Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"They Lose Their Noses."

Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.
--Blaise Pascal

You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses.
--Roman Polanski's immortal line from Chinatown

So the Siren is bringing the twins home from school. She lives in a brownstone with a long flight of steps in front. She gets the twins in the door and goes down to get the Baby, who is now 16 months old and becoming a Heavy Baby. She drops the stroller at the door and starts to step over the threshold, Heavy Baby in arms. This sounds simple and usually it is. Yesterday, however, the Siren's feet got crotchety at the last minute. Instead of performing as expected, they started a pointless quarrel over which one should go first and when and where.

And here is where the Siren got to test Ingrid Bergman's theory below, that we all have a body part we'd rush to protect if something is about to smack into us. If you're Vera Zorina you protect your legs, if you're Ingrid Bergman you protect your face. What Ingrid didn't mention is that if you are a mother, you clutch Heavy Baby to yourself by the purest instinct and let whatever is hurtling toward you go ahead and jolly well hurtle.

And that is how the Siren's face got extremely well acquainted with a door jamb. The house dates to 1855 and the Siren can tell you, when they made door jambs in 1855, they didn't mess around. Do not argue with a 19th-century door jamb. You will lose.

Well, Heavy Baby wailed like the world was ending, but he was completely fine. The same cannot be said for the Siren's face. The doctor informed her that not much can be done for a broken nose, so the Siren opted against the emergency room. Instead she has been sitting around the house with her nose buried in ice like a bottle of Champagne. She felt marginally better once she remembered the small stash of serious painkillers left over from her c-section, but she is still feeling very sorry for herself indeed.

The Siren is a vain little mortal and she was always rather fond of her nose. Here it is, along with the original non-swollen version of her mouth.

And here is what now greets the Siren on what have become lightning-fast and infrequent trips to the mirror.

Okay, she's exaggerating. A little. But no amount of reassurance from all and sundry that it doesn't look "displaced" (hideous word) can keep the Siren from being convinced that this is the future that awaits her once the swelling goes down.

He ain't pretty no more.
--from Raging Bull

So anyway, the Siren had any number of topics she was ready to discuss but La Maison de Siren is now officially the All Nose Worry, All the Time channel. By the way, speaking of Raging Bull, the Siren always chalked up the flying nose-blood to operatic Scorsese excess. Um, no. All that was missing from the Siren's re-enactment was some Mascagni on the soundtrack.

The Siren's landlady, who heard the commotion outside her door and very kindly looked after the kids while the Siren stanched the bleeding, drily told her to be prepared for certain assumptions from strangers, especially since the Siren's story, while true, is possibly the least believable broken-nose excuse ever.

And, as the Siren attempts to distract herself with thoughts of Great Moments in On-Screen Broken Noses, it occurs to her that when women get their nose broken in movies it is almost always at the hands of a man, like Rena Owen in the superb Once Were Warriors. No picture. That one's grisly. When the Siren saw the movie in the theater, no one walked out during the terrifying beating scene, but a couple did leave after a few minutes of watching Owen struggle with her hideously swollen face. The only counter-example the Siren can come up with is Million-Dollar Baby, in which Hilary Swank gets her nose broken by another woman (now that's progress!) in the ring.

But, come to think of it, men almost always get their noses broken at the hands of a man, too. There's Raising Arizona, Mystic River, Something Wild, Witness...does anyone ever get their nose broken by accident? In Body and Soul and Champion the stars' noses get a workout as the Siren remembers, but that's also in the ring. The Siren can't remember if Paul Newman got his nose broken in Somebody Up There Likes Me, but if he does he probably still looked pretty. Newman always looks pretty. If the Siren sounds jealous it's because at the moment she is.

The only character the Siren can remember who got a nose broken by accident is this one

but that's small-screen and the Siren doesn't usually do television. She watches plenty, mind you, she just doesn't blog it.

Wait a minute. The Siren's got it. Diamond Louis, played by Abner Biberman, in His Girl Friday. Doesn't he get his nose broken in a car accident, while attempting to kidnap Rosalind Russell's future mother-in-law? "Can you imagine bumping into a load of cops? They come rolling out like oranges!"

