Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I'm still ramping back up to my usual level of go-go-go, but I haven't been totally sloth-like. This column is a lagnaippe for you - a little bonus to go with your usual reading, since this blog has been a little off its feed as I travel through my convalescent stage.  Ensley and I just finished an episode of our weekly movie show "Meet Me at the Movies" (soon to be available through streaming, which has us both excited) that centered on one of the Grand Dames of American cinema, Katharine Hepburn.

So much to discuss there - 4 Oscars, all for Best Leading Actress (Morning Glory [1933], Guess Who's Coming to Dinner [1967, when she tied with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl], The Lion in Winter [1968, making her one of the rare back-to-back winners], and On Golden Pond [1981]). Her insistence on living by her own lights, even when that got her deemed "box office poison" for her tailored slacks and unvarnished opinions.

And her 25-year love affair with Spencer Tracy, with whom she did nine films, including Adam's Rib (1949) and Pat & Mike (1952) which featured Hepburn's athleticism. Tracy was a good Catholic and he never divorced his wife. Hepburn respected that relationship, and did not attend Tracy's funeral, instead spending the day at a friend's house. The friend protected her privacy and screened Tracy's Oscar-winning film Captains Courageous (1937) for her.

There's also The Philadelphia Story in 1940. She made that one after her lover, Howard Hughes, bought her the film rights as a present. There's The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart in 1951 and there's the film she viewed as her crowning triumph, 1962's adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's shattering Long Day's Journey into Night.

Kate Hepburn - what a dame! Treat yourself to one or a half dozen of her films, won't you? If you're feeling silly, start with Bringing Up Baby - Cary Grant, Kate, a leopard, and hey - a dinosaur!

Also, I picked up my responsibilities with BiffBamPop and put out a column about radiation and bug movies. Seemed like a suitable topic, given the last five months or so. It refers to a truly bad movie called The Killer Shrews which starred a very young James Best, who went out to fame as Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. Mr. Best was a gentleman of the first order and he took his final bow on this earthly stage a few days ago.

Lastly, I've been breathlessly watching Better Call Saul, which has been renewed for another season. I wasn't sure about this show at first - spinoffs are a tricky business. For every Maude or Frasier, there is an AfterMASH or The Ropers. 

I can report with complete delight that Better Call Saul is a gem. Watching Jimmy McGill try so hard to stay on the straight and narrow and run into wall after wall, you develop a sort of sympathy for him. I don't want to spoil it - really, this is one you should watch - but Bob Odenkirk is a find whose talents go beyond being the outlandish Saul Goodman we saw in Breaking Bad and the supporting cast is likewise fantastic. Both shows have some similarity in themes - both Walter and Jimmy want respect for their efforts and talents - but BCS is no mere copy of BrBa.

There now - I've given you plenty to go explore!  Back soon!

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