Friday, December 30, 2016


We watched DESIGN FOR LIVING the other night and now I am going to give you some big spoilers. So Miriam Hopkins is in love with best friends Gary Cooper and Fredric March, and they're both in love with her. So at the end they just all stay together! I am reminded of a possibly hallucinated article I read about Joe Orton trying to write a script for the Beatles. I may be imagining this. I think the Beatles were all supposed to marry the same woman in the final scene. Yes, that may be entirely imaginary on my part. So let's forget it! But I think you'll agree that in conventional moviemaking Miriam Hopkins would have "chosen" either Gary Cooper or Fredric March. (In fact I was stunned when I put it to Dr. Theresa that surely anyone given such a choice - between the two actors as mere physical specimens, I mean - would choose Gary Cooper - why, no decision could be easier! - and Dr. Theresa blithely informed me that she - Dr. Theresa herself - thought she might pick Fredric March!) As I have just spoiled for you, however, DESIGN FOR LIVING just sticks with its original concept, or situation, and stubbornly follows it through. I was impressed by this rigor! And it reminded me of some other movie I couldn't quite put my finger on. I thought about it all night and couldn't remember. I was thinking of some other movie, and I knew I had written about it somewhere. I remembered talking to Adam Muto and Kent Osborne about it. I remembered saying I admired the way the writers put themselves in a box right at the beginning and then just spent the rest of the movie marching toward the inevitable conclusion. But I couldn't remember the movie. (Parenthetically, I now recall that back when I was teaching I once tried to explain to some undergraduates - at their request - what a "story" was. And I said, "Well, if there's a man standing on top of a mountain and he rolls a snowball down, and there's a man at the bottom of the mountain and he just stands there in the snowball's path, and the snowball gets bigger and bigger and it rolls over the man at the bottom of the mountain, who's just standing there, and crushes him, that's NOT a story." And then I said, "Wait a minute, maybe that IS a story." And now we see again why I'm not teaching anymore. But I went home and wrote the story and it was printed in a small literary magazine so I guess that makes it a story.) So! I searched through all my emails and couldn't find any reference to this mysterious other movie that reminded me of DESIGN FOR LIVING. So then I searched the "blog" for any "posts" containing both words "logic" and "structure," and as you can imagine, there were none. And then somehow it came to me that the movie I had in mind that reminded me so much of DESIGN FOR LIVING was ICEMAN, in which Timothy Hutton is part of a scientific team that digs up a Neanderthal played by John Lone. And they unthaw the caveman and he's alive. And the rest of the movie - which I won't spoil for you as much as I did DESIGN FOR LIVING - is a bunch of filmmakers trying to figure out what would happen if a scientific team unfroze a Neanderthal. And you can imagine right from the outset that somebody said, "Well, this isn't going to end well for the Neanderthal." And maybe, "Well, let's try to make it as nice for him as we can." I figured out that the place in which I had written about ICEMAN was the 1,000-page book that is not to be published until after my death. It really exists! And why am I writing about ICEMAN in a 1,000-page book that is not to be published until after my death, if ever? That's a great question!