• Culture and Entertainment

    March Inklings 2021: Mirror Scene in Friendly Persuasion

    I’m once again joining Heidi’s Inklings linkup. This time it is a mirror scene, Harry Potter of course popped into my head, I used that for the first and also thought of it for the 2nd and will apparently continue to think of it first, but I’ve used my allotted amount. In reading Heidi’s for some reason that prompted me of the scene in Friendly Persuasion (I love this film).

    It’s such a quick scene, but so perfect in detail. This movie is full of such scenes, of normal things with an undercurrent of humor and quaintness, it’s such a comfort film even with the war featuring a bit at the end.

    Mattie is a Quaker girl in love with a handsome Union soldier who is obviously NOT Quaker. Her mother is a very strict Quaker, so Mattie doesn’t have much to do to get ready for church (on the way to which she just might happen to see and be seen), but when her little brother Jess comes to tell her to hurry up, she is pretending to be a fine lady in her “boudoir” finishing her “toilett-y.”

    When Little Jess comes in, she is looking at herself critically in the mirror much to Little Jess’s amusement, and she asks him if he thinks she’s pretty. He considers this very carefully for a moment, and then delivers his assessment in perfect youthful dead seriousness, “Thee isn’t ugly.”

     

  • Learning and Exploring

    National Treasure and the American Revolution

    We decided to rewatch National Treasure again last week (for the first time in awhile, I’ve lost track of the rewatches). This movie is one of the good ones.

    Feel good cheesy Patriotism and history. It’s very goofiness makes it awesome, I don’t care how some snobby critics rate it. The premise, the awesome music, the sarcasm, Cage’s terrible “acting” that really works in this situation, Riley is precious, Abigail whose history nerdiness and curiosity wins out over her “professionalism,” Sean Bean’s dramatic British bad guy trope. And I watched this in a fun period in my early twenties, this was one of the first modern movies we watched and it just has that added layer of nostalgia.

    And this extra bit.

    Years I ago I realized that the character’s names had more meaning than the obvious one of Ben’s. I think it was because I’d been reading about the Revolutionary War.

    Ian Howe = General William Howe

    Abigail Chase = obviously Abigail Adams, but I was sure Chase had to feature somehow, I found a Samuel Chase on the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

    Benjamin Franklin Gates = Obviously Benjamin Franklin but also General Horatio Gates. Patrick Henry and John Adams were his dad and grandfather, again obvious.

    I feel like there might have been more, but I didn’t write it down or post it when I thought of it.

    Strangely, no one in my family found this information as riveting as me . . . I wonder why?

    (I swear there is a particular gene for loving history. I mean, I even find some boring books interesting, so while I lament the unutterably bad historical program or lack thereof just about everywhere, I’m not the best person to make it interesting, since I find textbooks interesting.)

  • Reading

    Inklings August 2020: The Apple Dumpling Gang

    I’m linking up with Heidi’s Inkling prompt series here.

    The prompt for this one was a bar scene. I haven’t seen too many Westerns, and it would have to take a super fantastic bar scene to wipe out the first one that came to mind which was one from The Apple Dumpling Gang.

    Oh, how we love this movie in our family! This movie has adventure, stellar slapstick humor, tons of sarcasm with killer delivery, genius timing, romance. It is just about perfect for a de-stressing fun movie night. Lots of quoting done by the people who can remember the exact quotes, bless Imdb for their quote section.

    Here is a taste of a few:

    Theodore: “You know something, Amos? The Lord poured your brains in with a teaspoon, and somebody joggled His arm.” 

    Frank Stillwell: “If I ever get within shootin’ distance of that doggone Amos Tucker, he’s gonna have winders where his ears was.”

    Sheriff McCoy: “You two couldn’t steal candy from a baby without coming out on the short end.”

    John Wintle: “I’m leaving for San Francisco tonight.”
    Sheriff McCoy: “San Francisco’s loss is Quake City’s gain.”

    The bar scene.

