Her figure

1920s-stockings

He never knew what he had in her
her angle – something
between silk stockings and
late night gas guzzlers
even the police tread easy

That figured –
he was sick and tired of the triangle
the crossed lines every time he called
and she did not answer
feeling her there, listening

‘What do you expect from a woman,’
she’d say, and laugh. ‘Hell, I don’t
even have to pay the light bill anymore.’
His face ashen, for how does a man
be a man – left daily in an airless cube

Wearing a tan trench coat
trying-too-hard
written all over him-
he’d seen Casablanca
once a week for a year after she left-
twice over Christmas

So when she showed up
he wasn’t saying no to anything
let alone stockings, heels
and a black cat-in his haste-
not checking the price tag

With no options – except to run parallel
to her wants needs desires
for he would do nothing to slight her –
this magic in silk and lace

his thoughts somewhere dark and wet
at an adjacent angle to his wallet

Tantalizing Tuesday: Noël Coward, part 2

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Last Tuesday we began looking into the life of Nöel Coward. He was born Nöel Peirce Coward in 1899 in Middlesex, England. His body of work is enormous. He was a playwright, composer, poet, painter, he wrote short stories, he sang, and he acted.

What piqued my interest when I first started watching Coward’s plays and films was the depth of human experience and interaction. There is much within a small space. He would give us a one act play, perhaps 30 minutes long, and manage to punch into it such depth of feeling that one would have expected from a longer piece. For example, in the play and subsequent film,The Astonished Heart, that we discussed in part 1, we follow the characters along a relatively normal scenario. Surely the setting of marriage and cheating on one’s spouse is not new, especially in Film Noir. But just when you are relaxing into this simple story that you have heard before, pow! He lays something devastating upon you, in a quick twist of plot. I am fascinated by this sort of writing. I have dabbled in it myself but not anywhere near what Coward accomplished.

Since poetry is my favourite medium, I was delighted to discover that he also wrote poems. Here is a poem he wrote called “Nothing is Lost”, from his volume entitled Noel Coward Collected Verse :

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.
-Noël Coward

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Lizabeth Scott

too-late-for-tears

“Don’t ever change, Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart.”
-Danny, in Too Late for Tears

In an interview in 1996 Lizabeth Scott said that the film noir roles that she played, often the good girls gone bad, were not written for her, that it was serendipity, due to the popularity of noir at the time. She said, “I fell in love with the lens, and the lens fell in love with me.”

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Elizabeth Scott, in her first film, You Came Along

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When I watch

stockings

I love watching

you put on your stockings

The way your nails skim over them without snagging is a marvel

When I watch you, I turn sideways

could you change my
preference-

I guess you know.

don’t you.

That is why you don’t stop when he leaves.

I like when you turn your head to look back, saying things like

your hands
your mouth
your toes

then laugh

Tantalizing Tuesday: Anne Baxter

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Were her characters femme fatales or sociopaths? Were they driven to be devious and contriving or evil manipulators who did not know what they were doing? Who could take a perfectly happy home- loving and creative, hospitable and caring – and turn it upside-down in a matter of months? This lady, that’s who. Here, as Evelyn in Guest of the House she convinces her new husband Dan to go away for awhile so that she can get some quality time with her new brother-in-law.

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Veronica Lake

Veronica lake

Our femme fatale for the week is Veronica Lake. I saw her in Sullivan’s Travels when I was a teenager. I was mesmerized by the way she used her eyes and a characteristic flip of hair that hung over one eye. She had that look. What look? The look to which describing does not do justice.

Here she meets Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels. This banter is a keeper. I always admire a lady that has the guts to tell a man what to do when she has just met him.
“Drink your coffee….”


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Amber (caution)

She came with a set of luggage
3 pieces and a train-case
a Barbie doll, with
all the accessories

Lovely lady with the trimmings
winter holidays
wrapped up in a bow
for that touch
of ostentatious-ness

Every night (every day)
the sound of an alto sax
followed us down dim streets
my hand in the hollow
of her lower back

Squinting to make out the signs
the words (indistinct)
but then (she said)
I really did not try very hard
to read them

My eyes boring into hers
when she would turn her head
waiting for them to light up
like a cat’s
each time a car drove by

Tantalizing Tuesday: Bette Davis, pt. 2

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As I have watched Bette Davis, what has impressed me most has been her staying power. There is a point in some actors’ careers where they find themselves unable to go further, due to bad press, pressure to compete with younger actors, perhaps even their own expectations and discouragement with aging. Not Bette Davis. She seemed to get better and better. She changed with the times and with age and its limitations, but she always showed up with class.

In her films post-1940’s there were a few stand-outs for me. As we’ve discussed before, All About Eve was released in 1950 and the subject of aging in Hollywood was approached head-on. Check out this scene with Bette and Gary Merrill. She was called paranoid by those around her- but her instinct was spot on. She knew it sooner than everyone about her, but too late to stop it from happening.

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Bette Davis, pt. 1

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What do you think of when someone mentions Bette Davis? The full-of-life doomed Judith Traherne with a brain tumor in Dark Victory? Or is it the cheeky Mildred tormenting a devoted Philip in Of Human Bondage? Perhaps she is most memorable for you as Baby Jane Hudson. For me, no part was more memorable than her portrayal of Charlotte Vale in Now, Voyager. I am sure that I related to her repression and heavy-handed mother. It was a pleasure to look on the screen and see a woman who never flinched, and who was determined to fight to get her own life back for herself. That impressed the hell out of me. Because it was Bette Davis on the screen, I believed every bit of it.

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