Legendary reporter Adela Rogers St.Johns once asked legendary boxer Jack Dempsey what qualities were needed to be a champion.  Dempsey said, “There are only two.  You’ve got to be able to do it at ten minutes after ten in Madison Square Garden on a Tuesday night, and you’ve got to be able to get up off the canvas when you can’t.”


I met Dempsey once in the 1970s and got his autograph at his restaurant on Broadway in New York City.  Saying that feels like saying that I met Achilles once and got his autograph down by the Greek ships at Troy.

Such men no longer exist in our world and may never exist in the world again.

Click on the images to enlarge.



What do the following six films have in common?

Poster Gone With the Wind

Gone With the Wind

Poster Sound of Music Horizontal Baja

The Sound Of Music



Poster Doctor Zhivago Baja

Doctor Zhivago

The Exorcist Poster Baja

The Exorcist


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Well, for one thing they’re all chick flicks of one sort or another, The Exorcist being the least conventional of them — a horror film but a chick flick all the same, with two females, a mother and a daughter, at the center of it and all the male protagonists in supporting roles.  The others are romances told principally from the point of view of women.

They also represent six of the ten highest grossing films of all time, in adjusted dollars.


Think about that, consider it in light of contemporary Hollywood’s deep, almost instinctive mistrust of chick flicks.  You realize that this mistrust is not rooted  in commercial calculation but in the prejudice of the collapsed males who run Hollywood — not in money but in the fear of strong women by men with little teeny tiny dicks.



Edgar Allan Poe had a good death.  He was found lying in a gutter in Baltimore, wearing someone else’s clothes, too delirious to explain how he’d gotten there in that condition.  He died in a hospital four days later, never recovering sufficiently to explain the course of his latter days.  He kept crying out for “Reynolds”, a person whose identity has never been established.

If you’ve got to go, that’s the way to do it.



Gone With the Wind arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina on 26 February 1940.  The whole world was abuzz about the film, which was already on its way to becoming the highest grossing movie of all time, in adjusted dollars.  (The Birth Of A Nation may well have made more money but complete box office records for it have not survived, so we will never know.)


Nowhere was the buzz more intense than in the South, anxious to experience the romantic vision of antebellum Dixie that lived, however preposterously, in most Southern hearts.  Young Southern women were going to see the notorious Scarlett O’Hara in action, courted by none other than Clark Gable, the screen’s premiere heart throb, as Rhett Butler.


An advance ad for the film in Wilmington’s The Morning Star read, “Wilmington and East Carolina Welcome Gone With the Wind With Open Arms!”

My mom (pictured today at the head of this post), who grew up in Wilmington, was 14 years-old at the time and she and some girlfriends had plans to go downtown to see the film on its opening day.  It would not be like any other trip to the movies.


The film was playing at The Carolina, Wilmington’s premiere movie palace, located on the corner of Market Street and Second, just blocks from her father’s, my grandfather’s, men’s clothing store on Front Street.  The Carolina had a marble-faced lobby and a whites-only policy — it was too classy to admit blacks, even in a special segregated section.


Gone With the Wind would be playing in a modified road-show presentation, carefully negotiated by the film’s producer and part-owner David O. Selznick and its distributor and part-owner MGM.  There would be two “continuous run” showings per day, at 10am and 2pm, priced at 75 cents a ticket, three to five times the price for a regular movie.  (Continuous run meant that you could go into the theater in the middle of the first show and sit through the first half of the second show — the seats weren’t reserved.)


At night it was reserved seating only, with tickets priced at $1.10.  (These could be bought in advance at a furniture store downtown.)  Because the movie ran nearly four hours, a transportation company had arranged for special buses to ply the regular city routes after hours, picking up patrons in front of the theater at 11:45 at the end of the 8pm show.

It was an event, a big event.  My mom was beside herself with excitement about it.  But the night before the opening, her father decided that he would not allow her to see the movie.  He was a fairly strict Baptist, who would not permit card playing in the home on Sundays and did not approve of movies, even the grand Southern epic that was Gone With the Wind.  My mom was devastated.


In her 80s she still remembered the moment vividly.  “I went to sleep that night,” she told me, in hushed tones, “thinking I wasn’t going to see Gone With the Wind.”  The dashed dreams of a 14 year-old girl are not small things, and they don’t grow smaller after a mere 70 years.

The next morning, however, her father had changed his mind — he relented and let her go see the movie with her friends, and she became one among millions enchanted by that marvel of popular art when it was brand new.


Her impressions of that first showing — she’s seen it several times since — are vague, but she always remembered that it had an intermission.  An intermission!



In a press release issued with little fanfare, The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has confirmed that it’s possible to contract Ebola through reading about it online or watching CNN’s coverage of the epidemic.

Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers, insists there is no cause for undue concern as long as people moderate their online reading and CNN viewing and keep a careful watch for symptoms.



Gone With the Wind, 1939.

This scene with the Tarleton boys, Scarlett O’Hara’s first appearance in the film, was shot multiple times for multiple reasons — because the boys’ first red hair dye looked unnatural, because Selznick wanted a dress for Leigh that came across as more virginal than the one originally chosen.

By the time they got around to doing it for the last time, Leigh looked so worn out from the long production that it wasn’t felt she could play a convincing sixteen, Scarlett’s age at the film’s opening.  So she was given several weeks’ rest and brought back to do it once more after the other principal photography had been completed.

Click on the image to enlarge.



Fun, weird, wonderful

Really fun! A highly entertaining story which starts off pretty funny and then grabs you by the throat! Mr. Fonvielle is clearly in his element here, which is good news for the rest of us. His detective fiction is every bit as strange, moving, sweet, scary and resonant as his Westerns. A whopping good tale with characters that kick around in your head for a while, and which you know you’re going to miss when it’s all over. I wanted to inhabit the story a little while longer, maybe hang out at The Shipwreck, order a beer, and ask everybody, “What did you guys think of that? Pretty wild, huh?” Instead, I’ll just have to wait and hope the writer sends more stuff like this our way.

For the review and book details go here — Black Pearl.