Monday, June 28, 2010

Movietone Cameos

I don't tend to publish short reviews of individual movies here at Movietone: I like rambling too much.
But over the years, I have written a good many shorter pieces for various books and magazines, and there is something to be said for succinctness.
I do enjoy the discipline of writing to a strict word limit, and as well as more considerate to the reader, it is a useful exercise to try to say as much as you can in as few words as possible.
So I decided there might be some merit in bringing them all together under one banner and, when I run out, perhaps even writing new ones.
Hence my new blog, Movietone Cameos.
At Cameos you'll find short appraisals of a variety of films (not that many yet but I'll update frequently), and also (not yet but soon) some short biographical sketches I originally prepared for the books 501 Movie Stars and 501 Movie Directors. (And as with the movie reviews, I may well add to these with new entries as time goes by.)
I'll also add reviews of the new films I see at the cinema, on the very rare occasions when I see any.
So do please come and visit!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday again, Jane!

I first posted this about Jane Russell on her 86th birthday, but as she turned 89 on the 21st I thought it was time to restate my contention that she was one of the greatest, as well as most underused, of all forties stars.
As I've said before, the forties seem to me a plain golden age retrospectively, but at the time, their brashness and obsession with novelty showed clear signs of decline.
Few of the stars who came to prominence then mean as much to me as those of the thirties. But Jane was an exception.
It’s too bad that audiences first got to know her – without being able to judge her talents fairly – merely as a novelty.
Was any actress ever more glamorous? Has any other quite matched her mixture of sophisticated allure, cynicism and self-mockery? Has any other been so obviously made for the movies she never got to be in? Even Veronica Lake got to be in This Gun For Hire, and the key, and the dahlia; Ava got The Killers...
As everyone knows, Jane was launched on a wave of publicity in 1943 when she made her debut film The Outlaw for Howard Hughes. The tagline ‘mean, moody, magnificent’, and that iconic image of her reclining in a barn, wearing a cantilevered bra designed for her by Hughes himself, were more than enough to make her name, but the exclusive contract with Hughes was probably the worst thing that could have happened to her professionally.
When the film finally emerged in 1946, after years of censorship battles, audiences discovered it was an ordinary, not terribly sexy western but Russell, against all expectation, was terrific, and had thus effectively wasted the previous three years.
To some extent she made up for lost time but was always stifled by her Hughes contract, within which she became queen of the parallel universe of RKO in great fun but ultimately undeserving projects like Underwater! (to date the only film to have been premiered underwater) and The French Line, the latter containing probably the sexiest song and dance number ever filmed. (And to think audiences originally saw it in 3-D!)
Few were aware of her true capabilities, but they came out every time to see the red lips, the long legs, and a pair of breasts she could have held up banks with.

The Monthly Film Bulletin neatly summed up her persona and appeal around this time: "A slouching Amazon, her clothes appear to stay put just as long as she agrees not to burst out of them; essentially a good sort, she has an ever-annihilating sneer for the false, the pretentious and the fresh."
With better handling at a better studio she might have been the best thing in forties cinema. Look at her more serious films for Hughes, like Macao or His Kind of Woman, for a fairer sense of what she can do.
In both she was fortuitously paired with Robert Mitchum, the one really first class male lead Hughes managed to get his hands on. They were compared to Bogart and Bacall, but you only have to watch a few minutes to start imagining what she would have been like at Warners, trading innuendoes with Bogart or snarling at Edward G Robinson, placed professionally within the frame, and stylishly lit and photographed in black and white.

Instead, Hughes gave her Victor Mature.
The Las Vegas Story, a convincing variation on Casablanca, is probably her best film for Hughes, with terrific support from Vincent Price and Hoagy Carmichael; she sings "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and looks incredible. But there’s still something indefinably elsewhere about the Hughes atmosphere, and it seems unfair to make her fall passionately for Mature. With Mitchum on hand for this one it would be an acknowledged minor classic.
Unsurprisingly, she was at her best in loan-outs, revealing a natural gift for comedy with Bob Hope in The Paleface and for musicals in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Marilyn Monroe. (And if gentlemen really prefer Marilyn to Jane then I’m glad I’m not one.)
Her best performance overall was probably in the Somerset Maughamish The Revolt of Mamie Stover, but by the time she made it in 1957 her career was winding down. What should have been her best years were spent twiddling her thumbs or idling through substandard material for Hughes.

