The Sword & Sandal Blogathon: 1949’s Samson and Delilah

My post today is for The Sword & Sandal Blogathon, hosted by  Debbie at Moon in Gemini.  Be sure to check out her blog to read other writers’  posts about films set in ancient times.

Sword and Sandal Blogathon

From time to time, Hollywood turns to the Bible for film plots, and due to the supernatural elements in many of the bible’s stories, movies depicting such stories are usually considered epics and/or blockbusters; containing spectacular special effects and casts of thousands.   Some Hollywood versions of famous biblical stories I have enjoyed and some I haven’t.   A year or two ago, Turner Classic aired one I had never seen before so I set my dvr and settled in to watch Cecil B. Demille’s 1949 biblical epic: Samson and Delilah.  I witnessed a pretty good film and it exceeded my expectations, for the most part.  The film was released in late December of 1949, cost around $3,000,000 to make and did boffo at the box office, earning Paramount Studios a bit over $25,000,000 in profits.  The film also won Academy Awards for Best Color  Costume Design and Best Color Art Direction.

Samson_and_Delilah_original_1949_poster

Samson’s story, is found in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapters 13-16.  I’ve included this link if you want to read the actual story of Samson and Delilah.  Highlights are his parents promising to raise their long awaited child as a Nazirite meaning Samson will never eat or drink anything made from grapes, he’ll never have a haircut, and he’ll not touch dead bodies or gravesites.  That haircut part will eventually cause Samson’s downfall, but some say his real downfall was his wanting to be with pagan gals and not marrying a nice Israelite girl as his parents urged him to do.    In telling Samson’s story for the big screen, the screenplay was based upon Russian writer Vladimer Jabotinsky’s novel, published in 1927:  Samson Nazorei(Samson the Nazirite).

Of course, using the novel for the screenplay added story elements not found in the Book of Judges: Delilah was Samson’s sister-in-law, that the Saran of Gaza plots to have the Israeli tribe Samson hails from to turn him in due to high taxes imposed upon them, i.e. if you give us Samson, your taxes will be reduced, a bit of information about Dagon, the false god whom the Philistines worship, and Delilah sad at what happens to Samson after she betrays him and how she comes to his aid.   Samson

Victor Mature, an actor whose films I  haven’t seen much of, is very good as Samson.   He gives an earnest performance, as a strong man who is charming and stubborn,  who wants right to succeed over injustice, and who is humbled when in his weakened state, he turns back to God to sustain him in his time of tribulation.    I felt sorry for him, even when he didn’t listen to his parents and decided to hang out with pagan gals!  My only complaint, and it’s certainly not Mature’s fault, is that the fight he has with a lion is obviously not done with a real lion.  If you throw popcorn at your tv when this part of the film happens, I can nod my head in agreement with your actions!

Samson and Delilah-HedyHedy Lamar  is gorgeous as Delilah and no wonder Samson falls for her.  Delilah is at first angry and sad about her older sister’s murder by Samson’s Philistine enemies.  If it weren’t for him, her sister(ably played by Angela Lansbury, looking equally gorgeous) would still be alive.  The Saran(coolly played by the always excellent George Sanders) of Gaza knows Delilah is the type of beauty that Samson can’t resist, and he knows she is wanting revenge, so he asks her what can the Philistines do to capture Samson? Without missing a beat, Delilah comes up with a plan to seduce Samson, find out what makes him so strong and thus how to weaken him so that he can be captured.    There is a turning point in Delilah, though, and Hedy conveys it well.  She is sorry for her part in helping Samson to be taken prisoner, realizes she really loves him, and helps him with his ultimate victory over the Philistines.

Look for Russ Tamblyn(before he was in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and West Side Story) as Israelite teen Saul, Olive Deering as Miriam-both friends of Samson’s.  Fay Holden as Hazelelponit, Samson’s mom, and Charles Evans as Manoah, Samson’s Dad.  Mike Mazurki is the leader  of the Philistine soldiers, and Henry Wilcoxen as Prince Ahtur, who wants Samson’s first wife, Semadar(Angela Lansbury).  Director Cecil B. Demille also makes an appearance, or rather his voice does, as he narrates the film’s beginning.

Samson and Delilah is available to watch via Amazon’s Instant Rent, and it is also available to purchase at TCM’s Shop.  Also, on Youtube, a kind soul has posted the entire movie, in 13 parts.  I’ll sign off with some more pictures from the film.

Semadar, Delilah's big sister, who first catches Samson's eye

Semadar, Delilah’s big sister, who first catches Samson’s eye

 

The Saran of Gaza discussing Samson with Delilah

The Saran of Gaza discussing Samson with Delilah

 

Samson hanging out with Delilah

Samson hanging out with Delilah

Delilah's plan works and Samson is captured

Delilah’s plan works and Samson is captured

Remorseful Delilah, leading Samson to the columns at Dagon's temple

Remorseful Delilah, leading Samson to the columns at Dagon’s temple

Samson, ready to destroy the Philistines for the last time

Samson, ready to destroy the Philistines for the last time

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The Olivia De Havilland Centenary Blogathon: Dodge City

Friday, July 1, 2016 one of the last actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age of Movie Making celebrated her 100th birthday! Olivia De Havilland, best known as Melanie in Gone With the Wind, reached that majestic milestone and with that in mind, two wonderful classic film fan bloggers decided to host a blogathon, looking at Olivia’s acting roles.  Be sure to visit Crystal at In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies to read other bloggers’ posts about Olivia De Havilland’s films.

olivia-5

Warner Brothers Studio had made a wonderful discovery when their 1935 film, Captain Blood, yielded a big box office profit.  The discovery was that the two young leads, Olivia De Havilland and Errol Flynn, were a popular duo in action/romance films and the studio kept the pair busy, co-starring them in 7 more films.  I decided to review their 5th film, 1939’s Dodge City, and some say the Western that later inspired Mel Brook’s comedic spoof, Blazing Saddles!  220px-Dodge_City_1939_Poster

Dodge City begins in 1866, with a proud Col. Dodge arriving for the celebration to honor him and the fact that  the railway has now built its way to Dodge City.  Amongst the happy crowd are 3 cowboys who helped keep the rail workers fed with their skills at hunting buffalo: Wade Hatton, Rusty Hart, and Tex Baird.  Shortly before the celebration began, these 3 helped the U. S. Marshall catch baddie Jeff Surrett and his gang for illegally killing buffalo, just for their hides, and leaving the remains to rot on the prairie.  This first encounter of the 3 good guys with the baddie will become a major thread throughout the film.

Tex, Wade, and Rusty, the 3 cowboy-heroes

Tex, Wade, and Rusty, the 3 cowboy-heroes

Time marches forward and now there’s a screenshot explaining it is 1872, and that Dodge City is rolling in the dough due to cattle drives arriving there, the cattle then being sold, and tired cowboys, with pay in their pockets, looking for relaxation and fun.  Another screenshot shows a number of saloons that pepper the town, and one, The Gay Lady, is owned by the baddie we met earlier in the film, Jeff Surrett.  Surrett is wealthy and dishonest.  How does he do it? By bidding on cattle, paying part of what he owes for the cattle he buys, and weasling out of paying for the rest of his bill;sometimes the men he owes are shot and die, thus they don’t need to be repaid, others are run out of town and too scared to challenge Surrett for what he owes them.  Surrett’s wealth is also supported by the gambling that happens at his saloon as “the house” never loses much.  Yancey is the head of Surrett’s henchmen, and these henchmen are Surrett’s eyes, ears, and evil force.  Sheriffs for Dodge City have been weak and ineffective at stopping Surrett which means there is no law in the town, just anarchy.  I did have to smile as many scenes show the men in town suddenly pointing their guns in the air and just firing away-reminded me of a couple scenes from Blazing Saddles.  

Surrett, the villain of Dodge City

Surrett, the villain of Dodge City

Yancey, lead henchman for Surrett

Yancey, lead henchman for Surrett

Ruby, bad guy Surrett's star entertainer and girlfriend

Ruby, bad guy Surrett’s star entertainer and girlfriend

20-25 minutes pass before we meet a beautiful lady , Abbie Irving, who will figure prominently in the plot of trying to bring down Surrett and  his gang.  Abbie will also become the main love interest for Wade, of course, as he is the man Dodge City turns to  in a last-ditch attempt to rid themselves of the lawlessness that has gripped their community for too long.  Abbie and her younger brother, Lee, are moving to Dodge City from TX, as their father has died, and he had arranged for his two children(actually young adults) to move in with their aunt and uncle, Dr. and Mrs. Irving.  The two siblings sign up to travel with a cattle drive which just happens to be led by Wade and his 2 pals.  However, Lee is a hazard to the entire group as he is constantly drunk and then carelessly shoots his gun at targets, eventually causing a stampede which ends in his death.  Abbie is heartbroken with this event, and she blames Wade for her brother’s death: Lee, angered at being told to put his gun away, aims at Wade to shoot him and Wade fires back at Lee in self-defense, then the stampede begins.  It looks as if any future romance between Wade and Abbie is doomed.  We can tell Wade is attracted to Abbie as he gallantly offers to carry her heavy bucket of water.  Abbie is feisty, insisting she can carry her own water, but when Wade isn’t looking, she smiles to herself in a knowing way.  Despite her independent air, she is also attracted to Wade.

Lovely Abbie Irving on the cattle drive

Lovely Abbie Irving on the cattle drive

Wade trying to carefully explain to Abbie that perhaps she should stop acting cold towards him!

Wade trying to carefully explain to Abbie that perhaps she should stop acting cold towards him!

