The plans for Titanic II have been unveiled, revealing there will be three classes, the same food menus, period costumes and identical interior decoration.
The man behind the adventurous project, mining tycoon Clive Palmer, revealed his plans for the boat at a press conference yesterday.
‘Titanic was the ship of dreams, Titanic II is the ship where dreams come true,’ he said.
Passengers can choose to stay in the lavish first class cabins or experience the Irish drums, stew and shared bathrooms of third class.
‘That’ll be where the most fun will be,’ Palmer said at the conference.
‘For me that’s the great adventure. I can sit down there, have some Irish stew, talk to somebody and at night I can get up and do the Irish jig. It’ll be a great place to be.’
Each passenger will also get a period costume relative to which class ticket they hold.
40,000 people have reportedly already registered for tickets to be on the maiden voyage, with Palmer saying people ‘want something a little bit different, an experience.’
‘We thought it would have a lot of appeal. We didn’t know how much appeal, but certainly we’ve found it’s had enormous appeal. And financially very strong as well … it’s going to be a blockbuster.’
One of the top 100 richest men in the world, Australian Palmer will be funding the project himself, but declined to comment on how much it is estimated to cost.
Whilst the exterior and interior will match the original 1912 Titanic as closely as possible, there have been a few mod cons added such as a 400 seat theatre, a casino, air-conditioning throughout, and obviously some safety improvements.
The ship will have 18 modern lifeboats, with the capacity of carrying the ships 2,435 passengers and 900 crew members.
Markku Kanerva, the director of sales for marine design company Deltamarine, who are overseeing the project, told reporters at the press conference that Titanic II would be ‘the most safe cruise ship when it is launched,’ ironically mimicking the claims of an ‘unsinkable ship.’
The vessel is due to set sale at the end of 2016, following the same route from Southampton to New York.
The project has raised criticism, being dubbed ‘morbid’ and disrespectful to the 1,523 people that were killed when the original ship sank in 1912.
While channel-surfing the other night, I found myself watching the beginning of a film I’d already seen and had no intention of seeing again. That’s Fred MacMurray slumped at a desk in the film noir shadows of the headquarters of the Pacific All Risk Insurance Company. He’s talking into a dictaphone, about to confess to his boss his part in a sordid tale of claim-rigging, murder, and betrayal. The room onscreen is so deep in the murk of its mood it seems to be glowering at me from the third dimension. Never mind that the man slowly bleeding to death is being played by one of my least favorite actors, he’s sinking his teeth into the role of a lifetime, a mortally wounded insurance salesman named Walter Neff mouthing the hardboiled poetry of Raymond Chandler, with contributions by director Billy Wilder, from a novella by James M. Cain. That’s all she wrote, I’m stuck, can’t turn it off, can’t stop watching, can’t change the channel, Turner Classic Movies scores again.
As the scene shifts to a daylight flashback that shows Neff driving up to a nifty little Spanish colonial hillside chateau, I shout out, “It’s Double Indemnity, Barbara Stanwyck’s house in Los Felix!” and my wife, who grew up in L.A. and loves this movie, comes running.
The house is still there, though according to underthehollywoodsign.com, the reality is not in Los Felix but in the Hollywood Dell. “It was one of those California Spanish houses everyone was nuts about 10 or 15 years ago,” Neff is telling us. The interior, according to the screenplay, is “Spanish craperoo in style” with a wrought-iron staircase curving down from the second floor.
And look who’s coming down that unworthy staircase.
By now my wife’s sitting in her usual place beside me to enjoy one of the seminal moments in film noir played to tawdry perfection by a woman we feel as close to as we would to a glamorous beloved relative who’s been dead for 22 years. We’re familiar with every nuance of her voice, with the way she walks, and moves, and we can imagine her having a laugh with the crew about that big blond wig she’s wearing and the ankle bracelet or “anklet,” as Walter Neff calls it, his eyes fastened on the ankle it’s fastened to while he snidely fields sinister queries from the shady lady about her husband’s life insurance policy. Call it what you will, the effect that little adornment has on Walter is devastating. Stanwyck’s anklet is to Double Indemnity as Rosebud is to Citizen Kane, everything evolves from it, and Walter’s a goner the moment he sees it, as is Stanwyck’s about-to-be-double-indemnified husband.
