Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Music: “Help Yourself,” by Tom Jones

I’ve always liked this song. It’s got a great cha-cha backbeat and silly lyrics that TJ has fun with.

It was still something of a surprise to learn that this was the selection for the mother/son dance at my brother’s wedding over the weekend – chosen, I might add, by my mother. The Jones jones runs in the family. There’s not supposed to be a dry eye in the house when this moment in the festivities is over. Leave it to the Keenans to turn it into Sigmund Freud’s Dance Party.

I was not at all surprised, though, that the familial rug-cutting turned out to be one of the highpoints of a fantastic evening. I’ll never hear the song the same way again.

Miscellaneous: Holiday Magic

Today’s mail brought the first Christmas card of the season. For reasons too complicated to explain, it’s from screenwriter-turned-gadfly-extraordinaire Joe Eszterhas. Life is good.

Movie: The Outfit (1974)

This adaptation of a Richard Stark novel from the same series that inspired POINT BLANK has never been widely available on video. So I was happy to catch up with it on Turner Classic Movies, even though they aired a scratchy, slightly edited TV print.

Director John Flynn, who also made the ‘80s B classic BEST SELLER, doesn’t bother with the stylistic flourishes that John Boorman brought to POINT BLANK. His lean and mean take on Stark is a faithful echo of the author’s style. Flynn fills out his cast with faces from the glory days of noir: Timothy Carey, Elisha Cook, Jr., Jane Greer, Marie Windsor, Robert Ryan. Robert Duvall is near-perfect in the lead role, combining grim determination with ruthless competence. I just never pictured Stark’s thief as bald.

I’ve asked this question before, and I will ask it again: why didn’t Joanna Cassidy become a huge star?

Miscellaneous: Link

A great article from the L.A. Times on the fate of the modern character actor.