Reacting to Lee's death by stampeding cattle

Reacting to Lee’s death by stampeding cattle

Wade, with pal Rusty as his deputy, begins the immense task of cleaning up Dodge City.  Tex, the third amigo in this group of pals, isn’t quite ready to become a deputy as he is having too good of a time at The Gay Lady saloon.  He loves to watch Ruby’s song and dance numbers and he is the cause for one of the best saloon brawls ever filmed by Hollywood!  After being forced to cool his heels in jail, where Wade has locked up at least 60 lawbreakers(the cells are incredibly full), Tex becomes a deputy, too.   Wade imposes several laws: no guns allowed north of First Street-have to turn them in at the sheriff’s office and gunowners can have them back as they leave town, gambling has to stop by 2 am, taxes will be collected.  The laws work wonderfully well, and Dodge City gains a new reputation for being dullsville!  The laws also lead Surrett and his henchmen to plan how they will take out Wade and his deputies, and end the rule of law that has cramped their style.

Will Surrett and his gang succeed in ridding themselves and Dodge City of Wade, Rusty, and Tex?  Will Wade successfully woo and win Abbie?  Will Abbie and her boss, newspaperman Joe Clemens, be able to provide vital evidence through articles as to the corruption and crimes Surrett is behind so that a trial can happen to send Surrett and his henchmen off to prison and probably off to the death penalty? Will Dodge City fully embrace their new “dull” reputation or go back to lawlessness?  Find a copy of this film to find out the answers to these questions!  It is available to watch via Amazon’s instant rent, and Friday, July 8th, it will air on Turner Classic Movies at 2:15 am EST/1:15 am CST, and again on October 1st, at 2:00 pm EST/1:00 pm CST.

What else is there to like about this film,  Dodge City? Well, it was made in 1939, which is often called Hollywood’s best year as so many award winning movies were made then.  It’s in technicolor, theres the stirring musical score by Max Steiner, excellent direction by Michael Curtiz, who could handle action sequences as well as quiet scenes,  and of course the entire cast,  the leads as well as supporting players.  Errol Flynn is perfect as the handsome hero, and gives an intelligent read of Wade.  He doesn’t hide his accent, the plot explains that he is a transplanted Irishman who’s come to the Western US.  Olivia De Havilland is beautiful Abbie, and plays her as a strong woman, not a wilting, weak of heart lady.  It was refreshing to me to see an independent woman in 1872, one who works at the newspaper, and who scoffs when Wade questions her as to why she isn’t at home doing needlework?  Sidekicks Alan Hale Sr. and Guinn Williams are superb as Wade’s pals.  They’re big men, good humored, often with smiles on their faces.  Tex is obviously having a blast during that barroom brawl, and Rusty gets a fun side plot as he’s tired of the bar scene and accidentally wanders into a “Pure Praire League” temperance meeting, and the ladies there all think him quite a catch!  Bruce Cabot, who had played the hero in 1933’s King Kong gives a strong performance as the evil kingpin Surrett.  He squints his eyes, calmly barks out his orders, and they’re carried out.  He tries to make a deal with Wade, but of course, that won’t go anywhere.  Victor Jory plays Yancey, the dark and slimey head henchman.  1939 was Jory’s year to play baddies as he was also the slimey overseer Jonas Wilkerson in Gone With the Wind.   Gorgeous Ann Sheridan, despite her prominence on some of the movie posters, is a minor character in this film.  Her song and dance numbers are good, and she aquits herself well in those scenes.  Only one scene of her and Flynn, when he barges into the saloon and asks if she’s seen Surrett.

The supporting cast is a who’s who of some of the best character actors and actresses: Henry Travers(Dr. Irving), Frank McHugh(Joe Clemens), John Litel(Matt Cole, cattle buyer not afraid of Surrett and dies for trying to get all of his fee), Gloria Holden(Cole’s widow), Bobs Watson(Cole’s son, and can that kid cry!), Ward Bond( a minor henchman who later gets a good scene with Flynn, trying get information about Clemens murderer), William Lundigan(drunk as a skunk Lee,) Clem Bevins as the town’s barber, and Henry O’Neill as Col. Dodge, founder of the town.

For a great Western, glorious and large, with lots of action and a romance that only Flynn and De Havilland could deliver, see Dodge City!  I’ll close out this post with a clip from Youtube of that infamous barroom brawl.

 

 

 

Freshman Orientation, A Parental POV

Last Friday, I went with our son to his Freshman Orientation at Truman State University, in Kirksville, MO.  Living in Rolla, MO population 19,000 give or take a few, and now facing life in Kirksville, population 17,000 give or take a few, wasn’t much of a shock for our son.  We have heard of students at Truman coming in from St. Louis and its environs having trouble getting used to life in a smaller community, so I was glad to realize our son wouldn’t have that hurdle to contend with as he settles in at school.

Truman State Univ.

It’s a 3 hour drive from Rolla to Kirksville, pretty much due north, driving up highway 63.  The  Ozark  hills are in our area of Missouri, but once we got past Columbia, the Ozark hills and crags gave way to flatter  lands with gently rolling hills.  We saw plenty of fields with corn “Knee high by the fourth of July” and soybeans.  My dad would be pleased to see such well-growing crops.

