A few minutes into discussing movies with someone for the first time, I’m often asked, “Where do you get this?” I think it’s in the blood, the mixture of two NYC greats. First, there’s my great uncle5 on my father’s side, William Cullen Bryant (as in Bryant Park, fashionistas!). I’m most definitely his echo of the family genes for artistic and editorial aptitudes, as well as the zeal for justice. It is he and his close friend artist Thomas Cole who appear in the revered Kindred Spirits, painted by third musketeer Asher Durand of the Hudson River School. (My great grandfather George also got the art gene ~ his handcrafted chandeliers long graced the main lobby of the Boston Public Library.)
On the other side, there’s my grandfather ~ John C. Wilson’s Production Accountant. He handled (among many others) the original Broadway production of Kiss Me, Kate and nurtured along the way a bright young talent named Eddie, who went on to become the GM of (among many others) the original Broadway production of Camelot. “Grandma and Grandpa’s house” was the one Eddie bought for him in gratitude for having given him his start in the biz.
On point to this conversation ~ my grandfather was part of the team that produced the first movie accompanied by sound. Laying the groundwork for the “talkies” that came later, the first New York showing of 1913′s Rainey African Hunt ran with a narrative track performed by Ernest Torrence and its success is widely regarded as having provided distributor Carl Laemmle the funds to launch Universal Pictures.
My own love of film was awakened during childhood summers in New Hampshire, which included frequent visits to nearby Oak Birch Inn. It offered charming guest rooms, a formal dining room, a sprawling lobby, expansive porches overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee … and a first-run movie theatre. Truly the Overlook’s benevolent twin.
The defining occasions, thinking back, were Tevye’s dancing on the rafters dreaming of being a rich man … when the woman behind me involuntarily cried out, “Don’t shoot!” as Rolfe held a gun on Captain von Trapp … and when Lady Litton pulled the Pink Panther out of the cold cream, at which moment I realized that a woman could outsmart the best of them (no small revelation for a young girl in the mid-70s).
Though I love both literature and theatre dearly and will never be without them, it is film that has taken possession of my heart. The ability to experience multiple (yea, myriad!) viewings lets me study individual performances ~ observe a person’s body of work as it develops ~ consider the story from different characters’ perspectives ~ and ponder the
content over time and in different seasons of my own
life’s journey. Go you Huskies.