A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

As more and more films deteriorate to glorified music videos or offer a half'n half vision of animation with the real, Rosemary and I have found solace and pleasure viewing the films of channel 46, Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I must even admit that we have some jury-rigged TV trays and we watch films while eating. Recently we viewed Cecil B. de Mille's The Greatest Show On Earth. Host, Robert Osborne made a comment on how this film was one of the last that represented the end of an era. There was hope and redemption in this film. There was little indication of the angst of a possible atomic holocaust. There was no revelation of the extreme greed of modern capitalism that so sadly affects our present times.

In many wasys Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life (1946) to me is a similar film. It is a classic three act film/play where we meet the hero in the first act, are introduced to the conflict and villain in the second and see the resolution in the third. But this is a film that somehow escaped my radar because my parents never took me to see it. My first viewing happened in Vancouver in the mid 70s.

Seeing it as a play in the Arts Club Theatre Company's production on the Granville Island stage was a refreshing treat over the yearly viewing of the film as a Christmas tradition. The fine adaptation as a play by Philip Grecian retains elements of the film by intelligent projection of parts of the film as part of the set design.

But my wife, who is a fan of director Dean Paul Gibson (above) wasn't fooled. She (She-who-does-not-like-anything) looked at me with a smile during the intermission and told me play has all kind wonderful Gibson touches. Perhaps she is right. Gibson's touches are based on the humour of a director who happens to be a fine actor and has the potential of being the best stand-up comedian this city has ever seen.

The cast is good but of special note is villain Henry Potter played by Kevin McNulty. I was never convinced by Lionel Barrymore in the film version. Kevin McNulty, who has a passing resemblance to Carroll O'Connor, is believable (scary real) as the modern greedy capitalist. He reminded me of past logging company and energy company executives I have photographed for business magazines and the Globe & Mail.

The whole situation of the huge conglomorate attempting to forcibly take over an independent institution (that is helping the disavantaged acquire homes of their own) parallels what seems to be the ills of Vancouver. At a recent city affairs lecture at Simon Fraser (downtown campus) ex-premier and author, Mike Harcourt said "There is one simple way to solve the problem of the homeless and this is to build them homes."

Or another comparison with the villanous Henry Potter is the situation of Arthur Erickson's Graham House in Horseshoe Bay. The present owner, Shiraz Lalji, wants to build a new, bigger home on the site, which he bought in 1988 for $925,000. He has applied for a demolition permit, which will probably be issued in the next few days. Reporter John Mackie of the Vancouver Sun recently wrote:

Shiraz Lalji is one of three brothers who own West Vancouver's Larco Developments, which owns Park Royal Shopping Centre and recently spent more than $1 billion buying seven buildings from the federal government and then leasing them back for 25 years. In 2006, Canadian Business magazine ranked the Lalji family the 50th richest in Canada, with a net worth of about $928 million.

I am guessing that Lalji, who probably lives in a wonderfully apointed flat in London would stay in Vancouver for a couple of weeks a year. Why would our architectural heritage in any way be of his importance?

But this has to end on a more positive and hopeful note. I am thinking of Sasa Brown (below) who plays the town's "fast girl" Violet Bick. To me she is much more interesting than the angelic and perfect Mary Hatch Bailey played well, as well as the plot allows her to, by Jennifer Lines. When Sasa Brown moves on stage, she moves on stage! And then I spotted those silk stockings with that seam in the back ("Start at the ankle and follow that seam all the way up, until it disappears... ," someone once told me.) on Brown's legs. Plus she wore satin!

In a perfect It's A Wonderful Life, Clarence Oddbody would not give George Bailey the chance to see a world without him being born. It would be a world where he would have married Violet instead of Mary.


December 6 in the afternoon.

Henry Potter 1, George Bailey 0

Arthur Erickson's Graham house was demolished today.


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