What I Learned Sitting On The Porch With Andy Griffith

This past Halloween I was quite ill and spent several days in bed unable to do much. In between fever spells and naps I watched some of my favorite shows such as F Troop, Emergency, Adam 12, Bonanza, Carol Burnette, and Andy Griffith just to name a few. I saw a particular Andy Griffith episode that caught my attention. In this episode after supper Andy and Barney sat outside on the porch to digest their food. Andy got a great idea to run to the drug store for some ice cream to have with their coffee. Just as he and Barney were leaving Aunt Dee came out and asked the boys why they had to ‘run’ to the drug store? Whats the rush? Why couldn’t they just simply stroll to the drug store instead of run? It was then that Andy and Barney sat back down and relaxed for a bit.

Its so sad to see that families today really take time to sit down to eat together let alone relax together after supper. Its not just quality supper time that people are missing out on anymore. Its everything in general that were missing out on. We all know that saying ‘stop and smell the roses’ . . .well no one is stopping or slowing down anymore. If we all continue to rush the way we are we are going to miss out on everything that we’ve been waiting for. I’ve said this before in many blogs. . .life is short. . .life is fleeting  and if we don’t take time to sit on the porch after supper  we are truly missing out. If we don’t take that leisure in the stroll to the drug store we are missing out. Its already begun. Yet another fault with my generation is the inability to savor time, cherish people, and be content with this short yet beautiful life.

I already knew about this. I take time to enjoy my life for I know all too well that this life is fleeting. However watching that Andy Griffith show cleared everything up more than ever.

 

Enjoy this day for we will never have it again. singalongs-porch-andygriffithshow-secretsofabelle

Why I Really Cried When Watching Young Frankenstein In The Theatre

Sometimes being an old soul in this modern world can flat out suck. No one understands why you are the way you are, why you speak the way you do, why do the things you do, and why you watch the movies you watch. It makes me different, weird, sensitive, but extremely happy. One of my favorite films of all time was Young Frankenstein as Ive mentioned in prior blogs as well as my web series for I did an entire Mel Brooks episode. Just before my birthday the films star and creator Gene Wilder passed away. Of course it was sad for many reasons but also he was very much a pioneer in film industry and we don’t have those kind of actors anymore. Him and Mel Brooks did films like Blazing Saddles and if a movie like that were made today everyone would be insulted beyond belief, but cool guys like Gene Wilder wouldn’t care. Fathom Events recently teamed up with Turner Classic Movies and release classic films once or twice a month. Some of my recent favorites have been Dracula, On The Waterfront, Blazing Saddles, Roman Holiday, just to name a few. An old soul’s dream come true to watch her classic favorites on screen for these films were released decades before I was born. Tonight my dad and I attended Young Frankenstein at the theatre at Downtown Disney and the coolest most unexpected thing happened just before the movie. Little did we know that Mel Brooks did a special introductory to the film. I got misty eyed when he walked around the studio backlot reminiscing over the memories of the filming days they had for this film. He pointed out the huge mural that was on the side of one of the soundstage of Gene Wilder, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, and Peter Boyle in one of the iconic scene of the film. I held back the tears for even you could hear it in Mel Brook’s voice how much he missed them. . . for they’re all gone now. When he spoke directly to the audience is when I began to cry. As a filmmaker, film goer, and fan I cried the happy tears as well as the sad ones. The great people involved with this film may mostly be gone now but they’re work lives on thanks to the people that actually want to keep great films like this alive in this modern day of mediocre films. It only makes me even happier to be a filmmaker and perhaps even inspires me a little.

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I Know You Can Hear me: The Story of Leo and Bernard Gorcey of The Bowery Boys

“He was killed in an auto accident. I t wasn’t a natural death. He made a mistake and hit a bus head on. And that was it. . . .he was gone.” – Leo Gorcey speaking of his fathers death in an 1968 interview.

Leo Gorcey is best known for his leading role in The Bowery Boys, The East Side Kids, and The Dead End Kids as Mugsy (in most of the films). Mugsy was a non nonsense hustler whose gang consisted of childhood friends. Though he may seem tough on the outside, on the inside yhe was all heart. As is the rest of the comedic gang, always loyal and always caring  but always getting themselves into trouble.

 

Gorcey himself was more than a pretty face on screen. Not only was he a star comedian, he was a writer, owned his own production company (Monogram Films), and was a down to earth family man. His father was also an actor/comedian having come from vaudeville as well as Broadway. His name was Bernard Gorcey and besides recognizing him from a Charlie Chaplin film he was a regular in the Bowery Boys films. Whether it be a brief cameo or a large supporting role Bernard soon became a familiar face in the popular franchise. No matter what role he played he was always known for the ‘little guy, big mouth’ attitude that audiences loved. (He stood at 4’10.) Being in these films was also wonderful for him in terms of his personal life for he got to work with his sons Leo and David Gorcey (also a Bowery boy) on a daily basis.

