USC librarian Ned Comstock, beloved by film scholars, is no more

Film
photo credit marilee bradford

The material would arrive unannounced—by email attachment. Lengthy, well- organized PDF documents of scanned book pages, bundled with title pages, footnotes and relevant index pages, they were every researcher’s dream. They were culled from the depths of USC Cinematic Arts Library by a knowledgeable, passionate, and skillful librarian, Ned Comstock (1952-2024). Ned’s hand was present in scribbles—directional arrows, underscorings and other emphases.

For several years, Ned had been assisting me in my first book—a now-completed, soon-published biography of the film choreographer Jack Cole. A topic for which Ned expressed such unreserved delight that I could not be faulted for thinking he cared more about Jack Cole than any subject in film history. For this is what Ned did. He laid out roadmaps for film scholars. He did it in person, in his basement lair at USC; he did it, as above, via email; and for the best reason to go to the mail box, he used the U.S. postal service, conveying Xeroxed hard-copy research as precious packages.

Rummaging recently through my storage locker, I spied a smallish white box atop the heap. The word “Open” was penciled on its lid with two downward arrows. On the flap itself, a second “Open.”  Inside, a note:

Hello Debra –
From Carol and me!
– NED

It had contained a surprise gift from dearest Ned Comstock. Inside I found an index-card-sized autograph of Carol Haney, the great Jack Cole dancer. Ned bought it for me on an Internet site. He sent it to me as a surprise. Haney dated it in 1954, my birth year. Could l possibly love it more?

The autograph is propped in a display case in my living room cabinet.

But what do I do, now, with this empty box??

With love, appreciation, and missing of Ned, who by the way, loved artsmeme

Debra Levine
founder/publisher/editor, artsmeme
dance historian

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It’s been ‘a hard day’s night’ — for sixty years!

Film · Music
working like a dog: paul, john, george & ringo

What’s amusing about that funny-yet-familiar song title, “A Hard Day’s Night,” is its disingenuity. When the song hit Planet Earth with a sonic boom, the four moptop Beatles, John, Paul, George, and Ringo, delivered their “woooo”s as though they’ve never had a hard day’s anything in their lives.

And talk about “hummable.” A full encyclopedia of Beatles tunes and lyrics were imprinted in my prepubescent brain at the rollout of their magnificent canon in real time. This song among scores of others.

band on the run, the beatles, ‘a hard day’s night (1964)’

But this one formed the kernel of a movie — which, as we know, is an entirely different matter. This honey of a Beatles movie will get full appreciation in sixtieth-anniversary screening of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964), starring the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present the rock ‘n’ roll movie classic directed by Richard Lester from an Oscar-nominated original screenplay by Alun Owen, the milestone film was also nominated for musical scoring.

A Hard Day’s Night, portrays 36 hours in the life of the band as it prepares for a televised variety show concert. Directing it, Lester utilizes several techniques in a semi-documentary style, reinforced by Gilbert Taylor’s black-and-white cinematography, all on dazzling display in the high energy musical comedy.

Lester’s approach was fully embraced by film critic Andrew Sarris, who wrote in the Village Voice, “A Hard Day’s Night (is)… the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals, the brilliant crystallization of such diverse cultural particles as pop music, rock ‘n’ roll, cinema-verite, the nouvelle vague, free cinema, and studied spontaneity.” Well that’s a pull-quote never to be replicated!

The film was highly influential, spawning numerous imitators including the pop group the Monkees‘ television series later in the decade, and the advent of music videos in the 1980s. Lester went onto a long career, helming the second Beatles’ film Help, The Knack, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Petulia, and The Three (and Four) Musketeers among others. A Hard Day’s Night showcases the Beatles’ dynamic music early in their careers, and, their madcap humor and behavior as London ruled global Sixties roost, for global export.

Steve Farber’s guest, Domenic Priore is an author, pop music historian, and pop culture commentator. He has contributed to several books and is the co-author of “Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood.” Importantly, Dom Priore is a F.O.A.M. (Friend of Arts Meme).

text courtesy of laemmle anniversary classics via artsmeme


A Hard Day’s Night | Royal Theatre in its centennial year | June 25, 7:30 pm

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Lyrics of love, loss, longing in Mark Sebastian’s new ‘A Trick of the Light’

Music · Reviews
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Fantastic: new generation discovers Jack Cole, launches ‘homage’ nightclub act in his name 2

Architecture & Design · Dance
I could not be more delighted. In my upcoming biography of the dancer/choreographer Jack Cole, which is completed but awaits publication, I have written extensively about the three outlets in which Cole choreographed and performed: on the Broadway stage, on screens of Hollywood, and in nightclub stage shows. All three bear witness to his dance ...

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Film
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Swirling in motion & color with Blue13 Dance Company

Architecture & Design · Dance
Over an unsually chilly weekend in Los Angeles, a large posse of creatives — Blue13 Dance Company — lived up to its colorful name, staging a site-specific work masterminded by choreographer Achinta McDaniel, a large snippet of which we enjoyed in dress rehearsal. In a small city comprised of eight Victorian homes of Heritage Square ...

Film review: In bracing black/white, photography by George Platt Lynes 1

Film · Reviews
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Dear Academy Museum, please stop trying to divide us

Film · Ideas & Opinion
doesn’t get better: cab, fayard, harold Dear Academy Museum, The Nicholas Brothers were great dancers not ‘Black’ dancers For an institution tripping over itself in an effort to evince sensitivity toward every sector, segment, and demographic that ever walked Planet Earth for the past 3,000 years — a real mission impossible, guys — you keep ...

Real, fake, honest, or corrupt? UCLA Film & Television Archive’s clever ‘Quiz Show’ program

Film · Ideas & Opinion
An exceptional double bill this Saturday night, June 1, at UCLA Film & Television Archive, where film programs are screened at the Billy Wilder Theater of the Hammer Museum. This one bears particular tongue in cheek, as part of the Archive’s “Small Screen/Big Screen” series. It’s a clever pairing of a feature film, QUIZ SHOW ...