Adverse Opinion

Had an interesting night–saw Mervyn Leroy’s Anthony Adverse, which I hadn’t seen in years (a special presentation at the library on campus–the sound was great, always important with a melodrama, especially one scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold–composer of my favourite film score of all-time, for Kings Row: a possible inspiration for spider-man)… it’s a crazy movie! Fredric March (the title character) plays an orphan who muddles his way into slave trading; Olivia de Havilland (less of a prop in this film than she usually was in the Errol Flynn cycle, which was just getting rolling aound this time–although still not given nearly as much to work with as she deserved…) is his beloved, who somehow gets mixed up with Napoleon; Claude Rains essays a vicious, gouty, goateed Spanish nobleman, and delivers what is undoubtedly the most triumphantly operatic three-minute-long villainous cackle in the history of melodrama, before settling down into his more customary brand of suave decadence; Gale Sondergaard (who won the first best supporting actress oscar for this film–the category ddn’t exist until 1936) tells us everything we need to know about pure amorality with her eyebrows and her teeth; Edmund Gwenn (best known for his performance as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street) as a sensitive Scottish merchant, is the kind of adoptive father that every Dickens kid wishes they could meet up with; and Akim Tamiroff (Jamo take note!) steals the whole damned movie with his five-minute turn as a sybaritic Cuban with a heart of gold!

The movie ends in a completely unexpected way, which seems to have disatisfied many IMDB commenters, but I think it’s great… Leroy really tests our ability to empathize with the protagonist of this latter-day bildungsroman–the battle to “master the desire for mastery” is played out in a crazily literal way!

Even crazier, however, was my walk home,
a little after midnight, through the vomit-fogged atmosphere of a Big-Ten-Campus-on-the-eve-of-a-big-game (with Notre Dame)… it’s every bit as primal as it’s portrayed in the movies! The number of young drunks was staggering (and so were the drunks!)… A bit of glass bounced off of my forehead when, for some reason, people started throwing beer bottles at each other while waiting for the lights to change at a busy intersection… Two groups of marauding girls addressed me with a bluntness that one usually associates with construction workers… I don’t think it was personal, that’s just how these kids operate! And I was only out there for about twenty minutes!

I’m not going anywhere tomorrow–which means I should finally have a chance to get back to the Squadron Supreme

Good Night Friends!



  1. When you say “addressed me with a bluntness one usually associates with construction workers” were they propositioning you? Because that sounds like the opening to an interesting little story, there.

    – Matt

  2. I wouldn’t say propositioned, Matt– it was more polymorphously perverse than that… I didn’t get the feeling that there was anything specific about me that inspired the invitations–and, as with the stereotypical construction workers of movie fame, I’m sure it was more sexual bravado than anything…


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