Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Death of Summer and Other Sob Stories

Dream it
Do it
~ sign seen on my walk in the rain this morning

Yesterday was such a busy day that I didn't even realize Fall had arrived. No, that realization came when it was time to go to bed and I had to get out a cotton blanket for the bed. I know, I know, some people would  have just closed the windows, but I'm not one of them.

Knowing how much I had to accomplish today, I woke up at 6:45 and tried, to no avail, to go back to sleep. Finally, at 7:45, I gave up and got up despite having had nowhere near my usual nine hours of sleep. Now that I think about it, that could have had something to do with the 10 1/2 hours I'd gotten the night before, but I'll never know.

Still, I'd like it added into the record that I was awake before sunrise today. My reward was stopping by Nate's for a bagel on my walk, but the price I paid was having to listen to - wait for it - "Eye of the Tiger," "Uptown Girl" and "I'm So Excited," some of the worst '80s pablum I can recall, in succession while I waited for it.

Some sacrifices are worth it for a really good everything bagel with scallion cream cheese served to me by Nate himself in an Obama t-shirt. Suddenly, the cooler weather was tolerable, even if I did have to resort to a hoodie over my t-shirt. Mind you, still worn with shorts.

The day was a blur of writing, laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, reading the stack of a week's worth of the Washington Post and, saddest of all, moving the beach chairs and umbrellas from the car to the basement for another year.

And, yes, there was a nap, although unfortunately it was a rain nap rather than a heat nap, but it did the trick. Thus fortified, I was ready for some culture: a one day screening of "Rebel Without a Cause" at Movieland.

And don't tell Pru, but no, I'd never seen it. Oh, the cultural gaps I still possess.

Buying my ticket, the girl behind the counter expressed incredulity. "What I wanna know is how you people even knew we were showing this movie. We didn't advertise it. It's from, like, 1955!"

You're right, honey, that is old, a fact I feel secure in saying since it came out before even I was around. As for my intel, it was Facebook that had alerted me to the TCM Classics event - in CinemaScope! and Warner Color! - and I'd promptly marked it down on my calendar.

As you might expect for a rainy, cool Sunday evening show, everyone in the theater tonight was of an age. The balding guy in front of me showed up with a David Baldacci book in one hand and a beer in the other. The couple to my left each held boxes filled with chicken fingers and fries on their lap, making for their own little Cinebistro.

Footage of TCM's Ben Mankiewicz explaining how significant the film was came first and then we were transported back to the days when high school students who got arrested at night (you know, kids who are in the pre-juvenile delinquent stage) were wearing suits, or, at the very least, slacks, vest and button down shirt and tie.

That's definitely a world I never knew.

But as every cultured person on the planet except me apparently is aware, the film takes place on the first day of school and it's not exactly picture-perfect. Knife fights, playing chicken with cars, tires being slit, a kid meeting his death driving over a seaside cliff, did all '50s high schools have a first day of school like that or was that just in California?

And don't get me started about a 2:00 field trip to the Planetarium on the first day of school, either. Impossible! When did the kids bring home the permission slips? Hello, was anyone working continuity on this film?

The seriously '50s details included our hero drinking milk from a quart glass bottle, Mom serving a fish souffle for dinner, little brother's noisy atomic ray gun and the kind of aprons that covered a homemaker's entire dress front, with an enormous bow tied in the back. The Dad, played by Jim Backus aka Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell III, had a particularly emotive moment wearing said apron in an attempt to clean up a fallen plate of food before his shrewish wife saw the spill and berated him.

And if you think that's quaint, how about a cop responding to a kid with a gun by saying, "Come here, son," and approaching him slowly and calmly? Fiction or just plain dated, you make the call.

But I have emerged with a new appreciation for James Dean's face and physique Method acting, especially since Ben informed us that he improvised  a lot of his dialog and directed many of the scenes, including that opening one where Dean was drunk in the street and playing with the monkey toy.

Back in the days when a kid like him would be brought in to the station on "plain drunkenness." Ah, the good old days.

But what matters today isn't that I've finally seen a movie the Library of Congress deemed culturally, historically and aesthetically significant. It's that it's Fall and I'm already resorting to blankets and additional layers.

If I dream of summer, can I get a do-over and then repeat it for the rest of the year? I have it on the best authority that's how it works.

No comments:

Post a Comment