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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Definitive List of the Top Ten Films of All Time, Part Two

Below is part two of the definitive list of the ten best films of all time.

Part one is
here.

If you disagree with any of my choices of the top ten films of all time, uniformed personnel will arrive at your place shortly with enhanced appreciation techniques to convince you of the right path.

The Definitive List of the Top Ten Films of All Time, Part Two

"The Haunting" 1963 Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn

Directed and produced by Robert Wise. Screenplay by Nelson Gidding based on
a book by Shirley Jackson.

"The Haunting" is regularly named as one of the scariest films ever made, but I've never seen anyone class it among the greatest films ever made. That's an oversight. Pound for pound, "The Haunting" is a better depiction of evil than "Schindler's List."

I saw "The Haunting" as a little kid. I saw it on a small, black-and-white television, in a house full of people. My viewing of it was interrupted by commercials, by family members passing between me and the television screen, and by static when the rooftop antennae shifted in the wind.

For decades, after that one viewing, no matter how old I got, no matter where I was, if I walked into a room and "The Haunting" was playing on TV, or if, while changing channels on a television I accidentally stumbled across a screening of "The Haunting," I would rapidly leave the room and walk outside. I had to get outside, as if the contact with the film was a sticky web that had ensnared me, something sick and palpable that I had to scrape off my person lest it suck me down into something foul.

"The Haunting" didn't just scare me. It invited me to the dark side and I had no life-jacket or rappelling ropes to ensure that I'd get back if I tipped over the edge.

When I was well into adulthood, and I had faced many of life's evils head-on – this was when I was in grad school, my most malevolent exposure to the dark side – I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns. I had to re-watch "The Haunting" and figure out what this film had done that had scared me so much.

It scared me yet again. Suddenly I realized why.

On the surface, "The Haunting" is a by-the-numbers scary movie. You have a big, old house. You have a defenseless, blonde female. You have ghosts. But that is just the surface. It's what's beneath the surface that makes this movie one of the best ever made.

SPOILERS! I'm going to reveal, here, the ending of "The Haunting" and what I think "The Haunting" is all about, and it *isn't* about ghosts.

"The Haunting" is based on a novel by Shirley Jackson. Jackson is the brilliant author who gave us "The Lottery," a classic short story. If you haven't already read it, you can read it
here. "The Haunting of Hill House" is a very well regarded novel. Here's the opening paragraph:

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."

Of this opening, Stephen King wrote, "I think there are few if any descriptive passages in the English language that are any finer than this; it is the sort of quiet epiphany every writer hopes for: words that somehow transcend the sum of the parts."
Paula Guran wrote, "The genius of Jackson's fiction is primarily rooted in this discovery of the quiet evil that pervades ordinary life. Her fictional darkness stems from the seemingly mundane."

Robert Wise, who directed and produced "The Haunting," respected the source material and worked hard to honor it.

The plot is simple. Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson), who looks like a poor man's Clark Gable, is a paranormal investigator. He recruits a psychic, Theo (Claire Boom) and Eleanor Lance (Julie Harris), a woman to whom odd things happen, to help him investigate Hill House, which is said to be haunted. Eleanor develops a crush on Dr. Markway, but he is married. His wife, Grace, shows up, and Eleanor is crushed.

Weird occurrences at the house ratchet up. These weird events could be evidence of ghosts, or they could be evidence that Eleanor is losing her mind. Eleanor runs out of the house, gets into a car, and drives. She nearly collides with Grace. She swerves, hits a tree, and is killed. Eleanor may have lost her mind, or she may have been taken over by malevolent, supernatural forces.

It's Eleanor's characterization and story arch that make "The Haunting" an irreplaceable classic.

Eleanor is a woman without a place. She's not a bad person. She's just a bit odd. She doesn't fit in. She isn't ugly, merely mousy. She's in her thirties, but she has the long, straight hair of a schoolgirl. She isn't cruel, merely awkward. She's never had her own life. She shuttered herself up to take care of her invalid mother. In spite of her self-sacrifice, her mother died.

People are supposed to see what others see. Eleanor sees things that no one else sees. She has paranormal experiences. She doesn't want to have them; they just happen to her.