Jane, who describes herself cheerfully as “a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian” and has shrewdly speculated that Hollywood wackos like George Clooney and Tim Robbins are probably “not well”, is still cheerful and active. She apparently performs regularly in an amateur revue called ‘The Swinging Forties’ staged near her home in Santa Maria, which she devised as a means of keeping herself and other elderly local residents from getting bored.
If you want to toast her birthday with a triple bill, go for Las Vegas, Blondes and Mamie Stover. But try to slot in the ‘Looking for Trouble’ number from The French Line, too. Hughes knew what he was doing in one respect at least.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bliss = wine, pizza and Andrea Marcovicci singing Johnny Mercer

My friend Anthony sent me this the other day, from the dear old Times:
Closing 6 Music while leaving Radio 3, its expensive classical counterpart, untouched would be seen as an “illogical and perverse” act of cultural elitism, the music industry has told the BBC.
In a submission to the public consultation on the corporation’s strategy review, which closes tomorrow, executives caution that Mark Thompson, the Director-General, appears to be placing “a greater cultural value on classical output over popular output” in his decision to close 6 Music.
A greater cultural value on classical output over popular output?
Heaven forbid!
Now, if you have the good fortune not to live in Britain, you may need it explained to you that '6 Music' is a radio channel - paid for, like all BBC radio and television, by a non-optional license fee, demanded on threat of criminal prosecution from everyone who owns a television, whether they use any BBC channels or services or not. (We drive on the left, as well.) Like the vast majority of BBC channels and services since the corporation, drunk on our money, went expansion crazy a few years back, it is listened to by almost literally nobody and serves up the same diet of pre-notational pop music that 99% of all other channels offer.
Radio 3, by contrast, is the corporation's one beacon of hope, the only channel that has compromised its remit hardly at all in the last twenty years, and still clings doggedly to a bill of fare that embraces classical music, opera, religious music, documentary and a nice bit of jazz on Saturdays, all served in a prevailing atmosphere of seriousness and the assumption that the listener is able to walk and talk at the same time without falling over.
One of the things I like most about Radio 3 is that I learn something new every time I listen to it. This never, ever happens on any other radio station (certainly not Classic FM, which is a weird hybrid channel that plays snippets of classical music as if it were pop music, with yammering DJs and chart rundowns) and is but a dim distant memory on BBC television, which once put a prime-time roof over Jacob Bronowski's head but now aspires no weightier than Stephen Fry.
For instance - and may I briefly pause here to welcome readers just joining us at this point, who know my work well enough to be familiar with the 'five paragraph rule', which predicts that I will finally get to the point of what I was intending to write about around five paragraphs into the piece itself - if I hadn't been listening to Radio 3 the other day I would never have learned:
a) that Andrea Marcovicci, an actress I associate with tv cop shows of the late 1970's and - problematically, it turns out - with Woody Allen films is also 'the queen of cabaret',
and b) that she's in London, doing the Johnny Mercer songbook at a lovely venue called Pizza in the Park.
She talked a bit about Mercer, a bit about the venue, a bit about the American popular songbook generally, and sang a hauntingly subtle, brilliantly inventive arrangement of 'That Old Black Magic'.
It takes a lot to get me out of the house these days, but plainly this was a must, so we went last Sunday, and wow! What an evening!
Pizza On The Park, near Hyde Park Corner, is one of those classy cabaret clubs where you sit at a table, tuck into some top nosh (rather than pick glumly at something that, were it put in front of you in your own home, you'd actually get up and move to another part of the room to get as far away from as possible), drink red wine like it's going out of fashion, and enjoy some boffo entertainment. All dead sophisticated; far too swanky for the likes of me, but I put a smart jacket on and they took pity on me. (If you like the sound of it you're out of luck: it's closing for good in a fortnight's time, after 28 years.)
And Marcovicci is the business. She's amazing. Amazing voice. Amazing songs, but it's Johnny Mercer so that goes without saying. And all interspersed with her potted history of his life and work. Incredibly natural performer, oozing old-style professional ease and sophistication.

