Saturday movie #11

Kiss Me Deadly
Kiss Me Deadly

Usually on Saturdays I choose a movie from the DVDs that Cindy and I have accumulated over the years. This past weekend, however, I decided to try a movie from our county library’s holdings. I checked out a copy of “Kiss Me Deadly” starring Ralph Meeker.

At first glance it You might think that this would be a movie that I loved, since it is touted as a film noir classic. It is a black and white movie released in 1955, and was directed by Robert Aldrich. The movie is based on a novel by Mickey Spillane, and stars his character Mike Hammer who is played by Ralph Meeker.

I didn’t like the movie. I should like the movie. I understand that it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress because it is culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Maybe it is historically significant, but I can’t believe that anyone would find it culturally or aesthetically significant.

Here are the positives that I found in the film: 1) It opens with Cloris Leachman (in her first film role) running barefoot down a two-lane highway, trying to flag down a ride. She has on a trench coat, and supposedly nothing else. 2) Jack Elam has a small part. Any time that Jack Elam is in a film is a positive. 3) There are some interesting camera angles and sites with photogenic staircases. 4) There is no number 4.

Here are some of the negatives for me. 1) The movie is based on a Mickey Spillane novel. I have tried many times to read and enjoy Spillane novels, and have never succeeded. I have liked two of the actors who played Mike Hammer on television: Darren McGavin and Stacey Keach, but I still didn’t like the character. 2) I don’t believe that all of the plot points were resolved. But I have to admit that I dozed off for a bit in the middle of the film. Maybe everything I didn’t understand was explained in that five or so minutes when I was spared from watching. 3) If you think that Donald Trump has trouble with women, show this movie to a group of women and they will burn down the studio. 4) I don’t know whether to blame the bad acting on the actors or the director. I thought about pointing out one portrayal in particular, but I don’t want to speak ill of the dead.

Next week I’m going back to a film that I have on hand.

A trip in two parts

My first graveyard of the season
My first graveyard of the season

I took this picture on Tuesday while driving back from northern Indiana. I was on a county road somewhere betwixt Lake County and home. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was listening to some great folk music. In fact I was attempting to sing along with many of the songs. Luckily my voice gave out.

***

Tuesday was a memorable day for me. Normally, as a retired gent, I don’t have much on my schedule beyond things like “Do your laundry” or “Cook dinner for you wonderful wife.” However on Tuesday I drove up to spend time with my mother and my sister. Those trips are always memorable. If you haven’t followed my mother’s deterioration, you can read about one of my other visits in a post titled Signals from a dark place (click on the title, it is a link). 

Mom was actually doing quite well this trip. She only mentioned a couple of her recent conspiracy theories, for which I was grateful. One of her imaginary people has been coming to the house frequently. He is one of a set of triplets. She said he had three brothers, which made me question if he wasn’t really part of a set of quintuplets, but my sister, She Who Must Not Be Named, and my brother-in-law quickly jumped in and told me not to start something. I saw the wisdom of their concern and didn’t restate my question loud enough for Mom to hear me.

Like many of her imaginary people, her imaginary visitor had a wonderful singing voice. She has no trouble hearing them, but is often deaf as a stone when trying to talk to us. Sadly she doesn’t see that inconsistency. The other thing that amazes me about their singing is that to my recollection, Mom never showed any interest in music. I don’t get it.

***

After spending some time with my mother and sister, I went on to a happier reunion. I was able to have lunch with one of my favorite people, Kathryn.

When I stopped working for the State, I took a part-time job as a clerk in a retail store in Lafayette. I was older than everybody else who worked there. One of the other people there was Kathryn, who was a young student at Purdue University. While all of the people who worked there were friendly, Kathryn was special. She went out of her way to befriend an old, full-bearded geezer who had to be taught new skills. Hmm. Maybe she thought I was Santa Claus in disguise.

