So as today’s my birthday, I hope you will excuse this rather self-indulgent post (and the title reference to The Sound of Music) with some of my favourite people/things.
Proust – I can’t imagine a time without his words. Reading La Recherche in French took me almost a decade, and yet I’m always keen to start over again because there is so much I’ve missed and still need to understand.
Venice – my obsession since I visited it in 2009. I constantly dream of returning there and will get my chance in October. Photo by Dmitri Kessel, 1952.
Gloria Grahame – one of my favourite actresses who was born to play film noir. She enriched even the smallest role and made it interesting and I love her voice. It still breaks my heart how she never felt she beautiful enough and turned to plastic surgery which left her upper lip paralysed. Still very underrated today.
Le feu follet – this film actually brings together quite a few of my favourite things – Louis Malle, Maurice Ronet, Satie, Paris and the Café de Flore.
Evelyn Waugh – author of some of my favourite books which can be in turn hilarious and then bitingly cruel. Brideshead Revisited is one of the greatest novels ever written.
Film noir – easily my favourite film genre and even a mediocre noir is still worth watching. Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum in Jacques Tourneur’s ‘Out of the past’, one of the finest films ever made.
Henry James in the famous portrait by John Singer Sergeant. I know that many people are put off by his reputation for being difficult to read but as a master of the English language, I think he is unparalleled. ‘The portrait of a lady’ and ‘The Aspern papers’ are more accessible works than the later ones but equally brilliant.
Red lipstick – this one needs no explanation
Scott Fitzgerald – a genius with a prose style as glittering as his characters who also wrote the best book ever about Hollywood, The last tycoon.
Night time photos – as a noir lover, it won’t surprise you to learn that I love these kinds of photos, particularly of New York in the 1950s, like this one taken by Everett.
1920s fashion and make-up, as seen on the fabulous Clara Bow. If I could travel back in time to any period, this would be it, particularly Paris in this decade, if only to pick up some of those Picassos cheap.
Anna Karina simply because she’s Anna. Photos of her gorgeous face make me want to put on eyeliner and smoke a cigarette.
François Truffaut – genius of the Nouvelle Vague.