Sunday, July 7, 2013

Those Were the Days

On the Fourth, Turner Classic Movies showed an appropriate classic – “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, with James Cagney as George M. Cohan.  All the song and dance was so enjoyable that I was unable to tear up properly at the deathbed scene of Cohan’s father.  The doctor has just promised that he will remain at the bedside all night, so Cagney says “Cigarette, Doc?” and as I automatically think “Don’t do it!” the kindly old doctor responds “Yes, I will.”
Ah, those were the days.
The most famous movie cigarette, of course, was actually two cigarettes.  As a teenager I had enjoyed Olive Higgins Prouty’s novel “Now, Voyager,” and the movie is just as good, maybe even better.  In the famous final scene, Bette Davis and Paul Henreid gaze fixedly into each others’ eyes, and their romantic music begins as he says solemnly, with that sexy accent “Shall we just have a cigarette on it?”
She chokes out an eager “yes” and steps closer, offering the cigarette box that happens to be handy.  It’s been established earlier in the movie that this is Their Ritual, and now it will take the place of the wedding ceremony they can’t have.

Without breaking eye contact, he lights two cigarettes and hands her one.  Gazing into each other’s eyes, they blow smoke at each other.  Trust me, there’s not a dry eye in the theatre.

A bit more dialog, and then she delivers the line I’ve remembered for maybe 70 years – “Jerry, let’s not ask for the moon......we have the stars.”
The stills don’t do this justice.  You need the swelling music.  If you have a minute and 47seconds to spare, try Youtube:
Pull it up right now, and you’ll be viewer number 145,724.

1 comment:

  1. OK, you talked me into it (even though I was #145,841 by the time I got there). Dang, now I'm gonna have to watch the movie. I'm not a big Bette Davis fan, but I always liked Paul Henried as Victor Laszlo in Casablanca.

    Speaking of Casablanca and of bad health habits in old movies: Edward and I once kept a running tab of the number of drinks Laszlo is served, or at least is offered, on his first evening in Rick's. If he'd actually had time to finish all those, Captain Renault could have had him arrested for public intoxication, and we would have had only a 20-minute movie.