She, of course, has graduated and has moved back to northern Indiana where she is happily working. The sweet thing for me is that we haven’t lost touch. I don’t get to see her smiling face four or five times a week anymore, and I have cut back on my letter writing, but we do text and follow each other on Instagram. And every once in a while (not often enough) I get to see her when I head north.

I guess that I need to go north more often to see people who are important to me.

 

Saturday movie #10

Junior Bonner
Junior Bonner

On Saturday evening I watched a Steve McQueen movie, “Junior Bonner.” I like this movie a lot. It has been a number of years since I last watched it. The movie stars McQueen in the title role. In the movie he plays a rodeo cowboy who travels from rodeo to rodeo in his old convertible, towing his horse trailer. He arrives in Prescott, Arizona, his home town,to take part in he rodeo. There he reconnects with his father Ace, played by Robert Preston; his mother Ellie, played by Ida Lupino; and his brother Curly, played by Joe Don Baker. There are other familiar faces in the cast, such as Dub Taylor as the bartender, Ben Johnson as Buck Roan, and Bill McKinney as a friendly rival in the rodeo.

Sam Peckinpah directed the movie. I must say that this was the least violent film directed by him that I can remember. In fact, there is only one person in the film whom I found to be unlikable. I don’t know, but you might even like that person.

Don’t get me wrong; there is conflict, but for the most part it takes place in the dialogue and shows in the acting. While some punches are thrown, nobody seems to hold a grudge. The most violent exchanges occur in the rodeo ring between cowboys and bulls.

Why do I like the movie? Part of the reason is the acting performances. Also, it was released back in the early 1970’s, before CGI took over the movie industry. Issues are raised that have no easy solutions, and the movie doesn’t pretend to have the solutions. In the end, McQueen’s character tries to do what he thinks is best for the individual members of his family. Who can do more than that?

Before I drop off

Where did the sun go?
Where did the sun go?

We had quite a variety in the weather department here today. Most of the morning, while I was on the laptop,  was cloudy and breezy. Then around noon it started to rain with some small hail mixed in. After eating lunch and reading for a bit, I decided to lay down and take a nap. I didn’t fall asleep, so I guess I was trying to fool someone with those snoring noises I made. When I got up later the sun had come out. So I decided to go out and get a few spring-like photos. As you can see in this picture. The sunshine didn’t last long. As the rain started falling again, I went back to our dry house.

***

Speaking of taking a nap, it occurs to me that I, being a creature of habit, think similar thoughts each time I want to go to sleep. The thoughts change over time. For instance, many years ago when I was a bachelor, I almost always thought about women when I was in bed. Over time that changed to work (the bad old days). Now, for the most part, I think about writing.

To be clear, I don’t think about the act of writing, but rather I compose. Sometimes I compose letters that seldom get transferred to paper and mailed. However, some of those letters, after many mental revisions, do get transcribed and mailed.

Sometimes I mentally draft sections of the novel that I didn’t finish during NaNoWriMo this past year. Yes, I’m still working on it in fits and starts. I’ve scrapped portions of it; I’ve rewritten parts of it because I didn’t like how some of the characters came across. And I even brought one character back to life…he was needed. There have been a couple of spin-off projects brought on by the novel. Again, those things are often conceived in pre-sleep musings.

I even spend some of my bedtime composing blog posts. That practice began during my first year of blogging when I spent three days in the hospital. We didn’t own a laptop then, and I have never been able to write legibly in bed, so I composed in my head. I had plenty of time to polish my phraseology. As it was, though, when I got home and sat down at the PC, I forgot some big chunks of the prose I had worked on. I’m afraid that you’ll never know what you missed.

Sometimes the composition overlaps. Just yesterday I took a section of an unmailed letter and dropped it into my unfinished novel. I hope that doesn’t mean that those worthy words are doubly doomed to never being read. Time will tell.

What do you think about before you fall asleep? If you don’t mind sharing with a broader audience, feel free to add a comment to this post. If, however, you want to tell but also want to remain anonymous, you can fill in the attached contact form and I will keep your secret.