Saw Sayonara (from 1957) last night, with Red Buttons in a kimono and Marlon Brando doing Elvis in a colonel’s uniform. A deep dive into Japanese culture, with none of the usual smarm and patronizing, it turned out to be quite a moving flick, and a pretty effective anti-bigotry story. Doubt it’s everybody’s thing, and no Stella! or you’re a big lousy dirty stinking mug moments, but it ain’t no Tea House Of The Freaking Harvest Moon either. Also, Ricardo Montalban in kabuki drag. Shot in Japan.
Was watching On the Waterfront and when Terry Malloy fesses up to Edie (he didn’t know they were gonna knock him off, he says) there is a helluva racket in the background, a huge clattering pounding. It’s a steam pile driver, and I remember seeing one in downtown Milwaukee thirty years ago. One of the loudest sounds I have ever heard, huge bangs amplified off tall buildings. Almost painful. You had to shout to be heard. I remember being startled at the volume, but the locals didn’t seem to notice. They used to build those monsters in Milwaukee and I suppose they were part of the scenery. No one ever said the industrial revolution was quiet.
Anyway, here’s one in upstate Wisconsin somewhere, at a fair. It’s loud, but it’s hammering wood, not steel. You want to hear it slam steel. You won’t forget it. A clang like the gods themselves, almost.
OK, this was an essay about On the Waterfront and I didn’t even write about On the Waterfront. Instead I wrote about something Terry Malloy might have talked about. Method writing, I guess.