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Mon, Feb. 17

Column: 'Midnight In Paris' a pleasant trip into the past

Have you got around to seeing Woody Allen's latest movie titled "Midnight in Paris"? If not, you're missing out on a fascinating flick. The setting is in what I consider to be the most beautiful city in the whole wide world, and the premise of the show involving Owen Wilson's going back in time to hobnob with several historic figures who frequented Paris in the 1920s is delightful.

Wilson, a struggling novelist from California who was visiting Paris with his fiancée and her totally insufferable parents, found some much-needed solace in his chance encounters with such notables as F. Scott Fitzgerald and his zany Zelda. And Ernest Hemingway. And Gertrude Stein. And Pablo Picasso. And Salvador Dali.

The casting in the movie is superb, with each actor being a dead ringer for the dead ringers they portray. There was a dalliance with Dali, for example, at which time the eccentricity of the artist came forth in full bloom when he told Wilson that he would like to "paint his (Wilson's) lips melting into the hot sand" and that he also "wanted him to have one tear with a reflection of Jesus Christ in it." If anybody could follow through with such artistry, Dali would definitely be the one to pull it off.

Hemingway? Well, I've never read much penned by that intense fellow, with only "The Old Man and the Sea" coming to mind. I don't remember much of anything coming out of that book, but I THINK it was about a large fish that wasn't Moby Dick. To freshen my mind regarding his writing, though, after seeing the movie I read his "A Moveable Feast" that he began writing in the autumn of 1957 and published posthumously in 1964 following his successful suicide in Ketchum, Idaho, in1961. The guy had quite a way with words, so herewith are a few snippets:

• Regarding a fascinating female he sighted: "A girl came in the cafe and sat by herself at a table near the window. She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin, and her hair was black as a crow's wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek. I looked at her and she disturbed me and made me very excited."

• Regarding his writing: "I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."

• Regarding a poet of his acquaintance: "He was a good companion until he drank too much and, at that time, when he was lying, he was more interesting than many men telling a story truly."

• Regarding the quarrelsome Miss Stein: "She quarreled with nearly all of us that were fond of her except Juan Gris and she couldn't quarrel with him because he was dead."

• And, in closing, some insight on Scott's irrepressible Zelda: She "was very beautiful and was tanned a lovely gold color and her hair was a beautiful dark gold and she was very friendly. Her hawk's eyes were clear and calm. I knew everything was all right and was going to turn out well in the end when she leaned forward and said to me, telling me her great secret, 'Ernest, don't you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?' "

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