I just cannot agree with Gentleman’s Agreement. It’s too preachy, incredibly boring, preachy, overacted, nothing special and it’s way too preachy. Bad decision Academy. Stellar cast though. Gregory Peck is just so, sigh, beautiful. He’s a great actor, too. Wonderful scene where his character realizes that even he is a bit anti-semitic. His mother, National Velvet‘s Anne Revere is so imperial. His surprisingly independent son (he can crack an egg on a spatuala: impressive!) is played by a very young Dean (Blue Velvet, Married to the Mob) Stockwell. Fun. And we love, love, love Celeste Holm: she was Broadway’s original Ado Annie. I just wished she had just said “no” to this movie. But, I’m sure she would disagree with our assessment: she did win a best supporting Oscar for her role. Heaven knows why: she’s only in the movie for about 15 minutes. How Dame Judi Dench of her.
For the 1948 Oscars, the Academy got all stupid and gave the whole store away to Laurence Olivier and his dreary Hamlet. Instead they should have shopped in England the year before: David Lean’s amazing Great Expectations was nominated for Best Picture alongside Gentleman’s Agreement in 1947. Aside from Great Expectations’ rather, um, older-ish Pip (though you gotta love John Mills) and it’s (what the?) alternative ending, this is a wonderful Paltrow-free rendition of one of the best novels ever. I love this movie. It is truly one of my favorites . Alec Guiness as Herbert Pocket alone is far better than Gentleman’s Agreement and Jean Simmons was on par with Elizabeth Taylor as a beautiful child actreess. She’s stunning.
Things we want to remember:
- Smile, Baby: June Havoc was wonderful as the Anti-semitic Jewish secretary. She was better than the leaden lead, Dorothy McGuire.
- Love John Garfield: now that’s a supporting role.
- Was Dean Stockwell a really good child actor or is Gregory Peck just that great acting with kids: see To Kill a Mockingbird re: Mary Badham.
- I am truly lusting after Dorothy McGuire’s fake Manhattan apartment (cool patio garden with espaliered tree, impossibly close view of the fantastic Queensbourogh bridge, tres cool closet elevator). Why in heck would she want to move to Connecticut when she lived in this palace?
Dinner was a challenge. How do you have food that’s not Jewish, but Jewish. I think I came up some good pretend Jewish food. Or, are dumpling matzoh? I think that they are.
This recipe was adapted from The New Basics by those Silver Palate gals. This was a quite popular cookbook back in the 80’s. The New Basics is one of the essential cookbooks. I’m on my second copy, the first one, a gift from Jim on our first Christmas together wore out about 10 years ago. This one is rather worn, too.
Chicken and Dumplings (or you could called them matzoh)
1 cut up chicken (about 8 pieces)
1 t paprika
½ t salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 T vegetable oil
1 rib celery cut into 2 inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces (and get the carrots that still have their greenery, they taste that much better)
2 leeks—white part and 1 inch green well rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, quartered.
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup flour
1 ½ t baking powder
2 T chopped fresh herbs (I used tarragon because it was on hand)
½ cup milk
Wash and dry chicken. Rub the salt pepper and paprika into the chicken. Heat the oil in a dutch oven. Cook the chicken over high heat for about 10 minutes. Pour off the fat from the pan.
Add the vegetables and the stock to the pan, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Make the dumplings: in the mixing bowl of your fancy Kitchenaid mixmaster mix the dry ingredients, add the shortening, and then slowly pour in the milk. Mix until moistened Gather the dough into a ball, knead a couple of times, and then cut it into 10-12 pieces. After the chicken is done, remove from the broth, bring the broth to a boil and add the dumplings. Cover & simmer until they are puffed and cooked through. This thickens the broth nicely too.For a wine pairing I chose a lovely 2005 Viognier from Cline. Perfect.