Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Still another reason to love classic rock




"Night into Morning"
 
This is the storyline of the 1951 film, "Night into Morning" ....

Berkley English professor Phillip Ainley (played by Ray Milland) has a wife and young son who are killed in a gas explosion in their home. Unable to cope with the situation, he begins to drink heavily and becomes suicidal. His friends, Tom Lawry (also an English professor, portrayed by John Hodiak) and Katherine Mead (Lawry's fiance, a war widow and the English department secretary, depicted by Nancy Davis, the future Mrs. Ronald Reagan) try to return Ainley to normalcy (whatever that might be ....). Karl Tunberg and Leonard Spigelgass wrote the original screen play, and Fletcher Markle directed the production.

The final scene of the film features Ainley making closing remarks to one of his classes. Here are his words, as best I could transcribe them while watching it and recalling them a few days ago:

This is our last hour together. I'm not going to keep you for it. But, I'll remember every one of your faces for the rest of my life, and I rather imagine you'll remember mine because we've gone on a journey together.
 
There were times when I lost my way and somewhere along the road you and others became the teacher and I, the student. You've taught me that as long as one man is without an answer, all men are without an answer. You've taught me that only he who chooses to be alone, is alone. And so, even though our small journey is over and we go our separate ways, we'll never really be apart. Til the end of time we'll carry in our hearts the things that we've shared together.

I'm sure someone somewhere said that better than I, probably Shakespeare, surely the Bible, but I think it's something a man should say at last to himself. As you know, I teach English, but there are some things very hard to say in it. Goodbye is one of them. So, if you don't mind, I'll use my first-year Spanish: Vaya con Dios. Go with God. Let's all go with God.

If someone were to ask me why I decided to post Ainley's "sort of soliloquy" here, I might begin rambling on and on with thoughts such as these: Movies in the 1940s and 1950s frequently told stories and were, in a manner of speaking, morality plays worthy of reflection; the words struck me as eloquent and profound as I heard them and later remembered them; the words coincide with my own recent thoughts and questions about life and living; I am a romantic and a fool, and I constantly am looking for my own meaning and purpose; and, and, and ....

Well, those things, yes .... but, in truth, I am pretty much of a lost soul stumbling in a seemingly never-ending maze and keep looking for some manner of absolute, universal truth.

As Ainley's concluding dialogue would seem to indicate, he has begun to travel on the road toward learning how to live "normally" once again despite the loss of his wife and son, just as Mead had adjusted to the loss of her husband during World War II. Sort of a "happy ending."

Films of the 1940s and 1950s generally had happy endings -- which is what I require of all stories in my life and which is another reason why I put together a post about the movie. The title of the post is in reference to the music, but "with you or without you" certainly ties in nicely to the substance of the film. Scala, incidentally, is a Belgian women's choir whose musical selections frequently are covers of rock pieces. The final video is there just for the fun of it, baby .... and, as a reminder of the brevity of life ....

Anyway and whatever .... go with god .... or whomever your inner voice listens to ....


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

One more reason to love classic rock




 "You know, I hope we never die ...."

There are times I feel like I have been (always am) asleep at the switch; blind in one eye and cannot see out of the other; a complete fool, idiot, buffoon; a man walking through life aimlessly, without purpose or intent.

I can see a number of you are nodding in agreement with that assessment.

More than a few years ago, I began watching a film never-before seen by me on television. It had been running for some time, so I had not seen the credits and I assumed the story was based on one of William Shakespeare's plays. It was an "older" movie, "The Lion in Winter," with Peter O’Toole playing Henry II; Katharine Hepburn portraying the banished and imprisoned one-time queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine; Anthony Hopkins as their eldest son, Richard the Lionhearted; one of the future James Bond actors, Timothy Dalton, here as King Philip II of France; and assorted other actors/characters.

I have written about this play/film in the past and I will not attempt to go into any details of the story other than to say the closing lines exchanged between Henry and Eleanor as the film ended really stunned me. I re-read the play recently -- those closing lines several times -- and, I have been thinking about them often -- pondering them -- in both a religious and a secular sense. The lines were:

 Henry: You know, I hope we never die.

 Eleanor: I hope so, too.

Henry: You think there's any chance of it?

 (Eleanor smiles, then starts to laugh. Henry joins her in the laughter. The music rises as we begin to pull back and we cannot hear her reply. We can, however, see them talking as Eleanor moves to the deck of the ship [which will return her to imprisonment] and takes up position at the rail.)

I later learned the play was the work not of Shakespeare, but of James Goldman, a contemporary in the sense he was born in 1927 and died in 1998. I later bought a copy of the play and read it. Since Goldman wrote both the stage play and the screenplay for the film, I was not surprised to discover the dialogue was the same in both. I noted that Goldman also wrote both the stage play and the screenplay for a drama about Sherlock Holmes, "They Might be Giants," and the original screenplay for, "Robin and Marian," two of my favorite productions, as well as a number of other works.

