4.30.2006

Maureen Stapleton in LONELYHEARTS (1958) - Supporting Actress Sundays

It's only fitting that Supporting Actress Sundays conclude its first month of Sundays with a tribute to Maureen Stapleton...

For previous Maureen love, see here, here & here.


And her 1st nominated performance as Faye Boyle in 1958's Lonelyhearts.


Here, MissMo offers the kind of performance that was to become her signature. At first glance, Faye appears to be unremarkable, in turns awkwardly dowdy & brazenly crass. Scratch the surface, though, and Faye emerges with a roaring explosive passion -- passion for life, for sex, for love, for her beloveds.

The story of the film is pretty simple. Based on the Nathanael West novella Miss Lonelyhearts, Montgomery Clift is a struggling young writer, trolling for a break at a newspaper. As the result of a kind of sick powerplay by the newspaper's editor (played here with a disdainful sneer by Robert Ryan, who -- also in 1958 -- played pervy Pa opposite Tina Louise in God's Little Acre), Monty's awarded a gig writing as "Miss Lonelyhearts." Of course, as anyone who's ever seen that very special episode of any trillion sitcoms knows, Monty gets all embroiled in the fact that his replies have an impact on his desparate readers & he threatens to quit. In an inscrutable narrative turn, Monty then takes the evil editor dare to meet a random letter writer, & off Monty goes to meet Faye.


"For seven years, I've been good and decent...as the saying goes."
(Hat tip to The Film Experience for the screencaps.


Faye's feeling trapped in a loving but sexless marriage & doesn't know what to do. She wants to love her husband, he's a good man, but after all she was sorta wild before her marriage, so she knows what she's missing...


"I feel like I'm dying inside. Please tell me what to do."


So, what does Miss Lonelyhearts advise? It's not clear but, in the meantime, Miss Lonelyhearts (aka Montgomery Clift) sleeps with Faye. (No brainer, eh.) And from here, Stapleton's Faye becomes the prototype for subsequent cinematic ladystalkers -- the kind of role that has given filmfreaks the glorious genius work of Jessica Walter, Glenn Close, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and innumerable Lifetime movies...


See Nathaniel's clipreel for this excellent scene.

See, Faye's (understandably) none to pleased with Miss Lonelyhearts' decision to "get some action" and begone. Indeed, Faye "won't be ignored" & keeps on after Miss Lonelyhearts, so much that her husband & the newspaper catches on. From there, the story spirals into a feverish morality tale about (a) vintage 1950s, post-eugenic anxieties about "bad blood" and (b) the debilitating anxieties of the cuckold. Yes, it's just wierd. But along its way to the film's inexplicably coded conclusion -- there's a drunken brawl, much feminine handwringing among the more respectable female characters, a visit to a prison, a shadowy confrontation at the newspaper office, some gun action, and -- through it all -- Faye is completely forgotten. Go figure...

It's a strange little time-capsule of a movie. The ensemble -- which includes Myrna Loy improbably cast as an alcoholic matron with a taste for ginzano (and Montgomery Clift) alongside Uncle Fester as a depressed drama & culture writer (!) -- offers able performances, though it seems each performance is in a different key or register. Something's just "off" about the whole thing -- except when Stapleton takes the screen. When Faye's on a rampage (erotic or raging), everything's clear -- at least for the moment. It's a starmaking, supporting performance. And it's a reminder of everything Lulu's fallen in love with about MissMo.
.................
So, lovely reader, this concludes the Supporting Actress Month of Sundays for 1958. It's been more fantabulous than Lulu ever imagined... Thank you ever so. And be sure to check back on Monday, May 1, for the official announcement of the Supporting Actress Sunday Year for May. (As of this moment, it looks like it'll be 1942.) But there's still time to vote!

4.28.2006

The Fabulous Percy (Homo Heritage Fridays)


from Vim: The Magazine for Vigorous Living, October 1964, page 55.

Hmmmmmm.
Percy sorta looks like Michelle Pfeiffer as a drag king.
Innersting...

Lulu's Pfirst Time: Stephanie Zinone in Grease 2 - A Pfeiffer Pforever Tribute

They say you never forget your pfirst time.



StinkyLulu's "pfirst" time came in the summer of 1982.
And it was momentous...

Home in the States just for the summer, Lulu desperately sought moviegoing experiences of all varieties (The Kingdom having not even a single public movie theatre circa 1982.) Some, however, had priority -- & Grease2 was at the top of Lulu's "Must-See" list. Alas, arriving stateside, Lulu was chagrined to discover that Grease2 had been & gone (its box office gruesomely disappointing). Lulu recalls fondling the cast album in some store, wistfully mourning the tragedy of missed opportunities...

So!
Imagine Lulu's surprise when -- on a requisite grandparental trip to El Otro Las Vegas (PapaStinky's hometown) -- StinkyLulu discovered that Grease2 was still playing at the backmountain burg's single screen, The Serf.

Well!
Lil Lulu's excitement nearly blew the roof off PapaStinky's Super70sVan &, right then & there, Lulu began plotting & scheming to see the movie of the summer. So, the second Lil Stinky arrived to AbuelaStinky's trailer & gave quick kisses all around -- StinkyLu was calling for showtimes. Lu drafted StinkyCuz -- she's 3 years older & was always Lu's "bestfriendcousin" -- to escort Lil StinkyLu & off they went to the cinema. (It's cute to recall those moments when Mama&PapaStinky -- indeed, the whole Stinky family -- just knew they were outmatched by StinkyLulu's emergent cultural obsessions.)

Wow!
StinkyLulu knew full well that it would be Adrian (or Maxwell or Peter or even Tom) sneaking into StinkyLulu's fantasies later that night. Nonetheless, StinkyLulu just pfell in love with that gorgeous voiced glamazon in pink satin: Stephanie Zinone. Steph was everything StinkyLu wanted in a girl: she was hot, she was tough & she had pipes. And she wanted a "cool rider" (just like -- sshhh -- Little StinkyLulu):

If you really want to know what I want in a guy
Well, I'm looking for a dream on a mean machine with hell in his eyes
I want a devil in skin tight leather, he's gonna be wild as the wind
And one fine night, I'll be holding on tight to a
Cool rider, a cool rider
If he's cool enough, he can burn me through and through
If it takes forever, then away forever
No ordinary boy, no ordinary boy is gonna do
I want a rider that's cool
That's the way it's gonna be, that's the way I feel
I want a lot more than the boy next door, I want hell on wheels
Just give a black motorcycle with a man growing out of the seat
And move aside 'cause I'm gonna ride with a
Cool rider, a cool rider

Whew!
On the walk home from the theatre, StinkyLulu remembers annoying the f*ck out of StinkyCuz -- yammering this way and that about how gorgeous that new actress Michelle Piper was... StinkyCuz's response: "Yeah? For a blonde..."

