‘It was you, Charley’

Enniscorthy Guardian - - NEWS - WITH JOHN J KELLY

SOME­TIMES the writ­ten word, is ac­tu­ally the spo­ken word, or at least we recog­nise it as the spo­ken word in-so-far as we at­tach imagery to it, or as­so­ciate it with a face, or a voice, or a par­tic­u­lar scene from a movie or play, per­haps.

And, any of the above which may di­rectly hold as­so­ci­a­tions with the words, enhance and de­liver, and make the great, greater still. There­fore, it is just ever so slightly pos­si­ble, that, although the com­bi­na­tion of vis­ual, sound and word is truly fan­tas­tic, that one on its very lone­some, also stands up there in great­ness. It re­mains the writ­ten word.

Shake­speare wrote many fine speeches, so­lil­o­quies and di­a­logues, fan­tas­ti­cally put to­gether com­bi­na­tions of mere words, but their de­liv­er­ies sail each ship into har­bour and knock us into ador­ing si­lence. Think of Mac­beth’s speech be­fore mur­der­ing his King, or any of the Romeo and Juliet bal­cony ex­changes? Vi­ola’s ‘my fa­ther had a daugh­ter loved a man’ from Twelfth Night or, of course, sev­eral from Ham­let .

But to­day I have dipped into the golden age of movies and pulled out a plum! Mind you, all ages of cin­ema are golden, and all pro­duce pure di­a­monds, surely? Old movie clas­sics or mod­ern day mas­ter­pieces. Cer­tainly the last 40 years have thrown up a few mag­i­cal ora­tions, de­pend­ing on your taste, and surely at least one of the fol­low­ing strikes a chord with each and every one of us?

Tom Cruise as wacky Frank TJ Mackey in Mag­no­lia, Al Pa­cino as Tony d’Amato in Any Given Sun­day or of course him­self in Brave­heart? Or Steve Buscemi’s rant as Mr Pink in Re­sevoir Dogs, or per­haps old con Mor­gan Free­man in Shaw­shank, ‘....you gotta get busy livin’ or get busy dyin...’

Any­way, back to our movie. ‘On The Wa­ter­front’ from 1954, di­rected by Elia Kazan and star­ring Mar­lon Brando, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Eva Marie Saint, still holds it’s place in the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute’s list of Top 20 movies of all time. It was nom­i­nated for a stag­ger­ing 12 Os­cars and came home with eight stat­uettes. Set in a New York/New Jer­sey dock­land world of corruption, ex­tor­tion, and rack­e­teer­ing, it is a no punches spared, raw, tough movie, rich in won­der­ful ver­bal ex­changes deal­ing with un­ful­filled dreams and op­portu- ni­ties, re­grets and lost chances. The very laments of the ex­ploited and cheated.

Karl Malden as the lo­cal priest, gives a spell­bind­ing speech in tack­ling those that refuse to stand up to mob-led thug­gery. And Eva Marie Saint spills her heart out as the girl who may have al­lowed her one shot at love to pass by, but the ab­so­lute mas­ter­class of cin­ema and more so ‘words’ comes in what has be­come known as the ‘taxi scene’, (pic­tured be­low). Brando is the down­trod­den ex-boxer, Terry, tack­ling, fi­nally, his hood brother, Charley, played by Rod Steiger, who al­ways ex­ploited him. It sim­ply does not get bet­ter than this. Read­ers, you have your Net­flix home­work for this week! Go watch it and lis­ten to it.

Charley: Look, kid, I – how much you weigh? When you weighed one 168 pounds you were beau­ti­ful. You coulda been an­other Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a man­ager, he brought you along too fast.

Terry: It wasn’t him, Charley, it was you. Re­mem­ber that night in the Gar­den you came down to my dress­ing room and you said, ‘Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re go­ing for the price on Wil­son.’ You re­mem­ber that? ‘This ain’t your night!’ My night! I coulda taken Wil­son apart! So what hap­pens? He gets the ti­tle shot out­doors on the ball­park and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a lit­tle bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a lit­tle bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.

Charley: Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money?

Terry: You don’t un­der­stand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a con­tender. I coulda been some­body, in­stead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.

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