Chrisforliberty's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for March 2014

The Tramp at 100

leave a comment »

Image

For those who read my blog, you would know that I feel as if I should have been born about 100 years ago.  It is like a living nightmare at times where my mind and heart belong to this time period, yet my physical existence was misplaced.  Scottie, beam me up!

While the rest of the world indulges in Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Kim K., I have looked at clips of Charlie Chaplin and pictures of Greta Garbo.

Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp turned 100 this year.  From “Easy Street” (1917) to “Modern Times” (1936), he made many of the funniest and most popular films of his time. He was best known for his character, the naive and lovable Little Tramp. The Little Tramp, a well meaning man in a raggedy suit with cane, always found himself wobbling into awkward situations and miraculously wobbling away. More than any other figure, it is this kind-hearted character that we associate with the time before the talkies.  The individual clothing items themselves are nothing extraordinary.  But when combined and a real human being living in it, this human cartoon comes to life in a way that only Charlie Chaplin could make it work.

Born in London in 1889, Chaplin first visited America with a theater company in 1907. Appearing as “Billy” in the play “Sherlock Holmes”, the young Chaplin toured the country twice. On his second tour, he met Mack Sennett and was signed to Keystone Studios to act in films. In 1914 Chaplin made his first one-reeler, “Making a Living”. That same year he made thirty-four more short films, including “Caught in a Cabaret”, “Caught in the Rain”, “The Face on the Bar-Room Floor”, and “His Trysting Place”. These early silent shorts allowed very little time for anything but physical comedy, and Chaplin was a master at it.

Chaplin’s slapstick acrobatics made him famous, but the subtleties of his acting made him great. While Harold Lloyd played the daredevil, hanging from clocks, and Buster Keaton maneuvered through situations using risky stunts, Chaplin concerned himself with improvisation. For Chaplin, the best way to locate the humor or pathos of a situation was to create an environment and walk around it until something natural happened. The concern of early theater and film was to simply keep the audience’s attention through overdramatic acting that exaggerated emotions, but Chaplin saw in film an opportunity to control the environment enough to allow subtlety to come through.  In Jeffrey Vance’s excellent book Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema: “The ‘thrill’ comedy of the Tramp skating perilously close to the edge of a balcony without a balustrade was achieved with a glass shot to create the illusion of height.

(A glass shot involves a painted scene on a pane of glass that is placed in front of the camera and precisely aligned with the existing set to achieve the desired effect.) However, no illusion is involved with Chaplin’s considerable skating skills, first demonstrated in The Rink nearly twenty years earlier. He devoted eight days to filming the roller-skating routine.”

Chaplin was known as one of the most demanding men in Hollywood. Regardless of the size the part, Chaplin walked each actor through every scene. Chaplin knew that a successful scene was not simply about the star, but about everyone on the screen. He demanded that the entire cast work together in every performance. Without this unity he could not express the subtlety of character that was so important to him. The only way to achieve that unity was to maintain complete control over every scene. This constant attention to detail ran many features over-time and over-budget, but the public reaction assured him and the studios that what he was doing worked. As his popularity increased he took more liberties with filming. Movies such as his 1925 hit, “The Gold Rush”, demanded unending reworking of scenes and rebuilding of sets.

Chaplin typically improvised his story in front of the camera with only a basic framework of a script. He shot and printed hundreds of takes when making a movie, each one a little experimental variation. While this method was unorthodox, because of the expense and inefficiency, it provided lively and spontaneous footage. Taking what he learned from the footage, Chaplin would often completely reorganize a scene. It was not uncommon for him to decide half-way through a film that an actor wasn’t working and start over with someone new. Many actors found the constant takes and uncertainty grueling, but always went along because they knew they were working for a master.

Though Chaplin is of the silent movie era, we see his achievements carried through in the films of today. With the advent of the feature-length talkies, the need for more subtle acting became apparent. To maintain the audience’s attention throughout a six-reel film, an actor needed to move beyond constant slapstick. Chaplin had demanded this depth long before anyone else. His rigor and concern for the processes of acting and directing made his films great and led the way to a new, more sophisticated, cinema.

Image

Written by chrisforliberty

March 11, 2014 at 12:32 am

Posted in Movies

“I’m as Mad as Hell!”

leave a comment »

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.” Network, 1976

Image

I am a child of the 70’s-80’s. That could be an entire article or two for another day.  One of the most popular fads of the time was ladies mud wrestling (and its related matches like baby oil and pudding). There is Las Vegas Mud Wrestling Championships (like who would do this today?), “All The Marbles” starring Peter Falk to a scene in CHiPs where Bonnie describes female mud wrestling as “vulgar, demeaning and debasing”. I did not see Stripes during its original run, but have seen it plenty on cable over the years. John Candy was a good sport J Of course, various movie and TV shows took advantage of the fad and it seemed to work pretty well.

