Sadly, both Darren McGavin and Don Knotts passed away in the last few days. Truthfully, I don't think I appreciated Don Knotts' performances very much, though as I think back on the "Andy Griffith Show", he was a pretty sublime partner to Griffith's folksy-cool, sheriff.
McGavin was a veteran actor, though perhaps most famously known for his starring role, in "Kolchak: The Night Stalker", which I only caught in reruns as a kid, but still scared the hell out of me. One of the things unique to the show was that the protagonist was as scared as anybody. He had the good sense to run away.
Anyways, it occurred to me today to wonder what it might have been like if casting agents got their wires crossed, and Don Knotts battled the supernatural, while McGavin ended up as a deputy in Mayberry? It could have been pretty cool.
Don't let it keep you up. Like Tom Friedman, I think that the deal should go through. Guess what? - plenty of ports are already controlled by foreign-based entities, the Chinese among them. As for the charge that several of the 9-11 hijackers passed through there, along with money to finance the plot, I can say the same about New Jersey.
Besides, control of port security stays in American hands. Still, the Democrats (though there are a bunch of GOP among them - including Tom Delay, he needs to do something these days, right?) saw a chance to bash the president from the right, which I have been urging for, what, I don't know, 10 years?
It sounds as if the president himself heard about this 2nd hand. (Not from reading the newspaper of course- remember, he says he doesn't read them.)
Once you realize they are incompetent, period, things are less head-scratching. Just as with the war in Iraq, if they do manage to pull the chestnuts out of the fire (and we all better pray they do), it is not because of perspicacity or virtue, but rather they have stumbled and/or been shamed into correct action. Remember, these are the same folks who opposed the formation of the 9-11 Commission and have
If anything good comes out of this, perhaps it will be the neglected issue of port security. While the Department of Homeland Security has grandma taking off her Naturalizers, 95% of all cargo which passes through the nations 351 major ports goes unchecked.
Last week, I saw "The Fallen Idol" at Film Forum. Twice, on consecutive days. I had only seen it once before. Late at night on Channel 21, with a print so bad and noisy you literally had to sit inches away from the television. Even so, it became a favorite film of mine.
It was written and directed by Graham Greene and Carol Reed respectively, and their next film together was "The Third Man". A few people, such as Bernard Lee, were in both. This movie has Sir Ralph Richardson, who I don't think ever gave a better performance, Jack Hawkins, (great here as almost always), and 8 year-old Bobby Henrey, who definitely gave the performance of his life. He acted in only one other film, a year later.
Some people actually consider "Fallen Idol" to be superior to the "Third Man", and in any event, when I saw it on Monday night, the place was packed, the restored print looked great, and I was happy to be living in a city where I can see things like this.
The next day, I got an e-mail from Film Forum announcing that Robert Henrey, the formerly 8 year old star of the movie, who is now a 64-year old man, would be at the 7:30 PM show that very night. I almost jumped out of my seat. As soon as work ended I went and bought a ticket (I work just 2 blocks away).
Close to show time, I took my seat in the once-again filled theatre. I started to look around, seeing if I could identify Mr. Henrey. An older man, quite stooped, slowly walked down the aisle and took a seat near the front. I wondered if it was him. I really only saw him from the back, so I couldn't say. A few minutes later, another silver-haired man, a good deal more fit, came and sat a few rows in front. Again, I wondered if this was he. I found myself secretly hoping too, that it was. For some reason, it made me sad to think of this person - who the world only knew as a sweetly precocious kid was now becoming enfeebled by time - even though there's nothing wrong with that, and as Mr. Bernstein says in "Citizen Kane", that old age is the only disease "...that you don't look forward to being cured of." I felt a little guilty.
After the movie ended, and I wasn't bored at all, though just having watched it the night before, the 'emcee' from Film Forum came to the front of the auditorium and said they had a special visitor. To my delight (and again, a bit of guilt), the straight-shouldered man in the middle seats, stood up, and walked down to the front.
What can I say, but it was grrreat! He's a CPA, living in Greenwich, Connecticut, with his wife, and has lived in the United States for about 40 years. He was flattered, if not a little embarrassed by the appreciation of his part in a great film - the first, and next to last, of his acting career.
