seen on TV @ TCM
"What a drag it is getting old," the Rolling Stones sang, and brother, ain't that the truth. It's nothing you can control, try as you might. In your head, you may still feel like you can mosh like a madman and rave till dawn, but one day, you wake up and realize new wave is dead and maybe it's finally time to put that ratty old Cure T-shirt away for good.
So to speak.
For me, that epiphany came when I realized that most of my friends were either married or deep into long-term relationships by now. And not just my friends, either; my sister's gotten married too! (True fact: I found out she was engaged on Facebook.) It's not that I've ever felt in a hurry to tie the knot - in fact, I firmly believe that marriage should not be rushed into, under any circumstances - it was the preponderance of friends and acquaintances doing it within roughly the same five-to-seven-year span or so that depressed me. Well, that and the lack of a Certain Someone in my life, but that, of course, goes without saying.
Sure, you may have done your share of traveling, accomplished goals you never thought you'd achieve twenty years ago, and met all kinds of people, but at some point, you get entrenched in certain patterns, your priorities change, and you settle. At least, many of us do... and maybe that's simply part of first-world life.
Is it wrong to hold on to youth when society tells you to act your age? Because, I gotta tell ya, I don't look forward to old age at all. I understand the younger generation less and less and I'm more cranky about it as a result. Physically, I've already begun to feel slower, more worn down than even five years ago, and I know what's coming. I watched my father spend the last decade-plus of his life in a wheelchair as his body slowly broke down, and I'm seeing my mother struggle with her own infirmities, and I don't want to live my remaining years like that. True, there may be little I can do about it, but if that's the case, why shouldn't I cling to my youth for as long as I can?
I mentioned the Rolling Stones just now - who would've thought that in 2013, they'd STILL be on the road, making music as if it were still 1965? I'm sure plenty of people have told them to pack it in, that they have more money than God and absolutely nothing left to prove, but not only do they refuse to act their age, they sell out arenas year after year. Is it different for them because they're celebrities? Or can we learn something from them?
These are the sort of things that the movie Dodsworth made me think about. I wasn't prepared for its depth, the way it made me feel one way about some characters, and then another. The longer I watched it, the more it moved me, mostly due to Walter Huston's magnificent performance as Sam Dodsworth.
Dodsworth is a retired businessman who takes his trophy wife Fran on a European vacation in an attempt to make up for time lost as a result of his devotion to his work, and perhaps, to save their marriage. Fran has played the role of wife and mother from a relatively young age, and seeing men continue to fall for her feeds her ego and gives her a thrill she no longer gets from her husband. Most of all, it makes her feel young again.
Now, I know the stereotype about women being coy about their age (though in the case of at least one friend of mine, it happens to apply), and I don't pretend for one minute to understand what it's like for a woman to get older, but I do know that we as a society tend to prefer women to look younger, and that can't be easy for a woman to have to deal with, coming as it does with certain expectations and stereotypes. Plus, within certain strata of high society as the Dodsworths traffic in, it's probably worse.
|Notice how Fran dyed her hair?|
As for Sam, he clearly bends over backwards for Fran, to the point where it looks as if he's about to go way too far for her - and he justifies it at the time by saying that he's too set in his ways to change. (He's eventually proved wrong, thank god.) The impression I got here was that Sam believed it was better to stay in a bad marriage than to be alone, particularly, the unspoken subtext says, at his age - and that's certainly a familiar attitude for a number of people. This is sophisticated stuff, the kind of thing one rarely sees in modern mainstream cinema, and both Huston and Ruth Chatterton nail it...
...This, however, is supposed to be a post about co-star Mary Astor, so I guess I'd better say a few words about her quick. Astor plays a woman whom Sam gets involved with later in the film, though she also pops up early on. She's good too. I can't say I know a great deal about Astor. She was in The Maltese Falcon, of course, perhaps her best known film. I liked her in The Palm Beach Story; she does comedy quite well. I like her voice - semi-deep and cultured without that annoying, aristocratic, faux-British lilt that so many actors from her day tended to put on. No complaints about her at all.