Ed Howard at Only the Cinema, or for the high-minded, Seul le Cinema, has an Early Howard Hawks Blogathon going on and I promised I'd participate. I was all ready. I had a plan. And it was a good plan. Well, not that good, but it was an okay plan. Okay, it was a crappy plan, haphazardly thought out and meagerly researched. But still, it was a plan of some kind and that's worth something right? See, there's this early Howark Hawks film from 1928, Fazil, starring Charles Farrell as an Arab who falls in love with a French woman played by Greta Nissen. Charles being an All-American New Englander and Greta being Norwegian didn't seem to get in the way at all, as these things usually didn't back then. Apparently, from what I read, they put a pencil-thin moustache on old Charlie, darkened his complexion by about one thousandth of a percent and BAM! he was an Arab.
So after reading about that and how the movie was a romance and not like Hawks other work at all I decided, "That's the film I'm going to do for Ed's blogathon." No DVD available? No problem. Surely, somebody, somewhere, has put it online right? And hey, I got software that can grab anything online, anywhere, any site, any security system. If it's a movie and it's online I can save it to my hard drive, burn it, and study it again and again.
Just one problem. It wasn't anywhere online. Not that I could find. And I looked. Hell, I scoured. I went to those European rarity sites where they have Finnish erotica from 1908 and women in the forties doing funny things with Coke bottles and animated stories about tulip farmers or some such thing. Nothing. I went to the Internet Archive. Nothing. Hulu. Nothing. I Googled like hell and Yahooed like there was no tomorrow. Nothing. Hell, I got so desperate I even tried Daily Motion, the ridiculed, befuddled, bastard child of YouTube and got... Nothing.
So then it comes down to this week and the blogathon ends on Friday. "Screw it," I says, "I'll put up a still from the damn movie and call it even." I came up with this:
That's the full size version of the still. Yeah, it's crap. So I kept looking and came upon this:
And what is that you ask? It's two wax figures of Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor in Seventh Heaven. Holy Butt Bomb! That is one pathetic wax figure of Janet Gaynor! But anyway, that's not the point. The point is, I think, is that I lose all interest in Fazil and the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California usurps my thoughts and becomes my new dream destination. Check out the Harold Lloyd figure:
My God, it's dreadful! It's an atrocity! I must see it in person! But wait, there's more! Here's Marilyn Monroe from The Asphalt Jungle:
Holy shit! It's a goddamn Barbie doll! This museum has quickly gone from dream destination to MUST-SEE-MECCA! Wanna see West Side Story? Of course you do! Here it is:
Jesus Christ! Did they raid my seven year old's toy chest? To paraphrase Max von Sydow in Hannah and Her Sisters, "If Madam Tussuad came back from the dead and saw the figures in this museum she'd never stop throwing up."
Finally I see this shot of Cantinflas and think, "That's it! I'm quitting my job tomorrow and heading west and I'm not stopping until I get there!"
Then I read the news that hits me like a wet sack of dead jellyfish on a cold day at Coney Island: IT'S CLOSED! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Depression sets in and it only gets worse. I start finding testimonials online from Californians who visited it and have wonderful memories of it. How could they not? Had I ever gone there that would be all I talk or write about ever! I find personal photos people have put up online standing next to the most unimaginably bad wax rendering of Frankenstein's Monster humanly possible. And they loved it! And I would have too if only I'd gotten the chance to see it before it closed in 2005. Yes, 2005! Soooo close. I just missed it.
Finally, I calm down as the inevitable acceptance creeps in. It's over, it's gone, it's closed. There's nothing I can do about it. I go back to searching for Fazil photos but my heart's just not in it anymore. All I can think about is Movieland. Sweet, wonderful, magical Movieland. I bet they had a Howard Hawks movie or two there. Maybe even Fazil. And if so, I bet Greta Nissen looked magnificent. Simply magnificent!