Bette Midler is tiny; so tiny (5’1″) that surprise is what you feel seeing her in person. I have been blessed to watch her do her thing live many times in many different places and always come away on Cloud Nine thinking, “How does that great, big voice and all that tremendous energy come out of that little sprite?” But Midler’s stature belies the power of her spirit. Oftentimes I have witnessed that spirit fireball out of a theater or arena to where it ascends and covers the place in a protective bubble of vitality and verve. In other words, no stadium, no opera house, no hall, however cavernous, can contain her infectious energy. I watched in awe one time when she was first staring out in her career, appear before what had to be, for her, a disappointing Symphony Hall crowd (the place was maybe a third full). That girl worked her tail off like you would not believe, strutting and camping, doing cartwheels, belting songs to the rafters, sending her now-trademark Hawaiian bolo balls into orbit, carrying on an absolute storm. You’d swear she was performing for a crowd of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden. Her energy and work ethic, her drive and desire to please are unearthly. No tiny, little sprite!
Tag: Mark Rydell
The Long Goodbye – 1973 – Dir. Robert Altman
The late, great Robert Altman once again lends his distinctive, experimental style to what has come to be regarded as this definitive interpretation of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. It’s a winner! Thirty-six this year, the film still plays as fresh and as contemporary as it did the year it was made. The tale of a double murder and the unfortunate detective who gets dragged, kicking and screaming, into the thick of it is filled with a permeating cynicism, underhanded absurdities and shattering acts of violence. Crime author Raymond Chandler, like his contemporaries Dashiell Hammett and Ross McDonald, created glamorous worlds of danger and intrigue where a usually hapless, albeit decent guy, finds himself way over his head in the soup. Here, Chandler’s anti-hero, Phillip Marlowe, is helmed by the underrated Elliott Gould. A huge star in the 60s and 70s (Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, M.A.S.H.), Gould brings a bizarrely effortless spin to a role played in more traditional ways by everyone from Bogart to James Garner. His dopey, befuddled schmuck look assists him ably in Altman’s clever conceit of placing a 1950s-style detective into a 1970s-style world. It is as if this “Rip van Marlowe”, waking from a long slumber, has been transported via some private eye time tunnel twenty years into the future — a future he does not understand and is more than a little bit lost in.