Sunday, December 16, 2007

For The Thousandth Time (Gone To Bed Series)

My very good and longtime friend (who coincidently was supposed to host this website) has convinced me that my mind has been for far too long concerned with overtly academic issues (I'm finishing my PhD). I think he's full of shit, but I was intrigued with the idea of being able to write without academic restraints.

So, my plan is to pretty much post my musings and occasional opinions on matters of popular culture - primarily media - as this is my area. I encourage participation, if any of you are inclined to drop a note or two.

So, what's the first post about??

I'll begin this blog with a continuing column that I will tentatively title "Films I've seen literally hundreds of times because I have gone to bed to them on just as many occasions" Or, simply, the "Gone To Bed" series.

Occupying the numero uno spot is a film that I would cross my fingers for every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. This exact moment is when the WXYZ (Channel 7 in Detroit and the local ABC affiliate) announcer would let this eager child know just exactly what Abbott and Costello film would be on the following Sunday, right after the painful Deedle Doors. Good lord, just what the hell was that show anyways? I'll tell you what it was to me, it was 30 or 60 minutes (gratefully, I can't remember) of pain. Pain because at 8:30 my beloved Abbott and Costello would come on and I would be transported away to the french Foreign legion or Alaska, or Mexico, or if was lucky and kept my fingers crossed - Bud and Lou would tangle with a monster, often culled from the Universal library (ownership has its priveledges).

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein(1948) is truly a great film. Not only is it linked to a sweet nostalgia for me, but it is a perfect synthesis of genuine thrills and solid comedic writing and performance. The monsters play it straight and let Bud and Lou provide most of the laughs; this may well be the secret to its endurance. Lugosi turns in a fine performance at his second and last performance on screen as Count Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. is predictable but very solid as Larry Talbot (perhaps his tortured tragic personae has grown a bit weary by now), and Glenn Strange does (as he always did) an admirable job of filling the heavy boots of Boris Karloff. The supporting cast is terrific, Frank Skinner's score is iconic, and it was a FOND, not cheap and shallow as some "critics" claim, fairwell (temporary of course) to the beloved monsters of Universal Studios.

I could write a great deal more on the subject and craft a formal, rhetorically sound argument - but as stated earlier, this blog is primarily about opinion, not scholarship. And as such, I'd like to keep things generally "light". However, the subtitle is a "confluence of high and low culture" and so I will certainly be discussing theory in my musings. At any rate, NO FILM, and I do mean NO FILM had such a profoundly positive impact on me; Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was "it" for me and it still is. I continue to watch it (I'd say bi-weekly) and I listen to it in my car. I know every bit of dialogue by heart (of course) and if I had kids, they would be exposed to it as well (at the appropriate age). But, something tells me I'd have pretty media saavy youngins. It's the Holy Grail of films to me. No, I'm not saying it's as deeply profound as say, L'Avventura or as "important" as Citizen Kane or as visually stimulating as Days of Heaven - but, in a sense it's all those things to the six year old child in me who prayed every Sunday to hear the WXYZ announcer tell me it was going to be on... NEXT SUNDAY.

There's only a few other films that I have gone to bed to as much or more - and those shall more than likely be covered in upcoming posts in the exciting and interesting "Gone to Bed" series. Bet you can't wait.

Approx. 700 times

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