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To the film industry in crisis


To the film industry in crisis

Frank O'hara

Not you, lean quarterlies and swarthy periodicals

with your studious incursions toward the pomposity of ants,

nor you, experimental theatre in which Emotive Fruition

is wedding Poetic Insight perpetually, nor you,

Promenading Grand Opera, obvious as an ear (though you

are close to my heart), but you, Motion Picture Industry,

it's you I love!

In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love.

And give credit where it's due: not to my starched nurse, who taught me

how to be bad and not bad rather than good (and has lately availed

herself of this information), not to the Catholic Church

which is at best an oversolemn introduction to cosmic entertainment,

not to the American Legion, which hates everybody, but to you

glorious Silver Screen, tragic Technicolor, amorous Cinemascope,

stretching Vistavision and startling Stereophonic Sound, with all

your heavenly dimensions and reverberations and iconoclams! To

Richard Barthelmess as the "tol'able" boy barefoot and in pants,

Jeanette MacDonald of the flaming hair and lips and long, long neck,

Sue Carroll as she sits for eternity on the damaged fender of a car

and smiles, Ginger Rogers with her pageboy bob like a sausage

on her shuffling shoulders, peach-melba-voiced Fred Astaire of the feet,

Eric von Strohnheim, the seducer of mountain-climbers' gasping spouses,

the Tarzans, each and every one of you (I cannot bring myself to prefer

Johnny Weissmuller to Lex Baxter, I cannot!), Mae West in furry sled

her bordello radiance and bland remarks, Rudolph Valentino of the moon,

its crushing passions, and moonlike, too, the gentle Norma Shearer,

Miriam Hopkins dropping her champagne glass off Joel MacCrea's yatch

and crying in the dappled-sea, Clark Gable rescuing Gene Tierney

from Russia and Allan Jones rescuing Kitty Carlisle from Harpo Marx,

Cornel Wilde coughing blood on the piano keys while Merle Oberon berates,

Marilyn Monroe in her little spike heels reeling through Niagara Falls,

Joseph Cotten puzzling and Orson Wells puzzled and Dolores del Rio

eating orchids for lunch and breaking mirros, Gloria Swanson reclining,

Jean Harlow reclining and wiggling, and Alice Faye reclining

and wiggling and singing, Myrna Loy being calm and wise, William Powell

in his stuning urbanity, Elizabeth Taylor blossoming, yes, to you

and all you others, the great, the near-great, the featured, the extras

who pass quickly and return in dreams saying you one or two lines,

my love!

Long may you illumine space with your marvelous appearances, delays

and ennunciations, and may the money of the world glittering cover you

as you rest after a long day under the kleigh lights with your faces

in packs for our edification, the way the clouds come often at night

but the heavens operate on the star system. It is a divine precedent

you perpetuate! Roll on, reels of celluloid, as the great earth rolls on!

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    06 June 2005
  • Date of issue
    Aug 1997
Instituto de Estudos Avançados da Universidade de São Paulo Rua da Reitoria,109 - Cidade Universitária, 05508-900 São Paulo SP - Brasil, Tel: (55 11) 3091-1675/3091-1676, Fax: (55 11) 3091-4306 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil