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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Steven Lakoff says:

    My mother tells me that when Rex Harrison came to one of the Hollywood studios, he was assigned a driver who Rex immediately started to verbally abuse. It got so bad that the driver walked off the job.

  2. Vince Cornell says:

    Sorry to hear that about Rex Harrison likely being a jerk. He’s fun to watch on screen.
    I’ve heard that “Ah hah” in Western, Country, and Folk music for years and never knew it’s actual origin. I feel like another lacuna in my pop culture knowledge has been filled!
    Mickey Dolenz was also the voice of Arthur, the moth-man sidekick, on the Tick cartoon from back in the 90s. So he made it back to kids TV in the end!
    Didn’t Mike Nesmith invent White Out or something like that? I remember reading about that in a Mad or Cracked magazine during my misspent youth.
    I’m a big fan of the stop-motion “Wind in the Willow” movie and series from England. I think it was Cosgrove Productions or something like that. Painstaking details on the miniature sets and figures, and the shows play out something akin to a England Countryside version of the Andy Griffith show. Fun songs, too, and lots of personality from the voice actors. I believe it was a direct influence on the Wallace & Gromit creator, and I believe one of the voice actors from Wind in the Willows wound up doing the voice for Wallace. The kids enjoy it, and if I watch it with them I don’t feel like my brain cells are being assaulted, which is one of the cardinal rules I have for anything my kids watch. I can’t believe there are parents who let their kids watch Barney or Teletubbies or Gabba Hey or whatever the current mind-numbing kids show stuff is.
    We all love “My Man Godfrey.” “I’m looking for a bowl full of Japanese Men!” And today’s Corona scared world seems not too far from that group of wealthy fools – Actors and Athletes moaning about how difficult the self-quarantining is on their fragile psyche while their illegal alien maids are stuck without a job or healthcare. Thanks celebs!

  3. Allen Wilson says:

    When my father was young, back in the mid- 40’s, he took his girlfriend to a Bob Wills concert in Visalia, Ca. Bob got really drunk, wobbled too close to the edge of the stage, made one more step and fell off. The first thing to hit the floor was his head, and it went, Pop! Several of the band came down, picked him up and carried him back stage. The show went on.

  4. Raymond Olson says:

    I listened to this delightful podcast on March 21, which is the birthday, as you well may know, of Johann Sebastian Bach as well as of Edith Luella Moody Olson, my mother. It’s a birthday I am in no danger of ever forgetting because, for one thing, my mother introduced me to J. S. Bach.

    Merle Haggard introduced me to Bob Wills, though, alas, not in person. James Agee introduced me to Preston Sturges before the latter’s death but not before the former’s. Unfaithfully Yours is, indeed, one of Sturges’ finest accomplishments and one of Rex Harrison’s, too. The long scene in which Harrison tries to arrange the setting for murdering his wife is as laugh-out-loud funny as the Marx brothers’ Duck Soup and W. C. Fields’ It’s a Gift.

  5. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Friend Ray, one of the oddities of these birthday shows is that I am hoping to do them for years,. and so, I simply pick, capriciously, people I cam talk about without doing any “research,’ as people say who have never known what research is. I think I first became aware of Bob Wills distinctly was in the early 1980s when a parsimonious relative gave me a present of a tape he had made. Mark Kennedy, our friend, has also given me interesting CD’s including one made up or out-takes.

    As Friend Ray probably knows, Unfaithfully Yours was Sturgess’s swan song as the Hollywood jackals smelled blood. We owe him a great debt, and for all his faults Billy Wilder knew what he owed and put, if I’m remembering correctly, Sturgess in a film the way Sturgess put Harold Lloyd in a film.

    Great news: We shall soon be publishing bits and pieces of Ray Olson’s history of American film., I’ve delayed putting up anyting because I want to do it right with a continuing graphic etc.

  6. Kellen Buckles says:

    Some of us in this small platoon have been given a list of Ray’s “TOP FIVE MOVIES” for each year 1927-1967. I matched them in a spreadsheet with another published cinema critic, our FF friend Art Livingston, and have made it available to most of the FF SS people. Fleta and I are up to 1940 thanks to our public library and inter-library loans, but there are many missing. Having had no television since 1972 we had seen very few of these. It’s a good exercise. I wonder if Ray’s list will be part of his History.

  7. Raymond Olson says:

    A couple of addenda to Tom’s announcement. My “history” is a series of lists of my favorite films, from the silents to, thus far, the 1980s; for each list, I’ve written an introduction that tries to point out the distinctions, as I see them, of the period covered. The scope is global, and while there are probably more American films on the lists than those of other countries, from the first list onward, French, Russian, German, Italian, Japanese, and other nations’ films appear.

    To answer you, Kellen, yes, most of the titles in my American top five, 1927-67, reappear on the lists in my history; all of them in my international top five, 1927-67, appear on the big lists. Indeed, they were on the big lists first.

    Tom–However you choose to do the birthday podcasts is fine with me. I enjoy them greatly. About Preston Sturges, I was not aware that he appeared in a Billy Wilder film. More important, while Unfaithfully Yours is his last great film, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend is not the utter turkey many critics would have you think. When I saw it most recently–sometime during the last 10 years–I found it very funny and very outlandish. Betty Grable and Cesar Romero star, and a blizzard of faces familiar from Sturges “stock company” peek in and out, and Rudy Vallee leads the second line, so to speak.