Alan Alda but it Should Be Ernst Lubitsch

Alan AldaOn this day in 1887, the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein was born. He is especially known for his performances of Chopin, so here is Nocturne Opus 9, No 2:

The great film director Ernst Lubitsch was born in 1892. Despite the fact that he died at the age of only 55 of his sixth heart attack, he managed to make some of the best comedies of the 1940s. These included: The Shop Around the Corner, Heaven Can Wait, and one of my very favorites, Carole Lombard in her last film, To Be or Not to Be. Here is the beginning of the film:

John Banner was born in 1910. He was the actor in Hogan’s Heroes who played Sergeant Schultz. But if you go back to television throughout the 1950s and 1960s, you will see him here and there. He made the show work. Without him, you have Nazis on one side and the Allies on the other. And as much as identify with the Allies, all they do in the show is go around blowing up people who are mostly just caught in the middle. Schultz was the heart of the show. He is the perfect example of what I call the 95%: people who just want to live their lives.

Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan is 46. Here is her music video for “Possession”:

Other birthdays: composer Gregor Werner (1693); philosopher Vladimir Solovyov (1853); William S Burroughs Version 1 (1857); novelist Colette (1873); theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874); painter Jackson Pollock (1912); puppeteer Harry Corbett (1918); musician Cash McCall (73); evil pastor Rick Warren (60); the great journalist Michael Hastings (1980); and actor Elijah Wood (33).

The day, however, belongs to writer, director, and actor Alan Alda who is 78 today. I’m not that fond of him as an actor, but he’s perfectly fine. And there is nothing noteworthy about his directing. But he really is a damned good screenwriter. He wrote some of the best episodes of M*A*S*H as well as a number of good films. The Seduction of Joe Tynan is almost creepy given many of the political scandals we’ve lived through since. I suppose nothing ever changes. The Four Seasons is a beautiful script, although it could have been a play. I still have a guilty love of Sweet Liberty. I know that in a fundamental way, the film doesn’t really work. But you do get to see Lillian Gish on film at 91. (She’s wonderful in it!) The big problem is that I don’t think Alda is really the guy to write satire; he’s seems too nice and disinclined to offend. Anyway, it’s too bad he doesn’t seem to write and direct anymore.

Happy birthday Alan Alda!

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