austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I have a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses

In the ``Festival of Shorts'' on Turner Classic Movies they dug out a 1938 MGM short on Nostradamus, proclaiming his fantastic powers to see tomorrow that everyone laughed at. Case in point: while a doctor, allegedly, Nostradamus foresaw a great new disease that would sweep the Earth, and worked to find a cure for the coming peril. They all laughed at him. BUT THEN -- there came the Black Death which would sweep through Europe and kill half the people in it. Certainly it is fantastic to accurately forecast a plague which would strike a century and a half before your birth. The short includes the forecast for how come 1999, the Asiatic hordes will invade and blow up Paris, so if you were wondering what all that noise in France was, blame ol' Nosty.

The 1941 sequel short goes into how Nostradamus predicted World War II, making a particular fuss about how before the war leaders would meet -- certainly it is madness to suppose national leaders would meet except under prophetic direction -- and one of them would retire to a mountain top by means of an iron cage. ``We've heard of such a mountain, haven't we?'' asks the leering narrator. ``A mountain whose safety is so guarded that one my reach its heights only in the iron cage of an elevator!'' Well, that is a most devastating correlation if I had any idea what they were getting at. I think it may have been a wartime reference to the supposed National Redoubt where Germany was stockpiling a hundred million kerjillion soldiers and twenty million years' worth of weapons instead of using them during the war.

Naturally I pay attention to the irrelevant: first, footage of Past Predictions Of Recent Events showed the League of Nations Building in Geneva. I realized that I've never before seen the League of Nations Building. You'd think one of the 38 billion books I've read or documentaries I've seen about the first or second wars would have made space for one shot somewhere. Second, in closing they include a supposed Nostradamus prediction that the United States will join the war, split the two dictators (apparently Japan wasn't worth forecasting), and close with the Statue of Liberty, flag waving over her shoulder. The shot -- maybe ten seconds -- has to reverse the footage and go forward again. What was going on in 1941 that they only had a three-second shot of the Statue of Liberty and had to do cheap camera tricks to pad it out? The war wasn't on over here yet, they could've had the cameras roll a whole fifteen seconds if they wanted.

Trivia: Clyde Tombaugh's 23 January 1930 plate with the image of Pluto on it -- one of those used to discover the planet -- was Negative number 165. Source: Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System, Mark Littmann.

Currently Reading: The Creation of Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong, Bruce Bahrenburg. Ooh. Rene Auberjonois was apparently the intellectual among the actors. John Agar's role is unmentioned (so far). And Rick Baker, special effects guy behind several moist Mystery Science Theater 3000 experiment-fodder-pieces, was in the ape costume a while. Plus, all the Hawaii location footage racked up a staggering cost of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Which is about what was spent to make the entirety of Parts: The Clonus Horror. This book is way too interesting for my own good.


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