Movie-wise, it seems she's done less than I'd have thought. I've always thought of her as a Woody Allen star, as I said, and was convinced she played his friend's wife in Manhattan, but it turns out that was Ann Byrne. She is, however, his co-star in The Front, and plays the wife of his sometime sidekick Tony Roberts in an adorable tv movie called Packin' It In that I must have seen about a gazillion times. (Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss sell up in New York and move to a backwoods community of hicks, survivalists and oddballs where their friends Tony and Andrea have rediscovered the joys of authentic living: comic misadventures ensue. There's no television, much to the horror of their children, one of them Molly Ringwald, but once a month they do show a movie against a wall at the local provisions store. "That Vera Hruba Ralston's something else!" says the proprietress at the end of one screening.)
Most of her other films, oddly, have been schlock: Airport '79 (that's the one with Charo and Sylvia Kristel, in the unlikely event you need reminding), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (a pervy 3-D space oddity, again with Ringwald), The Stuff (Larry Cohen's horror-satire about marshmallowy gunk discovered beneath the earth and sold as a snack food that turns people into zombies) and The Hand (a fun update of The Beast With Five Fingers and one of the few films Oliver Stone directed without a bug up his ass).
She's fine in all of these (and, refreshingly, affects no desire to disown them: amusing interview here where I got the pictures from) but it's still odd she never drew more high-end offers, as she really is quite strikingly beautiful in them, and obviously many degrees classier than her surroundings. (She looks a bit like Sarah Jessica Parker.)
And she's in loads of Kojak and Murder, She Wrote and Magnum PI and such, but somewhere along the way she decided to do less of that and more nightclub stuff, saluting the great tradition of American popular song-writing and becoming the queen of cabaret.
She's in her early sixties now, and works a room just the way the books tell you they used to do it back when they knew how. She does a lot of talking to you, and singing to you, and she leans right over your table and stares right into your eyes for ages, but it isn't in the least unsettling, or insincere-seeming, and it actually gets quite addictive after a while, because the rapport seems genuine, and you find yourself believing all that hooey about the reciprocal bond between the audience and the performer. I'm not an habitual gusher when it comes to showbiz folk, but we really did leave the place somewhat awed.
I also watched Packin' It In again, and added to my already bulging store of favourite lines the one where she excuses herself because she has to go back to her cabin and salt some pork.

Friday, June 11, 2010

For the moment, I can't stop watching Alexis Smith

Good timing.
Just when I was in an Alexis Smith mood anyway, the postman brings a film I've been looking for for some time: The Smiling Ghost, from Warners, 1941.

Two things made it call out to me. One is simply that I'm a sucker for spooky comedy mysteries, not so much a subgenre as one film, which Hollywood made and remade over and over again in the late thirties and early forties. Clearly, audiences at the time never got fed up with seeing it, and I don't either. PRC and Monogram made it a couple of times a year throughout this period, and few were the A-list studios too proud to milk the formula too.
Every detail is in place here, exactly the way you like it; exactly the way you've seen it a hundred times already: the spooky old house, the murder plot disguised as a supernatural manifestation, sliding panels and secret doors, the wisecracking but shabby private detective, his permanently scared but laconic black sidekick, the smartmouthed but tender-hearted female reporter, the cast of eccentric suspects, and the beautiful female at the centre of it all... and it's in that latter capacity that Alexis comes in.

