Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews
Vol. XVIII, No. 49
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Fat Tuesday was spent at the home of Barbara and Howard Deck (appropriate name for two fine bridge players) where we had two tables of our favorite pastime, BRIDGE! But the best treat of the day was seeing our old friends, Carolyn and Marvin Carpenter, who were two of the original members of the bridge game started at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church, by Don Zimmermann, over 20 five years ago.
My heart still grieves for all of the Tornado’s damage to USM’s gorgeous campus! Especially having so recently spent that wonderful day there with my friends and fellow alumni!
Then I welcomed this beautiful winter weather!
“Take rest, a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”
Old Movie Review
Little Women (1933 Version)
This was the first screen version of Louisa Mae Alcott’s most beloved story, and it still has not been equaled by any of its later versions. David O, Selznick (of Gone with the Wind fame) produced this “Other side of the Civil War film for RKO, with the same tender regard for sticking closely to the original book, and could not have picked a more nearly perfect cast than he did, way back in 1933. Katherine Hepburn was “Josephine March”, just as Vivian Leigh had been Scarlett O’Hara five years later; “Meg” was played by Frances Dee, a pretty natural blond, Joan Bennet, was “Amy” (the actress later dyed her hair black for the film Trade Winds, with Frederic March, and was so gorgeous that she never went back to being a blonde) and Jean Parker was heartbreakingly touching as “Beth”. “Marmee” (whom they called “Mummie” in this version) was played by a much younger Spring Byington than we all loved as Andy Griffith’s Aunt Bea” for years on TV. The music for this film (as well as GWTW) was written by Max Steiner (who won an Oscar for the GWTW score). There are surprising swapping of some of the melodies from Little Women that come cropping up in GWTW, and vice versa: the “Tara” theme had, apparently not been written back in 1933, but the signature theme for Little Women, is almost as poignant and beautiful as was the more dramatic and triumphant and haunting melody which will forever remind me of Vivien Leigh and her unforgettable performance.
Selznick wrote that first screenplay himself, and after GWTW, intended making it again, this time in Technicolor; with Jennifer Jones (whom he had married) as Jo, and Shirley Temple as Beth. Somehow, he never had the money to make the film, and sold the screenplay to MGM, who made it twice: never worth the effort, as far as I was concerned. Somehow, June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret O’Brien just were not at all convincing as the March sisters.
How vividly I remember the first time I held the book in my hands: I was just about ten years old when Anna bought the tome for me on one of her trips to Hattiesburg to get Josephine, at State Teachers’ College, and bring her home for the weekend. That book was so huge that I felt I would never be able to read the entire work. George took it away from me, opened it to page one and began reading: “Christmas will not be Christmas without presents.” And then he stopped. Never had I heard a beginning that so captured my own philosophy quite so completely! This book I had to read! And after that, I read every one of this author’s output.
I must have sat through the original film version so many times that I can almost quote it verbatim: and I never fail to weep at all of the many heart-breakingly tender and nostalgic moments. Maybe it just affects those who long for their own lost families more than anyone else. This time, I did not erase the copy I had made for the third time.
My favorite line is spoken by Beth to Jo. She says, with such sincerity and sweetness, “I think I shall be lonesome for you, dear Jo, even in heaven,” That gets to me every time!
Draft Dodgers Anonymous
We conquer the Atlantic
About the seventh day of our trip, we pulled into the port of a town in England, whose name I cannot remember. Just seeing the British countryside was thrilling to me! Sadly, only the officers were allowed to leave the ship. They were all given shore leave for that night (which was Saturday) I had glimpsed just enough of England to be determined to spend some quality time there before I died.
On Sunday, as I played a hymn for the young tenor to sing for mass. I felt that I had endured just about enough of the Navy to last me the rest of my lifetime! There had been just enough risky business to make me happy that I had spent my enlistment on solid ground, rather than the ocean. The one thing that sticks to my memory banks was the matter of the bath waters: we were warned, right from the first, that the hot water (for baths only) stayed at a scalding temperature, and some of those idiots were crazy enough to walk by and casually turn the faucet of your shower just enough to leave you marred for life. Mercifully, nobody was actually scalded on either of my ten-day cruises; but the possibility was always there! Add to that, the attitude of the priest who embarrassed me during the mass, and I think you will agree with me that life on the ocean was not exactly my bowl of cherries!
The tenth day finally sauntered in and we pulled into Bremerhaven a bunch of happy young fellows!
We were transferred directly from the ship to a railroad train that was sitting there, just waiting to move us from the northern tip of Germany to the southernmost town of Zweibruchen (Two Bridges). The trip took just over one full day. This entailed spending yet another miserable night without much sleep or rest. The trains in all of Europe are quite different from those in the USA: instead of row after row of seats, they are divided into compartments, with room for eight people per unit. Four of them sit together, facing four others on the opposite side of the coach. I found myself with a mixture of officers and enlisted men, and it was all fairly affable and pleasant enough. I’m sure we were fed (that’s one thing we never had to worry about) but my brain is totally devoid of all memory of food on any of the trains on which I traveled in Deutschland.
