Benjamin Dreyer Profile picture
author of the New York Times/IndieBound bestseller Dreyer’s English • canned potato influencer • he/him/his #CopyeditingProTip
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24 May
I haven't finished thinking this through, but maybe a work's creator has installed precisely as much backstory as is necessary to understand a character, which is why prequels mostly* don't work—though sequels can be fun.
*Jean Rhys excepted.
Though when it comes to storytelling variants, nothing is better than a really good DC imaginary novel.
Read 4 tweets
23 May
Happy birthday to the divine Barbara Barrie! ImageImageImageImage
She was walking toward me one afternoon on a UES sidewalk and I tripped on one of those low metal tree railings because I was too busy gawping at her, and she was very sweetly concerned for my well-being and probably I told her that I worshiped her.
In 2014 I saw her as teenage Katrin in I Remember Mama, and it was a superbly lovely performance. Image
Read 6 tweets
4 May
Happy Audrey Hepburn's birthday!
In 1991 I sent a note to Audrey Hepburn c/o Lincoln Center to tell her that a friend of mine who was to have attended her Film Society gala was too ill to attend, and she wrote him a note on her UNICEF stationery and sent it from Switzerland.

That's my Audrey Hepburn story.
"I missed you at Lincoln Centre [sic]! Get well soon!"

Read 4 tweets
2 May
This is a supremely important moment that fully works only if you’ve been, to this point, watching the film in sepia rather than in b/w.
If I'm remembering it all correctly, that's Judy's stand-in, Bobie Koshay, in sepia dress and makeup (in the sepia set), making way for Technicolor Judy's entrance.
BTW that long pan (or is it a tracking shot, I can never remember which is which) across Munchkinland was snipped out of the print most of us remember watching on TV in the 60s.

Read 6 tweets
2 May
Happy Lorenz Hart's birthday! Image
14 favorites

At the Roxy Music Hall
Everything I've Got
I Didn't Know What Time It Was
I'll Tell the Man in the Street
It Never Entered My Mind
A Lady Must Live
My Romance
Nobody's Heart
Take Him
Ten Cents a Dance
A Tree in the Park
Thou Swell
Where or When
"What's the siren song for? / What is my chaise longue for?"
Read 5 tweets
2 May
Always happy to point out to Wizard of Oz watchers that the WWW's skywriting is addressed not to Dorothy (i.e., "Surrender, Dorothy") but to the citizens of Emerald City (i.e., give Dorothy to me). It originally read in full "Surrender Dorothy or die."
Also always happy to brood over the fact that the Witch's head monkey gets better billing than Aunt Em.
How many viewings did it take me to figure out what the Munchkin barrister says after "This is a day of independence / for all the Munchkins and their descendants"?

Read 15 tweets
2 May
Rewatching Doubt, and noticing the way Father Flynn uses his maleness, not merely his authority as a priest, to attempt to keep Sister Aloysius in her place.
Also noting that Amy Adams tells her students to turn to p. 683 in a textbook that most certainly doesn't have 683 pages in it.
Plus there's some confusion (perhaps it's mine?) as to whether the sugar that Sister Aloysius serves Father Flynn is in a sugar bowl or a paper bag.
Read 4 tweets
1 May
Oh, shit, I forgot again the real name of the instrument I've always thought of as the Zither of Transcendence.

My friend @InothatcatDaly told me once.

Box harp?

Box something.

Gets used a lot in Broadway orchestrations.
Next time I hear it in a recording, I'll shout it out.

(I suspect that if I listen to the OBC recording of Side Show, I'm going to hear it a lot.)

It's there in the opening second of "Buddy Kissed Me."

Sounds like a sort of xylophone chime thingie.
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
Happy Paul Robeson's birthday!
Peggy Ashcroft, who had a brief affair with Robeson ("Well, wouldn't you?" —Guys and Dolls), registered her displeasure that Robeson, appearing with her in the Savoy Theatre, was not welcome in the adjoining hotel.
Robeson concludes his (amazing) performance of "Ol' Man River" in the '36 Show Boat with a huge grin, and I've never been sure if it's Joe fully embracing existence or Paul acknowledging how good he is.
Read 5 tweets
8 Apr
And I pronounce it to rhyme with "myopic."
[I don't pronounce it to rhyme with "myopic."]

