On this day in 1859, famed outlaw Billy the Kid was born. What I find interesting about him is that he was an attractive young man. And I think this is why he is alternately described as dashing and despicable. The biggest prejudice among humans is against the ugly and for the beautiful. The best is always assumed about attractive people. As a result, I think that Billy the Kid was a psychopath. Of course there are other issues. I don’t think a life a crime is natural even for psychopaths. We have a screwed up society that actively generates desperation and then sits back and enjoys the feeling of superiority when desperate people behave badly.
We have met the enemy and he is us.
The great screenwriter Robert Towne is 79 today. He is known in Hollywood as a “script doctor.” These are the guys who fix crappy scripts that other people have written. Or at least, that’s the theory. In practice, I’m sure that most scripts are perfectly fine. I always know there is trouble ahead when a film has too many screenwriters. It is usually an indication that the director really didn’t know what he was doing and so had many (mostly uncredited) writers hack away at it. But Towne also writes his own original scripts. The most important of these was Chinatown.
The day, however, belongs to the great actor Boris Karloff who was born on this day in 1887. He is best known for his performance as Frankenstein, which he performed with great depth. (You really should own Frankenstein: The Legacy Collection.) I tend to remember him for later B films like The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors. But his greatest performance, for me, is in The Mummy. Still, I have to present the following scene from Bride of Frankenstein and not just because I have such a big crush on Elsa Lanchester. The monster acts the way all men do when women spurn them. And what is wrong with him in the end? He’s a sweet guy, “She hate me—like others”:
Happy birthday Boris Karloff!