On this day in 1895, the British character actor Nigel Bruce was born. He’s the kind of guy you see in a lot of gold age films like Rebecca. But he is mostly known for playing Dr Watson in the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films. He was the person I was thinking of when I talked about how the series Sherlock was better because of the way they had updated Watson. There is something distinctly uncool now about the original conception of the character: sure, he was an old army man, but did he have to be overweight and even more obtuse than a normal person? Anyway, Bruce was great at playing that character. And I have to say, those old movies are still great.
Charles Lindbergh was born in 1902. Most people think of him as a great American hero who flew a plane across the Atlantic. I think of him as an antisemitic asshole and a Nazi sympathizer. It amazes me that what has lasted all this time is the hero and not the cautionary tale about racism in America.
Clyde Tombaugh was born in 1906. I met him in 1990, when he lectured at my school about his discovery of Pluto. He was an interesting guy. But as far as I’m concerned, Pluto should not be classified as a planet. Or if it is, then there are a couple of asteroids that ought to be considered planets. As planets go, Pluto is disappointing. What’s more, there are very possibly many other “planets” orbiting far from the sun. I’d rather just have eight set planets and call these other things something else. But I don’t particularly care, so long as we are consistent. If Pluto is a planet, then at least, Ceres is a planet.
Rock legend Alice Cooper is 66. I think he’s great. But even more important, in the 1970s, he had a great band. Here he is in 1979 doing “School’s Out” with Steve Hunter and Davey Johnstone (I couldn’t find any with Dick Wagner) on guitar, Fred Mandel on keyboard, Prakash John on bass, and Pentti Glan on drums. Pretty much the Bob Ezrin crowd. It’s great and hilarious the way Cooper always is. Enjoy:
Other birthday: playwright Pierre de Marivaux (1688); mathematician Nikolay Umov (1846); aeronautical engineer Ludwig Prandtl (1875); cubist Fernand Leger (1881); civil rights activist Rosa Parks (1913); feminist writer Betty Friedan (1921); screenwriter David Newman (1937); computer scientist Ken Thompson (71); and boxer Oscar De La Hoya (41).
The day, however, belongs to George Romero who is 74 today. He was an independent filmmaker when it really meant something. And he made one of the greatest horror films ever: Night of the Living Dead. And then, in 1990, he wrote (with Tom Savini directing) a remake for the next generation. Although not important in the way that the original was, it is a perfect horror film. Every little bit from the original film that bugged me was taken out. It is a great film and I really do wish that fans would get over themselves and accept that it is a more enjoyable film than the original. Regardless, Romero has gone on to make other films, many of them quite enjoyable. But only one film revolution per director!
Here is the trailer for the remake. Really: if you haven’t seen it, do check it out. It really doesn’t get any better:
Happy birthday George Romero!