Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hot Woodoo

Cary Grant is hanging out at BAM for a couple of weeks. Cause for celebration! We caught Blonde Venus last night, one of his earliest movies, but it is really a Marlene Dietrich vehicle through and through. Via the mad vision of director Josef von Sternberg, it has fed film studies for years now with its sexual and racial politics. “Hot Woodoo” as Dietrich sings it, beginning in a great ape suit, is absolutely bizarre. Dietrich is stunning (although she doesn't show up in the slink-a-rama number portrayed in the poster), Grant’s the third-billed playboy -- you gotta start somewhere.

The film had two stock footage harbor views of Lower Manhattan that were a thrill to see. (Developer-fuckers ravaged the skyline in the 1960s and 1970s with all that trash they put up on Water Street.) In the first, the old Singer Building can be seen. This bulbous-towered Ernest Flagg confection was the largest building ever demolished (1967) before 9/11. It is sorely missed. In the second, one of my favorites, the magnificent 20 Exchange can be seen under construction. The metal framework skeleton looks to be complete, but only a little of the stone cladding has been attached. Cool!

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