I wrote this book review for The Village Voice shortly after I moved to London from Paris in 1974 (which helps to explain how I could cite the English paperback of Myra Breckinridge), so I was more than likely a little miffed when the Voice noted at the end of the piece, “Jonathan Rosenbaum is a film critic presently living in Paris.” Although I think this review suffers a bit from the Voice‘s overheated smart-alecky manner during this period, which I was only too willing to adopt (and which makes some of my gripes potentially open to the charge of the pot calling the kettle black), I was reminded of both this review and Myra Breckinridge/Myron while recently reading Vidal’s somewhat similar 1978 novel Kalki, which has a similarly formidable heroine-narrator with a comparably ambiguous relation to gender. — J.R. [4/3/09]
By Jonathan Rosenbaum
Random House, $6.95
Myra Breckenridge was a stunt: a clever gay trick pulled on a straight audience — or, if one prefers, a bisexual prank pulled on a unisexual audience — with kibitzers and spectators welcome on either side of the ironies, different jokes for different folks.… Read more »
From Monthly Film Bulletin, October 1974 (Vol. 41, No. 489). Postscript: Thanks (once again!) to Ehsan Khoshbakht for providing me with an extra illustration for this review. — J.R.
Born to Swing
Great Britain, 1973
Director: John Jeremy
Dist–TCB. p.c–Silverscreen Productions. p–John Jeremy. p. manager–
Angus Trowbridge. sc–John Jeremy. ph–Peter Davis, Tohru Nakamura.
photographs–Ernie Smith, Valerie Wilmer. ed–John Jererny. m–Buddy
Tate, Earle Warren, Joe Newman, Dicky Wells, Eddie Durham, Snub
Mosley, Gene Ramey, Tommy Flanagan, Jo Jones, The Count Basie
Band (1943). m. rec—Fred Miller. sd. rec—Ron Yoshida. sd. re-rec–
Hugh Strain. narrator–Humphrey Lyttelton. with–Buck Clayton, John
Hammond, Andy Kirk, Jo Jones, Albert McCarthy, Gene Krupa, Snub
Mosley, Joe Newman, Buddy Tate, Earle Warren, Dicky Wells. 1,773 ft.
49 mins. (16 mm.).
This engaging jazz film has both a general subject and a specific
one. Generally, it is about American swing music of the past;
specifically, its main focus is six veterans of Count Basie’s band in
the present. Interspersed with a 1943 clip of the Basie band inspiring
some athletic dancers are album covers, flurries of sheet music,
neon signs, and a string of short reminiscences: by Andy Kirk,
about his stint with the Eleven Clouds of Joy; Snub Mosley, about
New York in the Thirties; the doorman at Jimmy Ryan’s, about
52nd Street; Gene Krupa, mainly about himself.… Read more »