Truman State University has undergone changes over it’s almost 150 year history.  In 1867, it was known as North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College.  A couple years later, the Missouri  legislature made it into  the First District Normal School for the  training of teachers.  In 1919, the school was renamed Northeast Missouri Teachers College.  1967, a new name was chosen to reflect the expanded course and degrees now being offered: Northeast Missouri State College and then in 1972, the word college was changed to university.  1996,  the school became known as Truman State University, named after Missouri’s only native son to be elected President of the U.S., Harry S. Truman.  (In fact, for the incoming Freshman, they have to read a book about a road trip/vacation Harry and Bess Truman took after his presidency.  Many of the orientation activities will be borrowed from the book: Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Ageo.)

Harry Truman's Excellent

 

We found the campus easily and the University had taken several of the parking lots closest to the student union, our meeting site, and made them for visitors parking.  I thought it a smart marketing idea that the University’s bookstore had employees out front and center handing each student a drawstring bag in the school’s main color of purple, with a coupon in each bag for  a percentage off of books purchased that day.  With our 3 older kids having either graduated or almost being done with college, we know that a lot of textbooks are purchased online, even rented online(they have to be returned) and that those methods of obtaining textbooks have hurt college bookstores, but hey! That’s supply and demand, entrepreneurship, and capitalism at work.  Later, when we did make some purchases at the University’s bookstore, he was shocked at the bill.  Welcome to the world of a college bookstore!

   College major textbooks costs

After a welcome from the employee in charge of that day’s orientation, and one from the University’s President, the “kids” were sent away to get their photo id’s taken, and to pick out their first semester classes.  We parents were sent  to listen to 3 different presentations: Career Center and what is it’s purpose in your college student’s life, Counseling Center on facing that empty nest, Rules and Regulations the University has about drugs, alchohol, etc. and the consequences that will happen if bad decisions are made by your student.  My only quibble with the Empty Nest video, is that it sort of assumed that this was either the first child you’ve ever sent off to college, or that it was your last or only child, and you’d be going home to an empty house.  Ha!  I laughed at that, as I still have 3 at home to finish raising when August 17th rolls around and it’s moving the Freshmen into their dorms day at Truman.  I did raise my hand when the gentleman leading this session asked if any of us had advice, and I mentioned that if this child is leaving siblings behind, you may have to also deal with the siblings’ sadness at the older sibling being gone from the home.  The gentleman did thank me for bringing that up and reiterated what I pointed out-be ready to deal with sad little brothers and/or sisters.

Lunch was nice, even though the kids had lunch somewhere else on campus, away from us parents.  We witnessed a fun presentation from the Academic Team, who were helping the freshmen  choose the right classes for their first semesters.  After lunch, it was off to  3 more presentations: What a liberal arts education encompasses at Truman, Accepting your student if they come home with different beliefs, etc., and lastly, the on campus health clinic nurses gave us all the pertinent info we needed as to how they treat sick students, getting those vaccinations updated, sending in the requested medical forms, etc.  All three of the presentations were well done, but the middle one, I’ll be praying that our son stays true to how he was raised and to his faith as he studies to reach his career goal.

As I emerged from the lecture hall after the nurses’ presentation, there was my son.  He’s so tall now!  He had planned his outfit for the day, looking bright and eager and a bit nervous, just like all the students I saw on this day, walking the campus with parents in tow.  Since my first day at Rolla Jr. High is the same day our son moves into his dorm at Truman, hubby and I decided we’d do this go round as a tag team: I’d accompany son on Freshmen Orientation Day, and hubby would take son to the move in the dorm day for Freshmen.

Son wanted to visit his dorm, to see a double room sample, and then walk from the dorm to the buildings where his classes will be held.  His schedule, no classes until 10:30am M-F, I told him don’t be surprised if that’s the only semester where he will be able to sleep in.  Then we went to the bookstore, made some purchases, drove to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner, and then we drove  to Rolla and home.

Summing up, Truman State had a well-planned  orientation event.  My son got to do what he had to do in getting started with his college coursework, I got to hear more about a liberal arts education.  I also was reminded that a lot of Truman students are smart, usually ones who didn’t have to study much in high school and when they get that first bad grade at Truman on a test or quiz, be ready to talk sensibly to them, reassure them, and remind them that now they know how hard they’ll have to work to get the grades they want to achieve.  My son left with a good feeling about what he’ll be experiencing at going to this college, and I did too.  Truman State, I give you two thumbs up!

Reel Infatuation Blogathon: Randolph Scott in The Tall T

This is my contribution for the Reel Infatuation Blogathon.  Be sure to visit classic movie bloggers Font and Frock and Silverscreenings, to read other wonderful pieces about classic movie “crushes”.