Any other examples? Come on, cheer a Siren up. Right now she's just moping around contemplating her daughter's definitive pronouncement: "Mommy. You need to WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING." Meanwhile it's time to change the ice in the Ziplock bag. What the Siren really needs now is a cute little ice pack, like Myrna Loy had in The Thin Man...


Uncle Gustav said...

Ellen Barkin's nose is rather ungainly, but she's hot!

surly hack said...

Your ability to turn a literally painful story into an amusing post is why we return to the Siren's site. Heavy Baby!

The picture of Fields reminds me of all the jokes that Charlie McCarthy made about his prominent proboscis. And there are many cases of slapstick doors slammed in faces, opened to reveal a clutched nose and slow burn...

Greg said...

So sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope you have a full recovery. And thanks for the laugh (not about your nose) by bringing up the Ingrid Bergman theory of body part protection. And the 16 month old baby being a very heavy baby - I know that road.

spongefrob said...

You will now be known as 'selth tyled thyren'.

Actually, the first movie that occured to me was the Steve Martin/Fred Schepisi adaptation of 'Cyrano de Bergerac'; Roxanne. I'm thinking of the scene in the doctors office (Schepisi played the Doctor) where Martin's character says "Go ahead Dave! Cut it! I wanna look like Diana Ross...."

But if you want a movie where the woman bloodies up the guy but good, check out 'True Romance' where Patricia Arquette goes medieval on James Gandolfini. Actually, they both get pretty beaten up, but she's the one who walks away...

Edward Norton takes one on the nose from Charlize Theron at the end of 'The Italian Job', too. I don't recall if his nose broke tho...

But for female nose bashers, there's none better than Carol Kane in 'Scrooged'. "The bitch hit me with a toaster!"

As for accidental nose breaking... did not Paula Abdul, in effort to avoid her chihuahaa? Maybe not in the movies, but certainly fodder for schadenfreude...

In any event, I applaud your ability to quickly turn your misfortune and pain into laughter and cheer. That's a real skill.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I hope for a fast healing. While I've not broken my nose, the coffee-mate had some surgery to correct a problem with hers. When we were seen together following surgery, I was the recipient of many hostile looks. So is this an ideal time to watch A Woman's Face?

surly hack said...

I'm sure that Blake Edwards broke a nose or two or three...and don't forget NOStradamus. I'll bet now you're sorry I stuck my nose in. Ouch.

The Minstrel Boy said...

there was the dick van dyke episode where dick's nose was broken in a minor traffic mishap.

when he related the details of the accident morey amsterdam said "that wouldn't cause a broken nose."

dick's reply:

"it does if you're picking your nose at the time."


but, broken noses are no fun. my sympathies.

The Siren said...

Thanks guys. Pity parties do work, you know. Peter, unbelievably, I had moved A Woman's Face to the top of my Netflix queue on Monday. That's ... kind of freaky.

Flickhead, I actually like longish aristocratic type noses on women, like Vera Z. and Carole Lombard and Danielle Darrieux, but I somehow don't think this is going to turn my nose aquiline ... but it would be nice.

Surlyh, fortunately Fields's nose owed a lot to gin, which isn't the Siren's tipple.

thanks, Jonathan. They keep telling me he's in a relatively low weight percentile and I say phooey to that.

Petr, welcome. You have most impressive recall, which means you will fit right in around here. I had forgotten that epic battle in True Romance as well as the toaster in Scrooged. Your Abdul mention prompts me to recall another news story from a while back, which illustrates that a door run-in is actually the SECOND least believable face-smushing excuse ever.

peg said...

my sympathies. i once broke my "fixed" nose by striding into a friend's way too clean sliding glass door (I railed at her for not having dog nose smudges on it, as i always do, as a safety measure). my pain was nothing compared to my distress/fear of my mother's reaction over all that money that had been spent to make it look like yours did pre-door jamb and not as if i had, as i had in fact, been thrown from a horse face down onto a rock.

for what it's worth... once the swelling went down, it was its post-rhinoplasty self again.

feel (and look) better soon!

Unknown said...

The siren "pre door jam" has a beautiful face.

goatdog said...

