Speaking of movies, it is my sad duty to report that I missed the first part of a “must-see” movie the other night.
See, one of Frosty’s jobs, along with milking and canning and splitting stovewood, etc., is to check the TV schedule very closely so that I won’t miss anything that must not be missed.
She let me down. Halfway through the Braves game, something was mentioned about asphalt. “What did you say?” I asked gently as she shelled peas for our next meal.
I thought I knew. I wrested the clicker from her and started searching the movie channels, and Sam Jaffe’s face appeared. Then Sterling Hayden’s. I had missed the beginning, but I was into The Asphalt Jungle.
There it was, in all its grimy, dirty, cheapness, some low-lifes figuring out how to rob a jewelry store.
Well, they didn’t have to figure out how, just who was going to do this caper, as we bank robbers say.
It’s very predictable. You know they’re not going to succeed. Yet it’s fascinating to see just how they fail, the little things that prevent success. Also, you get to see a few shots of the early Marilyn Monroe — interesting. She was beautiful by any standards, any time. Louis Calhoun is perfect as her sugar daddy.
The head of MGM didn’t like it, even though it was made in his studio. He said it was a dirty little movie about dirty little people, very much not what you would not expect from Leo the Lion, more Warner Brother-ish. Yet, for all that, a great movie.
I never thought of Sterling Hayden as a great actor, well, until Dr. Strangelove, but here he is just right as a big dumb hoodlum from Kentucky who loves horses. And Jean Hagen is prettier than I had remembered.
If you can‘t see anything but the last two minutes, watch that. Hayden, wounded, “with not enough blood to keep a chicken alive,” drives and drives, trying to get back to his beloved Kentucky; and finally goes stumbling across a pasture where horses are grazing, and dies right there amongst them.
I didn’t mean to carry on so long about that one movie, but it is one to watch for.
Others — and Frosty better tend to her job — include Cross of Iron, directed by the same genius who directed The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpaw…and it’s about time to see that again.
And it’s been several months since I’ve seen State Fair. I have to have a State Fair fix pretty often. Don’t ask why. The whole thing is as fantastic as the Wizard of Oz (another must). Here we have this picturesque Iowa farm where nobody works, apparently, except to get ready for the Fair. Two college-ag-age kids who “sit around and mope,” and who wear suits to the Fair! And yet, for many reasons, I love it. For one thing, Rodgers and Hammerstein outdid themselves in the only movie they wrote for. Several of their Broadway hits have been made into movies, but in this case, they were writing just for the movie.
I also saw Inherit the Wind again. It should be required watching for high school juniors and seniors.
One movie channel did me dirty. It showed a “must-see” early in the morning when I couldn’t watch it. Shame, shame, shame. It was Laura, with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb, all perfect for their parts.
Love yah, Gene/Laura, wherever you are.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.