Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: The Original Sex & the City

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Movie Spotlight is “BUtterfield 8” (1960):

“BUtterfield 8” is the original Sex & the City. Only the sex is on the darkside of the city. It has nothing to do with fashion or true love and happily ever afters. Elizabeth Taylor won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Gloria Wandrous. Gloria is one of those people who has been getting up on the wrong side of bed for so long she can’t quite remember when she wasn’t.

Gloria works as a model businessmen like to have at parties for companionship and to spice things up. She has a special relationship with one of the businessmen, Weston Liggett (Laurence Harvey). He’s married and he wants to set her up as his mistress. He doesn’t want to marry her. It would mean he would have to give up his social status and his wife’s money. At one time, she thought he was her way to dig herself out of the life she’s buried herself in. He’s just as much a loser as she is. They’re a match made in hell.

There is one good thing in her life. It is her friend, Steve Carpenter (Eddie Fisher). They grew up together. He’s the only real family she has. He ended up looking after her when her father died and her mother went to work. Now he’s engaged to Norma and she’s not happy about his relationship with Gloria. It’s platonic but she feels threatened.

Weston has a wife, Emily (Dina Merrill), who knows about his wandering ways. But she makes a decision. She is not about to give up on him.

Unfortunately Gloria believes in fairy tales and happy endings. Until she realizes happy endings are not for her.

Based on John O’Hara’s book, this could have been turned into a cliché of a story. It is the powerful performances that redeem it. Especially Elizabeth Taylor’s.

Taylor transformed herself from the wonderful Velvet Brown to the loving daughter Kay Banks about to become a bride in “Father of the Bride” to the society girl Angela Vickers of “A Place in the Sun” to Maggie the Cat in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” the institutionalized and Catherine Holly of “Suddenly, Last Summer”. Finally she inhabited Gloria Wandrous, her most powerful performance until then. With it, she stamped her name in the stars.

Only once after that did she reach the epitome of performance she was capable of. That role was Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. With this transformation, she had become one of the great performers of tragedy in the 20th Century.

It is wonderful seeing a great actor or actress at the top of their game. And that is why I give ”Butterfield 8” a thumbs up.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 14: Where’s a Tarzan When You Need Him?

If all else fails, grab a branch and swing. Or up a tree without a poodle.

Previously our heroine on board the steamship S. S. Twit.

Meanwhile in another part of the world, the tall and handsome American big game hunter Johnny Eager stood in the jungles of darkest, deepest, dark Africa. Eager was a young man of extraordinary intellectual acumen. And he had lots of muscles to flex too.

His women friends called him the Eager Beaver because his gun often went off way way too soon. At his side was his always-there sidekick, his Tonto to Eager’s Lone Ranger, his Watson to Johnny’s Sherlock Holmes, the incredibly loyal and true blue Norwegian Karl Lutefisk.

Now you’ve heard the phrase, dear reader, “up to your knees in elephant poop.” The two men stepped out of the jungle and onto the veldt grassland. They sunk into the grass and up to their knees in elephant poop.

In the distance and aways off stood a rhinoceros. It was what we call a “biggun” South of the Mason-Dixon. It was a real biggun. The rhinoceros saw them. They saw the rhino. The rhino lowered its head. Johnny dropped to his knees. And you guessed it. Johnny was up to his waste in elephant shit.

The beast charged. Johnny Eager aimed his rifle at the rhino. The rhino charged hard down upon the big game hunter Johnny Eager and closed in fast. Click. Johnny’s rifle misfired.

“He is charging” the Norwegian Karl Lutefisk, Johnny Eager’s sidekick extraordinaire, yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Don’t you think I know that?” Johnny yelled back. He jerked a bullet from his belt.

Karl stood nearby, helpless. He was tempted to raise his weapon and shoot at the charging rhino. But that would anger his friend. Johnny Eager always liked to handle these situations on his own, no matter the consequences. It was a matter of pride. In that brief moment before the rhino reached Johnny, the Norwegian reflected on the number of times his friend had said, “If a man can’t take care of himself in times of danger, he doesn’t deserve to live.”

Before Johnny could finish reloading, the rhino barreled down on him with a charge sounding like thunder. Johnny’s eyes met the beast’s eyes. The beast reached him, its horn touching his chest, its breath an ungodly stench. A thought ran through Johnny’s mind. “My God, the fellow needs a dentist. At least, get some toothpaste and mouth wash.”

