THE QUIET MAN KISSES

A first kiss is always memorable. It always intimates something more, of a moment of passion that has yet to be realized. But there is always a hint and a spark the first moment that lovers meet.

 

The tints and shades of the vibrant images in The Quiet Man also promise deep passion, and the ethereal blues and fleshly reds of Mary Kate Danaher’s shepherdess ensemble evoke images of Madonnas reposing in cathedrals and churches, but Mary Kate evokes the promise of the flesh with the dedication of fealty to her heritage, her church, and her own convictions. When Sean Thornton is stricken by the vision of Mary Kate in the meadow tending to the sheep, her gaze promises that her “Walls of Jericho” eventually will crumble in dedication and in response equal to the flood of Sean Thornton’s emotions.

The first kiss: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MkQyRE0byBI

Sean is searching in the dark, confused and unsure of his feelings. He knows something has changed in the cottage. He realizes something is different. The undulating rhythm of the wind ignites passion like the fire burning in the center of the frame at the beginning of the scene, like the fire burning in the hearts of the lovers. They both  recognize the passion.  It initiates, approaches, retreats, and finally resolves into the physical manifestation of Mary Kate’s slap, revealing how she still struggles with the strength of her desires for Sean Thornton.

In The Quiet Man, the first kiss between Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton, does just that. It reveals a tempestuousness, a desire, and an incomparable yet incomplete passion, and  viewers recognize that unrequited passion, either from their own lives, or in the lives of others. The yearning and desire from the first kiss in The Quiet Man between Mary Kate and Sean reveals expectation, but once the initial kiss is rebuffed by Mary Kate’s slap, viewers are strapped in for the desperate buggy ride to the final moment of  The Quiet Man‘s fully-realized passion later in the film.

 

In the cemetery, Mary Kate and Sean both reveal they don’t want to wait for the “walking out together” or the “thrashing parties.” Their first embrace, however, elicits a bolt of lightening and a clap of thunder, and Mary Kate immediately makes the sign of the cross over her heart, revealing her fear that her love for a man has superseded the desires of her loyalty to her God and her church. She seeks a divine protection from the unbridled passion in her soul.

Mary Kate then looks at Sean with a fear in her eyes, and retreats to the safety of the arch of a long-disintegrated church or chapel, bringing Sean into her imagined comfort zone.  Sean follows her, and they release the desire they have felt since Sean first saw the vision of the shepherdess in the verdant meadow. Mary Kate doesn’t retreat from Sean’s attentions anymore.

The second kiss: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hHWdzUvXecQ

Surrounded by a storm and weathering the drops of rain anointing their love, they commit to each other’s desires and passions under the arch that represents an accepting embrace of their fleshly plea for each other.

Maureen O’Hara, in her 2004 autobiography with John Nicoletti, ‘Tis Herself, revealed her explanation for the lasting nature of the popularity of those scenes: “Why is the scene so erotic? Why were Duke and I so electric in our love scenes together? I was the only leading lady big enough and tough enough for John Wayne. Duke’s presence was so strong that when audiences saw him finally meet a woman of equal hell and fire, it was exciting and thrilling” and during “those moments  of tenderness, when the lovemaking was about to begin, audiences saw  for a half-second that he had finally tamed me–but only for that half-second.”

 

In light of the Pope’s visit to this hemisphere this week, it is fitting that such a film be discussed on such a historic day and in conjunction with St. Valentine’s Day. The struggles allowed to voice themselves in John Ford’s The Quiet Man reveal how closely, in some respects, the film adheres to Catholic precepts of proper behavior in the 1950s. Mary Kate Danaher exemplifies chastity before marriage, acquiescing to her religious beliefs, but the worldly Sean Thornton brings all the disregard of tradition expected of a worldly-wise pugilist. His resolve to win the heart of the woman he loves forces him to reevaluate his attitude toward local Irish traditions, Catholic religious beliefs, and the village that raises his inner child, as well as the woman who ignites his soul.

Do real life experiences ever approach the passion in this film? They obviously do, or at least viewers of this film hope they do. To find such a passion, experience it, and accept it is what makes our existence thrive and resonate with our own desires.

Here’s hoping all visitors to the Kissathon have such a kiss in your future!

Read more about what people have said about The Quiet Man…

Link to article and official trailer for “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary:

http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/new-quiet-man-documentary-reveals-stormy-relationship-between-maureen-ohara-and-john-ford-154426385-237506091.html

Leonard Maltin discusses the “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary: http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/re-examining-john-wayne-and-the-quiet-man-20150309

Malachy McCourt and his disdain for The Quiet Man: http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/Quiet-Man-an-idiotic-stupid-anti-Irish-film-Malachy-McCourt.html

Aurora roars about The Quiet Man: http://aurorasginjoint.com/2012/07/31/the-quiet-man/

The official TCM comments: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24069/The-Quiet-Man/articles.html

I would be remiss in my duties to fans of Miss O’Hara if I did not reiterate Miss O’Hara’s urging to audiences at the TCM Film Festival in 2014 that her religious beliefs played a very important part in her life and the decisions she made during her introduction to How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne.

“It is wonderful to be the age I am, and still have God unable to put up with me”: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e3IhZu6Fb6w

Scorsese on the smooch: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/scorsese-quiet-man-kiss-is-one-of-cinemas-best-217816.html

 

This post was created in conjunction with Second Sight Cinema for “A Kiss is Just a Kiss Blogathon” here: http://secondsightcinema.com/happy-valentines-day-weekend-weldome-to-the-you-must-remember-this-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-blogathon/

Check out all the fabulous blog posts about kisses! http://secondsightcinema.com/happy-valentines-day-weekend-weldome-to-the-you-must-remember-this-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-blogathon/

Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes: Each Other’s Muse…

As I was unsure of what “symbiotic” meant in the context of actors and directors,  I began to travel to the land of the “lexicons,” a green, fertile place found only in the imagination. Sometimes there’s a pot of gold, and sometimes there is a cold, hard fact that cannot be ignored.

