The Red Badge of Courage

I sat through a meeting that was supposed to prepare us for the new semester.  I left the building to catch the 3:10 showing of “The Eagle Huntress.”  I wondered what animal rights activists would say about their taking an eaglet from a nest and using it for seven years.  Survival in those mountains looks harsh.  I heard the news that the Raiders filed to relocate to Las Vegas.  I didn’t hear what they intended to do about next season.  I browsed through the record store for a while.  They were going to have an Inauguration Day sale on movies, so I bought a remastered edition of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy.”  The cashier was young and didn’t recognize the album, and so he asked me what it was.  Back at home, I watched John Huston’s “The Red Badge of Courage.”  The DVD cover said that the movie was controversial and had been re-edited.  The running time was only 69 minutes.  I noticed that William Schallert was in the cast, but his name wasn’t in the credits.  The film starts off with narration, annoying telling us about Stephen Crane and that we’re going to hear passages from the book.  It spoke the spell of the movie right off.  Audie Murphy, the hero from World War II, plays the main character, the youth.  I would say that he talks out loud about running away from the battlefield so much that it’s too obvious what he’s going to do.  I would not say that he was a brilliant actor, but I could accept him.  I remember years ago seeing Richard Thomas in this role, so that was my picture of the character for years.  I see the Civil War in color, though, partly because you should see the difference between the blue and the gray.  I thought that “Glory” was a very good movie from the 1980s.  This movie was made in 1951, and the battle scenes were rather frightening, even though they were a long way from resembling “Saving Private Ryan.”  Is this story telling us that war turns boys into men?  I would like to think that war isn’t necessarily part of it, that it’s facing and dealing with your fears.  I saw only one female character in the movie, which was a woman who fought with a soldier over a pig.  At this point in my life, I would not be able to do the things the young men in this movie did.  I have bad feet.  I wondered why the sides both had one soldier carry a flag and not a rifle.  I think that the imagery from the Civil War can be powerful in these times, when we have a lot of discussion about what a divided country we have.  I would say that John Huston is one of my top twenty favorite movie directors of all time, and maybe one of the top ten.  I feel like his films have been a big part of my life.  On a list of John Huston’s films, I wouldn’t rank “The Red Badge of Courage” as high as “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Asphalt Jungle,” or “The Dead,” but I thought it was a good effort.  I don’t know if I would have wanted to pay full admission in 1951 to see a movie that is barely more than an hour long, however.  I fell asleep while watching a Bergman film, and I awoke on Inauguration Day to the sound of rain on the roof.  The students in town intended to participate in a protest.  I couldn’t walk off my job to join any sort of protest.  I feel that since I survived the Reagan years, I can also survive the Trump years.  I have severe doubts that the wall he talks about will be effective, and if he can get the money from Mexico.  On the game show channel they showed a photo memorializing Dick Gautier.  I did like watching him in Tattletales.  Some of the people who died on January 21 include George Orwell (1950), Cecil B. DeMille (1959), Ann Sheridan (1967), Jackie Wilson (1984), Jack Lord (1998), Susan Strasberg (1999), and Peggy Lee (2002).  Today is a birthday for Geena Davis (61), Billy Ocean (67), and Jack Nicklaus (77).

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