 Reel Infatuation Banners

 

My birthday is getting close and as I was musing over the fact that I’m firmly in middle age,  who were some of my reel infatuations from classic movies who kept on giving good acting performances when they reached middle age?  I zeroed in on Randolph Scott in The Tall T.  Scott was 59 when  he starred in this excellent western,  rescuing a damsel in distress, or rather, a spinster-suddenly widowed, a 46  year old Maureen O’Sullivan from a trio of dastardly villians, one barely out of his 30s, one in his early 30s and one in his 20s.  Let’s give out a cheer for the middle aged in this film!!!!     The Tall T movie poster

Randolph Scott began his acting career in 1927 at the age of 29(WWI, college for a while, then accounting were all stepping stones on his life’s path to Hollywood) and he began with bit parts in silents, then moved into “B” westerns, and doing stage plays which caught the attention of Paramount, who signed him to a contract.  From there it was loan outs, working at his craft, to finally landing leading roles in “A” pictures.  In 1946, Scott once again put on his cowboy gear, got up on his horse, and from there on out, made the last third of his acting career in Westerns.

In The Tall T, (the trailer states that the T stands for terror and we learn it is also the name of a ranch where the hero has gone to buy some stock) we get the tall Scott riding in on his horse over mountainous rock groupings, as he rides in to the stage coach station to visit a bit with Hank(Frank E. Sherman), who runs the station, and his young son, Jeff(Chris Olsen.)  Scott’s character, Pat, is an old bachelor cowhand, who finally has saved up enough money to buy his own ranch.  Hank teases Pat about never having found a wife, and warns Pat that if he ever begins talking to his cattle out of loneliness, all hope is lost for him!!  Both men have a good laugh over that remark, and Pat promises to bring back some candy for Jeff.  Pat  is about to ride on to the nearest town to buy some more stock for his ranch.  I noticed that Scott, even at 59, was still ramrod straight with his posture-no stooped shoulders, no seeming to have arthritic issues with moving around or climbing up onto or getting off of his horse.  He’s tanned, a bit more weathered in his face, but he still has that wide, charming grin and that bit of his natural NC twang that never did leave his speech pattern when he talks. He’s adorable!!  He’s a rugged, handsome man and a comforting presence to Hank and his young son.  I noticed at this early part of the movie, the music is jaunty and fun.  It makes the audience feel good, and makes one feel that one is in for a fun film.

Pat visiting with Hank and Jeff at the Station

Pat visiting with Hank and Jeff at the Station

This feel good aspect to the film is short.  When Pat returns to the station with the stagecoach(he lost his horse in a bet and has had to hitch a ride back to Hank and Jeff) the happy music turns quickly to an ominous tone and the trio of pure evil, younger men emerge: Frank Usher(excellently portrayed by Richard Boone), Chink(Henry Silva), and Billy Jack(Skip Homeier).  After ordering Pat, the stagecoach driver Rintoon(Arthur Hunnicutt), and the passengers to throw down their guns, the trio orders them out of and off of the stagecoach.  Rintoon is gunned down as he attempts to shoot the villains with his hidden rifle.  In another day or so, Doretta Mims(Maureen O’Sullivan)  will be widowed before her honeymoon ever began as her cowardly husband is shot in the back by Frank.

Usher telling Pat that Hank and Jeff are dead

Usher telling Pat that Hank and Jeff are dead

Doretta is a truly sympathetic character in this hot mess of a situation.  She is the only child of a copper mine magnate.  She’s been a spinster until she met Willard Mims(ew, the name Willard would have been enough to make me run in the other direction!) and she convinced herself that he was her last chance, agreeing to marry him even though she knew he was only interested in her for her money.   Pat can see that the trio of villains need to be outwitted and that only he and Doretta can do this.  He is a hero to be commended because he takes into consideration Doretta’s hurt emotions, her feeling of abandonment, her feeling of foolishness for ever marrying Willard, and yet Pat is able to calm her nerves, her fears, her bad feelings, and gets her to work with him in defeating Usher, Chink, and Billy Jack.  Pat could have swaggered a bit, and bossed Doretta around, or treated her with contempt as another bit of baggage in his way of outwitting and destroying the baddies, but he doesn’t.  He treats Doretta with respect, as an equal in asking for her help, and ultimately as a new love in this latter part of his life in the rugged West.

Pat and Doretta, working together for the Win!

Pat and Doretta, working together for the Win!

Scott”s portrayal of Pat shows a strong man, one who is warm, smart, who listens before he speaks, and acts wisely.  Pat is quick to notice the fault lines in the gang who has kidnapped he and Doretta.  Gang leader, Usher, is a loner.  A lonely loner who often calls out Pat to come and talk with him.  Pat is listening close to Usher, for information to ultimately use to help he and Doretta in outwitting the gang.  Pat also notices that Chink and Billy Jack have fears and weaknesses, and in remembering the old adage that there is no honor among thieves, Pat is able to conquer these 3 despicable characters.

