One of the great films about the drama of drama–especially the clash between theater and film, and the harsh realities facing actresses of a “certain age.” Watch Bette Davis’ stage business with a piece of chocolate–she’s a consummate scene-stealer.
When was the last time you were faced with a decision where it really mattered what you did? Where it wasn’t the choice between two equally good options, with no real fallout no matter which way you went?
I remember getting lost in the Pisgah National Forest with a group of friends. We had been backpacking for two days, having a great time, and the two folks who had been there before were in charge of the map and compass. We started the hike back on the last day, an easy three-hour hike back to the car. At the outset, we crossed a small stream and started down what appeared to be the trail. An hour later, we were fighting our way through brush, realizing we had somehow lost the trail. We heard water nearby and worked our way down to the river that had grown out of that small stream. Not only was it too deep and fast to cross, but on the other side we could clearly see the trail we should have been on.
Annoyed with ourselves but believing we were still close to the parking area, we decided to press forward rather than backtrack. For the next six hours, we climbed ridge after ridge, believing each one to be the last. We went from offering mutual encouragement to blaming and snapping. At one point, I remember thinking, “I am tired of this–I just want to stop.” Then it hit me: stopping wasn’t an option. Unless I was prepared to live the rest of my life lost in a dense grove of Mountain Laurel with six really annoying people, I had to keep going.
That was a moment of decision for me, and as soon as I dealt with the reality of the situation, it got easier. Instead of fantasizing about clicking the remote and finding myself suddenly on an easier, friendlier channel, I got really focused and started leading in a way I never had before. I connected with a core part of me that I had been content to let lie dormant in my daily life. Later, when we finally did get back to the car, I was euphoric. Not because we were headed back to showers and civilization but because I’d had a chance to be really tested and found that there was a part of me that both could, and wanted to, rise to that kind of occasion. It was almost like, “how soon can we get lost in the mountains again?”
The Easter message at Quest is titled, “The Hill Men Die On,” (check it out online), and when I think of it, the “hill” I could’ve died on was the hill of “just stopping.” The hill of being in front of a door and refusing to open it because I couldn’t guarantee what was on the other side, even though all my senses told me it was something incredible. And if I would have given in to the lie that it wasn’t really a make-or-break decision–that “it’s all good, man”–I would have walked away safe, but sad, and dead. I am so glad I took Jesus up on the dare to open that door and go cliff jumping with him.
This is one of the best satires of popular media and network news. It’s chilling to think how on target Paddy Chayefsky (screenwriter) was with his comments on reality vs. illusion. This was long before the first reality show ever hit the airwaves. Elsewhere in the film one of the characters predicts that, in the future, all of our news will be in the form of celebrities’ reactions to events, not the reporting of the events themselves. Hello E!, Entertainment Tonight, Xtra, Access Hollywood, etc.
Continuing my thread of highlighting films that were incredibly well-written, as well as well-acted, I include the opening scene from the 1949 George Cukor film, Adam’s Rib, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. As good as they are, Judy Holliday almost steals the film.
This is the pivotal scene in the film, where Sullivan learns the importance of comedy in the midst of difficulty.
This is the opening dialogue scene from Sullivan’s Travels, written and directed by Preston Sturges (1942). Joel McCrea plays a famous director of comedies who longs to make a serious, “socially responsible” film. In this scene he pitches his idea to his studio bosses.
This is one of my favorite recent pictures of my younger son, Joshua. He is a combination of philosopher and construction worker. He loves dirt, trucks, turning the hose on without my knowledge, and talking about his imaginary monster friend, Harry. Harry does all kinds of things he’s not supposed to, such as sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to get bananas, which he then takes back into Josh’s bedroom and eats, leaving the peels under Josh’s bed. Harry is also bad about getting into other people’s Easter candy–something Josh would never do. And then there are the times Josh has to come into my bed during thunderstorms because Harry is taking up too much room in Josh’s bed.
Josh is also reflective. Speaking of nocturnal tendencies, he recently had this conversation with himself as I was lying down with him for a few minutes at bedtime:
“Good night, brain. And, brain, if you want to get up in the night to eat something, don’t sneak, brain. Ask Dad.”