‘Breathless’ in Paris and L.A.

MICHEL OR JESSE, WHO’S BETTER?

Cold lonely day in exurban New York, a day to stay inside and watch movies. I checked out the French and American versions of ‘Breathless,’ the iconic movie about a small-time thief who steals a car and impulsively murders a policeman.

Hunted by the police, the anti-hero, Michel, in the French film, and Jesse, in the American, hooks up with a girlfriend and tries to get her to run away with him to, in Michel’s case, Italy, and with Jesse, to Mexico. 

The original 1960 French production with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg and directed by Jean-Luc Godard is regarded as the one true authentic version, with all the mood and atmosphere of classic French cinema.

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg on the boulevard.

THE AMERICAN VERSION 

The 1983 American version with Richard Gere and Valerie Kaprisky and directed by Jim McBride is seen as crass and unsophisticated.

Gere’s character gyrates to Jerry Lee Lewis, and reads ‘Silver Surfer’ comic books, while Godard’s version moves smoothly to jazz and classical music.

Richard Gere reads the ‘Silver Surfer’ to Valerie Kaprisky.

All that may be true — although I don’t agree — but when it comes to the very last shot in the final scene, the American version, in my opinion, is far more dramatic than the French ending.

Gere grabbing the gun and spinning around to fire and — FREEZE FRAME —- as Jerry Lee Lewis belts out the song.  Great last shot! Super-dramatic, and romantic as hell.

Valerie Kaprisky is way more warm and sexy than cold, aloof, unsexy Jean Seberg. And throughout the movie, I found Gere’s character to be more likable and endearing than the obnoxious punk Belmondo portrays.

But back to that last scene. The French ending is similar to the American, with the hapless anti-hero picking up the gun that was tossed onto the road for him. 

But the last shot doesn’t have that killer of a moment when Gere spins around with the gun — FREEZE FRAME — roll credits as Jerry Lee Lewis pounds out the song ‘Breathless.’

THE TWO VERSIONS COMPARED HERE

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Karen Silkwood death is still an unsolved mystery

Nuclear plant worker’s car crash ruled an accident but evidence points to murder.

45 YEARS AGO TODAY

On November 13, 1974, Karen Silkwood, a 28-year-old chemical technician and union activist at a nuclear facility in Oklahoma, left a union meeting at the Hub cafe in Crescent.

She was carrying a binder of documents that detailed corporate malpractices related to plutonium contamination, including her own, at the facility. 

Silkwood had decided to go public with the story. She got into her car and headed alone for Oklahoma City, about 30 miles (48 km) away, to meet with a New York Times reporter, and a union official.

RUN OFF THE ROAD

Later that evening, her body was found in her car, which had run off the road and struck a culvert on the side of the highway. 

The binder of documents was missing. 

The crash was ruled an accident but to this day it is suspected that she crashed and died when her car was rammed from behind by another vehicle.

Damage to the rear of Silkwood’s Honda had not been there before the accident, said her family and friends. They also said that Karen had received death threats before the “accident.”

Silkwood’s family sued the company, Kerr-McGee, for her plutonium contamination. The company settled out of court for $1.38 million, while not admitting liability. 

The Silkwood story was chronicled in the 1983 movie ‘Silkwood’ starring Meryl Streep.

Karen Silkwood bio here


 

Thanks Stan Lee for marvelous characters

REMEMBERING THE REAL-LIFE COMIC BOOK HERO

STAN LEE, the great American comic book creator died last year on this day, November 12.

Stan Lee was the creative genius at Marvel Comics for decades. He transformed the company from a small family-run business to a publishing empire that gave life to some of the most famous comic book characters of all time.

AMAZING LEGACY

With the brilliant artist Jack Kirby, Stan Lee created Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man and the Silver Surfer.

Just about all of them became successful movies under the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Lee and Kirby’s best creation is said to be the three-part “Galactus Trilogy that began in Fantastic Four No. 48 (March 1966), chronicling the arrival of Galactus, a cosmic giant who wanted to devour the planet, and his herald, the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four No. 48 was voted by Marvel readers in 2001 as 24th in the 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time.

Stan Lee retired from Marvel in the 1990s but remained a figurehead of the company, and continued to work into his 90s.

COMPLETE BIO HERE


 

Help at the speed of light — or close to it

Just a quick personal note here.

Many of my posts are about the loved ones I have lost over the years. I try to write about their deaths objectively, with as little self-pity as possible, which is probably not possible. They are all gone. I am the soul survivor.

The hardest of all was the death last Christmas of my wife. She helped me through the other losses, especially the death of my son. And now she is gone. 

Some people might say, Why the hell do you put all that private stuff out there? Aren’t you embarrassed? A little bit, yeah.

But here’s the other side of that. When readers from Alaska to New Zealand respond with genuine compassion and advice, that’s a good thing, certainly for me and perhaps for them.

Many people who have suffered potentially-suicidal losses join bereavement groups that meet, say, twice a month. I joined one myself and it helps, albeit slowly. But the World Wide Web is an instant help. The hopes and prayers and advice of caring people from across the planet can get to you in a matter of seconds.

As my fellow blogger in Alaska noted, the Internet can be either, or both, a diabolical instrument or an almost god-like miracle. To me it’s a miracle.

Good night, and thank you, from New York.