    So it really starts with the rather slick, sleek Donovan getting married to Dusty (her nickname for a reason), a no-touch, for the children’s sake marriage (see this romantic photo). Then Donovan gets right back to his gambling addiction and saddles Dusty with babysitting the kids. She takes the kids to the general store for candy and discovers (so she thinks) that Donovan bought the bed she was admiring for the two of them.

    She marches right to the saloon where Donovan is peaceably playing cards:

    “DONOVAN!”

    He looks shocked, “Who me?”

    “Yes you, you snake oil salesman! Are you coming out here or am I coming in there?

    “What’s the matter, Dusty? Is there some trouble?”

    “Yes, there’s trouble all right! And you’re in it!”

    She then proceeds to chase him around the saloon flinging epithets (among other things) at him while he tries to simultaneously get away from her and inquire why she is angry. Everyone else tries to get away from both of them while the poker and billiard area is being destroyed. One flabbergasted townsperson asked, “What happened with them two?” to which the the Sheriff replies in a deadpan manner, “They got married.”

    Finally Donovan manages to get an answer as to what the whole fiasco is about: “That’s it? The bed?” and then it’s his turn to get angry. A very quiet anger at first, “The bed happens to be for the kids, Dusty. When the nights are getting colder, they’ll need a warmer place to sleep. So the brass bed is for the boys, and the smaller bed is for CELIA!!!

    I cannot explain the hilarious way this line is delivered, but the crescendo is just absolutely killer.

    After which Dusty meekly and daintily insinuates it’s all his fault for not explaining and sweeps grandly out of the wrecked bar with Celia in tow leaving everyone in stunned silence.

    There are so many details of hilarity, sarcasm, contrast etc. This scene just perfect in conception and delivery and while this movie has tons of excellent scenes, I think this has to be the best.

    Go watch this movie.

    Also, for extra credit. Apparently a great-great-great uncle went to prison for killing a man in a bar brawl over a woman. In the great Wild West state of . . . Illinois.

  • Culture and Entertainment

    Classic Hollywood Celebration: Friendly Persuasion Review

    I am linking up here again.

    Former friends introduced me to Friendly Persuasion years ago. I watched it by myself first and enjoyed it and then more recently watched it several times with my mom and sisters. This 1956 film features actors Gary Cooper and Anthony Perkins and actress Dorothy McGuire (whom we’ve seen in the 1960 The Swiss Family Robinson which we also love). The film is very loosely based on Jessamyn West’s novel of the same name.

    The story is set in Civil War era Indiana and features a rural Quaker family trying to live in a quiet way and being forced to come to terms with the fact that the forces of war are approaching close to home.** Each of the mature or maturing members of the Birdwell household has his or her own particular views and connections to the war, and this produces some familial discord. Despite all this family love, faith, and honor prevail.

    Although the overarching plot leads to conflict with marauding Rebel troops, much of the film depicts the day-to-day struggles, activites and idiosyncries in this Quaker household. I love the depictions of the familial, neighborly, and outside world interactions of the Birdwells and how differently each member reacts to their Quaker responsibilities. Each person is a distinct individual and yet the conflicts tend to be small and humorous (until the end) and are always resolved.

    As an older movie, the film posseses some drawbacks frequent to this period including noticeably fake scenery, not noticeably period accurate clothing, etc. The music underwhelmed me, nothing unique or heart-stirring. The plot is more a string of vignettes leading to a climax as the war touches the Birdwells with graduating intensity than a perfectly wrough plot, so at times some scenes can feel a bit random. Nevertheless, I love the portrayal of the simple, homespun daily life interspersed with plenty of humor and a little love.

    If you need drama or a comprehensive Civil War plot, this movie is not for you. But if you enjoy simple, sweet stories and are interested in this unique perspective of mid-19th century American life and its gentle perspective on the war, you may enjoy the film. I had no knowledge at all of the story (a level of ignorance which I often love for books and movies) and love “homey” stories and so I appreciated the simple portrayal of Quakerism** and the war. Nothing too complicated or nuanced needing an intellectual conversation, but resting sweetness and simplicity.

