Ya Gonna Eat That?

In two different movies, Bing Crosby mucks about with a turkey dinner. As Father O’Malley in “Going My Way” (44), he has a lot of lines to deliver during the Christmas feast at the parsonage. While he speaks, he endlessly cuts a slice of turkey on his plate. He saws away until that slice must be a thousand pieces each the size of a grain of sand. And he never takes a single bite!

There’s some consolation: Barry Fitzgerald, as Father Fitzgibbon, gets to voraciously gnaw on a big turkey leg while his dining partner pontificates. But honestly, you just wish Bing would put that fork in his mouth – just once!

The Academy didn’t seem to mind though. They honoured Bing with Best Actor for his portrayal of Father O’Malley. Bing was up against his co-star, who was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for playing Father Fitzgibbon (the rules were changed immediately following that bit of nomination abomination). Barry won for Best Supporting Actor – way to chew a drumstick, Mr. Fitzgerald!!

“Ya Gonna Eat That?” is a new feature wherein I examine movie scenes in which food is present but ignored (except by me).

Next up: the other film in which Bing mucks about with a turkey dinner.

Ya Gonna Eat That?

Because of the upper-crustiness of Douglas Sirk’s characters and the melodrama in his scripts, food is always getting left uneaten in his films. In “Magnificent Obsession” (54), Rock Hudson sits down to a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, the whole shebang. But Rock’s host, an artist played by Otto Kruger, waxes philosophical as he salts and peppers his eggs. Then, having not even set fork to food, Otto abandons the meal and walks to end of his charmingly-set table. There he lights his pipe and delivers some mystical wisdom. Rock eats just one forkful before he’s moved to join Otto at table’s end. The amazing breakfast grows cold as Rock skims his soul.

I like Sirk, and in some of his flicks they eat the food. And there’s always plenty of “hot coffee” for guzzling or sipping. For your own eating pleasure, Sirk’s lush mise en scene & campy style pair well with popcorn & champagne. Or you could enjoy a cup of hot coffee and eat vanilla cake while watching any lavish Technicolour, Cinemascope Sirk-us.

Marvel (and salivate) as Agnes Moorehead turns down chicken salad in “All That Heaven Allows” – blithely, via good acting chops. Mmmmm, chops…

“Ya Gonna Eat That?” is a new feature wherein I examine movie scenes in which food is present but ignored (except by me).

 

 

Natalie Wood’s Bracelets

Due to an on-set accident when she was small Nat always had her left wrist covered in her later movies and publicity shots: opera gloves, long sleeves, watches, bracelets – lots of bracelets: demure for Maria in West Side Story (’61), flashy for Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy (’62). The arm jewelry is designed to wrap her wrist tightly and stay in place thus hiding a severely protruding bone.

In a film called The Green Promise (’49), the child star goes through a raging storm to rescue her lamb. The storm was created on set, and a little wooden footbridge was to collapse once she’d crossed. But the crash came while she was on the bridge and she broke her wrist.

The only time I didn’t see a bracelet or gloves hiding the misshapen wrist is in The Silver Chalice (’54). She plays a Biblical slave girl in a toga with no adornments, and the bone is obvious. (An aside: How do you change wood into mayo? You can’t, but believe it or not, they cast Virginia Mayo as Natalie’s grown up self in The Silver Chalice. Not even close!)

Why have I become so totally preoccupied with Nat’s left wrist? As I watch her movies or scroll through stills, I am always trying to catch a glimpse of that imperfection she was forced to hide. Catching sight of it is like seeing a rare bird. But it reminds me that these impossibly perfect creatures of the silver screen were/are actually real people with real flaws of flesh and soul and heart, except that maybe they aren’t “flaws” at all.

 

Photos from Top: Gypsy, Rebel Without a Cause, The Great Race, Rebel Without a Cause.

Mimosas & Monroe

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Marilyn had a good cool-down trick in The Seven Year Itch – she put her “undies in the icebox”. As good: don a sundress, sit, put an iced bottle of bubbly between your thighs. Better than a cold compress to the head! Now pop the cork. Squeeze some oranges & pour the fresh OJ into a chilled flute, add the champagne. Kick back & let this sparkling mimosa tickle your innards.

Marilyn-Monroe-cocktail

In Part Two of The Gorgeous Girls, Wanda and Constance drink mimosas at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, while figuring out what went wrong with Wanda’s relationship. Believe me, mimosas can help with your love life. Now go put your iced knickers on!

Noir Universe

Disillusionment & paranoia descended on the American Dream in the 40s just as the titular characters in The Killers descend on the Swede as he lay in the shadows awaiting his fate. The Killers (1946) was directed by Robert Siodmak, one of a handful of German emigre directors that brought expressionism to Hollywood to add to the black & white rain-soaked visuals that came to be known as “film noir”. Based on a Hemingway story (1927) of the same name, which is also thought to be the inspiration for Nighthawks (1942), the iconic painting by Edward Hopper, The Killers delivers the existential goods that defined the postwar noir sensibility.

One finds many such nighthawks & diners in the noir landscape; they go hand in hand with the bleak outlook of their cynical heroes & disaffected anti-heroes. As the Swede (Burt Lancaster) says in the opening sequence of The Killers: “I did something wrong…once.” That’s all it takes to doom an otherwise good man, his downfall often aided by a bad woman (Ava Gardner in this case), who’s just trying to stay alive in a hostile man’s world. It’s a story audiences couldn’t get enough of as they grappled with the wide-spread angst & despair following & preceding two wars (WW2 & Cold).