Mr. Kipen goes to West Hollywood...
So I'm two blocks from Book Soup and it's been a completely dazzling day. I've been rained on, I've been cut off, I've been snaked, and now I find myself atop the Sunset Strip looking out over the twinkling lights of LA which are as beautiful, if not more so, than I remember. I walk past Tower Records and there in the not-so-distant distance is a "V for Vendetta" billboard with a shaven-headed Natalie Portman on it, and beneath that is Book Soup, right next to the News Mews. The only disappointing thing is that I was hoping for one of those search lights, but I understand.
In my last life at a journalist the way to end every story was with a -30-. Well, in DUCK SOUP, the greatest of the Marx brothers' movies, and that's saying a lot, Zeppo plays the antagonist scheming government functionary, not unlike myself in my last few days. This character is named Trentino, which must be Italian for -30- or something very close. There is a great moment in the movie where they play this high-stakes billiard game complete with discs on strings overhead to demarcate the score. So in comes Zeppo at climax of the game, and Grouch says, "Trentino, eh? That's game!" and he reaches up with his cue stick and pushes all the discs to one side.
So, in honor of "The Schreiber Theory," and DUCK SOUP, written by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Arthur Sheekman, and Nat Perrin, I say:
"Trentino, eh? That's game!"
David Kipen, the author of Schreiber's Theory, blogged his way from San Francisco to Los Angeles during Oscars Week to promote his notion that screenwriters—not directors—provide the creative essence of films. Kipen is the Director of Literature at the National Endowment for the Arts and the former Book Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in Washington, D.C. and Malibu.