Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Worry Baby

Image from Double Indemnity. 

This week our weather has been as erratic as Mayor Teedy. It swivels wildly from cold to warm and from wet to dry. My local weather dude described it thusly:

I’d call it a clusterfuck but Chris has gotta keep it clean for his more squeamish viewers.

Carnival is revving up. After sitting out last year, I’m spending every Saturday at the den watching Spank’s progress and offering advice both solicited and unsolicited.  It’s good to be back.

The featured image is of Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity. I’m pretty sure he said “Don’t worry, baby” to Barbara Stanwyck at some point in the movie. He was wrong. Edward G Robinson was on their trail.

This week’s theme song was written in 1964 by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian. It first appeared on an album with a lousy name, Shut Down: Volume 2. I guess the record company thought volume one’s name was so good that it called for a sequel. They were wrong.

We have two versions of Don’t Worry Baby for your listening pleasure: the Beach Boys original followed by Bryan Ferry.

Our second theme song was the opening track of Los Lobos’ 1984 album How Will The Wolf Survive? It’s a scorching rocker written by Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez, and T-Bone Burnett.

I still have T-Bone on my mind. A different T. Bone with a different spelling.

That was a meaty song.

We begin our second act by playing business history compare and contrast.

Elon Musk Meets Henry Ford: I’m reading Douglas Brinkley’s warts and all history of the Ford Motor Company, Wheels For The World. That’s why I found David Zipper’s piece comparing the Chief Twit with Henry Ford so interesting. Ford comes out ahead on the business side but was an even bigger bigot than the Musky One.

To paraphrase Sam Clemens, reports of Twitter’s demise were premature. Twitter was normally abnormal during the Congressional hostage crisis. I’ve never paid much mind to who owned the Tweeter Tube in the past, so I’m staying. My relationship is strictly transactional: it’s the best place to publicize First Draft. So it goes.

I’ve been trying not to comment on David Zipper’s punworthy name. I’m trying to keep my stiff upper lip zipped.

How about a musical pun? I’ll let Satchmo do it for me.

Jeff Beck, R.I.P. Rock and roll pioneer and visionary guitarist Jeff Beck died this week at age 78.  I was lucky enough see Beck on a tour he did with John McLaughlin in the mid-Seventies. It was guitar slinger heaven.

I’ll let the music speak for itself. Here are Beck and McLaughlin in 2002:

Documentary Of The Week: I’ve let this category slide in recent months. It’s time to review a docuseries that melds music and true crime: Showtime’s Spector.

Phil Spector was a weirdo even before he started wearing bizarre wigs. Late in life, he was diagnosed as bi-polar. Like others similarly afflicted, he mixed genius with madness.

This 4-part series begins with the murder of Lana Clarkson at Spector’s “castle” and moves back and forth between that and his life in music. Spector was a talented songwriter and producer who was always a creep. He got away with it for many years because the music industry has a high tolerance for creeps who make hit records.

It amazes me that there was a hung jury in Spector’s first trial. His defense can be summed up as follows: Lana Clarkson came home with me to kill herself. I am not making this up; Phil Spector did.

The second jury didn’t buy the suicide by producer argument and convicted Spector of second-degree murder. He died in prison in 2021.

The docuseries did an excellent job of telling Lana Clarkson’s story. She was an actress trying to make her way in the mean old world of Hollywood. She was down on her luck when she met Spector, but her friends and family made it clear that she was not suicidal. Phil Spector was homicidal.

Here’s the trailer:

Grading Time: Spector covers all the bases without being lurid. I give it 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+

The last word of our second act goes to The Ronettes with Phil Spector’s masterpiece, Be My Baby:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Casting Edition: What do Cornel Wilde and Hugh Grant have in common? They both played the Polish composer Frederic Chopin on the big screen. They have Chopin surrounded in the image below.

Wilde played the composer in 1945’s A Song To Remember. Musical biopics were trendy at that point, and this is one of better ones.

Grant played Chopin in an odd little 1991 movie, Impromptu. It’s about the social circle surrounding his main squeeze, Baroness Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin  DBA Georges Sand. Despite his awesome hair, Judy Davis steals the movie from Grant.

Ready for some long hair music? Nobody played Chopin better than Arthur Rubinstein.

The Movie List: I decided to do a Charles Laughton list after writing about his brilliant performance in Billy Wilder’s Witness For The Prosecution. Since some of the performances below were supporting parts, the list is in chronological order.

The Charles Laughton Dozen

  1. The Old Dark House
  2. The Private Life Of Henry VIII
  3. Ruggles Of Red Gap
  4. Les Miserables
  5. Mutiny On The Bounty
  6. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
  7.  The Big Clock
  8. The Bribe
  9. Hobson’s Choice
  10. Witness For The Prosecution
  11. Spartacus
  12. Advise & Consent

It’s time for a new/old feature.

The Best Of TCM: One of things I love about TCM are the featurettes between the movies. This one could be called The Blacklist In A Nutshell.

Saturday GIF Horse: It’s cameo time from two movies the great crime fiction writer Raymond Chandler worked on. First, Fred MacMurray strides by Chandler in Double Indemnity. Fred was a strider as well as a striver.

Our second cameo is of Alfred Hitchcock brushing by Farley Granger in Strangers On A Train. Hitch’s movies will be featured in this week’s Sunday Dozen.

Tweet Of The Week: It features a cat who must be some sort of vegan pacifist. Perry Mason would be on that bird in short order.

Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.

Saturday Closer: Jeff Beck gave Rod Stewart his first big break. In 1985, the two reunited to record Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready:

That’s all for this worrisome week. The last word goes to Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton in Witness For The Prosecution.

 

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