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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Are You Fair Dinkum?* No, I'm an (Olivetti bashing) Italian! We Sure Are A Weird Mob! Australia Day Special

*Are you fair dinkum? = are you "for real"? (in the modern idiom). The post headline is an adaption of a line from the 1966 Australian movie They're A Weird Mob
Mob = Australian term for any group of people (including the entire nation), kangaroos or sheep, not necessarily troublesome.
*Australia Day (January 26) = anniversary marking the "European invasion"
 "Giovanni 'Nino' Culotta" - Italian comic and actor, Verona-born Walter Chiari (real name Walter Annicchiarico, 1924-1991), who played magazine writer Nino Culotta in the 1966 movie version of John O'Grady's 1957 book They're A Weird Mob. Chiari is seen here typing on an Olivetti Lettera 22 in a sketch on stage in Rome in October 1960. He subsequently used an Olivetti Lettera 32 as a prop in the movie and in real life, carrying it in its distinctive blue with black strip case wherever he went, before and after filming in Australia.
 The original cover of O'Grady's best-selling book, first published in November 1957 but written in New Zealand in 1956.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the movie of the same name, ostensibly based on O'Grady's book. 
The real "Nino Culotta" - Australian writer John O'Grady at his Olympia SM3 portable typewriter at his home in Oatley, a southern Sydney suburb, following the enormous and instant success of his first novel They're A Weird Mob (from an initial print run of 6000, 130,000 copies were sold after eight reprints in the first year; 47 impressions and 930,000 copies all up). Interestingly, They're A Weird Mob was actually typed by O'Grady on another, earlier portable, in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1956, from O'Grady's handwritten manuscript. O'Grady was in Auckland waiting on his papers to take up a New Zealand Government appointment as official government pharmacist in Samoa. O'Grady sent the typescript back to his son in Sydney while he was living in Samoa, and the book was published in his absence.
The Oatley house was built on the proceeds of the book. The true identity of Nino Culotta was exposed two months after the book's release and at the height of its popularity. O'Grady tried many times to duplicate the winning formula of Weird  Mob, but never again achieved the same level of success, with 15 more books and Cop This Lot, Gone Fishin' and Gone Gougin' all written under the pseudonym of Nino Culotta. Indeed, O'Grady tried to kill off his alter ego and delivered Culotta's eulogy in a pub in Toongabbie in Sydney's western suburbs in 1960.
In the best traditions of Hitchcock, John O'Grady got himself into a scene in the movie of They're A Weird Mob, as an imbiber in a Sydney pub (above). Or was it a Melbourne pub? The movie seemed to drift from one city to another when it came to bar scenes. I thought I spotted Chloe from Young & Jackson's in Melbourne (right) in one. But no, it was Chloe turned the other way in the Marble Bar in Sydney (left).
In a clip from the movie They're A Weird Mob, Walter Chiari as the Nino Culotta character is seen with his Olivetti Lettera 32, a model which did not reach the market until the early 1960s.  The problem with the movie is that it was made eight years after the book was published, and fails to reflect the very different Australia of the mid to late 50s, including matters such as dress, culture and cuisine (or lack thereof). The influences from the post-war wave of European migration didn't start to become so apparent until the mid-60s.
For some time now I had been planning to post on an Australian comic novel from 1957 called They're A Weird Mob, ostensibly written by an Italian immigrant, a magazine writer called Nino Culotta. Australia Day (today) seems as good a time as any, the more so because I am going to watch the movie yet again, at the National Film and Sound Archive here in Canberra, this very afternoon.
The book They're A Weird Mob would today be considered politically very incorrect - labelled as both racist and sexist - which is possibly why it won't be found on any list of Australia's finest home-grown literature, alongside such heavy going works as Patrick White's Voss (also from 1957). But as a book which captures the spirit of a people in a particular era, I think it would be hard to beat. On the score of out-and-out down-to-earth humour, it's impossible to top. It's interesting to read reviews from the time, which were unanimously positive, both here and overseas. John O'Grady's evocative work told vividly of the daily urban experience of many Australians in the mid to late 50s, which Voss did not.
John O'Grady "blows the top off a frothy" at a housewarming party at the home he built in Oatley on the proceeds of his first novel.
