Thursday, May 29, 2014
In Which John Wayne Shouts at an Owl
Watched THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS just because it was on the same DVD with SEVEN SINNERS. Saw there was a guy named Fuzzy Knight in the cast. I thought that was pretty funny and envisioned a short "blog" "post" about the fact that there was a guy named Fuzzy Knight. But then Betty Field (pictured, reeling out some pages of dialogue) started reeling out some pages of dialogue, for example, about a place called "Moanin' Meadow": "It's where the haint comes from: frogs as quiet as grave-rocks, light coming from nowhere, and the trees don't rustle, and the flowers grow big but they don't have pretty smells." Then later, on the same subject, "Them that goes in there has daylight dreams they always disremember," something something something, "nightshades dancing with the bats." She just goes on and on like that (with gutsy confidence, I must say). She calls telephones "city telephone machines for talking," a screenwriting affectation often parodied on THE SIMPSONS, such as when Cletus (or is it Brandine?) refers to a mirror as a "reversifying glass." Betty Field talks that way so much that even the other characters have trouble. After one of her monologues a guy says, "For the sake of my aching soul's confusion, what are you aiming at?" Which is of course his windy, colorful way of saying "Huh?" Because everybody in the movie talks that way, just not as much as Betty Field. A blind old lady in a rocking chair says of some premonition, "I knowed it. I knowed it when I heard the fox bark in the night and the voice growed damp and afraid." John Wayne says the way he feels is "kind of like being borned all over again, right side up. I ain't lost from nobody no more." Okay! Somebody else says, "The lightnin' tree took away my speakin'." This is the same character we see catching and eating dust motes in a patch of sunlight under a window, natch. John Wayne talks to owls. "Evening, brother!" he shouts at an owl. Yes, they lay on the old poetry of the hills stuff pretty thick. And I don't know, I kind of liked it! I am not sure whether I liked it because of that stuff or in spite of it. Maybe it's like what Marilynne Robinson said about Poe that time: "Poe at his best is not imaginable without the excesses for which he must be forgiven. I think I have always loved him because to love him requires loyalty."