Pat enduring one of Usher's talks

Pat enduring one of Usher’s talks

Chink and Billy Jack-these whippersnappers don't stand a chance against Pat

Chink and Billy Jack-these whippersnappers don’t stand a chance against Pat

 

TCM from time to time airs this film, so pay attention to their schedule as it may well air before 2016 is done.  I’ll close out with the trailer for The Tall T, courtesy of TCM’s website, and some more shots of the wonderful Randolph Scott!

Probably a publicity shot, Scott in his earlier acting days

Probably a publicity shot, Scott in his earlier acting days

Scott, probably early 1940s

Scott, probably early 1940s

The lines beginning to show on a middle-aged Scott, but still ruggedly handsome

The lines beginning to show on a middle-aged Scott, but still ruggedly handsome

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORDER IN THE COURT! NOW…

My link to this awesome blogathon didn’t go through, so here it is, reposted for your reading convenience. Enjoy the great write ups by other classic film fan afficionados and bloggers!!

CineMaven's ESSAYS from the COUCH

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!
This weekend, our “ORDER IN THE COURT! The Classic Courtroom Movies Blogathon” is now in session.

COURTROOM BLOGATHON IS HERE

Lesley of  SECOND SIGHT CINEMAand myself, here atCINEMAVEN’S ESSAYS FROM THE COUCHare proud to present you with blog posts on all things courtside. For our joint blogathon, we have many movies you know…and some you may not. I love it when we can all learn at the same time. Both Lesley and I look forward to sharing these entries with you. For DAY ONE…let’s head over to Second Sight Cinema and see the entries posted there for today. I’ll see you back here tomorrow, Saturday ~ June 11th ~ for DAY TWO. Lesley will host DAY THREE ( Sunday ~ June 12th ) and I will bring up the rear with DAY FOUR  ~
( June 13th. )

I urge you to stop by here on Tuesday…

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“Order in the Court!” The Classic Courtroom Movies Blogathon: Intruder in the Dust

Today’s post is for  “Order in the Court!” The Classic Courtroom Movies Blogathon.  This genius idea for a blogathon was created by wonderful classic film fans Theresa at Cinemaven’s Essays From the Couch and Lesley at Second Sight Cinema.  Be sure to visit their blogs to read the great pieces about classic films that involved courtroom scenes, law, justice, etc.

My son’s English teacher told me at Parent-Teacher conferences this year that he was tired of presenting the book To Kill A Mockingbird, and then showing the movie, to some of his English classes.   I told the teacher that he should consider having the classes read William Faulkner’s novel Intruder in the Dust and then  show them the 1950 film version.  I added that it’s  a Faulkner novel with a happy ending!  This intrigued him, especially to learn that there was a happy Faulkner novel.   I  also pointed out  that the movie was  filmed in Faulkner’s  hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, and that he helped to write the screenplay.   Similar to  To Kill A Mockingbird, the setting is a small southern town  and while there isn’t an actual courtroom scene, there is the threat of a looming trial, a lawyer agreeing to defend the underdog, and some intrepid teens and one old lady who help to save the day.

Intruder in the Dust-book cover

 

Dust-poster

MGM paid Faulkner $50,000 for the rights to make a movie from this novel, which was published in 1949.  Clarence Brown was chosen to direct.  Faulkner helped to write the screenplay along with Ben Maddow.  The outstanding cast: Claude Jarman Jr., Juano Hernandez, David Brian, Elizabeth Patterson, Porter Hall, Charles Kemper, Will Geer, and Elzie Emanuel.

There are a good number of characters in this film but here are the main ones: Lucas Beauchamp(Juano Hernandez) is a black man who has made a nice life for he and his wife along the river that runs near the small town of Jefferson, Mississippi.  He minds his own business, conducts his life on his terms, and doesn’t want to cause any trouble.   Chick Mallison(Claude Jarman Jr.) is a typical teen boy, tallish, thin, gawky, who goes to school, and likes to hunt when he has free time, with his buddy, Aleck(Elzie Emanuel), a black teen, who is also tallish, thin, and gawky.  Then there is Miss Eunice Habersham(Elizabeth Patterson) the respected old maid Sunday School teacher, who has a stubborn streak a mile wide.  She’s petite, yet a powerful presence against the evil that will appear in this sleepy town.  Rounding out the main characters is lawyer John Gavin Stevens(David Brian), who also happens to be Chick’s uncle.  He’ll be called upon to take up the defense case for a man the majority of the town thinks is 100% guilty of murder.

The movie opens with Lucas Beauchamp being herded to the County Courthouse and Jail, as he’s been charged for the murder of one Vinson Gowrie(David Clarke), co-owner of the lumberyard.  A huge crowd of onlookers presses in  around Lucas as Sheriff Hampton(Will Geer) tries to get Lucas into the jail.  Chick Mallison happens to be in that part of town and when Lucas sees Chick in the crowd, he tells him to please go and get his uncle, Lawyer Stevens.  Chick hustles away and finds his Uncle John, and tells him that Lucas Beauchamp needs his help.  With that, a  flashback ensues, to explain how Chick came to become friends with Lucas.