And ever since that moment, StinkyLulu has maintained a proud crush on Michelle Pfeiffer -- for the fact that Lulu loved her long before she became a serious actress, that Lulu knew she could sing long before that red-dress-on-a-piano movie, that Lulu knew how to pick 'em... And when StinkyLu started graduate school and the cabaret version of Grease2 opened on campus? It was like an omen -- of many many good things.

After all, they say you never forget your pfirst time.

4.26.2006

1958's CouldaWouldaShouldas (+ mini-profile of Lansbury & Remick in LONG HOT SUMMER)

Nick's consistently bemused riff throughout the 1958 Supporting Actress Smackdown has really got Lulu thinking:

The Supporting Actresses of 1958 really were an odd lot. Only Stapleton and Hiller sustained careers of any note, with Martha Hyer and Cara Williams lapsing fairly quickly into obscurity (& Peggy Cass mostly working the panel, couch or dais in various televidiocies of the '60s and '70s).

So what of the snubs? The CouldaShouldaWouldas of 1958?
In addition to Gwen and Tina, it seems a curiously consistent factoid that there were at least four major 1958 releases that each boasted at least two performances that CouldaShouldaWoulda been contenders in this category. Might these performance pairs have cancelled each other out when when it came to ballotting time?
Clearly, Dietrich and Gingold (in either BBB or Gigi) are the real contenders in the CouldaShouldaWoulda category. Their exclusions are the real slights where the other omissions just underscore how curious the nominee field for 1958 actually turned out to be. Indeed, a strong case can be made for each of these performances. And they're all worth revisiting. Plus wouldn't it be FABU to have McCambridge's "I. Want. To. Watch." as the shortest nominated performance?

But there's one more film to which StinkyLulu'd like give some especial attention, mostly 'cuz it features two of Lulu's most treasured, the kind of actresses that never top the favorite lists but whose very presence makes almost any movie intrinsically more interesting :
Lee Remick & Angela Lansbury.


The Long Hot Summer is yet another one of those torrid Southern sagas of family intrigue, minus the tawdry tragedy of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the gawdy goofiness of God's Little Acre. The scenario's fairly simple. Paul Newman (the definition of all kinds of "hot" here) is Ben Quick, a drifter with a real bad rep, who arrives to the Louisiana estate of Will Varner (Orson Welles, perspiring through fake nose and swarthy greasepaint). Nearly immediately, Quick insinuates himself into the financial stakes and personal neuroses of the entire Varner clan, while also enflaming the passionate dis/interest of the unmarried 23 year old "spinster" Clara (Joanne Woodward, giving a thrillingly apt performance). Ultimately, The Long Hot Summer becomes a romance -- part Shakespearean, part soaperatic -- complete with three couples securing the conclusion with wedding plans.


Lee Remick plays Eula, the babydoll newlywed wife of the scion of the Varner family's fortune, Jody (an oddly desparate Anthony Franciosa). Eula's a luscious baby belle who's alternately rattling illuminating inanities or squealing with delight while being pursued by Jody. Remick invests Eula with surprising intelligence & the result is a performance that is much more interesting than the simple role. At 19 in this performance, Remick here shows the actorly acuity that made her one of the best beautiful actresses of her era.


Angela Lansbury plays Minnie Littlejohn, the golddigging town tart with her claws into (and her heart wide open for) the deeply unappealing Will Varner (Welles). Lansbury here is luminously erotic -- believe it -- & her quest to marry the noxious patriarch becomes tender in its misguided ferocity. A lesser actress might have played only the comedy (which Lansbury nails at every turn) but Lansbury adds a simple generosity to the schtick, making a complete character out of what might otherwise been merely a character part.

Both Remick and Lansbury have scanty screen time in this strangely intricate tale. Yet every moment conveys the humanity, intelligence and beauty of their women, who could have just as easily become jokey little Southern caricatures. To Lulu, that's being a real Supporting Actress. And why actresses like Lee Remick & Angela Lansbury are such treasures.

PS: Don't worry Lulu hasn't forgotten about Maureen Stapleton in Lonelyhearts. The final Supporting Actress Sunday for 1958 is still to come: Sunday, April 30. Also, don't forget to VOTE FOR MAY's Supporting Actress Sunday roster. And, finally, thanks to one and all for making this past week of Supporting Actress Sundays so fantabulously fun...

4.24.2006

Remembering Carlos Esquibel (October 9, 1968-October 24, 2005)

It was six months ago today that The Stinkys' beloved friend Carlos Esquibel was found, murdered, in his home near downtown Albuquerque. To date, the case is cold & police have neither identified nor apprehended a perpetrator.

Carlos' murder remains unsolved, but neither Carlos nor the heartwrenching circumstances of his death are forgotten by those who love him. So, some time ago StinkyLulu personally resolved to, on the 24th of each month, consciously and publicly remember Carlos. First, by rereading the eulogy that MrStinky gave at Carlos' funeral. And, second, by telling someone about Carlos.

Lovely reader, on this sad 6th-months anniversary, you are that "someone." And to keep things just a little StinkyLulu-ish, it might be right to tell you about the last phone message Lulu got from Carlos -- which was about a movie.

See, just two weeks' before his murder, Carlos had a birthday & his best friend gave him the DVD of John Waters' latest opus: A Dirty Shame. Carlos missed the flick in theatres but, the night before he called Lulu, he watched his birthday copy 2 or 3 times in succession. For all kinds of reasons, some of which Carlos rattled off in the short duration of the phone message he left on Lulu's cel, Carlos was seeking a screening partner with whom to rewatch the movie -- and to dish & discuss it as it played. MrStinky rightly recommended Lulu (whose passion for all things JohnWaters-esque leaves MrStinky non-plussed). StinkyLulu deleted the message & planned to make a date the next time Carlos' path crossed Lulu's. Days later, Carlos was dead. Lulu hasn't yet rescreened the pic, not sure why...

It's a strange thing to lose someone so tragically. Stranger still when someone's passing remains clouded by mystery, violence, injustice.
Yet, every 24th, it's a reminder to "love the one you're with"...
So, share your love, lovely readers.
And thanks for sharing in StinkyLulu's.

4.23.2006

Supporting Actress Smackdown - 1958


Welcome, lovely readers!
To StinkyLulu's First Supporting Actress Smackdown!!!!

As you may or may not know, StinkyLulu's undertaken a newish project:

Supporting Actress Sundays is project for the long haul. Each Sunday for a month of Sundays, StinkyLulu (re)screens all and offers an extended commentary on the nominees (plus some of those snubbed) from a given year's roster of Oscar hopefuls (the year is selected by StinkyLulu's lovely readers). Toward the end of that month, StinkyLulu joins with fellow movie obsessives to create a virtual roundtable -- or Supporting Actress Smackdown -- for the year in question.