Johnny grabbed the horn and used it to propel his body six feet in the air. He flipped onto the back of the monster. His knife was out and slamming into the thick hide of the animal.

Kwack!

The tree branch caught Johnny Eager in the gut. It threw him toward the sky. Flying through the air, Johnny reached out to catch something. Anything. His hand reached and felt something solid. He grabbed desperately for it. It was a second branch. It stopped the big game hunter.

Stopping in midair that way is not a pleasant thing. But it sure beats the continued flight. After all, Johnny didn’t have wings.

His left hand grasped the branch tightly. Looking down, he saw the rhinoceros below him, snorting, digging into the ground, waiting for gravity to catch up with Johnny’s body. The beast looked up at Johnny. It had a grin on his face, almost seeming to say, “C’mon down. It’ll be a fair fight.”

“Right,” Johnny said to himself. Then he yelled out, “You okay, Karl?” He did not know what direction to call for his friend, so he yelled out at the jungle.

A still small voice came from above and aways off . “Ja. I am okay, ” it said. “I should have shot the beast.”

“Well, shoot him now.”

“I cannot,” Karl said. “My gun is down there and I am up here. After you jumped off his back, he came for me. I tried shooting him.”

“I didn’t jump. Got a branch in the gut.”

“My rifle misfired.”

“Mine too. It’s almost as if it had been planned by those fellows who sold us the guns. If we ever get out of this bitch, we’re going to have a powwow with them.”

Johnny’s right hand reached up and joined his left hand. With both hands around the branch, he looked down. The rhino, pacing back and forth, was only a few feet below Johnny.

The beast looked up, then stalked away, acting like its mind had turned to other things. It was still on Johnny. It turned back toward the big game hunter and stood still and watched.

“Don’t know how long this branch will hold,” Johnny said. “And even if it holds, I don’t know how long I can hold on. Where’s that rifle?” His eyes searched the ground below. He must have thrown it aways off when he jumped on the back of the rhino.

Hanging onto the branch, he felt naked without his weapon. If some of his hunter friends came by and caught him without it, he would be laughed out of the Big Game Hunters’ Big Game Hunting Society, a fate worse than death for a big game hunter. Well, not worse than death. But it was still pretty bad. He would be the butt of jokes from Timbuktu to Cape Town.

“We’ve been in bigger scrapes than this, ja,” Karl said, trying to pep his friend up. “We can figure this one out too.”

The only thing that would pep Johnny Eager up was for that rhino to be chased from there to the River Styx. “Not lately. Not lately.”

“Don’t tell me that your luck has run out. No, I will not believe it.”

“Damn, where’s that gun?” No rifle below, just a big assed rhinoceros.

“What did you say?”

“I am trying to see where my gun is.” Sweat dripped down Johnny’s forehead, almost blinding him. He blinked, trying to get the sweat out his eyes. “I have an idea.”

“Hope it is a good one.”

“Come on down and get closer to my branch level,” Johnny said, his hands, his arms growing tired. “And be careful. I know how you’re afraid of heights. If you fall, we’ll be up a tree without a blunderbus. Oh, that’s right. We are up a tree without a blunderbus.”

Karl began his descent. The sounds of the jungle were changing. In the distance, he heard a lion roar.

“It’s turning night,” Karl said. “Maybe he will leave.”

“Don’t think so. Tell you what,” Johnny said. “the next time he moves under me, I am going to drop onto his back.”

“Are you crazy? That monster will kill you.”

“I can’t wait for him to leave. When I drop onto him, I am going to grab the knife. It’s still in his back. I’ll pull it out and slam it into his eye. If I go deep enough, I will hit his brain.”

“You think you can hit the brain?” Karl asked, still making his way down toward his friend.

“Let’s not take any chances. When I drop, I am going to yell, ‘Now.’ At my yell, drop out of the tree, grab your rifle and shoot the bastard. We have to do this before it gets completely dark or you won’t be able to see him.”

Crack.

“What was that?” Karl called over to his friend. He was now on the same level in the air as his friend.

The rhino looked up at Johnny Eager, then snorted and grunted its way back to the ground under Johnny.

“This damn branch is going to break any minute now. There he is. He’s getting close. Are you ready?”

“Give me a minute to get further close to the ground.”

“This is no time to take your time. Hurry.” Johnny heard the wind move through the branches.

“I am ready,” Karl said.

The rhino had stopped to check something out one tree over.

“Okay, here goes. Hey, down there, you dumb bastard. Get over here. Hey!”

