Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Charles Laughton, Gregory Peck, Colin Powell, Elizabeth Moss and Aunt Joan

Sometimes, usually when I'm trying to sleep, I wish we had an off switch for our brains. Oh wait, we do. It’s called television. Sunday night, after saying good-bye to Aunt Joan (we had some intense talk about her sister, who was my mother); after Randy took the girls to teeth-brushing, pjs and bed; I sat down to wait for the season finale of Mad Men.

My head was full. I know asking Aunt Joan about her childhood with my mother gives her pain for more reasons than the loss, but I have to ask it.

Here is Bernadette in some stylin' red shoes with her pretty little sister Joan, around the actual time period in which Mad Men is set. Oh my God, that's the Drapers' kitchen!

TV on the couch felt good. Really good. I killed the time before 9:00 with the last two wives of Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII and a good fifteen minutes of Gentlemen’s Agreement. We’re 70 years away from the Laughton film, but his funny, committed, intense performance felt more current than the talky, arch polish of Gregory Peck and Co. in the Best Picture winner from 1947. Laughton as Henry (at least in the 15 minutes I saw) blusters, flirts, bellows, jumps up from the dinner table to join in a wrestling match he is much to old to handle and wails with grief when hearing of his fourth wife's infidelity. I'd heard this guy was good - he's riveting to watch.

Peck's righteous fight against anti-Semitism made me grateful all over again for Colin Powell's commonsense endorsement of Barack Obama on Meet the Press. When Peck's young son, who is living as a Jew while his father researches bigotry, is teased at school, Peck's fiance Kathy (Dorothy McGuire) tries to comfort him by saying, "Oh, darling, it's not true. You're no more Jewish than I am. It's just some horrible mistake."

As Republicans continue to claim or infer that Obama is a Muslim, or less American because of his name, the typical well-meant Democratic response of fervent denial merely feeds the underlying ignorance of the question.

Colin Powell pointed out how inadequate simple denial is, saying,

"He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. . . Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?"

It's not so much that I need to stop thinking. I just need to get out of my own head for a while.

Once I got to the finale, Elizabeth Moss was wonderful. In every scene she's in, I can't wait to hear what she's going to say next. That "I had your baby and I gave it away" speech was jaw-dropping.

Some good posts:

Don't read this one about Joan if you haven't yet seen the penultimate episode of season two and want to be surprised.

Here's video of the SNL Jon Hamm skits that were so true to the show in their warped way, I was rolling. "It's just like this!" I squeezed out to Randy, between brays of laughter. "This is not making me want to watch," said my advertising husband, who I have been trying to get into the Men for the past two seasons.

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