People don't like Eleanor. They want her to disappear. They do not invite her into their communities. She is kept apart, sleeping on the couch in her married sister's apartment. Eleanor has no friends, no husband, no career.

Eleanor is not a sentimentalist's version of an outsider. She's no saint. Early in the film she's shown being cranky and a bit weird. Her one endearing quality is her insistence on soldiering on in spite of her crappy life, and her hope that her life could get better. Being invited to the investigation of Hill House is a promising adventure for her. Your heart breaks for her as she dreams of new horizons that cloud up and betray her.

Eleanor is especially pathetic as a woman alone. Women are supposed to be beautiful, and Eleanor is klutzy and mousy. Women are supposed to be nurturers of new life and Eleanor nurtured a dying old woman, whom she let die. Women are supposed to be loved by men, but no man has ever loved Eleanor. She is constantly contrasted with women who have a place in the world: her sister, who has a husband; Grace, the wife of the man she develops a crush on; Theo, a chic and independent lesbian.

At first, Eleanor bravely resists the house's seductive evil. One of the film's most famous and most terrifying scenes depicts Eleanor, alone in bed, suddenly beset by supernatural sounds. Eleanor is terrified. Her face breaks out in a sweat. She begs Theo to hold her hand.

She hears a child crying. She knows the house is the ultimate evil – a force that abuses children. Eleanor wants to resist this sickeningly evil force. We hear her inner monologue. She vows that she will stop this abuse of children. She condemns "this filthy house" and says she is putting up with it only for the sake of Dr. Markway. She struggles, she struggles so hard, this shy and reclusive woman says to herself, "I will open my mouth. I will yell." She does yell. She rises up and yells, "Stop it!" – Stop abusing that child!

Her shout wakens Theo. Theo is across the room. Eleanor had not been holding Theo's hand after all. Eleanor had been holding the hand of the evil house she can never escape, no matter how hard she tries.

"The Haunting"'s most famous effect is a loud banging on doors. This banging is the opposite of the knocking that Jesus describes. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," Jesus says. The knocking in "The Haunting" is not coming from Jesus, but from the dark side.

Why can't Eleanor escape evil Hill House? Why can't she just walk away from the darkness banging on that door?

Eleanor's loneliness and awkwardness make her easy pickings for the dark side. She is flattered that Hill House so persistently invites her. She surrenders because evil is the only thing that has ever paid any attention to her at all. Evil gains its strength from Eleanor's surrender. Without Eleanor willing herself to the dark side, willing herself there with despair at her difference and loneliness, evil has no power. It's just a bunch of scary sounds and ominous shadows. When Eleanor gives in to evil, she gives evil her skin, muscles, and breath. Evil gains power from Eleanor's despair.

Evil does not keep its promise. The film ends with the line, "We who walk here, walk alone." Eleanor is still alone.

To me, that is gut-churningly terrifying. Eleanor's story could be the story of some loser joining the Hitler Youth, or Judas, or an overwhelmed mother who gives in to her sense of overwhelm and kills her own kids, or any number of other real-world horrors. Shirley Jackson tells this age-old story of the banality of evil as a ghost story, and the lessons about evil reach an audience who would never pick up Hannah Arendt.

We tend to think of evil as a word that is written only in capital letters, as an entity encountered only in exotic and dramatic locales like the Nuremberg Rally. Evil is found in small things, like feeling left out, like our tendency to marginalize odd people, like loneliness. Evil is found in our surrender to despair when we feel sad and alone.

There's a little bit of author Shirley Jackson in her fictional character, Eleanor. Jackson was a tremendously gifted writer, but, after her early death, her husband, Edgar Hyman, complained that she had not received the recognition she so deserved. It was hard for Jackson to be different. She drank, smoked, overate, and took drugs. She was agoraphobic, once not leaving her house for almost three months. She died of a heart attack at age 48. Edgar Hyman wrote:

"If the source of her images was personal or neurotic, she transformed those images into meaningful general symbols; if she used the resources of supernatural terror, it was to provide metaphors for the all-too-real terrors of the natural...

