Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Octane, The Big Sky Desperadoes and Cranford

My notes for Monday about the weekend and today are going to be even more rushed and half baked because I am behind a schedule which has become important to follow before my pre Christmas visit to London. I need to clear my in-tray and attend to some more jobs around the house. I was successful in replacing the bathroom toilet seat, although I wasted several minutes before working out how the bolt fixing system worked, although removing the old seat took longer than the replacement. In the spectrum of kitchen sink, or bathroom toilet drama and polite social behaviour personified by the good ladies of Cranford, I have moved with aging more towards Cranford than Arnold Wesker.

In Cranford the daughter of the new arrival paid he price of selfless devotion, giving up the chance of love and marriage to a dashing officer, first by caring for her mother and then her sister, and in this episode because she did not meant to leave her father on his own, only to find out that his father had taken a position with the railways company which would take him away from home. His reasons for taking the job were mixed, he was not a do it active man not ready for his pipe and slippers, but he genuinely felt he had to care for his daughter who was unlikely to marry and was struggling on his military retirement half pay. Unfortunately the daughter only packing because he wanted her to travel with him to India, his next posting. No was this a black and white situation because she had become comfortable in her role and understandably feared the change to being a wife. It was also evident that she feared the reality of passion preferring the romantic ideal, her distress was compounded on finding that her father had lost his friends and was likely to become ostracised as the railway was not only to cut through the estate of the local grandee but come through the town, thus enabling the lower classes to move about and bring all manner of change for the worse as well as for profit. The drama is covering many issues of the time and this day, the impact of rapid change on a small computer, the nature of a class ridden society, the belief of the upper and lower classes that general education was bad thing, which it is of course unless you need an educated population to survive because it leads to discontent among the masses and a little education as with a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

I awoke this morning to listen to the conundrum of it is right or wrong to try and stop someone who does not believe in free speech from speaking as members of the fascist based British National Party agreed to participate in an Oxford Union debate about free speech and some individuals were setting out on topping them which is a contraction of what is believed. I learnt this lesson painfully while at Russian College while joining in a protest against someone who supported the Franco Regime and effectively broke up the meeting with a series of planned interventions. I was rightly reprimanded for attending the event by a fellow student and knowing that he had been right about my motivation and reaction, but wrong about the decision to take action. As my writing earlier tried to say, sometimes trhere is no choice to fight in every sense of the word evil or what is simply but if you are going to be principled you have to be consistent in very respect, or at least take steps and work hard at being principled in every respect even if this means being harden on yourself than others.

I should for example have switched off the TV on Saturday evening and concentrated on writing but could not resist watching the rest of Octane just to see how it worked out, although it was pretentious rubbish. This is being unfair on the film and myself, but sometimes one has to be. The story is that of divorced woman collecting a daughter from a stay with her father and what happens between them and to them as they drive home, stopping at rest station which all look the same. The interest of the film was to learn if the woman was a paranoid schizophrenia, overtired from too much driving and suffering the effects of medication who starts to view other travellers, the police, an accident attendant and other road user as part of an evil, possibly alien, blood sucking, paedophile, kidnapping conspiracy in which her typical teenage daughter becomes caught up with growing up at the same time as the parental split, and who because of a huff when her mother tears up the father's birthday present of tickets for a Woodstock/Glastonbury type rock festival at the very time the predators are on the look out for a new victim. Had this been true then the film portrayed the feelings and perspective of the mother in a clever and authentic way. Unfortunately I came to believe that the Director wants us to take the story as cautionary take about what happens to young people if they do not respect and take heed of what their parents have o say and require of them.

On Sunday midday I watched the 1947 Howard Hawks movie, The Big Sky in which a young Kirk Douglas and friend join an expedition take a boat 2000 miles up river to trade with the Blackfoot tribe of Indians after the expedition leader gains as a hostage bargain maker the daughter of a chief who he has rescued from the Indians who have taken her prisoner. The essence of this long and beautifully shot black and white film is that both men to fancy, admire and love the Indian girl who gets away just as they are about to enter Blackfoot country after a perilous voyage , where over the last lap the boat becomes stuck and they attempt to man hauler along the last stages of the river. Fortunately the girl is full of gratitude for the help she has received and has sent her people to help bring the boat to their encampment, where she shows her gratitude to the friend of Kirk Douglas who is then surprised that he has become married, and can free himself to leave by paying an appropriate dowry to the chief, which he does. As the boat is setting off full of furs skins to escape the Winter, the friend changes his mind and decided to stay with his bride, and the moralI?

This was a highly appropriate film for the Antiques road show where a man produced work of his grandmother a Cree native reserve Indian from Canada, who husband had brought her two sons to be educated in England and had never returned. He had never mentioned his wife, nor had the son, and indeed the grandson had never been to Canada and appeared to have shared the family rejection of this part of their background. The same could not be said for a descendent of the Jane Austin Family who proudly presented memorabilia from her time. However the moving highlight of this programme was the meeting up of two families who shared twin pieces of furniture made by the wood craftsman from Yorkshire who signed his pieces with a wooden mouse. There had been two sets of twins and when one of the four all due to go to university at the time of Great War did not return the twice cabinets and side tables had been divided between the remaining twins. It was the son/grandson of one who brought the piece to the Road show and told the story from his knowledge and true the best of BBC TV they had traced the other descendent and brought them and the two pieces together.

The third film was a classic Western Desperados in which a very young subsequent Hollywood star tamed up with the equally well known actor Sheriff both of whose names I did not note and now forget and subsequently failed to find even the briefest note on the Internet as it was not the 1969 Jack Palance movie or the earlier 1955 Western, the Last of the Desperados and certainly not the 1995 Banderas Tanantino movie Desperado or the earlier 1910 film, or the Mexican restaurant on Lake Placid and of course the tune Desperado keeps coming to my ear. And the film is a classical tale involving a corruptly run town including the bank owner and the leading rancher and I now remember the young actor was Glenn Ford who got in troubled many moons ago for the local Lady once a good time girl who he now turns because he has been framed for a bank job and needs her help because he is being forced to ply his trade by the baddies. Fortunately he has a history with the Sherriff whop I have now worked out is Randolph C Scott , as I decided to look up the flexography of Glenn Ford and discovered the spelling is the Desperadoes and not Desperados and discovered some information about this 1943 film, including info the former good time girl is known as Countess Maletta. Glenn whose role is called Cheyenne Rogers who is trying to live down his past under the name of Smith falls for the daughter of the Livery Stables whose single parent father is also one the baddie but tries to redeem himself for the sake of his daughter and the film has a happy ending and never takes itself seriously.

I am eating too much, enjoying on Sunday half a chicken breast with roast potatoes, stuffing and mini sausages, followed by two rolls filled to overflowing with salmon on a bed of lettuce, and two cans of Pepsi Coke, and a whole round of hard Turron . I still have yet to get into that grove of self control and determination reflected in the way am continuing to play computer chess having continue to draw games by going on for too long or two late. I restricting myself to 11 games today and then 10 a day unless I go back to eleven with the aim of reaching 101 second level before my pre Christmas London trip and 101 level three by Christmas New Year and level 10 before Christmas 2009, or 10!

So it looks as if my week will not begin properly until Tuesday.

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