30 August 2014

Hollywood heaven

every once in a while I see something that brings so many of my personal touchstones together that I'm overwhelmd.  that happend tonite.

I saw a half hour tv show from Xmas week of 1955. the series was "Screen Directors Playhouse." it lastd but one season.  however it's become legendary because it brought to its 35 episodes such prominent Hollywood directors as John Ford & Frank Borzage   Ida Lupino & Fred Zinnemann.

the episode I just watchd was "The Silent Partner."  directing was George Marshall who helmd such big screen classics as "Destry Rides Again" & "The Blue Dahlia."

the reason I wantd to see it was simple. it brought together one of film's greatest stars Buster Keaton with my Everyman -- Percy Helton.  but I had no idea going into it that there wd be surprises.

it opens with the Pantages Theater on Oscar nite.  altho I now find the Academy Awards beyond silly when I was young they were important to me.  & when I first began watching them on tv they were broadcast from the Pantages. we see the crowd & then suddenly there's my old friend George Fisher interviewing stars.  George's moment of Hollywood history is the subject of a poem of mine in The Arrow That is Hollywood Pierces the Soul That is Me.

George interviews Joe E. Brown who I once saw in summer stock. Keaton is a sort of bystander who then walks to a nearby bar calld Barney's. I suspect it'd be in the location of the Frolic in reality. Barney is Percy Helton -- star of my Percy & Bess. also in the bar is another silent screen great -- Zasu Pitts.

the story gets predictable but before the adventure is over we see Keaton in a comedy routine briefly opposite another beloved performer I've written abt -- Snub Pollard.

throw in Evelyn Ankers & Jack Kruschen & Hank Mann & a young Jack Elam -- even a cameo by Bob Hope -- & for me it became a major event. altho not a great piece of filmmaking it brought together both my past & Hollywood's in such a poignant way.  seeing those particular favorites of mine intersect was magic.  I'm so up I may have to do a little dance before I calm down.

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