Posts Tagged ‘movie’

The Post – Faith is Believing in Something When Common Sense Tells You Not To

June 17, 2008

Something about summer’s heat always makes me stop and think about Christmas and all it stands for. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just that at June, we’re half a year’s away from those times of generosity and remembering Jesus’s birth, and all that He stood for.

Whenever I think of Christmas, there are certain rituals I remember and savor. One of them is watching my absolute favorite movie for Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, the 1947 version, in my opinion, the only true …and magical version. Yes, it’s another one of those simplistic happy movies, like It’s a Wonderful Life, or Come to the Stable, movies with uncomplicated people who just know what the season and its “intangible” gifts are all about…and yes, I love the movie. Apparently so did the cast.

In an interview with Maureen O’Hara several years ago she mentioned how she was vacationing in Ireland when she was told to return to make this movie. She was angry and didn’t want to do it. Yet when she read the script she changed her mind. In another interview, she commented that there was something that happened during the making of this movie that made them all feel happy and at peace. After a while, they all started believing Edmund Gwynne [the actor playing Kris Kringle] really was Santa Claus. She noted that the energy on the set was positive, almost magical. I know, watching the movie, that’s how I feel.

I found a site called Script-O-Rama that has scripts of many movies, Miracle on 34th Street, included. While a few errors here and there (that I corrected below from my own copy of the movie), the web author does have a pretty good copy of the movie’s script.

I included a couple excerpts from the movie’s script, including the pivotal scene that to me, sums up the movie’s message succinctly – that faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to, and that ultimately, the intangibles in life, such as love and joy, are the only things that ARE worthwhile.

So for your reading pleasure, a summertime glimpse at Miracle on 34th Street!

___________________

In the courtroom, attorney, Fred Gailey [John Payne], sets everyone abuzz when he states at the beginning of the trial:

I intend to prove that Mr. Kringle is Santa Claus.

The next scene puts him at the apartment of the woman he’s been dating, Doris [Maureen O’Hara]. She is the very effective, logical, and all-business executive at Macy’s Department Store and doesn’t share Gailey’s enthusiasm for this idealistic quest:

DORIS: But you can’t possibly prove that he’s Santa Claus.

GAILEY: Why not? You saw Macy and Gimbel shaking hands. [Something Kris Kringle brought about because of his contagious joy] That wasn’t possible either, but it happened.

DORIS: Honestly…

GAILEY: It’s the best defense I can use. Completely logical and completely unexpected.

DORIS: And completely idiotic. What about your bosses… Haislip and Mackenzie and the rest of them? What do they say?

GAILEY: That I am jeopardizing the prestige and dignity of an old, established law firm and either I drop this impossible case immediately…or they will drop me.

DORIS: See?

GAILEY: I beat them to it. I quit.

DORIS: Fred, you didn’t.

GAILEY: Of course I did. I can’t let Kris down. He needs me, and all the rest of us need him.

DORIS: Look darling, he’s a nice old man and I admire you for wanting to help him, but you’ve got to be realistic and face facts. You can’t just throw your career away because of a sentimental whim.

GAILEY: But I’m not throwing my career away.

DORIS:But if Haislip feels that way so will every other law firm in town.

GAILEY: I’m sure they will. Then I’ll open my own office.

DORIS: And what kind of cases will you get?

GAILEY: Oh, probably a lot of people like Kris that are being pushed around. That’s the only fun in law anyway. But I promise you, if you believe in me and have faith in me everything will… You don’t have any faith in me, do you?

DORIS: It’s not a question of faith. It’s just common sense.

GAILEY: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to….Don’t you see, it’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for.

DORIS: Oh Fred.

GAILEY: It’s kindness, and joy, and love, and all the other intangibles.

DORIS: Oh, Fred, you’re talking like a child. You’re living in a realistic world and those lovely intangibles of yours are attractive but not worth very much. You don’t get ahead that way.

GAILEY: That all depends on what you call getting ahead. Evidently, you and I have different definitions.

DORIS: These last few days we’ve talked about some wonderful plans, but then you go on an idealistic binge. You give up your job, you throw away all your security…and then you expect me to be happy about it!

GAILEY: Yes, I guess I expected too much…. Look Doris, someday you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.

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The Post – Twenty Years of Marriage

February 27, 2008

A time out, today, from both my writing journey posts and my fiddler crab posts. No new info on the latter yet, by the way. It’s like pregnant women past their due date – you just wait and don’t ask if the contractions have started yet.

Today is a special day. It is our twentieth wedding anniversary. It is a milestone, and worth taking time out to honor. The years have gone quickly, sprinkled with child-raising, dogs, sick parents, near-death experiences, heart-ache, joy, aging. A good mix for life I’d say. As I’ve noted, we are both geeks in our own ways, and as such, we understand each other. I just wanted to take a moment today to honor my best friend, and I figured he would enjoy and understand the movie reference below. He and I speak in movie references – lines from movies that capture the emotion of a moment for us. Over the years we have accumulated a collection of lines from hundreds of movies. They have become a kind of coded communication between us.

