June 30

Eternity begins in forty-five minutes [...].
Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan in Boys Town

Nelson Eddy
5/30/97 - 6/30/09

My pal, Nelson: here and everywhere, now.

I love you, Boy.

"... just futures."

Sometimes, I just have to watch
Gilda. As you may imagine of someone leading such an outwardly ... scintillating life, in which neither vacations nor nightlife as commonly viewed figure prominently, I've seen the film a zillion times – but that, and the attendant fact that I can recite the entire script practically line for line, doesn't matter. Through the years, since first being knocked out by the struttings, frettings and interplay of the fantastically beautiful redhead (faux or no), the sinisterly handsome scar-visaged chap and the boyish male lead and their alluring backdrop of a lavishly-appointed gambling house, Buenos Aires and post-WWII intrigue, I've returned to the Columbia money-and-icon-maker when I've felt the need for glamour, a look at 1946 in all its sheen with disillusionment around the edges, and "Put the Blame on Mame," in its various performances. Last night, I thought of a line, in tune with my current thinking, and plopped Gilda into the DVD player.

... Well, to digress a moment: My movie ratings book (rather out-of-date but, then, considering my viewing preferences, it hardly matters) doesn't esteem Gilda too greatly – two-and-a-half out of a possible four stars and then this:

Gambler meets the new wife of his boss, and it turns out to be the gal he once loved. This one was hot stuff when it first came out, with the Hayworth-Ford combination very successful. It may still be, but it doesn't hide the fact this is merely a routine melodrama, not particularly well done.

At least it acknowledges that the picture indeed sizzled upon its release and (grudglingly) that it may have retained its heat. Gilda is hot stuff; never fails to hit the spot. I remember smiling, years ago, at Mom's account of her and Dad, in their courting days, taking in the flick at the drive-in ... with my maternal grandmother in the backseat.

Much as I adore the picture, I will say that I find it too conventional in its philosophy to rate the noir label often attached to it. Gilda, at times, sports the look of noir, but though both the titular character and her erstwhile lover are deeply wounded, neither bears the scars of the classic noir "murky past"; neither, we find after things play themselves out, is beyond emotional and/or moral redemption. ... As for the third point in the triangle, Ballin – well, he's just crazy, and you don't have to inhabit the noir universe to be that.

They might not be scarred, but they're mighty darned burned up at each other a good part of the show: I particularly like Gilda's cool warning to Johnny, "I hate you so much that I'd destroy myself to take you down with me," as well as Johnny's disgusted likening of Gilda to a bundle of laundry, to be taken and picked up, without feeling or attachment.

Anyway, to get back on track – my recent reflections on my past, hardly sordid but in many ways unproductive in terms of my definition of accomplishment, and eventual thought that it would be nice to progress in a personal association, be it platonic or romantic, without the encumbrance of the past, without a feeling that it needed to be referred to, made me recall Ballin's silken-voiced comment to Johnny: "All three of us with no pasts – just futures. Isn't that interesting?"

But even as I just plain don't feel like talking about the last twenty years or so of my life, I realize that, though I'm not a nosy person, I probably would feel wary toward anyone who displayed to me evasiveness with regard to his/her past. And that's hardly fair. You can say, as Johnny does, in an early reel of Gilda, "Get this, I was born last night, when we met in the alley. No past and all future. I like it that way." But is it really possible to proceed in your interactions with another in such a manner? Would I like it that way? Unlike newly-ejected infants, adults bring to relationships not merely chromosomes and (if there are such) universal instincts but also character-and-outlook-shaping experiences. Who knows – maybe a claustrophobic stint in stir (for copyright infringement; nothing bloody) accounts for your love of wide-open spaces. Or maybe you're just like me – someone who has led what those fixated on colourful incident would, I expect, find a boring life. Do we need to know? Is it truly conceivable to begin together, as grown-ups, with no pasts – just futures?