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Monday, December 21, 2009

On Robert Sherwood, America and Sarah Palin

I am very fond of Robert Sherwood’s work and have read and studied a good portion of his work including his fine biography of Roosevelt and Hopkinns and about half a dozen of his plays. I also know –you might not know it- that he was a combat veteran of the Black Watch (of Canada) in the First World War. Humphrey Bogart is a great favorite. My father saw him and Lesley Howard on Broadway in the mid-30’s in Robert Sherwood’s PETRIFIED FOREST (I have in an anthology of American drama). The film version is very well done and my son enjoyed watching it with my father so it has become part of the family tradition.
Of course Sherwood’s script for THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES which won an Oscar I believe is a masterpiece. It is worth reading the NYT review. I recommend it to my students but do not show it to them because most are not mature enough to appreciate it. I used to show clips to my AP US history classes and give them the movie review to read.

Bosley Crowther (1946):

“It is seldom that there comes a motion picture which can be wholly and enthusiastically endorsed not only as superlative entertainment but as food for quiet and humanizing thought. Yet such a one opened at the Astor last evening. It is The Best Years of Our Lives. Having to do with a subject of large moment—the veteran home from war—and cut, as it were, from the heartwood of contemporary American life, this film from the Samuel Goldwyn studio does a great deal more, even, than the above. It gives off a warm glow of affection for everyday, down-to-earth folks.”

I like GONE WITH THE WIND and it has an interesting POV from the home front and at times it has wonderful performances and even intelligent dialogue but I think THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES is a more grown up film and captures some of the best and worst of America.

The best is its generosity and the humanity of its people and genuine democratic spirit; the worst is its anomie, carnal materialism and hedonism (as exemplified in the “Pat Derry” character the shallow estranged adulterous wife of Dana Andrews). We have a lot of Pat Derrys in our schools and universities. But as I live in the western most fringe of the American Heartland I know America is redeemed by its legions (still) of Sarah Palinesque women.

It is hard to understand the hatred and contempt felt for Mrs. Palin but then again Messalina had great hatred and contempt for other women whose virtue and character showed her own corrupt selfish blackened soul in a bad light. Much of the disdain for Mrs. Palin is class prejudice ( I know a lot about class prejudice ) mixed with envy and a ideological vitriol. There is a thing as Sarah Palin derangement syndrome. Personally, I would love to match Mrs. Palin versus Mr. Obama in, let’s say Jeopardy. I would even love to match their literary efforts (leaving off Mr. Obama’s ghost written hagiographies.) I have no doubt Mrs. Palin would come off as the wiser of the two. Mr. Obama (or as I like to call him sometimes “Sportin’ Life”) is a zero without his speechwriters and teleprompter . That is my opinion. I saw him speak in person last summer and admit he has great charm but I believe there is no substance there and Mr. Obama is an immature, ignorant, arrogant political witch doctor. America will do well to vote him out of office in 2012; I think Independents are coming to that realization too.

Personally I think post modernist Sangerite-Shakerite hedonists like this are a tragic waste of womanhood. But of course they are great temptations for American males (and others ) and are (for a while) objects of lustful desire. The wise ones realize they don’t have many good years and so make adjustments. But traditional family life and motherhood –and my sources are the mothers themselves- is a much happier and saner life choice.

By Sangerite-Shakerite I mean people who use dud in the mud sex for entertainment purposes only in the fashion of the Last Days of Pompeii. But of course I am a traditionalist. I believe, however, there is something to the “Roe effect”. It is why there will always be Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Mormons etc. If a movement and if a nation and if a belief system are to have a strong future they must go forth and multiply. We survived the 20th century and hope our race and line will survive the 21st century.

Well these are some Saturday morning musings as I listen to E Power Biggs on the organ playing Bach on the Flentroop organ in the Busch-Resinger Museum (Harvard University).

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