Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin and the Cast of Porgy and Bess

…being wildly applauded in this photo of opening night. Lest we forget, it was The Old Man who directed the very first production of P&B. (Oh, he never let me forget it.) That’s him behind Gershwin in the goggle glasses.

Porgy and Bess Mamoulian

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Mamoulian, The Drunken Woman in the Other Room, and Laura by David Raksin Conducted by John Wilson

This is what I mean when I say that John Wilson has invaded every nook and cranny of my inner life. I hadn’t thought of Mamoulian in years until I recently came upon an excerpt of a concert conducted by John in Glasgow, September 2011. The program was Music to be Murdered By with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

John Wilson Glasgow.jpg

“You know I directed Laura,” said Mr Mamoulian to me matter-of-factly one day as we sat in his alcove-cum-study.

Now, I had seen the movie Laura several times—on TV and in the art house—and I remembered practically all the credits, which included one for Otto Preminger, Director…but no Mamoulian. But here was The Old Man sitting knee to knee with me, announcing right out that he was (what’s the Variety word?) the helmer of that glamorous but nutsy picture with Gene Tierney.

So what did I do? I was twenty-three. I was on a job. I nodded.

He sat back, took a couple of puffs from that awful cigar of his and smiled wistfully. “You know, Gene introduced me to my wife.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful,” I said. That would be Azadia, who Mamoulian called Zayde (a giggle, as zayde means grandfather in Yiddish); she was a woman I never saw except once. She was always in the Other Room.

[More later.]

Cantara, 1961

I distinctly remember trying to pose here like Marilyn Monroe. I was wearing my favorite skirt Mom made from fabric ends with loads of rickrack and crinoline. Remember crinoline, that bane of womanhood?

Cantara at 4

Mom’s favorite actress was Elizabeth Taylor. This pic was taken around the time Taylor got sick filming Cleopatra and—somebody bear me out on this—there was a huge spread in Life magazine about the “troubled” production, which included the interesting info that the director, Rouben Mamoulian, had been fired. Which was the first time I ever encountered this name, which makes this blog post a good place to tell you that I’m going to be talking more about The Old Man and less about bonny John from here on out. So much for a smooth segue.

The Room at the Inn Scene in Queen Christina, with Background Music by Herbert Stothart

Garbo Christina

I have been memorizing this room. In the future, in my memory, I shall live a great deal in this room.”

Fellow Film Music Society members: The score for Queen Christina is in Box 08, Folder 1 of the Herbert Stothart Manuscript Collection, curated by Marilee Bradford.

I’ll have more to say on this scene later.