I was allowed to read the book when it first came out, which, given I was just nine at the time, and the dialogue was liberally sprinkled with what was then considered a mildly offensive swear word ("bloody"* was rarely uttered in the presence of women) indicates my parents were both reasonably open minded on such matters. However, since they had read Weird Mob and found it hugely entertaining, I guess they saw no reason why I shouldn't be invited to join in the merriment.

H.E. Bates' The Darling Buds of May reached our home library at about the same time, and frankly I was too young and naive to work out what all the fuss was about. Weird Mob, on the other hand, remains perhaps the funniest book I have ever had the pleasure of reading - certainly for the sheer delight it brought at that particular time and age of innocence. Maybe it was simply a case of a nine-year-old being as much amused by the constant use of "bad" language as by the antics of the characters. Actually, I still find what O'Grady called the "integrated adjective" (see his poem, bottom of post) to be the funniest aspect of the Australian idiom, although "bloody" has in the main been succeeded by a much stronger word, or sometimes a combination of both.
(*The integrated adjective and the use of the word "bloody" as an expletive attributive [intensifier] were discussed in a very interesting program on ABC Radio on Sunday morning. "Bloody", it was stated, has been succeeded by the F word. But "bloody", unlike the F word, was misunderstood. It was not blasphemous [as in "blood of Christ"] but came from the term "Young Blood", as in a rowdy young aristocrat.)
Walter Chiari as Nino Culotta arrives in Sydney with his Olivetti Lettera 32 - a scene from the movie.
The main reason I wanted to post on Weird Mob was that, although I cannot recall reference to typewriter use in the book (probably taken as said for a magazine writer), the main character in the movie - made eight years after the novel was published - certainly carried around an Olivetti Lettera 32 portable in its distinctive blue with black strip case. So in my biased mind it's a typewriter-related film. But in my humble opinion, the time lapse between book and film was critical - and shows, to the detriment of the movie. I may well be in a minority of one here, but I have previously found the film deeply disappointing. Eight years may not seem like much, but the book was decidedly a period piece, fully capturing a unique nation at a unique time in its history, and the movie should have been too. On reflection, Australia had changed an awful lot between 1957 and 1965, as the wave of European immigrants in the wake of World War II began to have a far greater influence on Australian society, in terms of culture and cuisine, while the Baby Boomer generation had begun to cast off the post-war shackles of a previously strait-laced (and tightly so) nation.
Not too many bikinis were seen on Bondi Beach in 1956. The photo below was taken there in 1959.
For one thing, dress and some attitudes toward nationality and allegiance had changed markedly, and the jargon had shifted downward drastically. The movie failed to reflect any of that. Trouble is, an Australian director wasn't given the chance to make the movie in 1965, and Weird Mob the movie was made by a Brit, Michael Powell, and scripted by a Hungarian-Brit, Emeric Pressburger. I just don't think either of them "got it".  Fortunately, Australian movie making got a whole lot better in the wake of Weird Mob. The delay in committing it to celluloid was caused, apparently, by Gregory Peck buying the rights in 1959 but failing to get a screenplay written. Peck had been in Australia in early 1959 making the movie of Nevil Shute's On the Beach, with Ava Gardner, and Walter Chiari, who played Nino Culotta in the Weird Mob movie, had been here too at that time, too, as Gardner's lover. Admittedly, Peck wanted to play a role if he had made the movie, so it's probably a good thing he did not.
If they'd made a movie about John O'Grady himself back then, Burl Ives would no doubt had got the gig. O'Grady typed all his manuscripts on portables from drafts.  
Barry McKenzie (Barrington Bradman Bing McKenzie), a fictional character created by Barry Humphries in 1964, also went the way of Nino, on to celluloid. McKenzie had become, by the late 60s and early 70s, such an Earl's Court icon that expatriate Australians living in London began to imitate art. McKenzie started out as an extreme parody of Australians in London, and Australians in London finished up parodying him. It wasn't just weird, and a long way from the true Australians of A Weird Mob - it was downright disrespectful of the real Australian heritage.
Barry McKenzie, as imagined by New Zealander Nicholas Garland.
By the 1970s O'Grady's brand of humour was widely regarded as old-fashioned and unsophisticated, but "bad" language in movies was still mildly funny when Barry McKenzie made it on to the screen in 1972. Nowadays it has gotten beyond a joke. We went to see Suffragette and were astonished to hear the F word used in dialogue allegedly spoken in the presence of  women in a 1912 laundry. Fair dinkum! The producers had gone to extraordinary lengths to film scenes based, almost to perfection, on photographs taken of suffragettes working in their London offices at the time. Why go to such trouble, then ruin in all by having a character say something that wasn't said in such a context in 1912? 
I was reminded of this offence to the ear upon reading posts by two Typospherians - two Australian bloggers who are always considered in their writing, make sense and are worth reading - Rino Breebaart (The long, slow {typecast}) and Steve Kuterescz (writelephant). For example, it struck me that Rino, in writing about "taking the piss out of ourselves", might have considered O'Grady's effort to see Australia through 1950s mock Italian eyes. And Steve, in a review of the movie Atonement, mentions a note containing "two occurrences of the rudest four-letter word in the English language". Again I seriously question the context (in the book and film), in a story set in 1935. Would Briony, aged 13 and living in a posh household, even know what the word meant? Actually, even as the product of a later era, I very much doubt it. Steve went on to mention Atonement author Ian McEwan's use of the word "probity", which he might well have kept in mind when writing his book.
But let's get back to Weird Mob. I went to the National Library to refresh my memories of it. Nino Culcotta says he came from Piedmont in the north of Italy (he's quite racist about Italians from the south) and worked for a major publishing house in Milan, before being assigned to Australia, where he arrived in October 1952 (so the book, presumably, is actually set in an even earlier timeframe than 1956). Having taught himself the Queen's English, according to the Oxford Dictionary (or some proper phrase book), he finds "Most Australians speak English like I speak Hindustani, which I don't."
Nino types
He finds work as a brickies' labourer in Punchbowl and quickly learns that a "schooner" is not a sailing vessel and a "shout" doesn't mean to yell.
Importantly, however, he is always trying to assimilate, no longer the "done thing" in a proudly multicultural Australian society. Early reviews of O'Grady's book praised the "New Australian" (no longer politically correct) for his "triumph over a strange and ridiculous tongue". 
John O'Grady grew up learning this "strange and ridiculous tongue", which he called "Australianese", and knew how to write it. He was born at Waverley in Sydney on October 9, 1907, but his father worked the land around Tamworth, after being with the Lands Department and editing the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales. John became a registered pharmacist in 1929, but the rest of his family were writers. A younger brother, Frank, had published several works of historical fiction, which John called "library novels". Frank, seeking John's opinion of a new book, accepted a £10 bet from John over a family Sunday lunch at Bronte, that "if I couldn't write a better book than that I'd give up". In the beginning it looked like he's lose the bet. Angus & Robertson knocked back Weird Mob because "in spite of some very amusing incidents and a fine command of Australian slang, the story would not make a successful book". Ure Smith published it and Angus & Robertson was left lamenting the loss of almost a million sales (plus a share of movie rights).
Jackie Weaver, now a celebrated Oscar-nominated actress
For the rest of his productive life, O'Grady remained an outspoken eccentric, "an elderly delinquent" who expressed the pharmacist’s contempt for the medical profession and an anti-communist’s admiration for Khrushchev. He died on January 14, 1981 in his home at Oatley.
The integrated adjective
I was down on Riverina, knockin' round the towns a bit,
An' occasionally restin', with a schooner in me mitt;
An' on one o' these occasions, when the bar was pretty full
an' the local blokes were arguin' assorted kinds o' bull,
I heard a conversation, most peculiar in its way,
Because only in Australia would you hear a joker say,
"Where yer bloody been, yer drongo? 'Aven't seen yer fer a week;
"An' yer mate was lookin' for yer when 'e come in from the Creek;
"'E was lookin' up at Ryan's, an' around at bloody Joe's,
"An' even at the Royal where 'e bloody never goes."
An' the other bloke said "Seen 'im. Owed 'im 'alf a bloody quid,
"Forgot ter give ut back to 'im; but now I bloody did.
"Coulda used the thing me-bloody-self; been orf the bloody booze,
"Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin' kanga-bloody-roos."
Now their voices were a little loud, an' everybody heard
The peculiar integration of this adjectival word.
But no one there was laughin', an' me I wasn't game,
So I stood around an' let 'em think I spoke the bloody same.
An' one of 'em was interested to ask 'im what he'd got-
How many kanga-bloody-roos he bloody went and shot-
An' the shootin' bloke said, "Things are crook; the drought's too bloody tough;
"I got forty-bloody-seven, an' that's good e'-bloody-nough."
An' this polite rejoinder seemed to satisfy the mob,
An' everyone stopped listenin' an' got on with the job,
Which was drinkin' beer and arguin' an' talkin' of the heat,
An' stickin' in the bitumen in the middle of the street;
But as for me, I'm here to say the interestin' news
Was "Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin' kanga-bloody-roos."

Monday, 25 January 2016

How an Underwood wrote Typist-Corporal Bert Manders' Road to Redemption

At one time, when Bert Manders worked with future United States President Herbert Clark Hoover, as a clerk in Hoover's Bewick, Moreing & Co mining organisation on the West Australian Goldfields, he was an extremely well-liked, generous, God-fearing and popular part-time mystic illusionist and conjurer. In the early years of the 20th Century, Manders was admired across this vast, barren landscape, from Leonora and Menzies in the north to York in the east, and affectionately known as "The Wizard of the West". Manders' concern for others, and willingness to help them, extended to him giving charity legerdemain performances at the Mechanics' Institute in Boulder City, during a campaign in favour of an eight-hour working day. Another beneficiary of Manders' largesse was Bridget Leahy, the young Kalgoorlie barmaid whose legs were mangled by a train at a level crossing. When it came time for a farewell concert for Manders himself, the Federal Brass Band led the crowd down Hannan Street in Kalgoorlie to Her Majesty's Theatre.
But where were all these fair weather friends when Bert Manders' life began to spiral out of control?
In this photograph taken by Danish-born Hans Christian Biltoft (1864-1957) at the Mechanics' Institute in Boulder City, Western Australia, in May 1902, Bert Manders performs the famous trick of throwing a cannon ball high in the air and catching it in the back of his neck. This trick was first perfected by Paul Cinquevalli (1859-1918), a German music hall entertainer whose speciality juggling act made him popular in the English music halls.
In 1907 Manders took to the bottle big time, became a hopeless alcoholic and turned to petty crime to fund his drinking habit. He was twice in court on theft charges, and spent time behind bars.
What brought about this sudden fall from grace?
Well, Manders' decline wasn't all that sudden at all. At the very time he was singing and smiling his way through his juggling and sleight of hand tricks, raising funds for the needy throughout the Goldfields, Manders was in need of a consoling hand himself. He was weeping inside, his heart shattered by three tragic events in the life of his wife, Myrtle Mary (née Wark) and himself.
The couple had had, in quick succession, three sons die as babies.
Bert and Myrtle, a South Australian, had married in Kalgoorlie on January 12, 1902, at the height of Bert's fleeting fame. Their first child, Melbourne Albert Charles Leonard "Melbie" Manders, was born that July and died in Kalgoorlie on May 21, 1903, aged 10 months
Early the next year, Myrtle and Bert lost another son, Ivan Charles Manders, aged just 11 weeks. Bert had already started his drinking binge and a pregnant Myrtle had left him in Kalgoorlie for Cottesloe when the final straw came on April 6, 1907. Their third child, Claude Manders, died at three weeks.
Nellie Stewart gold bangles
Bert was desperate to get from the Goldfields to Perth to be with his grieving wife, but on an unsupplemented salary of £6 a week from Hoover's company - paid at the end of each month - he had no money left after rent and his bouts of boozing, and normally couldn't expect any more pay before May 30. The awful truth Bert was keeping a secret was that he had been laid off by Hoover's outfit because of his drinking, and no more money would be forthcoming. So on May 11, he went into the jewelry store owned by Louis Abramovich (aka Morris) on Hannan Street, lied about his employment situation, and bought on credit a £4 10 shilling Nellie Stewart gold bangle. Straightaway, Manders took the bangle to Samuel Madorsky's pawn shop further down Hannan Street and got 25 shillings for it. 
Spoke up for Manders: The Reverend Collick, with bike, second from left, at the Mount Morgans Police Station on the WA Goldfields. 
