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The Petrified Forest stage/screen 1936 Leslie Howard


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This was the third time I saw the film and picked up more details. When a script and acting is good, I tend to miss details.


In 1936 $5,000 was probably worth a lot, but I doubt if it could buy a cathedral. Here's some choice dialog:


Memorable quotes for

The Petrified Forest (1936)


Gramp Maple: But let me tell you one thing, Mr. Squier. The woman don't live or ever did live that's worth five thousand dollars!

Alan Squier: Well, let me tell you something. You're a forgetful old fool. Any woman's worth everything that any man has to give: anguish, ecstasy, faith, jealousy, love, hatred, life or death. Don't you see that's the whole excuse for our existence? It's what makes the whole thing possible and tolerable.


Alan Squier: The trouble with me, Gabrielle, is I, I belong to a vanishing race. I'm one of the intellectuals.

Gabrielle Maple: That, that means you've got brains!

Alan Squier: Hmmm. Yes. Brains without purpose. Noise without sound, shape without substance.



Mrs. Edith Chisholm: You're in love with her, aren't you?

Alan Squier: Yes, I suppose I am. And not unreasonably. She has heroic stuff in her. She may be one of the immortal women of France. Another Joan of Arc, George Sand, Madame Curie, or Du Barry. I want to show her that I believe in her, and how else can I do it? Living, I'm worth nothing to her. Dead, I can buy her the tallest cathedrals, golden vineyards, and dancing in the streets. One well-directed bullet will accomplish all that, and it'll earn a measure of reflected glory for him that fired it and him that stopped it. This document will be my ticket to immortality. It'll inspire people to say of me, "There was an artist who died before his time." Will you do it, Duke?

Duke Mantee: I'll be glad to.

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Agreed, Mary, people have not changed a whit in 60 years but playwriting has changed. Stage plays in the 30s were eloquent, incisive, emotional, and uplifting. It may have been the last gasp of thoughtful comment.


If anyone on a stage today replied as Leslie Howard did about the worth of women the play would close before the final act. Speaking of American stages only, I hope the Brits have survived the vulgarization of entertainment. I almost said 'commercialization' instead of vulgarization, but I suppose they are the same thing. No more entertainment for intellectuals or elites, just pandering to the lowest common denominator.

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I believe mediocre is too optimistic an assessment. Back in the Eisenhower administration he was persuaded to nominate a truly mediocre judge to the Supreme Court. A senator from the Dakotas answered criticism at that time: So what? Aren't the mediocre people entitled to some representation on the court? Yes, Republican Senator Karl Mundt.




As for our playwrights - the inspired ones have followed the money into TV scripting and from there into formula rotes endlessly recycling low brow humour of kicks into the groins and sounds from the backsides. I can't name a decent stage production since the 1950s.


One of our problems was JFK's 'best and brightest' advisers who became full of themselves, thinking they were gods, and led us into disastrous adventures. Everything is dumbed down now, from films, plays, journalism -- (doesn't even exist anymore in a true sense -- news is speculation, suspician, rumours...)


There was a thoughtful film about 3 years ago called Idiocracy, that predicted a future when the gene pool would be completely dominated by the numb headed population and no one would know how to grow crops any longer. It failed to find an audience.

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