People from the audience asked questions, and I got to ask one. I asked if he knew how they had done the "paper airplane" shot. (Go see the movie - though there is no DVD). He said he had no idea - which only added to the magic of the film.
After y'all see the film, ask me, and I'll tell you what else he said. But in any event, I came out of the theatre giddy as a schoolgirl, and marveling at my luck to be living where I do.
Sure, perhaps I could live in some college-town, where I might luck-out and there would be an art-house revival of "The Fallen Idol". But Robert/Bobbey Henrey would not be showing up there. And on top of that, I'm sure if I had looked in the paper , there were 5 or 6 other amazing bands or plays or films that were going on around town too - though nothing would have have topped this.
I have no doubt of his technical guilt, or for that matter, that he hates Jews. Whether or not he really believes the Nazis killed millions of Jews, who knows? Personally, I wish I could find one Holocaust denier who didn't wish for the completion of the very thing they denied took place.
In any event, as an ardent advocate of the value and right of free speech, I think it's unfortunate that he was tried, or that laws forbidding Holocaust denial exist at all. These laws exist in both Germany and Austria, and while I suppose I understand, and am somewhat sympathetic to the rationale for their existence, in the end, these laws are wrong.
People should be free to make cartoons of Mohammed, and likewise, to deny reality. A much more satisfying comeuppance for Irving was his loss to the author Deborah Lipstadt of a libel suit he initiated in Britain. She called him a "Holocaust denier" in a book, and in the UK, the burden of proof in libel suits is the reverse of what you have in the U.S. A defendant must prove the truth of their claim.
The judge, finding for Lipstadt in his 300+ page opinion, called Irving's views a "travesty", and a person who "distorts", "perverts", and "lies". He was ordered to pay £ 3million in court costs, which forced him into bankruptcy and the sale of his Mayfair home. (Though he seems to still get by with the support of wealthy admirers).
I read with sadness today that the actor Richard Bright, was killed this past Sunday by a tour bus as he crossed the street near his home on the Upper West Side.
Bright is on the far right in this penultimate scene from "The Godfather".
Bright was most famous for his role as Al Neri - Michael Corleone's bodyguard/enforcer. He appeared in all 3 "Godfather" films, and was one of the many small roles that Coppola perfectly cast, and made the movies so great (ok, the first 2 - I, like a lot of other people, pretend that '3' never happened).
Though in his role as Neri he never had many lines, I always found him scary, and he was in quite a few key scenes. It was he who closed the door on Diane Keaton's Kay Adams that ended the original "Godfather", and dressed as a cop, shot Barzini and his chauffer on the courthouse steps (taking time to aim just so). Finally his character was the silent recipient of one of the most chilling lines in movie history; Al Pacino as Michael Corelone saying in reference to his brother Fredo, "I don't want anything to happen to him while my mother's alive."
In Vice President Cheney's interview with Britt Hume, following his accidental shooting of Harry Whittington, the issue of the indictment of his former chief-of-staff, "Scooter" Libby comes up.
The Veep implies that he has the authority to de-classify information, and thus, by extension implies that Libby couldn't have broken the law, because what he leaked wasn't classified.
Question: Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a vice president has the authority to declassify information?
Cheney: There is an executive order to that effect.
Question: There is.
Question: Have you done it?
Cheney: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order --
Question: You ever done it unilaterally?
Cheney: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president.
Now, while the Vice President can no doubt classify information, I haven't seen any evidence that he has any more right to unilaterally to de-classify information - like the name of a CIA operative for instance - than I do. Not even if said CIA operative's husband is a Democrat, and you really, really want to.
Note though the technique - say something that's true - that you have classification authority, and imply something untrue in very close proximity. It's Bush/Cheney standard operating procedure.
Yesterday I started to write what is becoming a longish-post about the Bush administration's knowledge, acquiesence, and support of torture, as well as their belief in the "unitary executive", but as I said, it's longish, and I'm still writing it. (Hence no link).
In the meantime though, I just wanted to comment on the news that Harry Whittington, the 78 year-old man shot by the Vice President, suffered a heart attack when pieces of birdshot migrated to his heart.
Am I the only person who thought "has he been stabbed by a Morgul blade?"