For this first Smackdown, StinkyLulu's tickled, thrilled and privileged to be joined by the prodigiously productive Nick of Nick's Flick Picks AND the indefagitably industriousNathaniel of The Film Experience.

The Year is 1958...
But oh! -- Lovely reader, if you haven't already, you simply must jaunt over to Nathaniel's for the marvelous clipreel of 1958's Supporting Performances. Nathaniel constructed this glorious montage expressly for our edification and exhilaration. Pause to be in awe.
(Quick aside about format: Because Lulu's all about Love, the Smackdowners comments are listed according to ascending love levels. Summary thoughts from the Smackdowners are at the end. Click the nominee's name/film for StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sunday review; the Stapleton review'll be published next Sunday.)

And 1958's Supporting Actresses are...
Nick Sez Y
"A close facsimile of the kind of farcical stock figure that probably worked better on stage. She hunkers in, shrills her lines high and loud, cleans up semi-prettily, and basically disappears. Fine as these things go—but an Oscar nomination?"
StinkyLulu Sez YYY
"Does it up and does it well. Sweet and silly, the full-out farce is strange to review in an Oscar field but Cass does what she does exceedingly well. Plus, that voice! Simply can't think of the movie without hearing it."
Nathaniel Sez YYY
"Possibly too big a turn but you have to pitch to the rafters if you're trying to keep up with rat-a-tat-tat Roz' (not an easy task in any film). Bonus points: I share "Gooch"'s unquenchable thirst for Dr. Pepper."

Nick Sez YY
"I like it when voters gravitate toward unsensational performers, doing journeyman work with largely functional roles. Still, I don't think Hiller plumbs that deeply here, and I don't buy her with Lancaster at all. Intriguing, but too severe."
Nathaniel Sez
YYYYY
"Given the usual confines of the mature businesswoman role, I found her physicality and rich voice a sensual surprise. Whether continually in motion or silent and still with her back to the camera, you can always 'read' the emotions."
StinkyLulu Sez YYYYY
"Perhaps it's the simplicity of surprise, but this performance caught Lulu totally off-guard & -- now, weeks later -- still has Lulu pondering its workings. Hiller offers an uncommonly textured performance of a role that, in different hands, would likely have been a simple serviceable performance of a serviceworker role."

Nathaniel Sez Y
"Generally speaking the thaw of the ice queen is my favorite of character arcs. So when someone plays a frosty uptight woman who melts for love and manages to bore me to tears, they're doing something wrong. Wooden and unsatisfying."
StinkyLulu Sez YY
"Hyer gets a little bit of Lulu's love for the chops she showed opposite Shirley in that not quite last scene. But otherwise? Big puddle of boring."
Nick Sez YYY
"This film rarely affords its cast the heady, expressive leeway that we feel in the music and the images, so Hyer occasionally gets stuck as The Girl. But in scenes like her schoolroom confidential with MacLaine, she shows real muscle."

Nick Sez YY
"The most offbeat film in the bunch, but not the most interesting performance. Stapleton convinces us that she's turned on by Monty Clift, but surely there are bigger challenges? Not a rich enough part to warrant a nod."
Nathaniel Sez
YYY
"It's certainly forceful acting. But I had more questions about the character than answers. Each scene was beautifully played but the performance didn't seem cohesive causing me to imagine that they'd cut a key scene."
StinkyLulu Sez YYYY
"Vulnerable, vicious, voracious... Stapleton's concentrated jolt of a performance is strange but thrilling, a surprising prototype for all Hollywood's Fatal Attractions yet to come. Too bad she had to do most of her work opposite that big-head-on-a-wood-stick, Montgomery Clift."

StinkyLulu Sez Y
"It's an expert journeyman performance in a throwaway cliche of a role. But Lulu can't help but feel it's a performance that any remotely competent actress could have given."
Nick Sez YYYY
"Stanley Kramer, all too typically, keeps forcing theses and emblems of American race relations down our throats, so Williams' subtly and slowly revealed racism offers terrific counterpoint. The only nominee with real mystery."
Nathaniel Sez
YYYY
"She may overplay the sexuality of her role as "the woman", but what's note-worthy is the dead accurate portrayal of casual racism, full of shrugging 'I just don't know any better' rationalization and self-serving ignorance"
So, by a Y the Smackdown agrees with Oscar?!?!?!
(Who'da thunk't.)

And now some "Final Thoughts" from our inveterate SMACKDOWNERS:
StinkyLulu Sez: "Viewing these performances as a field, it's striking that these ladies are all teetering on some kind of sexual precipice. Peggy and Martha didn't even know they wanted it; Maureen and Cara have been waiting for it way too long; and Wendy's worried she'll never get it again. It's a curiously continuous horniness -- almost like Oscar had "erotic frustration" as an extra, secret, unannounced criterion in selecting nominees. And perhaps that's the explanation for the absence of certain other 1958 Supporting Actress nominations that would have certainly complicated the field. (Most notably, for Lulu at least, Madeleine Sherwood as "SisterWoman" Mae Pollitt in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.) Fascinating though to consider. Are there any other "theme" years in terms of acting nominations?"
Nick Sez: "When I remember The Defiant Ones, Williams is immediately part of the memory, which I can't say of her fellow nominees. You walk into her cabin expecting Dita Parlo in Grand Illusion, but by sexing up the atmosphere so fast and then souring it with her bigoted ignorance, she complicates our perceptions more than anything else in the movie. By contrast, Peggy Cass and Martha Hyer are outshone in their own films by Coral Browne and Leora Dana. To be fair, the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor fields weren't any richer, and I am always glad to be exposed to some new faces, or to some interesting early work by future fixtures like Hiller and Stapleton. But on the whole? Meh. Chili-cooking, tarot-reading Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil: now that's some kind of an actress. Even Mercedes McCambridge in the same movie does more with one butch haircut and four short words ("I want to watch!") than all these five gals combined."
Nathaniel Sez: "Prior to these screenings I had only seen Auntie Mame. So apart from Peggy Cass and Maureen Stapleton, I was unfamiliar with the actressesnominated. Having no idea who Wendy Hiller was, I assumed that the nominated and winning lady from Separate Tables was the hilariously bitchy senior citizen (Gladys Cooper, herself a three time Supporting Actress nominee) who terrorizes the other tenants with her judgments. You know this woman: She's the kind that Maggie Smith can portray (and get nominated for) in her sleep. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the performance that was actually nominated and went on to win was the one that I myself was most drawn to. That's a rare treat, when Oscar and I meet and find common ground."

So, lovely readers, do you "meet and find common ground" with the Smackdowners for 1958? If so, if no -- please do continue the Smackdown in comments. And if you would like to join the fun/insanity/obsessiveness of a future smack down, just email StinkyLulu... The next Smackdown should be May 28 for a Year of Nominees yet to be determined.

