Contemplating the life of Veronica Lake

It started out innocently enough… I was sitting here, waiting for the storm to begin, and listening to two of my favorite people, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, discussing one of my favorite films, Sullivan’s Travels, and, then, one thing led to another, and I ended up going one YouTube link too far. Now I’m all depressed.

Here, in case you’re interested it what got to me. It’s the trailer for Veronica Lake’s last film, Flesh Feast.

And, here, by way of comparison, is a scene from Sullivan’s Travels, some 36 years later.

It’s hard for me to reconcile the two… how someone could go from being that bright and beautiful to being so Edith Massey-like… but I guess that’s the kind of thing that can happen when mental illness and alcoholism intersect… Anyway, seeing her in Flesh Feast has sent me spiraling off into a sad kind of place, and, as a result, I don’t think I’ll be blogging tonight about Clarence Thomas and why he needs to leave the Supreme Court, like I’d wanted to. If you’d like to leave comments about that, though, be my guest. I’ll be watching Sullivan’s Travels.

update: Apparently, I’ve written about this before.

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10 Comments

  1. Carrie Eastman
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    When we attain a certain age, loss does become stark, prevalent. I’m starting to have pale glimpse at how loss, while still foreboding, becomes familiar enough for context and reflection to seep in. To quote Veronica Lake:

    “I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s the little things that matter… I was always a rebel and probably could have got much further had I changed my attitude. But when you think about it, I got pretty far without changing attitudes. I’m happier with that.”

    That almost sounds monkish in its sober assessment. Maybe age makes monks.

    I read your “written before” post. It was incredibly honest and unguarded.

    You’ve accomplished a lot. You have a strong voice and reputation. You speak clearly and compellingly. But, if I may, your speech is conscious of other voices. It is guarded. It’s changed. Today you write in hostile territory.

    If you keep writing (and you should), it may be time to become a monk. For all their failings, the religious traditions were incredibly attuned to human psychology. They understood the importance of “spiritual disciplines.” Breaking habits. Making habits. Cycles of excess and austerity. Confession and indignation. Time outs. Feigned humility. We humans both need freedom and restraint. It’s good medicine.

    I’ll boil it down.

    One week, this year, only post like you did when you thought no one was reading. No defenses. No calculations. No headlines. Just your uncensored life. You are allowed to let readers know your Lent is coming.

    Another week, this year, don’t post anything not written by someone else. Take submissions. Decide what to post. Comment like a reader.

    In short, write who you are. Don’t write to insecurity. Write from yours. You’re growing old. Take hold.

  2. Anonymatt
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Everybody! Stop aging! You’re making Mark upset.

  3. Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    What’s the matter? Don’t you like her little maggots?

  4. cmadler
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I just got around to watching Sullivan’s Travels last week…what a wonderful movie!

  5. Mr. X
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    It’s not just that she aged. Watch the clips. It’s horribly sad. It wasn’t just her stunning beauty and her hair that set her apart. There was a spark.

    With that said, mental illness or not, she had a reputation for being terrible to work with. Joel McCrea, who was asked to star with her in another film, was quoted as saying, “Life is too short for two movies with Veronica Lake,” when he turned it down.

  6. 'Ff'lo
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Anonymatt’s comment seems to apply better to the 2002 post linked to.

  7. 'Ff'lo
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    (I always had a hard time taking Veronica Lake seriously, but that may be because I was exposed to Looney Tunes versions of her before I saw her in a film. And she has a kind of cartoonishness in those supposedly sexy days, doesn’t she?)

  8. Meta
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    From Think Progress, on Clarence Thomas:

    The Clarence Thomas Scandal

    Jun 22, 2011 | By Ian Millhiser

    In 1969, Justice Abe Fortas resigned in disgrace after the nation learned that he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from corporate executives and other wealthy benefactors. Forty years later, Justice Clarence Thomas is caught in a strikingly similar scandal. Similarly to Fortas, Thomas has a wealthy benefactor named Harlan Crow who has shown lavish generosity to Thomas and his Tea Partying wife Ginni. And where Fortas had an ad hoc group of corporate executives to subsidize his lifestyle, Thomas seems to have the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — a corporate-aligned think tank that once gave him a $15,000 gift. We find it difficult to find daylight between Thomas’ actions and the gifting scandal that forced Abe Fortas off the bench.

