Friday, March 7, 2008

Food, Film and Fun

So my friend ModFab tagged me to answer this meme. Of course, my first choice would immediately have been Orson Welles but for the fact that ModFab chose Welles for his dinner date (like ModFab, I loved the Simon Callow biography). As you can see from the ASI blog art, I’m a Marx Brothers fan, and of Groucho, especially; but (at the risk of sounding like Dick Cavett), I’m reminded of Groucho’s story about being invited to dinner with T.S. Eliot—Groucho expected to talk literature and was disappointed when Eliot only wanted to talk about the Marx Brothers. So after a sleepless night, tossing and turning, I've finally made my choice:

1. Pick a single person, past or present, in the film industry who you'd like to have dinner with, and tell us why you chose this person.
I'd have to make my dinner with Cary Grant. First, because his was a career that spanned almost every form of popular entertainment of the early 20th century: music hall, vaudeville, the "legitimate stage" (read Broadway), and film—as an actor, he pretty much did it all. He was a talented dramatic actor and leading man, but he shines best in comedy or in roles where his natural sense of humor comes through—for my money, His Girl Friday is still the fastest and funniest film ever made (with Bringing Up Baby a VERY close second). In addition to being one of the most talented actors I can imagine, I believe he would also be an extremely charming and engaging dinner companion... not to mention extremely easy on the eyes! 

2. Set the table for your dinner. What would you eat? Would it be in a home or at a restaurant? And what would you wear? Feel free to elaborate on the details.
Of course, one can't help wanting to recreate the luncheon scene from To Catch a Thief: a terrace on a hillside overlooking the French Riviera! I imagine Catherine would choose the picnic scene from the same film...  I think I'd keep it simple: a good, crusty baguette and cheese—a gruyere or a comte—and fruit. The wine would be a simple red—I'm fond of the Rhone valley reds, personally, so a Syrah or a Côtes du Ventoux... although since there's no price limit on this meal, why not go whole hog and make it a Châteauneuf-du-Pape! The salad would be mixed greens with goat cheese and walnuts, lightly dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette (I've had a few fruity vinaigrettes lately and am on a kick for them right now). The main course would be light: a grilled chicken breast rubbed in olive oil and seasoned with thyme and pepper, new potatoes lightly coated with oil and roasted with garlic and fresh dill, and haricots verts (it's France! how can you not?). Dessert would be my favorite—creme brulée—and espresso. I don't think I'd want drinks after dinner—I'd rather keep my mind clear for the conversation.

In terms of clothing, I'd want it to be early in June—warm but not hot. So I'd go for something in a light linen shirt and slacks... casual, comfortable and classically stylish. And no ascots!

3. List five thoughtful questions you would ask this person during dinner.
a. Hitchcock: you made more films with him than any other actor. What made your collaboration so successful?
b. In all of the rapid-fire dialogue in His Girl Friday, there was a lot of improvisation and ad libbing on the set (you famously dropped your real name and Ralph Bellamy's into the script). Do you find improvisation of that sort beneficial for you as an actor, especially in comedy? And how much did you use it on other projects?
c. You quit acting when you felt you'd grown too old to be taken seriously as the romantic lead. The well-deserved rest notwithstanding, did you ever consider transitioning to other kinds of roles—character roles, supporting roles, and so forth?
d. Certainly there are roles that you longed to play but did not get—in which films or stage productions do you wish you'd had an opportunity to perform?
e. What role do you think your early family life—your father had your mother institutionalized when you were a child and then lied about it for 20 years—had on your career as an artist? 

4. When all is said and done, select six bloggers to pass this Meme along to. Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre, so that people know the mastermind behind this Meme.
Jeez... do I even know six bloggers? Well, Johnna at BlindSquirrel, you're tagged... Tim at Pressing the Flesh step right up... Bob Fisher is a smart guy who would do well on this one.... Bryn at Aisling Arts, I'd love to hear her take on this... Nick at Rat Sass will give us some unique answers, I've no doubt... and then Lee, are you up for it? That really only leaves Kay and Shannon as untagged on my list! If either of you want to take a shot, I'm sure no one will mind...

Incidentally, when I first wrote the title, I omitted the comma... somehow, that didn't sound very appetizing....

1 comment:

nick@ said...

Hey, Barry, welcome to the blogosphere! I'll get to this meme as soon as I get a little time.