This was my second reason for wanting to see it: Halliwell led me to believe that it was a rare example of an Alexis Smith lead movie. Warners supporting actors, the second lead in their A-Pictures, often got to headline in their B's and it often made for a much more interesting picture - fine as they are in support of the big names, it's always a real treat to see Sydney Greenstreet or Joan Blondell taking centre stage. Halliwell's synopsis is "A girl reporter solves a haunted house mystery", and he lists Alexis first among the players, so naturally I assumed that she was the newshound.
Alas, no: she is, yet again, third-billed, and not behind Bogey and Babs this time. Wayne Morris takes the top slot as the detective (eccentric but cute) and Brenda Marshall gets the reporter's gig (feisty but cute), and comes in second. Alexis is rightly third in the largely thankless role of the haughty heiress whose fiances have a habit of ending up mysteriously murdered, seemingly by the ghost of the first one: he killed himself when she broke off the engagement and now his jealousy of her subsequent amours stretches out from beyond the grave. Marshall gets all the snappy repartee; Lexy's job is primarily to look chic and gorgeous. (This she does with aplomb in a glorious assortment of slinky black dresses and enormous-shouldered nightgowns.)
Her habitual disdain for the material she was handed by Warners is partially disguised by the coldness of her character. A tentative romance is set up between her and Morris, but she only starts playing up to him when he threatens to leave the house (he's been hired to stand-in as her fiance in order to unmask the 'smiling ghost'), and she remains aloof and unendearing from first to last.
Since it was obvious Morris and Marshall were going to end up casting sheep's eyes at each other, there seems no reason why he and Lexy should begin to get it together: it serves only to make her character even less likeable, to the extent that I had some hope that the ending would reveal her as the villainess. This would at least give her the opportunity for some last act fireworks, and the chance to be a B-movie Brigid O'Shaughnessy, but no. (Now I know who should have played Brigid O'Shaughnessy!)

On its own merits, however, the film is a treat, frequently coming close to a real horror movie ambiance; Morris is almost buried alive in a family crypt, there's great clouds of dry ice fog, and the smiling ghost of the title is a genuinely creepy sight, not so far removed from the ghoulish visages of Lon Chaney in London After Midnight, or Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs (and certainly nothing at all like the jolly chap in the poster, above).
It's a first-class example of the formula, right up there with Topper Returns and Bob Hope's Cat and the Canary, and probably inspired in particular by the success of The Ghost Breakers (Willie Best is re-recruited in clear imitation of Paramount's film). Best of all is the identity of the murderer: usually the most obvious element of such affairs, this one is a real surprise.

But my search for the perfect Alexis Smith starring vehicle goes on. Any recommendations?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Fixed Image: Bogart, Alexis Smith and the Warners Star System