    LAVISH GIFTS: Like Fortas before him, Thomas received tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from wealthy benefactors — some of whom have an interest in cases before his court. Crow gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. He provided Thomas’ wife with half a million dollars to start a Tea Party group, and he donated over $1 million dollars to fund a museum that will include exhibits honoring Justice Thomas. Crow has a long history of investing in conservative political causes — he’s donated nearly $5 million to Republican candidates and conservative organizations, including $100,000 to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — but he isn’t even the most troubling entity to rain gifts upon Clarence Thomas. That honor goes to AEI, which gifted Thomas with a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln even though AEI frequently files briefs in Thomas’ Court. Thomas has not recused himself from cases in which AEI participated.

    SCANDALS UPON SCANDALS: If Thomas’ addiction to high dollar favors were his only problem, that would be deeply disturbing. But this is just one of many scandals facing the justice. Justice Thomas attended a Koch-sponsored political fundraiser intended to fund the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, and media outlets, an act that would likely violate his ethical obligation not to engage in fundraising if the Supreme Court were not exempt from the Code of Conduct for U.S. judges. Thomas claimed that his wife Ginni — a lobbyist and high-earning member of the professional right — earned no non-investment income whatsoever while she was working at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, despite having a legal obligation to disclose her income on his annual disclosure form. After Thomas’ failure to disclose this income was widely reported by the press, Thomas amended his disclosure forms to include Ginni’s income. And the fact that his wife is now working as a Tea Party lobbyist could raise recusal issues for Justice Thomas. Ginni Thomas has a right to do whatever she wants for a living, but if the Thomas family earned one dime to lobby in favor of repealing health reform, it would be a serious conflict of interest for Thomas to sit on a case that could make that repeal a reality.

    THEIR MAN ON THE COURT: The rich and the powerful have been good to Justice Thomas, but Thomas has been extremely good to them. Thomas didn’t just join the infamous Citizens United decision opening up the flood gates to corporate money in elections, he also would have struck down essential transparency laws that allow Americans to know who is buying their democracy. Thomas stood behind decisions eviscerating consumer rights and the rights of workers in the workplace, and he embraces a vision of the Constitution that is nothing shy of terrifying. In three separate opinions, conservative Thomas called for a return to a discredited theory of the Constitution that early 20th century justices used to declare federal child labor laws unconstitutional. So Thomas has little regard for the Constitution and even less for precedent — perhaps that explains why he has thumbed his nose at the Fortas precedent and entangled himself so tightly with his wealthy and influential benefactors.

  9. Posted August 2, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I’ve had a thing for Veronica Lake for some 20 years– in fact, I remember stifling the unwise urge to question Andre de Toth about her when I met him, which was not too long before he died — they’d been married, had kids, got divorced. I could easily be in a very very small group in the entire world of genuine living Veronica Lake fanboys. Hmm. Yes she is lovely in Sullivan’s travels. That is all.

  10. Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    HARD TO PLEASE
    I think she looks really great. Just because she’s playing a creepy part doesn’t mean that’s who she is. If she drank a lot, it did NOT show in that role. I am tired of people complaining about a woman’s looks. I heard someone say that Catherine Zeta-Jones had “too much junk in the trunk” in Chicago. Really? She’s incredibly beautiful. Why is everyone so fucking hard to please? She gave me the creeps in that clip and wasn’t she supposed to? Men don’t stay handsome either (Marlon Brando) but no one acts like they’ve lost their acting ability just because they’re not young anymore. Beauty ages but sometimes people transcend that. George Clooney is handsome no matter how he ages, he’s still George Clooney. Looking at that later clip I feel like saying “I’m Veronica Lake, bitch!” for her sake, for the sake of all older women. Go buy a barbie doll.

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