 My prior unawareness of a writer with the talent and the imagination of Goldman is the basis for my opening paragraph.

The closing words of Maid Marian to Robin Hood are equally eloquent and fascinating to those of Henry and Eleanor:

"I love you. More than all you know. I love you more than children. More than fields I've planted with my hands. I love you more than morning prayers or peace or food to eat. I love you more than sunlight, more than flesh or joy, or one more day. I love you .... more than God."

In the next life, maybe, I will write something equally profound or, maybe, encounter a woman who will say such words to me .... and mean them.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Saint Paul .... where the Jazz Age began

This is more on the order of an announcement than a post ….
 
 Although F. Scott Fitzgerald is not among my "favorite" writers, as a student of literature and an English major I truly would be derelict not to mention the week-long 14th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Society conference which opens this coming Sunday in Saint Paul. Lifting commentary directly from the local newspaper -- the Saint Paul Pioneer Press: "Scholars (more than two hundred) are coming from all over the United States, as well as England, Holland, Germany, Iran, Sweden, Scotland, Japan, Australia, India and Macedonia."

This sounds like it has the makings for an actual "Parisian" or "Pamplonian-style" party to me.
 
Fitzgerald, you may or may not know, was born on September 24, 1896, in a house only a few miles from my current residence. (I hope it is obvious this was a few decades before my arrival.) He lived there until he was fifteen, when he was shipped off to boarding school in New Jersey. He returned to Saint Paul after being dismissed from Princeton due to failing grades. Again, lifting directly from the Pioneer Press: "With nothing to lose, he re-wrote 'This Side of Paradise' and became the inventor -- and chronicler -- of the Jazz Age. After their marriage (in 1920), Scott and Zelda (Sayre) returned to Saint Paul for the birth of their daughter, (Frances Scott) Scottie. Fitzgerald never came back to Saint Paul after 1922 (despite urban legends that place him at various places in town over the years)."
 
Rather than attempt to list the events and activities and programs associated with the conference, I will instead suggest an internet search which will provide anyone and everyone with more information than an individual is able to digest. Since I will be out of town, I will be unable to attend any presentations .... but/but/but, I will be able to visit the primary photographic exhibit, "Sight Unseen: Rarely viewed Photographs of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his Family and Friends," at the George Latimer Central Library in Saint Paul .... see you there ?? .... maybe ?? And, since this is not an actual post, there is no need for actual comments ....
 
As a footnote, it is worth mentioning that this conference alternates between the United States and Europe. It was held in Saint Paul in 2002, and this will be the first time the international event has ever gathered in the same city twice.
 
The photograph here, incidentally, is of F. Scott and Zelda about the time of their marriage. The songs are two of my favorites sung by two of my favorites .... hmmmm .... later, baby ....
 



Monday, May 29, 2017

So it is ....

Today is Memorial Day ....

It began as an event to honor and to remember the Union dead from the American Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to include all the men and the women who died while serving in any war or military action. It initially was called Decoration Day, becoming Memorial Day after World War II and officially named as such, by act of Congress, in 1967. Over the ensuing years, it has become more and more a day in which people recall and honor family members and friends who came before them. The affiliation with the poppy, incidentally, began in 1918 and the poppy became the American Legion official symbol of remembrance in 1920.

Enough with the history ....

To maintain my Semper Fidelis attachments, included here are three videos (sort of) related to the U.S. Marine Corps. And, in keeping with one of the traditions of the Corps, the photograph was "liberated" from the internet where it was attributed to Getty Images.




 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Welcome, to the Merry Month of May

No, this is not a photograph taken from the deck of Fridtjof Nansen's ship, "Fram," to illustrate what happens to a sailing vessel frozen into the Arctic ice cap or one taken recently to demonstrate the ferocity of Minnesota winters. This is a sidewalk on Main Street in Cottonwood. Best guess is that the photograph was taken around 1910 .... Cottonwood is the small, rural, Minnesota town in which I spent the first eighteen years of my life.
 
While the town did not even exist until 1888 when a post office was established and the railroad arrived, the first homesteaders had appeared in 1871. Although I was not present in 1888 or even in 1910, this is the way I remember Cottonwood during winter months and the way I remember the depth of the snow: One did not shovel the sidewalk; rather, one shoveled a one-way path along the sidewalk.

The small sign in the foreground reads: "J V Mathews Lawyer"
Behind it, the sign proclaims: "Meat Market"
Further down the street, the sign says: "Restaurant"

There is a photograph of Mathews, incidentally, in, "An Illustrated History of Lyon County Minnesota," published in 1912. He was born on his parents' homestead on March 30, 1879, moved to Cottonwood on March 12, 1907, and had his office on the second floor of the Grieve & Laingen Building. Although the "snow shoveler" is not identified, he very well might be Lawyer Mathews.

By the way, welcome to the Merry Month of May. I shoveled snow both yesterday and today ....
 

Something special ....