Last night was British film night Chez Clark. Thanks to noir guru Michael Keaney I finally saw Whistle Down the Wind (1961), a film I have wanted to see again ever since I first saw it as an eight year-old. I am happy to report that it holds up very well. Clearly, I didn't fully appreciate it as a kid. I mainly remember it as the provocative first feature which preceded the unsettling and creepy Village of the Damned.
The plot concerns a runaway murderer who, while hiding in a barn on a remote Lancashire farm, is believed to be Jesus Christ by the local children. The story is essentially about faith and innocence and about how children taken things literally, and without guile. Hayley Mills is in it, and her record still stands: I have never seen a bad Hayley Mills film. They are all quite good: Pollyanna (1960), The Parent Trap (1961), Summer Magic (1963), The Moon-Spinners (1964), That Darn Cat! (1965), The Trouble With Angels (1966)... Even better, Michael let me borrow her first film, Tiger Bay (1959); I'm looking forward to seeing it.
I also watched an Ealing comedy from 1953, The Titfield Thunderbolt. Ealing comedies are like Penguin paperbacks, Converse Hightops or vintage VW Beetles - they are perfection. In this day and age Ealings are more gently amusing and charming than ha ha funny comedies, but that's okay since I see very few of those anyway. This one's in Technicolor, and a good part of its charm is seeing that poky little title locomotive chugging along green, green English countrysides. And, of course, there are also those wonderful postwar British character actors.
Tonight is cool... we have tickets to hear the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland. I've never been there. The BSO will be playing Bruckner's Sixth Symphony and Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. I am familiar with Bruckner's 4th and 9th symphonies, but I've never heard his 6th. The Rachmaninoff is a well-known piece, arguably his most famous work. Interestingly, it was completed after the composer suffered a bout of depression after poor reviews of his first symphony. His doctor, Nicholai Dahl, helped him with hypnotism, telling him, "You will be able to complete your concerto. It will be a work of great quality..." He did and it was. A very tuneful work, it spawned a cottage industry of people reusing melodies from it for popular songs.
Funny thing is, these days I can't hear the opening movement without thinking of a student film my daughter Julie once did, The House on 24th Street. (The concerto music is suddenly interrupted at the 4:47 mark with Philip Glass' string quartet music for Dracula, which I downloaded for Julie.) Check out this 8 1/2 minute film; I think you'll agree that it's quite good. And there are outtakes at the end! As my daughter Meredith once said, "The Clarks have the arts covered..."
I posted a sad little image to my Burbankia page yesterday, Lockheed demolition. An aggressively overboard pro-environmental stance combined with high tax, anti-business policies on the part of the liberal state legislature have caused industries and companies in California to move elsewhere. Southern California no longer has an aerospace industry. Lockheed left Burbank for greener fields in Georgia in the Nineties; I used to work at the plant where this hangar was located. Very sad. The facilities where America's greatest aircraft - the P-38 "Lightning," the SR-71 "Blackbird," the Constellation - were built is now a large shopping plaza, with only silhouetted images of the planes atop the signs to remind people of Burbank's aerospace heritage.
I am a political conservative because I can see the results of the opposite, statist policies. California has been governed by liberal Democrats for decades; the inevitable decline of the state is the inevitable result. Foreign correspondents are wondering, is California the United States' first failed state? I wonder. At any rate, it is no longer the place in which I grew up...
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