Trump as Movie Critic &/or Norma Desmond

 DATELINE: Old Time Movies!

At a campaign rally this week, Donald Trump showed another facet of his koo-koo bird presidency. He started attacking Hollywood’s Oscar choice of The Parasitefor best picture. It seems he does not care for South Korea’s movie industry.

 

If it had been made in North Korea, he might have been more tolerant. Perhaps he just has an intolerance for parasites, or movies that attack and ridicule rich people.

We firmly believe that Trump never watched The Parasitebecause of its subtitles. We all know that he is a dyslexic reader and has trouble with big words and fast scrolling of verbiage. His own notes are large block letter words that are monosyllabic.

However, he did cite 1950’s Sunset Boulevard as his idea of a great movie. We presume his followers have never seen it, and young people would never watch a black & white movie.

You may not recall the Billy Wilder-Charlie Brackett movie from 1950. It was a dark satire extravaganza about the dissolution of a silent screen siren.

Gloria Swanson took the role that Garbo refused and said the immortal words of Norma Desmond who is accused of once being big in movies: “I am still big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

Trump may well paraphrase the famous line: “I am big. It’s the White House that got small.”

You know that Trump is always ready for his close-up—and in fact, demands it every day. He is about ready to have the police and men in white coats come and take him away, just like poor old Norma Desmond.

 

Ossurworld’s William Russo just published a book on producer Charles Brackett who made Sunset Boulevard. It’s title is TITANIC’S FORGOTTEN MOVIE, available in softcover or ebook for smart readers.

From Sunset Boulevard to New England

DATELINE: Gloria Swanson’s Late Career as Artist

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This year’s holiday treat was to discover a 1974 painting done by legendary screen actress Gloria Swanson, hanging in the parlor not far from our Thanksgiving dinner table.

If you recall, Miss Swanson made one of the all-time comebacks in movies when she starred in 1950 with William Holden in Billy Wilder’s classic tale of Gothic Hollywood, called Sunset Boulevard.

Her final scene remains chilling and pathetic, as she descends the grand staircase of her old Hollywood Hills home in final madness and tells the director, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

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Who knew that nearly 25 years later, Norma Desmond was painting acrylic oil scenes as a hobby?

We encountered her 1974 rendition of an old, faded gray barn on this holiday 43 years after she painted it, hanging proudly in the home of an art collector and movie fan where we enjoyed an invitation to dinner.

How intriguing that the creative juices of Swanson, a macrobiotic diet advocate, emerged from this sad landscape. It is a giant picture, three feet in height and four feet across. The colors are muted, like a silent movie depiction.

Dilapidated in the snow, fallen in disrepair and probable despair, the old barn stands proudly alone. Its carriage door is ajar, broken open, letting whatever creature wanders by to enter its cold and empty interior.

It seemed to us to be a place along the “Road Not Taken,” that lovely poem by Robert Frost who lived a few miles away in New Hampshire. Miss Swanson presents us with a scene that comes right of out Thornton Wilder’s Our Town (which was also set a few miles away, in fictional Grover’s Corners).

Miss Swanson’s picture, painted while she lived in New York, a dozen years before she passed away, now has a special place in the home of a long-time fan. We think she would be happy to hear how much this work from the last days of her life, largely unknown, is appreciated.

We felt privileged to stand before it to reflect on life and the passage of time.

Rondo Readies for His Close Up

DATELINE: HISTORY IN THE MAKING

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All you need to be a great media commentator is good lighting and mood music. Move over, Garbo.

As the perennial winner of our annual contest about what Boston athlete most resembles the Great Garbo, Rondo has taken up the mantle with his usual mettle. Rondo will be jumping into the Star Chamber with both feet firmly planted in the clouds.

Rajon Rondo is about to put the theory to the test. On Monday night, his off night during this off season, he will service on the TV broadcast desk as color analyst.

He promises to show how he may be ready to follow in the great Tom Heinsohn’s footsteps. This makes Tommy laugh, but we would expect that Rondo will criticize those pesky officials who keep giving him fouls.

As a player au currant, he has the blessing of his coach and the Celtics organization to go out on the limb—and saw it off.

Rondo professes to have approached Mike Gorman, the TV gold standard for basketball play-by-play several weeks ago to say he is just sitting on the bench on the second night of back-to-back games. He wanted to sit on the broadcast team because Tommy no longer makes road trips.

Gorman has been sitting with a variety of fill-ins over the past few years as Tom finds long travel too difficult.

Whether Rondo will become Garbo or just another denizen of Sunset Boulevard, we are giddy with anticipation to discover.

Rondo has been preparing for his close up now for several weeks. If he puts as much effort into his potential TV commentator career as his court play, viewers may be watching Rondo playing Gloria Swanson playing Greta Garbo.

Be still, our hearts!

 

For those with a taste for the bizarre, we offer RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR and RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA. Both books depict the Twilight Zone style of the Celtics legend-in-the-making and are available at Amazon.com.