Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2005/ 29 Kislev, 5766

Greg Crosby

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Some good things | Since my column last time concerned various aspects of life’s aggravations and my bellyaching about them, I thought in balance it might be good to list a few things that went RIGHT last year. It’s always nice to start the New Year on a positive note and even though it goes against my natural grain, I will attempt to do so for you now. Let’s hope I can remember enough of them to fill an entire column.

The first thing to come to mind is a play we saw that actually didn’t disappoint – in fact it was quite good. The show was called “The Drowsy Chaperone,” an awful title but a truly inspired, well performed and very funny new musical. Think of it – a musical without a political agenda, without pyrotechnics or other special effect gimmicks, and without vulgarity. An intelligent, happy, feel-good musical comedy with new songs, talented performers, clever lines, interesting sets and great costumes. What a concept!

The show ended here in L.A. on December 25th after a two-month run. I hope it makes it to Broadway and becomes the smash hit it deserves to be. It really is pure entertainment. As the ad line for the movie “That’s Entertainment” once proclaimed, “Boy, do we need it now!”

“Capote” was the standout movie for 2005 with an intelligent, fine performance of Truman Capote by Philip Seymour Hoffman and smartly directed by Bennett Miller. Finding a film with adult appeal and which doesn’t insult one’s intelligence is getting rarer all the time. This was like watching a movie the way they used to make ‘em – well written, well acted and well paced. The production design by Jess Gonchor was perfect. And how nice it was to see actors that look and act like adults, not teenagers.

In the DVD department, several new releases of classic films were top-notch. “The Sound of Music” and “The Band Wagon” head the list and look beautiful. It was great to finally see some Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals released on DVD this year (even though I wish more had been done to clean and restore them since the picture quality is rather spotty).

The complete “Thin Man” pictures starring William Powell and Myrna Loy were also released this past year – what a treat! Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” has been released this past autumn in a special edition package. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I understand it looks and sounds terrific. Also the first season of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” all 39 episodes, was released in a nicely done box set that is an absolute must for any Hitchcock fan.

On a personal level, although there were some scary moments for our family at times, I’m happy to report that everyone has made it through 2005 in one piece and in fairly good health. That is always good news for any family and cause to be thankful. I hope you all can say the same for this past year, the new year, and for many years to come.

We had some friends in during the holidays for an old fashioned cocktail party. All went well and everyone, I think, left our place feeling happy and sated – which qualifies as a pretty successful party at any time of year. Good food, good drink, good company. Who could ask for anything more? Except maybe another party just like it. I’ll start working on it now.

I’m going to end my column here, since it has just dawned on me that the thing is starting to read a little too happy and sappy and after all I wouldn’t want to lose my lifetime membership in the Curmudgeon Society of Greater Los Angeles. I have a platinum card you know. But you see? There actually were some good things in 2005 that I could relate to you and fill up a column with! Amazing! Happy New Year!

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby