Posts Tagged ‘Erich von Stroheim’

Still at Muriel’s

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July 22nd, 2009 Posted 7:46 am

“Louis B. Mayer,” said Muriel Breit, our go-to person for anything about movies, “was the M in MGM, but he started as a scrap dealer in Canada.”

“Perfect training,” said Bernie.

Muriel laughed, another one of those laughs that turned to hacking and ended with Bernie pounding her back. “I really should quit,” she said.

“Quit what?” said Bernie.

“Getting so much fun out of life.”

Bernie smiled, gave her a long look. What were they talking about? You’re asking the wrong guy. Quit getting fun out of life? Couldn’t get my mind around that one.

“Mayer took control of Greed,” Muriel said. “He had no use for a nine hour film, of course, and tried to get von Stroheim to shorten it. Mayer ended up taking it away from von Stroheim and MGM cut it down to two hours. The movie tanked, most of the footage got lost, and von Stroheim was furious.” Muriel gazed up at her screen, still showing von Stroheim and Mayer wrestling for the gun.

“Is that some of the missing footage?” Bernie said.

Muriel shook her head. “I think this is bigger than that,” she said.


Message from Admin to B. Stover


July 21st, 2009 Posted 7:30 am

Hi, B. Stover. Thanks for your question re Chet’s July 19 post.

Muriel Breit said, speaking of Erich von Stroheim: “He was one of the best directors of the silent era, and was also an actor. Ever seen Sunset Boulevard?” In Sunset Boulevard (1950), von Stroheim played Max von Mayerling, the weird butler working for the faded movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Bernie’s reply to Muriel – “The pictures got smaller.” – refers to a scene in the movie where the struggling screenwriter played by by William Holden recognizes Norma Desmond and remarks that she used to be big. She replies, “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

Hope that helps. Admin’s two favorite Hollywood movies about Hollywood are Sunset Boulevard and The Player. The French movie La Nuit Americaine (Day For Night) is also great on the movie business.

Tomorrow – back to the Greed Case, if we can locate Chet. Seems to have gone off on one of his canyon expeditions. What does he do there?


A Lucky Day


July 20th, 2009 Posted 8:02 am

Was it possible? Yes, more than possible. I could smell it. I could see it. There, right out on Muriel Breit’s kitchen counter:  bacon strips lying on a piece of paper towel. How many bacon strips? Couldn’t tell you, but more than two. And then, pretty quickly, there were none! Delish. I wandered back into Muriel’s office, licking my lips. No one seemed to notice me.

“… even shooting scenes in Death Valley in the summer,” Muriel was saying. “Von Stroheim ended up with a nine hour movie, totally crazy. That was when Louis B. Mayer stepped in. Know much about him?”

“Not really,” Bernie said.

“Ever read a book called An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood?”

“Nope,” Bernie said.

“A good book,” said Muriel. She freshened their glasses – they were drinking bourbon, don’t know if I got that in yet. “Okay,” she said: “Louis B. Mayer.”


Meeting in Smoky Places

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July 19th, 2009 Posted 12:14 pm

“Let’s start with Erich von Stroheim,” said Muriel Breit. By that time her office was nice and smoky from the cigarettes she and Bernie were smoking; also a bottle of bourbon had appeared. “He came from Vienna where he claimed to be from the Austrian nobility. In fact, his background was Jewish and middle class.” Jewish? What was that again? Wasn’t quite able to come up with it, but for some reason I found myself thinking of the Berkowitz divorce case, one of our very worst. We hate divorce work, me and Bernie, and we hated the Berkowitz divorce the worst. “He was one of the best directors of the silent era, and was also an actor,” Muriel said. “Ever seen Sunset Boulevard?”

“The pictures got smaller,” Bernie said.

Muriel gazed at him for a moment, then started laughing, don’t ask me why. Laughing turned to hacking. Bernie pounded on her back. “Oh, Bernie,” she said, gasping for breath – always scary when humans did that. “You’re full of surprises.”

“That’s been my downfall,” Bernie said. That made Muriel laugh again. And then more hacking. Enough. I went into another room, which turned out to be the kitchen. And what did I see on the counter?

Plus: What day is it? Elvis Gospel day!


The Books

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