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.


Something special ....