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To:Ed O'Neill: MARIA MONTEZ! The queen of camp! I haven't seen that name in
print for a long, long time. I was a young teen when most of her Universal
Studio movies were released in the early to mid forties, and she was my
favourite exotic sexual fantasy actress (though I use the last word
loosely). I have a couple of her movies (Arabian Nights, my favourite, and
Ali Baba & The Forty Thieves) in my video collection. I'd like to get a copy
of Cobra Woman, though I've never seen that on video. Unfortunately, she put
on weight and died prematurely at the age of 33 from a heart attack while
taking a hot bath - supposedly in order to lose some of that weight. She was
born in the Dominican Republic, and her real name was Maria Africa Vidal de
Santo Silas - much too long for theatre marquees! I remember her with great
affection.
Peter Warren
----- Original Message -----
From: "Edward R. O'Neill" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2000 11:12 PM
Subject: Re: defending Bergman--well can't one love crap?


> I was a bit puzzled by some recent comments about Bergman.
>
> Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Bergman's films have *no* merits
> whatever--aesthetic, philosophical, etc.
>
> Yet couldn't one love them *anyway*?  Can't one love something one admits
is
> total crap?  Who's really to stop you?
>
> I personally can't understand enjoying, let alone loving, certain films by
> Ed Wood, but I understand that some people do.
>
> And this disposition is not limited only to devotees of cult films.  There
> are many films I enjoy without claiming for them specific intellectual
> merits.
>
> And one could talk about *this* experience of film intelligently, too.
>
> That is:  although we often act as if we're measuring aesthetic objects
> according to criteria, and although groups of people tend to agree on
> certain domains of objects and how they fit within these criteria, one is
> also talking about something much more irregular, private, and
> unpredictable.  One is talking about pleasure and love and similar things.
>
> We may like to picture ourselves as kind of taking the aesthetic yardstick
> down from where it hangs on the wall and measuring each film:  "oh this
one
> falls short on the irony scale, whereas that one...."
>
> But this picture is incomplete.  And to talk about pleasure and love and
> similar things, as I've called them--well these things aren't
inexplicable,
> since we can describe these feelings and how they arose, at what moments,
> and we can speculate about why.
>
> I certainly was drawn to "cin-ay-muh" by Bergman--as by Welles and
Fellini.
> Now their films can seem overly self-serious:  it took time before I could
> appreciate Maria Montez.  They occupy a certain place in my life, in what
I
> laughingly sometimes call my "development."
>
> But I didn't "graduate" from Bergman to Maria Montez.  And if we sometimes
> try to nudge our students from _Titanic_ to _Citizen Kane_, we have to be
> careful about imagining that this is a "step up."
>
> Finally, in one's mind one can imagine that Bergman is dull, dull, dull.
> But try watching some of his films:  _Wild Strawberries_, _The Magician_,
> _Smiles of a Summer Night_.  When I do, I am won over.  In _Smiles_,
Bergman
> even makes fun of seriousness.  True, it's in a serious-witty-theological
> way, but that's him.
>
> Even if Bergman's films have no other purpose than to show that a certain
> kind of thing is possible--something no one had really achieved before in
> cinema--then at the very least his films have a kind of pedagogical use.
>
> Sincerely,
> Edward R. O'Neill
> Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
> Bryn Mawr College
>
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