I was in second grade. My friend Matt and I were in a rock pile in a neighboring corn field. We wanted to start a fire; Matt was a boy scout, so he decided we would hunt around for rocks that, when knocked together, would make enough sparks to ignite a small pile of wood shavings. I thought I found a couple, so I yelled for Matt's attention, then I hurled my fist-sized rock against another rock. It bounced back and hit me directly in the nose. The blood spurt is real, but Raging Bull left out the screaming and running part. I ran off across the field in the wrong direction, and Matt, the boy scout that he was, ran after me and turned me back in the right direction toward my house. The following Monday, nose bandaged, I prepared for school by concocting a story about a bike-car collision that I was lucky to have survived, but Matt got there first.

goatdog said...

Which is to say, I feel your pain, and at least you have a noble story to tell: "I sacrificed my profile to save my family" sounds better than "I hit myself in the face with a rock."

The Siren said...

minstrelboy, welcome! I love Dick van Dyke but have no recollection of that episode at all. Now I want to track it down, of course.

thanks fred. :) DeeLuzon has me hoping that it will eventually go back to its old self. Dee, you also have reminded me that the door itself (as opposed to the jamb) is glass so this could easily have been quite a bit worse. My little sister took a terrifying header into a glass door once and bruised badly, but thank god the door didn't break. We don't have any glass doors (and the one downstairs is frosted) but I wonder if people with small kids still put those stickers on doors as a visual warning for them?

goatdog, how did your nose survive in the end? all right I hope. Noses are actually pretty easy things to break. Now that mine is messed up I am hearing stories from all over. My landlady had broken hers a while back, in fact.

goatdog said...

They actually did surgery to fix it (that's another horror story), I guess because I was still growing or something. I think it's too wide, but nobody seems to notice but me (or they're being polite). I hit myself in the nose with a tennis racket once, but it didn't break. And I went through a glass door face-first, but the nose was miraculously spared. They're really poorly designed things, sticking out where they can get knocked around. I'm surprised more people don't look like Owen Wilson.

Gareth said...

Ouch! In my version of this story, the 16-month-old takes it in the nose when he attempts to climb out of his high chair and topples the thing over. My nose is kind of slanted on close examination but extremely characterful... My wife finds it pretty amusing. I managed the goatdog trick of going through a window unharmed, too; I was "flying" around the hallway, must have had some trouble with my rudder, and ended up outside.

All that by way of saying something you've already realized: these things make damn good tales, but here's hoping the bruising goes away soon!

Noel Vera said...

Met Rena Owens when she was a fellow jury member in the Cinemanila film festival. She's funny, feisty and extremely sexy. Remember asking her what her next project was, and she told me it was to be George Lucas' Attack of the Clones (turns out it was just voicework for some alien--but Lucas has wasted many a great talent in his crappy movies). Had a huge crush on her by the end of the festival.

Noel Vera said...

Is it my imagination, or is Ms. Campaspe injured nose or not a real looker?

You should hear Philip Dick, who claims that great beauties are built on large and distinct noses. No cute or pert nose ever made for a great beauty. You can see a Mediterranean/Semitic/Latino bias there. I kind of actually agree.

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

Ouch! I hope you feel better soon, but your story was fun to read. The picture of "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha" at the end cracked me up since I was thinking of that Brady Bunch episode the whole time I was reading.

Karen said...

Oh my gosh, Siren, you poor pookie girl! I'm so sorry to read of this tragedy, but relieved to learn that nothing worse than a broken nose resulted.

For what it's worth, I have had a broken nose, which was the result of a car accident. I was cut off by someone as I drove down 6th Avenue, and when I swerved I ended up going head-first into a light pole. I smashed two bones in my hand between the steering wheel and my sternum, and smacked my nose on the inside of the windshield (I wasn't wearing a seat-belt because I was an IDIOT). The pain was staggering. But the break was clean, and didn't even need to be set, and I can round up 2 dozen witnesses to testify that my nose looked no different afterwards than it did before. I can detect a gap where once there was none by feeling in the right place, but it's not at all visible. So, be of good cheer! That adorable nose is sure to be back in play soon.

