22 January finds a number of salient birthdays:
Lord Byron, 22 January 1788
The Great Romantic Poet, the great romantic, beloved of Goethe.
“I may not overlap the eternal bar
Built up between us, and will die alone,
Beholding with the dark eye of a seer
The evil days to gifted souls foreshown,
Foretelling them to those who will not hear.
As in the old time, till the hour be come
When Truth shall strike their eyes through many a tear,
And make them own the Prophet in his tomb.” (The Prophecy of Dante)
Conrad Veidt, 22 January 1893
A great German actor of the early days of film, he was a superb and formidable screen villain. Notable work in: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), The Hands of Orlac (1924) (later re-made as Mad Love with Peter Lorre which was used to great effect in Under the Volcano), The Student of Prague (1926) (based on Faust), The Man Who Laughs (1928) (which inspired “The Joker”), Congress Dances (1932) brilliant as Metternich, The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935), and, famously, The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and Casablanca (1942).
Sergei Eisenstein, 22 January 1898
The great Soviet director and master of montage: see Battleship Potemkin (1925), October (1928) based on John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World on the 1917 October Revolution (using the old Russian calendar), Alexander Nevsky (1938) (pleasing to critics and Stalin) and Ivan the Terrible (1944) (pleasing to no-one).
Piper Laurie, 22 January 1932
After starting as a starlet in such immortal fare as Son of Ali Baba (1952) (you know, ‘yonda lies da cassal of ma fadda, de calif’, or something to that effect), she gave one of the truly great performances as the damaged alcoholic in The Hustler (1961). She was also effective in Twin Peaks.
John Hurt, 22 January 1940
John Hurt was terrific for a long time in a number of big and small roles. The Varnished Culture’s favourites: A Man For All Seasons (1966), The Shout (1978), Alien (1979) (we had to add this for the scene where John apparently eats something that disagrees with him), The Elephant Man (1980), Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), Dead Man (1995) (see also below), and Love and Death on Long Island (1997) – ‘The sign says ‘No Smoking’ ‘No, it says ‘Thank You for Not Smoking. And since I am smoking, I don’t expect to be thanked.’ TVC is divided about Melancholia, but his work was fine as usual. And he had great fun as the Emperor Caligula in I, Claudius, elevating his horse far below his station as a senator, camping it up outrageously and saying “And now I must away to shed more light.” TVC hopes he enjoyed his 77th birthday; sadly, he outlived it by less than a week.
Jim Jarmusch, 22 January 1953
Quite frankly, we’d rather watch our clothes tumble at the local laundromat than sit through most of Jim’s oeuvre, but he gets our Giant Tick of Approval for the weird and totally wonderful Dead Man (1995).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALL