Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Wednesday January 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:44 PM

Through a Soda-Fountain Mirror, Darkly

For Piper Laurie on Her Birthday

“He was part of my dream, of course —
but then I was part of his dream, too!”

— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter XII (“Which Dreamed It?”) quoted as epigraph to a script for the film Pleasantville, which features a soda fountain from the 1950’s.

“Scenes from yesteryear are revisited through the soda-fountain mirror, creating such a fluid pathway between the past and present that one often becomes lost along the way.”

— Caroline Palmer’s review of “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” 

The above quotations are related to the 1952 film Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, in which James Dean makes a brief appearance at a 1920’s soda fountain. The film is chiefly notable for displaying the beauty of Piper Laurie, but a subplot is also of iterest.  Charles Coburn, a rich man visiting incognito a timeless town* rather like Pleasantville or Riverdale, takes up painting and is assisted by the young Gigi Perreau, who, as I recall, supplies him with the frame from a Circe Soap ad displayed in a shop window.

For more on a fictional rich character and Circe — indeed, enough for a soap — see my note of January 11, 2003, “The First Days of Disco,” and the sequel of January 12, 2003, “Ask Not.”  In the manner of magic realism, the adventures in the earlier entry of Scrooge McDuck and Circe are mirrored by those in the later entry of C. Douglas Dillon and Monique Wittig.

For a less pleasant trip back in time, see the later work of Gigi Perreau in Journey to the Center of Time (1967).  One viewer’s comment:

This is the worst movie ever made. I don’t want to hear about any of Ed Wood’s pictures. This is it, this is the one. Right here. The bottom of the deepest pit of cinema hell.

Happy birthday, Miss Laurie.

*Rather, in fact, like “Our Town.”  Here is John Lahr on a current production of that classic:

“The play’s narrator and general master of artifice is the Stage Manager, who gives the phrase ‘deus ex machina’ a whole new meaning. He holds the script, he sets the scene, he serves as an interlocutor between the worlds of the living and the dead, calling the characters into life and out of it; he is, it turns out, the Author of Authors, the Big Guy himself. It seems, in every way, apt for Paul Newman to have taken on this role. God should look like Newman: lean, strong-chinned, white-haired, and authoritative in a calm and unassuming way—if only we had all been made in his image!”

The New Yorker, issue of Dec. 16, 2002

If Newman is God, then Miss Laurie played God’s girlfriend.  Nice going, Piper.


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