Sunday, March 08, 2020

The World, The Flesh, and the Devil (1959)

Last night Kyle and I went to Lawless Distilling for some drinks (I had the Sargasso Sea, the pink gin shot, and the Cuban gin and tonic highball.  I tried to get Pooteewheet a 375 ml of pink gin, but they were out.  He offered me a cinnamon gin as an alternative. If you know Pooteewheet, that means what was intended as a present becomes a punishment.  So not a viable alternative).  It was really busy.  A very different experience than when I was there almost all by myself while E was doing Cardboard Camp planning and fun days over at the Ivy building.

This is Kyle with his super fancy coconut drink.  He said it was pretty good despite having to drink out of what looked like a penis coming out of a boob.  My Sargasso was delicious.  I'd definitely drink that again.  And the leftover crushed ice on top of square cubes made a perfect glass for a chaser of cold water.

Afterwards we went to The World, The Flesh, and the Devil (1959) at the Trylon.  It starred Mel Ferrer, Harry Belefonte, and Inger Stevens.  And them alone.  That was the total cast.  The plot...some sort of radioactive incident/cloud disintegrates everyone on the planet.  Except: Harry Belefonte who was trapped in a mine in PA.  Inger, who was in an immersion tank and came out a day later than her friends.  And Ferrer, who was alone at sea in just the right location.  The thought experiment, it's more an idea than a plot, is that in a world devoid of people, do racial politics reassert themselves?  Spoiler: they do.  And...can they be overcome?  Spoiler: they can.  Everyone can live together in a happy Morman-polygamist dream at the end. 

Here's the original New York Times review.  Pretty cool you can find this on line:

The film's title is based on Ephesians 2:2: (NIV): "You once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh”.  I'm still trying to sync that to the movie.  The flesh....yes.  The world...sure.  The devil?  I think they're referring to racial politics and prejudices as the devil in this case. 

I looked up some of the details about the movie. Per Wikipedia, Inger Stevens, the lead actress: "After her death, Ike Jones, the first African-American to graduate from UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television, claimed[16] that he had been secretly married to Stevens since 1961. Some doubted this due to the lack of a marriage license, the maintaining of separate homes and the filing of tax documents as single people.[17] However, at the time Stevens' estate was being settled, the actress's brother, Carl O. Stensland, confirmed in court that his sister had hidden her marriage to Jones "out of fear for her career".[18] Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner A. Edward Nichols ruled in Ike Jones's favor[19] and made him administrator of her estate.[20][21] A photo exists of the two attending a banquet together in 1968.[5] Her website also states that the marriage to Jones took place in Tijuana, Mexico."

She had an interesting life from a narrowly-missed-that perspective (NYT obit): "Bad luck always plagued her, Miss Stevens said. She col lapsed, along with 11 others filming “Cry Terror” in the Hudson Tubes, suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Her jaw was dislocated while film ing a “Zane Grey Theater” TV show. In 1959, after a depress ing New Year's Eve party, she attempted suicide. And in 1961, she was the last passenger to leave a jet that crashed on landing at Libson and exploded half‐minute after her exit."  In the end, it wasn't that narrowly missed as she died of what seemed to be a barbiturate suicide.  She seems like she had such a wild life (burlesque, married to Ike), but couldn't synthesize something positive out of her accomplishments.

I wanted to capture what my friend's mother, Pat, said about the movie so I don't lose it: "One of the first "adult themed" movies I was allowed to see( at age 17).  I was amazed and awed. I couldn't believe it, having lived in small towns my whole life, and loving science fiction, that the books I had read were all so bland- I guess the library was good at censoring for teens. It is hard for people today to understand how protected and watched some of us were, especially girls. When raised by parents like mine , I remember getted grounded for two weeks for saying the word "pregnant" instead of "expecting" or "in a family way".  I thought the movie was amazing in its feeling of desolation and I was actually stunned at the interaction of the 3 people, and at the positive ending. Two years later I was having screaming fightswith my parents about not being able to go south with the freedom riders,and about sex before marriage (college will do that to a kid!)"

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