Cara Williams in THE DEFIANT ONES (1958) - Supporting Actress Sundays

Cara Williams has her work cut out for her in Stanley Kramer's The Defiant Ones. She's the only woman billed in the opening credits (indeed, she's one of only 2 women with speaking roles) and she doesn't even show up on screen until the climactic convolutions of the movie's final act.

The movie itself is a complicated grab-bag of genres. Having never seen the film from front to back, StinkyLulu expected The Defiant Ones to track the way it is conventionally remembered. References to The Defiant Ones tend to emphasize the chemistry/relationship of leading men Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis, considering the film an cinematic exercise in racial tolerance with the chains linking them as a device/metaphor to describe the intransigent mutual tethers uniting-not-dividing white and black America at midcentury. Fair enough. (Poitier/Curtis relationship also -- o'course -- also informs queerer readings of the film as the prototype for the homosocial supermasculine buddy/romance movies of the 1970s & 1980s.)

Such conventional ways of remembering The Defiant Ones neglect the two other main story arcs in the film. The first -- the finely calibrated parallel narrative of the manhunt -- actually provides the structure of the film. See, structurally, the film's mostly an "escape caper" (esCaper?) where a good deal of the narrative pleasure derives from the anti-heroes narrowly escaping from scrape after scrape as they somehow elude capture. (This genre becomes all the more formalized in the 1970s & 1980s as well -- The Warriors is perhaps Lulu's favorite of this genre -- until things get to TV's Alias in the '00s and then, well, anyway....) But there's a third genre structuring The Defiant Ones as well (& this is where Cara Williams finally gets in the mix): the cracker comedy of manners.

For reasons that are too wierd & complicated to go into here, the "cracker comedy of manners" was all the rage in the later 1950s. Suffice it, "The South" (as an idea, not a historical or geographical place) provides a kind of erotic license to Hollywood, permitting white people to get all filthy in all kinds of ways. Even in 1958, some cracker comedies of manners are silly, sometimes serious, but always they let the sex hang in the air. In The Defiant Ones, o'course, the "cracker comedy" is not too too funny and the sexual vibe in the air (Curtis/Poitier) is more "latent than blatant." But generic convention of the "cracker comedy" routes the diversions along the way for this escaper, first to the work camp where Curtis/Poitier are nearly lynched by a mob led by uber-cracker Claude Akins, and then to the remote farm house where "The Woman" (Cara Williams) lives alone with her son (sorta like a a hillbilly version Timmy & his mom, minus Lassie).

As the "The Woman," Cara Williams is Southern sexpot in dungarees. And though she ain't quite a Griselda, Williams' Woman is definitely "enflamed" the second she sees Tony Curtis. With every aching turn of her neck, Williams ebodies both the libidinal license and racist banalities of Hollywood's vision of the South. It's an expertly efficient performance. Williams creates with glares and glances a simple woman who "likes pretty things" (like Tony Curtis), who wants more than anything to go to Mardi Gras, and who is more than willing to send Poitier to his death in order to secure her own escape. It's a pivotal performance, pungent and memorable. And while Williams' work is a bit "conspicuous" for StinkyLulu's taste, it's no surprise that Williams snagged the nomination with this work. What's sad is that, in discussion of The Defiant Ones Cara Williams' work -- the highpoint of her strangely scanty career -- has been nearly forgotten.
Another example of the potential cruelty of of a kiss from Oscar.

4.22.2006

BAH! or "Blog Against Heteronormativity" Day (April 22)


click image for link

Now, StinkyLulu knows that some of you lovely readers try to avoid the fabulations of academentia, and a few of you are likely to be all "Heteronormawhazzat?!?" upon seeing the title of this post. But Lulu's brilliant bud afrofuturist tapped StinkyLulu to answer blac(k)ademic's worthy call for today (April 22) to be a day to "Blog Against Heteronormativity" or -- as Lulu's come to think of it -- BAH!
StinkyLulu started out to compose a haiku against heteronormativity but Lulu gets confused counting syllables...so, instead StinkyLulu offers the following ruminations to the cause:

MrStinky & Inez both got borned to big talkin' poppas: life of the party, church-loathing, big-mouthed men who loved their sissy sons so much it hurt their mucho macho hearts. And despite their occasional consternation over how their boys were manifesting into adulthood, these fathers' unrepentant love for their sons typically trumped their banal biases. Except for when it came to this heteronormativity schtick. Somehow some of the only times StinkyLulu saw the mean sides of these otherwise lovely men came through their devotion to the principle of heteronormativity -- the idea that hetero is better, oh so much better than the homo, no matter so...
And what's strange is that, between these two very different men, their pledge of allegiance to heteronormativity took the same formula: men + women = babies. An algebraic teleology affirmed by chest thumping, table pounding, voice raising, etcetera, etcetera. This commitment to the procreative imperative led to curious logical lapses: some exceptions -- childless married couples -- proved the rule, while others -- gay or lesbian couples -- broke it. And while their patriotic allegiance to heteronormativity didn't necessarily stop them from loving their sons, it did threaten to forever shut them out of their sons' experience of love. (And so it did for Inez' pop who died before he could love his son in love.)

Heteronormativity (& its accusatory twin, heterosexism) become so sad for StinkyLulu because they can stop a loving heart. Block the arteries, as 'twere, creating a kind of spiritual heart failure. Sure, it makes Lulu mad. But, truly, Lulu only really ever gets mad after something makes Lulu real sad.
So, lovely reader, on this day of BAH! (Blogging Against Heteronormativity) keep that open-hearted love pumping.
It's really the only way to stay truly alive.

4.21.2006

It's a LuLu! (Homo Heritage Fridays)


from After Dark: The National Magazine of Entertainment, March 1977, page 76.

Can't decide on whether to do the whole ensemble. Or go for the separates...
Hmm.
Cute pockets.

4.20.2006

Linky Lurv ala Lulu

It's Thursday. Lulu's having a lackalala morning. (Attention span? What's an attention span?) Perhaps it's cuz Lulu's looking at the world through literally brand new glasses. Or sumpin.

