It's true that Eric Blore is not exactly a household name, so I wouldn't be surprised if you've never heard of him. But if you watch a lot of really old movies, you might recognize him if you see him; especially if you're a fan of those Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals such as "Top Hat" and "Flying Down to Rio" and all that. I'm not necessarily a fan of those musicals, but I happened to be watching "Top Hat" one day and as soon as I saw Eric Blore I was just delighted by him and wound up watching more of those musicals just to see him!
He's a round, smooth, smiling, dark haired little jolly British man who was usually cast in some comic recurring role as a waiter, a doctor, a butler. His facial expressions are always fun, but it's his voice I especially adore. Actually, I didn't know it but I'd already heard that voice in "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" in which he played Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad of Toad Hall. But he has the most delicious way of saying his lines, which are always funny in an odd sideways manner. There's a tiny amount of stuff on YouTube where he's included in a couple of clips, but unfortunately they're really not a good enough example of just how much fun Eric Blore is. Nonetheless, I shall show you the best I could find:
My favorite line of Eric's is from "The Gay Divorcee": "Oh, 'whumsical' is much more whimsical than 'whamsical'!" I also particularly like a scene of his from a totally corny comedy called "Romance on the High Seas" which takes place mostly on a cruise ship. Eric plays the genial but strangely confused cruise ship doctor who is called in to Doris's cabin to look at her and find out why she's so exhausted or some such thing. He diagnoses her with something like melancholia and when Doris asks him what action he would recommend, he brightens and says excitedly "A sea voyage!!" You had to be there.
I was looking around for more information about Eric Blore and couldn't really find very much except the basics- the best bigraphy is on IMDB. The most colorful anecdote I could find about him was, unfortunately, about his death; seems that Kenneth Tynan wrote in the New Yorker that Eric Blore was dead, then Eric's lawyer fired off an angry letter about it or something and a kefuffle ensued. Then, the night before the New Yorker published an apology and a full retraction, Eric Blore dropped dead of a heart attack. Wow. I'm wondering if they had to publish another retraction, but there's no mention of that.
Yeah, I've kinda blown off the blog for a while. Sorry about that. I will be back in earnest soon, but I wanted to poke my head through the curtains and throw this song at you.
For now, I'm not going to tell you what the title of the song is or who the artist is because I'm worried that information would scare you off. The thing is, I'm wishing and hoping that someone would use this song in a movie, but the funny thing is: this song was written expressly FOR a movie ALREADY. Thing is, it was a terrible movie and this song needs to be in a picture somebody would actually watch.
Now, whenever I hear this, it makes me think of Superman- especially at that big buildup towards the end. That big crashing crescendo has GOT to accompany some motion picture imagery of Superman at some point in my lifetime. But I'm not holding my breath.
I'm sorry, I realize she's a great and classic author and all and it's great that so many people are reading quality literature blah blah blah, that's fine. I'm just sick of all the endless jane Austen movies, Jane Austen miniseries, magazine articles about the movies and miniseries, books about women reading Jane Austen, Jane Austen book clubs....it's been going on for quite a while now. Besides....
ANY OF THE BRONTES COULD KICK JANE'S BONY LITTLE ASS.
Yes, this is what I'm saying. I love the Brontes so much; even Anne, who trails way behind Charlotte and Emily in popularity. I like my Victorian literature like I like my coffee: black, crazy, and fucked up. (Actually, I don't drink coffee much anymore, I drink tea, but that's neither here nor there.) I'm wishing I could see Jane Eyre stride right into Mansfield Park and fuck that place UP! Mr. Darcy desperately needs a cock-knocking and Mr. Rochester is the perfect man for the job. Heathcliff could teach all those wusses at Northanger Abbey a thing or two, and Catherine is always available for any of your bitchslapping needs- and with two locations to serve you.
Seriously, I love those damned Brontes. I love reading their books, and I love reading about them, which is pretty close to reading the books. Those people just did not fucking give up under any circumstances! Half the family dies at the get-go, they have no money, Dad's kinda nuts, they can't really hold a job down for any length of time, Emily over there is too shy to leave the house for the most part, and they're gonna die young, but they were fucking brilliant and they kicked everyone's ass in the end. That rumor that Branwell Bronte, the personification of manque, died standing up just to prove he could do it is such a stubborn rumor because it's so appropriate for that whole family. "Yeah, yeah, everybody thought I was gonna be a brilliant and famous artist, but that didn't happen. I got drunk and fucked the boss's wife instead, but hey, look what I can do!" I'm just sorry the rumor isn't true. Well, it probably isn't, anyway. Oh, but that thing about the boss's wife is true and guess what her name was? Mrs. Robinson! Hah!
But speaking of arresting rumors, there is a story about Emily Bronte that has the quality of a rumor, but is actually true. Seems one day she got bitten by a dog that was possibly rabid, so she went into the house and seared the wound with a smoking hot iron to cauterize it. She didn't mention this to anyone until way after the fact.
That's one tough-as-nails bitch. Suck on that, Jane.
And by the way, you're probably wondering what in blazes is going on in that painting I put up there at the top. This is a portrait that Branwell painted of his sisters (Left to right: Anne, Emily, Charlotte) and he originally included himself right there in the middle where that pillar shape is, hence the painting's common name "The Pillar Portrait". But he changed his mind and painted himself out at the last minute. However, the paint he used to erase himself wasn't mixed properly and is slowly turning translucent, so Branwell's ghostly image is becoming clearer and clearer over time. This painting was considered to be lost for a long time- Charlotte's husband folded it up and stuck it on a shelf in a wardrobe where it stayed until it was finally discovered in 1906.
I've talked to you before about those old recipe pamphlets I love to find in thrifts and junk shops, but I thought I'd show you one of my favorites. It also happens to be one of the first ones I ever found! It's from 1936 and it's called Old Gloucester Sea Food Recipes; straight from the desk of Mr. Frank E. Davis, "The Gloucester Fisherman". The first few pages of this little gem are full of desk-pounding prose as old Mr. Davis gets himself all riled up about the early days of his fish canning business. As you can see from the first page I've scanned (above), he was laughed at and dubbed "a crank". By whom? Imaginary elves, I guess. But here's the last page of Mr. Davis's fish business manifesto:
The man is obviously very fierce about his beliefs when it comes to his business practices. I like to imagine this man as a venerable old gentleman with a large white moustache, a bad case of gout, and a blanket over his knees, sitting in a huge well-appointed office with one of those old fashioned glass domed tickertape machines clacking in the corner. I imagine some unfortunate person sitting before him who has unwittingly gotten him going on the story of how he got started and when Mr. Davis first started talking he was fine. A little loud, but fine. Then he started shouting about "those Goddamned corn-fed bastards in Washington" and his face turned purple and he hammered his fist on the table to punctuate his arguments. Then he slowly but deliberately stands and raises a trembling, clenched fist in the air and bellows, "I'm proud to be called a crank!!!"
Anyway, here's the cover, too. It's quite lovely.