Tuesday, October 10, 2017

it was a good wagon, but an impractical star

I would love to downgrade my Direct TV package. But I can't. Because I must have Turner Classic Movies.

I must.

I love the truly classic movies they show, like Casablanca. But I also love the old, obscure stuff they dig out from under the couch that maybe isn't THAT good, but I watch them and find some incredible little moment in many of them.

The latest is from a while back. It was at the beginning of The Deadly Affair, a 1966 adaption of a John le CarrĂ© story. This is a speech by a character called Samuel Fennan, who has been told by the main character, played by James Mason, that a letter has been sent, anonymously, identifying him as a former Communist:

Practically everybody was a member of the party at Oxford in the 30s. Half the present cabinet were party men. You know Mr. Dobbs, when you’re young, you hitch the wagon or whatever you believe in to whatever star looks likely it can get the wagon moving. When I was an undergraduate, the wagon was social justice, and the star was Karl Marx. We perambulated with banners. We fed hunger marchers. A few of us fought in Spain. Some of us even wrote poetry. I still believe it was a good wagon, but an impractical star. We had faith and hope and charity. A wrong faith, a false hope, but I still think the right sort of charity. Our eyes were dewy with it, dewy and half shut.

I so get this. I don't know if it's directly from the novel or was created for the film - but nothing better explains why so many people were sympathetic to Communism back in the 30s and 40s.

I try so hard not to let my eyes be so dewy that they are half shut.

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