For all her popularity, Shirley Jackson won surprisingly little recognition. She received no awards or prizes, grants or fellowships; her name was often omitted from lists on which it clearly belonged, or which it should have led. She saw those honors go to inferior writers, without bitterness...I think that the future will find her powerful visions of suffering and inhumanity increasingly significant and meaningful."

There's a fine essay about Shirley Jackson by Paula Guran
here.

There's more about the house that was used as Hill House
here and here



***




"The Bitter Tea of General Yen" 1933. Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Walter Connolly, Toshia Mori. Directed by Frank Capra. Based on a book by Grace Zaring Stone.

No. "The Bitter Tea of General Yen" is NOT one of the ten best films ever made.

Why am I listing it?

Because, it me, TBToGY epitomizes the magic of movies.

I was living in Berkeley, California. The UC Theater on University Avenue was a vintage movie house, built in 1917. 
Werner Herzog ate his shoe in that theater. The UC Theater was a favorite site of audience-participation showings of "Rocky Horror."

One cloudy fall day they were showing "The Bitter Tea of General Yen." I was excited because it was a Golden Era Hollywood film that I'd never heard of. When you watch as many Golden Age movies as I do, it's hard to find worthy films you've never heard of.

I went to the matinee.

I was entranced.

Before I left the theater, I had the usher stamp my hand. The UC Theater had a rubber stamp they would use. If you wanted to leave the theater and get some Thai food at the restaurant next door and come back to catch the second of a double feature, you could do so.

I walked the two miles back to my rented room and told my housemates about this fabulous film I had just seen, an unknown classic, "The Bitter Tea of General Yen." I said I couldn't wait to re-watch it at the evening showing. I said I really wanted to see, again, the sparkly red dress that Barbara Stanwyck wore when she finally succumbed to her illicit passion for General Yen. I was careful not to wash my hands.

When I got back to the theater and sat down to re-watch the film, I realized that Barbara Stanwyck could not have been wearing a red dress; the film was in black-and-white. That's movie magic.

There's a reason I'd never heard of "The Bitter Tea of General Yen." "Yen" is one of those transgressive works of art that steps on everybody's toes, right and left, American and Asian, libertine and prude. It is a perverse film. That's part of why I love it.

"Bitter Tea" opens, as all perverse films should, at a missionary party. It's the Chinese Civil War. A bunch of white Americans are celebrating in an American-style living room. China looms outside, in the dark. There are a couple of blank-faced Chinese domestic servants; Capra uses their faces to full effect.

The missionaries are celebrating the anticipated arrival of Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck), the fiancée of Dr. Robert Strike. She's from a fine, old Puritan family and she has never been to China before.

Megan Davis arrives, but her paths cross with a callous Chinese warlord, General Yen (Nils Asther). In a crowd, Megan is hit on the head by a disgruntled coolie. She passes out. Yen kidnaps Megan as his sexual hostage. He drugs her and transports her via his own troop train. His stated goal is to "convert a missionary."

Yen never uses force on Megan; in fact he never touches her until a relatively chaste embrace toward the end of the film. Yen wants to convert Megan to loving him, and to respecting his culture, for which she had expressed some contempt. He attempts to seduce her with kind words, poetry, cherry blossoms, costly jade, and his luxurious mansion, where he offers her servants, silks, jewels, cosmetics, perfume, and fine food. Yen says to Megan, "You have the true missionary spirit. There are times when I would like to laugh at you, but there are also times when I find you admirable."

Megan resists. She is a captive. She wants to escape. She's afraid of being raped. She is horrified that even as Yen is attempting to seduce her, executions of his enemies continue apace in another portion of his compound, shootings Megan can hear. Megan, full of hate, says, "You yellow swine."

She protests, "It's pretty hard to become acquainted with a man who ruthlessly slaughters helpless prisoners in one move, and in the next shows such a tender reverence for the beauty of the moon. The subtlety of you Orientals is very much overestimated."

Megan attempts to teach General Yen Christian ways. She beseeches him to show kindness to his concubine, Mah-Li (Toshia Mori). He does so. After he gives Mah-Li a little leeway, Mah-Li uses that leeway to sabotage him. Mah-Li's actions tear the rug out from under Yen. His troops rebel; his wealth and power evaporate.

