Night of the Still Living George Romero

George RomeroOn 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!

0 thoughts on “Night of the Still Living George Romero

  1. Lindbergh’s dad was a US congressman who suggested that no military contracts be for profit. That way, he assumed, there’d be no reason for America to engage in wars like WW1.

    He oversimplified matters, and his son did too. They were both products of their ages, and both imperfect. Possibly both racist (the Progressive movement Dad came out from had a big racist streak in it.) Few weren’t, back then. Unless you were a great popular novelist like Fitz and Ernest, or a seriously stupendous innovator of the form like Henry James.

    Fitz liked jazz, Ernest not so much. Each seemed perplexed by American racism; they didn’t get Blacks, but they thought Whites who hated them were lunatics. Good ol’ Henry had no opinion on racism at all; correctly, he regarded class as the central issue of his time (it was; it is.)

    Fitz got closer to this than Ernest (from a guy who lived in Saint Paul, I would expect no less.) Gatsby, though, wasn’t representative of the ruling class. He was nouveau riche. The old rich truly are different than you and me; they do have more money. Henry James got that, lived it, wrote about it, in a way the Ernests and Fitzes could never begin to comprehend.

    The late, very lamented Gore Vidal has a collection of essays, "The Last Empire," that I’d strongly recommend. It’s not as good as "United States." Pretty much no book is. It does have terrific essays defending the likes of Lindbergh and Sinatra for being no more ignorant than anybody else in their time, and being stupendously good at their jobs. Reading Vidal on Sinatra makes me wonder if I got fucked into existence during one of those songs; I can’t possibly imagine how else it happened.

  2. @JMF – I understand that. But Lindbergh was pretty extreme and he was way into eugenics long past its peak of popularity in the US. And he was quite friendly with the Nazis. I might be more open minded about him if he didn’t strike me as an annoying Captain America type. Except, of course, Captain America was created to beat up Nazis, not dine with them.

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