So 'tseemed as a good a time as any to share some Linky Lurv. (Have fun, lovelies.)
  • As prelude to this Sunday's first Supporting Actress Smackdown, be sure to check out this encounter between 2 legendary Oscarred divas: MarciaGay & LaBurstyn on O (via TVgasm). (Strange -- Lulu caught the actual broadcast & doesn't remember the encounter quite the same way; really, it seemed much more spuhrtchuhl at the time. Ah well. Memory's a funny thing. But not quite as funny as this clip...)
  • For those moments when you think your career's going nowhere, consider the plight of poor Anne Sellors (See Ms. Sellors' "claim to fame" for yourself here.)
  • Flashback to "the musical for the 80s": The REAL Dreamgirls.
  • Lulu loves Rosie. Always will. Wonder if she'll be selling "Freak Flags"; Lulu'd fly one.
  • Say hello to new Lulu friends from across da pond: MainlyMovies & The Film Lair.
  • And April 28th's just around the corner! So don't forget to sign up for the extraordinary blog convergence that Nathaniel's got rolling over at The Film Experience:


click image for info

Lulu'll likely be abloggin' on one of LaPfeiffer's earliest performance -- one in which she expressed a timeless sentiment long-dear to little Lulu's heart, a feeling that kept Lulu warm many a lonely adolescent night, a notion that goes something like this:

If you really want to know

What I want in a guy...
Well, I'm lookin' for a dream on a mean machine
With hell in his eyes.
I want a devil in skin tight leather,
And he's gonna be wild as the wind.
And one fine night, I'll be holdin' on tight..

4.19.2006

Tina Louise in GOD'S LITTLE ACRE (1958) - CouldaShouldaWoulda Wednesdays

Judging from Cara Williams' nominated performance as "The Woman" in The Defiant Ones (check back on Sunday for Lulu's riff)... And from Tina Louise's non-nominated work as the uncommonly comely Griselda in God's Little Acre...

Seems that horny hillbilly-fillies 'twere all the rage in 1958.


Ty Ty: Is that watermelon cool & ripe & ready to eat?
Griselda: Sure is, Paw.

click image for source

The opening moments of this film are just enthralling -- radiant black & white cinematography, Joe Valino and The Gospelaires blasting the crazy title track, the lurid rep of the story and the film, all that and Tina Louise too ?!? -- Lulu was just giddy. Giddy, ah'tell'ya, giddy. Then. (Sigh) Then, the movie actually got started.


God's Little Acre's sorta a jalopy of a movie. Part cracker comedy of manners, part sprawling tale of domestic discord and misguided dreams -- the dang wreck barely holds together and's got no plot to move it from beginning to end. Luckily there's the considerable talents of Tina Louise.


Really, Tina Louise is about the only reason to stay interested in the movie. (Aside, o'course, from the treat of a totally cute, very young Michael Landon playing an albino boy that the Walden clan abducts from the swamp to help find GrandPappy's hidden gold. The youngest Walden gal -- Darlin' Jill -- takes a fancy to albino Dave & decides to keep him and pet him like he was her own goat, though she lets Uncle Felix -- the Walden's favored sharecropper -- keep albino Dave penned up & disciplined. But that's the subject of another post, s'pose...)

But as Griselda, Tina Louise offers a consistent, precise and interesting performance. (What's amazing is that Lulu noticed Tina's acting -- or, more precisely, her intense exuding -- independent of her glorious breasts. Tina's bosom is just astonishing. All the more so for the fact that Tina's bosom is ostensibly "all natural" talent, no surgery -- just finely engineered underwiring -- to augment it.) Though she -- along with most of the cast -- opt for the "strike a pose & emote" school of acting, Louise gives a surprisingly fine performance in this strange and tawdry little flick. From this, it seems almost plausible that she could have had a further career as a serious actress had she elected for a different gig during that fateful summer of 1964...

And this from Lulu -- who always loved "the rest" best.

4.18.2006

Charo Says "Taste My Taco!"

Some good stuff's a'cooking, lovely reader...

from After Dark: The National Magazine of Entertainment, March 1977, page 6.

StinkyLulu's got some tasty treats in store for the rest of the week, so keep checking in. You'll find...
  • Hillbilly Harlots on Wednesday & Sunday!
  • Sunday's 1958 Supporting Actress Smackdown with Nick and Nathaniel!
  • Homo Heritage!
  • And gosh knows what all!
Can't say if it'll be as fabulous as Charo's taco.
But it'll surely be as least as cute as Delilah.

4.16.2006

Wendy Hiller in SEPARATE TABLES (1958) - Supporting Actress Sundays

Before undertaking Supporting Actress Sundays for 1958, StinkyLulu really had no inkling as to who Wendy Hiller might be. A quick glance at her credits suggested that Hiller was just another of "those" British stage actresses, the sort who occasionally slum in American movies & whose perfect yet turgid performances are as magnets to American acting trophies. And while, to a certain extent, Dame Wendy's expert turn in this film does mark her as such, Hiller's performance here is also one of "those" Supporting Actress performances: genius work introducing Lulu to a previously unnoticed/forgotten actress inhabiting a character at the story's edges. Such performances are the sort that will forever make this category StinkyLulu's very favorite, performances like that delivered by...


...Wendy Hiller in Separate Tables (1958).
approximately 21 minutes and 49 seconds
12 scenes
roughly 22% of film's total running time
(data courtesy of Raybee)

This is a film nearly lousy with beautiful leading ladies turning in reels of emphatically "serious" actressing. Deborah Kerr's aquiline elegance is frumped -- nay, gooched nearly beyond repair. (Plus Kerr's character's smitten with a strange man who molests matrons in movie houses.) Rita Hayworth's torrid curves are girdled and gilded into a proper porcelain shell. (O'course Hayworth's character's also a man-eating sex-addict. Good times.) All of which makes for much scenery-chewing mayhem amidst this painfully English scenario of quiet lives lived quietly at a residential hotel on the southern coast of post-war Britain.


Through it all, Wendy Hiller's Miss Pat Cooper -- the establishment's proprietor & the kind of hotel manager that makes one deathly frightened of mussing the towels -- just glides...elegant, serene, implacable. Nonethe, as this curious story unfolds it's clear that Hiller's Miss Cooper provides the emotional center for the narrative's odd assortment of misfits. Most of Hiller's lines are the banal patter of service work -- obligatory politenesses, scraping niceties, humble directives -- and it's something of a marvel to watch Hiller both conceal/reveal Pat Cooper through Miss Cooper's professional fa├žade. Within this apparatus of hospitality, Hiller's performance calibrates Miss Cooper's affect and expression to -- at every moment -- provide just the slightest glimpse of what Pat might be thinking or feeling.


But it's really an early scene that anchored StinkyLulu's admiration for Wendy Hiller's work in this sublimely supporting role. In this scene, Hiller grabs a private moment with Burt Lancaster's character, who has stumbled into the hotel drunk and with whom she is having a secret but clearly thrilling affair. Hiller's plainness disappears when she looks at Lancaster and an extraordinary beauty emerges: Miss Pat Cooper is clearly randy for Burt. Possibly this scene alone reveals Wendy Hiller to be truly gorgeous. (Indeed, it may be that Lulu kept looking to see that Miss Pat again for the remainder of the film.) In this early scene, Wendy Hiller reveals herself to be the kind of actress that StinkyLulu loves best of all: a woman with a great, distinctive face who can be astonishingly gorgeous or downright homely depending on the requirements of the scene. Just a handful of actresses can truly do this without the aid of a costume/makeup (think Collette, Close, Spacek) and Wendy Hiller's clearly among this rare breed.

