Pandemic Diary 21: Reasons to ‘Smile’

“Buck up—never say die—we’ll get along.”

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Charlie Chaplin never published lyrics for the piece of music with which he concluded his 1936 film, Modern Times. The Tramp’s last gesture to the Gamine (Paulette Goddard) before the two literally walk off toward the sunset is to point to his mouth and draw a line up along his cheek.

“What’s the use in trying,” she had asked a moment earlier. The two are on the side of a road with no cars to hitch a ride, with all they own in kerchiefs on sticks. “Buck up—never say die—we’ll get along,” the Tramp’s last title card reads. The two walk off down the road and instrumental music swells and the film ends:

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A Memory of Cary Grant

Cary Grant was born 115 years ago today. My memory of seeing him in person:

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Starting in the mid-1980s, Cary Grant toured in a one-man question-and-answer show, A Conversation with Cary Grant, in which he spent ninety minutes or so answering questions from audience members. Several other movie stars and celebrities have since taken on similar productions in which they and their fans bask in an accepted and reflected adoration— Gregory Peck, for one—but Grant was the first. The show was an extended, and deserved, curtain call from beginning to end.

One cool feature to Grant’s tour was that it brought him to theaters in which he had performed during his vaudeville years in the 1920s. Thus it was that in April 1985 I found myself sitting in the balcony of the small (1500 seat) Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston, New York, a stage on which he had performed decades earlier. I was 16 and a movie nerd and Cary Grant was my idol.
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On the Edge

I’m a damn sap.

Sometimes it’s the television ads. There are some that get me every time. “Aw, they’re getting a new kitten!” (Never mind what the ad is selling.) Or if a character in a movie—at any point in the movie—says something about wanting to “go home,” and at the end of the movie they walk through their front door and say they’re “home,” and the music swells and the credits start rolling, I’m a goner.
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