War and Peace

I hated going to work on a Monday morning. People showed up late, and one of our machines didn’t work. I went to Safeway afterwards to buy some strawberries and sandwiches. I watched a video on Piet Mondrian and then went about placing an order for my new eyeglasses. I watched a couple of television programs before putting on the DVD of “War and Peace,” the movie with Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda. The actors were too old for their roles. Natasha was supposed to be 13 at the beginning of the film, and Pierre was 20. King Vidor was the director, and I thought he showed his skills in the battle scenes. Supposedly he said that Peter Ustinov was his first choice for the role of Pierre. King Vidor died on November 1, 1982 at age 88. I saw that Roger Ebert gave a rave review for a different movie version of “War and Peace,” directed by Sergey Bondarchuk and released in 1968. While watching this one, though, I kept thinking of “Gone with the Wind.” The duel scene with Pierre reminded me of “Love and Death,” as did several other scenes. At some moments, I thought I was watching a parody of a Russian epic, in fact. Did Anita Ekberg appear in any movies besides “La Dolce Vita”? In “War and Peace,” her dialogue is dubbed. I liked watching her, though. Her death early this year was in the news. Apparently, she died broke. I thought that Herbert Lom was pretty good as Napoleon, but again I couldn’t get “Love and Death” out of my mind during his scenes. He died in 2012 at age 95. Mel Ferrer, who was Andrei, and Audrey Hepburn were married for 14 years, until 1968. She was his fourth wife. Ferrer was in “Lili,” and he was in “Sex and the Single Girl” with Henry Fonda. Ferrer never became a big star. He died at age 90 in Santa Barbara. I thought this version of “War and Peace” felt like it ran too long. I compared it in my mind to “Doctor Zhivago,” which was interesting. Audrey Hepburn was paid a huge sum to be in “War and Peace,” and it seemed that for that money she should have departed from her usual mannerisms. I couldn’t think of her as the most radiant woman in the cast. One of these days I’ll have to watch the Bondarchuk film. I’m not sure I spent the three and a half hours well in watching this movie. It had good moments. I liked the moment with Pierre and his driver at night. The movie didn’t have an intermission, at least on this DVD. I would have been squirming in my seat in the theatre if I had to sit all the way through this thing. I felt that I wanted to see more Audrey Hepburn and less Mel Ferrer. I also wanted to see more war and less peace, at least for the movie’s sake. The moments of inner dialogue was ludicrous in my view. I stayed up to watch Charlize Theron on the Jimmy Kimmel show. She talked about her youth spent swimming in waters that had sharks, and said that her family had a Betamax machine, so that the only movies they could rent were “Dirty Dancing,” “Splash,” and “Overboard.” She wasn’t afraid that her hair wasn’t going to grow back after she shaved her head for “Mad Max: Fury Road.” I couldn’t sleep well during the night. I listened to a John Lennon CD and listened to the radio until the morning came. Some of the people who died on July 21 include D.W. Griffith (1948), Jimmie Foxx (1967), Basil Rathbone (1967), Dave Garroway (1982), Alan Shepard (1998), Robert Young (1998), Jerry Goldsmith (2004), and Mako (2006). Today is a birthday for Jon Lovitz (58) and Cat Stevens (67). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for July 21, Basil Rathbone died of a heart attack at age 75 in New York City. In 1978, the last episode of “Chico and the Man” aired on NBC. In 1985, Rock Hudson collapsed in his room at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, two months before his death at age 59. In 2004, Jerry Goldsmith died of colon cancer at age 75 at his home in Beverly Hills.

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