“Why is life worth living?” Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) asks into a tape recorder in Allen's 1979 film Manhattan. His answers—random yet specific—include the crabs at Sam Wo’s, the second movement of the Jupiter symphony, Sentimental Education by Flaubert, Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Potato Head Blues” and “those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne.” Here’s our version of that, certain elements of cinema that make our lives worth living, or at least make movies worth watching. They seem to come to us from out of nowhere, little pockets of breathtaking beauty, expert craftmanship and happy accidents. Here are ten such moments—random yet specific—that make us stick around for one more day.
Entries in stormy weather (3)
Fats Waller dies of pneumonia near Kansas City, Missouri, 1943. The jazz pianist and composer—probably best known for the songs “Honeysuckle Rose,” ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now”—was a mere 39 years old when he died aboard a train after a West Coast gig. Waller’s health was undoubtedly compromised by the fact that he was a heavy drinker, and, at nearly 300 pounds, a very heavy person. He made few film appearances, but was memorably featured in King of Burlesque (1935) and Stormy Weather (1943).
Cab Calloway dies of a stroke in Hockessin, Delaware, 1994. The high-energy, zoot-suit clad jazz bandleader had his biggest hit in 1931 with the song “Minnie the Moocher,” performed in a Betty Boop short of the same name. A series of short films followed—animated and live action—where he either sang on the soundtrack or played himself. In full-length films, he sang “Reefer Man” in International House (1933), did a couple of duets with Al Jolson in The Singing Kid (1936) and performed a number of songs with his band in Stormy Weather (1943). In later years, he appeared onscreen with Steve McQueen and Ann-Margret in The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers (1980).