Monday, February 27, 2006

Right Place, Right Time

Friday night, I finished reading Forests of the Night by James W. Hall. I have never read any of his books and picked this one up because it takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains. Well, actually, it mostly takes place in Cherokee, NC, which borders the Park, but close enough I guess. I've always wanted to visit the Native American village in Cherokee and see the famous play, Unto These Hills, but we've never been able to squeeze that in on any of our trips to the Smokies. Anyhoo, the book was okay, but didn't make me want to rush back to the library and pick up one of his others. The beginning was very rushed and didn't really give me enough time to care about the characters. The second half was better, but the backstory that helps to solve the mystery was a little convoluted.

The one cool thing was that several times throughout the book, the main character references the old movie "Mildred Pierce," an Oscar winner from 1945 starring Joan Crawford. To be honest, I had never heard of or seen this movie. So after finishing this book Friday night, on Sunday afternoon I was flipping through the channels and lo and behold, "Mildred Pierce" was on TCM as part of their "31 Days of Oscar." So I watched it, since it was a somewhat central part of the book I had just finished. What great timing! I missed the first 10 minutes or so, but it wasn't a bad murder mystery. A little predictable, but enjoyable, with a strong female lead surrounded by a bunch of loser men. (Side bar: Throughout the entire movie, the woman playing the character of Ida looked really familiar, but I couldn't figure out who she was. Turns out, it was a very young Eve Arden, Miss McGee from Grease.) Even better, it was followed by "Gone With the Wind" in all it's uncut, commercial-free glory and I was able to watch a fairly good chunk of it throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.