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February 14, 2011


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The Siren

Reba, really? Not the much-more-fabulous Bobbie Gentry original Fancy? Well, a cover version doing a cover version, so to speak...

Anyway, you have some sharp eyes, mister. Wonder if the Times mandarins ever caught that little moment.

And I bet that cop in the movie would have loved Sally's. "Come here Sidney, I want to chastise you."


I finally read Lehman's original novella (or is it a short story? I know Stephen King once described a novella as anything between 20,000 and 40,000 words, but I didn't count it) last year, as well as another short story with those characters, but while the blueprint was definitely there, the movie just adds so much more. I know we're supposed to laugh at the throwaway character in DINER who goes around reciting the entire movie, but honestly, who can blame him?


God, I love this movie. James Wong Howe was a genius. The whole movie looks like an 8x10 glossy come to life. And lipranzer, you're right. Every line is brilliant.

And The Siren beat me to the punch, but I would add a slight editorial suggestion: "Reba McIntire's [version of] 'Fancy,'" because that song will always belong to the queen, the goddess, Bobbie Gentry.

Pass the biscuits, please.


A wonderful and evocative piece of writing. I still have yet to set foot in any of the five boroughs, but it's stuff like this that helps keep the fantasy of New York alive in my mind. I really am afraid to visit the city because I want to imagine it as some hybrid of Joseph Mitchell, J.D. Salinger, E.B. White, Woody Allen, 'Harriet The Spy,' and 'The Royal Tenenbaums.'

I'm also pretty pleased to see the Bobbie Gentry love here in the comments. 'Touch 'Em With Love' has been in pretty heavy rotation for me this year.


A couple of years ago I did some major youtube surfing for Bobbie Gentry stuff; she was huge when I was a kid in Kentucky, but I guess she seemed to have just walked away from it by the late 70s/early 80s. Film-related trivia: she supposedly took her stage surname from Vidor's RUBY GENTRY (her birth name was Streeter).

Dario Loren

This post is wonderful, Mr. K. It reminds me of a little shotgun bar on the Upper East Side (I think, or maybe midtown) that I visited once in the 1980s. The door was barred shut, and you could only gain entrance by bringing the barmaid/owner a small bouquet of flowers. Or so my friend said. We brought the flowers, we got in. We were served beers in those short glasses that remind me of the 1950s. My memory is hazy, but there was also a picture of baseball player Hank Bauer on the back of the bar, and the owner either knew him or was once married to him or something. Now, I could have all this mixed up, it was the '80s, but I'd swear it was all true, just another fabulous night in that dirty town I love, too.

David Ehrenstein

Your memories of Sally's Hideaway sound like the basis for a marvelous movie. But it would be a lot more tender than Sweet Smell of Success.

Did you ever get to see the musical version with John Lithgow as J.J. ?

David Ehrenstein

BTW, do you remember The Haymarket?

Sameul R. Delany's "Times Square Red / Time sSquare Blue" is a teriffic study of 42nd street in its deliciously reprehensible prime.

Joe Thompson

I like the way you meld the movie with your own memories and the way things have changed since.

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