Monday, September 27, 2010


Thanks to (historically) broadcast-TV, videotape, cable TV, DVD, & now the internet, movies conveniently come to you – as you sit before your well-lit computer at home, or in the darkened Social Hall of a senior citizens residence where nobody’s paying anything to see them.

[Ex.] The senior citizens’ residential complex where I live in Santa Clara CA, where on almost every Friday night, free films have been shown using an Epson DVD-projector, by ex-Jesuit (Santa Clara University’s) [Fr.] Joseph Grassi.

His choice of films have ranged from the new HD DVD of Rogers & Hammerstein’s 1945 “Carousel” (film, Hollywood USA, 1956 / 129 minutes / DeLuxe Color / CinemaScope 55) that finally piqued my curiosity to see whether it was only schlock or just goulash , made from the 1908 Hungarian stage-play “Lillom” [lillies, meaning hoodlums] by Ferenc Molnar.) Goulash it was – beginning with the early-on accidental suicide of Gordon Macrea (as traveling-circus roustabout Bill), who then becomes an other-worldy singing-narrator.) The currently elderly audience, some even in their 90s, was pleased. So was I; the musical, called ‘dark’ by critics; was much better than I’d recalled.

Most recently, in this series, I’ve seen the John Ford film “The Quiet Man” (Hollywood USA/Eire, 1952) in which John (Marion) Wayne, as the Quiet Man, John Thornton, a retired (having killed an opponent in the ring) heavyweight prize-fighter from “Pittsburgh MA,” (so announces Barry Fitzgerald) “in Americky”, returns home to Inishfree to pummell Victor Mclagan as the local Squire (principal landowner), across various locations of rural Inishfree (minus any bee-loud glade, as in Yeats’ poem "The Lake Isle of Inishfree" ) over the Squire’s spinster sister [Maureen O’Sullivan, who sings one winsome song while playing a spinet], for her hand in marriage and dowry. All’s well when that ends quite publicly by resolving payment of that withheld dowry, which pleased the audience - minus Dereck Jeffers, actually raised Irish, who tells me that Eire Irish dislike the film as stage-irishism, its boozing., batterin’ & beatin’ bein’ the rude traits treasured by most Irish-Americans & others who freely-associate them, but not the actual Irish in Eire.

Fr. Joseph will soon be handing over the production of the Friday-night film series to a volunteer-team of our facility’s residents who will include Jeffers (an ex ed.-in-chief, at McGraw-Hill, NYC), David B. Ogle (Stanford ‘60, an ex-bookstore-owner, now collectables ‘bookman’) and me (Boston College, ‘63) David’s Netflix subscription will get us our films on DVD, while will provide any authenticating research. But how will we choose our films? My ingoing idea’s to further authenticate them, whenever possible.

Example. Ogle was once the president of a small ‘recreational’ railroad in NM that was used as the location of the western-railroad film “Bite the Bullet” (Hollywood USA, 1975) starring Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, Sally Kirkland, James Coburn, Dabney Coleman, Ben Johnson, Jan-Michael Vincent (!), etc. David was often on-set during its principal filming; so having him preface the DVD’s showing by telling all about that should add authenticity. Of course, we’ll have to see whether the audience actually appreciates that degree of authentication, or even the film itself; I certainly hope so. Fr. Joseph intends to try to show this film on 29 OCT.

Further into the upcoming series, as a lifelong bicyclist, I’d like to adress the audience before we show the (subtitled) “Bicycle Thieves” (Ladri di biciclette, Italia, 1948) directed by Vittorio De Sica, long my (& Woody Allen's "The greatest film ever made." ) To my astonishment, Fr. Joseph tells me he'd already intended to show this film on 22 OCT; unfortunately, I'll be in Portland OR when/if he does.

Sensibly, we intend to start by showing only one Friday-night film per month while we get our novice team’s act together, wondering just how Fr. Joseph has managed to do it so well all by himself on so many Friday nights.



Ex-Fr. Joseph Grassi (S.J.) is dying of cancer. We've renamed his film series after him, with his permission. We’ve just shown “Bite the Bullet” (1975) & will next show“The Professionals” (1966) both written & directed by Richard Brooks who directed “Elmer Gantry” [from the novel by Nobelist Sinclair Lewis.] We’re doing what we can to continue Joe’s service to the senior citizens who live here at Valley Village in Santa Clara, California.

note: this constantly updates an earlier draft that appears on Citizen Blogs

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