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Things We Like: Preston Sturges and The Flashbulb

20 March 2010 Things We Like 3,905 views No CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Every Saturday, we rummage though our bookshelves, toy boxes, DVDs, music collections, web bookmarks and stacks of assorted stuff in search of a few choice items that will make your life better.

Scarecrow Video’s Movie of the Week: “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” (1944), directed by Preston Sturges

A small-town floozy, wonderfully played by Betty Hutton, does her patriotic duty by partying with a bunch of soldiers preparing to depart for service in World War 2. During the wild, drunken night, she gets both married to and knocked up by a soldier. Unfortunately, she was so loaded that she can’t remember his name … and it’s up to a local schnook (Eddie Bracken) to save her honor.

Considering the film’s sharp satire of small-town life and WWII-era patriotism, as well as the fact that the lead character is a “loose woman” whose last name is Kockenlocker (just say it aloud), it is truly amazing that this movie was even made! Preston Sturges was a master of sneaking risqué material past the strict motion picture censors of the era resulting in several smart and surprisingly raunchy classic comedies.

“The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” was shot back to back with the equally amusing “Hail The Conquering Hero.” Both films feature William Demarest, who I’ll always think of as “Uncle Charlie” from “My Three Sons,” even though he’s been in nearly 200 movies and television shows. This film features a hilarious cameo by Adolph Hitler that was recently referenced in “Inglourious Basterds.” – Spenser Hoyt

The Flashbulb

The Flashbulb is Benn Jordan, Chicago-based composer and laptop whiz-kid. In a review in The Stranger, Dave Segal called Jordan an “IDM/breakcore sophisto,” a playfully ambiguous label that illustrates two things: how difficult it is to pin down The Flashbulb’s sound, and the ever-increasing futility of attempting to put labels on electronic music. The Flashbulb’s music is actually pretty simple to understand on an emotional level — it’s a warm wash of keys, strings, chimes and tuneful glitches over cool, softly-muffled beats, with a structure that tells a story and melodies that invoke cinematic visions. Indeed, The Flashbulb’s most consistent album so far, the one you need to buy right now, is called “Soundtrack to a Vacant Life.” It’s the warmest, most uplifting record about death I’ve ever heard.

This song from The Flashbulb’s 2005 album “Kirlian Selections” neatly demonstrates one facet of Jordan’s prodigious musical gift. (He dabbles in everything from hard techno to soft folk music — and not always under the Flashbulb moniker. Following Benn Jordan’s discography can be a bit of a challenge, but this page will help.)

I can’t say for certain that The Flashbulb will be your cup of java. Jordan’s music is easy to pick up but tough to pin down; the artist swings wildly from soft sounds to heavier ones, often in the course of one song. (Oh, those unpredictable “sophistos.”) But I can confidently predict that if The Flashbulb’s music does resonate with you, it will soon get into your head and burrow deep into what psychoanalysts call “your underneath stuff,” as quickly and indelibly as it has made a home in mine.- Geoff Carter


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