The film is B&W, but here is a lobby card that would have advertised the film, and it's part of the mob scene where the sheriff is trying to get Lucas to the Courthouse and Jail.

The film is B&W, but here is a lobby card, in color,  that would have advertised the film, and it’s part of the mob scene where the sheriff is trying to get Lucas to the Courthouse and Jail.

Chick watching Lucas being taken away to the jail

Chick watching Lucas being taken away to the jail

It would be an unusual relationship, for a man of 6o to befriend a boy of 15, especially adding into the mix that they are of different races, and live in a time when the races were to be treated in a segregated environment.  Faulkner’s telling of this friendship is fairly simple: Chick and Aleck were out rabbit hunting one Saturday morning in November and Chick accidentally fell into the freezing cold river.  Aleck knew they were near Lucas Beauchamp’s home, so he ran there for help and Lucas rescued Chick.  Lucas then  took Chick to his home, put him to bed, made sure he had dry clothes to change into, made sure that the wet clothes were dried, and had his wife give Chick some food and drink after he woke.  Chick felt very awkward about thanking this black couple for their kindness, and awkward in telling Lucas thank you for saving his life, so when his clothes were dry, he put them on and just left!  Later, he does tell his mom about it and she admonishes him for not thanking the Beauchamps.  She insists they buy the couple some gifts and leave them at their doorstep as a way to say thank you.  In wanting to thank the Beauchamps anonymously, that action of supposed thanks only helps to illuminate the uncomfortable feelings the two races that make up the demographics of this town are consumed with.

Chick, sullen and unsure how to thank this man for saving his life

Chick, sullen and unsure how to thank this man for saving his life

Chick also tells his Uncle John one more anecdote about Lucas.  Lucas had been in the local hardware/general store one afternoon and Chick happened to be there too.  Some men in the store began taunting Lucas, who decided to stand his ground and ignore them.  This angered  Vinson Gowrie, and he tried to hit Lucas, but the men in the store stopped him.  Some of the townsfolk think that Lucas was mad enough at Vinson to shoot him. Chick tells his Uncle John that he knows Lucas wouldn’t kill anyone, and Uncle John agrees to take on the case.  He and Chick walk over to the jail to talk to Lucas.

The hardware store incident

The hardware store incident

 

Uncle John and Lucas meeting at the jail

Lucas and Uncle John  meeting in the jail cell

 

Lucas is adamant that he didn’t shoot Vinson Gowrie.  Lucas admits that he was visited and beaten by another white man, the other  lumber yard owner, as he  wanted Lucas to reveal who he had seen stealing lumber from the yard: Lucas had seen the murder victim, Vinson, stealing lumber.  Lucas won’t talk anymore about the incident, but after Uncle John makes his way out of the cell, Lucas hisses for Chick to come back.  He asks Chick and Aleck to go and dig up Vinson’s body, get the bullet out of it, because that bullet isn’t one from Lucas’s gun and will prove he’s not the killer.

Miss Habersham is also adamant that Lucas Beauchamp couldn’t be a killer, and she finds out what Chick and Aleck are planning to do, and with that matter of fact way of hers,  she announces to them that she’ll help them in their quest for that bullet!  As the trio finally unearth the coffin, they discover that Vinson’s body isn’t in it!

I’m not going to reveal anymore of this murder mystery by one of the South’s finest writers.  A kind soul has put the entire film on Youtube.  I will add, the scene where Miss Habersham alone defends Lucas from being lynched by a mob, is tense!

Juano Hernandez, listed 4th in the credits(I think he should have been listed 1st) is outstanding as Lucas.  He’s a wise man and it shows in his eyes, as do his other emotions.  He’s world-weary, and for every question and criticism he receives from Uncle John, his defense lawyer, he has a ready answer that counters the “whites” way of thinking about any sitution.  The other character that stands out to me is Elizabeth Patterson’s Miss Habersham.  She looks so prim and proper, but she is not one to fit into that cookie-cutter assumption as to how an old white lady from the South should act or think.   Carl Jarman Jr. is fine as Chick, at first wary to let anyone in his family know that he’s friends with Lucas, and then rising to his friend’s need in urging his Uncle John to take the man’s case.  I am not as familiar with actor David Brian’s other films, but he is good as Uncle John:stoic, practical, and it is he and the Sheriff(Will Geer, a small part but he’s great in it)who come up with the plot to catch the real murderer.

For an alternative to the film To Kill a Mockingbird and it’s book version, treat yourself to William Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust and it’s movie version!

Here is the trailer that movie goers in 1950 would have seen in advertising this film.