Arrested and bailed, in court Manders was charged with false pretences. Anglican priest the Reverend Edward Mallan Collick (1868-1959) spoke up for him, appealing to Resident Magistrate Edward Poor Dowley to give Manders a chance and saying his sad circumstances had "driven the man to drink". Collick said he would try to get Manders some work, and that the court experience would "keep him out of trouble."
Dowley let Manders off with a slap on the wrist, saying "this will show you what drink can lead you into", and Manders did manage to get back to his wife Myrtle in Perth. But within four years he was back in the courts.  By this time the couple had had two more children, a daughter and son, who did live to a ripe old age (as did another daughter, born in Subiaco just before Manders enlisted for World War I). 
Manders became involved in a land agency with an old friend from his Goldfields days, Percy Elliott Dobbie (1868-1928), originally from Dunedin in New Zealand. In August 1911, Manders was charged with theft, and he and Dobbie with false representation. At the end of September the two were discharged when the Crown entered "nolle prosequi" (a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit).
With the charges lifted, Manders managed to secure a job as a stenographer-typist with the West Australian Lands Department. On July 9, 1915, with Australian soldiers still being slaughtered at Gallipoli, he enlisted as a private for service in World War I. He was immediately sent to the military camp at Blackboy Hill at Greenmount, and at the end of August his Company C sailed on the transport Indarra to join the 32 Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, in South Australia. The battalion had been raised as part of the 8th Brigade at Mitcham on the outskirts of Adelaide on August 9, 1915. Manders embarked from Adelaide on November 18 on the HMAT A2 Geelong. He was quickly promoted to sergeant but, of all things, was given the role of a bomb thrower.
Some Diggers were to prove themselves well suited to this dangerous task, such as another clerk, Victoria Cross winner Lance Corporal Leonard Maurice Kyezor, who "caught grenades like cricket balls and threw them back". But Manders wasn't one of them. 
After training in Egypt, where the 8th Brigade joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division, the battalion proceeded to the Western Front in June 1916. It fought at Fromelles in July and lost almost 90 per cent of its fighting strength. It played a major role at Polygon Wood in 1917 and fought in the Ypres sector, at Amiens in 1918 and in the attack on the Hindenburg Line across the top of the St Quentin Canal tunnel. A distant relation of Mander's through marriage, Major Blair Anderson Wark (1894-1941, below) received the Victoria Cross for his leadership and bravery while leading the battalion in late 1918. 
His nerves soon shattered by bomb throwing, Manders had been assigned to typewriting duties and promoted to Typist-Corporal, first at general headquarters in Cairo and later in Flanders.
Manders joined the divisional HQ staff of Sir James Whiteside McCay (1864-1930, below), who on August 15, 1914, had been appointed to command the 2nd Infantry Brigade, AIF. McCay took over the 5th Division on March 22, 1916, and in January 1917 was put in command of the base depots in England (where Manders continued to work for him). For almost two years at Salisbury Plain, McCay efficiently trained and supplied reinforcements and controlled movements during demobilisation. Lieutenant-General Sir Brudenell White said McCay was "one of the greatest soldiers that ever served Australia … greater even than [John] Monash". In intellect and military education he was considered comparable with Monash. 
Of his typewriting experiences in France, Manders wrote to The Sunday Times in Perth:
Manders returned to Western Australia in January 1918 and resumed civilian life as a journalist. His wife Myrtle died in Perth Public Hospital in October 1921 and Manders married his widowed landlady, Annie Morelini (née Riley) in 1926. Albert Wilhelm Palmer Manders, who was born at Punt Road, Richmond, Melbourne, on September 1, 1882, died on February 24, 1927, aged 44.
 Balancing a billiard cue

Sunday, 24 January 2016

On the Street Where She Walked

I, too, was once an Exile on Main Street.
It's not often one sits in a movie theatre in Manuka in Canberra, Australia, and up on the big screen pops the exact same spot where one once stood - on Main Street, Cincinnati, Ohio. But that's what happened to me last night, when I finally caught up with that fine film Carol - starring Cate Blanchett and the delightful Rooney Mara (above) - which has been nominated for six Academy Awards.
The moment took me completely by surprise. I almost leaned across to my friend Elizabeth, sitting beside me, to say, "I think I've been there!" But respecting the unspoken wishes of the rest of the packed cinema audience, I stayed quiet. 
The giveaway came when Rooney Mara, as Therese Belivet, walked under a sign saying "Office Supplies". Now there's probably hundreds of thousands of such signs around the world, in dozens of places in hundreds of cities. But I'd know that particular sign anywhere. It's etched on my memory forever. It belongs to the one and only Spitzfaden's, of 629 Main Street, Cincinnati. I know it because Richard Polt took me there (not once, but a few times) during my memorable stay in Cincinnati a couple of years ago.
At the time I saw the sign on the big screen, however, I must confess I wasn't absolutely sure it was "the one". I had just assumed Carol was filmed in New York, where it is set. But this morning I checked, and to my great delight found Carol had been filmed in Cincinnati over 34 days from March 12, 2014. I hadn't stayed to watch all the credits roll by, but if I had I would have seen this, the producers' thanks to:
I immediately emailed Richard, who said, "I knew it was filmed here, but haven't seen it yet, so I had no idea of the particular locations. Cincinnati's Main Street really is a time warp from the '50s." And guess what? I checked with the Cincinnati Enquirer, and adverts for Spitzfaden's appeared at Christmas 1952, precisely when the movie is set.
The film crew sets up at the Main Street Diner at the corner of Ninth and Main streets in downtown Cincinnati.
Carol is British-American romantic drama directed by Todd Haynes, from a screenplay by Phyllis Nagy based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. It tells the story of an aspiring photographer and her relationship with an older woman going through a difficult divorce. Blanchett plays Carol Aird, Sarah Paulson her former lover Abby Gerhard, and Kyle Chandler her estranged husband Harge Aird.

The only typewriter I spotted, toward the end, was a Smith-Corona Series 5 portable, adapted for writing captions to stick on the back of pictures. Mara-Belivet had got herself a gig in the photographic department of The New York Times.
Other filming locations for this movie in Cincinnati included some places Richard had taken me to, such as Eden Park and Over-the-Rhine. Also thanked by the producers in the credits was my all-time favourite US watering-hole, Arnold's Bar. Why wouldn't they thank it? It's the best!
The Price of Salt was published in 1952, with Highsmith using the pseudonym Claire Morgan. Highsmith said the novel was inspired by a blonde woman in a fur coat she saw shopping at a department store while working as a temporary sales clerk selling dolls shortly before Christmas in 1948. "That evening I wrote out an idea, a plot, a story about the blondish and elegant woman in the fur coat. I wrote some eight pages in longhand in my then-current notebook or cahier." She recalled completing the book's outline in two hours that night, likely under the influence of chickenpox which she discovered she had only the next day: "[Fever] is stimulating to the imagination." She had completed the novel by 1951, using a burgundy Olympia SM 3 portable typewriter.
For the plot Highsmith drew on the experiences of her former lover, Virginia Kent Catherwood (below), a Philadelphia socialite who had lost custody of her child in divorce proceedings involving taped hotel room conversations and lesbianism. Highsmith's publisher, Harper & Bros, rejected the novel but Coward-McCann published it in hardcover.
Nagy, who was a friend of Highsmith, wrote the first draft of the movie script in 1996. British producer Elizabeth Karlsen of Number 9 Films came across Nagy's screenplay in 2004 then convinced Highsmith's estate to sign over the copyright to her in 2011.
From left, Nagy, Mara and director Haynes. Blanchett, below, looks at Spitzfaden's.
Highsmith (1921-95) is better known for her psychological thrillers, many of which were adapted to film. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, has been adapted for stage and screen, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. A series of five novels had Tom Ripley as protagonist. She was born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth, Texas. Highsmith died of aplastic anemia and cancer in Locarno, Switzerland, aged 74.
Highsmith in September 1979
 Locarno, Switzerland, September 1987
After my visits to the charming crew at Spitzfaden's, Richard Polt had asked me to put together a history of the company, which he then printed out and presented to them, and took this photo:
The staff can now add to my history, "In the movies ... "
One film critic talked about Carol transporting moviegoers back to a time "we can only see in our dreams". I can tell you, walking into Spitzfaden's with Richard was, for me at least, a dream come true.