Only after she has, inadvertently, destroyed Yen does Megan realize that she can no longer resist her attraction to him. She dresses in the silks Yen had given her, Asian costume she had previously spurned. She goes to his side and plumps his pillows as she had seen Mah-Li do. She embraces Yen.

It's too late. Yen, ruined by his love for a Christian woman, has planned his suicide. Yen is about to consume the bitter tea that will kill him.

"Silk. China gave the world silk," he says, enigmatically. Yen slumps on his throne, dead, even as Megan kneels at his feet and presses his lifeless hand to her lips.

Later, Megan is seen escaping on a boat. Jones (Walter Connolly), an American businessman in China, tells her that she may encounter Yen in another life. "Maybe he's the wind that's pushing that sail. Maybe he's the wind that's playing around in your hair."

How did this movie so entrance me?

I have no interest in China. Nils Asther is an aloof, not very erotic presence. The make-up used to alter the appearance of his eyes is obvious and grotesque. Yen is a perverse, sadistic figure.

Barbara Stanwyck is not a favorite star. I don't have sexual fantasies of being kidnapped and seduced by a warlord. The plot here is pure fantasy, weak and silly. I can never believe that one move by Mah-Li could reduce a warlord to suicide.

What gets me is the filmmaker's craft that turned a flimsy, ridiculous rape and miscegenation fantasy into a walk into someone else's dream, a dream that becomes your own.

"The Bitter Tea of General Yen" takes place in China, but it is the product of a Hollywood studio. No scenes were shot in China and a Swede and a Japanese play the two main Chinese characters, Yen and Mah-Li.

Yet TBToGY evokes China with a sharp poignancy. It's a China brought to life through will and hocus pocus, Joseph Walker's exquisite cinematography, and magical suggestion. It's a sleeping child's dream of China. The film is a sparkler that goes off in your imagination. I feel that if Frank Capra directed, and Joseph Walker did the cinematography, they could use flashlights and bedsheets to turn my apartment into China.

There's a relatively unimportant scene at the opening missionary party. One of the missionaries announces that he's been in China for fifty years. He tells a horrifying story of Mongolian bandits crucifying members of a caravan. Capra's filming of this throwaway scene exemplifies why I worship this movie. Capra uses his camera to make me, or you – the viewer – a celebrant at the party, and a listener to the story.

He could have handled that scene the way a hundred other directors would have – just flatfootedly slapped the images up on the screen the way a baker slaps icing on a cake with a spatula. Just let the images provide the kind of boring exposition the story requiers to get going, but that viewers feel no need or desire to pay much attention to after they've assimilated the necessary background.

But Capra uses his camera the way Rembrandt used a brush. He doesn't just create explanatory images that provide atmosphere and exposition. He lavishes as much of his art on a throwaway scene as on a heavy plot point. He finds the unique beauty and life in the common. He sucks you in. Every time I watch "Bitter Tea," I pay as much attention to this scene as to more important ones, and I derive as much delight.

In one scene, Megan is shown waking up from being drugged. She looks around and slowly realizes that she is in a train compartment with General Yen and his concubine. General Yen is seated across from her. Beyond a door with a window in it, troops carouse. The sound from the troops is muffled. Lighting is provided by visible lamps that cast realistic shadows.

Megan is lying down, too sleepy to stand. She sees Yen, a man she had crossed paths with, seated across from her. She doesn't yet know what's going on, but she sees him staring at her intently. Megan watches as Mah-Li plumps Yen's pillows, puts out his cigarette, and puts his feet up. Megan's hand travels down her body, and she grabs a blanket and pulls it over herself.

This scene is quiet – almost nothing is said – and yet it evokes much. It is one of the most erotic scenes I've ever seen in a film, and yet everyone is fully clothed and there is virtually no touching. Capra uses light, shadow, the muffled sound of the troops, the "movement" of the "train" to create sensations in the viewer.

The scene in "Bitter Tea of General Yen" that anyone who talks about the movie talks about is the scene where Megan dreams of General Yen raping her.

