This Camel Is Tough On The Spine
Got "Little Nellie"'s new throttle cable installed after work last night - I'm getting pretty good at it, given this is my third time - then dashed off to a meeting with the contractor who is going to be doing the last part of our Sound Baffling project at the theatre.
Unfortunately, he got stuck in traffic trying to come over from the Eastside, and we had to reschedule for today; a bit frustrating, since we'd originally planned to meet on Monday, so this was the second postponement we've done this week.
After that, it was more with the stuffing old, shredded blue jean insulation into the ceiling. We're gradually getting to the end-point of that part of the project, but we've only got a couple more days left in an already tight schedule to finish before Phase II is underway. It'll go "down to the wire", but I think we'll just make it, assuming my back doesn't go out on me completely in the meantime. I'm just not flexible enough anymore (assuming I ever was) to be executing some of the physical contortions required to simultaneously balance on top of a step-ladder positioning an uncooperative square of insulation into place with my head, and at the same time pay out and staple restraining cord around conduit, pipe and lighting fixtures; I guess that's what the Ibuprofen is for.
Despite some muscles already beginning to complain, I decided to stick around afterwards for a "movie night" instigated by the cast of our upcoming late-night show. They've been reviewing screw-ball comedies from the 1930's and 1940's, and last night they were showing "Road To Morocco", one of a string of Hope and Crosby "road pictures" (and by all accounts, the best of the lot). I've never really thought of myself as a "movie geek", so I was rather pleasantly surprised at how many of the 65 year-old "in jokes" I caught; I actually had to explain a couple to other people watching, because they were apparently THAT obscure.
I don't think I've ever seen this particular film before, although I'm sure I've seen at least one or two of the other incarnations they produced over the years. Still, it's evident pretty early on how influential this series was on later comedians and screen comedies; everything from Martin & Lewis, Woody Allen, and Mel Brooks - even Monty Python and perhaps distantly Rowan Atkinson could be cited as inheritors of the zany, ad-libbed, direct-to-the audience presentational style developed in the Road pictures, which themselves were probably influenced in no small measure by the likes of W.C. Fields and The Marx Brothers.
The plot of course, is almost an afterthought, and really only provides a framework for Hope, Crosby, and their perennial "straight man" Dorothy Lamour to crack jokes, set up sight-gags, good-naturedly insult each other (AND Paramount Pictures, which produced the films), and sing a few songs to boot. (For example, I hadn't realized until last night that "Moonlight Becomes You", a song I've used for years as an audition piece, was first presented in "Road To Morocco".)
It's also surprising how well the film holds up to a present-day audience, at least the small one watching last night, as the style and execution of much of the comedy is pretty "deconstructed" in terms of its self-reference, the breaking down of the "fourth wall" between actors and audience, the parodying of other film genres, and what must surely have been a lot of ad-libbing caught by the camera (the director clearly understood that some of the best material he would get came after the "take" officially ended). Pretty cutting-edged stuff for 1942.
A most enjoyable evening, all-in-all, even if I did get to bed late, and woke up this morning feeling sorer than I'd hoped I would.
Labels: Annex, Hope and Crosby, Movies
on 11:48 AM