    I loved the movie, so I got the book from the library, but after looking through it, I could see very little connection to the story I liked and decided I wasn’t interested enough to try reading it.
    **Because I must ALWAYS give a history lesson, I must point out that Quakers were not traditionally formal pacifists; they did place a greater value on overall kindness and humanness, but the stringent pacifism came far later. I learned this from Albion’s Seed, and I truly cannot recommend that book enough.

  • Culture and Entertainment

    A Celebration of Classic Hollywood Week: Film Review of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

    I’m linking up at An Old-Fashioned Girl for A Celebration of Classic Hollywood Week. Since I seem to be either criticizing or incoherently fangirling or only noting a few details when I write about movies, I thought I’d better look up some more formal guidelines for movie reviewing. I found two printouts from the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University (this and this). I just used the first handout and very generally, but I found it helpful.

    My sister and I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at a sleep-over with friends as young preteens or teens. I felt a bit shocked at what I then considered its coarseness (“Bless Your Beautiful Hide . . .”). You have no idea, little me. I don’t think I warmed up considerably as the film progressed either. But later, after hearing others mention it, I tried it again, and then even later watched it with my mom and sisters. I own it now, and we love it.

    Anyway, this 1954 musical features Jane Powell and Howard Keel (I’ve watched him in Annie Get Your Gun recently, and he looks SO different without a mustache) as well as several Broadway dancers and singers and an actress who later played Lois Lane in one of the Superman films (this we discovered after watching it with extended family and an aunt recognized the actress; I love how movies can be such an interactive experience). The film’s main plot revolves around the unconventional (what an understatement!) wooing of “seven slumachy back woodsmen” e.g. the Pontipee brothers in frontier era Oregon Territory. The brothers of course run into conflict with the proper townsmen, but eventually all the (wild, sometimes lawbreaking) boys marry their (incredibly fickle) girls.

    This movie is so silly, fun, and hilarious. Several of the songs are quite humorous and others are quite sentimental (these are NOT our favorites; we skip some out of boredom). Because Adam marries first, his wife Millie takes on the first part of civilizing the brothers, with considerably mixed results! The boys’ own ladies complete the polishing work. Millie, Gideon, and Hannah teach Adam his own separate lesson. I love the hilarity of course, but I also like the sweet familial and romantic scenes mixed in all the drama and fun.

    As is typical of old musicals, this film is short and the story is simple. Only a few of the brothers and only one of the wives show any great characterization. The film focuses on singing, (melo) drama, and humor. It is a light, short, fun film for when you aren’t in the mood for intensity of any type.

  • Culture and Entertainment

    How to Steal a Million (1966)

    This post contains SPOILERS.

    ************


    With my accent I have trouble pronouncing “steal” so near to “million” in the same sentence. I want to say, “How to Still a Million.” I was somewhat confused as to how I was supposed to pronounce “million.” I normally pronounce “steal” as “stEEl” and “million” as “millyen.” If you pronounce these differently I would love to know how. I love English dialects, accents, word choices, and language patterns.

    I loved this movie. The plot is simple and ridiculous and paired with the personalities and tones makes for a sweet and hilarious romantic comedy. I am just not good at describing it, it is just simply delicious. I don’t normally like ridiculous (you know, anything in The Princess Bride line as far as humor or absurd melodrama, e,g, YA romance), but this plot paired with deadpan sarcasm and general wittiness is de-light-ful.
    Simon McDermott (O’Toole) is soooo funny (and handsome). I think the chemistry and interaction between Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn perfect and perfectly hilarious. The whole movie is brilliantly quotable as I noticed when reading through a quote list (and the list didn’t include everything), too bad I am not a good quoter. And I mean tons of pithy exchanges. But it isn’t just the lines, the timing, facial expressions, circumstances, everything makes it so funny.
    Watch it. If you have Amazon Prime, Prime video currently offers it free as of 8/23.