 

Sadly, all happy tales to tend to come to an abrupt and unforeseen ending. On August 31, 1955 Bernard made the biggest mistake of his life that not only ended his film and stage career but his time with his family. He turned down La Brea in Los Angeles (a one way road) and came head on with a bus. Just like that movie goers, vaudeville, and Broadway audiences alike lost one of their beloved performers. Now if audiences were sad, one can only imagine how the studio felt. . .how the Bowery Boys felt. . .and how the Gorceys felt. Matter of the fact this was something that no one knew at the time but this tragic event would take Leo down further than he even expected. For Leo life went on as it always will, he continued to run his studio, make hit films, and take care of his family. Deep down though the absence of his father who was his more than his on screen partner but as well as his off screen best friend continued to affect him no matter how much time went on. He began to drink outside of social events and late night sedatives. One thing led to another over the next few years he went through several divorces, his off screen friendship with his on screen partner Huntz Hall was estranged over media rights and spotlight wishes, and even worse the sweetest Bowery Boy and cherished friend Bobby Jordan passed away. Cause of death was complications due to alcoholism. At this point he had given up hope of putting the bottle down. Everyone who knew Leo could tell you that he was one of the strongest people they had ever met. . .and yet he was loosing this battle. Though he wasn’t ever going to give up (and he never did) he was in fact loosing the battle.

 

He sold the studio and moved his family out to the country in hopes to find a more peaceful lifestyle. When asked about this drastic decision he simply replied while always keeping his sense of humor in tact and with a slight chuckle,

The  cows don’t lie to me out here. Friends lie, producers lie, wives lie, but the cows don’t lie.”

 

Unfortunately like all great comedians a sense of humor covers up the pain burning on the inside. His father was still gone, his memory was still there, and the drinking continued. When the pain from the absence of Bernard went away the drinking would stop.

 

The pain never went away.

The drinking never stopped.

The day before Leos 52nd Birthday his liver gave out.

That’s when the pain finally went away.

For that day, June 2 1969, Leo was reunited with his father.

 

David Gorcey the surviving Gorcey of the Bowery Boys founded a halfway house to help recovering alcoholics in memoriam of his big brother.

 

On August 31st 1955 Bernard Gorcey was in an accident that ended his life. It also took the life of his son Leo even though he wasn’t in the car with him. He died years later after suffering for so long. This accident killed both the father and the son of one of History’s greatest comedy teams.

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Bobby Jordan is 2 from the left.

Rest In Peace

Bernard Gorcey

January 9, 1886 – September 11, 1955

Leo Bernard Gorcey

June 3, 1917- June 2, 1969

Mother of Tara by Scarlett O’Hara

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               In my mind it was only yesterday when I went running through the fog calling for him to come back to me, as I had dreamt years before. He never did return though. Yes its true I did finally see him at our home as he packed his bags for his trip back to Charleston. Odd because we spoke and cried over many things yet I cant remember the actual words. Then I watched him dissapear into the fog once again. Everything is silent in my memory of that day seven years ago except for one sentence.

‘Take care of my son for me, as you did once before.’

Mel’s dying words repeat in my head every evening as the dusk blends with the nightfall. Now its time to go out to the porch to see where that boy is as its almost time for supper. There he is, Mels precious boy reading under the largest tree in all of Tara. Its always the same tree yet always a differeng book. Oh Mel how I wish you could see him today. There is so much of you in him. The easy smile, the hint of yellow in the iris of his right eye, and the heavenly heart. Its all you, Mel, its all you. At so many times throughout the day I long to trade places with you. I pray every night that youre loving my blue eyed girl as much as I wish I could love her.

My Bonnie…my sweet Bonnie, I never deserved her to begin with. So it seems only natural that she was taken from me much sooner than a mother and child should ever be parted. Yet Mel, you were perfect and you were also parted with your child. Strange to me still this day that you died and I lived. Yet you were good and I bad. I must stop thinking about who lived and who died, who is good, and who is bad. Ill think about that tomorrow for tomorrow is another day. Right now I must get this boy of hers inside before supper gets cold.

           The moment I step further onto the porch the evening breeze pulls apart my perfect bun into an imperfect mess.

‘Fidely dee.’

Its no matter for I have no one to impress upon at this hour.

No….

My heart stops as I squint my eyes at the tree at the top of the hill. Where is he? He was there only s moment ago. Panic runs through my body as I rush up the hill. I feel as if Im not getting there fast enough so I lift ny dress as high as I can so I can sprint if need be. Where could he have gone?!

Arriving to the top of the hill he emerges from behind the tree with a small kitten in his arms. Casually he meets me at the edge at the hill where the shadow of the tree ends.

‘Aunt Scarlett, Im so happy youve come. Look what Ive found. Isnt she sweet? She holds onto me as if I were her mother. Perhaps when father returns from his trip he will allow me to adopt her!’ He exclaims with joy.

The young kitten grasps on his strong fingers with love.

‘How she ever made it on her own up here at her size is baffling to me. Its appears that shes on her own. How sad.’

He cuddles her closer to his chest as he looks around for the rest of her family. As he continues to look in every direction except for my own Im hoping that he can pick up on my negative vibe. How dare he wander off out of my sight, he knows better. My right fist tightens in preparation to remind him to never let this happen again. This fist is supposed to swing at him but I force myself to keep my arm at my side.

‘The hour grows late and itll be too dark soon to go looking for her family Im afraid. Come now Aunt Scarlett lets enjoy supper with our new friend!’

There he goes walking down that hill, cradling that feline, acting as if he had done nothing wrong. I had a mind to straighten him out but I cant. For i remember every time I become angry with him I think of how Mel could easily become angered with my child in heaven. Mel, unlike myself, could never have a temper for her heart is made of gold and has no room for anything ugly in her soul. My Bonnie however is much like her mama and has a temper especially when she doesnt get her way. I didnt have her long enough on this green earth to teach her how to calm her temper. Thank the Lord that she didnt spend enough time with me to adopt any of my other ways of life as deceitful and selfish I can be. Even I can admit that.

‘Aunt Scarlett, make haste or Mami is going to start her holerin.’ He calls back just before he reaches the house.

That boy is not my son but quite unfortunately he already bares many of my traits. My anger dissolves but where I had clinches my nails into my first begins to bleed softly. My scarf had become unraveled on my way up this wretched hill. I turn around, rewrap my scarf over my chest, and begin the hike to the house.

‘Oh my…’

Standing here at this spot at the edge of the incline makes everything that once seemed hard, comfortably easy. In the sky above this house of mine, is where the dusk runs away and the starry night takes its place. I cant help but wonder whats in between the dusk and the starry night. Where the pink, purple, and orange end and the midnight blue begins …is that heaven? Is that where Ma and Pa are taking their long strolls? Is that where Mr. Kennedy is sipping his iced tea? Is that where the fallen soldiers sing their song of victory? Is that where dearest Melanie is summoning my blue eyed Bonnie for supper?

Empty questions for empty answers, empty sky for the empty night, and empty thoughts for the empty mind.

Filmmaker’s Forum

           This past April I made it my buisness to attend the filmmakers forum at the Florida Film Festival. No, this was not a panel made up of A List directors discussing exotic location travels and how they chose their Hollywood leading actor. This was a panel of up and coming filmmakers discussing the pros and cons of being in complete control. Once a long time ago those A List movie directors had the same struggles as us I knew, therefore I listened carefully.

I suppose one of the more obvious topics that came up amongst these filmmakers was the beauty and horror of budget and backing. Everyone across the panel supplied their own funding mostly. ‘If you ever wait to make a film due to lack of funds then you may perhaps never make that film.’ Similar to a young couple who unexpectedly have a baby. First they fear that they do not have the proper timing and finances to raise a child but in the end it all works out eventually. As many indie filmmakers can confirm you sometimes have to use your own resources even if it means casting your friends and family into your film.

 

Time in general can take several years to release a movie but it should not take years to make a movie under normal circumstances. One of the directors pointed out that when working with actors in a certain age range time is always running out. Youd be suprised just how womanly a girl can look when she reaches a certain age. Youd also be suprised to see how quickly a boy can turn into a man over the summer. When creating a schedule for a film that is shot on your watch and penny one can often forget the elements you must factor into a schedule. Another director pointed that out for when she took her entire cast and crew out to location she didn’t expect such a longer drive than usual. Therefore she was racing against daylight to shoot certain scenes.

 

In conclusion, the filmmakers made their final point so clear that it was a direct message to everyone in the audience.’We are not alone.’ There are others our age, younger, older, more educated, less educated people trying to reach for the moon while budgeting the trip to get there. If we dont take the first step out of our comfort zone, then who will? The film youre currently working on might not be a hit, it might not even be good. However how do you know that one of your next films may be the one to open the right door for you? If we dont do this, right here and right now,  then who will?

