Oh…The Opinions We Form When We’re Young
The opinions we form of people when we are kids, can be so misleading. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, one of my favorite TV channels is Turner Classic Movies. A while back I watched a lot of old movies on this Classic Movie channel. Included among those was a marathon of Humphrey Bogart movies. As a kid I did not like Humphrey Bogart. The movies in which I’d seen him, he played a killer, a gangster or someone who was just plain mean; and as kids often do, I associated these movies with reality. I thought Humphrey Bogart was a mean man in real life. I developed a dislike for him and carried that prejudice into adulthood. He was not on my list of favorite actors, and consequently, I did not like him personally.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when I saw Casablanca for the first time that I changed my thinking about Mr. Bogart. I had my eyes opened. Humphrey Bogart could actually play a “good guy.” Albeit Rick Blaine was no saint, but he at least had some redeeming qualities, and he did love Ilsa. Then came the Maltese Falcon. Again I was surprised. Bogey was actually playing another halfway decent guy. Hmmm, I thought. Maybe I should reconsider my opinion of this guy. So that’s what I did. I discovered he was a very good actor who took his craft very seriously, and he soon made it to my list of favorite actors.
I also have to admit I harbored the same feeling about Peter Lorre, Edward G. Robinson, and James Cagney. I remember the first movie I saw featuring Peter Lorre. I believe he played Dracula’s evil sidekick Igor. Most of Lorre’s fans will recall he had the misfortune of being somewhat bug eyed—or maybe it was the good fortune of being bug eyed, depending on one’s perspective—and he played that feature to the hilt in a good many of his movies. They gave him a sort of sinister look. To me he was the bug eyed monster—until I grew up.
These men were icons in their profession, but to this youngster, they were just a bunch of mean guys. Then again, as an adult, and thanks to the “old movies channel” I began watching some of their movies. It wasn’t until I watched Double Indemnity that I gained a new insight toward Edward G. Robinson. I began to watch more of his movies as they appeared on TCM, and again, I had my eyes opened. He was a fine actor capable of portraying a multitude of characters, and not all of them mean gangsters; in fact, in one of his movies (I forget the title) he played a dual role, one of a murderous gangster, the other a sort of mousy wimp. He played both characters brilliantly.
I also harbored many of the same feelings toward some actresses. I dearly loved Kathryn Hepburn, Jennifer Jones and Ingrid Bergman, but Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, and Betty Davis, in my mind, were all shrews. As I grew older, I learned these actors and actresses were real people just like us. It has been said by many directors, that next to Carol Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck was one of the nicest and most cooperative of all the actresses they worked with.
The same was said about Betty Davis. Although she had the reputation of being difficult to deal with from a business sense (a bit of a rebel when it came to negotiating her contracts) she was very kind and supportive to her subordinate players. This same respect for other players is attributed to Bogey, Cagney, and Lorre, as well.
So I’m am happy to say that I have shed the prejudices of my youth about these movie stars and began to watch more of their movies. Otherwise I might have been deprived of some great entertainment. They have all made my favorites list.
If you like nostalgia, and fond memories of an era past, a book that might make your favorites list is Buddy…Trials and Treasures. It features a young boy growing up during the 1940s. Buddy is not unlike Tom Sawyer in that he quite often finds himself in hot water for which he must pay the consequences. You can get a free sample of the prologue and first three complete adventures by clicking on the “free download button at upper right on this page. A print version is also available for purchase on www.amazon.com.