Megan is sleeping in the elaborate bedroom in which Yen has ensconced her. She dreams that her door is forced open. General Yen approaches her to rape her. But he doesn't look as he looks in real life. His Chinese features are exaggerated. He moves in a creepy, cringing fashion. His fingernails are long and pointed. He fondles her breasts.

A new man breaks into her room. He is dressed as Dr. Strike, her American fiancee. Megan is happy. She will be rescued! The man in Strike's clothing punches Yen. The man then embraces Megan. He reveals himself to be … not her fiancee, Strike, at all, but General Yen. Megan is ecstatic. She melts into bliss. The camera follows her face through her slack-jawed, smokey-eyed orgasm.

But the scene that really throws me is when Megan attempts to convert Yen to Christianity. Megan's voice deepens and flutters. She is throwing all her passion into this attempt. It's obvious that her religiosity is sublimated sexuality. She wants Yen and she knows it's wrong – he's a sadist, cold, her sexual kidnapper, and Chinese. So rather than seduce him, or succumb to his seduction, she tries to convert him.

Yen asks her why she should care about a Chinese person.

She says that all humans are the same.

He asks if she really believes that and he touches her hand.

She recoils. The touch of a "yellow swine" is disgusting to her.

He sees through her hypocrisy and denounces her for it.

Yes, "Bitter Tea" is pure pulpy fantasy, but I've never seen a better depiction of desperate, caged human emotions.

You can see why "The Bitter Tea of General Yen" upsets everybody. It was the first film shown at Radio City Music Hall. It was quickly withdrawn.

Scientific Racism dominated thought and culture in the US at the time that "Bitter Tea" was released. American scientists, journalists, and indeed politicians and law declared not only Chinese people to be an inferior race apart, but also Italians like Capra (and Bohunks like me).

It simply was not acceptable to depict a white girl even imagining intimate contact with a Chinese man, even if that Chinese man were played by Nils Asther, a Swede. The suggestion was so abhorrent that the Chinese man who provided imaginary satisfaction to Megan had to die at the end of the movie.

Today, "Bitter Tea" offends the Politically Correct. The film certainly depicts "Orientals" as other – as different than whites. General Yen callously kills his enemies. He kidnaps a woman he wants, though he never touches her without her permission. He mistreats Mah-Li. Mah-Li is a conniver. The missionary tells the story of the Mongolian bandits crucifying merchants. The Politically Correct will not allow you to watch "Bitter Tea" without their warning labels attached.

In addition to the heart, imagination, and craft onscreen, it is the quiet, harmless perversity and transgression of "Bitter Tea" that make me love it as much as I do. 



***



"It Happened One Night" 1934 Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, directed by Frank Capra, produced by Frank Capra and Harry Cohn, Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Was there anything anything like "It Happened One Night" before "It Happened One Night"?

No.

A thousand films since "It Happened One Night" have tried to recreate its magic. Has any superseded it?

No.

"It Happened One Night" was sui generis when it first appeared. It sprang fully grown from Frank Capra's divine Sicilian head. Hollywood had produced nothing else quite like it.

Before "It Happened One Night" there were glamorous romances involving Garbo and Gilbert, Valentino and Swanson, coarser, pratfall comedies, and stylized depictions of average Joes, like Chaplin's Little Tramp and the Gish sisters doe-eyed waifs. There was never a naturalistic combination of the cozily every day, sophisticated wit, the sublime, and the genuinely human before Capra.

You see working class women in their intimate garments lining up outside to use a communal shower; you see an heiress in a form-fitting lamé gown; you get a lesson in dunking donuts, road thieves and hitchhiking.

Frank Capra managed to take the lumpen stuff of day-to-day Depression-era life in the US and make it dance a ballet that's laugh-out-loud funny, black-tie-sophisticated, and straight-from-the-heart real. With all that, "It Happened One Night" is never anything but highly intelligent, and very loving. "It Happened One Night" is as fresh today as rain on your face. There are moments of pathos – when the jobless single mother passes out and her son tries to revive her – and moments of deep, romantic eroticism – when Peter describes the island he wants to share with his beloved. This all happens, believably, in roadside hotels and on night buses. The miracle is it all feels real. You totally believe that a woman could get on a night bus and meet a dynamic hunk of charmed masculinity like Clark Gable.