“Is he coming?” Karl asked, his vision of the rhino blocked by several trees.

“Course not. Any other time and he’d be right under me,” Johnny said to Karl, then yelled at the beast. “Hey, hey you.”

This time the rhino seemed to hear Johnny Eager, big game hunter extraordinary. He approached Johnny’s tree. If Johnny had ever needed luck, this was the day. If things didn’t go perfectly, he was a ding-dong-done-daddy. He’d be hunting in those happy hunting grounds in the sky.

Crack. The branch broke.

Johnny fell, the tree branch still in his hand. Down, down, he went. “Now,” he yelled his cue for Karl to make his move. Down Johnny went and hit the rhino’s back. He faced the rhino’s tail. Quickly he spun around and whack a branch hit him in the face. He held onto the rhino’s back, grabbing the knife. He jerked on the knife. It did not give. The rhino was speeding away from Karl. Johnny jerked on the knife again. It came loose from the rhino’s hide.

The game hunter raised the weapon, then he tumbled off the back of the beast. Johnny’s body slammed into the ground. Hearing the rhino behind him stop his charge and turn, Johnny jumped onto his feet. From behind a tree, he saw Karl raise his musket and pull the trigger. Nothing happened. The Norwegian pulled the trigger again. Johnny’s left foot gave and he fell to the ground. His head turned and saw the monster only a foot away. It had death in its eyes.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Gunshots. The rhino dropped inches from from Johnny.

Johnny looked at the place the gunshots came from. Walking toward him was a familiar figure.

Next Week: Daddykins gets involved.

Book Review: A wonderful bit of writing 

I want to thank Beth of I didn’t have my glasses on for calling my attention to Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume.

Opening lines of a novel or a short story are always an invitation. Some opening lines are so oft-putting, you just know that a visit with the folks in this house is not going to be worth the effort. Or the time.

A good opening is a Welcome mat that invites you into the story. It says, “C’mon in and sit a spell. You’re sure to have a mighty fine time.” Sara Baume opens her novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither with these words:

He is running, running, running.

And it’s like no kind of running he’s ever run before. He’s the surge that burst the dam and he’s pouring down the hillslope, channelling through the grass to the width of his widest part. He’s tripping into hoofrucks. He’s slapping groundsel stems down down. Dandelions and chickweed, nettles and dock.

Those are the words of Ray, a 57 year old man in this first person account. He lives alone in a coastal Irish village in the house he inherited from his father. He has only the memories of his father to keep him company. He’s “too old for starting over, too young for giving up” (p. 12). He rescues a one-eyed dog he names One Eye. They are both outcasts, the man and the dog.

When Ray goes to the grocer to buy some food, he reflects:

The grocer’s girl, April, talks loudly on the telephone as she scans my goods, forgetting to proffer a paper bag. I’ve always imagined April was born in April and has three sisters called May, June and July, perhaps an only brother called December because if the summer is a woman, so the winter much be a man. (p.23)

As Ray and One Eye bond, the man takes on a dog’s eye view of his world.

Now the food bowl is the epicenter of your existence, to which the house is attached, and everything beyond radiates from, like sun beams. (p.36)

On a walk with One Eye, Ray comments:

I wish I’d been born with your capacity for wonder. (p.41)

Then this:

Now you are my third leg, an unlimping leg, and I am the eye you lost. (p.43)

And there is a joy Ray experiences when he lets One Eye run free in a field outside the village.

You wag your tail. This is the first time I’ve seen you wag your tail. “GOOD BOY!” I yell. (p.48)

One day, while Ray and One Eye go walking, the dog attacks a collie. Ray finally gets One Eye to let go. The collie runs away with its female owner it chasing him. Ray takes One Eye home and hides in the house, afraid of what may happen next. After a while, Ray and One Eye continue their walks. They go out at dawn and find places where they can walk and not have a repeat of the incident with the collie.

Then it happens again. One Eye goes after a shih tzu. Ray retreats back into his house. He is afraid of losing One Eye. The local warden comes for the dog. “A complaint’s been made.” How Ray responds to that complaint drives the rest of the novel.

The friendship that grows between the animal and the human is chronicled in detail in Sara Baume’s beautiful novel. For the first time in each’s life, they have a friend. As I read, I was completely pulled in, not only by the language, but also by the character study of Ray, revealing his rich inner life.

Not only does he open up his perceptions of the world to One Eye. There is also a running dialogue about his dead father. So strong is his memories that it can be said Ray’s father is the third of three major characters.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a book that you will remember long after you put it down. One thing is for sure. Sara Baume has created one of the most moving novels I have ever read. And, in case you’re wondering, Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a mondegreen for Spring Summer Fall Winter.

Sara’s second novel, A Line Made By Walking, is out. From the reviews on Amazon, looks like she has a winner with it as well. It will be interesting to follow this writer five, ten, twenty years down the road to see where she leads her readers.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Mama, This One’s For You

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is for Mother’s Day. It is song, Beth Hart’s “Mama, This One’s For You“.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there. We love you and thank you for putting so much into making us who we are.

And I have to say that Beth Hart has never sounded better than she does on this one.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 13: Disappointment

Things seem to be heating up for our heroine.

Previously the Queen was not happy. No sirree. None too happy at all. And when the Queen is not happy, the Prince of Wales is not happy. When the Prince of Wales is not happy, the Prime Minister is not happy. And when the Prime Minister is not happy, well, you get my drift.

The steamer to Egypt was old and decrepit, though it had been a ship of the line in its heyday. That was a long heyday ago, at least half a century. One wonders why Lady Marye booked passage on a boat named S. S. Twit. It was the only ship available that would get her out of Istanbul fast. After her experiences with Dilly and the Brittish Ambassador, that seemed best.

As the ship twittered along, sailing through the Dardenelles and past Cyprus, it squeaked noisily. The squeak was so loud that Lady P. P. became concerned. She hemmed and hawed and harrumphed until finally Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe bucked up her courage and blurted out to the captain, Captain Pedro Emmanuel Montoya Henandez Gabriel Garcia de Toledo San Cristobel y Mendoza Cantabria, “Won’t the ship sink?”

“Dis old tub, she eez quite seaworthy, Señora,” Captain Pedro Emmanuel said, winked and kissed her gloved hand like the old-world gentleman he was. He could have called her the Gloved One, but he didn’t.

She only wore one diamond studded white glove. The other hand, her left, was free of encumbrances. In fact, she had freed herself from a variety of encumbrances, such as her corset. If an emergency showed its face, she wanted to be prepared. The best preparation she could think of was to be decorseted. It was the American thing to do.

Then Captain Pedro Emmanuel offered, “Perhaps the Señora will join the captain in the Captain’s Bed. It is safe there. It will float if the ship sinks. I have tested it myself.”

“Please this lady is a lady,” the Señora Wimpleseed-Prissypott harrumphed. “And I am not that kind of lady. I have my pride.”

“I know, Señora, this I know,” Captain Pedro Emmanuel said. “One can see that by the way your bosoms heave and ho in my presence. Only a lady’s bosoms heave and ho like that. I have experience in the ladyship department. Señora should understand, it is a quite an honor to be invited to the Captain’s Bed.”

“This ladyship has been honored again and again,” her ladyship said. “I have the medals to prove it. Despite my ample pulchritude, my breasts cannot hold all those medals. Something has to give and give soon.”

“Ah, but what magnificent bosoms they are,” Captain Pedro Emmanuel  said. “They are very ladylike.”

“I think I will pass on your kind offer today,” her ladyship with her lady-like bosoms said. “But if the offer is still open, I may take you up on it tomorrow. Especially if this is old tub hits an iceberg.”

“Señora, there are no icebergs,” Captain Pedro Emmanuel  said, “in the Mediterranean. Nada. Not one.”

“Well, one never knows,” she said. “I’ve seen Gibraltar and that Rock is one big iceberg.”

While dining in the ship’s dining room that night, her ladyship encountered the famous English oilman and troubleshooter, Smythie Smathers. He was returning to Nigeria to explore the oil fields. Recently the troubleshooter had knocked about Africa, knick-knack-patty-whacking-giving-a-dog-a-bone and knocking the knackers in the head to get oil. And Nigeria was the place all that knocking had led him. He also had the knack to knock a lady’s knickers down nattily well. And here was a lady on-board.

Standing on deck, he looked out over the water and into the night, lit a fag, and offered her ladyship, our heroine, a smoke. The two discussed their precarious position aboard the steamer and instantly liked each other. They conversed on this and that and the other things.

Then he offered the following observation, “We’re two lonely hearts at here at sea, facing God-knows-what iceberg over the horizon. We should have some jolly good fun. It may very well be our last chance. I can see that you are a lady, and I assure you that I am a gentleman of the first degree. I have a black belt in gentlemanship. We should take advantage of such an opportunity as this. After all, we are missionaries taking our gospel of progress to the colonials.”

“Those are the very words that Moms said to me to convince me to go off to Merry Olde England. She said it was time to return all that English goodwill we in the colonies had received and seed our dear cousins across the pond. She thought I should do missionary work and sprinkle the Motherland with the blood of New Money. Besides I was getting a title out of the deal.”

“Would you care to join me in my chambers to enjoy a bit of the whimsy?” Smythie Smathers leaned over and kissed her on her cherry-lipsticked lips. It was the thing to do, and he was always one for the thing to do. That was how he had risen so far in his company, the Royal Beeswax and Petroleum Jelly Corporation of East Potterdom.

“I suppose we do have to rehearse our missionary work,” her ladyship sighed. “And what better place than a gentleman’s chambers.”

“Beside your bosoms look as if they are in need of the Smythie Smathers treatment.”

“You do know the Missionary Position on things?” she looked up into his eyes and quizzed. “I am one for moving forward. No coming in through the backdoor for me. The natives will respect our efforts only if we are upfront with them.”

“I agree,” Smythie Smathers said as he escorted her ladyship toward the stairs to below deck. “That is the sort of terpsichory the Greeks and the Frogs use, sneaking up from behind. We Brits, like you Americans, prefer the forward charge strategy.” The oilman opened the door to his cabin.

“I must admit I do need experience,” she said as she allowed him to guide her toward his oilman-sized bed. “I am so new at being a missionary.” She gazed down at the bulge in his pants. “You look like you will be a very good teacher. You don’t dilly dally around, do you?”

He sat her down on the side of his bed, and sat himself down beside her.

“I have never dillied or dallied in my entire professional career. It isn’t done in the fields I explore. It takes a lot of drilling before there’s a real gusher.”

She felt his bulge. “Feels like we may get a real gusher tonight.”

“I would say that it is very likely,” he said, touching her heaving and hoing bosoms. “It certainly feels as if the geology is in favor of a gusher.”

She stood and dropped her dress. It rushed to the floor in a hurry

“My God, your ladyship, how glorious,” he said. “I have been around the world many times over. Those are definitely two of the wonders of the known world.”

“Remember. No dilly dallying.”

In the throes of his passion, he cried, “I think I have struck oil.”

“The hell you have,” she screamed. “Drill deeper. Deeper, damn it.”

“But I’ve got a real gusher coming.”

“How can you call yourself an oil man if you leave a well only half-drilled?” She withdrew from the situation, rolled over on her side and fell asleep, disappointed and bored and thinking, “One of these days, damn it, I am going to have to find myself a real man. One with lots of get-up-and-go who’s get-up-and-go has not got-up-and-gone.”

The next morning he was gone. Besides that, Smythie Smathers was not in the bed beside her.

“Where the hell is he?” she said. “He must be costing his company a fortune, leaving the wells half-drilled. Some oil man.”

Her ladyship was famished. She was hungry enough to eat a horse. Not a real horse. She liked horses. She would never have eaten one.

She dressed and headed back to her cabin for a change of fashion and a new hat. She could not go out in last night’s leftovers. She needed a freshover before meeting her public.

Her ladyship walked from her stateroom to the dining room of the ship. Lo and behold, who was there? Smythie Smathers and he was feeding upon Crepe Suzette, a lovely young French tart who might have put the ooo-la-lahs in ooo-la-lah.

Seeing the young French woman on Smythie’s lap, Lady P. P. slapped the juice out of the smugness of his orange of a face. “So? You have a little French tart for breakfast, do you? All because I wouldn’t allow you to bring your reinforcements from behind the lines. I hope her boorishly flat bosoms are a tasty little treat for you because you shall never ever never dine with me again. I thought you were hungry last night but all you wanted was a little snack. You were saving up for the main course. All you want is sugar and no substance. That’s what tarts are for.”

She slapped his right-smug face again. Then a third time. She was angry and her anger was becoming angry. Before she could slap the juice completely out of him, he stopped her hand.

“Please. Don’t make a scene, old girl,” Smythie said in his best Smatherss manner. And he said the words quietly.

“I’m making a scene?” she said, grabbing her hand out of his. “I’m making a scene. I’ll show you a scene.”

She picked a sharp knife off the table and raised it over her head.

Next Week. Other Parts of the Jungle to explore.