Biologically speaking, symbiotic refers to any diverse organisms that live together, but in some cases, the relationship is not necessarily beneficial to both. Symbiosis, the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association or close union, and often in a mutually beneficial relationship, is obviously a more positive description. Cinematically speaking, a successful collaboration in a more or less intimate association or close union might apply to Gena* Rowlands and John Cassavetes because an “intimate association” can’t become much closer than a married couple. Their “symbiotic” professional relationship involved the creation of 10 movies together; their personal union, three children.

 

“When I started making films, I wanted to make Frank Capra pictures. But I’ve never been able to make anything but these crazy, tough pictures. You are what you are.”

“I always, always wanted to be an actress. It came from reading so much.” Gena Rowlands

As for classic symbiotic relationships, the fine line between the classic era, classic films, and just plain classy collaborations is often a subject for debate among professional cinema critics, social media aficionados and gainfully employed members of the entertainment  profession. For me, though, interpretation of film is more personal. I always evaluate movies on the basis of how they resonate with me personally, and how they relate to my experiences and relationships with people and events that I have experienced. When I first knew  of Gena Rowlands, the movie actress, she immediately reminded me of my mother, who loved watching  Rowlands’ appearances on televsision’s Peyton Place.  The actress’s strength and vulnerability in Lonely Are The Brave (1962) with Kirk Douglas made that connection for me when I first saw it on the afternoon movie. I also found that one of her lesser known performances in Charms for the Easy Life (2002), a television film from HBO, was also another dimension to her range as an actress, and another personal favorite of mine. Her conventional and unconventional characterizations with and without the influence of  her husband, director, and collaborator always intrigued me.

But before the classic symbiotic collaboration occurred, Rowlands landed initial steady employment.  According to her comments to Andy Warhol in his Interview magazine in December of 1992: “My first-ever job was in New York ushering in a little art theater. I was 21, maybe. I can’t remember. I saw Marlene Dietrich 38 times in Der blaue Engel (1930)—The Blue Angel—and I just sat there and held my flashlight, or stood there and held my flashlight. But she was wonderful.”

Rowlands’ parents had been supportive. Warhol asked Rowlands if she had any regrets, but she reponded that she didn’t. “I’ve been awfully lucky. I really have. My parents were the greatest parents in the world about encouraging me to do whatever I wanted. After school and three years at university, I went home and said, ‘I would like to quit and go to New York and be an actress.’ My mother said, ‘That sounds like something very interesting.’ And I said, ‘What about Daddy?’ And she said, ‘Ask him.’ I went [to my father]: ‘Dad, would you be okay if I left school and went to New York and became an actress?’ He said, ‘I don’t care if you want to be an elephant trainer if you really want to.’ So I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to be an elephant trainer…’ I grabbed them while they were all smiling and got on an airplane and went to New York and auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I went there and then I was auditioning for things.”

Of Greek heritage, Cassavetes was “educated at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and auditioned for The Actors Studio when he was beginning his career, but was initially rejected.” In Ray Carney’s Cassavetes on Cassavetes book, Cassavetes confessed to his parents that he wanted to be an actor. His father wasn’t initially thrilled at the idea of his son being an actor, but told him that he had to work hard because he would be portraying human emotions truthfully. Cassavetes’ friend and actor Peter Falk once stated that “Every Cassavetes film is always about the same thing. Somebody said ‘Man is God in ruins,’ and John saw the ruins with a clarity that you and I could not tolerate.”

In 1954, Rowlands and Cassavetes married, and the personal and continuing professional union lasted 35 years until Cassavetes’ death in 1989. The pair had three children, Nick, Xan, and Zoe, all of whom have sought careers in the entertainment field.

Cinematically speaking, as the “successful collaboration in a more or less intimate association or close union” evolved between Rowlands and Cassavetes, they engaged in creating 10 movies together: A Child Is Waiting (1963), Faces (1968), Gloria (1980), Love Streams (1984), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), Opening Night (1977), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Two-Minute Warning (1976) and Tempest (1982). Cassavetes, hailed as one of the innovators and pioneers of the independent film movement beginning in the late1950s, and Rowlands, an actress whose credits include such notable performances asThe Notebook(2004),  directed by her son Nick Cassavetes, and her Oscar-nominated portrayals in Gloria (1980) and Woman Under the Influence (1984) directed by her husband, John Cassavetes.

For writer Alex Simon, Cassavetes was “primarily known to most of the public as a veteran character actor,” but he “left behind his greatest artistic legacy as an independent filmmaker with a unique voice and vision.” in 2004, Simon interviewed Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands, whom Simon calls Cassavetes’ “widow/muse,” for Venice Magazine.

Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Cassavetes

Actor Ben Gazzara’s first colloboration with Cassavetes as his director began in 1970 on the pre-production to Husbands, also starring Peter Falk, and Rowland’s brother, David.

“John and I became dear, dear friends.” According to Simon’s discussion with Gazzara, Cassavetes had a specific approach to preparing a film. “A lot of people had the misconception that John improvised his films, which wasn’t true. We rehearsed for two or three weeks before we shot. Occasionally a scene would be completely improvised, but only occasionally. The rehearsal was in order to give the impression of it happening for the first time, and also for the purpose of rewriting. John loved to rewrite on his feet. He’d just tear things apart, and try six, seven different ways of doing things. So by the time you got on the floor, with the camera present, you were pretty secure with where you were. John’s films were made through his actors. He loved being surprised during rehearsals and wanted you find things within yourself that would even surprise you.”

