Bits and Pieces

First things first, lets have a gander at the music haul I purchased over the past ten days or so.
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They are: Nat Gonella and his Georgians: 1931 – 1941 which is a budget release featuring 25 tracks from those ten years. The title is a bit of a misnomer as a good proportion of the tracks aren’t under the Georgians but under his first band which was called Nat Gonella and his Trumpet and some tracks when he guested with the Roy Fox and John Kirby orchestras (the later of which also features the legendary reedsman Benny Carter). The next up is called Essential New Orleans Jazz and is a budget compilation featuring artists such as Jelly Roll Morton, Eddie Condon, Bob Crosby, Bunk Johnson, Kid Ory and a host of others. The next is the complete Frank Sinatra studio recordings with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and does exactly what it says on the tin and features a few bonus tracks as well. Two more compilations with It’s Trad Dad and The 75 Best Jazz Tracks of the Early 1960, both of which are self-explanitory. The final two are selections from the British Jazz scene both of the 1960s and the 2000s: Humphrey Lyttelton: Blues in the Night and Acoustic Triangle: Resonance. The former is an album which shows Humph slowly moving away from the Trad and Dixie scene to a mix of mainstream and swing while the later is a album of chamber Jazz lead by pianist Gwilym Simcock.

So films, I recently watched two classic movies: The Punch & Judy Man starring the Lad Himself Tony Hancock and also features countless familiar faces such as Hugh Lloyd, John Le Mesurier, Ronald Fraser, Peter Vaughan and a young Gerald Harper (who plays a drunk toff); it is a nice little film with Hancock on fine form and no sign of the dark days to come. The underlying theme in it is class snobbery with Hancock’s wife wanting to be accepted into higher social circles while Hancock is drawn to his fellow beach front entertainers and is being to feel like he his wife is becoming a stranger. I think what is a key to the films success is down to the underlying sadness throughout the film, as Chaplin says  life is a comedy in long shot and a tragedy when seen up close,  pathos is a key element to comedy in my opinion. Hancock and John le Mesurier’s characters feed off each other perfectly and the uncertainty in their lives is illustrated in the scene in the beach hut where over tea both characters seem to long for one another’s life. Hancock envies the freedom of singledom that Le Mesurier lives while Le Mesurier wishes to be with someone as it is a lonely life. I was mistakenly of the belief that the script was written by Galton and Simpson, Hancock’s writers for Hancock’s Half Hour and his previous film The Rebel, but no it seems that Hancock himself had a hand in the screenplay.

Next up I watched The Phantom of the Opera, not the silent movie but the 1945 film starring Claude Rains as the titular Phantom. It is okay I guess but fails in that from the outset we know who the Phantom is as they start off with his backstory straight away and as a result the film loses some of the tension and drama which is present in the book…. and there is way too much Opera in the film. There are scenes and scenes of characters singing the opera and it gets a bit grating after a while and it takes far too long for the Phantom to appear. Overall, a disappointing watch though there are some points of interest such as the chase through the roof of the theatre and Claude Rains hones in a good performance as the Phantom and his aggrieved alter ego.

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