When the production team on White Heat first met, they asked themselves how to make James Cagney’s character the toughest, most menacing gangster ever filmed. Cagney said he told them to “make him nuts.”
The Hebrew Bible uses two words and a million synonyms for God. El, or Elohim, simply mean God. The second word, the Hebrew consonants YHVH, is full of mystery, the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, possibly the past, present, and future tense of “to be,” squeezed together in one word – like a bush that is burning but not consumed.
Before Andy Griffith became TV’s sheriff of Mayberry, he played two roles that are considered classics: “A Face in the Crowd” and “No Time for Sergeants,”
Jim Piersall, a successful center fielder (1950-67), struggled publicly with mental health problems as a player, was hospitalized twice, treated with lithium, then recovered aneopd became a baseball “lifer.”
Burl Ives’s big daddy in The Big Country” has more honor than his Big Daddy in “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams. Both tyrrant father roles were written with Burl Ives in mind, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing them.
The 1966 comedy “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” raises the ancient question: does art change values or reflect them. This movie did both. It reflected changes that were already underway, and also pushed those changes along.
Many peoplw still dislike John Wayne’s movies because of his outspoken conservative political opinions. His work is too important dismiss for that alone. He filled every screen he ever appeared on, and embodied much of our national folklore.
“White Christmas,” is the most popular Christmas song of all time. It was written by a Russian Jewish immigrant, Irving Berlin, who also wrote “God Bless America,” the best American patriotic song.
A Letter to the Editor promised to tell anyone who wished the writer “happy holidays” instead of Merry Christmas to “go soak their heads” or “go back where they came from.” I said this kind of nativism is anti-Semitic and intolerant by definition. Many people answered me very favorably.
Henry Aaron might have been “the last hero” as the title of his biography says. How many athletes, celebrities, or politicians under 60 would you want your children to be like when they grow up?