Monthly Archives: February 2011

Princess Theatre, Florence, Alabama, 1944

One more photo of a family theater, this one taken at a war bond rally and furnished to me by my brother Alvin. My parents, standing on top of the marquee, are just above the letter E; my grandfather, on the ground, can be seen under the second S, in front of the one-sheet advertising the current attraction, Thank Your Lucky Stars. [2/17/11]

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Three Soviet Masterpieces, Finally Available in Good Editions

Note: Unlike some of my colleagues, when I say “available,” I mean in this case available on region-2 discs that can be played on multiregional players, which are easy and inexpensive to come by.

By the Law aka Dura Lex (Po kanonu), directed by Lev Kuleshov 1926 from a script by Viktor Shklovsky that’s adapted from a Jack London’s story (“The Unexpected”), packaged with an 18-minute fragment of Kulshov’s 1927 Your Acquaintance and a bilingual, illustrated 16-page booklet, is available from www.edition-filmmuseum.com for a little under 20 Euros via PayPal.

The other two DVDs are of Alexander Dozhenko’s first two masterpieces, Zvenigora (1928), seen above, and Arsenal (1929), seen below. (In both cases, as in By the Law, these frame-grabs come from my own reviewer copies, and were selected almost at random.) The two Dovzhenkos are currently available from an English company, Mr. Bongo that previously released an excellent version of Dovzhenko’s Earth (1930), the final feature in what is sometimes called his silent war trilogy, which my west coast colleague Doug Cummings was kind enough to alert me to. From February 14, when Zvenigora and Arsenal are being released, English Amazon is offering each for just under 8 pounds (a little under $13), an incredible bargain.… Read more »

THE SIRENS OF TITAN etc.

It’s more than a little unnerving to discover that the “canonized” Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. collection that Library of America is bringing out on June 11 excludes my favorite work of his — his mind-boggling second novel (1959), The Sirens of Titan, by all counts his wittiest and most profound — as well as Mother Night (his third, 1961), another major work.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Library of America is planing one or more other Vonnegut volumes, thus theoretically making room for the first three novels (Piano Player in 1952 was his debut effort) as well as more of the late and relatively weak ones, along with his play, Happy Birthday, Wanda June, and other stories. But the weird thing about LOA’s canonizing is that it creates contestable and uncomfortable groupings, even when they’re simply chronological; for me, Cat’s Cradle (1963) belongs squarely with the two novels preceding it, not with the three that came afterwards. This isn’t quite as grotesque as collecting William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury in the same volume as his Soldier’s Pay, Mosquitoes, and Flags in the Dust (the longer version of Sartoris), which the Library of America also did, but it’s still bothersome.… Read more »

Princess Theater, Florence, Alabama in the 1930s

Another priceless photograph from the Facebook page Remembering Florence. Rajah Raboid (1896-1962), advertised above the marquee, was a vaudeville magician born with the name Maurice Kitchen who toured with Johnny Eck (the “half-man” from Freaks) as well as Eck’s normal-sized twin in a show called Mysteries of 1937. I don’t know the precise or even approximate date of this photograph. — J.R. (2/5/11)

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Stanley Rosenbaum House, Florence, Alabama, November 1943

    I recently discovered this photograph, for the first time, on a Facebook page called Remembering Florence that has lately been growing to astronomical proportions. I estimate that I must have been somewhere between eight and nine months old when it was taken. I don’t even remember the tree in the right foreground, but I love the way the glass doors visible on the left reflect another part of the house’s exterior. According to normal terminology, this is the “back” of the house, but I believe that Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed it in the late 1930s, would have called it the “front”. Below is a photo taken (I think) on the same occasion, which we would call the “front” of the house and Wright would have called the “back”. (The house’s extension, built after my two younger brothers were born, in 1948, changed the overall shape. For more details, go here, or check the more contemporary color photos I’ve just added, shot from different angles.) (2/1/11)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Rosenbaum_House_Rear_Pano.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Rosenbaum_House_Front_Pano.jpg