut. A lot of people didn’t know, I think, what was going on in terms of the business story. I hadn’t started the [film] right where it should have started, which is the deal that Michael Corleone was involved in with the Vatican.
I saw the revised movie this week. It was tweaked in a way that clarified the story and improved the pacing. Moving it from a 3 1/2 star movie to a 4 star movie with an Adrastos Grade of A-. Good job, Francis.
Sofia Coppola is still no Wynona Ryder and George Hamilton is still no Robert Duvall, but those parts didn’t require movie stars. They don’t ruin the movie for me at all. Besides, George had an awesome tan.
Documentary Of The Week: I alluded to HBO’s Bee Gees documentary in yesterday’s Cocktail Hour post. I stumbled into it whilst channel surfing and was captivated by the story of the Aussie-Anglo family band who ended up in Miami, Florida.
The filmmakers wisely focused on the familial aspect of the Bee Gees story and featured interviews with Noel Gallagher and Nick Jonas who know something about family bands. I wish the Finn and Davies brothers had been chatted up as well because I’m a fan. Ray and Dave Davies know from family fights.
Only one of the Gibb brothers remains alive. Barry Gibb speaks candidly of the band’s ups and downs. He no longer has that lustrous mane of hair but he’s such a nice man that visiting with him is a pleasure.
I’m less certain than the filmmakers that Disco Demolition Night at the old Comiskey Park was a major cultural landmark. I think it was a bunch of assholes destroying shit as opposed to a politically meaningful event but that’s just me.
Here’s the trailer:
The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart is available on HBO and all its platforms. I give it 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+.
Since I’ve posted the title tune many times, I’ll indulge in some Jive Talkin‘ as the final word of our second act:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: This one is something of a cheat. Christopher McDonald played Harding AG/Fixer Harry Daugherty in Boardwalk Empire but doesn’t resemble him. I wrote about corrupt AGs the other day so I had Harry on my mind.
Unlike Nixon’s crooked AGs, Daugherty was tried and acquitted of corruption charges. Lucky bastard. He made Mitchell and Kleindienst look like pikers.
Movie List: Since I go on about Francis Ford Coppola in our second act, it’s his turn to be listed.
My Top Ten Favorite Francis Ford Coppola Movies
- The Godfather
- Godfather Part II
- The Conversation
- Tucker: The Man and his Dream
- Apocalypse Now
- Godfather Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone/Godfather Part III
- The Outsiders
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Rumble Fish
- Dementia 13
Saturday GIF Horse: I’m not big on holiday fare but I love me some Bad Santa.
I dislike escalators. Billy Bob’s plight reinforces that feeling. That concludes what might be called an escalator clause. That was a pun so terrible that I briefly considered apologizing for it. The feeling passed.
Weekly Vintage Music Video: Make that videos this week. Pondering family bands inspired me to post two tunes by brother actss. In fact, the brothers whose names I dropped in the Bee Gees review: Davies and Finn.
Come Dancing was one of the biggest hits of The Kinks storied career. It tells the story of Ray and Dave’s older sister who loved to dance:
It’s unclear if big sister liked to dance to the Bee Gees but it wouldn’t surprise me.
I’m rarely accused of talking sense, but the Finn Brothers specialize in it:
What is it with Neil Finn and tongues?
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: Chris Isaak’s 2004 Christmas album is one of the best of the genre because he wrote some original material to go along with the chestnuts. It’s unclear if they were roasted on an open fire but I’m sure the Velvet Fog would have insisted.
That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Robert Mitchum, Gordon Gebbert, Janet Leigh, and Wendell Corey in the underrated Christmas classic Holiday Affair. It’s a movie so nice that it could serve as an antidote to Bad Santa.