Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Philadelphia


Like the Beekeeper and Houston Roommates, I will go crazy in a room by myself doing work for hours on end (unless, of course, I'm in the Sanskrit library with my stack of reference books -- I love that place). However, unlike them, if I'm in a room with other people, I'll talk to them and be distracted and get nothing done. Or, if I do start to get work done, and they talk to me, I'll snap at them, which isn't nice either. So, at home (and next year), I have a cat; at school, I have a TV. News, TV comedy reruns, old star trek (when UPN reception's working), and previously-seen movies (mostly old ones or Indiana Jones) get their free run in the background. When nothing at all is on, though, such as at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon or at 9 on a weeknight, my small collection of movies goes on.

Last night's fare: the Philadelphia Story. Today's: the same, as a musical: High Society. I have to say, this is one of the few times I've liked a remake better than the original -- that is, in an instance where the original is still known. Many things (some of Shakespeare's source material, some regional-dialect Indian movies, etc.) were poorly done but with a good idea, so someone with talent could redo it with success. As for movies where both old and new are still around, though, High Society and Ocean's Eleven are the only two I can think of where I like the remake better than the original. Of course, the new Sabrina was closer to the original (written) story than the Audrey Hepburn movie, and Harrison Ford's just about the only guy who could take over from Humphrey Bogart in that role, but you can't duplicate an Audrey Hepburn movie and hope it'll be any good.

The Philadelphia Story starred Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart. High Society stars Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. Grace Kelly is the apex of female beauty, and just oozes class; Katharine Hepburn is, of course, an excellent actress, but is rough and free and is not convincing as someone marrying below her class. Jimmy Stewart is clean-cut all-american sweet guy and totally useless as a drunken gadabout, a role for which Frank Sinatra was designed. Bing Crosby has nothing on Cary Grant in the looks or acting department, but he can sing, and he fits better with Grace Kelly than Cary Grant with Katharine Hepburn. The rest of the cast is so much better in High Society than in the Philadelphia Story, and Louis Armstrong is so delightful as himself (the mixed-race jazz band co-led by Armstrong and Crosby was also of sociological importance), that it far outweighs the massive differences from the original play, a play to which the Philadelphia Story sticks quite well.

Plus, my copy of High Society is taped from TV, and has lots of 1980s TV ads as well as an ancient episode of General Hospital featuring some sort of a magic glowing rock that a little girl says is supposed to heal some sick guy. Ads for roach killers, for Stafford Meadows hospital ("your kid may be out of control, but you don't have to be" -- the kid wears a mullet and plays his stereo loud), for Mann Eye Clinic; news alerts about Africanized Killer Bees. That's why I like 790 AM in Houston -- they run old radio shows, complete with the ads and occasionally the news. It's a chunk of a time that I remember (or, in the case of 790, that my grandparents might remember), but is long gone. Things like that fascinate me.

Anyhow, a useless post that takes time away from the thesis, but it does make me feel better and get my mind off of things, and that's why I blog anyhow, isn't it? No matter how much other people like (or dislike) what we write, we all blog for ourselves first, don't we?

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