Paintings

Cinematic Rats

Singin’ in the Rain

singin’ in the rain

When you think Singing in the Rain you probably think of the Gene Kelly movie. But the song itself is much older. It goes all the way back to the mid-’20’s—a few years before the dramatic date of the movie, appropriately enough.

Today’s trivia: Popular mythology says that the instant The Jazz Singer came out, in late 1927, movie studios scrambled to add sound to everything in sight, whether planned or already in production. In fact the reaction was more like "Oh, hm, now that’s interesting” —and then they went calmly back to making silents for about another year and a half. And then suddenly in 1929 the delayed reaction set in and it was nothing but talkies from then on. Nothing like color, which coexisted peacefully with black-and-white for a couple of decades.

Citizen Rat

a choice of two newspapers

Double exposure:
If you do not instantly and without a moment’s thought recognize the allusion, there is a serious gap in your education and you need to get thee to the nearest repertory theatre. Er, I mean the nearest video store. She said, dating herself.

We’ll Always Have Yogies

two friends and an airplane

Double exposure:
If you do not instantly and without a moment’s thought recognize the allusion, there is a serious gap in your education and you need to get thee to the nearest repertory theatre. Er, I mean the nearest video store. She said, dating herself.

Black and White

To the Castle

rats with torches advancing on the castle

Q.: What movies do these two pictures refer to?

A.: I don’t know: pick one. Or two.

Both pictures simply felt as if they belonged here. It doesn’t matter that I have no idea whose castle is about to be stormed with torches and pitchforks, or who just got buried. It might even be the same person. Or—mwa-ha-ha—the same unperson. And if so, will he stay buried?

Graveside

rats standing around a new grave

Venetian Blinds

shaded by Venetian blinds

Anyone remember Mommie Dearest? Bette Midler describes a T-shirt with this image, and the caption “I Never Laid a Hand on Those Kids!”

The scene is a visual classic even if you’ve never seen the movie it comes from. Or, in my case, if you have seen the movie but don’t remember the Venetian blinds. I had to look it up: it’s in Mildred Pierce.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

nothing but umbrellas

People in rainy towns get downright sulky when you bring out the World’s Wettest Places list . . . and their town doesn’t even crack the Top Fifty. But they don’t usually get operatic about it.

Such a Strange Flower

rat actress holding a calla lily

“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower—suitable for every occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died.”

Stage Door, play-within-the-play. In the movie version, the lines are spoken by Katharine Hepburn . . . after coaching by the actress who did not get the part.

I saw it on American Movie Classics, back when they showed bona fide black-and-white classic movies with comfortable human hosts. I can always tell when someone has shown the movie recently, because there will be a flurry of interest in the phrase.