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speedracer5

Oscar Levant Night Tonight!

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I am excited about tonight's Oscar Levant tribute.  I love Levant, he's so talented and had such a great sense of humor.  I wish he'd had a bigger career.

I am surprised that they aren't showing "An American in Paris," but I've seen it so many times, I'm glad they're showing other films.

At 11:45pm they're showing "The I Don't Care Girl" with Mitzi Gaynor.  I'm especially excited about this film. I loved it when it aired during Gaynor's tribute a few years ago.  Now it can live on my DVR until I get my own copy.

First up, "Humoresque" with John Garfield and Joan Crawford.

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"Humoresque" is an amazing film.  Both Crawford and Garfield give Oscar-worthy performances, and Levant is spot on.  To me, the film bogs down a bit amidst the melodramatic second act, but ultimately redeems itself. Personally, I also like Ruth Nelson's role as well.  Underplayed and plaintive and loving....

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I could not remember having ever seen Humoresque before, and I enjoyed it. Some powerhouse performances from the two leads, and I'll bet the star power was a big deal at the time. Crawford got top billing, I noticed, I guess because she just won an Oscar, though it takes quite some time before she even shows up. I was struck by the similarities to Young Man with a Horn, also from Warners a few years later. Both are about musicians singularly obsessed with their instruments. Both flash back to their childhoods and how they got their starts. Both musicians have pals/mentors played by real-life musicians. Both become involved with dark, troubled women who may not be right for them while sweeter, more innocent females have to patiently wait and hope for the best.

Maybe there were too many scenes of Garfield "playing" his instrument, all of which looked weirdly unnatural to me. Is this the movie where a professional musician or musicians actually wrapped arms around the leading man to play the instrument? That happened in some movie I've heard discussed before on TCM. Even Garfield's face looks different in these shots.

As for Levant,  he's very Levant-ian in this movie, establishing his on-screen persona. They didn't make much attempt to make him look different from when the Garfield character is supposed to be a boy to the present-day action. I kind of hoped he'd get to have a romance of his own with the girl he was flirting with at the party, but there wasn't room for another storyline, I guess.

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I found the interview which came after HUMORESQUE fascinating. You could see his conflict with a dual personality.

His autobiography, THE MEMOIRS OF AN AMNESIAC , is an insightful read. I haven't read his other books. Has anyone else here?

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42 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

I found the interview which came after HUMORESQUE fascinating. You could see his conflict with a dual personality.

His autobiography, THE MEMOIRS OF AN AMNESIAC , is an insightful read. I haven't read his other books. Has anyone else here?

I read the one you quoted and it is a brilliant work in terms of his own life and in terms of the Hollywood of his time. Oscar knew everybody.

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

His autobiography, THE MEMOIRS OF AN AMNESIAC , is an insightful read.

Just requested it from the library-THANKS for mentioning it!

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I had planned to watch the short interview, but I forgot and missed the first 15 mins. I wish TCM would rerun it again. Did they say what year it was done? It seemed from the topics they discussed to be sometime in the 50s. I've always wanted to read that book. I'm going to see if our library has it.

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Probably my favorite Levant quip is a comment on politics.......

"The difference between republicans and democrats is that democrats feel the poor should be allowed to be corrupt too."  ;) 

I also have several old vinyl LPs that have Levant playing the piano.  one of 'em----- (and fittingly so) 

 

But mine is a 1976 reissue. 

Sepiatone

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27 minutes ago, Ray Faiola said:

It was 1958, shortly after his television program premiered.

Thanks.

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12 hours ago, overeasy said:

"Humoresque" is an amazing film.  Both Crawford and Garfield give Oscar-worthy performances, and Levant is spot on.  To me, the film bogs down a bit amidst the melodramatic second act, but ultimately redeems itself. Personally, I also like Ruth Nelson's role as well.  Underplayed and plaintive and loving....

I had seen Humoresque many times before but decided to watch parts of it again,  since it is just a fine film, while also watching the Lakers.

Well after around 3\4 of the film I get a text from a very close friend who lives 500 miles away;  "R U wachin this great movie".

He is also a jazz guitar player and we have played music together for over 30 years but since this film was focused on classical music I wasn't sure he was talking about Humoresque.   After the film ended I called him:  I was surprised how much he LOVED this film.    

As noted by Sewhite,  I mentioned Young Man with a Horn,  and he liked Humoresque better (ok he was a little drunk and on a "high" for the film he just saw,,,,so that opinion could change).    As musicians both of us liked how each of these films offer the perspective of a musician;  E.g. Levant's comments to Garfield that having your OWN SOUND is what makes a musician special.     The violin playing in this film was top-notch,  and it really looked like Garfield was playing.

One of the last things he said was that the three greatest things about America were the National Park System,  Jazz music and TCM!  

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Related to Joan and her use of shoulder pads;  I found this dress in the film very attractive but its design does emphasize one's shoulders.

 

Image result for humoresque movie

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Remember when shoulder pads made a big comeback in the 1980s, about 40 years after Joan is pictured here? Think of the ladies on TV's Dynasty.

(...and so according to my calculations here, get ready for.....)

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I don't think I've seen Humoresque in at least fifteen years. A wonderfully fine example of the higher Hollywood hokum. I'd rather see Garfield as an up and coming boxer than an up and coming violinist, but no biggie. I felt sorry for Johnny having to come home after messing around with Joan and then have mommy drop a jumbo sized guilt trip on him. No wonder he got his own place. I also thought Joan looked good in her peepers. They are a wonderful counterpoint to being a common frump airhead from Texas. And it's hard to beat that finale of the long walk into the water as the orchestra plays on. Das Wassertod. I truly enjoyed this flick. I got a laugh out of Oscar Levant saying he admired John Wayne's subtlety. Don't we all?