StinkyLulu didn't expect to admire this performance so. Indeed, Lu thought Hiller's win in 1958 may have been a case of the Academy taking the British (aka "easy") way out. But Hiller seems a remarkable bird. 3 nominations out of 15 films (2 Best Actress noms, for Pygmalion/1938 and A Man For All Seasons/1966) with at least 2 potential Coulda/Shoulda/Wouldas (for Voyage of the Damned/1976 and The Elephant Man/1980) in there to mix things up even more. But, hey, that's why StinkyLulu loves Supporting Actress Sunday: these ladies are just full of surprises.

BTW -- StinkyLulu has no idea how David Niven snagged the Best Actor trophy for this. Any ideas?

4.15.2006

Gwen Verdon in DAMN YANKEES (1958): StinkyLulu's 1st Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda Profile

During each month of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays (aka SSASys), Lu will -- from time to time -- pause to (re)screen & offer opinage upon at least five noteworthy but non-nominated performances by actresses in Supporting Roles for the year under scrutiny. [Edited to Add: The ever nifty Queering The Apparatus is preparing a poll addressing your favorite Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda performances of the last couple decades. Be sure to check it out & contribute. To that end, Nick's offering able guidance on same.]

For this month's SSASy year -- 1958 -- the coulda/shoulda/woulda Non-Noms certainly include:

Gwen Verdon in Damn Yankees

Sure. Verdon prolly coulda/shoulda/woulda snagged a nom for this performance in the Best Actress category, despite the simple fact that the part of Lola is truly a supporting role. Glorious, showstopping & most memorable thing about this geezer of a musical, yes, but still a supporting role. Indeed, it was Gwen Verdon's irresistable charm and incomparable dancing that secured her as the star of the original Broadway cast (most of whom appear in the Hollywood version). And despite delightful performances from Tab Hunter (one of the few non-B'way faces turning in a sweet, silly and sexy performance as a baseball fan who sells his soul so that his beloved team might win the pennant), veteran dame Rae Allen (as a tough-as-nails lady journo), & Ray Walston (as a dandy of a devil), it's Verdon's performance as the devil's minion Lola, formerly "the ugliest woman in Providence, Rhode Island," that provides both the heart and soul of this strange musical.

The character of Lola is a hustler, a scammer, a shape-shifter -- she becomes who she needs to become in order to tempt and/or entrap prey for her pimp (aka her boss aka Ray Walston aka Applegate aka The Devil). Verdon's sexy and hilarious when Lola shows up in the lockerroom all encased in black lace & topped with an enormous cherry-red bow. She's introduced as "Senorita Lolita Hernando, Miss West Indies" and Verdon's goofball accent is part Betty Boop, part Ricky Ricardo. And the number -- or, more precisely, the striptease -- that follows is hyperbolic in both its sexuality and its absurdity. Throughout, Verdon's quite funny and totally sexy, yet...somehow, Verdon's Lola is also weary, edgy and even sad. Even in this campyvampy first number. When discussing Lola in the recent documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, Verdon talks about how Bob Fosse encouraged her to play the subtext of the part -- the homely, chubby little girl who sold her soul to be beautiful forever -- in every moment. And its this emotional reality that illuminates Verdon's Lola. It's a real acting performance, one of Verdon's few to be captured fully on film. O'course the great numbers, costumes, and gams prolly kept Verdon from being seriously regarded as an actress. But from this distance, its clear: Gwen Verdon's Lola is one of the great non-nominated performances of 1958.

UP NEXT in COULDA/SHOULDA/WOULDAs for 1958:
Tina Louise in God's Little Acre.

This series may likely begin regular publications on Wednesdays (replacing the fun-for-Lulu-but-apparently-for-few-others series, WednesDAY of Beauty) as "Coulda Shoulda Woulda Wednesdays."

4.14.2006

"Don't Be Afraid To Look Sexy" (Homo Heritage Fridays)


From Blueboy: The International Magazine About Men, July 1977, page 34.

So many options! (Though, clearly, prioritizing "hotness" over comfort.)

And don't be afraid, lovely reader--
Tell Lulu in comments which item most tickles your "fancy"?
(Be sure to click image for larger view; it's quite an inventory.)

4.12.2006

Estetica de Ella (StinkyLulu's WednesDAY OF BEAUTY)


Estetica de Ella • San Mateo y Menaul • ABQ • March 2006

The Art of Her...

4.11.2006

Cast Your Vote for MAY's "Supporting Actress Sunday" Series

Yeah yeah it's waaay early -- but y'know, it's never too too early to start thinking about how you want to cast your vote for the MAY roster of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays.

Thoroughout the month of May, StinkyLulu will offer comment on the nominated and snubbed Supporting Actress performances for whichever year (from those listed below) gets the most support from you lovely readers. (And , really, StinkyLulu does need your help in making such a difficult decision.)
Finally, for a whole pile of reasons, StinkyLulu has imposed a "recent past" caveat (so nothing from the later '90s or the '00s).

So, please, do submit your vote for the year of your choice via email or in comments.
Thanks!

Oscar, May I?
  • 1941: Teresa Wright in "Mrs. Miniver", Gladys Cooper in "Now, Voyager", Agnes Moorehead in "The Magnificent Ambersons", Susan Peters in "Random Harvest", Dame May Whitty in "Mrs. Miniver"
  • 1950: Josephine Hull in "Harvey", Hope Emerson in "Caged", Celeste Holm in "All About Eve", Nancy Olson in "Sunset Boulevard," Thelma Ritter in "All About Eve"
  • 1959: Shelley Winters in "The Diary of Anne Frank", Hermione Baddeley in "Room at the Top", Susan Kohner in "Imitation of Life", Juanita Moore in "Imitation of Life", Thelma Ritter in "Pillow Talk"
  • 1968: Ruth Gordon in "Rosemary's Baby", Lynn Carlin in "Faces", Sondra Locke in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter", Kay Medford in "Funny Girl", Estelle Parsons in "Rachel, Rachel"
  • 1977: Vanessa Redgrave in "Julia", Leslie Browne in "The Turning Point", Quinn Cummings in "The Goodbye Girl", Melinda Dillon in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", Tuesday Weld in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"
  • 1986: Dianne Wiest in "Hannah and Her Sisters", Tess Harper in "Crimes of the Heart", Piper Laurie in "Children of a Lesser God", Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in "The Color of Money", Maggie Smith in "A Room with a View"
  • 1995: Mira Sorvino in "Mighty Aphrodite", Joan Allen in "Nixon", Kathleen Quinlan in "Apollo 13", Mare Winningham in "Georgia", Kate Winslet in "Sense and Sensibility"

4.09.2006

Martha Hyer in SOME CAME RUNNING (1958) - Supporting Actress Sundays

Martha Hyer's nomination for Some Came Running stands as one of those moments -- the kind where even the most inveterate Oscar-philiac must ask: "What Was Oscar Smoking?"
...Martha Hyer in Some Came Running (1958).
approximately 28 minutes and 13 seconds
10 scenes
roughly 20% of film's total running time
(data courtesy of Raybee)

Some Came Running exemplifies the bloated banality of bad 1950s weepies. Huge cardboard cast, big overly goofy sets, unrelenting plotting/plodding adapted from a suspiciously pedigreed original -- it's Auntie Mame without humor, irony, style or a compelling central performance.