[I'm sorry if I've hurt you.]
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr

Unless you're an attorney or a particularly scholarly scholar, you may, in quoting published material, capitalize a lowercase letter or lowercase a capital letter at the beginning of a quoted bit, as it serves your own text, without the use of brackets.
In other words, don't do this:

Dreyer says that "[u]nless you're an attorney or a particularly scholarly scholar"...
Also, though all intratext deletions must be called out with ellipses, no quote needs to begin or end with them.
Read 5 tweets
8 Apr
Happy John Gavin's birthday.
We're not going to call anyone a bad actor who got through Imitation of Life with a straight face.
I'm always going to love a film in which two separate people tell Lana Turner to "Stop acting!"

The other being Sandra Dee, God help us all.
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
I watched The Egg and I last night for the first time. It's a bit creepy, TBQH, but the fun parts are fun, and Marjorie and the dog are great.

I never realized how much Green Acres springs from it. It even has a Mr. Haney type (named Billy Reed) and a character named Mr. Henty. Image
Woman Feels Threatened Enough in Her Marriage That She Packs Up and Goes Home to Mother and Returns Nine Months Later with a Baby is maybe not as funny as they thought it was.
I'm sorry to report that the Great American Comedy Trope that people from the sticks are inbred idiots is not as unfunny as one should find it.

At least not if one is I.
Read 5 tweets
7 Apr
Today, being her birthday, is a great day to spend the day listening to Billie Holiday recordings.

[Also all the other days.] Image
Why, yes, thank you for asking:

Body and Soul
Easy Living
Gone with the Wind
Good Morning Heartache
He Ain't Got Rhythm
I'll Look Around
Let's Do It
Miss Brown to You
The Very Thought of You
What a Little Moonlight Can Do
I absolutely appreciate great big AUUUUUGGGHHHH Billie, but swinging, lilting Billie is easier on the nerves.

Also, her soigné pronunciation of "aviator" in He Ain't Got Rhythm is the living end.
Read 10 tweets
13 Feb
Being dead is no excuse for arson.
This is not a comma problem.

Not everything is a comma problem.
Read 5 tweets
12 Feb
A, This is a terrible idea.
B, Barbra's Gypsy will make it to theaters first.
P.S. An actual film of L. Frank Baum's actual novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an interesting idea. A film of The Marvelous Land of Oz—you know, the one in which the boy Tip is actually Princess Ozma—could rock.
And now that you* mention it, I'm shocked no one's ever gotten around to filming Geoff Ryman's Was.

Read 7 tweets
30 Dec 20
Goodbye to Dawn Wells, who was charming.
We are told that it was by Bob Denver's insistence that "and the rest" was changed to "the Professor and Mary Ann," and that when the studio balked at rerecording the song he said "Include them or remove me."
I did not know that Dawn Wells had her turn as the lead in They're Playing Our Song on Broadway. (And I read just now that she spent years touring the country in musicals.)
Read 6 tweets
30 Dec 20
I am utterly humbled by today's 🐝.
PS mea culpa I inadvertently tweeted out a word yesterday that I swear to God I played and that the 🐝 rejected, so I deleted the whole thread.
number of common dictionary-ratified words rejected today so far:

Read 6 tweets
28 Dec 20
Well, happy birthday to her! actress Maggie Smith
And as one does like to note from time to time, her performance in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is one of the greatest ever committed to film.

(You might recognize the other actress.) Image
It was a treat to catch her in that Albee footnote The Lady from Dubuque, and I'll be danged if she didn't (almost) make the thing work. Image
Read 7 tweets
27 Dec 20
One of @yashar's gorilla tweets reminded me to try to find the whereabouts of a gorilla I met (and held!) when she was a baby at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Turns out she lives in Kansas now.

This is Kivu. Image
Not to be confused with Sibu the orang.

This orangutan knows a thing or two. Image
Read 4 tweets
27 Dec 20
I'm going to be in conversation re this splendid new novel next week (it is next week, right?), and maybe you'll be there too?…

dude sure talks a lot…
You know how some novels play out in two timelines and you find yourself skipping over one of the timelines?

This isn't one of those.

And I guarantee that you wordery people are going to eat this one up with a spoon.
Read 4 tweets