Classic Christmas Music from Cladrite Radio
With Thanksgiving behind us, you’re probably in the mood for some classic Christmas music. But maybe not wall-to-wall, 24/7.
Cladrite Radio is, as usual, where you should turn. We feature holiday music of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, but we mix it in with other toe-tapping tunes of the era to create the perfect blend. Not too much, not too little—it’s just right.
We’ll provide the soundtrack to your holiday season; all you have to do is listen in.
Setsuko Hara: A Fond Farewell
We have in the past acknowledged our affinity for classic Japanese cinema, and as with Hollywood’s Golden Age, we certainly have our favorite actors from Japanese pictures of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. One of those was actress Setsuko Hara, who died of pneumonia on September 5th at the age of 95.
We were frequently moved and inspired by her work (and we’ll admit to having a movie-star crush on her, too).
Hara worked in pictures for nearly 30 years, appearing in 101 films, but even so, her career somehow feels as if it was brief, for, like Garbo before her, Hara made a stir by retiring at a young age (at 42) and retreating to an exceedingly private life in Kamakura, a seacoast town 30 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Setsuko Hara worked with some of the most acclaimed directors in Japanese cinema, including Akira Kurosawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, Mikio Naruse, and the director with whom she was most closely associated, Yasujirō Ozu. Hara and Ozu made six pictures together.
Born Aida Masae in 1920 in Yokohama, Hara made her motion picture debut at the tender age of 15. Two years later, she appeared in Atarashiki Tsuchi (The New Earth), a German-Japanese co-production, in the role that would rocket her to stardom, a young wife who follows her husband to Manchuria and eventually tries (but fails) to kill herself in a volcano. Much of Hara’s early work finds her portraying similar tragic roles.
After World War II, though, Setsuko Hara began to widen her range, sometimes playing modern, “new” Japanese women. These roles tended to be mixed in, though, with more those of traditional, typical Japanese women, as she played daughters, wives and mothers.
Hara, who never married, was called “The Eternal Virgin” by fans in Japan, and much like Garbo, she’s an icon of a classic era in Japanese cinema. But after her retirement, she refused all interview and photograph requests and declined when offered (as she no doubt frequently was) opportunities to resume her career. When she said goodbye, she meant it.
Upon retiring in 1963, Hara stated that she’d never really enjoyed acting, that she’d only done it to provide financial security to her large family, but some have also speculated that she was romantically involved with Ozu, who died shortly before she quit the movies, or even that she was losing her eyesight.
Though Setsuko Hara died on September 5th, her passing was only announced today. She maintained her privacy even in death.
Novelist Shūsaku Endō once wrote of Hara’s work: “We would sigh or let out a great breath from the depths of our hearts, for what we felt was precisely this: Can it be possible that there is such a woman in this world?”
お誕生日おめでとう 原節子. あなたがいなくなると寂しくなります.
(Goodbye, Hara Setsuko. You will be missed.)
A number of Hara’s films are available for streaming on Hulu (there are a couple on Amazon, too, for a small fee). If you’re not familiar with her work, we recommend you watch these movies. We’re especially fond of her films made under the direction of Mikio Naruse, but you can’t go wrong with the Ozu and Kurosawa pictures, either. And if a paid membership is required on Hulu (it may be, we’re not sure), spring for a one-month membership. For the chance to see 10 or 11 of Hara’s films, it’s a bargain.
A Turkey Day Greeting from Betty, Bogie and Cladrite Radio!
Here’s wishing a very happy vintage Thanksgiving to our listeners and readers everywhere—from Betty, Bogie and all of your pals at Cladrite Radio! Have a piece of pumpkin pie for us!
And be sure to tune into Cladrite Radio on Friday, when we’ll add an engaging assortment of classic Christmas songs to our collection of toe-tapping tunes of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s!
New York at Christmas: A Seasonal Walking Tour
We’re not sure we’ve ever mentioned it here, but in addition to various other irons we have in the fire, we are also a licensed NYC tour guide. And this is our favorite time of year, because ’tis the season for our “New York at Christmas” Tour, a 90-minute walk during which we visit the sites and share the stories that have made New York the Christmas Capitol of America!
If you live in NYC or plan to be here during the holiday season (or if you know someone who does), this informative and entertaining holiday stroll just might be right up your alley.
We won’t bend your ear at length about it here, but if you’d like more info, just pay a visit to Avenues and Alleys.
Happy Birthday, Johnny Mercer!
In his 66 years, lyricist, songwriter and singer Johnny Mercer, born 106 years ago today in Savannah, Georgia, managed an astonishing number of achievements.
Mercer founded Capitol Records. He wrote lyrics for more than fifteen hundred songs. He was nominated for 19 Oscars (he won four). The USPS placed his portrait on a stamp. The man was a true legend. Very few songwriters have more entries in the Great American Songbook than does Mercer.
The list of classic songs for which he wrote the words, the music or both is amazing: Lazy Bones, Hooray For Hollywood,” “Too Marvelous for Words,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “And the Angels Sing,” “Fools Rush In,” “I Remember You,” “Skylark,” “That Old Black Magic,” “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), “Laura,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “Moon River,” “Summer Wind,”—and that’s leaving out literally dozens of memorable songs.
Happy birthday, Mr. Mercer, wherever you may be.
Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first-nighting.
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel
They're making me feel I'm home.
It's autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love.
Autumn in New York is often mingled with pain.
Dreamers with empty hands, they sigh for exotic lands.
It's autumn in New York; it's good to live it again.
—Autumn in New York
Words and music by Vernon Duke, 1934