And while it may not be entirely her fault -- nearly all of Hyer's scenes are opposite Frank Sinatra -- but, dang, if Martha Hyer's performance ain't just a big puddle of boring in the middle of this midwestern, midcentury morassy morality tale. Hyer's subsequent rep as a swinging chick notwithstanding, here Hyer's the prudish, proper paragon ostensibly star-crossed with Sinatra's hard drinking, hard living character. Perhaps the up-and-coming pinup was cast opposite the big star to prove her range as an actress? Any other straws for Lulu to grasp?

As so often happens, most of Hyer's best acting can be seen in her hair. (Hey, the costume designer was nominated.) Basically, Hyer's got a Mrs. C coif -- the twoinky bangs updone to look like "Brown 'n' Serve" buns, the rest swept into some hive of hairspray and bobby pins at the back. At the moment of her character's greatest emotional release, Sinatra yanks Hyer's hair free -- at once signalling her emotional confinement and erotic liberation when in Sinatra's hands. As Hyer shakes her woman-thou-art-loosed hairdo, she becomes both temptress and vaguely unkempt poodle. The moment almost works.

But what's startling about Hyer's nomination is that she's outacted by nearly every other female performance in the flick. From Leora Dana's hypocritical shrew of a sister-in-law, to Carmen Phillips' alternately witty & catatonic bad girl, or Connie Gilchrist's sainted tippling mother, or even Mrs. C herself (Marion Ross in a kicky little cameo as Dean Martin's spunky, bewimpled nurse) -- almost every actress crossing the screen contributes something more interesting or more compelling than Martha Hyer in the role of Gwen "I'm a school teacher, not a schoolgirl" French.

Indeed, the Best Supporting Actress performance that should have been nominated is Shirley Maclaine's in the role of Ginny, the chirpy, plaintive and broken-heart-of-gold hoochie. (Perhaps because of Maclaine's star billing, the performance was nominated, though in the "Best Actress" category -- this despite the fact that Maclaine has roughly half the actual screen time as Hyer. Oscar logic. Go figure. Nonetheless, Maclaine's performance in this flick becomes the actress' own Nights in Cabiria prelude to her work, a decade later, in the same/different part in Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity.) Here, Maclaine's performance elevates Hyer's too. In what is arguably the most interesting scene in the film, Maclaine's Ginny seeks out Hyer's Gwen to ask if Gwen loves Sinatra/Dave, cuz if she doesn't Ginny'll be happy to take him. Maclaine's electric combination of naivete and worldweariness actually elicits real response from Hyer, whose ice-queen facade finally crumbles to give a glaring glimpse of the high-minded Gwen's fatal hypocrisy. Maclaine's able to make Hyer's character almost compelling. It's a good scene, testament both to Hyer's potential and the sheer force of Maclaine's always odd clarity. But nomination worthy?

So did Hyer snag this nomination as a result of heroic work by her publicist? Her paramour? Her hair? StinkyLulu's not sure. Yet Martha Hyer's nomination stands as testament to the curious ways that Best Supporting Actress handles its women, especially the damsels. Oscar's both a blessing and a curse, especially for its usually hollow promises of great work to come. Hyer's "serious actress" stint seems almost stunted after this nomination. Her fault? Hard to say. She's hardly alone in this fate. But she's also hardly the reason to see Some Came Running.

4.07.2006

"do it Ts" (Homo Heritage Fridays)


From Blueboy: The International Magazine About Men, April 1980, page 79.

Things were simpler in the 70s. Even the message tees.
Sorta wish they had a "Loose" model.
(Be sure to click image for larger view; how 'bout that inventory.)

4.06.2006

Wonder What Kind of Tiara...

The indispensable Crooks & Liars pointed Lulu to this fascinating article by Elizabeth A. Castelli about that conference about the "War on Christians" at which Tom DeLay recently whined.

In the article, Castelli offers a summary report about all kinds of things on the minds of these post-Millenial Christian soldiers, including:
  • How "academic programs in theatre, film, and performance studies [are] hotbeds of secular and sexual deviance."
  • How "the organizers and participants in the conference spend far more time than the average gay person thinking about, talking about, and fantasizing about gayness."
  • How "When the powerful claim to be powerless and use this claim and a purportedly divine mandate to authorize a no-holds-barred attack on political institutions, we are on dangerous ground, indeed."
  • How Tom Crouse has inaugurated a “Mr. Hetero” contest." (No, not Tom Cruise, Tom Crouse, the Massachusetts pastor...)
Betcha that title comes with a real cute tiara & sash... But, alas, it seems one must purchase the DVD to be see how cute. In the meantime, read Castelli's article. It's smart, substantial & scary.

4.05.2006

The Gayest Thing (meme)

Just brushed against a nifty meme-ish thing: The Gayest Thing.

It's posted by Criticlasm, one of StinkyLulu's friends from wayback (ie. working on the 3rd decade) with whom Lu has undertaken some "way gay" adventures. (Including the very embarassing memories of subjecting mutual friend Berry to extended lipsynch renditions of Stephen Sondheim musicals -- the summer after high school graduation. That's pretty f'n gay...) And now, reviewing the contents of this blog (Wednesdays of Beauty, Homo Heritage Fridays, Cupcake Commentary & -- o'course -- Supporting Actress Sundays), seems like every day is way gay in StinkyLuluLand...

But StinkyLulu loves the idea of "The Gayest Thing" -- 'specially cuz even non-homos can occasionally play way gay -- so 'twill meditate a little to determine StinkyLulu's Gayest Thing.

'Tis sure to be scaaaaaaaaary.

Headliners (StinkyLulu's WednesDAY OF BEAUTY)


Headliners: A Salon of Many Faces • San Mateo & Constitution • ABQ • March 2006

That almost sounds like the tagline to a horror movie...