According to Shadows of Suspense, the documentary accompanying the Universal Legacy Series 2-Disc DVD of Double Indemnity, when Fred MacMurray was offered the part, his are-you-kidding-me response was, “I’m a saxophone player. I do light comic stuff with Claudette Colbert.” Barbara Stanwyck was afraid the film would ruin her career. The beauty of casting a “regular guy” like MacMurray was that audiences would be fascinated by the there’s-a-killer-in-all-of-us aspect, and as a result the glib, regular-guy insurance agent Walter Neff has become one of the rare characters from vintage Hollywood whose name is as much a part of movie lore as the name of the star playing him. If the same can’t be said for Phyllis Dietrichson, the name of the scheming wife, it’s because Stanwyck’s allure overwhelms the impersonation. MacMurray is a mere mortal transcending himself in a killer role. Stanwyck is a luminary from a loftier realm who in 1944 was said to be the highest paid woman in the United States.
Academy Awards 1944
Besides being the only film noir to come close to winning a Best Picture Oscar (it lost to the upbeat, feel-good, priests-can-be-charming box-office smash, Going My Way), Double Indemnity also fits the sub genre of the so-called “buddy movie” most recently represented by Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. The affectionate rapport between Neff and his boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson in his prime) creates a sympathetic contrast to the cold-blooded bond between the lovers. Whenever Keyes fumbles to find a light for his cigar, Neff is there to light it for him with a playful but caring “I love you too.” Walter and Phyllis consummate the relationship by killing one another; but when Neff is dying in the hall outside the office where the story began, it’s Keyes who lights his cigarette.
The various talking heads in Shadows of Suspense all agree that the Academy’s recognition of Double Indemnity (seven Oscar nominations), along with its box office success, helped ignite the film noir boom that took place between the mid-1940s and the advent of CinemaScope ten years later. While the wartime American public “had lost its innocence and wanted more adult stories,” according to film noir authority Eddie Muller, the Motion Picture Academy couldn’t stoop to honoring so disreputable and nascent a genre with an actual Oscar. Probably the most deserving of the nominees, along with Wilder as Best Director, was the cinematographer John F. Seitz, who steeps scenes in lavish depths of darkness that are remarkable even for film noir. While Barbara Stanwyck was at least nominated for Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman won for Gaslight), MacMurray and Robinson did not even make the cut for the Best Actor and Supporting Actor Oscars, which went to Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald in the Going My Way landslide.
My only quibble with Shadows of Suspense is that it opens with Muller’s declaration that film noir “for all intents and purposes began with Double Indemnity.” This is a shaky generalization at best when you consider that Robert Siodmak’s Phantom Lady was released eight months earlier in February 1944 and that Murder, My Sweet, Edward Dmytryk’s adaptation of Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely and Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Window also appeared the same year. As far as that goes, noir themes can be dated back to films like Stranger On the Third Floor (1940), I Wake Up Screaming and The Maltese Falcon (1941), Kid Glove Killer and This Gun for Hire (1942), to mention only a few.
I’ll come clean: we skipped the Oscars this year to watch David Hare’s two-hour-long Page Eight on PBS because we liked the cast, especially Bill Nighy. While I’m all for one night every year being set aside to celebrate the movies, I have a low tolerance for all the glitzy scripted back and forth, the unbelievably tasteless jokes (like the cute one about the assassination of Lincoln), and I have a lifelong aversion to watching “beautiful people” embarrass themselves in public. If there were an over the counter drug that prevented cringing and squirming, I would need half a bottle to get through an hour of Oscar night. Argo was a worthy winner, but I doubt I’ll ever see it again, except maybe to enjoy the great lines dished out by Alan Arkin and John Goodman, who also lent his inimitable presence to Flight. The fact that Goodman has never been nominated for an Oscar, particularly for the role that launched a thousand quotes, exposes an essential and enduring Academy blind spot. Fifty years from now somebody somewhere will be streaming The Big Lebowski and laughing at lines from Walter and Donny and the Dude they know by heart, but will anyone be visiting this year’s big winners? I doubt it. The Dude abides and so does Barbara Stanwyck’s anklet.
Born February 27
When you look at who was born on this date, you might be forgiven for thinking Oscar himself first saw the light on the 27th of February.
For instance there’s William Demerest (1892-1983), one of the best character actors of his time, a man who performed pratfalls elaborate enough to convulse the comic gods. His one Oscar nomination was for Best Supporting Actor in 1947’s The Jolson Story, but he’s at his best in Preston Sturges films like The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. Another member of the 27 Club is Franchot Tone (1905-1968), who netted a Best Actor nomination in 1935 for Mutiny On the Bounty.
Perhaps the most unlikely nominee ever for a major award was tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (born 2/27/23), whose rollercoaster career included jazz stardom, drug addiction, prison time, comeback as a dominant player, and then, five years before his death in 1990, being cast by Bernard Tavernier as the tenor legend in Round Midnight, for which Long Tall Dex landed a Best Actor nomination and a seat at the 1986 Oscar ceremonies.
One of two well-known writers with Hollywood credits born on this date, Irwin Shaw (1913-1984) was nominated as co-writer of the screenplay for Talk of the Town, but the single most prodigious generator of Oscar-winning product was John Steinbeck (1902-1968). Besides scoring nominations for writing Viva Zapata, A Medal for Benny, and Lifeboat, he produced a series of novels that Hollywood feasted on to a degree unmatched by his peers, the biggest winner being Grapes of Wrath, which took two Oscars out of seven nominations in 1940.
Of the three actresses born on February 27, four-time nominee Joanne Woodward (1930 —) won a Best Actress Oscar in 1957 for Three Faces of Eve. Joan Bennett (1910-1990) never won an Oscar, nor was she nominated, but any time you talk film noir, she comes into the conversation as a femme fatale in Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945). Last but definitely not least, there’s the two-time Best Actress winner James Agee greeted with a notice in The Nation she must have cherished from the age of 12 on. Writing in December of 1944, Agee admits, “Frankly, I doubt that I am qualified to arrive at any sensible assessment of Miss Elizabeth Taylor. Ever since I first saw the child, two or three years ago, in I forget what minor role in what movie, I have been choked with the peculiar sort of admiration I might have felt if we were both in the same grade of primary school.” Later, after giving her performance in National Velvet a more objective analysis, he adds, “She strikes me, however, if I may resort to conservative statement, as being rapturously beautiful.” Taylor, who died in March 2011 at 79, was nominated five times for Best Actress and won twice, for Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966).
The two-disc Double Idemnity DVD is available at the Princeton Public Library.
Written by: Stuart Mitchner
The Poe House to open March 5 in Hendersonville
Grand opening April 16
By GARY GLANCY
In the opening verse of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” a distraught lover awakes to hear the sound of a “gentle rapping” before proclaiming: “’Tis some visitor … tapping at my chamber door — Only this, and nothing more.”
In the famous 1845 poem, the visitor was a bird. Next month, Kimberlee Young and her fiancé, Derek Schuler, will eagerly await the arrival of wine and craft-beer enthusiasts to their new downtown Hendersonville business, The Poe House.
The Hendersonville couple have been working with their friend, carpenter Paul Posthummus, to transform the space underneath West First restaurant — which formerly served as the Henderson County Democratic Party headquarters — into a Charleston-style, Poe-themed retail store that will sell a wide range of wines and craft beer as well as homebrewing supplies and equipment.
Young and Schuler also have obtained their license to sell a host of hand-picked wines and microbrews by the glass for consumption in the shop’s rusticlooking tavern and Charlestonstyle courtyard. A soft opening is planned for March 5, with a grand opening scheduled for April 16.
“I think it’s a wonderful addition and a pretty cool service to have right here in downtown Hendersonville,” said Bob Williford, president of the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce.
A fan of craft beer, Williford said the closings of specialty beer/wine shops Rabbit & Co. and Adventures in Wine and Beer left a void in Hendersonville, underscored by the excitement generated by Sierra Nevada’s arrival in Mills River and the explosion of craft beer in general in Western North Carolina. Young and Schuler agree.
”There’s really nobody here (in Hendersonville) that’s doing anything as far as the beer scene goes,” Young said. “And, unfortunately, with the way the economy went, we lost a lot of our wine shops as well, so we felt there was a real need to have something like this.”
Young, a certified sommelier who has sat on national wine-tasting panels, is equally passionate about wine and craft beer. So is Schuler. The couple own and operate Travels in Wine, which this spring enters its fifth season providing private WNC winery tours out of Hendersonville and Asheville.
