Sunday, August 28, 2016
COCKTAILS AND CONVERSATION
Cocktail hour is when I miss Tom the most. We always had the most interesting conversations about actors, movies, theater and current events, all while sipping dry martinis, a drink our fifties era friends introduced us to as their version of smoking pot, only better.
The tinkle of ice in a chilled shaker still sets off all kinds of random observations of wonderful and fascinating things that happened during the day. Relief in humor and wisdom.
Tonight a memory from Tom's conversation, which I was reminded of as I watched the movie "The Final Test" a 1953 British light comedy about a cricket match and a family. It stars Jack Warner, a very popular British actor in the classic movie era, and, one of my favorite actors, Robert Morley. It's what might be called a heartwarming story about a famous cricket player's last game, but it is so much more than heartwarming. Or rather it warms your heart like great brandy, bracing and with character and bite, as well as warmth and humor. The cricket player's college age son must decide between seeing his father's last game and meeting the famous poet he aspires to emulate. The humor is lightly broad, but mostly from the heart. I loved it.
And the movie also reminded me of one of my favorite Tom stories. When he was working at "Law and Order" he met Ted Kotcheff, a producer for the show, who was also the famous director of such movies as "Weekend at Bernie's" and "North Dallas Forty". Then Tom found out that Kotcheff had also directed on of our personal favorites, "Who's Killing the Great Chefs of Europe", the 1978 comedy about great restaurants starring Robert Morley.
Kotcheff had a funny story about Morley arriving in US to shoot some of the scenes for the movie. When they were sheparding Morley through customs, due to the fact that he was there on a work visa, he had to sigh many extra forms. He got to one where he had to answer the question, ridiculous as it now sounds, but true in 1977, regarding his work: "Do you intend to plot against or violently overthrow the United States government?" To which Morley wrote in reply: "That is the sole and only purpose of my visit." Needless to say, the customs officials did not see the humor in this response by the famous comedian. It took a bit of fast talking to get them to allow Morley into the country.
Both Robert Morley movies are delightful. "The Final Test", an older black and white film, and "Who's killing the Great Chefs of Europe" which is in color, also starring a young and lovely Jacqueline Bisset and George Segal. A movie which, now that I think about it, was decades ahead of its time as the first movie for foodies.