Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Sentiments Exactly: I thought of creating a blog on the Sherrod incident. Frankly, I'm tired of it. The right wing extremists through the capture of the media got their 15 minutes of fun and fame in their attempt to wrest power through lies and at any cost. Unfortunately, I think they want much more. I read, on Huffington, an editorial entitled: "What the President Didn't Seem to Learn from the Shirley Sherrod Incident" by Richard Eskow which states my sentiments exactly. Time marches on. I hope the president has a "learnable moment." As Jason Robards said to his Washington Post fledgling reporters Woodward and Bernstein in Alan Pakula's film "All the President's Men" about Watergate leading up to the Nixon resignation. "You better get this right. Only our lives, our country and the fate of the free world depend on it." I post the Escow opinion below for your reading pleasure.
The Not So Mad Alternatives to Mad Men: I loved Matthew Gilbert's article in the "G" Section of July 23, 2010 Boston Globe on Mad Men! I particularly enjoyed his drawing parallels to actors of that bygone era who COULD have played the Man Men roles. I could not disagree with many of them. However, Gregory Peck as Don Draper might not have worked as Peck usually played such good men -- too good for that part. Peck in my mind solidifies that goodness in Atticus Finch ("To Kill a Mockingbird") and Phil Green who writes on anti-Semitism by going undercover as a Jewish man in ("Gentleman's Agreement") and would not, I think, fit the dark side of Don Draper well although admittedly "Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" drew parallels. My pick: Laurence Harvey. Who could forget the intensity when he played the maritally unfaithful Westin Liggett opposite Elizabeth Taylor's courtesan Gloria Wandress in "Butterfield 8" or in his role in Somerset Maughum's "Of Human Bondage" playing the obsessed, tortured and smitten med student who falls for a woman beneath his social class.

I would LOVE to have seen Lee Remick as Betty. What a wonderful actress Remick was. She combined beauty with emotional heft as exemplified in one of the all time great films "The Days of Wine and Roses." January Jones is problematic for me to judge. In a way she is PERFECT for that role with her Grace Kelly lovely looks and a hint that something is going on behind those beautiful eyes DESPITE the less than good SNL appearance. She does portray some depth of an unhappy unfulfilled lonely woman and does so with a kind of silence Mr. Gilbert so correctly observed about the initial Mad Men. Kim Novak as well could have been perfect for that role as I remember her co-starring with Kirk Douglas in "Strangers When We Meet." She too like Betty played an unfulfilled lonely woman in her marriage and fell for a more exciting man to compensate despite the ever-present social taboo of doing so.

A wow goes to Ava Gardner as Joan but a definite NO to Jayne Mansfield filling that role. In life Mansfield was not dumb but she almost always played the dumb blond trying her best to mimic, quite unsuccessfully I might add, Marylin Monroe. Mansfield was too typecast as that for the role of Joan. Joan is exceedingly smart. Ava Gardner would have been perfect!

I might add one more possibility for the role of Peggy. I can see Lyn Redgrave and most especially Patty Duke in that role but I'd throw in a young Shirley Maclain too remembering her intense role in Lillian Helman's "The Children's Hour" and as the woman in love with a married man in "The Apartment." Maclain could play it funny or serious but whatever role she took on she was, I think, the consummate professional.

I LOVE this series and will be watching it without fail as my own life bridges the culture divide of the 1950's,
the mid-sixties and beyond. The series has much to say and, as I remember that time, does so brilliantly. People may not realize it but much of what we now think, say and do has its etiology in that era whether we like to admit it or not.