Fragmented Memories (4 More Parts, Really?)

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

2. No Lieutellant, Not In The Town’s Drinking Water!

If you recall (after all it’s only been a week) I was droning on about the movies.

In the early years movies were pretty tame. If a leading character led us to believe a bit of hanky-panky had been going on between her and Cary Grant, the censors made sure she paid dearly for allowing her unbridled lust to run away with her. If some starlet blurted out the dreaded words, “Wait here while I slip into something comfortable” it was required by the ‘Code’ she be bumped off, and quickly. Such harsh punishment may seem to be going a bit overboard, but someone had to pay for this tramp leading us impressionable teenagers astray.

This is an odd place to drop this bit of trivia on you, although it is far from trivial. Charles Boyer, the movie star, was one of the suave lovers of the Silver Screen. He played opposite dozens of the most beautiful women of his era. In truth he was a one-woman man. He met his wife, Pat Paterson, in 1934 and never stopped loving her. When she died of cancer in 1978, Charles deliberately overdosed on Seconal two days later. He knew he simply could not live without her. Most of us who have gone through such a loss can understand but still we carry on.

Let us assume Mary Jane finally agreed to go to the movies with you -quite a stretch of the imagination I know because you really were a bit of a goof.  Let us also assume you had served the mandatory six weeks of hand-holding and were ready to move the relationship to another level, perhaps step three in a game of Seven Steps. Well, maybe not!

Visions of Barbara Stanwyck sniffing gas pellets were supposed to flash before Mary Jane’s eyes leaving you with your hand in mid-air and Mary Jane down at the church asking the Lord for forgiveness.

South Pacific was a prize example of how moral standards of the time worked. Hundreds of handsome young nurses were running all over the South Pacific in short shorts and halter tops washing men right out of their hair. To top off this display of beauty, out on the island of Bali Hai we have Bloody Mary’s daughter, the Tonkinese girl who went swimming with ‘Lieutellant’ Cable. Liat was sexy enough to empty a Jesuit Seminary just by walking by the main gate wearing a sarong. (She would be wearing the sarong, not the gate)

It didn’t take too many brains to figure out the two of them weren’t playing checkers in that grass hut. One or the other had to pay. Nowadays they would also be charged and fined for the monkey business underwater. No matter how much you are in love, you can’t do stuff like that in the town’s drinking water. So the Hayes Commission sent in a couple of Japanese Zeros to blow the ‘Lieutellant’ away.

It was cruel I know, but it had to be done. Either that, or there might have been an inter-racial marriage (in the 1950s, not too damned likely). It was bad enough Nellie Forbush was fooling around with a Frenchman.

There was none of that fraternisation stuff in the 1950s and ’60s. Do you remember the furore Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner caused when Sidney Poitier showed up as the fiancée of Kathryn Houghton, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn’s daughter? The Grand Dragon of the K.K.K. went ballistic over that one.

Strange though, there were lots of scantily-dressed ladies in the Biblical epics. There was a lot of bare skin in those days, well according to Hollywood anyway. Old Cecil B. De Mille stacked his blockbuster The Ten Commandments with enough slave girls, strumpets and nubile young maidens to bring thousands of male backsliders back to the churches. Not for the religion, but to see if there had been a change in the dress code since the last time they had been to Sunday school.

The Ten Commandments was a great movie, but think about it; here we have forty thousand Hebrews wandering around a desert for forty years following some guy who doesn’t know where he’s going . . . sort of a Biblical Donny Trump.

Don’t you think after some Israelite had gone through yet another pair of sandals, he would have said, “I say, Moses, old chap, would you mind if I took a peek at that map you’re using up there? Let’s stop at the next gas station and ask the guy how to get to the Promised Land. I think we should have turned right at that fig tree 27 years ago.”

Cecil B. always slipped an orgy scene into his epics. Sure – we knew God was going to have to kill off all the fornicators, the half-naked dancers and the adulterers before the grand finale. (God ran a tight ship in those days.)

Old Cecil missed a great line when Charlton Heston came down from the mountain carrying the Commandments. Someone in the crowd should have called out, “We’re the Chosen People and we have to cut the ends off our what?” (I know that gag doesn’t fit, but you can’t waste a good line like that.)

The parting of the Red Sea was a masterpiece of special effects. We didn’t see that much water splashing all over the silver screen again until Michael Douglas romanced Glenn Close on the kitchen sink in Fatal Attraction.    That was a scary movie, too scary for me. I’m too sensitive. I haven’t been able to sit through a Roadrunner cartoon since 1964.

Incidentally, don’t you think it’s time the safety officials took a long look at the Acme Company? I figure Wily Coyote should be suing them big-time. I can’t understand how one company can put that much defective crap on the market and get away with it. Something should be done, and fast, before coyotes become an endangered species. Selling a steamroller with no brakes? Come on!

Next week: heroes, cowboys and more about Cyd Charisse

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