Nobody Loves Me But My Mother

… and she could be jivin' too:

  • Another one of my favorite authors, Dick Francis, has passed away, at the ripe age of 89, in the Cayman Islands. For way too long, I avoided his books because I knew they were set in the horse racing world. Big mistake; they're about intrepid, admirable people going up against adversaries and adversity at long odds, and prevailing. That works well for me with or without horses. The NYT obit quotes John Leonard: "Not to read Dick Francis because you don't like horses is like not reading Dostoyevsky because you don't like God."

    Larry Thornberry in the American Spectator also pays tribute.

    If you've never read Francis, and you'd like a taste, with not too much horse in it, I recommend Proof, which got me started.

  • Thomas Sowell's new book, Intellectuals and Society, is out. David Henderson likes it and provides quotes, one of which I'll reproduce:

    Why the transfer of decisions from those with personal experience and a stake in the outcome to those with neither can be expected to lead to better decisions is a question seldom asked, much less answered. Given the greater cost of correcting surrogate decisions, compared to correcting individual decisions, and the greater cost of persisting in mistaken decisions by those making decisions for themselves, compared to the lower costs of those making mistaken decisions for others, the economic success of market economies is hardly surprising and neither are the counterproductive and often disastrous results of various forms of social engineering.

    Unfortunately, the folks in control of Your Federal Government don't show any signs of understanding that insight, let alone being guided by it.

  • At the Corner, Jonah Goldberg goes to town on recent reports on how the White House plans to turn around its "communications strategy". It reminded me of the old saw: when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The Administration has long been criticized for being in permanent campaign mode, primarily because the campaign was their only real success, election campaigns the only thing they really know how to do. That's their hammer. And they plan to … guess what? Read the whole thing to find out, but I'll quote Jonah's fine-tuned clash of pop-culture references:

    The gist of all of this is that the White House has concluded it needs to hone precisely the strategy it's had all along. This is a new streamlined, retooled, cowbell 2.0 strategy. Faster, more efficient and more selective bell-ringing will turn things around for the White House. Moreover, they're telling us in advance how they're going to crank this cowbell to eleven.

    I can't wait for Obama to intone "Message: I care" at a New Hampshire town hall meeting.

  • This is Pun Salad, so: "Bye, Bayh." (20,500 hits as I type, probably more by the time you read.)

    Sorry.


Last Modified 2012-10-04 3:19 PM EDT

Impact

[4.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A commenter at IMDB has a pretty good 5-word review: "Film noir meets Frank Capra." But if you like woman-falls-for-man-with-a-secret-past plots, it's got that. If you like police procedurals, it's got that. And if you like courtroom drama, it's got that too.

And, yes, this is the second Charles Coburn movie I've seen this month. Good catch. He's very good here, as a diligent cop—although he's not particularly believable as a cop. Charles Coburn deserves a spot on the "That Guy" list. But he never played that young guy; his first movie role came in 1933, at the age of 56. And he kept working in movies and TV roles right up until he passed away in 1961, at the age of 84.

Oh, right. The movie. What's it about? Well, Brian Donlevy plays well-to-do hard-charging businessmen Walter Williams. His only soft spot is for his wife; she turns him into a moony romantic. Unfortunately, she's only in it for the money, and she plans to get it by having her illicit lover kill Walter. The murder plot doesn't hatch in the way they expect, though. Walter ends up in Larkspur, Idaho, disillusioned with life and love. But then he meets a girl…

The movie is a lot of fun, and any Bay-area Lileks would have a field day with the many scenes shot in late-1940s San Francisco, Sausalito, and Larkspur. The latter is actually in California. There's a great scene where Walter, having joined the local fire department, jumps on the back of a firetruck as it bolts out of the station and races down the street. And, channelling my inner Lileks, I found the fire station is still around.

Consumer note: with my recent reading of Mark Helprin's book about copyright fresh in my mind, I noted this on the IMDB trivia page:

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
There are a lot of versions available at Amazon (and, I assume, elsewhere), so caveat emptor. Still, even a lousy copy is better than none. The one I got from Netflix … well, I don't remember hearing one of the IMDB quotes ("In this world, you turn the other cheek, and you get hit with a lug wrench."), and my DVD player had some difficulty with it.

Last Modified 2012-10-04 3:18 PM EDT