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5 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

As noted by Sewhite,  I mentioned Young Man with a Horn,  and he liked Humoresque better (ok he was a little drunk and on a "high" for the film he just saw,,,,so that opinion could change).

To be fair, Humoresque doesn't have Lauren Bacall.

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32 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

They are a wonderful counterpoint to being a common frump airhead from Texas.

You want Joanie to smack you like she smacked Ann Blyth? :D

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2 hours ago, Fedya said:

You want Joanie to smack you like she smacked Ann Blyth? :D

I might smack her back. First I'd want to find out if her cakes and pies were

really that good.

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I loved Oscar Levant's diatribe about Zsa Zsa Gabor.  He basically vented about her being famous despite having no real skills or talent or anything to offer.

Hmm.  That sounds like most of today's "stars." 

Some things never change.

That interviewer in Oscar Levant's '58 interview was so stiff and spoke so....slow...ly.  He seemed like someone who should be presenting the day's stock report or something.

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1 hour ago, speedracer5 said:

I loved Oscar Levant's diatribe about Zsa Zsa Gabor.  He basically vented about her being famous despite having no real skills or talent or anything to offer.

Well Oscar did end his diatribe about Gabor on a positive note;  She is good at finding rich husbands: Hey,  that takes talent!     

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2 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I loved Oscar Levant's diatribe about Zsa Zsa Gabor.  He basically vented about her being famous despite having no real skills or talent or anything to offer.

Hmm.  That sounds like most of today's "stars." 

Some things never change.

That interviewer in Oscar Levant's '58 interview was so stiff and spoke so....slow...ly.  He seemed like someone who should be presenting the day's stock report or something.

When I was a little girl, my mother liked to watch Jack Parr on NBC and Oscar was often on his shows. Then Jack would ask Oscar to play the piano.Oscar was reluctant but eventually he would play something.

I remember this so vividly because I would ask my mother what's wrong with him? Because he had these ticks and his hands were shaking-- it was really kind of uncomfortable to watch him.

And she told me he had had a nervous breakdown, but he was a great pianist.

He was truly a fascinating character.

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16 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

 

Hmm.  That sounds like most of today's "stars." 

 

"Stardom" doesn't mean or require much these days..... to whit

https://www.famousbirthdays.com/names/kyle.html

Click on this link( or copy and paste if need be) and you'll find guys listed as...

Tik Tok "star", YouTube "star"  You Now "star" and on other pages under other names some are listed as Instagram "stars" and whatnot.  Was a time to be a "star" meant you were popular with people mostly because you excelled at something, like acting or singing.  NOW, you can be a "star" by posting a video of you crushing your nut sac  trying to ride a skateboard down a stairway railing, or trying to jump off the garage onto a trampoline and into a swimming pool, or just taking a lot of "selfies" somewhere.  

I tried starting a dialog about this a few years ago, but either nobody was interested or thought it was all OK or something.  :(

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

"Stardom" doesn't mean or require much these days..... to whit

https://www.famousbirthdays.com/names/kyle.html

Click on this link( or copy and paste if need be) and you'll find guys listed as...

Tik Tok "star", YouTube "star"  You Now "star" and on other pages under other names some are listed as Instagram "stars" and whatnot.  Was a time to be a "star" meant you were popular with people mostly because you excelled at something, like acting or singing.  NOW, you can be a "star" by posting a video of you crushing your nut sac  trying to ride a skateboard down a stairway railing, or trying to jump off the garage onto a trampoline and into a swimming pool, or just taking a lot of "selfies" somewhere.  

I tried starting a dialog about this a few years ago, but either nobody was interested or thought it was all OK or something.  :(

Sepiatone

I cannot believe all the "You Tube stars" or the "reality show stars."  Who cares? Don't even get me started on "Influencers."

The word "star" much like the word "iconic" is thrown around way too freely these days.

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

"Stardom" doesn't mean or require much these days..... to whit

https://www.famousbirthdays.com/names/kyle.html

Click on this link( or copy and paste if need be) and you'll find guys listed as...

Tik Tok "star", YouTube "star"  You Now "star" and on other pages under other names some are listed as Instagram "stars" and whatnot.  Was a time to be a "star" meant you were popular with people mostly because you excelled at something, like acting or singing.  NOW, you can be a "star" by posting a video of you crushing your nut sac  trying to ride a skateboard down a stairway railing, or trying to jump off the garage onto a trampoline and into a swimming pool, or just taking a lot of "selfies" somewhere.  

I tried starting a dialog about this a few years ago, but either nobody was interested or thought it was all OK or something.  :(

Sepiatone

The Kinks explored this in the 70s with their Soap Opera album.

 

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3 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

"Stardom" doesn't mean or require much these days..... to whit

https://www.famousbirthdays.com/names/kyle.html

Click on this link( or copy and paste if need be) and you'll find guys listed as...

Tik Tok "star", YouTube "star"  You Now "star" and on other pages under other names some are listed as Instagram "stars" and whatnot.  Was a time to be a "star" meant you were popular with people mostly because you excelled at something, like acting or singing.  NOW, you can be a "star" by posting a video of you crushing your nut sac  trying to ride a skateboard down a stairway railing, or trying to jump off the garage onto a trampoline and into a swimming pool, or just taking a lot of "selfies" somewhere.  

I tried starting a dialog about this a few years ago, but either nobody was interested or thought it was all OK or something.  :(

Sepiatone

Look Sepia! Once and for all here, dude!

I WOULD have contributed something to that old thread of yours, but I was a little incapacitated at the time!

(...you see, I was that guy on the skateboard)

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