They have hired a new marketing director and tour guide, Hendersonville resident Dana Hensley, and also have expanded to Charlotte and Greensboro for tours in the booming Yadkin Valley wine region. Now, Young and Schuler — both Hendersonville natives — plan to begin offering weekly brewery tours in WNC as well beginning in May.
Adding a retail component had been part of the business plan to grow the company, though not right away. However, two things happened that accelerated the process. First, Young and Schuler returned from an outing in Greenville, S.C., inspired after visiting The Trappe Door restaurant, which offers Belgian cuisine and beer in a fittingly dark, Medieval-style basement setting.
Then, back in Hendersonville, Young and Shuler walked into the space under West First, which they planned to renovate into a new corporate office.
“Derek is a visionary, so he walked down here and saw something,” Young said. “I mean, we had a dream to do it at some point, but it was kind of a couple years down the road. But then when he got down here and started looking around, he said, ‘Hey, if we did this and we did that, then we could go ahead and start a couple years early.’” Armed with a vision that includes a love of Poe and the Romantic Gothic period theme, Young, Shuler and Posthummus — whom the couple called a “godsend” — went to work to realize what they’ve called the building’s “Poe-tential.”
First, they rewired the entire place and installed ceiling track lighting and Charleston-style lanterns to set the desired mood. They sandblasted the green walls to reveal the natural brick, built rustic-sophisticated wine shelving into them, and painted the ceiling to enhance the dark look even further.
“It’s made a huge difference,” Schuler said. “You’ve got to create the right environment.” Young and Schuler have purchased furniture from Michigan that — like The Poe House bar — is made from recycled wood, including a table in the tavern’s banquette seating area that will feature the image of a raven burned into it as a tribute to Poe’s poem.
Meanwhile, Young’s brother, David Roark, an artist from Mills River, is busy working on murals that include a portrait of the poet as well as a depiction of Poe’s short story, “Cask of Amontillado.”
Outside in the courtyard Young and Schuler envision a décor of wrought iron and a fountain where customer can enjoy a glass or flight of wine and beer.
A teacher at heart Young’s motto is “educate entice, enlighten and entertain.” The couple assure The Poe House will include it all, with regular beer and wine classes and tastings to complement their winery and new brewery tours.
”With beer, I have the same philosophy that I did with wine: Our goal is to make it fun,” Young said “We want people to be able to understand the craft-beer scene and not be intimidated by it.”
On the home brewing side, Young and Schuler have obtained a brew-on premises license and plan to have educational brew-in sessions in the store. They also hope to collaborate with Blue Ridge Community College to offer similar opportunities for the new beer and brewing-related courses at BRCC.
In that regard, the couple believes solid partnerships lead to healthy, prosperous communities, and they see their venture doing just that in the place they call home.
High heels and country life with Christian Louboutin
When he is not dashing around the world, fitting celebrities with his glorious creations, Christian Louboutin likes to kick back and smell the roses at his enchanting 13th-century French château
A house is very much like a portrait,’ says Christian Louboutin. ‘I cannot disconnect houses from people. The thought of arrangement, the curves and straight lines. It gives an indication of the character at the heart of it.’
So what does the shoe designer’s romantic 13th-century château in the Vendée region of France reveal about him? Each room is unique: a dramatic wrought-iron spiral staircase greets guests in the entrance hallway, filled with natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows; the grand salon is crowded with Italian Baroque armchairs, Louis XV mirrors and delicate pencil sketches by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. ‘They were done early on in Ingres’ career but one of them is the exact profile of Meryl Streep! It’s quite fascinating,’ he says.
Shared with Bruno Chambelland, his business partner of more than 20 years — ‘one of my dearest, oldest friends’ — the property sits in seven hectares of enchanting landscaped gardens, with outhouses and a renovated oak barn that is used as an archive of more than 8,000 pairs of Louboutin’s most fabulous footwear.
The fanciful interiors are much more Chambelland than Louboutin. ‘It’s really Bruno who took care of decorating; he used to be an auctioneer. The château was owned by his family three centuries ago, but when the Revolution happened his great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Chambelland, was cut into 200 pieces and the property drifted from owner to owner.’ When Château de Champgillon came back on the market in the late 1980s, Bruno snapped it up and the pair set about restoring it, drawing heavily on 18th-century style. A number of pieces that had been kept in the Chambelland family, including an antique grandfather clock, were returned to their original home; other items, such as some 16th-century Spanish portraits and a woven tapestry by Alexander Calder, were purchased at Paris’ Drouot auction house, and more still were picked up by Louboutin on his travels (he spends more than half the year visiting his 70 stores, from Manhattan to Delhi).
