Anna Karina in Vivre sa vie (1962, dir.Jean-Luc Godard)
The last day of March,
My darling Sleeping Child, I am oddly shy about you. I still regard you as an inviolate presence. You are as secret as the mysterious processes of the womb. I’m not being fancy…I have treated women, generally, very badly and used them as an exercise for my contempt - except in your case.
I have fought like a fool to treat you in the same way and failed. One of these days I will wake up - which I think I have done already - and realise to myself that I really do love. I find it very difficult to allow my whole life to rest on the existence of another creature. I find it equally difficult, because of my innate arrogance, to believe in the idea of love. There is no such thing, I say to myself.
There is lust, of course, and usage, and jealousy, and desire and spent powers, but no such thing as the idiocy of love. Who invented that concept? I have racked my shabby brains and can find no answer.
But when people die, those who are taken away from us can never come back. Never, never, never, never, never (Lear about Cordelia). We are such doomed fools. Unfortunately, we know it. So I have decided that, for a second or two, the precious potential of you in the next room is the only thing in the world worth living for. After your death there shall only be one other and that will be mine. Or I possibly think, vice versa.
And loving Rich
George Segal, Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis, and Robert Burton on the set of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966, dir. Mike Nichols) (photo by Bob Willoughby)
On the struggle to get Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a milestone in cinematic cussing, past the censors:
“Disguising profanity with clean but suggestive phrases is really dirtier. It reminded me of an old Gary Cooper movie when somebody said, ‘He’s so poor he hasn’t got a pot to put flowers in.’ Everybody in the audience got what was intended: echoes of wild talk, it seems to me, are deliberately titillating. People do certain things in bed we all know they do, and people say things to each other that we have all heard.
The whole point of the sexual revolution that’s happening today is to let those things take their place and then go back into proportion. We feel the language in Woolf is essential to the fabric; it reveals who the people are and how they lived.”
-Mike Nichols, 1966
Psycho (A Narrative for Orchestra) - composed & conducted by Bernard Herrmann (for this 1969 London Philharmonic recording, Herrmann arranged highlights from his score for Psycho, including the iconic main theme & shower scene music, into this shorter suite)
“Going far beyond the temporary shock effects of conventional scary-movie scores, the composer summons what Edmund Burke defined as terror—something deeper than horror, the sense that the world is infinitely treacherous, that no place is safe, even a comfort zone like a shower. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more startling.
Herrmann’s music did more than just enhance Psycho; it probably saved it. A story of illicit love that morphs into a crime thriller and finally a lurid horror shocker, Psycho was a sensation with audiences. But during shooting, Hitchcock became convinced it was a dud, that something fundamental was missing, and was on the verge of cutting it up and putting it on television—until he heard the music. Herrmann passionately believed in the project and was convinced it needed only his score. He composed the shower cue in secret, against Hitchcock’s explicit directive, and boldly played it for him after Hitchcock returned to the set from a Christmas break.
Hitchcock openly praised Herrmann for the Psycho score, something he rarely did with his collaborators, but Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his pivotal role in the film’s success. Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift that culminated in Hitchcock publicly firing Herrmann in 1966 for disobeying his directives for Torn Curtain…According to John Williams, Hitchcock’s final composer, ‘Hitchcock may have felt that his style was too dependent on Herrmann’s music, and that may have wounded his pride. They ended up being two matadors opposing one other.’
Fred Astaire - Steppin’ Out With My Baby (written by Irving Berlin)
Fred Astaire, Harpo Marx, Lucille Ball, & Jose Iturbi rehearse the routine they will put on for troops during the WWII USO tour (via)
Sylvia Syms - Lonely Woman
Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923, dir. Wallace Worsley) (via)
“There dwelt within the rocky fastness of the cathedral a creature whom the Parisians of that day knew as the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’.
Quasimodo. Deaf, half-blind - shut off from his fellow men by his deformities, the bells were the only voice of his groping soul. To the townspeople he was an inhuman freak, a monstrous joke of Nature - and for their jeers he gave them bitter scorn and hate.”
David Bowie (1969, photo by David Bebbington) (via)
Cameron Crowe: Do you ever relax?
David Bowie: If you’re asking whether or not I take vacations, the answer is no. I find all my relaxation within the context of work; I’m very serious about that. I’ve always thought the only thing to do was to try to go through life as Superman, right from the word go.
I felt far too insignificant as just another person. I couldn’t exist thinking all that was important was to be a good person. I thought, Fuck that; I don’t want to be just another honest Joe. I want to be a supersuperbeing and improve all the equipment that I’ve been given to where it works 300 percent better. I find that it’s possible to do it.
Crowe: What do you believe in?
Bowie: Myself. Politics. Sex.
Crowe: Since you put yourself first, do you consider yourself an original thinker?
Bowie: Not by any means. More like a tasteful thief. The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from. I do think that my plagiarism is effective. Why does an artist create, anyway? The way I see it, if you’re an inventor, you invent something that you hope people can use. I want art to be just as practical. Art can be a political reference, a sexual force, any force that you want, but it should be usable. What the hell do artists want? Museum pieces? The more I get ripped off, the more flattered I get. But I’ve caused a lot of discontent, because I’ve expressed my admiration for other artists by saying, ‘Yes, I’ll use that,’ or, ‘Yes, I took this from him and this from her.’ Mick Jagger, for example, is scared to walk into the same room as me even thinking any new idea. He knows I’ll snatch it.
Crowe: Is it true that Jagger once told you he was hiring the French artist Guy Peellaert for the jacket of a Rolling Stones album and you ran right off to hire Peellaert for your own album, Diamond Dogs, which was released first?
Bowie: Mick was silly. I mean, he should never have shown me anything new. I went over to his house and he had all these Guy Peellaert pictures around and said, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ I told him I thought he was incredible. So I immediately phoned him up. Mick’s learned now, as I’ve said. He will never do that again. You’ve got to be a bastard in this business.
-Playboy, September 1976
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976, dir. Nicolas Roeg)
This is, after all, “a love story.” But it’s Roeg’s constant theme that love has its limits. “We can’t explain much to each other,” he has said “The eternal lover’s question is ‘What are you thinking about?’ (via)
Boris Karloff relaxes on the set of Bride of Frankenstein (1935, dir. James Whale) (via)
“The monster was the best friend I ever had. Certainly I was typed. But what is typing? It’s a trademark, a means by which the public recognizes you. Actors work all their lives to achieve that. I got mine with just one picture. It was a blessing.”
Nico - Strip-Tease (written by Serge Gainsbourg, via Le Cinéma de Serge Gainsbourg: Musiques de Films 1959-1990) Fellow French language illiterates can find an English translation here.
Strip-Tease is the first song Nico ever recorded. It was written by Gainsbourg for Jacques Poitrenaud’s 1963 film Strip-Tease, in which Nico starred.
“She was wonderful. She was the first girl who told me, ‘You know, there’s something very nice you can do for me.’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah. What’s that?’ ‘Oh, let me show you.’ (Indicates pushing imaginary head down towards crotch) I thought this was pretty funny, pretty hilarious. Hanging out with her was like fucking your older brother. She was about 10 years older than me; she was 31 & I was 21. It was like somebody older and a lot hipper and very strong in her opinions and also incredibly fucking talented. The album she had just made at the time (The Marble Index) was just a phenomenal piece of work.
So she had that, and then she was highly eccentric and also dangerous, and at the same time, where the danger came in too, was that she was very vulnerable. She was wild, she was a boheme. She was serious about her art, and I just welcomed the chance. I hung out with her day and night for about a month, a couple of weeks here and a couple weeks there. And then, inevitably, the strain. There’s a certain strain when you’re trying to create with your mind, especially when you’re very young, it comes with a lot of serendipity. It’s difficult to have someone around, and so there was turbulence there. The band of course really wanted her out, they were jealous, and they would walk around the house imitating her accent and stuff.
She taught me how to drink. She was like, ‘Don’t drink that Ripple!’ I mean, I thought Ripple was like a good wine, you know? I got, like, ‘Beaujolais! This is great!’
She cut someone with a broken glass about that time. Someone who she thought provoked her, someone very socially correct. She gave him a little slice. It was not as litigious a country at that time, so I don’t know, maybe there wasn’t serious scarring, but there was this other side of her, you know, a ‘you-better-not-fuck-with-me’ although I never…I mean, she was bigger than me.
She didn’t do any drugs then. Neither of us did. I would smoke my grass, she would drink her wine. That’s probably why she was with me, because I didn’t do that stuff, and I didn’t realize it. She was probably running away from something. That’s pretty possible. But she knew how to dress, and she was one cool chick. After I came back to New York to do some gigs…I came to stay at the Chelsea. She was staying there, and she always had a cute man around - she had some new man, a French guy, and I was kind of like, ‘Who is French guy, anyway? Let’s have a look at him,’ and I went to visit her in her room.
I was really excited to see her, and she was sitting there, she had a harmonium…and she was playing on it, and she played this song ‘Janitor of Lunacy’, which is on one of her records, and she sang the words, ‘Janitor of Lunacy, paralyze my infancy.’ Just like, you know, very good poetry, just kind of like hearing her doing that right there, complete, in the Chelsea, and that was the way it was gonna go on the record. I was very impressed with that…I saw her later and we had our differences, I got stoned with her many years later on some heroin and it was not pleasant, she did not look well, and I did not react well. I wasn’t much of a gent about that and so there’s some regrets there.”
-Iggy Pop, excerpted from 1995 Bust magazine interview, reprinted in Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop