Monday, April 25, 2005

An Early Late Show

My latest late show choice was Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable. There was a time when the movie's flagrant historical revisionism, pidgin Marxism, and Noble Savage utopianism irritated me -- more, admittedly, because of folks who seemed to take their history directly from the Hollywood/Nordhoff-Hall version than from any particular aversion to classic film two-dimensionality, which I frequently like. And the movie is a grand adventure of sea and spray and the great age of sail. It does have its accuracies, though they are selective, appearing when they serve the story, and not otherwise. And it does have its ambiguities, though one has to tease them out, and can ignore them quite comfortably. Epic filmmaking at its glossy best.
No late music last night, in a determined bid towards regularizing my habits. Bed was attained at 2:15 A.M., a fine triumph of will over base inclination.
One might have thought I'd dream about tropical paradises. One might have wished it. Instead, I dreamed that I was visiting with Vladimir Nabokov, his wife, and his son (who was a typically American college boy.) They had a modest house, but a fine swimming pool, large enough so that impressive waves could be mechanically produced. Odd, because only the son seemed to use the thing, and he reluctantly. I tried it out, but insisted on a surfboard. Another interesting aspect of the Nabokov household was the wooden pantry, impressively carved, which had a dozen fresh loaves of bread on the cutting board. I wasn't hungry. V.N., as it turned out, was -- contrary to his frequent protestations that he had no ear for music -- quite interested in jazz, which surprised me. But he was adamant that nothing of value had been produced since 1940, so we confined the discussion to Ellington and Goodman. The son Nicholas, in youthful fashion, was quite up to date musically, and gave me meaningfully derisive looks while his father expounded. Vera was entirely uninterested. I found it rather sad that V.N. would be dead within a few days, but the others were oblivious to this fact so I chose to keep it to myself. V.N. confided in me later that he wrote a column under an assumed name for the local newspaper, and that he had a good deal of fun purveying commonplaces with several layers of irony underlying them, and subtly comical gossip about invented personages. He gave me copies of several issues, though he did not sign them, and I thought it vulgar to ask. Later, however, on my way home, I stopped at a bookstore and found a number of back issues of the same newspaper in the fiction section under "Nabokov."
Tonight I'll be putting my shoulder to the wheel, and retiring before one. Honest Injun. So no movie. Can this be a trend? Probably not. I don't think we have trends around here, no matter the declamations of the mannequins of habit who stalk our halls.