Turner Classic Movies will be running “Singin’ in the Rain” again this coming Saturday at 6 pm E.S.T. It always cheers me up. Incredibly, the film now generally regarded as the best original Hollywood musical ever made (I’d rank “Mary Poppins” and “Swingtime” next) didn’t even warrant an Academy Award nomination in 1952, and the other all-time classic in that year’s Oscar race, “High Noon,” was nominated but didn’t win. The Best Picture winner was Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth,” which has been mocked by film critics ever since. I just watched that film again: it must have been stunning on the big screen. TV doesn’t do it justice, and with the demise of big circuses, it’s also an amazing historical artifact. The movie isn’t art, like “High Noon,” and it’s not as entertaining a Gene, Donald and Debbie, but we will never see the like of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the movie or the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus again. I’m grateful to C.B. for making it. (And that train wreck is amazing!)
1. Now he tells us? In her review of a new book about President Andrew Johnson, the New York Times’ Jennifer Szalai concludes,
“But when Johnson was eventually impeached, it wasn’t for his subversion of Reconstruction; it was for failing to obtain Congressional approval before he fired his secretary of war. The articles of impeachment were “dryly legalistic,” almost all of them focused on violations of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress just the year before. Republicans were trying to portray Johnson as a lawbreaker while studiously avoiding the matter of race. This fixation on technicalities, Levine says, “allowed Congress to impeach Johnson not for doing harm to hundreds of thousands of Black people in the South but for firing a white man….The impeachers may have been trying to be pragmatic, but playing it safe didn’t work; Johnson prevailed by a single vote. As one of his biographers, Hans Trefousse, once put it: ‘If you impeach for reasons that are not the real reasons, you really can’t win.’”
Yesterday I wrote about how the Times and others continue to reference Donald Trump in every negative context imaginable. What does it tell us that when the topic screams out for a Trump analogy that reflects poorly on his attackers, he isn’t mentioned at all?