Category Archives: Frye Diaries September

Today in the Frye Diaries, 23 September



[125] Lectures began this morning: all lectures begin half an hour early: T.T.C. request for staggered hours. I told my kids they’d been staggering into 9 o’clocks at 9.30 for years. Opening lecture to 2e [Restoration and 18th century literature] thorough but dull. I don’t do the Trinity this year: Child does it, or part of it. To Marion Darte’s for a party including Eleanor [Godfrey], Ray [Godfrey], the Callaghans & a chap with one leg from Winnipeg. Very dull evening: tiresome discussion with wild generalizations about the sexes which I engaged in only because I didn’t want to sulk. Eleanor was stewed and sullen and Morley has a thick streak of ham in him anyway. But does tell a story well – when he does.

Today in the Frye Diaries, 20 September


1942:Glasses broken, but somehow life goes on.

[122] Staggered around without my glasses trying to read Morris’ Early Romances, which I got yesterday morning from Britnell’s along with several other second-hand Everymans for my new course. Harold & parents dropped in with the Lambert kids. Jessica goes to Trinity – a very sweet kid as far as I could see, which of course wasn’t very far.

Today in the Frye Diaries, 18 September


Victoria College, back in the day


[120] College creeping back: for the first time I don’t want to see it open. I didn’t get enough Blake done. Faculty reunion dinner tonight, very dull. There’s going to be occupational therapy for the girl patriots, there’s a lot of pro-Vichy propaganda in Quebec, arts colleges are now being closed up right away – ho hum. Havelock back – his Socrates will run to two volumes.

Today in the Frye Diaries, 17 September


1942: Still thinking about the movies as a form of popular entertainment.

[119] Another point about ‘what the public wants’ is that there isn’t anywhere else for a young couple to go. Hence out of sheer self-respect they can’t allow themselves to be bored. The dollar they paid to get in is a hole in their expense money: they’re not to walk out of it & leave the dollar behind. Besides, what else are they to do with their evening, read Shakespeare? There’s no use telling them to practice the art of boredom & improve their taste. The situation is there and nobody can do anything about it – I guess that’s got it.

Today in the Frye Diaries, 16 September


1942: Frye’s other extra-curricular pre-occupation of the time: movie music. [Above, the kind of thing that Frye is presumably talking about — the closing sequence from Citizen Kane. Spoiler Alert! “Rosebud” is revealed.]

[117] Ideas for article on movie music. Orson Welles’ incessant woo-woo noises, a full series of drum rolls & trombones slithering from solemn burp to gloomy blop. Most incidental music is just ‘flourish,’ ‘sennet,’ ‘exeunt with a dead march’ stuff, a bag of tricks ‘sound effects,’ in short. Oscar Levant describes the sweep (Aug. 29) & feels that the producer always wants tutti, like the parvenu who wouldn’t have any second violins in his orchestra. He quotes a Russian film (Shostakovich) opening with a lone piccolo, followed by a flute. This indicates a lack of enterprise in experimenting with timbre. Hollywood can’t use woodwinds: they can’t shiver their timbers: only brass. The piano’s very effective percussive tone they leave out: they overdo harps & leave out tom-toms & gongs ever for horror films. Conventional orchestra background for everything: no regrouping. Motto from Ecclesiasticus. Nobody listens, so no leitmotif, an obvious point, one would think. Quotation, of course, and plagiarism. Uniformly heaving scoring: all harmonic tricks & general air of having found the lost chord, mostly the dominant discords. Why not long stretches of scenery & music for real drama, towards an operatic movie? Because nobody listens. This all the more essential as real music has dropped behind. There’s no amusing popular song: just bawling & nasal honks. Swing is stuck on a treadmill of rhythm, even Duke Ellington. Might recall ‘motion picture moods’ of Rapee as showing plagiarism bias. Often more effective. Farmyard Symphony vs. Fantasia, use of Beethoven’s Pastoral. Even good tricks, high pedal-point on Snow White, 19th c. What I mean by vocal music is that musical comedies can’t last. Songs are painful to photograph, singers even more so, & the camera is too relentless in its pursuit: musical comedy plots are pretty fragile…Need more Gershwins? Might explain about ‘syncopation’ of jazz. If chromatic harmony is played out the movie is the place for new experiments, not the concert hall. Of course there is a good deal going on, the train-boat sequence of The Reluctant Dragon. Oh, we’re getting there: that should be enough for a necessarily rather vague & ill-informed article. After all, I don’t know anything about montages or pan shots or fadeins or the rest of the patter.

Today in the Frye Diaries, 15 September


1942:One of Frye’s favorite extra-curricular pre-occupations of the time: movies.

[115] Called for Helen and took her to see “The Magnificent Ambersons,” highly recommended by some people including Eleanor [Godfrey], but I found it a blowsy and turgid piece of Byrony. I’ve been writing out a paper on William Bryd, which is taking too much time but seems to be inspired. If I’m going to do movie articles I should get Leo Rosten’s book on Hollywood: he’s the Leonard Q. Ross of Hyman Kaplan. Peter Fisher was in this morning with a hint he might be going overseas. Discussed German-Russian war as based on Rajas-Tamas clash of Albion & millennial ideals: both proximate and apocalyptics.

[Bob Denham’s note (107): “In Vedantic philosophy, two of the three qualities of prakriti (nature of primordial matter): rajas refers to activity, striving, or the force that can overcome indolence; tamas, to the dull, passive forces of nature manifest in darkness and ignorance.”]