This particular movie is called 84 Charing Cross Road. Anne Bancroft stars. Her husband, Mel Brooks, purchased the rights to produce it – his gift of love to her, knowing how much she loved the story.

It’s the true story of a New York City writer, Helene Hanff – a person kind of like me – no bullsh–, doesn’t mince words, very “unglamorous.” She has a sharp, but kind sense of humor and a great heart. Helene LOVED English literature, but in late 1940s New York City where the movie begins, she could not find any English literature books except at the library. Then she discovered Marks & Co. and began a decades-long correspondence with them. The story is told through her letters. From the opening of the movie:

“October 5, 1949, to Marks and Co., 84 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2, England. Gentlemen, Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase “antiquarian bookseller” scares me somewhat as I equate antique with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions. I enclose a list of my most pressing problems. If you have any clean second-hand copies of any of the books on the list for no more than $5 each, would you consider this a purchase order and send them to me?”

Thus begins her relationship with the very proper bookseller at Marks & Co., “FPD.” FPD, over letters and time becomes Frank Doel, then simply, “Frank.” It’s a love story, but not the usual kind. They live an ocean apart, have different lives, and he is married with daughters. Happily married. So no, there are no hot sex scenes, the crutch of most modern movies. Yet it is a love story, anyway, because true love at its deepest is about caring, generosity, and the connection of souls. It is not limited by the relationship but can be felt for spouses, friends, relatives, neighbors. Their friendship enlarges their lives, expanding to include his wife, neighbors, daughters, other workers at the bookshop, her friends. Their love is about adding something to each of their lives, not taking things away or destroying things. It is about understanding each other, and that is the quality of love that sustains it, whether in marriage or friendship, well into old age. And frankly, a marriage that lasts well into old age is as much about friendship, as anything else.

Throughout the movie, she revels in the old books she buys, books better for having been owned by someone else first. Again, it is a love of connection to others, even those she never met. She says: “I love inscriptions on fly-leafs and notes in margins. I like the camaraderie-sense of turning pages someone else turned and reading passages someone long gone has called my attention to.” She can’t get enough of the books. Frank finds them for her.

By the end of the movie, he is “Frankie” to her, and she tells him, “You’re the only soul alive who understands me.” It’s a sentiment that reflects a bond where you are known deeply, valued, and most importantly, accepted. Your truth is safe in the hands of another. Whether two people are the same or very different matters not if there is acceptance. When someone knows our deepest places, our vulnerabilities, and accepts us, they give us the best of gifts. The wish to be understood and accepted is one of the bonds that links us all. These are things I have felt for and from my husband.

At one point a friend of Helene’s made it to England and visited the book store. She wrote Helene with a description:

“It’s the loveliest old shop straight out of Dickens. You would go absolutely out of your mind over it….It’s dim inside. You can smell the shop before you see it. It’s a lovely smell. I can’t articulate it easily but it combines must and dust and age and walls of wood and floors of wood…The shelves go on forever. They go up to the ceiling and they’re very old and kind of gray, like old oak that absorbed so much dust over the years they no longer are their true color.”

Such a visceral, sensual description. It was a description both my husband and I fell in love with immediately when we heard it. It is a place we hope yet, to be.

At one point in the movie Helene writes to Frank:

“I require a book of love poems with Spring coming on. No Keats or Shelley. Send me poets who can make love without slobbering. Wyatt or Johnson or somebody. Use your own judgment. Just a nice book, preferably small enough to stick in a slacks pocket and take to Central Park.”

Late in the movie, Frank is shown, reflecting on her as a Yeats love poem runs through his mind. The moment, and the poem, are my gifts to my husband, my best friend. Thank you for these last 20 years. They’ve gone so fast. I’d like 20 times 20 more, and if time allows, I’d like yet to walk into 84 Charing Cross Road with you.

So to “Eddie,” all my love, and to you and all romantics out there, a poet who can make love without slobbering:

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths,
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865-1939). The Wind Among the Reeds. 1899.

The Gift

February 14, 2008

I was playing racquetball with a friend the other day. She returned a lob shot. It was the perfect setup for me. I was in the exact right position on the court. I could take my time. Prepare my swing. Sight my spot on the wall to blast it at. Too easy. The shot was mine. I knew it. I raised my arm, wound up for a power shot, and blew it. I had shifted my attention to where to move to after I got this shot, then how to set up for the return from my opponent, and where to place the shot after that . . . I suddenly remembered Yoda’s words to Luke Skywalker, as if he were standing on the racquetball court next to me: “Always your mind on the future, never on what you were doing.” Sometimes green puppets in a movie, speak the truth…. Stay in the present moment.