The Two Mrs Carrolls (1943) and Conflict (1945) are among the least typical but, for me, most interesting films Bogart made at Warners.
Critically, they are not praised, and Bogart himself hated them. But their very unusualness makes them seem more potent today than more conventional product like Across the Pacific or Passage To Marseille.
Made within two years of each other (though Carrolls was
not released until 1947), they have much in common. Both are murder/suspense thrillers fairly unusual for their studio and time, casting Bogart as a man who murders his wife. (In Conflict he is a cold-blooded but rational Columbo-type killer who kills because he is trapped in a loveless marriage and sexually obsessed with his wife's younger sister; in Carrolls he is a barking psychopathic artist and serial wife-poisoner who first paints his spouses as the Angel of Death, then slowly does them in.)
And in both the catalyst is actress Alexis Smith, as the sister in Conflict, and a tarty portrait subject with whom he is having an affair in Carrolls.
Smith was an unusual actress with a somewhat brittle style; like Barbara Stanwyck her features are not beautiful in repose but seem to catch fire on film. She never reaches out to the audience but remains always oddly remote; perhaps we sense something of the disdain she apparently felt for her career in her somewhat icy persona.
In later life she was quoted as saying "When they tell me one of my old movies is on tv, I don't look at it. Those films weren't very good at the time, and they haven't improved with age."
Such films as these are vivid examples of how the studio system worked: Bogart didn't want to be in either of them, he tried everything he could to get out of Carrolls in particular, and they certainly feel like production line filler.
But in those days the studios decided which actors appeared in what films, and those that did not know their place were put on suspension. The general view of their place in the pecking order was summed up by Hitchcock's description of them as cattle, though he later qualified it by saying that what he actually meant was that they should be treated as cattle.
These were the kind of indignities against which the likes of Bogart and Bette Davis so famously rebelled, and it is true that the system as it existed reduced the performers to mere possessions, to be used as the studio heads dictated.
But don't feel too sorry for them - they were only actors, after all, and it's got to be better than working for a living. For jobbing actors, character actors and supporting players it worked fine: regular work, no way of knowing if they were to be a Chinese war lord or an English butler from one week to the next - it sounds like fun to me. Only uppity stars rebelled, either from boredom at always playing the same parts or, as here but less often, from frustration at being cast unsuitably out of type.
Few stars were as constitutionally incapable of being treated like cattle as Bogart, and in these two films - both made during his peak years of popularity and success - he is visibly champing at the bit. But for us today they make a lovely change from his usual formula. They are terrific fun.
Conflict even has a supernatural tinge (as well as giving full vent to Hollywood's obsession with Freud that characterises so many mid-forties titles), though all the ghostly doings - by which Bogart becomes convinced his wife is persecuting him from beyond the grave - are revealed as an incredibly elaborate plot devised by psychiatrist Sydney Greenstreet to make him break down and give himself up, or away.
It's all done with the minimum of believability but buckets of style - dry ice fog, much lurking in shadows and some great model shots.
The Two Mrs Carrolls, though with no such overt spookery, is actually the more horror-filmish of the pair, with Bogey delivering a pretty convincing portrait of creeping insanity, and climaxing with the fantastic image of him bursting through the window-curtains of his wife's bedroom like an enormous vampire bat.
Two things make it seem especially unsuitable as a Bogart property: first, it is set in England, in a typically Hollywood chocolate box village of thatched cottages and church bells, and the idea that Bogie could last a week in such an environment without going stark mad (or, in the context, stark madder) is ludicrous.
Second, he is perhaps cinema's least convincing artist ever. He has the creative angst and the volatile temperament down all right, but the thought of him actually painting is a stretch and a half. Occasionally we see him on the verge of painting, or coming downstairs having just been painting, and he doesn't even do that convincingly. He holds a brush like it's a cosh. If it weren't for the plot device of him painting each wife as the Angel of Death the part would probably have been rewritten as Hemingwayish novelist. That he could have handled rather better.
The other treat the film has in store is the fact that the wife in jeopardy is none less than Barbara Stanwyck, and just as it is always interesting to see Bogart acting alongside Bette Davis, so this one chance to see him share the screen with Stanners is equally to be cherished.
She has done woman-in-peril elsewhere (indeed definitively in Sorry, Wrong Number) but her persona remains basically that of the headstrong modern gal, and seeing her cringing in terror here is as striking a discontinuity as Bogart's own performance.
The film has elements in common with Hitchcock's Suspicion: the central situation, the English locale, the ambiguous villain (though Bogart at Warners has this advantage over Cary Grant: he is allowed to play the villain), a poisoned glass of milk, and the presence of Nigel Bruce as a friend of the family. It also features nice, crackly dialogue typical of its studio and era, and that hard to pin down but unmistakably Warners air of depressed gloom, ladled like thick soup over all their forties pictures. A strange kind of intensity.
Neither film is a masterpiece, but each - and Carrolls especially - has been treated too unfairly too long to not deserve redress. They are amusing changes of pace for interesting stars, and fine examples of just how professional a product the Hollywood studio conveyor belt could turn out, even with the bare minimum effort, when they had the right talent to hand.
But the most striking feature of both films is Alexis Smith, an actress for whom the right breaks never quite seemed to come along, and whose performances in films such as these now seem all the more attractive because of it.
(Re-posted from way back in honour of Alexis Smith, who would have been eighty-nine yesterday, if she hadn't died seventeen years ago today.)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We thought they'd never end

As part of its continuing efforts to piss people off for no good reason other than in the hope that it will make it look all edgy and cool, the BBC has announced that it will finally kill off Last of the Summer Wine, the world's longest-running sitcom, at the end of the next series.
A BBC spokesman has justified the decision by explaining: "Research has shown the programme is very popular with the elderly, and therefore runs the risk of being perceived as elitist and alienating by the crucial 16 to 16-and-a-half age group the BBC is committed to catering for to the exclusion of all others. Everyone at the BBC is very proud of the show and this is not a decision we have taken lightly. It will be replaced by a new reality game show in which former members of the cast of Hollyoaks shove live rats up their arses."
Which to be fair does sound like a winner.
And besides, I can’t say I’ve ever really been a big fan, to be honest. When I was about ten (the early-eighties, lest my sprightly style deceived you into thinking me a much younger man) I had a brief flirtation with it but it didn’t really stick: I just didn’t know who these people were and what was going on, plus I associated its sedateness and mournful theme tune with the concept of time passing, which has always given me the willies, and was then inextricably linked with the horror of Sunday evenings, bath, bed and school the next day.
I do remember that back in the days when there was a Swap Shop Awards show (they gave out an award called an Eric you’ll remember, hence the line “even Eric would serve me well” in I Just Wanna Be a Winner, the minor hit single released by Edmonds, Chegwin and Philbin under the collective ‘Brown Sauce’) Summer Wine took the gong for best comedy, so it must have had a sizeable contingent of youthful adherents around the same time it was intriguing me.
Owen, Sallis and Wilde came on to collect it in character doing a short rehearsed sketch as themselves; “You’ve not brought your ferrets have you?” I remember Wilde asking Owen, in response to the latter’s claim that said animals were wriggling in his trousers. I think they somehow managed to take hold of the award, but without acknowledging Edmonds or the audience and remaining strictly in character, before shuffling off, Owen still twitching. Imagine trying to get kids to sit still for that today.
For most of my teenage and adulthood the programme was watched by nobody I knew, and it is, for those whose love of contemporary comedy is insatiable and undiscriminating, still the most commonly-evoked totem of the kind of naff, old-fashioned and obsolete comedy that Russell Brand was sent to save us from.
So its major milestones passed me by somewhat. I remember when Brian Wilde was replaced by Michael Aldridge, then when he came back, and then when he was replaced again, this time by Captain Peacock. I remember Bill Owen dying, and being surprised to hear that even this would not be the end of the road for the series. Then didn't his real-life son join the cast or something? I have a vague memory of something like that. But I never actually saw any of it happening.
Since then, I thought it had gone on its merry way with Sallis and Thornton as a double-act, bolstered by the various supporting characters. What I actually saw when I dipped into it on the BBC’s I-player a short while back took my breath away. I don’t know. You just take your eye off a programme for twenty-five years or so and when you look back, it’s changed beyond all recognition.
Sallis and Thornton are still there, but they, too, are now supporting characters – along with June Whitfield and Trevor Bannister – to a whole new central trio played by Russ Abbot, Brian Murphy and Burt Kwouk! I know, I know. It sounds like a silly dream I had. But it’s true. I swear.
And it gets even trippier - Valerie Leon's been in it too.
I couldn’t stop watching it. Never in my wildest fantasies had I thought peak-time BBC-1 would ever again put a roof over the heads of Abbot, Murphy and Bannister – let alone the same roof. I’ll watch anything that does that. Anything.
Did I find it hilarious? No, I can’t say I did. Though actually, it would be no easy thing to make it much, much more enjoyable in this respect. All you have to do is take off the laugh track. Yes, I know it’s real people really laughing while really watching the programme. But it’s too loud, and when a joke that you might have smiled at, or chuckled at, or at any rate enjoyed, is greeted with an ear-splitting scream from you know not where, it feels intrusive and bullying and the smile freezes on your face. Without it you could relax into the programme’s mood and pace, perhaps get drunk, fall asleep for a minute or two, and – I strongly suspect – thoroughly enjoy it. With it, it’s like you’re on trial; you have to be alert and on your best behaviour, and you feel like you’d rather not be there.
To me fell the disagreeable duty of informing my American blogging pal Ivan G Shreve Jr of the programme's cancellation. Ivan is one of those intriguing Americans with an insatiable thing for British sitcoms and I knew he'd be sad about it.
A while back, I wrote a piece for Kettering about the programme (from which this post has been largely cribbed) and to give it a bit of colour I wrote to Ivan to ask him if he'd explain his infatuation further.
“People often point out that American sitcoms are the best because of their high laugh quotient,” he replied, “but a high percentage of them don't bother with character development; they'd rather just stick a one-liner in a character's mouth regardless of whether it fits the individual or not.” (Quite right: is Joey in Friends a doofus or is he witty? They never could decide.)
He continued: “As I have mentioned on the blog, I had difficulty warming up to it at first but after seeing two or three episodes I began to connect with the show's quirkiness and rhythms; the show's eccentricity started working its magical spell on me and I was hooked.
“Some of my fellow sitcom fans prefer the type of show that makes you laugh from the gut; I myself favour a more genteel, quieter comedy where the point of an episode is not to count how many laughs there were but whether or not you enjoyed it and if the show’s characters seemed genuine (if slightly exaggerated for comedy’s sake). To me, Last of the Summer Wine is the yardstick by which such shows should be measured.”
Or was, now.