Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Website Update: Links

Not reading The Rap Sheet? Well, you oughta be.

Movie: DuBarry Was A Lady (1943)

CNN used to be the default station on the Chez K TV. But at some point during their relentless coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, I said to hell with it. Now when I fire up the tube I’m greeted by Turner Classic Movies. Puts a whole new disposition on the evening. And more often than not, I get sucked into whatever is on.

Like this musical starring Red Skelton, Gene Kelly and Lucille Ball. It has a half-baked plot – nightclub attendant Skelton dreams he’s Louis XV – and jettisons all the Cole Porter songs from the stage version save ‘Friendship.’ But there’s plenty to recommend it: a young Zero Mostel, Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra in powdered wigs, a cameo from Lana Turner.

And then, be still my heart, there’s Virginia O’Brien, who knocks ‘em dead with the comic number ‘Salome.’ (“No matter how you slice it, it’s ...”) She does the entire song without cracking a smile, instead punctuating the lyrics with perfect throwaway looks and gestures. That shtick – accidentally developed as the result of stage fright during her debut performance, according to legend – earned her the nicknames ‘Miss Deadpan’ and ‘The Red Hot Frozen Face.’ A gorgeous dame with a sense of humor who was the daughter of the LAPD’s captain of detectives and married to Kirk Alyn, the first Superman? Sounds like a character right out of James Ellroy. Or maybe Megan Abbott. (Who, as it happens, recently wrote a birthday salute to Ellroy at, you guessed it, The Rap Sheet.)

I watched ‘Salome’ again when DuBarry was over, tracked down some of Virginia’s songs on Rhapsody, and queued up the few other movies she made. Always nice to have a new retro crush.