Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cold Turkey

Slightly fortuitous confluence of unexpected disparate items is a multi-syllabic attempt to describe an instance of serendipity. I knew of an education professor about to retire, whose favorite concept was serendipity. Sometimes it is great, sometimes small.

Recently, i was channel surfing and came across the film, Cold Turkey, released in 1971 and filmed in '69. The scene i came upon was a hilariously tipsy Tom Poston,
My drinking is directly connected to my smoking. Now, when I say "directly", I mean there's a thing - a physical thing - that is directly connected from my liquor buds to the smoke pouch in my lungs. If you want me to quit smoking, you would have to cut - I mean, you'd have to physically cut that thing! And when you do, my head's gonna fall off! Do you understand, reverman? The booze bone's connected to the smoke bone. And the smoke bone's connected to the head bone. And that's the word of the lord!
being bullied by clergyman Dick Van Dyke. The cleric was going to beat Poston, because Poston could not stop smoking. Poston came to the solution of leaving town for the month of non-smoking.

The only hold outs left were the town's "Christopher Mott Society." Listening to their tenets, these were last generation's teabaggers. Their leader explains that he was not crazy enough to believe that Eisenhower was a communist. This was the John Birchers. Van Dyke converts their leader, Graham Jarvis. The Christopher Motts were quick to be deputy police. It was no time that the cigarette fanciers were equated with communists?

The cigaretteers were disgusting in the movie. At this time in real life, cigarette warnings were recently printed on packages, and commercials were to be banned on television. They still had their science and medical deniers, and aggressive lawyers. In the movie they had Bob Newhart.

The supporting actors were from All in the Family: the actors that were to be Edith Bunker, Frank Lorenzo, Fr. John Majeski, Mildred 'Boom-Boom' Turner. This was Norman Lear.

Several things unfold in the movie. There are a lot of actors, and a lot of implied commentary on society.

The character of the clergyman is disturbing. His dismissive treatment of his wife, when she sees calls him on the mischief he has let loose is wretched. He belittles her not as a spouse but as a pharisee caught red handed and verbally smotes her with his office. Now, Pippa Scott at a certain angle is an extra-ordinarily handsome woman. In most scenes she is silent, but speaking in her movements and expressions. Recently she has been involved in human rights documentaries. She is the only moral center in the movie.

The film's ending leaves three people shot and ignored, while President Nixon comes to town to announce the re-opening of the missile plant. Four huge smoke stacks becloud Grant Wood's Iowa. This is black satire, at times fantastically funny, but a bit short of a fully satisfying film.
postscriptum: Cold Turkey is sponsored for the Thursday prior to US Thanksgiving. In 2010: 18 November.

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