Wednesday, 12 November 2008


* You might have noticed in my personal stuff a genuine fondness for old movies. And it goes like this:

That evening in late March, there was an unexpected cold snap. The streets of London glittered silver with hard frost, and you could practically write your name with your breath on the near-motionless air. That didn’t stop us going out. A brigade of special forces wouldn’t have stopped us going out. Less than three months till our finals, we both ought to have had our respective heads buried firmly in our textbooks, and ... to hell with it!
The Everyman cinema in Hampstead was running a triple-bill for one night only. Namely, three of the most wonderful stretches of monochrome celluloid ever to be projected onto any silver screen. King Vidor’s Gilda. Joseph Mankievicz’s All About Eve. And Howard Hawks’ To Have And Have Not, scripted by William Faulkner rather vaguely from the book by Ernest Hemingway, starring Humphrey Bogart, and introducing a skinny eighteen year old starlet by the name of Lauren Bacall.
We slithered our way there along the gleaming paving stones, bought coffees in the foyer to try and warm ourselves up, then sat there in our overcoats for practically six hours, almost the only people in the theatre on that daunting night, totally immersed in melodramas of such style and grace and power, all the cash and computer-imagery in modern Hollywood has never re-created the like.
And we just couldn’t stop babbling, on the slow journey home. Those fantastic, grandstanding first few minutes of voice-over monologue in Eve! That incredible exit up the stairway! That iconic first shot of Rita Hayworth, tossing back her hair! In which film did the camera worship her the more ardently -- the one we had just seen or Lady From Shanghai? Which was the better of the two, To Have or Casablanca? Hell, they both had the same plot! And was that Bacall doing her own singing in the film, or was it really Andy Williams?
We were heading back to her place.
Terri started mimicking the female leads on the way from the station. Hayworth’s purr. Bacall’s growl. Bette Davis’ feline snarling. "Fasten your seatbelts! It’s going to be a bumpy night!"

From 'Postcards from Terri', h/b Sarob Press, p/b as part of 'No-man and Other Tales' , Pendragon Press. Copyright (c) Tony Richards 2004.

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