Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the last day before the Catholic fasting season of Lent. No, this is not a post about Tuesday Weld, although I wouldn't mind seeing the dreadful college comedy High Time again. It stars Bing Crosby as a widower who goes to college and swings with the young'uns, including Tuesday Weld. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds, and that's probably why it's not available on DVD.

Instead, I find myself thinking about some of the movies set in New Orleans, the city that gives us the ridiculous Mardi Gras celebration every year. One of the best is King Creole, in which Elvis plays a young man whose singing contract gets bought by a mobster, with disastrous consequences. Presley is excellent here, showing that he really could act.

An interesting New Orleans-style funeral occurs near the beginning of the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, as a funeral band marches down the street, carrying a casket. Of course, the funeral procession is actually for somebody standing on the sidewalk, about to become the victim of an espionage hit.

Hollywood made some movies about New Orleans during the studio backlot era, too. Probably the best of these would be Jezebel, with Bette Davis as a southern belle in love with Henry Fonda. It's got a pretty good Bette Davis rant. She's going to a party, and is supposed to be dressed in white as an unmarried woman. She insists on wearing a red dress, though, and when her family complains, she responds, "This is eighteen fifty-two! Not the Dark Ages!"

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