Thursday, September 07, 2006

Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nelson.

<--- Here he is in unhappier times. Beckett has a 5.11 era.
Seems as I was happily watching Rio Bravo, the Marlins rookie threw a no-hitter. It's always been hard for me not to root for his team, even in the 2003 World Series. They're a Hollywood-style up and down group who are always thrilling, and always full of rookies and young guys. It's impossible to hate the Marlins - they simply haven't been around enough. Not just the franchise, but the players are consistently of the young, wide-eyed variety. As for reasons to like them, there are plenty, starting with Joe Girardi, the 'Fish' nickname, the thematic teal. As a Yankee fan, I love seeing former Red Sox and Mets prospects succeeding, and even the most bitter dispariger has to be rooting for them to make the playoffs (well, unless Anibal-inspired coverage makes them insufferable.) Plus, Jeremy Hermida looks like Tom Waits.
They've got a way to go, being three back of San Diego for the Wild Card, though the Dodgers seem to be ready to collapse, which might open a space up for the youngsters. Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo and friends do seem to be small potatoes next to the potential of this team going forward, even if they finish behind the Padres or Phillies. To segue, the Marlins brash-young-up-and-coming act recalls Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo, which I enjoyed thouroghly. The classic Western elements of the movie were great - John Wayne played a little lighter, paternal and sometimes tongue-tied and embarrassed version of his normal character, Ward Bond showed up and was shot, and the girl was way more liberated than I expected. Wayne in particular was a joy, showing some perfect comic timing and a genuine sense of misplacement at points. Coming a few days after seeing The Searchers, it was particularly startling to see even a chinck or two in the man. The confusingly named film also has a place in music history. It came out in 1959, right as rock n'roll was entering the mainstream, and starred two of the biggest musicians of the time, Dean Martin, representing the 50s crooning rat pack lifestyle, and Ricky Nelson, the new wave of early rock. The paring is something like Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift in From Here To Eternity - suddenly the star is middle-aged, and playing a supporting role.
Martin in particular is fantastic as the reforming "Borachón", Spanish for Drunk. He's quite a simpathetic figure, hands actually shaking as he goes through withdrawal. Famous as a real-life lush, he is here scruffy, unshaven, but ultimately loyal to father-figure John Wayne (it's a convention to shorten a name in a long piece like this one, but who would ever call the man 'Wayne'?) He begins the film's one well-selected musical interlude, singing laying down, with his hat over his face, in a great set piece just before the final confrontation. Ricky Nelson, representing the future of music (remember, this was 1959), sings the second part of the scene, pulling out an obviously anachronistic guitar and hits into an uptempo version of the nice old song "Cindy". I've a copy of a nice duet of this one between Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, and here we have Dean Martin on backing vocals.
To contrast with Martin, Ricky Nelson's young gunslinger is clean and handsome. His boyish, young-Elvis looks and soft voice work well with a noncommital character, who takes most of the first hour off before finally saving John Wayne from some thugs and joining our heroes. He's soft-spoken and teenaged, sure, but he's a very fast draw, even in an uninterupted cut. The group is preventing a man charged with murder from being rescued by his brother; in the process they kill ten or twenty men of their own, but in the name of justice. Rio Bravo's just a standard Western from the old Hollywood days, really, albeit funnier than most and a cast that represents to me the changing of the guard of music royalty, but there's something comforting and fun about it. A bit of the old Americana in the best sense perhaps. John Wayne may have been a right-winger, or at worst, a Nazi, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a badass. Nothing quite like a good Western, or a no-hitter by a 22 year old kid. A good night.


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