Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy a Bridge?July 11, 2007
I can’t even begin discussing The Bridge on the River Kwai until you have the above song stuck in your head, just like it is stuck in mine. Sorry. And listen again while you read this post. Get this song in *your* head so it can get it out of mine.
I love David Lean. Well, early David Lean: his Great Expectations is just a near-wonderful interpretation of one of my favorite novels ever. Hey, do you know a great way to spend a dreary and lazy Saturday afternoon? watch Lean’s Brief Encounter with a nice pot of tea and just let your heart break a bit. Katharine Hepburn in Summertime pretty much defines the word sublime.
Unfortunately, for us, David Lean didn’t want to make simple and elegant films forever, he decided to get long. And epic. Which is why we have 1957’s The Bridge on the River Kwai. Not that the Bridge is a bad movie; on the contrary it’s very good. While it’s the best of the 1957 nominated bunch (Peyton Place?!) my problem is that I just don’t like war movies. Or movies that take three hours to tell a 2 hour story. But Bridge is well acted. And well written; just not well paced. It is, however, incredibly beautiful. Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed on location in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) which stood in for Burma (now Myanmar) and parts of Thailand (formerly Siam). It had nothing to do with Istanbul who is now not Constantinople.
While Bridge is a bit long, it is well crafted. However, when the movie is a bit long and considered a classic I tend to find find that the back stories are much more interesting than the film itself: Bridge was written in the thick of all that Hollywood blacklisting crap. The official screenwriting credit was given to Bridge‘s non-English speaking original author Pierre Boulle, and the resulting Oscar was awarded to him.. Because of the blacklist Carl (High Noon) Foreman and Michael (A Place in the Sun) Wilson’s ( Bridge‘s real screenwriters) names weren’t even in the movie’s credits let alone on the ballot for 1957. The Academy finally gave Messrs. Foreman and Wilson their due: They received their award in 1984. And their names were added to the credits. Posthumously. Incredible.
Sessue Hayakawa had one of the most fascinating careers in movies. He actually turned down the title role in the silent movie The Sheik. Paving the way for legendary Rudolph Valentino. Wow.
Obscure stuff I thought about while watching this movie:
- Why do men dress up like women to entertain other men: are coconut bras really all that sexy?
- William Holden all oiled up and without his shirt — more yummy than any recipe this l’il ‘ol blog could possibly give you.
- If you anagram Alec Guinness’s name you can get the words “genuine class”, thank you The Simpsons.
For dinner we were somewhat Pan Asian. We ordered Crab Rangoon (Rangoon is in Burma) from a local Thai (they were building the vridge to link Burma & Thailand) restaurant. I know I should have made them, but I hate deep frying things. It’s too messy. But, why is it, though, that Crab Rangoon never has any crab flavor? It’s just tastes like cream cheese to me.
For dinner we had this incredible Chinese Chicken salad from Bobby Flay. The peanut dressing is spectacular. I added thinly sliced cucumbers as well.
For dessert we went tropical and wonderful and had a simple mango ice cream. I love making homemade ice cream in the summer. Ice cream is really soooooo easy to make. It’s just custard, frozen. If you can make custard or a creme brulee (bonjour Gigi!) than you can make Ice Cream. Really. This was the recipe I used. Although I didn’t do the chunky parts, because I don’t like chunky fruit in my ice cream. The mixed fruit topping was great, too.