…and, although it took her awhile to come around, she found herself quite moved and impressed by it. She told us this morning, as we were waiting for the bus to go to church, that she had some nightmares about the villain of the movie, Bob Ewell, and that she would have enjoyed playing Scout, the young heroine of the story, if she ever had the chance to be in a stage production of Mockingbird. She said she would not have liked wearing the “ham” costume that the little girl wears toward the end, but she was highly amused by it. Steph whetted Susie’s interest by opining that the little Alabama town where the movie is set (circa 1932) would probably resemble the Franklinton of that era.
Susie is often skeptical about the movies that I encourage. A case in point was what we watched Friday night. I borrowed a VHS tape of W.C. Fields’ You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, which also stars Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. I have been a W.C. Fields fan since I was six or seven, when I heard a record of some of his comedy pieces. I saw many of his movies as a teenagers, on the many Friday and Saturday nights I would stay up until dawn with the All Night Theatre broadcast on WSAZ-TV, Channel 3 out of Huntington, W.Va. That was where I saw most of the movies, bookended by reruns of The Saint and Green Acres. Susie said the only parts that held her interest were the ones with Charlie McCarthy.
Although I think he grew in his talent, when you watch Bergen in You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, it’s easy to see that ventriloquism was an entirely new field for him. You don’t even have to watch that closely to see his lips moving whenever Charlie or Mortimer Snerd are speaking. And the scenes where Bergen is romancing Constance Moore, in the presence of Charlie, are a little creepy. That may be because I’m remembering Anthony Hopkins and Burgess Meredith in Magic, which I saw in the late ’70s.
I’m currently reading Joal Ryan’s book Former Child Stars, a book I had to order on Interlibrary Loan from the University of Utah Library. It ought to be an America’s Most Wanted/Cops book tie-in.