Ted Turner is trying to kill me.
I am an old movie buff and always have been. A major disappointment over they years has been the movie line up on American Movie Classics the alleged old movie channel. Rarely is there anything on that would constitute a classic. It tends to run to all the truly bad b movies of the 70s with lots of Charles Bronson. The real powerhouse is Turner Classic movies. The cable system on the island was falcon cable, a fierce competitor of Mr. Turners back in the good bad old days of cable television. Hence no Turner classic movie channel for. Last year falcon sold the system. Two months ago Turner classic was added. I discovered this happy fact by accident one Friday night, sipping a scotch and checking the sports news. Having been sipping said scotch for some time I punched in ESPN news, channel 221.Or so I thought. I actually punched in 212, the new home of Turner Classic movies. Instead of basketball highlights, free agent signings and spring training reports I was staring at Bogart and Hepburn in the African queen. This was followed by Casablanca. Mind you it was already eleven at night. I stayed awake through those two and fell asleep halfway through High Sierra. The next morning I awoke to She wore a yellow ribbon.
Normally in my house, the television of for two things sports and news. Now however I got in the habit of checking channel 212 each night along with espn news, cnbc and cnn. It started harmlessly enough, an old classic here, a western there. Soon my Saturday morning lineup of the comedians on the fox morning money shows was replaced by musicals and westerns. I couldn’t help myself. Each night something new to watch. The Cincinnati kid one night with Steve McQueen dueling Edward g Robinson to be the greatest poker play of the day one night, Kirk Douglass and john wayne battling the Japanese and their inner demons in the classic wwii movie In harms way.Our town, Brigadoon, come blow your horn,12 angry men,42 nd street, no name on the bullet. Its constant, there’s almost always something great and classic on the damn channel. Soon I was hooked, watching all the time. William Holden,John Wayne, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Jamese Cagny,Spencer Tracey, Audrey Hepburn,Audie Murphy…good god man this stuff is worse than crack!
So I have found myself watching John Wayne and Lee Marvin conspire to aid their old friend on the Doc in hiding his mixed race children in the post wwii south pacific while having raucous barroom brawls with the Australian navy, falling in love with the oh-so proper Bostonian and learning that in live and family there can be no shame. I watched him again in the Quiet Man portraying Trooper Thornton a man running from his demons and towards his memories learning that for life to go on demons must be tackled..or in this case beaten senseless through the streets of Innisfree with a stop for a proper mid fight porter..Before life and love can blossom. Interestingly in both of them Wayne finally wins over the girl and breaks down her reluctance by throwing her over his shoulder and carrying her off to marital bliss. A technique that would be frowned upon today but one that cause on to sigh nostalgically for the good old days of male female relationships.
I have seen both versions of The Philadelphia Story, both incomparable original with Katherine hepburn at the top of her form and pinnacle of her beauty and Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart delivering an over the top performance as a serious writer turned scandal sheet journalist. It is a story of love lost and regained with many twists and turns along the way. Canceled weddings, late night drunken almost affairs (hey-I can relate), pre-teen matchmakers and happy endings. This amazing film, which was nominated for six Oscars and won two, is even more amazing when you consider that it was shot in six weeks with not a single retake. Having watched that one blustery Saturday afternoon I had to stay up the next night for the remake of the movie as a musical with an equally incredible cast of Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby. Louis Armstrong shows up to jam at one point in the movie. I particularly am fond of this movie as grace Kelly gets off a line at one point that describes the vast majority of my persona relationships when she says Yes, isn’t she? Ah, but we’re afraid she has a homicidal streak.” This was Kelly last film before she retired to marry the Prince of Monaco and was the first film the incomparable Cole Porter had scored in seven years. Both classics and among the greats of all time.
Naturally this comes just as life has gotten very busy. After a January and February where free time was primarily devoted to trips to Chicago and new york, running with da boys here on Kent Island, doing the usual reading and card playing with a few side journeys to see if I could possibly find another incantation of the one true love of my life (for those of you playing along at home note on the scorecard that yup I m without again. Too bad I cant just John Wayne some beauty back to the cave). Now of course just as the addiction of old movies sings through my veins turning me into a back and white Technicolor junkie I have two major projects starting in addition to all the regular market and family stuff that has to be attended to. I find my self having to force my sweaty hands to abandon the remote and step away from the couch each evening until the day’s work is done later in the evening..But about 10 or so most nights its click and watch at least one of these gems before bedtime.
I thought perhaps I had begun to break this addiction as the last two nights I haven watched at all. Now of course I did stay up Sunday night to watch Sean Connery in one his best ever films, Robin and Marion. The film was Audrey Hepburns return to the screen and featured both Richard Harris and Robert Shaw in supporting roles. It is a classic love and adventure tale with the older robin Hood unable to face the facts of aging and trying to continue the fight until Marion, having forsworn her vows as a nun to return to his side poisons them both o that his legend and memory remain beloved. Great file. But I digress. The last two nights I had managed to escape the clutches of my fast growing addiction. Truthfully much of it has been nelson eddy and Jeanette McDonald and they are not one of my favorites. Then I looked a tonight’s schedule. The out of towners at 8. Plaza suite at 10. And what sadistic bastard scheduled James garners wheeler-dealer for midnight? I mean any movie that has stock promotion, oil scams and the uneven course of true love must be watched, right?
There has been much discussion of films and their lessons for speculators on the list in recent weeks. I find that the older movies have many of the things speculators treasure, much more so than todays blood spattered, animatronics films. Individual heroism, the fall grace and regain of glory, personal belief and honor, breaking into song while the world falls around your ears, all are themes I find running throughout the older films. There is romance and seduction rather than semi pornographic scenes representing the concept of love. The violence is not so gore spattered that sam peckinpah would retch. They capture so much more of the glad to be alive, all is possible nature of life that is a key ingredient in living well. If you have the channel on your cable network I suggest you try it. But beware-If you have the slightest trace of romance in left in you, you might be better off with a needle full of smack or a bottle of rebel yell bourbon. Far less addicting.
Turner owns the largest library of classic films. The liberal namby –pamby bastard is trying to kill me