And now that I've established my empathetic cred, allow me to reveal that I did have to sputter with a bit of laughter when I realized that you were going to have to tell people you got your broken nose by falling into a door jamb. Oh MAN. Good luck with that one.

But in the meantime, chug your painkillers and get people to wait on you. And all my best wishes to you!

The Siren said...

Gareth, it will perhaps not surprise you to hear that as an accident-prone person I have accident-prone kids. It's genetic. You've been warned.

Noel, she was so good in Once Were Warriors and I always think her career should have exploded after that. Instead it grew nicely; I haven't seen the 3 Star Wars sans Ford but hey, I bet it's paying her very nicely and she deserves the security.

Kimberly I have been thinking of Marcia too -- the aftermath bruising is pretty accurate although the producers made it bloodless which I assure you it is NOT.

Karen - oh yeah, the "door jamb" thing is gonna get some raised eyebrows I am sure. I am relieved to hear any stories of good-as-new noses. The swelling has subsided a bit. I told my sister I now look like Charlize Theron instead of De Niro. Unfortunately, it's Theron in "Monster."

Unknown said...

Offhand, I can't think of any nose-breaking scenes in movies other than the ones the Siren has mentioned.

But I do know of two well-actors who got their noses broken in real life. Marlon Brando's nose was broken before he made his first movie -- I believe it happened during the Broadway run of Streetcar.

And Kathleen Turner broke her nose while filming a stunt for the picture V.I. Warshawski.

Siren, best wishes for a speedy recovery. And take heart -- in spite of their broken noses, both Brando and Turner continued to look pretty damn good.

J.C. Loophole said...

Sorry to hear about the nose Siren, but I am glad you haven't lost your sense of humor.
If it's any consolation I had the same thing happen to me- except that I feel backwards and my head went through the sheetrock and hit a 2X4. The kid (middle child mind you) was tossed safely onto the bed at the last second as I stepped on his precious "dinky" toy. My wife said it must have knocked something into me because shortly thereafter she became preggers with our youngest.

The Siren said...

Kathy, I should have asked about real-life examples. I know that Merle Oberon had considerable facial scarring from a 1937 car accident, but don't know if she broke her nose. And Carole Lombard had a bad car accident too, as I remember. And then of course there is poor Montgomery Clift. :(

J.C., that is funny! but as I already have my three kiddie-winkies The Kitchen Is Closed and the Oven Is Turned Off.

Berlinbound said...

I've not broken my nose (or any other bones thus far) in a fall while carrying His Holiness here and there but I've dreamt about it - repeatedly. I see myself somewhere, anywhere, and down I go, and it's always in slow-motion the falling, it's like I'm rehearsing it and there is always that point where I attempt to twist my body while cradling him in my arms so that I fall onto my back and not my face. Reading your post I winced with the knowledge that falls aren't planned - dreams notwithstanding. I wish you well in your recovery.

The Siren said...

I have dreamt about it too, but usually I knock out teeth trying not to drop him ... I have no idea what that means!

the baby-clutching thing was completely automatic though, that was the funny thing, so much so I think someone carrying a child not their own might well have done the same--though it does make me think of the baby-doll-tossing scene in Prizzi's Honor.

(good to see you here again, btw!)

Operator_99 said...

And this is something that popped up when I decided to google "nose poem" - hope it gives you a little lift.

Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face

Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.

Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,that clearly would not be a treat,for you'd be forced to smell your feet.

Your nose would be a source of dread were it attached atop your head, it soon would drive you to despair, forever tickled by your hair.

Within your ear, your nose would be
an absolute catastrophe, for when you were obliged to sneeze, your brain would rattle from the breeze.

Your nose, instead, through thick and thin, remains between your eyes and chin, not pasted on some other place--be glad your nose is on your face!

Children's Poet
Jack Prelutsky

Mapeel said...

Yikes. How life can change in an instant. Have faith that the body knows how to heal itself (at least that's the mantra I picked up from my acupuncturist, and she was right about my ankle.)

