Tender is the Night

I woke up coughing. I went out to the office and tried to sort things out. I worked on my writing and took a little time out to buy a ticket for Aretha Franklin at the Oracle Arena. I also bought a plane ticket. I was running out of time to grade some papers. I went out to Trader Joe’s. I was terribly thirsty. I got home and watched the Partridge Family episode “They Shoot Managers, Don’t They?” and the NUMB3RS episode “The Art of Reckoning.” Reuben almost got married. The featured song was “She’d Rather Have the Rain.” Larry returned from space. I also watched a Police Story called “Death on Credit” with John Saxon and Tina Louise. I received an automated phone call informing me that the Ringo Starr concert had been postponed. That was very late notice, and I was annoyed because it was too late to make other plans, like going out to see a movie. I saw water in the street outside coming from the firefighters up the hill. I bought The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” in its mono edition. I watched “Tender is the Night,” the movie with Jennifer Jones and Jason Robards. Making a decent movie out of the Fitzgerald novel was a difficult task, and I’d say that it was not a success. Jennifer Jones did not make a case that she was a good actress, based on her work in this movie. Jason Robards was almost always good in his movies. I guess you could look as “Tender is the Night” as a kind of “A Star is Born” in the world of psychiatry. Dick Diver made a basic mistake in getting involved with a patient. He could not have been great in his work. Joan Fontaine was nothing like what she was in the Hitchcock movies. In fact, she reminded me of Phyllis Diller in a scene half an hour into the movie. I thought that Tom Ewell was out of place, as I kept thinking of “The Seven Year Itch” every time I saw him. Jill St. John played a movie actress, and I could hardly believe how young she was. The passage of several years added some character to her appearance, because I thought she was quite memorable in “Diamonds are Forever” ten years later. I thought the early scenes showing Jennifer’s emotional problems were interminable. Some of the shots of the French Riviera were supposed to give the audience something to watch, as the pace of the movie was slow. It was a lot of talking and inner emotions. I don’t think that a troubled marriage is a good subject for a film, unless it’s “A Star is Born” or “Scenes from a Marriage.” I also thought of “Shoot the Moon.” Robards had some difficulty spewing out the psychology terminology, so I wasn’t convinced that he was anything special. This was supposed to be the 1920s, but except for the music, it could have taken place later. I heard songs like “The Varsity Drag” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” Sitting through two hours and twenty-six minutes of this movie, I thought of two scenes that moved me. One was Dick overhearing through a vent what the state of his marriage was, as Nicole talked about not wanting to hurt his feelings. It’s hard to show alcoholism through film. The other scene was the final one, as Dick took the taxi to leave the house. Nicole hesitates to go outside for a last word with him, not wanting to get drawn back into his declining world. The taxi leaves. It’s a sad parting of the ways. Dick is supposed to be a smart man, but he is self-destructive, driving away his rich patients so that he’s left with desperate plans to open a clinic on the French Riviera. I couldn’t see it as financially feasible at all. Dick goes from being the one to help Nicole to having to rely on her for money. This blow to his manhood wouldn’t be viewed the same way today, I think. The man doesn’t have to be the one to earn the money. I couldn’t see this movie as being a good moneymaker. It has too much of the downbeat to it. One humorous scene had a photographer snapping shot of a drunken fight, showing shades of “Roman Holiday,” I thought. This was a movie that you could pass on. There is an attempt to make it visually interesting with the European settings and Cinemascope, but it’s not enough. The problems of the rich don’t really interest us. Bernard Herrmann did the music. It seemed like Tom Ewell was Cole Porter. I thought that the two versions of “The Great Gatsby” and “The Last Tycoon” were all better films than this one. Like Hemingway, the Fitzgerald books have been tough to put on the big screen. I watched the Big Bang Theory episode with 15-year-old Dennis Kim, the physics prodigy who was a challenger to Sheldon Cooper. His Achilles heel was a girl named Emma. I watched a second Partridge Family episode, “Partridge Up a Pear Tree,” which showed Keith broke and unable to take his girlfriend Carol, played by Annette O’Toole, to the prom. The song in the episode was “You Are Always on My Mind.” Carl Ballantine as Pitchman. Keith was left with two pieces of cucumber peel on his face. It looked like Laurie took a bite from an apple and ate a slice of a carrot during two scenes. It seemed that $25 went a long way in 1971. My cough certainly bothered me during the night. I wondered if I had health problems that would get worse. My brother once gave me a T-shirt that he brought back from Orlando. He did a lot in his working life over the years. It was a world that I didn’t know anything about. He bought a lot of stuff during the last 35 years. His taste in music wasn’t the greatest. In 2013, he bought a Seinfeld DVD box set and watched all the episodes again. Some of the people who died on March 14 include Susan Hayward (1975), Busby Berkeley (1976), Fred Zinnemann (1997), and Peter Graves (2010). Today is a birthday for Stephen Curry (27), Billy Crystal (67), Michael Caine (82), and Quincy Jones (82). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 14, Carole King won Grammys for Album of the Year for “Tapestry,” Record of the Year for “It’s Too Late,” and Song of the Year for “You’ve Got a Friend” in 1972. In 1979, the Woody Allen film “Manhattan” was released. In 1980, Quincy Jones received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on his 47th birthday. In 1981, Eric Clapton was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer, forcing him to cancel a 60-date concert tour.

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