The sets are shaky and drab, when they are not open roads, streams and fields. Columbia was not a rich studio. Claudette Colbert wears the same unadorned, working-girl's dress through much of the film. Out of so much nothing – nothing but his stars' tremendous charisma and his own God given heart, wit and smarts – Capra created a deathless classic and the role model for an entire genre, the romantic comedy.

***

"The Apartment" 1960 Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray. Directed and produced by Billy Wilder; written by Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond.

I wrote about "The Apartment" in my book "Bieganski." You can read that portion of the book
here.


***


"All About Eve" 1950 Bette Davis, Celeste Holm, Anne Baxter, Gary Merrill, George Sanders, Hugh Marlowe. Directed and written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck.

Literate script, literate script, literate script. Sample lines from "All About Eve":

"What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end."

"You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent!"

"The cynicism you refer to, I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys!"

"The bed looks like a dead animal act."

"You can always put that award where your heart ought to be."

"I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind."

"Don't cry. Just score it as an incomplete forward pass."

"You're too short for that gesture."

"When we get home you're going to get into one of those girdles and act for two and a half hours."

"I couldn't get into the girdle in two and a half hours."

"Outside of a bee hive Margo, your behavior would not be considered either queenly or motherly."

"There isn't a playwright in the world who could make me believe this would happen between two adult people."

"You won't bore him long; you won't get a chance to talk."

"Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke."

"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

"***

No, this isn't really my list of my own personal favorite films of all time. If it were, it would have included "Jane Eyre" 1944, "Airplane," "North and South" 2004, "My Dinner with Andre," "300" 2006, "Charade" 1963, "Man of Marble" and "Man of Iron," and "Besieged" 1998. 

***

Why are most of the films on my list old? Where are the newer films that deserve to be on an all-time ten best list?

Hey, you tell me.

For this list I stuck with American films. If I had included foreign films, I would have included Oliver Hirschbigel's masterpiece "Downfall." My review of that film is
here.

Another recent, amazing film is the 2007 Turkish film "Bliss" review
here.

7 comments:

  1. Below is part two of the definitive list of the ten best films of all time.

    Part one is here.

    "If you disagree with any of my choices of the top ten films of all time, uniformed personnel will arrive at your place shortly with enhanced appreciation techniques to convince you of the right path."

    That sounds exciting! But please don't tell them that I, being a cannibal and all, have not yet managed to get through all 4 hours of "Lawrence of Arabia."

    A good list, and I will check out "Bitter Tea" on your recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liron, I've been missing you!

      BTW, a friend of mine just suffered a broken bone in Israel and said she had to work hard to get good treatment in the hospital. What's that about?

      Delete
  2. Bureaucracy. Bad here. Really bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liron, my friend is back in the states and going in to surgery tomorrow, Friday. Please say a prayer for her. Her name is Robin and i know you two would love each other.

      Delete
  3. Well, it’s Saturday here. I wish your friend a complete recovery (refuah shlema).

    Tell her that it’s a rite of passage in Israel to fight with a surly bureaucrat. Tourists who think they’re experiencing the real Israel by climbing Masada or by volunteering at a kibbutz or whatever aint experiencing s—t. You want Israel? You’ll find it at, say, the Interior Ministry, where the clerk handling your request will most likely be a Russian immigrant with a very bad attitude and lingering PTSD from her Soviet days. Think Poland circa 1985. Well, not really, but . . .

    At the hospitals, the nurses, aides and admins are underpaid and overextended. But hey, you were a nurse’s aide. You know about this.

    By the way, is there any way to receive email updates when new blog entries appear? The three or four other blogs I read have that function, but I cannot seem to find it here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liron, I will pass your wisdom on to Robin.

      About receiving email notifications ... I don't know. I googled it, did not find an answer, wrote to Google blogger and a couple of friends. Will keep you updated.

      Delete
    2. Hi, Liron. To me it looks like a green line on top of the page. YOu type your email address in there.

      Delete