Monday, July 25, 2011

Linda Christian RIP, The Very, Very End of Harry Potter, A Giant Preview

Linda Christian RIP

I normally don’t write appreciations when someone of note dies. There are many more writers far more eloquent than I who can pen a noteworthy appreciation.

But I had to write something upon hearing of the death of Linda Christian at the age of 87 following a fight with colon cancer. Not a well known name, and perhaps best known as Tyrone Power’s second wife, Linda is also remembered as the first Bond Girl thanks to her role in the 1954 television adaptation of “Casino Royale” on “Climax!” with Barry Nelson as James Bond.

She’s also most appealing in her role as the kidnapped Mara in “Tarzan and the Mermaids” (1948), Johnny Weissmuller’s swan song as the Ape Man

But I always had a soft spot in my heart for Linda Christian, because she was so nice to my dad one evening.

Like so many young men of his generation, my dad joined the service upon his graduation from high school during the height of World War II. In my dad’s case that was 1944 when he joined the navy.

During a West Coast shore leave one night my dad went to the famed Hollywood Canteen. Unlike the famous Warner Bros. movie of the same name from 1944, there were no big stars on hand that night. My dad remembered there were several big bands playing that night but he could not remember who they were, which is odd because his memory for such details was generally pretty acute.

But he did remember being served coffee and donuts and having a nice conversation with an exceptionally pretty hostess at the Canteen. He always remembered how pleasant the conversation was and how welcoming she was to him.

My dad loved musicals and saw all of them. After the war he was sitting in the theater watching M-G-M’s “Holiday in Mexico” (1946) when he saw on screen in a small role the girl who waited on him at the Hollywood Canteen. It was Linda Christian. Later of course, she gained worldwide fame as Mrs. Tyrone Power.

I always hoped Linda Christian would make an appearance at a nostalgia convention in the Chicago area so I could tell her my dad’s memories of her and how he remembered how nice she was to him that night. It meant the world to him. It’s funny the impressions we can make on people when we’re not even aware of it.

I’m (Almost) Wild About Harry

I saw the final Harry Potter movie over the weekend and really enjoyed it, though I must admit to a bit of a let down. I wanted to walk out exhilarated with a capital “E” and instead walked out exhilarated with a small “e.”, mainly because of the film’s final, final scene.

Don’t worry, no spoilers are necessary. I’m not talking about the final scene anyway. But what happens afterwards.

The film’s final scene occurs backed by composer Alexandre Desplat’s treatment of John Williams’s original themes, which are given a really glorious, full-blooded orchestral treatment. The image then fades while the music still plays for another 10 seconds or so against a blank screen. That’s it. Very disappointed.

Here we are after 10 years and eight films and the saga ends with a blank screen? A blank screen? A nice end title card with “The End” in that famous Harry Potter font would be nice. Or even if the film ended on the final image would have been fine. But to have the music carry over from the final scene for 10-15 seconds on a blank screen just rubbed me the wrong way. Not enough to ruin the film, mind you, but it sure didn’t end with a bang. More like a blank screen whimper.

Maybe it really isn’t the end, and J.K. Rowling has more Harry Potter stories in mind. Maybe director David Yates wanted the blank screen so people could project their own feelings about the end of this series? But it seemed to me that this series of movies is so special that more was warranted than a blank screen. Just my two cents.

The Giant is Coming

I was very pleased to be asked by Nathanael Hood of Forgotten Classics of Yesterday to participate in his 50s Monster Mash blogathon running July 28-August 2. My contribution is Richard Cunha’s “Giant from the Unknown” (1958) about a giant resurrected Spanish conquistador. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this $55,000, 10-day quickie. My post will appear on July 28.


Caftan Woman said...

Thanks for sharing that very lovely story about Linda Christian. Whenever I see her I hear Tiomkin's lilting theme to "Tarzan and the Mermaids". I think of that as her song.

I'm looking forward to the Potter movie. There are so many scenes from the novel that I hope are recreated for the screen. I expect to cry.

The Lady Eve said...

I wish you'd had a chance to tell Linda Christian what her kindness to your dad at the Hollywood Canteen meant to him. But your remembrance of her here is equally kind - and moving.

ClassicBecky said...

Linda Christian was a lovely girl, and I liked your story about your Dad very much, Kevin. I am a huge Harry Potter follower too - I have read all the books, seen all the movies, and have yet to see the last part of Deadly Hallows.

I remember that the Sopranos ended the same way, with a blanks screen, and in that case, no real wrap-up. People were just outraged.

Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

Kevin, loved your story about Linda Christian. Believe or not, Errol Flynn considered Linda to be his protege (and wrote about "discovering" her in MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS). Looking forward to your GIANT post!

Classicfilmboy said...

Hi Kevin,Sorry I'm so late to reading this post. I loved your story of Linda Christian. That's about the best tribute someone can make as a tribute.