4.04.2006

Big City Cupcakes

It's funny. Before making the acquaintance of Cupcake Planet, StinkyLulu barely knew of the gastronomic drama (gastrodrama?) instigated by the recent cupcake frenzy in Manhattan. Now cupcakeries are popping up hither and yon. The Cupcake Fetish has even been felt in the ABQ. So, a week ago today, while on an unexpected & super sad jaunt to NYC, the Stinkys went whimsical for a day and undertook to sample some of the city's more notorious cupcake delights.


'Twas a bright & crisp Tuesday morn.
Things started with a quick pop into City Bakery for MrStinkys beloved hot chocolate (complete with homemade marshmallow -- to die for. The Marshmallow, that is. The hotchoc's a little sweet).

Then, 'twas off to:

Definitely the kindest cupcakerie of the day. The counterfolk were nice -- busybusybusy but friendly and quick with a dash of cuteness and a smile. Lulu enjoyed listening to them banter and giggle while they dolloped & smoothed the frosting on tray after tray of fresh cupcakes. Good vibe in Billy's.

As for the cakelets:
MrStinky believes that yellowcake with chocolate frosting is the definitive cupcake combo & was a touch miffed that the Yellow Daisy Cupcake was only available with Vanilla Buttercream frosting. Lu got the Chocolate Cupcake with the same Vanilla Buttercream. Oddly, the frosting was delish on the Yellow Daisy cake while nearly too sweet on the chocolate. Both cakes were goodish -- not real moist, but not too dry either. (The clear taste-test winner was the interloping wedge of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, which rings up under "pie" on the register. Yeah, yeah -- it's 'sposed to be a Cupcake Day, but StinkyLulu just lurves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake & Billy's was nearly ideal. Dense & moist but somehow light, perfectly sweet -- turned out to be one of Lulu's favorite tastes of the day.)

Then 'twas off to do some shophopping in what is ostensibly still called the Meatpacking District. That neighborhood now just freaks Lulu out. It's just wierd that the site of Lulu's youthful dissipation is now an upscale restaurant/nightclub....

But not quite as wierd as the next cupcake stop, the most notorious, much loved/loathed:

Magnolia can be a bit insane

What's sad is that the insanity shows on the faces of the staff. They stagger through the teensy tiny shop, visibly stunned -- hollow features, vacant eyes, nary a hint of a smile. StinkyLulu's first thought: "So this is what a cupcake sweatshop looks like."

Little did Lulu suspect that the sweatshop vibe would extend to the taste of said cupcakes. MrStinky thought his Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream was fine, nearly good. But Lulu's Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream? Ew. Ew. A 1000 times ew. Gunjiliganga says he loves how sweet Magnolia's frosting is; Lulu, on the other hand, nearly spat it out upon first taste. The texture of both cake and frosting was nearly perfect. Too bad it all tasted like sugarpoo.

Then 'twas time for a cupcakebreak -- some lunch, some more shopping, some time in StinkyLulu's favorite place in all NYC-- before the Stinkys made their way to the cusp of the Lower East Side & Chinatown for the final cupcake destination of the day:

This vegan upstart caused something of a scandal when 'twas recently named NYC's Best Cupcake. Honestly this was the cupcake StinkyLulu was most looking forward to: vegan, cute lady, frosting shots, excellent signage? What's not to love?

The vibe was -- in a word -- stressed. 'Twas clearly a long day -- the kind of long day that may well have stretched back a month or more. The phone was crazy (mostly press from what Lu could overhear). Delivery dudes were all over the place. The owner and the one staff person seemed to be more exhausted than pleased by the Stinkys' presence in the shop. Plus the water for MrStinky's tea was ridiculously hot (it was still hot -- not warm, hot -- when we hit the Ferry back to Staten Island nearly a half-hour later). StinkyLulu wanted the energy to be a more fun, so 'twas a little disappointing. (But still none of The Jungle vibe of Magnolia.)

MrStinky got a wheat-free Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting; Lulu opted for the Gluten-Free Carrot Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting. Lulu was in love at first bite. The cake was great -- tasty, rich, sweet -- but the frosting? Lu just wanted to buy a bucket and drink it through a straw. MrStinky was a little cupcaked-out by the time he bit into his, but even he had to agree about the uncommon magic of the frosting. Ever the surprising food snob, MrStinky dismissed "carrot" as a flavor for cupcakes: "That's no cupcake -- that's a muffin with frosting." So, Lulu was forced to get another sample, one that would more evenly match the previous tastes: Gluten-Free Chocolate with Vanilla. Again: delish-delish-delish. (Also, expensive-expensive-expensive. Roughly twice the price per cupcake as Billy's and Magnolia -- you pay for the pleasure of Babycakes.)

So, by day's end, MrStinky had no real favorites -- though he did seem genuinely impressed by Babycakes frosting. As far as the cupcakes go, the only cupcakes StinkyLulu would seek out again would be those from Babycakes. Given a choice though, betcha StinkyLu'd go for another slice of that PineappleUpsideDown from Billy's & MrStinky'd opt for a cookie & hot chocolate (with marshmallow) from CityBakery.
Old habits die hard.

All told, 'twas a fascinating bite of the the Big City Cupcake.

4.02.2006

Peggy Cass in AUNTIE MAME (1958) - Supporting Actress Sundays

Peggy Cass might well be the acting equivalent of a one-hit wonder.

Sure, she had other parts but -- really -- she got famous as a result of her work in the stage and screen versions of Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell. And she stayed famous by being famous, sitting on talk-show couches and celebrity panels, becoming an exemplar of that strange breed: "the television personality."

But MrStinky does love the 1958 film version of Auntie Mame.

And Peggy Cass' Agnes Gooch just makes him laugh. Out loud. And no surprise. Peggy Cass' performance as Agnes Gooch is a very simple, very smart, very silly, very effective supporting performance.

MrStinky may laugh so because Agnes Gooch -- as expertly played by Cass -- is basically an extended series of sight gags. A series of sight gags underscored, of course, by Cass' remarkable rasp of a voice. (In Gooch, Cass bellows right on the break of her voice, creating an extraordinary sound, something like gravel and glass being shaken in a coffee can.) So when Cass' Gooch isn't laying on the stair and/or the Danish Modern settee, or when she's not madly taking notes on Russell's ratatatat delivery, or when she's not absurdly crammed into an evening gown -- Cass hollers lines like "I'm your sponge!" or "I lived!" or "Will it mix with Dr. Pepper?" (On the other hand, StinkyLulu likes to think that MrStinky laughs so because Agnes Gooch -- like MrStinky -- is from Staten Island. Itsa theory...)

But ya gotta give it to LaCass: snagging an Oscar nomination as an actress in a broadly comic role and almost taking the statue home?!? (There's an old Jack Paar story that has him blaming himself for her loss because he campaigned so hard for Cass, one of his favorite guests.) Plus the role that made Cass famous (and vice/versa) is also the name of an alternarock band. Now that's unique testament to an indelible supporting performance...