Sunday, July 12, 2009

Those nasty temperance workers

I don't mind a good drink. In fact, if I could figure out a way to make good money writing about the movies, I wouldn't mind drinking a better class of wine than I currently do, from fine champagne flutes. And while there's a lot of drinking in the movies, there are also the tedious agents of temperance, trying to hector everybody into not drinking. One such example is from tonight's Essentials Jr. movie, The African Queen, in which missionary Katharine Hepburn pours all of Humphrey Bogart's gin into the river. Even though the movie turns into a love story, the Hepburn character is thoroughly self-centered and unappealing. The same, I suppose, can be said for the Walter Huston missionary character in Rain, although at least we get the redeeming ending of him committing suicide because he falls for streetwalker Joan Crawford.

There are some comedies that have anti-drinking scenes, and at least here, the fact that the anti-alcohol message is being used to comic effect doesn't make it annoying. One that comes to mind is Leslie Caron's hiding Cary Grant's booze in Father Goose. Grant himself played a moralizer early in his career in She Done Him Wrong, but at least here, the Salvation Army uniform was only a disguise for his real work as an undercover policeman -- and he lets one of his targets, Mae West, get away with a lot.

That having been said, there's also a sad campaign from the real-life moralizers. It doesn't have to do with drinking, though, but smoking. I've long felt that if we get saddled with another production code, the issue most likely to trigger it is going to be smoking. Indeed, there's a campaign to require movies with smoking scenes to get an R rating.

No comments: