A Season for Films
Thanksgiving is a great time for getting together with family, friends and films. There are so many good one’s out there, here’s hoping you find a few to watch with family and friends that will really edify. There are so many I like and enjoy. My memory is so poor, I have the advantage of going back and watching them over again and still being surprised at how things turn out. Like betting on the replay at the track, where I still manage to pick the losers.
Since part of my Thanksgiving will actually be spent at the track, I will recommend one racetrack film, my favorite of all time: Three Men on a Horse. An old chestnut; a lightly disguised spoof of Aqueduct race track from the 1930s. Back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was part of a film group, and one of the actors, Frank McHugh, used to participate at times. So here is to remembering Frank, a great performer.
Bill Park’s List of Classic Films
For a more in-depth look at great films, I recommend a list put together by an old friend, Bill Park. As an aside, Bill knew Frank Capra, and I remember how happy he was about Mr. Capra staying at his house. And as a convert, I remember also how happy he was to hear that John Wayne had converted on his deathbed. Amazing when you think of some of those Hollywood conversion stories, like Gary Cooper, who’s enthusiasm for the faith and his deep sincerity were quite startling to his friends.
Bill has now retired and moved to Cali. His list was published a long time ago, so the list is old, but isn’t that part of what makes up a classic? Click here for a reprint of the list and Bill’s comments: Bill Park’s Classic Film List.
Charlie Chaplin and the Catholic Priest
As another Hollywood aside, I will reprint a few paragraphs from Charlie Chaplin autobiography which he devotes to a Catholic priest he met in the Far East in the 1930s. Mr. Chaplin was not a friend of religion in general, unfortunately influenced by a seriously flawed book on the subject. Although someone with 11 children does get some extra points. His vignette about a priest from Connecticut shows he was honest enough to see something more than frivolity in the priesthood, even when the priest was not adverse to having a good time.
“…but when we arrived at Hong Kong the austerity thawed. It came about through a Catholic priest. “Charlie,” said a tall, reserved-looking businessman, “I want you to meet an American priest from Connecticut who’s been stationed out her for five years in a leper colony. It’s pretty lonesome for the Father, so every Saturday he comes to Hong Kong just to meet the American boat.”
“The priest was a tall, handsome man in his late thirties with rosy cheeks and an ingratiating smile. I bought a drink, then my friend bought a drink, then the Father bought a drink. It was a small circle at first, but as the evening progressed it enlarged to about twenty-five people, everyone buying drinks. The party increased to thirty-five and the drinks kept coming; many were carried aboard unconscious, but the priest, who did not miss a drink, was still smiling and soberly administering to everyone. Eventually I reared up to bid him goodbye. And as he held me up solicitously I shook his hand. It felt rough, so I turned it over and examined the palm. There were cracks and crevices and in the center a white spot. “That’s not leprosy, I hope,” I said jokingly. He grinned and shook his head. A year later we heard he had died of it.”