The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Adventures in American Filmmaking #81

Today's Adventure: Leslie Howard, Basil Rathbone and John Barrymore confer on the set of George Cukor's 1936 production of Romeo and Juliet. Norma Shearer is nowhere to be seen.

1 comment :

Nick Zegarac said...

Have always thought that this version of Romeo and Juliet was the most sumptuous, lyric and viscerally engaging of all the various screen incarnations.

True, Shearer and Howard are much too old to be 'teens' in love, but their adult performances more than compensate for their years on this planet. There is a depth and clarity to their characters that we don't get from the Zefferelli version.

And MGM at its zenith, with all those gargantuan production values to boot - this is truly one of the screens great accomplishments.

Anyone doubting the film's worth might take a cue from Time Magazine's film review of the period, in which producer Irving Thalberg was declared as a genius and the declarative statement from the critic about the film read, "A triumph! This proves the movies have grown up!"