Wednesday, 26 July 2017

"Let me not digress" - Damon Runyon lives on in a Noo Yawk lady's splendid denunciation of Mayor DeBlasio

It all fell into place when the lady from Queens...

...said "Let me not digress." I think it was the old-fashioned, dignified formality of the phrase that reminded me of Guys and Dolls. 

One of the unexpected pleasures to be derived from watching crime documentaries on the CBS Reality channel is hearing a variety of authentic regional American accents, especially when they're accompanied by the language and speech patterns appropriate to that region. Last night, for instance, a Southern detective expressed the opinion that a scheming wife who had murdered her husband (quite possibly several) was "one lyin'-ass bitch" - which, indeed, she was. We get so used to the bland, all-purpose Mid-West accent which seems to be de rigeur for American news presenters, celebrities and many of its politicians, I always get a kick when a guest - especially a politician - opens his or her mouth on Fox News and reveals themselves to be from, say, Texas, Mississippi  or New England (Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is a particular favourite of mine - he turned up as an impossibly youthful prosecutor on an old edition of Medical Detectives recently: he looked different, but the accent was the same). I like people to sound like they come from where they come from (perhaps because it's not so easy in my case).

I was even more delighted after watching the above video to learn that Bill DeBlasio's critic was called Vickie Paladino, which meant we had the whole package: attitude, voice, speech patterns, accent, name. You don't get much more authentic than that.


  1. Why can't we have somebody like Mrs Paladino facing that quartet of moth-eaten, fly-blown nincompoops across the despatch box i.e. somebody who speaks with authority and conviction. We used to have somebody like that.

    Bill de Blasio sounds even more useless than Sadiq Khan [but in comparison the Panda is a low flyer and they tend to get away with things]. His aside to an aide "Get that woman away from me!" almost puts him alongside Gordon Brown in ineptitude.

    A great American TV programme from the late 60s "Have Gun - Will Travel" starred Richard Boone as "Paladin" who used to go around the West dispensing justice. But let me not digress!

  2. Michael Winner wrote this in 2009:
    "I can't say drunken actors have affected my career much. Although there was one bizarre night when I was directing The Big Sleep in 1978. At the end there was a gunfight between Robert Mitchum and fellow thespian Richard Boone.
    Richard was normally the quiet drunk. He'd arrive with two bottles of Scotch and drink throughout the day, but was always in perfect control. Mitchum drank during the day on occasions. But at night it was another story.
    We shot until dawn. Mitchum and Boone were both plastered. Guns were going off at the wrong time. They lurched. They staggered. It was terrifying. 'It's like the gunfight at Alcoholics Anonymous,' I thought."

    I've never bothered watching the film, but I'll look out for that scene next time it's on.

    Great screen presence, Boone, and apparently a lot of fun to work with - not what you'd expect, given the roles he played. You can hear "Ballad of Paladin", which used to be played over the end credits of "Have Gun Will Travel", here:

    "'Have gun, will travel' reads the card of a man.
    A knight without armour in a savage land."

    Top lyrics!