My favorite TV show was the Dukes of Hazzard.  It was from this show and the episode “The Treasure of Hazzard” (original air-date January 25, 1980) that the concept of mud wrestling came into mind. The fad started taking a hold beginning in California bars/nightclubs around mid 70’s and gradually grew to other parts of the country.  Granted, it was a rural version of it, but all the same. Daisy in quicksand was interesting too.

Image

I liked how Daisy performed in these scenes.  She had this fun-loving attitude towards it like “Hey, Daisy, let’s go play in the mud!” “Alright!”  I am merely assuming based on no actual evidence, but my perception that this kind of talk today wouldn’t go over as well today.  The combination of hard times, political correctness and people taking themselves too seriously can take a toll on us.

Mud wrestling while still viewable in various places and on the internet, it has loss some of its appeal since the close of the 80’s.  I think the bad economy, oversaturation of media, political corruption, etc… has worn people down.  People most certainly were livelier then.  You can tell by how they get into the action be it mud wrestling, a baseball game, and a number of other events.  Now people prefer to stay indoors.  All we’ve known for the past 10-15 years has been war, rumors of war, economic depressions, outsourcing, etc…

One of my friends and fellow messy wrestling aficionado Bill King has done a number of articles on messy wrestlers.  We have discussed possibly open a wrestling club of some variety eventually.  But that is another story for another day. I am Facebook friends with several of these former wrestlers.  One of them is Ruby Tuesday.  Here she is wrestling Andy Kaufman.

Again notice how the people follow the action and are participants.

My personal favorite of the catfight/messy wrestlers is Quisha Page.

Image

She also participated in a spaghetti match against Robin Hendrickson and Thunder and Mud.

In another interview, Quisha states in part:

“WOW! good question, back at the Tropicana I would have to say Lisa. She was my best friend we knew how to wrestle real well together in the mud and oil…What was so cool is when Lisa and me Quisha got matched up to wrestle and fight each other the crowd would go off! Mick had to hold the money I was making because I couldn’t hold on to it with my own two hands it got that crazy. All the wrestlers would come from the dressing room to watch our show in the background rather it was in the mud or oil Lisa and I mastered it. She was a great actor I miss her. I wish I could get her in the ring I would pay her big bucks for that match.”

I also wish they would have another match and I would be willing to pay big bucks to see it.  Hopefully we can prod Lisa into doing so.

I like this match because of the good chemistry between them.  You have your regular competitions just like any other.  But in certain situations like Ricky Steamboat-Ric Flair or Ali-Frazier, the contestants are intimately familiar with and their styles compliment each other.  I would put this match held at the Hollywood Tropicana sometime during the summer of 1989 on the top as far as female oil wrestling matches go.  If I had one particular wish, I would liked for this match to have been a few more rounds.  Plus less interference from the refs.  I never liked it when refs involved themselves too heavily into the matches. It ruins the momentum and intensity.

The pre-match oiling session was a big winner.  You can tell Quisha and Lisa were enjoying themselves and looking forward to this match.  Both of them had a fantastic selection of wrestling attire.  Overall, it was a good match with kicks, holds and various other wrestling moves.  My favorite part was the wedgie Lisa gave Quisha.  I liked the competitiveness of the match and thought both of them were pretty equal. For the record, while my commentary about their attire and oil wrestling itself may seem sexist, I should point out that no one claims that men wrestling in tights and sometimes even blading (something that I personally disapprove of) would be offensive. Men are able to get away with doing certain things that women can’t.

With that being said, what really needs to happen in this country and worldwide is some resurgence of sorts.  It will take not one big step, but many small steps getting pointed in the right direction again.  Entire political systems will have be overhauled.

Local agriculture and currency will become necessary. We will have to adapt and adjust our ways. I would like to see fewer cable cables or at least the option where the customer can pick say 5 channels and be done with it.  People need to get out more. It is sad when I in my late 30’s can outwalk and outhike a 19 year old while carrying 50 pound of gear through an unfamiliar mountain range and manage to finish the course of 20 miles in six hours.  The average foot-speed barring injury is 4 MPH. So you do the math.

Written by chrisforliberty

March 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Posted in General, Media