Primum non nocere
This was a fun show. I enjoyed Robert Montgomery's Joe Pendleton calling Mr. Abbott on the carpet. That cheese ball needed a strong word, and Joe was the right guy to dish it out. That was the high point though for Joe in my book. The guy seemed like he'd taken one to many to the head, with all his "I'm in the pink" and so forth. Claude Rains, however, as Mr. Jordan was sublime. Cool, serene, in control but never imposing, always ready with an encouraging word. No wonder his character is mentioned in the title. A year later he would perform one of his most memorable roles as Captain Renault in Casablanca, but it is fun to see him here. The hijinks with Joe's trainer Max Corkle were good fun as well. And of course, it's always nice to have a pretty girl in the script. How she ever fell for Joe Pendleton is beyond me, but he was a good egg sure enough, so I won't sit up at night worrying about it. All and all, a fun little show.
It is fun, isn't it? And Claude Rains is ridiculously attractive.But Rains' Mr. Jordan is almost too attractive a foil for Joe Pendleton, a very simple guy, very straightforward, focused on advancing in the work -- the life -- he loves. Joe is unsophisticated, but it is his character that constantly shines through, regardless of the body or the life he's inhabiting. And it is his character, his values and qualities, that make him beloved of his trainer Max (one of my favorite moments is when Max, quietly heart-broken, talks about the kind of man Joe was), the neighborhood kids, and finally Bette Logan. He leads an exemplary life, not only for his own sake as an athlete, but for the sake of the kids who "look up to guys like that." He defers the search for a life that can replace the one he was shortchanged in order to help Bette and her father, and again to honor the fighter he admires. Take that good egg and add the self-assurance of a successful athlete, and pretty Miss Logan's interest is not such a mystery. ;)I can understand the amnesia aspect to Joe's final reassignment -- not just because it relieves the character of information mortals aren't supposed to carry, but because it gives Joe and Bette's romance a chance to start fresh. But I'm so glad we get to see Joe's imprint on Murdoch. His determination to live honorably, his quick trust and confidence in Max, his need to find Bette -- even his confused recognition of the lucky sax -- show us that everything due Joe will be restored to him, and everything that was good in Joe will live on in Murdoch.I so like the sweetness in this movie, in Joe's concern and tenderness toward Bette, in Max's bittersweet realization that the love and friendship between himself and Joe will have to be rebuilt with Murdoch, in Mr. Jordan's fondness for Joe and seeing to it that he is set back on his path. (Makes me admire the job Warren Beatty did with Heaven Can Wait, retaining the sweetness while adding so much comedy.)
"Take that good egg and add the self-assurance of a successful athlete, and pretty Miss Logan's interest is not such a mystery. ;)"Yeah, well.. okay! I'm not going to argue about what makes a man appealing. I'll just go with the expert.But as to our next show, I'm thinking about a Western classic - what was for years my all time favorite Western. It's a story about honor, courage, strength of character and being true to oneself. With a great cast, a tremendous score, filmed on a great, wide, enthralling panoramic scale. You have to see it on a BIG screen, if ever you can. I am speaking, of course, of 'The Big Country', starring Gregory Peck as Jim McKay in one of a number of roles he played that made a lasting impression on me about character and what being true to oneself might be about. It's a Western epic that has become somewhat forgotten in the public's eye, but never will be in mine. I hope you will join with me for a trip way out west into 'The Big Country'.
I'd like to point out--if it isn't already obvious--that Robert Montgomery is Elizabeth Montgomery's real life father. And for the youngin's reading auditing James' seminars, that's Samantha in Bewitched. Carry on.