Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews
Vol. XVIII, No. 44
Sunday, January 20, 2013
“He seems the incarnation of everything soft and silky and velvety, without a sharp edge in his composition, a dreamer whose philosophy is sleep and let sleep.”
Saki (H. H. Munro)
Old Movie Review
Suez (20th Century Fox: 1938)
I was only nine when I saw this movie the first time: and I was bowled over! I won’t say it was not any good: Tyrone Power still looks as pretty as he did back then, and Loretta Young was at her gorgeous designer-clothes-wearing best (even though she did throw Ty over just because Louis Napoleon could turn her into the Empress of France (Big Deal!) The biggest surprise (and she had made no impression on me whatsoever back then) was Annabella! She must have impressed Power, too; because he ended up marrying her (at least for a brief interval). On hand, also, were Joseph Schildkraut, always one of the most conniving of villains; and Sidney Blackmer. The film is brilliantly photographed (in black and white) and just seeing the tornado-like dust storm, which was what thrilled me to death in ’38, is worth the price of admission (which in its original release was 11 and 22 cents in Richton).
By yet another of my strange coincidences, (why did they always seem to happen to me?) George and I were about to live through one almost identical to it a few months afterwards! Here’s how it happened:
It was the 4th of July. As usual, we had nothing whatsoever planned for the day. None of our family wanted to do anything like celebrating. Sammy had walked over to the Hayden’s house earlier, saying Emma (they were going steady) had invited him to celebrate with her family. Sometime that morning, Daddy saw us in the living room where George was entertaining me by playing “The Hit Parade” on the Cable-Nelson (or, Anna’s upright piano). He had to have been really bored with his upcoming task, because he walked to the door and looked in at us. “George---Francis—why don’t you take a ride with me for a few minutes? I gotta go lookin’ at some steers.”
This was not at all ordinary. We were almost never expected to go anywhere to look at cattle. Anything seemed better, to me, than staying at home all day long- so I jumped up and began moving to the car. “Well- yeah! We’ll go along for the ride.”
About half an hour later, the car came to a stop. “Listen,” Daddy said.
“I’m gonna have to leave you here and walk to the man’s farm. I don’t see any sign of it. Y’all just wait in the car.” And he was gone.
Patience has never been one of my strong points, and twenty minutes later, with no return appearance by our father, I was getting pretty antsy.
George, always extremely self-sufficient thought up a brand-new word game: just like that! I admit I do not remember what it was, but it was (as always) interesting enough to hold my undivided attention for well over an hour. Then, even he got tired of trying to think up clues (or, whatever) and began to swelter and gripe about the way we seemed to have been abandoned.
“You don’t think he got lost?” I said, becoming quite concerned. My stomach was also telling me it was high time I fed it something.
The sun, mercifully, had not been a factor up to this point. Now, George opened the car door and stepped out. “Francis, look at the strange color of the sky!”
That simple comment was enough to cause me almost to have a heart attack. My history with bad weather was legend: I would always throw up everything in my stomach at the first sign of a storm.
As if he had not done enough damage to my psyche with that first atomic bomb, he reinforced it with, “It looks just like the time we saw that tornado coming down in the Project north of Richton!”
That did it! I threw up all over the road! I did not feel one bit better for having done so, either! Like an idiot, I began screaming at the top of my lungs, “Daddy! Daddy. Where are you? Daddy---“
“That’s not doing a bit of good!” George said sternly.
“Well, I wanna go home! I’m afraid!”
“He’ll have to come back now, especially with a tornado coming right at us!”
If he thought his saying that was going to calm me down, he was really crazy!
“Oh, why did he have to bring us out here, just to run off and leave us?”
And then, as if in answer to our prayers, we saw his hat appearing coming from the woods. He was not in a happy mood. “That ole devil! I been looking every place he mentioned, and there’s not a sign of him, or his house!
“Oh, Daddy. Let’s go home!” I was sobbing now.
“That’s what I’m gonna do!” And he slid into the car and started driving us towards town.
“Papa. Don’t you think those clouds look like a tornado?” George asked.
“Naw! That’s a sand-storm—that’s what that is.”
“How can you tell?” George persisted.
“Because I used to see ‘em all the time in Sicily!”
Even as they talked, the winds had picked up their tempo dramatically.
By the time we were back on the main road, the wind was becoming ever stronger, with blasts of dust that were truly frightening. Daddy was having trouble seeing where the road was and where it was not. We were meeting with lots of noise, as he hit various objects along the way.
I breathed a sigh of relief, when we finally could see out market through the dust storm. Daddy pulled up to the curb, and got out of the car. The wind was pushing him around as if he were a rag doll! He went up to the front windows and peered inside, trying to see what sort of damage the wind had already caused. He came rapidly back to the car.
“My God! That dirt is a foot deep all over the store!”
I began crying. “Now, hush up, Francis,” he tried to calm me down. I was having none of that. “We gonna be home in just a minute, and then we be safe and sound!”
I could just see our poor old house, with walls missing, no roof, and all of our possessions scattered all over the place. My crying became more non-stopped, as I wallowed in my fear and grief.
Mercifully, we did, indeed, find very little damage to our home; and I had never clung to Mama like I did as soon as she put her miraculous arms around my neck and kissed me. Has there ever been anything to equal that moment?
On Monday, the Times Picayune (which George delivered for years to the folks in Richton), had photographs of the damage caused by this giant dust storm all over the area. It may even have spurred John Steinbeck to write The Grapes of Wrath!
DRAFT DODGERS ANONYMOUS
Lynwood’s ever-present dread of being sent to Korea, caused him to ask his commanding officer to send him anywhere but there! His skill as a typist made him a very valuable commodity, and the next thing I knew, he was calling me to tell me his good news. I was thrilled for him, of course, but I dreaded having to endure Fort Jackson without him. Marcus, also an expert typist, had landed a wonderful job at Ft. Rucker, in Alabama. As a matter of fact, he spent his entire post-basic training there.
I had applied for, and gotten a spot in the band. That’s where I thought I wanted to be. But Dale Lavon Hudson and Ormon Sanderson were already in possession of the only two teaching jobs available. We were all three pianists, with Masters degrees in performance. I had never had the time or desire to learn a second instrument. Meanwhile, I had the same identification as a Chaplain’s Assistant! This was precisely how my brother, George had ended up as a Baptist Chaplain’s assistant when he was send overseas (to India and China in WW2).
So, I walked cautiously, not really knowing what I should do nor how I was to go about it.
Enter Charlie Duffy!
I’ve told you about my Guardian Angel (as well as my Poltergest) and now you will see how he (the angel) saved me. I had known Charlie as a fellow music major at Southern Miss, though I barely knew him at all. He was a freshman my senior year, so our paths seldom crossed. But as so frequently happens, he knew a lot more about me than I did about him. He was the Assistant to the Post Chaplain (Father Mack) and came to me to entreat me to apply for another assistant’s job, insisting that there was plenty of need for at least two chaplain’s assistants there. I refused to let myself get too optimistic about such a think happening, but once I met this dear, sweet old priest, I loved him. I took over the hymn-playing right away (this was more than all right with Charlie) and gasped with surprise when the old priest confided to me after Mass one day, shortly after I was secure in my job, that he wished I did not play Bach while he was saying the Mass. “I find the chromaticism quite distracting!” So, much as I depend on Bach for everything, I never played another bar of it there at Post Chapel No. 1! And we got along famously/
(To be continued)
Old Movie Trivia Quiz #69
1. There was an earlier version of Some Like It Hot, which had nothing to do with the sensational second movie. Can you guess who its stars were (both male and female leads were very popular in 1939.
2. Boston Blackie was the hero of a semi-popular series of “B films” of the 30’s. Who was this actor?
3. Erle Stanley Gardener’s Della Reese was played by what actress in the TV version of Perry Mason mysteries?
4. What female sleuth was played by Angela Lansbury on Sunday night TV?
5. What was the title of David O, Selznik’s psychological thriller with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck?
6. What surrealist artist designed the sets for the film?
7. Which Ingrid Bergman film caused her disgrace in 1950 (Released in the USA on Feb. 15---ironically the day after Valentine’s Day!)
8. What was this beautiful star’s last film? What else was significant about this production?
9. What film did Bergman share with Liza Minelli?
10. Who was Ingrid’s co-star in Notorious?
Answers to Quiz 68
1. Some like it Hot was directed by Billy Wilder.
2. In this comedy, the two leading stars witnessed the St. Valentine Day massacre.
3. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtiss played these two witnesses.
4. Marilyn Monroe played the role of “Sugar Kane”. As well as a banjo!
5. Joe E. Brown had the last laugh in the film “”Nobody’s perfect!” he responds to Jack Lemmon’s statement that he is a man.
6. The musical instruments played by the leads were String Bass and clarinet.
7. Lemon had won an Oscar earlier for Days of Wine and Roses.
8. The Tony Curtiss was married to Janet Leigh and they had a famous daughter: Jamie Lee Curtiss.
9. Lemon played a Warlock in the film version of Bell, Book and Candle. In the film, he was Kim Novak’s brother (she was, of course, a gorgeous witch)
10. The all-“Girl”-band was ultimately going to Miami.
Answers to Quiz # Movie Trivia Quiz #67
1. The Cockeyed Miracle was an MGM oddity from 1946 that I had never seen nor heard of. It was hysterically funny, with a good cast headed by Frank Morgan, who was the title character of The Wizard of Oz.
2. Finnian’s Rainbow has a haunting musical score, which includes “How are Things in Glockomora?” “Look for the Rainbow”: “That Old Devil Moon”, “The Girl that I Marry”, etc. The director Francis Ford Coppola, who did such films as The Godfather, and its many sequels.
3. Fred Astaire was the actor who played Finnian. His daughter was played by Petula Clark, a popular British pop singer. She had starred in a remake of Goodbye, Mr. Chips earlier.
4. A Guy Named Joe was a melancholy story that starred Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne
5. Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing all appeared in 1967’s Thoroughly Modern Millie
6. Henry Fonda appeared in only one film of Alfred Hitchcock: Warner Bros.’ The Wrong Man, based on a true crime,
7. Samuel Goldwyn’s only Oscar was for the quintessential WW2 story, The Best Years of Our Lives
8. RKO’s They Knew What They Wanted became a big musical hit on Broadway as The Most Happy Fellow
9. was Becky Sharp in RKO’s first Technicolor film? Miriam Hopkins
10. Bitter Rice introduced Sylvano Mangano to USA screens.