Gazzara wasn’t intiimidated on his first professional collaboration with Cassavetes in Husbands as Cassavetes “wasn’t afraid of taking any trip you wanted to take. The only thing John hated was if you didn’t try, if you didn’t ‘put it up,’ as he used to say. ‘Put it up!’ So I felt right at home, because that way of working was my idea of joy: where everything is open and everything is possible and nobody can do wrong. There is no wrong. It might not be right, but it ain’t wrong.”

Falk, Gazzara, Cassavetes, and Rowland’s  brother David in a scene from Husbands…

Peter Falk, best known as television’s Columbo, wearing a beleagured trenchcoast and an attitude of perseverance, also collaboraed with Cassavetes first, in Husbands, and then in A Woman Under the Influence, playing Gena Rowlands’ beleaguered spouse. Falk and Cassavetes remained close friends after Husbands (along with Ben Gazzara). In the interview, Simon stated that he felt Cassavetes’ films were like “jazz,” and Falk responded candidly:

“That’s very interesting, because Elaine May once said that the difference between ad-libbing and improvisation is that when jazz musicians improvise, they do so off a pre-existing theme. So if you are ad-libbing, and you’re just throwing out words that aren’t in the script, you’re not improvising off any kind of theme. So true improvisation has to do with improvising off something that exists. And that’s the difference between boring, realistic ad-libbing, which is spontaneous, but it has no shape. It has no form. But real improvisation, the kind you see in Cassavetes films, is related to a pre-existing theme.”

 

Cassavetes on Cassavetes…

 

“There’s a difference between ad-libbing and improvising. And there’s a difference between not knowing what to do and just saying something. Or making choices as an actor. As a writer also, as a person who’s making a film, as a cameraman, everything is a choice. And it seems to me I don’t really have to direct anyone or write down that somebody’s getting drunk; all I have to do is say that there’s a bottle there and put a bottle there and then they’re going to get drunk. I don’t want to tell them how they’re going to get drunk. I don’t want to tell them how they’re going to get drunk, or what they would do, and I don’t want to restrict them in being able to carry out a beat, to fulfill an action. You can’t say somebody’s drunk, or in love.”  John Cassavetes

During Rowlands’ discussion with Simon, the writer revealed  that Gazzara felt he’d been “set free”  when he began to work with Cassavetes, and Rowlands agreed.  “I think that’s very true for all of us. There was such freedom. The way other pictures are set up, there isn’t quite that freedom. They’re set up in a much more businesslike way.”

 

Rowlands went on to explain how Cassavetes process was different. “For example, most films are shot out of sequence, usually scheduled according to cost. John would always shoot his films in sequence with the script, and that made such a big difference for the actors. You never felt as though someone was about to come down on you when you were working with John. He would never let you stop yourself during a scene.” For me, all of Rowlands on screen performances have meaning, but her collaborations with her husband elicited a depth that didn’t seem apparent in some of her other characerizations, and perhaps the freedom she felt with his guidance settled into her soulful appearances in her later work after Cassavetes passing in 1989. Her give and take with James Garner in  The Notebook and her women who march to the beat of a different drummer in her films and  her made-for-television movies unabashadely force the viewer to experience her point of view. The freedom Cassavetes gave her, like the freedom he gave Falk and Gazzara, filtered through her interpretations like snowdrops on a touchstone, crystallizing moments in time.

Simon’s article also revealed how Cassavetes’ intense focus would affect a production.. “Oftentimes,” Rowlands claimed, ” a plane will go overhead during a shot, and the actor will just stop, because he or she knows that they’re going to cut. John insisted that you keep going always, until he said “cut.” What happened was that you kept your concentration and pretty soon, you didn’t hear the plane, or the fire engine, or whatever it was. It was a very valuable way of working. He did so many things that were unique. His use of body mikes for sound were great because you didn’t have to hit any marks, you could just go more or less where you wanted. And the lighting was such also that you could move quite freely. He lit in a very flat way that was more natural. You didn’t get to have a good light or a bad light, and most actors know what that means. We all had to work in the same light.”

In trying to elicit a more definitive comment from Rowlands, Simon found he couldn’t budge her from a committed perspective on her husband’s process when she revealed that “John always said ‘Don’t give interviews about what I was thinking, or what I was doing. If anybody wants to know me, let them look at my work. That’s it.'”

The most effective method of experiencing the Rowlands/Cassavetes symbiosis is to “look at” the work, like Cassavetes cautioned Rowlands. Viewers won’t be disappointed at the smooth, organic connection between actress  and director, or husband and wife.

LINKS And RESOURCES….

Reuben Guevara’s article for Thompson on Hollywood: http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/watch-set-to-receive-honorary-oscar-gena-rowlands-reflects-on-literature-and-film-20151109

“What Movies Mean to Me,” Gena Rowlands for Academy Originals: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3ih9G2GnKRs

IMDb-Gena Rowlands: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001687/?ref_=nmbio_sp_1

IMDb-John Cassavetes: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001023/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

Q & Andy: Andy Warhol interviews Gena Rowlands in 1992 for Interview Magazine: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/film/andy-warhols-interview-interview-savannah-film-festival-2014-gena-rowlands

John Cassavetes–An Appreciation by Alex Simon: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-simon/john-cassavetes-an-apprec_b_7058880.html

John Cassavetes and Gena Rowland Make Movies the Hard Way–With Their Own Money!; http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20088841,00.html

A thirteen-year-old girl from Argentina has also been inspired by the symbiotic relationship between John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. Here’s a link to her blog, Silver Velvet Sky: https://silvervelvetsky.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/constant-forge/

This article has been prepared specifically to celebrate Classic Symbiotic Collaborations: The Star-Director Blogathon. Go to CineMaven’s Essays From The Couch to read more fabulous entries!

Follow me  on Twitter: @suesueapplegate

 

THE STORY OF G. I. JOE

This is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Kellee (@IrishJayHawk66) of Outspoken and Freckled, Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen, and myself, @Paula_Guthat of this blog, are back our Third Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Update: Scroll on down to the end of the post to see the list of 2015 participants so far.

This is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club.

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The Story of G. I. Joe is a movie heralded by General Dwight D. Eisenhower as “the finest war film” he had ever seen, and it is indeed heartwarming that The Story of G.I. Joe is screened during the annual 31 Days of Oscar on TCM because it is one of those films that is not necessarily a blockbuster, but it based on historical moments written about and recalled by Ernie Pyle. It is one of those films that tied together the horrors of war, such as they could be revealed in the 50s, to the forefront of American sensibilities in the dark security of the neighborhood cinema. Men who had just returned from WWII wanted a film they could connect with, a film they could pin all their memories on, and The Story of G.I. Joe gave them one of those social events to connect with their pasts in the hedgerows, on the battlefield, on the PT Boats and in their hearts. In the fifties, going to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night was a celebration of the end to the work week, and many folks would go out to dinner, and then to a movie.

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In 1944, Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote to his wife Geraldine Seibolds Pyle and told her: “Of course I am very sick of the war and would like to leave it and yet I know I can’t. I’ve been part of the misery and tragedy of it for so long that I’ve come to feel a responsibility to it or something. I don’t know quite how to put it into words, but I feel if I left it would be like a soldier deserting.”
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In the homey style of a personal letter to a friend, Ernest Taylor Pyle wrote articles about off the beaten track and remote places across America and the people who lived there. In 1940, he went to London in time to witness the great fire bombing at the end of December. When America entered World War II, he became a war correspondent for Scripps-Howard newspapers. He accompanied Allied troops on the invasions of Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France, using his homey reporting style to tell the story of the beaches and foxholes of World War II. Ernie Pyle humanized the most complex, mechanized, destructive war in history and told the stories of the men and women who fought it with empathy, humor, and sensitivity.

One of Ernie Pyle’s most widely read and reprinted columns, “The Death of Captain Waskow,” appeared when the Allied forces were bogged down at the Anzio beachhead in Italy in January 1944. Ernie wrote about the death of Captain Henry Waskow of Belton, Texas, an exceptionally popular leader in January 10, 1944. His men brought his body down from a mountainside by mule and placed it next to four others, but the soldiers didn’t want to leave Captain Waskow.

“The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave … one soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, ‘God damn it.’ That’s all he said and then he walked away …

“Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said: ‘I sure am sorry, sir.’

“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand in his own, he sat there for a full five minutes … looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. “And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of the uniform around the wound and then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.”
—Excerpted from the blog “History Because It’s There” by Kathy Warnes.

Actor Burgess Meredith looks over the script with Ernie Pyle....

Actor Burgess Meredith looks over the script with Ernie Pyle….


The story about “The Death of Captain Waskow,” however, almost couldn’t find the director it actually needed to help bring the poignant Pyle moments to the screen. Director William A. “Wild Billl” Wellman just happened to be a fighter pilot in WWI and had a deep-seated hatred of the infantry. His rigid aversion to directing a film about the infantry in WWII forced producer Lester Cowan to finagle and cajole him with Christmas presents for his children, invitations, and other tricks of a producer’s trade, but it was meeting Ernie Pyle himself at his home in Albuquerque and spending several days with him that actually convinced Wellman to saddle himself with the directorial duties.

The Story of GI Joe begins as Pyle joins C Company, 18th Infantry in North Africa, and the correspondent becomes close to the men and often writes about their exploits in his columns and would mention soldiers by name, which was much appreciated by both the soldiers and the soldier’s families back home. Pyle often followed and wrote about other units, but meets up again with C Company in Italy. Using actual American GIs in the film also added to the realism of the action.
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After the film, the American veterans of the North African and Italian campaigns were transferred from the European Theatre to the Pacific, and many of them were killed in the fighting on Okinawa, the exact same battle in which Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner. Pyle, hired as a consultant on The Story of GI Joe, and the transferred GIs never saw the film in which they had appeared. Pyle was one of the 36 American war correspondents killed in World War II.

Pvt. Archie Connell is one of the many real GI's in Ernie Pyle's "Story of G.I. Joe."

Pvt. Archie Connell is one of the many real GI’s in Ernie Pyle’s “Story of G.I. Joe.”

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Burgess Meredith, a protegee of playwright Maxwell Anderson (Anne of the Thousand Days) who hand-picked Meredith to star in Winterset, Meredith’s first screen role, stars as Ernie Pyle, and brings his war-weary eyes and quiet observance to the front as he slogs along and writes and feels what the men feel that he’s writing about.
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Meredith’s performance in this film resonates in his eyes. Watch them react, watch them disbelieve the painful realities, and watch them empathize with the men he has chosen as the subject of his craft.

When William Wellman dragged Robert Mitchum onto the screen from obscurity in Westerns like “Hoppy Serves a Writ,” he also gave us an actor to be reckoned with. Mitchum, as the man in charge of C Company, has already absorbed the painful moments of seeing men wounded in action or die while trying to advance to a new position closer to the enemy. His cynical nature is never uncaring, but always realistic. His death in the movie is the story of Captain Waskow.
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Mitchum’s screen roles would flirt off and on with World War II scenarios, like John Huston’s Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in 1957, until the lalte 80’s when he apppeared as Victor ‘Pug’ Henry in The Winds of War and War and Rememberance.
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But Mitchum never again would be nominated for Best Supporting Actor or Best Actor at the Academy. The Story of G.I. Joe was nominnated for three other Oscars: Ann Ronnell for Best Song, “Linda”; Leopold Atlas, Guy Endore, and Phillip Stevenson for Best Screenplay, and Ann Ronnell and Louis Applebaum for Best Music for a Drama or Comedy.
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To listen to the Oscar-nominated song, “Linda,” here’s a link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6dJF7royh8c

Note: Wally Cassell, who played PVT. Dondaro in The Story of GI Joe is 99, and is considered the second oldest actor alive from the era of Classic Hollywood at the time of publication.

Bill Wellman, Jr., at the TCM Film Festival 2012...

Bill Wellman, Jr., at the TCM Film Festival 2012…


(The theme of the Turner Classic Film Festival 2015 is “History According to the Movies” and The Story of GI Joe would be an excellent choice for a screening this year, expecially with an introduction by Bill Wellman, Jr.)

BOOKS

(Also excerpted from Kathy Warne’s excellent references collected in her article about Ernie Pyle on the “History Because It’s There” website: http://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/ernie-pyle-homespun-journalist.html )

Boomhower, Ray E. The soldier’s Friend: A Life of Ernie Pyle, Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006.

Miller, Lee Graham. The Story of Ernie Pyle. Greenwood Press, 1970. Nichols, David. Ernie’s War: The Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Disptaches. Simon & Schuster, First Touchstone Edition, 1987.

Tobin, James. Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II. Modern War Studies. University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Pyle, Ernie. Brave Men. Bison Books, 2001.

LINKS:

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon:

Once Upon A Screen: http://aurorasginjoint.com/2015/01/05/31-days-of-oscar-blogathon-2015/

Outspoken and Freckled:http://kelleepratt.com

Paula’s Cinema Club:http://paulascinemaclub.com/2015/01/05/call-for-posts-31-days-of-oscar-2015/

History Because It’s There, a blog by Kathy Warnes: http://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/ernie-pyle-homespun-journalist.html

A History of G.I. Joe–the doll created by Hasbro: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1915120,00.html

Robert Mitchum at the premiere screening of "Mister Moses" in Houston, Texas, at the Meyerland Cinema in 1965. (From a private archive)

Robert Mitchum at the premiere screening of “Mister Moses” in Houston, Texas, at the Meyerland Cinema in 1965. (From a private archive)

Don Beddoe, “Everything But Pattie de Foy Grass”*

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This post is part of the third annual What a Character! Blogathon hosted by three classic movie bloggers: Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen, Kellee Pratt (@IrishJayHawk66) of Outspoken & Frecked, and Paula Guthat (@Paula_Guthat) of Paula’s Cinema Club. The Blogathon is devoted to those wonderful actors who rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many leading players wished they had.

Not everybody was a glamourpuss back in the 40’s and 50s, and not everybody wanted to be.
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The ticket to steady employment and a crisp, new paycheck may not have been through the doors of Sidney Guilaroff’s MGM salon. It might have been through tending bar in a saloon, or running the general store, or even pecking out the latest update from the teletype, and Don Beddoe was obviously one of those even-keeled, level-headed professionals who took the road less traveled by the publicists and the power mongers.

Don was raised in Cincinnati where his father, the famous Welsh tenor Don Beddoe, spearheaded the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and his initial career began as a journalist.

Enjoy Beddoe’s father, tenor Don Beddoe (1863-1937) in a 1913 recording of “A Moonlight Song” here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=06OJQ_eJTyY

But something lured Don away from the typewriter and the heady aroma of freshly-inked front pages, and Cincinnati. Even though he intended a career in journalism, he began working with amateur and community theatre companies, and there is evidence that he appeared in a few silents. Somehow his journey from wordsmith to boards-stomper landed him on Broadway where Beddoe made his debut in a play starring Spencer Tracy.

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In 1937, he appeared as an uncredited District Attorney’s aide in the first release of 20 that year from the newly-formed Monogram pictures, which became Allied Artists in 1952. Perpetual Gunsmoke “Doc” Milburn Stone also appeared in that first Mongram release entitled The 13th Man, directed by William Nigh and starring Inez Courtney and Weldon Heyburn. Beddoe would eventually appear on an episode of Gunsmoke with Stone.

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Beddoe then began playing all sorts of roles on camera -doctors, reporters, barbers, deputies, sherriffs, clerks, mousy-husbands, attorneys, detectives, jockeys, majors, process servers, professors, police chiefs, chaplains, judges, and junk dealers. His acting credits include over 297 film and television roles, and his last was as a popuar fellow named “Kris” on a Christmas-themed Highway to Heaven episode in 1984.

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Married to first wife Jessie Evelyn Sebring in 1943, their marriage lasted until her death in 1974. Soon after, Beddoe wed actress Joyce Matthews, and Beddoe obviously settled her down a bit.

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Matthews had been married six times to four other men–twice to Milton Berle, who commented after their remarriage that Joyce reminded him “of his first wife.”

Joyce and Milton...

Joyce and Milton…

Matthews also married and divorced showman Billy Rose –twice. So Beddoe obviously knew how to treat someone like Joyce as they were married until Beddoe’s death, and Joyce never remarried. Alas, Beddoe had no children, but Joyce had her daughter, Victoria, that she had adopted while married to Berle.

One of Beddoe’s most high-profile roles in the 1950’s was as Walt Spoon in Director Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter. Beddoe was paired with Evelyn Varden, a burlesque and Broadway actress who had many high-profile films in her repertoire, too. When recalling Don Beddoe, Producer Paul Gregory stated that Beddoe was a “dear man,” and asked author Preston Neal Jones to give him that message. Beddoe’s response to Gregory’s comment? “Isn’t that nice.”

As 'The Meddler' in "Cyrano De Bergerac"

As ‘The Meddler’ in “Cyrano De Bergerac”

Beddoe supported many of Hollywood’s stars like Peter Lorre in The Face Behind The Mask, with Robert Mitchum in River of No Return as Ben, the owner of the general store, and with Cary Grant in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.

Author Preston Neal Jones visited with Beddoe shortly before Beddoe passed away when Jones was interviewing all the principals in his book, Heaven and Hell To Play With-The Filming of Night of the Hunter.

During Jones interview with Beddoe, he related celebrated British film historian Leslie Halliwell’s comments that he felt Beddoe was a “character actor with a genial, sometimes startled look.”
Beddoe responded “that means when I’ve blown my lines.”

Beddoe’s memories of working with Gregory and others on the set of Night of the Hunter are happy ones as he felt that Laughton was “always on his best behavior, completely friendly and warm.” Delighted that Laughton was able to direct the film, Beddoe recalled that “it came through so well. And it didn’t come through like a first attempt, at all. It was really professional, directorially.”

According to Beddoe, Laughton’s biggest problem was handling Mitchum, but all went well between the director and the actor with the “bad-boy” reputation as “there was a complete rapport between the two.” Beddoe also worked on “River of No Return” with Mitchum and claimed “it’s been a very cordial relationship.”

With Shelley Winters, Eveyln Varden, Sally Jane Bruce, and Mitchum...

With Shelley Winters, Eveyln Varden, Sally Jane Bruce, and Mitchum…

Recalling his visit with Don Beddoe and reminiscing about his pairing with Evelyn Varden in Night of the Hunter, author Preston Neal Jones revealed more about the endearing Beddoe when he participated in a visit at the classic film website, The Silver Screen Oasis:

Beddoe & Varden, that great team, were certainly appreciated by the film’s creators. Producer Paul Gregory enthuses in my book about their casting, adding, ‘You’d think they’d been married always.’ Davis Grubb, author of the original novel, felt that “they (the production company) should have paid her extra” for her contribution as Icey Spoon. As it happened, she and Grubb viewed the HUNTER answer print together at United Artists’ Manhattan screening room.”

Varden “was so anxious that he like it, Grubb recalled, that she kept a tight squeeze on his hand the whole time. I’ll tell you a touching anecdote about Don Beddoe, which I don’t think I put in the book. One of the great joys, you know, of meeting and conversing with these wonderful character actors is the opportunity it affords to learn about not just the subject at hand but many other films as well. (Mr. Mitchum had a lot to say, for instance, about CAPE FEAR.)

One of the famous movies in which Mr. Beddoe appeared was The Best Years Of Our Lives, in which he portrayed, if memory serves, the father of the bride,Teresa Wright. In any case, BEST YEARS was as we all know a rather long picture, and it necessitated a suitably long (and therefor expensive) shooting schedule. As the final film stands, Beddoe’s character really isn’t seen very much, but he originally had one important father/daughter scene containing a significant speech. He worked hard to prepare his monologue, only to be crestfallen when he went to the set and learned that the scene had been dropped.

William Wyler explained to the disappointed actor that they had already shot a lot of footage, and the director had agreed with the budget-conscious Sam Goldwyn that the film could get along without that scene. Poor Don Beddoe asked Mr. Wyler if he could at least do the speech for him, so he could show how he would have done it if it had been filmed, but the busy director turned him down.”

Even though Beddoe was momentarily crestfallen at Wyler’s rebuff, his 297 film and television credits attest to his 47-year popularity among those who hire and fire seasoned and reliable character actors in LA. As a fan of Beddoe, I am always on the lookout for one of his roles in classic film and television programs. His sweetness, his down-to-earth qualities, and his compassion can be found in the man who hands you your program when you go to the symphony, or the doctor who smiles at his patients, or the detective who won’t let somebody get away with murder.

Beddoe also supported his acting salary in real estate, and was active almost up until the time of his death at 87 in 1991.

* Beddoe’s line as Ben in River of No Return

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Silver Screen Oasis.

Maureen O’Hara and John Ford’s Way With Women

Maureen O'Hara at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in April....

Maureen O’Hara at the Turner Classic Film Festival 2014 in April….


Maureen O’Hara, 93, and still as feisty as ever, travelled from Idaho this year where she lives with her grandson and his family to attend the TCMFF 2014, introduce How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne, and have a short interview with Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
This image must be one of Maureen O'Hara's favorites as she chose it for the cove of her 2004 autobiography...

This image must be one of Maureen O’Hara’s favorites as she chose it for the cover of her 2004 autobiography…

Even though her career spans 62 years, Robert Osborne writes in this month’s Now Playing Guide for TCM that she has been filmed in Technicolor more than any other actress (34 times) and “she has lost none of her Irish spunk.” During her interview with Osborne prior to the screening of How Green Was My Valley at the Turner Classic Film Festival in 2014, Osborne asked her how it was working with director John Ford, and she proclaimed, “I thought we were here to talk about me!” She began her film career under contract to Charles Laughton and his production partner with the film Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

As Esmeralda in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" with Charles Laughton...

As Esmeralda in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Charles Laughton…


Her conversation with Osborne also revealed her devotion to Laughton for nurturing her career (she would appear as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Laughton as part of her contract with him.) “What more can someone do for you,” she proudly stated, “than start you off in life.”
Fans crowd around O'Hara and TCM Host Robert Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in April for her interview during the TCM Film Festival...

Fans crowd around O’Hara and TCM Host Robert Osborne in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in April for her interview during the TCM Film Festival…

David Meuel’s new book, Women in the Films of John Ford, reveals how O’Hara’s development as an actress under the guidance of Ford paralleled some of the patterns of achievement that other actresses experienced under his astute on-set dictatorship. Mildred Natwick’s short, but pivotal scene in 3 Godfathers reveals how Ford could wield one shining moment into the fabric of the next half of a film.

Mildred Natwick and John Wayne in "3 Godfathers"

Mildred Natwick and John Wayne in “3 Godfathers”


As Natwick’s character lay dying after the birth of her son, she asks the three men gathered round her, “Will you save my baby?”
Honoring the request from the mother...

