The longing for improvement and the fear of waste and worse - it is a pattern still with us, and maybe it speaks to the medium's essential marriage of light and dark, or as Mary Pickford put it in her autobiography (published in 1955), Sunshine and Shadow. Light and dark were the elements of film, and they had their chemistry in film's emulsion. They had a moral meaning, too. But not everyone appreciated that prospect, or credited how it might make your fortune.
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Last night, Good Friday night, at the bottom of the escalator at King's X tube, a weasel-faced man in uniform was sweeping up rubbish with a wide broom, drink cartons, cigarette packets with all the dust and filthy scraps of the day which he pushed towards an elegant long black glove that was lying there. I expected him to pick it up as I would have - I thought of picking it up, but was too late. He smothered it in a wide sweep. It seemed to me extraordinary and shocking that he had no feeling for it. Several images went through my mind, a symbolic hand, a dead blackbird, an ornamental bookmark fallen from a lectern Bible - any once-precious relic being tumbled in the dirt. As I went up the escalator I remembered the Tatterdemallion whom I haven't seen for months and thought of his body, if he were to die in the tube, being tumbled about with the rest of the thrown-away rubbish.' David Thomson, In Camden Town
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Bette Davis lived long enough to hear the Kim Carnes song, 'Bette Davis Eyes'. The lyrics to that song were not very interesting. But the fact of the song was the proof of an acknowledgement that in the twentieth century we lived through an age of immense romantic personalities larger than life, yet models for it, too - for good or ill. Like twin moons, promising a struggle and an embrace, the Davis eyes would survive her - and us. Kim Carnes has hardly had a consistent career, but that one song - sluggish yet surging, druggy and dreamy - became an instant classic. It's like the sigh of the islanders when they behold their Kong. And I suspect it made the real eyes smile, whatever else was on their mind.
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