Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Must Remember This...

Tomorrow is Q's 50th Birthday. I've been friends with the loveliest, most gracious woman I know for almost 30 years! I've only known my own family members, longer. Though I did meet her husband Dale when we were both teenagers. I acted at his father's Dinner Theatre the summer I turned 17. It was my first paid acting gig - $500 for the entire run. I thought I was on my way. The show was awful, but Dale and company introduced me to Rocky Horror that summer, and I found out that it was starting to be okay to let your freak flag fly. Then there was a very long gap before I saw Dale again, in 1995 (which is another story about directing he and Q as Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, during which they fell hopelessly in love....).

In the meantime, I'd done a whole lot of stuff, including meeting Q in an Acting class in 1981. But it wouldn't be until later that year when I was stage-managing a production of The Heiress, in which she had the lead, that we truly bonded over a long night of conversation which included quotes from every single Little Rascals moment my sister and I loved so much. I knew we would be friends for a very, very long time, that very night (which also is another long story involving my car getting broken into and sleeping in my friend Deb's bed, several weeks before I ever met her).

There has rarely been a major event in either of our lives which Q and I have not shared. She's probably the only person with whom I've seen more movies than my sister. She's undoubtedly the best actress I've ever been privileged to direct on more than one occasion, though I wish we would find something to act together in, already - before one of us kicks. We've held each other while we cried, we've laughed together a whole lot, and even had our disagreements. But that's what friends, do.

So, what's the point, Uncle P? Well, I'll tell you.

Today, Q & Dale hosted a movie party at the historic County Theater in Doylestown, PA. they could have up to 150 guests (there were a good 60 or so), all the popcorn we could eat and the movie of her choice, as long as it was commercially available on DVD. Q struggled with what to choose (Bringing Up Baby was on the list, which pleased yours truly to no end) but she kept it a well-guarded secret. Finally today at 1:00, after a very funny Betty Boop cartoon:

...we finally discovered the what movie Q had chosen and a cheer went up as the names Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Paul Henreid lit up the screen:

It has been years since I've seen Casablanca, and I'd never seen it on a big screen. And I think the the thing that surprised me the most, was that I'd forgotten how funny it could be. Bogart has some of the best snappy comebacks, ever. And I'd forgotten how in every closeup, Bergman's eyes are brimming with liquid, as though they might spill over at any moment and drown you in her beauty. I'd forgotten how small a role Peter Lorre actually has, and how terrific Claude Rains is as the pragmatically corrupt Captain Renault or that Renault's uniform changes as he changes alliances. Small moments, like those created by S.K. Sakall as Maitre d' Carl; Dooley Wilson as Sam and Curt Bois as the Pickpocket, are what make Rick's Cafe Americain a real place. Writers Julius & Phillip Epstein and Howard Koch were able to turn around a rather unsuccessful stage play called Everybody Comes to Rick's and with director Michael Curtiz, create what many argue is the Best Movie Ever Made. And I'm so happy that Q helped remind me why that is.

Happy Birthday Q! I love you so very much!

Yes, I know I promised my review of "Ugly Americans," but I wasn't expected to bowled over today by a 68 year-old movie that I haven't seen in probably 10 years. It's coming.

More, anon.


Stephen said...

Q is my favorite letter & I collect them... you should allow me to send one to her anon.

What a great surprise & what a lovely surprise. Shocking. Here are some films I have never seen:

I didn't see ThE WOMEN, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, or Lady & the Tramp until I was in my 40s...

Prospero said...

I've seen all of those films, several more than once. Of course, "Bambi" is a downer and "The Bicycle Thief" is only shown in film classes, these days.

How about "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" or "Satyricon?"

And don't get me started on Hitchcock...