The Prof eagerly peeled off the shrink-wrap and admired the packaging for the new Criterion DVD of Sweet Smell of Success, relishing the thought of the feast to come: the film restored with a commentary track, and a whole disc of extras including a full length documentary on director Alexander Mackendrick. But it turned out the booklet that comes with the film was no mere appetizer--it was a banquet unto itself. (Yeah, the Prof just said "unto." Don't get shirty.) The best thing in the very packed booklet is Gary Giddins' essay which weaves together the historical details and an appreciation of the contributions of Tony Curits, cinematographer James Wong Howe, story writer Ernest Lehman, and screenplay writer Clifford Odets. Giddins also surveys earlier and later films with similar themes and styles, and does some literary detective work linking the film with The Great Gatsby. It's beautifully written. Go read it at Criterion's site.
Whew! And the Prof learned by accident while linking you, fair reader, to the site that Criterion has just released the elusive Kon Ichikawa masterpiece The Makioka Sisters at what is, for Criterion, a bargain price. More on that and Ray's Jalsaghar (The Music Room) as the Prof gets his sweaty mitts on them.
Tony in a recent photo with the text book he so lovingly crafted for the course he created.
I spent most of the day yesterday with my friends Brenda and Brian, children of my dear friend Tony Moore, who passed away this week. (Details in The Courier-Post article here. An earlier profile from October here.)
Aside from being a dynamite teacher, a gentle man, and a novelist, Tony was also one of the most fanatical devotees of recorded music. (If The Prof said the man had an enormous music collection, you know what that means.) We searched throughout his recordings for sounds that meant something special for his memorial service. Brenda remembered a passage from his novel No Second Eden in which the protagonist hears a bluesman sing the great spiritual "You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley." She quickly located this version by Mississippi John Hurt:
Click on the thumbnail below for the audio version: