One of the great casualties of the rise (and now fall) of the video store was the death of the revival house. When I first moved to NYC's Upper West Side 40 years ago there were at least seven of these wonderful venues, and on any given day I could enter, pay my fee and see the likes of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich or Barbara Stanwyck, 20 feet high and glowing. Ever since then it has been my firm belief that movies were made to be seen in the dark with 400 strangers. And especially this is true of comedies. How can seeing a comedy in one's living room, even with a group of friends, compare to the kind of shared, infectious laughter that audience in Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" experienced?
I am reading this wonderful book right now and it is torture: how can I slow it down to last forever when I am simply dying to get to my favorites and see if Dan sees what I do? As to a film for which I would like to switch out the existing star to see what Miss Stanwyck could do, I offer "Five Graves to Cairo." Anne Baxter does a very good job as Mouche, and I'm not at all sure that Stanwyck could master the accent, but when I think of what she could have brought to the character -- oh, my! And I would have loved to see her reaction when Eric von Stroheim would have waved her back with that damn whisk!
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