Inside the barn conversion alone there are free-standing Indian rococo columns, Mexican totem poles and searchlights from the Suez Canal. ‘If there is something I like, I buy it and then find somewhere for it. I buy first then I think.’ The restoration of the château is an ongoing project — ‘restoration in France is never finished!’ — but of Louboutin’s five homes (an apartment in Paris’ ninth arrondissement and houses in Portugal, Egypt and LA), it is Champgillon that he holds most dear ‘because this is the one most painted with history’.
The fourth child of Roger Louboutin, a carpenter, and his wife Irène, Christian was born and raised in the 12th arrondissement of Paris with his three older sisters. Inspired by the dancers’ costumes at the nearby Folies Bergères, Louboutin’s childhood dream was always to design shoes and at 16 he dropped out of school to pursue his ambition. A chance encounter in 1982 with Countess Hélène de Mortemart, then fashion director at Christian Dior, led to a year-long internship at the atelier of Charles Jourdan, the brand that designed and manufactured shoes for Dior. After this, the fledgling designer went freelance, designing shoes for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. In 1987, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris announced a major exhibition of Roger Vivier’s work, and Louboutin became the assistant and secretary of this go-to shoe designer for chic Parisiennes.
With the end of the exhibition came an unexpected sideways move into landscape gardening. In his book, Christian Louboutin, he explains, ‘The garden allowed me to see blends of colours and materials, juxtapositions of gloss and matte surfaces… It was highly instructive.’ The change of direction coincided with the purchase of the château and, while the interior was left to Bruno, Louboutin immediately commandeered the gardens and began restoring. His enchanted idyll was inspired by the great gardens of history, from the Mughal astronomy garden in Jaipur to Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire. The grand project consumed all the pair’s energies and they ditched the Paris party scene, which revolved around the famous nightclub Le Palace where Helmut Newton and Grace Jones were regulars, for weekends at the château.
‘I never entertain people here — it’s not in my nature. A good host is someone who really takes care of everyone, from the food to their daily programme. I can’t. If I’m in the country, my big idea is to do nothing. It means talking, it means cooking with the leftovers in the fridge — l’art d’accommoder les restes — it means gardening.’
In the early 1990s a chance vacancy in Paris’ historic galerie Véro-Dodat compelled Louboutin to abandon topiary and return to high heels. He opened his first boutique in 1992 and his earliest clients included Princess Caroline of Monaco and Catherine Deneuve. Louboutin’s designs have since become a celebrity fashion staple, with fans including Victoria Beckham, Daphne Guinness and Inès de la Fressange. He still has the original boutique at Véro-Dodat.
These days Louboutin is happiest growing kumquats and mandarins in the 19th-century orangerie, and each season he assiduously selects seeds from catalogues (‘Thompson & Morgan, and Baumaux — between those two I hope to create miracles in the garden’) to cultivate by hand, no doubt under the watchful eye of his partner of 15 years, Louis Benech — one of France’s most fêted landscape architects.
Louboutin’s continually expanding business (there will soon be more menswear and a make-up line) requires constant attention from its creator, and Champgillon offers a much-needed respite. He has just flown from Mumbai to New York and will continue on after the international fashion weeks to Bhutan and Cuba, before taking a well-deserved rest at the end of March: ‘After that I don’t plan on travelling much more this year. It will be summer in Portugal and weekends here. But I have to be careful — I find that if I spend more than four days at the château, I could never leave.’
Hemingway gate to be auctioned on eBay
The gate hung at the side entrance of the property where the Nobel Prize-winning author lived in the 1930s and wrote many of his classic works.
It is believed to have been installed in 1935, when a brick privacy wall was built around the Whitehead Street home Hemingway occupied with his wife and sons.
In 1964, the property became a museum honoring the author. The gate was replaced in 2011 with one that better protected the nearly 50 cats that reside on the property. The original was donated to Helpline, a non-profit local crisis hotline, to be auctioned for fundraising.