Nothing much to say

I don’t really have a whole lot of interest to say.

We still have a lot of snow and even got some more overnight. Tomorrow afternoon, I’m heading out to the woods for a hike in the snow. I have an ambiguous relationship to hiking. If you’re a German kid born up to the 1980s, you have spent many a school trip, holiday or weekend going hiking with your family or class. It’s often too cold or too warm or your feet get wet and the hike always takes longer than you’re comfortable with. As a result, many of us vow never to hike another kilometer as soon as we hit eighteen. But now that I’ve left my teens far behind, I can actually enjoy hiking in the woods again. Still the same spot, too, where I often went with my parents. I particularly like hiking in the snow, because the wintery woods are so pretty. Maybe I’ll take a camera.

Meanwhile, there is another celebrity death to report. Director Blake Edwards died yesterday, aged 88. Most obituaries focus on the Pink Panther films, but I have never been a fan of the panther, neither as a cartoon nor as a life action slapstick comedy. I vastly prefer Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which is one of those films I can watch over and over again, and Victor/Victoria.

Rewatching Blake Edwards’ films from the 1960s and 1970s nowadays, I am stunned by how risque they were for the time. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is basically a film about prostitution, which I so totally didn’t get upon first viewing as a child. I thought the toilet money scene was about actual toilet money, i.e. a few coins left on the plate of the toilet lady. And as a good German kid, I was brought up to always be polite to the toilet lady and put a few coins on her plate. Of course, one hundred dollars or whatever the amount in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is did strike me as a bit excessive for a toilet lady, but then the people in the film were obviously rich and could afford to be generous. As a consequence, the outburst George Peppard’s character has about Holly and her toilet money deeply disturbed me, because here was Hannibal from The A-Team (only young), champion of the underdog, and he was begrudging a toilet lady her money.

By the way, I am still convinced that Paul, George Peppard’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the same guy as Hannibal Smith from The A-Team. When things didn’t work out with Holly – and in spite of the tear-inducingly sweet ending of Breakfast at Tiffany’s it’s pretty obvious that the relationship can’t last – Paul changed his name (come on, it was always obvious that John Smith wasn’t his real name), joined the army, rose through the ranks, ended up in Vietnam and got in trouble. The timeline fits and we know less about Hannibal and his pre-A-Team life than about anybody else, including Murdock.

Actually, the highly coded way in which Hollywood films up to the early 1970s addressed prostitution was always a problem for me, because the writers danced around the subject in such a wide circles that my teenaged self literally didn’t get what they were talking about. And not out of naivité either – I knew what prostitution was and could have pointed you to the local brothels. It’s just that the Hollywood version didn’t match anything I knew about prostitution (mostly snatched from German films, which addressed the subject a lot more directly, and from my curiosity about local red light district). To this day, I still don’t get what the problem in Irma La Douce and The Apartment (not about prostitution, as far as I can discern, but the characters sure act as if it were) is.

As for Victor/Victoria, the genderbending antics and very openly homoerotic tone was ahead of its time as well. As 1970s musicals set in Weimar Republic Berlin (Why was this even a genre?) go, Victor/Victoria is much better than the overhyped Cabaret IMO. Finally seeing Cabaret was one of the huge disappointments in my teenaged film viewing. Cabaret was set in Berlin? Why set anything in dull and boring Berlin (and my teenaged self had a violent dislike of Berlin for political reasons), when you could set it in New York, which was cool and glamourous and where proper musicals were set? Frankly speaking, the Muppets Show renditions of Cabaret were much better than the actual film – and they had muppets, too. And I will probably never understand the Anglo-American fascination with the sexual liberation (which was limited to a handful of artists and bohemians anyway) and alleged decadence of the Weimar Republic, since my main associations with that time period or runaway inflation, widespread poverty and riots and uprisings somewhere in Germany every other month.

PS: Oh yes, and I won two books.

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