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And I thought It Was Mr. Banks Whom Mary Poppins was supposed To Save…

‘Winds in the East, breeze blowing in like something is brewin…aboutto begin. Cant put my finger on what lies in store but I feel whats to happen all happened before.’

Being of English descent and familiar with childrens stories, the film Mary Poppins was always popular in our home. A few years back when the film ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ was released I was delighted at the idea of Mary Poppins related film splashing into cinema for the first time decades. The film revolved around the author P.L. Travers and her early childhood in Australia. Its so ironic that I used to wonder a horrible life it must be for someone so young to see what happened to her father. At the time of viewing the film the character of the father was nothing more than a drunk to me. Now today a few years later viewing the film i see the father in a completely different light.

 

Travers Goff, father of the Mary Poppins author, suffered greatly. A happy married life with children and a promising career couldn’t even save him. Perhaps he was not even meant to flourish in this life, but perhaps in the next. During the day he was trapped managing a bank, that was his job. He hated money for he knew just how much it controlled people, robbing them of lifes true beauty. How tormenting it must be to work with something you hate so much yet must pretend to love. His soul and mind were so creative though. His eldest daughter took on his strong trait of creativity which empowered their connection even more so. At one point he and his daughter sat on the riverside and he warns her on not to give into the ways of the world. ‘This world is just an illusion. ‘ He reminds her to keep dreaming and not let the struggles of reality control her.

 

I finally see what he was talking about. As blessed as I am to be a storyteller I must often come out of my head and deal with reality. The earth itself is still so beautiful but the people inside of it can sometimes be ugly because theyve given into the ways of the world…money, greed, pride,…lies.

 

I now see what can happen to a creative mind when so close to being torn apart. Its like a battle in the mind between good and evil…that kind of battle can take a toll on the human body eventually. Poor Travers Goff was so drained fighting a battle no one knew nothing about. ..and only few could understand if he tried to explain. Unlike Travers this is a battle i refuse to loose. My fears are many but one particular fear comes to mind. In the film Travers arrives home after a long day at the cold heartless bank that he manages to his daughter sitting on the porch day dreaming in her own world. He asks her all the details of the world she is dreaming about. She expresses to him that one day she wants to be just like him when she grows up. With tears in his eyes he looks into hers almost unbearably imagining how she could ever want to be like him. Then he remembers. ..that she knows nothing about the battle he fights. As the tears begin to release he kisses her hand and whispers ‘Don’t’ as if hes almost begging her not to.

 

I fear the day that I have such an interaction with my child. I fear the day that I hide my battles that they consume me leaving my children in mystery. I cant even fathom the pain Travors Goff felt when those same fears he had came to life.

Even when you’re not, you’re perfect.

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This line of work that were in called Entertainment may not involve us saving lives or laying our life on the line for others but our jobs are still rather life altering. We dont always make it home in time for dinner. We may miss a soccer game or two. We may have forgotten our own anniversary. We may have had to leave the parent teacher conference early. Our children’s best friends parents may have never met us even though they see our own children more than we do. You get the picture.
This life isnt for everyone. Some people are not up to the challenge. More times than not during that production meeting, on that set, or at the premiere your eye will wander in a direction that it shouldn’t. Your eyes may have wandered to another man that isnt your husband. Maybe it was more than your eyes that wandered.
These are just a few of the many maybes you could come across when trying to balance work and home. Personally i chose work over marriage and children a long time ago and Im more than content with my decision. However if i ever did change my mind I cant help but want to live like Lucy and Desi. They didn’t end up very good i know and they faced all the struggles that I listed I know. Sometimes having those real struggles and still coming out on top makes you feel human. Id feel more human than your average American happy couple.
I often wonder what would Lucy and Desi end up like had they not be famous. Perhaps theyd end up happy and stress free. They’d be sitting on the porch of their home watching their grand children play in the sprinklers, sipping iced tea, holding hands, and basking in their endless love. Fame can break apart a persons soul and a persons family in a heartbeat. I guess Lucy and Desi’s marriage were victims to the fame monster.
Desi once said about Lucy, ‘I love Lucy because despite all evidence to the contrary, I still believe she loves me.’
This world wasn’t good enough for them in my opinion so they had to suffer being apart. They were on the same level of brilliance so strong that no other woman, no other man, or even fame could actually keep them apart forever. Perhaps in heaven theyre sipping their iced teas on their front porch, holding hands, basking in their endless love  and watching the sunset not bearing any ill thought on the human world behind them for tearing them apart.