Sweeter than Sweet

Conniff Up_Up_And_Away

I truly think I'm losing my mind. Yesterday, I stumbled across the Ray Conniff Singers. Of course, I have a few Ray Conniff albums. Who doesn't? But I never knew about the singers. First, the album covers are a symphony of blurry women. Each cover employees the lovely gauze filter that was popular for high school senior portraits when I was eighteen. I think it's time this style returns to fashion. I don't know why everyone is blurry. I understand watching Dynasty and the screen goes extremely soft when Joan Collins appears. The blurry effect is a good way to hide old age. Nobody would guess she isn't twenty-two. The Ray Conniff album women are young, so that doesn't apply. Perhaps they were embarrassed and requested a soft focus for recognition issues.

Second, the music. I thought I knew sweet and saccharine. I consider myself rather an aficionado of square and unhip, but this music transcends even my expertise. Their rendition of Up, Up, and Away is alarmingly nice and happy. It's truly sickening and could drive sane people to torture. It is, however, a wonderful tool with teenagers. If you have one, or two, play this in the car when driving them around. Insist on singing along if friends are there also. This is a sure fire way to help any teen step away from the dark side and become pleasant.




Negligees and Tragedy

I just received my Screening Schedule of Nominated Films for the Academy Awards. I immediately opened my calendar and began to determine which films I wanted to see. Of course, the films selected are all remarkable. They all share a clear vision, high production values, and world-class performances. But my taste in film, like my food, tends to be rather plebian. Maybe it’s my time warp problem that I somehow walk through life in a bubble of 1955.

Written on the Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956, is my idea of a film that has everything. If you ever watched Dynasty or Dallas you get the idea of the plot: big oil family, spoiled kids, hardworking good guy best friend, alcoholics, pregnant women falling down stairs, slutty bleach blonde sister, good girl trying to make things right. The Technicolor is extreme. I want my life to be lit like this. Everyone deserves blue backlighting, pink spots on the sofa, and fake dappled tree leaf shadows. The penultimate scene is a masterpiece of editing. Bad girl spoiled sister, Dorothy Malone, does the mambo in her room while wearing a negligee. She plays her record player at top volume, as her self-made hard working father has a heart attack and falls down the stairs. She was so good in this that she won an Academy Award. So I ask, why don’t people make films like this today? Groundbreaking CG animation is swell, but a mambo, negligee, and heart attack? Is there a better combination?