Honoring the request from the mother…


Then her final statement resonates throughout the rest of the film,” You tell him about his mother who so wanted to live…for him,” and her comments underscore all the ensuing motivations of the three godfathers.
Forming a plan...

Forming a plan…


Natwick’s comments in Meuel’s book reveal that “I’ve never forgotten that Ford seemed pleased with the scene and pleased that I’d done it.” She sensed from Ford how to play the role because ” you get things by osmosis from a wonderful director.”

Jane Darwell’s performance in The Grapes of Wrath also reveals how Ford inspired Darwell, already a well-known and well-respected performer, to greater acclaim.

Ma Joad facing yet another hardship...

Ma Joad facing yet another hardship…


Darwell’s career as a Hollywood character actress followed her many years as a devoted stage actress, but her most well-known role, besides that of being the bird lady in Mary Poppins, was that of Ma Joad in the successful screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. One reason of the enduring popularity of the character of Ma Joad, according to Meuel, is that Darwell’s characterization “has become a synonym for women who bear great hardship with great dignity.” Darwell also became “a favorite of Ford’s” as she appeared in My Darling Clementine, 3 Godfathers, and The Sun Shines Bright.

Initially, Ford wanted O’Hara for the role of Honey Bear Kelly in Mogambo, according to Meuel, and ended up with Ava Gardner, an actress “he didn’t think was all that good.” But in Mogambo, Gardner earned her first and only Academy Award nomination, and her performance is one of her best.

Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in "Mogambo."

Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner in “Mogambo.”


According to the TCM Database article explaining why Mogambo is an ‘essential,’ “Ava Gardner turned out to be a much greater beneficiary of Ford’s instruction on Mogambo. Her work as Honey Bear Kelly is marked by an ease, even a playfulness, that would seldom if ever surface in her following projects.”

So Ford could wrench an effective performance from someone he deemed initially as less successful at her craft than O’Hara. He elicited those sterling screen seconds in his own way, and made Natwick, Darwell, Gardner, O’Hara, and others the better.

But O’Hara’s opinions and comments, revealed through the years in interviews and O’Hara’s own autobiography that her relationship with Ford alternated from rocky to smooth, and her comments vacillated from his admiring pupil to a woman who always staunchly defended his directing, but sometimes questioned his motives.

Like the time Ford slapped O’Hara for talking to another director. The event strained their relationship, and she never understood why Ford had acted that way, but she eventually went back to engaging in conversation with him and working for him.

'Tis her favorite scene in "How Green Was My Valley."

‘Tis her favorite scene in “How Green Was My Valley.”

The Ford/O’Hara relationship spanned 20 years and began on the set of 1941’s How Green Was My Valley, the film O’Hara introduced at the Turner Classic Film Festival on April 12 in the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Her favorite moment in the film, documented in her autobiography, occurs when her character of Angharad is “outside the church after Angharad gets married. As I make my way down the steps to the carriage waiting below, the wind catches my veil and fans it out in a perfect circle all the way around my face. Then it floats straight up above my head and points to the heavens. It’s breathtaking.” She was obviously impressed with the way she had been showcased in her career-making initial role with Ford.

The triumvirate...

The triumvirate…

Her collaboration with John Wayne in three of Ford’s films, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, and The Wings of Eagles, also revealed that the romantic chemistry she had with Wayne was like “lightning in a bottle.”

"Lightning in a bottle...."

“Lightning in a bottle….”


But her fourth Ford collaboration, 1955’s The Long Gray Line, also starring Tyrone Power, had O’Hara revealing that “it was by far the most difficult” film she had made with Ford.
Tough...

Tough…


Not tough...she adored Tyrone Power's wicked sense of humor...

Not so tough…she adored Tyrone Power’s wicked sense of humor, and here they are together in “The Black Swan”…

Setting many of his films in the past often saddled Ford with the label of being “old-fashioned” but as O’Hara has claimed in interviews and her 2004 autobiography, ‘Tis Herself, Ford loved anything Irish, and any way he could maneuver more Irishness into his films or his own personal life was a way to reconnect or reconstruct his life to his own more idealized version of itself.

O’Hara’s relationships with men who lived large on life’s stage, like Che Guevara, whom she deemed a “freedom fighter,”surprised her when she found out how much he knew about Ireland. Her last husband, Charles Blair, whom she adored, was a record-setting aviator and Brigadier General in the Air Force. The legendary John Wayne, for whom she lobbied Congress to award him a Congressional Medal of Honor, was also one of those connections that paired O’Hara socially and/or professionally with some of the most daring or famous men of the 20th century.

On the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival with her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons...

On the Red Carpet at the Turner Classic Film Festival with her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons…


During her one of her festival interviews with Osborne, she finally stated that “Ford loved being Irish, and was thrilled when he could do something involved with Ireland. Anybody who is very talented and very good at their job… 90 percent of the time will treat you well.” And 90 percent seems to be the magic number Maureen O’Hara has designated for John Ford.
'Tis all there is to say or write or think about the matter....

‘Tis all there is to say or write or think about the matter….

Sources, Links, and Websites:
David Meuel’s Women in the Films of John Ford:
http://www.amazon.com/Women-Films-John-David-Meuel/dp/078647789X

Maureen O’Hara’s ‘Tis Herself: http://www.amazon.com/Tis-Herself-Autobiography-Maureen-OHara/dp/0743269160

The fabulous “Direced By John Ford” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Directedbyjohnfordcom/398684916875651?ref=ts&fref=ts

Moving tribute video by June Parker Beck with Robert Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”: http://t.co/er6MiUGoXY
IMDB Biography of Maureen O’Hara: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000058/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
Maureen O’Hara’s Star of the Month Celebration on TCM, TUESDAYS IN JULY: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/1008293|0/Maureen-O-Hara-Tuesdays-in-July.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maureen-OHara-Magazine-Website/131269913567989?ref=ts&fref=ts
Fan Website: http://moharamagazine.com
Wikipedia:http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_O’Hara
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I am so happy to be included in “The John Ford Blogathon” from July 7-13 hosted by Krell Laboratories: http://krelllabs.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html
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Follow me on Twitter @suesueapplegate
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christy.putnam.5?ref=tn_tnmn
The Silver Screen Oasis: http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis3/viewtopic.php?f=92&t=4260&start=840
KKES Radio Classic Film Expert, Sundays from 12-1p.m.: http://www.1027thehog.com
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/39646-sue-sue-ii/
The Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/classic-film-in-national/christy-putnam

MeTV Summer Blogathon of Classic TV– “Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled”


“This post is part of Me-TV’s Summer of Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association.”

Go to http://classic-tv-blog-assoc.blogspot.com to view more posts in this blogathon. You can also go to http://metvnetwork.com to learn more about Me-TV and view its summer line-up of classic TV shows.

“Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled”

Watching the colorful caricature of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha cross the moon on her broom during the opening theme of Bewitched always made me feel at home wherever I was. Samantha’s house on Morning Glory CIrcle had family members popping in and out, much like at my house, and they almost all expected immediate veneration except for Aunt Clara. The humble scraping and genuflecting reminded me of my own home and how it must have been to walk the fence between Darrin and Endora, Maurice, Aunt Clara, or Uncle Arthur.

The character of Uncle Arthur always appealed to my pun-loving nature, and the practical jokes he loved to play while slyly grinning and ensnaring his latest victim of warlock waywardness appealed to my teenage sense of fun. Paul Lynde’s performances as Uncle Arthur inspired me to make fun if I wasn’t having any, and look for the laughter where there might not be any.

It’s obvious Sammy has hit a pensive note. Could Uncle Arthur be considering reformation?

But his first appearance on Bewitched had nothing to do with Endora’s younger brother, Arthur. The very first time Paul Lynde appeared on Bewitched in 1966, he had to tell Samantha how rotten she was. He didn’t want to, but it was his job.

A publicity photo early in Paul Lynde’s career…

Lynde’s first foray into Morning Glory Circle occurred in the guise of Harold Harold, a haplessly frazzled driving instructor hired by Darrin (Dick York) to help Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) navigate the cul de sacs and four-way stops endemic to suburbia in the sixties. Unfortunately, her driving didn’t sail as smoothly as her take-offs into the blue, and Harold Harold explained how his brothers-in-law took turns hiring and firing him, which obviously made him insecure, but Samantha helped Harold Harold to feel a little more stable by the end of the episode.

That signature style of snappy comebacks obviously couldn’t be ignored, and six or seven months later, in October of 1965, Lynde morphed into Uncle Arthur, a man no longer belittled, but empowered. Hailed by Endora (Agnes Moorehead) as the “Clown Prince of the Cosmos,” Lynde’s wisecracking warlock was not long-winded, just lively. His magical powers rivaled Endora’s and they often had round one, round two, and round three before the final bell when the credits would roll. Somehow the endless monikers Endora bestowed on Darrin because she couldn’t bear to use his real name never seemed to inspire Uncle Arthur to rename Endora. But I would have loved to see him try. Endearing? No that can’t have anything to do with Endora. Endymion? Unendurable?Endifferent? Endoscopy?

Lynde’s only album…

Everyone’s favorite warlock punster always must have been a ratings booster, and if he wasn’t, I’d be surprised. “The Joker is a Card” is Uncle Arthur’s first official “pop in” to “Sammy’s” place, and if you weren’t amused by Lynde’s nasally pronunciation of “Sammy” while flashing teeth in that permanently formed smile, you missed part of his initial charm. It wasn’t so much the words or the puns, it was his delivery. He loved to accentuate those plays on words with his signature grin and a twinkle-twinkle-twink in his eyes. I always knew Uncle Arthur was up to something. He always had a gag and a pun, just to put “Sammy” in a good mood.


Up to his “neck in work…”

In the first episode of Bewitched when Lynde’s Uncle Arthur initially appears, Arthur offers to help Darrin teach Endora a lesson by giving him a spell that will make her disappear, and Darrin initially rejects his offer, but not much later Darrin can be heard chanting a song to cast a spell with a cowbell and a duck call, a tune that still reverberates with the lovable silliness in Lynde’s first appearance in the Bewitched saga: “Yaga-Zoozie, Yaga-Zoozie, Yaga-Zoozie-Zam!”

It was supposed to make Endora disappear.

But with Uncle Arthur, there was more raucous fun than retribution as Darrin was just working up some “Yaga-Zoozie” fervor for Uncle Arthur’s own amusement. Later in the same episode, Uncle Arthur, Samantha, Endora and Darrin are having coffee. When Arthur asks Darrin if he wants some cream, Darrin replies “yes” and Arthur materializes a cow with the quip that Darrin could help himself. Of course, Arthur couldn’t help “milking a good joke,” because he was a serial practical joker and a powerful pun-lover.

But I loved Paul Lynde as Uncle Arthur because he was always tempting “Sammy” to give in to her “naughtier” impulses. She always understood his jokes, and she always found something to laugh about with him. They had a familial relationship that made all of Samantha’s other relationships with relatives seem constrained. With Uncle Arthur,
he definitely…

became…

a man for all seasons.

After all, laughter is the best medicine any time of year.
But my favorite image follows…

I think this lovely photo might be how Paul Lynde would want to be remembered professionally. Elizabeth Montgomery is looking adoringly at him in this photo, and it’s apparent that she cherishes him, his humor, and his wit. I think that’s how he would like to be remembered. After all, he would often sign his fan photos with “Love and Laugher, Paul Lynde.”