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned on the Current

With our 4th child’s high school graduation looming on May 27th, hubby wanted our family of 9 to go on an outing, or on an adventure, if you will, as we were all gathering that week for the big event on Friday.  Since child #3 recently began his chef career, and only has Mondays off,  hubby chose Monday, May 23rd as the day for our family to canoe and kayak down part of the Current River.   Ozark National Scenic Riverways

We live in South-Central Missouri, at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.  The Ozarks are filled with a lot of spring-fed rivers and streams, which are popular for canoe, kayak, and float trips; a float trip is just that, normally done in the height of a hot, humid Missouri summer, one gets into a large inner tube, and just floats down a river. The Current River, which we traveled on, is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, part of the National Park Service.

I awoke early that Monday morning, getting up at 5:00 am, and as I do when worried about something, I prayed that morning,  that we’d be able to successfully do this activity, that no one would drown, that we would all have great memories from this event.  With our older kids approaching their mid -20s, and our youngest 13, who knows how many vacations we can actually all gather together for in the future?

We left at 8:00 am and got to the canoe/kayak rental business-Jadwins-by 8:40.  Soon, we were all fitted with life jackets, handed our paddles, and climbed into our watercraft,  Hubby and I in a canoe, each of our 7 kids in their own kayaks.  When I say kayak, I don’t mean the traditional type where there is a “lid” or cover over one’s legs.  These kayaks were made of a heavy plastic, and our kids sat down in their kayaks, with a preformed chair back that they could rest their backs against.  We left the shore of the Current River at 9:00 am.  By 9:05, the first of many capsizes happened.   Current River rapids

We had brought a Rubbermaid tote box and lid with us, and it held the picnic lunch, and some other items we didn’t want to get wet.  We also brought another waterproof backpack to hold sunscreens, and a package of bottled waters.  Luckily we were always able to save these items whenever the capsizes happened.  The water that day was ice cold-it took my breath away and I couldn’t speak!  Our trip soon took on a pattern.  We’d be paddling along fine where the river was deep, with calm waters, and a gently curving channel.  However, when the rapids appeared, with shallower, clear waters, and lots of logs jutting part way into the channel, or large brush piles, one of us would get stuck, in these water “hazards” and then capsize.  We’d all work together and grab gear as it was being swept downriver, help the capsized person(s), get to a sandbank, and rest for a few minutes.  Then we’d get set up again, and off we’d go.

We did manage to eat the picnic lunch around noon on another sandbank.  At this point, I let out a few tears and complained to my hubby how this event was stressing me out tremendously and not at all fun and relaxing like I thought it would be.  Watching one’s kids capsize, get trapped by logs and brush, is not a fun sight to see.  We were all getting very tired, and realized that some of the kids belongings did manage to get swept away to never be seen again by us: an extra t-shirt, a water bottle, various slip-on sandals, and hubby’s prescription sunglasses.  I recalled that the canoe rental worker who had driven our family to our launch site had said that as we approached a bridge downriver, to get out at that area, 4oo ft. from this bridge, as there were culverts closer to the bridge and one didn’t want to get sucked into one.  I began a mental mantra,”Get me to that bridge!”  I think some of our kids began the same mantra.  After we got back on the river,  the paddling did go better, the river seemed to lose some of it’s hazards, and by 2:30, we saw the bridge.  A “Hurrah!” broke from our ranks as we saw the bridge and we made a beeline to the shore.  There were some picnic tables at that spot on the shore, and we could see a wide path that had been made in the surrounding woods to a roadway.   We had been advised by Jadwins to portage our equipment near the bridge in order to get to the other side of the river.  With only hubby wanting to go on, the rest of us informed him that we were tired and ready to stop for the day.  We agreed that if none of us could get a cell signal and call Jadwins to pick us up at the point where we were, then we’d go on down the river.  Luckily, oldest daughter was able to get a signal, and we were picked up 20 minutes later, after portaging our equipment to the roadway and the awaiting Jadwins bus and trailer.

After hearing about our troubles on the river, the canoe rental employee did mention that the river was 6 in. higher than normal due to all of the recent rains.  He also added that it’s not for the faint of heart or novice canoers/kayakers.  After we got back to civilization-aka Salem, MO, we went to the local Wal Mart for new slip-on sandals.  Then we went to the Pizza Hut for dinner-sitting in that restaurant and eating that pizza had never been so appreciated by me, before!  We then went to my hubby’s co-worker’s hunting cabin that we had signed up for to spend the night at.  With a thunderstorm ushering in the night, we all turned in.

Looking back now at our adventure, I can say I am proud of my family.  During our time on the river, whenever someone paddled into difficulties, the rest gathered round and helped.  No one yelled at anyone, or belittled those who kept having troubles manuevering.  Many hugs were given and at the restaurant, all agreed that memories had been made this day.  Psalms 127: 3-4 mentions what a blessing children are to a family.  From the NIV translation: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”  Re-reading that verse and with how our children reacted to one another and to their parents during our Current River trip cheered me as to our family’s love and loyalty for one another.  Looking back, a stressful day for me, yielded a wonderful view of my family in action.

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