I had wondered, vaguely, about sleeping arrangements that night. We were told that we would pull into Zweibruchen early the next morning. Our compartments had three officers and five enlisted men, so it was announced than the officers would sleep on the coach’s two seats (which must have been quite nice when compared with our pallets on the floor)
At the time, I had completely lost track of Dale Hudson (who has verified the fact that he was on that same train with Lynwood and me, all the way to Zweibruchen) and somehow have no memory of Lynwood’s having been in that “Microscopic” Sleeping Compartment until the next morning,
We got off the train and found Zweibruchen quite nice! Just outside the Kassern where we would be assigned to our new “Careers”, we saw our very first Erfrishunging Stand (probably wrongly spelled- but it means Refreshments) and it had, besides Coca Colas and other American soft drinks, the biggest and most beautiful lemons I had ever seen! I immediately thought of what Daddy had always told us about Italian fruits: lemons, like oranges and other fruits with peelings, were bigger and sweeter than anywhere else in the world. I was telling Lynwood this as I took out some money to buy a lemon. The clerk took my USA dollar bill, and gave me my change in the first German money I had ever seen: three shiny coins about the size of a quarter, and with the words for one German mark (at this time the mark was worth roughly twenty-five cents. The man spoke rather good English and said he had overheard my telling my friend about the lemons. “We do get them from Italy!” He said. I thanked him for that,
I jabbed my finger through the peeling, and stuck the fruit to my mouth. It was delicious!
We were being led into the enclosed area of the Kassern (those left over remnants from the Nazi Army that were much more modern and permanent looking than we were used to seeing in the States).
We were shown where to go to get assigned to a post somewhere in Germany, and all of a sudden, I was seized with panic: My number (I forget what this was called) as a Chaplain’s Assistant was identical with “Clerk Typist”! The first position that was mentioned to my group was for someone like Lynwood or Marcus: you not only had to know how to type, but you were expected to be a whiz at it! I had never taken the time to learn how to type correctly, even though I had become rather adept at typing term papers and the likes. Anyway I spelled it, it always came out HUNT AND PECK.
“I’m s Chaplain’s assistant,” I said hopefully. Then I sat and waited as they called time after time, “Clerk Typist”. Finally, just before noon, the fellow came over to me and said they finally had a request for my specialty: the only trouble was that the chaplain was a Baptist. I had to explain that I was not willing to take a job as any chaplain’s assistant who was not a Roman Catholic priest. I cited as my reason for this, the fact that the same identical thing had happened to my brother, George, during WW2. He never wanted to come back to the Catholic Church after that!
So, I had to take my seat again. We had eaten breakfast before going into the building we were now in, and had gone to the mess hall again for lunch, Lynwood had come over to tell me that he was gobbled up almost as soon as the fun had begun (just as I had felt he would be) and when he told me he was going to be stationed in Heidelberg, at the Headquarters for the US Army in Germany, I prayed with all my might that I, too, might be going to this beautiful place.
The shadows were growing bigger and more life threatening as the day wore on. The room full of enlisted men had dwindled down to five or six of us misfits (and I was seriously giving thought to becoming a protestant) when the man who had been so sincere in trying to find something that I would qualify for, came into the room again.
“Has anyone here ever worked in a library?”
My heart almost leapt out of my throat! This was perfect! I had always adored books- and I had made A’s when I had to take a one-quarter course in Library Science. I was praying now: “Lord, please let me get this job! Please! Puy-leeze!!!!”
I looked all around the room to see if anyone else were raising his hand. There was no competition, apparently. I am, basically, a person who is very unsure of himself. And I never felt less secure as I said, very meekly, “I had a course in Library Science as an undergraduate-“
He looked at me, and asked for my name. I told him. He looked at my papers and said, “You’ll do.”
“Thank you, Lord!” my soul shouted.
“You will be going to Karlsruhe as a member of the Historical Division of the US Army in Germany.”
And thus began the most wonderful eighteen months of my life!
Old Movie Quiz *71
1. Anna and the King of Siam starred Irene Dunne and what leading man?
2. Three Coins in the Fountain, refers to which famous Roman fountain?
3. What Hollywood favorite is Elizabeth Taylor mocking in the opening scene of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff?
4. This film marked the screen debut of what handsome leading man who was later the lead in the sit-com Just Shoot Me?
5. His wife, in the film, won the best supporting actress award for her work. Who else got a statuette for this film?
6. Blood and Sand had which Fox star as its bull fighter? Who was the glamorous lady who caused his downfall?
7. My Gal Sal starred Victor Mature as a song writer. What Columbia red head was the love interest in the film?
8. Across the Wide Missouri was a star studded Western that starred John Hodiak, Ricordo Montalban and who else from MGM’s larder of Stars?
9. What was Nick and Nora’s beloved dog named? His name appears often in crossword puzzles. This, of course refers to the Thin Man Series at MGM in the 30’s and 40’s.
10. Sorry, Wrong Number had what star frightened out of her wits?
Answers to TRIVIA QUIZ #70
1. In 1938, Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Collodi’s Pinocchio was his second literary classic to be immortalized.
2. Between these two ground-breaking masterpieces, Paramount’s cartoonist created yet another great literary classic Gulliver’s Travels, though it used only parts of the original novel.
3. Disney had a huge success with the charming romance between two puppies. The Lady and the Tramp.
4. Early in his classical cartoons, Walt had Leopold Stowkowsky record the music for several famous masterpieces of music. Fantasia was the title of this “High Brow” film?
5. Mr. Stowkowski, himself conducted the score.
6. The Reluctant Dragon was the first film that combined live action with cartoon characters? It had Robert Benchley, supposedly being shown around Disney’s studios.
7. The Three Caballeros, which starred Donald Duck and Jo Carioca) plus Carmen Miranda’s sister (live) and a lot of others in a good natured fun-movie:
8. I began to find fault with Disney’s films (long after his death) when the company began creating cartoons out of such serious stories as this famous Victor Hugo classic. Name it.
9. What was the name of Walt Disney’s first Mickey Mouse cartoon? Extra credit if you know whose voice was used: and remember how squeaky high it always was!
10. Judy Garland (whose talents seem to have been as varied as they were magnificent) did a voice-over as the lead in a story about a French cat. Name it, please.