For a lighter nose moment, Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor popped into my head from Singin' in the Rain

Moses suposes his toeses are roses
But Moses supposes erroneously
A Rose is a rose
A Nose is a nose
A Toese is a toese

Hupidubidu! (ehehehehe)

Jette said...

Does Katharine Hepburn manage to break a nose during the fight scene in "Pat and Mike"? I can't recall.

Karen said...

Where is the band-aid that Tyrone Power sports through the entire post-Fire duration of "In Old Chicago"? Is it on his nose? I keep thinking it is, but I have a horrible suspicion it might be his chin, instead. Or his...jaw?

In which case, forget it. You're not allowed to damage any other parts of that delicate face of yours.

girish said...

Best wishes to the Siren-Nose for a quick and traceless recovery!

FDChief said...

Deepest sympathy on the loss of nasal symmetry. May it rise from the ashes a stronger and more beautiful nose...

I feel your pain, BTW. Mine was broken by some sort of monsterous Army Engineer during a "touch" football game in Panama, 1986. I had to pop the thing back into shape on the field. Ouch. It's still sort of crookedy and I snore thunderously. Hope the the family doesn't mind a little thunder in the night.

FilmWalrus said...

Much sympathy for the nose injury!

The only unmentioned thing that came to mind for great nose injuries in films was Vincent D'Onofrio's character in "The Salton Sea." I forget what the backstory is, but his nose is completely severed. Owch. It gives his insane diatribes an unpleasant

VP81955 said...

Campaspe said...
Kathy, I should have asked about real-life examples. I know that Merle Oberon had considerable facial scarring from a 1937 car accident, but don't know if she broke her nose. And Carole Lombard had a bad car accident too, as I remember.

Lombard's accident happened in early 1926, I believe. She had already made a few films at Fox, and in two of them was cast as the female lead despite being all of 16 or 17 at the time. The accident caused some facial problems, including a noticeable scar, and sidelined her from films for about a year as her Fox contract lapsed.

When she returned to movies, it was for Mack Sennett's troupe, where her sleek figure and good legs were deemed more important than her face. There, she learned a lot of the comedic timing and skills that paid off for her in the 1930s. In addition, she also learned a lot about cinematography and lighting in an effort to minimize problems resulting from the scar.

Tonio Kruger said...


This past February has been a bad month for a lot of people I know.

I'm so sorry that you had to have your share of bad luck too.

Here's hoping your nose heals soon, if it hasn't already.

Dan Leo said...

James Bond (in the books) had a weakness for a beautiful woman with a flaw. A scar. A broken nose.

Bond knew that perfection is slightly boring.

Expect a call from Hollywood for the next 007 flick.

surly hack said...

The good ol' IMDb informs me that there is a 1914 comedy short from Reliance called Broken Nose Bailey, which stars a young actor named Eugene Pallette as the title character.

I'm happy to hear that the swelling is subsiding. Please forgive the following limerick.

Self-Styled Siren hosts a meeting place
Where film’s discussed with exceeding grace
Both her knowledge and skill
And manners greater still
Are as plain as the nose on her face

Paper Battleships said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear about your broken nose! The Siren does have a lovely nose (and really great skin may I add). I hope it all heals quickly.

The Siren said...

Reading all these warm and lovely comments is really making my mood better. My face is better--I recognize myself now when I look in the mirror, although the nose is still a bit swollen, there's still some bruising and the whole thing still kind of hurts.

moondancer said...

Snap out of it. You are a siren and never forget it. You'll be fine. And remember they do miracles with lighting these days.

D Cairns said...

Oh boy, I feel for you.

But I'll tell you a more implausible story, in case that helps. I was round at my Japanese friend Kiyo's house some years ago, and met a nice couple there, his friends. They were lively, eccentric enthusiasts. They started to tell us a story about an aeroplane that ran out of fuel in mid-flight. As the tale reached its climax, Mrs R became frustrated at her spouse's butting in, so she did a mock-headbutt on him. It being a Japanese hosuehold, we'd all removed our shoes, and her stockinged feet slipped on the carpet, causing her to deliver a very real FACEBUTT, breaking said nose. He took her to the hospital, with the embarrassing explanation and also the inevitable suspicion based partly around the fact that he is built like Bud Spencer...