Tag Archives: Asta

Asta and the Octopus

Movie night!

It’s a Margaret Lindsay/Donald Woods double feature thanks to TCM.

You know, if I were forced to choose one and only one TV channel to watch forever, it would surely be TCM. Where else could you see a Margaret Lindsay/Donald Woods (whoever they are) double feature? Actually, Ms. Lindsay is lovely and bland, and Mr. Woods is earnest and bland. Nuff said ‘bout dat.

Fog Over Frisco (1934) is one more flick that demonstrates that any film shot in San Francisco ought to open the cast list with “starring San Francisco”. The city invariably steals the show. It prompts an addition to the old warning to actors; “Never do a scene with children, dogs, (or San Francisco.)” Bette Davis, Alan Hale Sr. (the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island’s dad), and Asta (the Thin Man’s precocious and less than brave pup) are also in the film but who cares? It’s San Francisco.

Isle of Fury (1936), besides showcasing Lindsay and Woods (ZZZZZZZZ), also features Humphrey

Bogart being cruelly assaulted by an octopus in the pearl-infested waters around a South Sea island nobody’s ever heard of (but looks suspiciously like Catalina). Every non-native character trots around the island in impeccable and crisp white clothes. The local laundry must be world-class. Also lurking around the isle is Frank Lackteen, a bit actor who amassed over 200 credits with his skulking, murderous ways. I spotted him recently in The Mask of Dimitrios, The Mummy’s Hand, The Sea Hawk, and The Law of the Tong. None of Mr. Lackteen’s efforts were nominated for Oscars. They apparently don’t give Oscars for Best Persistent Felon.

God bless TCM.


Jake might have been the finest dog I never met.

There are so many amazing dogs I’ve never met;

I have great admiration for the feats of Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Sergeant Preston’s King, Flash the parachuting dog in The Flaming Signal (1933), and Smokey & Shadow the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet Alsatians in Sign of the Wolf (1941).

I empathize with Nick & Nora’s Asta, Frasier’s Eddie, and Red’s Rover…they have to endure much and they endure it with good humor.

I root for Lady’s Tramp (successfully) and Ol’ Yeller (not so successfully).

I fret over the uncertain fate of Flic and Umberto D. (rip yer heart and show it to you before you die).

I laugh out loud at Goofy, Pluto, and Odie.

Benji, the Shaggy Dog, and all 101 of those Dalmatians…well, maybe not so much…but they’re cute, I guess.

But they’re not real dogs. I mean some of them are real dogs, but none of them are REAL DOGS.

<< side note >>

Didja know that the Shaggy Dog was played (uncredited) by a dog named “Chiffon”? Chiffon needed a better agent.

<< end of side note >>

I think Jake was a real dog

Jake belonged to a friend of mine who doesn’t live in Lexington. She posted pictures and escapades and gripes about Jake for several years. Through her postings I felt like I knew the critter and he was a fine one.

I knew of his dietary lack of discrimination. “If I can chew it and pass it, it’s food.”

I knew of his utter and violent defiance of screen doors. This stemmed from his belief that if aliens (or Russians) wanted to infiltrate our country, they would come disguised as screen doors.

I recognized (from afar…far far afar) his olfactory ability to locate patches of otherwise unidentifiable dead things (Charnel No. 5), and roll with vigor, applying them liberally until said olfactory abilities had been obliterated.

Now that is a REAL DOG.
That is a dog’s dog.
I’m a fan.

We need real dogs right now to take us out of ourselves for a bit and away from TV news for a bit and away from infiltrating screen doors disguised as presidents for…ever.

We need real dogs right now to fret over, instead of whether the next box of cereal might kill us. We also need elected officials that give us real facts and real comfort…and that actually seem to care about real people.

In Kentucky, we seem to have a governor matches that description. Check.

And we have each other. Check.

And we have our fine dogs. Check.

Jake was one fine dog. There’s not much better to be.
And I never even met the guy.



Dinner With Nick and Nora

Movie Night!

Didja ever play the mental game of planning the guest list for an ideal imaginary dinner party? I do it all the time. Most of the time I include Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man.

If Nick and Nora are among your guests, you’ll feel secure in the success of your dinner party as long as the bar is amply provisioned and a stylish cocktail shaker is at hand. You know there’ll be no awkward gaps in the table chatter and there could quite possibly be some fascinating party-crashers named “Rainbow” Benny, “Face” Morgan, or “Spider” Webb.

Warning: there could also be gun-play.

Throw in some weepy drunks, a befuddled police detective or two, a crooked bookkeeper, a murderous jockey, an inscrutable Asian, a socialite grande dame with sleepy siblings, a bitter rejected lover, a gardener with or without his mustache, and you’ve got a shindig that Anita Madden would’ve coveted.

They could even bring their dog. Our Chloe would ecstatically ramble through the house with their Asta. The pups could swap tips on expanding their respective households’ dominance which is already near total.

I could watch “Thin Man” movies forever.

Flash the Wonder Dog…Meh

janie 86 chloe-futon

Movie night!

I confess. After five years, I still keenly feel the loss of my movie-watching canine partner, the late and lamented Lilly the Pup. Lil boasted a voluminous film-watching resumé. She watched anything and everything with me and usually had a trenchant point or two to make about each flick. I pretty much granted her opinions great deference, whether about how she would have made a better “Asta” in the “Thin Man” movies, or whether the mailman was making far too many uninvited visits to our front porch.

Hey! That’s why you have a dog in the first place. Capiche?

Curiously, Sprite, my “dumb blonde” tortie, has physically assumed Lilly’s movie-watching spot (two blankets on the futon). I’m not deceived by this into thinking the kitten might have hidden depths. I suspect she also misses Lilly.

Chloe, Lilly’s clueless and constantly ecstatic successor, tries as best she can but…well…she’s clueless and constantly ecstatic. She’d like a play date with Asta.

Lil would have been thrilled with our film selection tonight; The Flaming Signal. This super-cheap 1930’s flick features Flash, a Rin-Tin-Tin knockoff, and airplanes, and jungle islands. You can’t miss with a combo like that.

Moments of wonder abound;

  • Flash (a dog, remember) breaks out of his shack/prison, fetches his parachute, crawls under airplane propellers, and stows away on his master’s endurance flight to Hawaii.
  • As the plane plunges to destruction in a storm, Flash’s master puts the parachute on his disobedient pooch and watches from the cockpit as Flash floats to safety on an uncharted island whose roadways (on an uncharted island) are perfectly visible in the camera shot. So…the island is uncharted, but there could possibly exist a road map of the area.
  • Flash’s master has obviously confused his role as airplane pilot with that of a ship’s captain and goes down with his plane. Clearly, the dog is the brains of this duo.
  • Never fear. Flash, having shucked his chute (try saying that three times real fast), leaps into the stormy ocean and drags his master to shore where they immediately encounter an alluring white woman gleefully and provocatively bathing in a sun-drenched jungle pool. Where did the storm go?

It just keeps gettin’ better from there.

But none of that is as historically important as Mischa Auer’s role in the show. Mr. Auer plays Manu, the tribal leader of the natives of the island. He makes dour pronouncements by the tribal fire, leads torch-bearing islanders in revolt against the evil trader (who does he trade with on this uncharted island?), gets killed, comes back to life, and gets killed again. I’m convinced that this resilient fellow is the inspiration of the legendary film so admired by Walter Tunis; Manos, Hand of Fate.

This is all essential stuff to know and why you keep me around.

By the way, Flash (a dog, remember) eventually saves the day (if not the film) by carrying a torch to a convenient but unexplained (and I assume uncharted) pile of combustible material. The resulting “flaming signal” attracts a passing ship…because of course no other passing ship has ever noticed tribal fires or torches on the island before and thought they perhaps should investigate.

It was great. I loved it.

Chloe now wants a play date with Flash.