For the past year or so the delightful Sally Field has been co-hosting, “The Essentials,” with Robert Osborne each Saturday evening on TCM. For the most part, I have agreed with the choices 87% of the time, the hugest exception being Robert Redford’s, “The Candidate.” This past Saturday, “The Nun’s Story” was chosen and shown and I taped it. Watched it yesterday afternoon. I first saw this movie when I was five years old; it was a first run downtown at one of the luxury movie theaters, don’t remember if it was the Saenger or Loew’s State, but as was the custom for going to the movies downtown, Mom, Tim and myself got dressed up and saw it. Although I was very young, I loved the movie. There was a different quality to it from other movies of the time that made it stand out, an observation I would make four years later watching, “High Noon” on television with my grandfather…didn’t realize in both instances I was watching the masterful stamp of Fred Zinneman’s direction. I’ve seen it a few times over the years and it was a joy to watch it again yesterday after a nearly twenty-year gap since I saw it last. I think it is the best performance Audrey Hepburn ever gave in any of her movies; I actually think it’s probably her best movie and that includes, “My Fair Lady.” I googled back to see the actresses who were nominated for Best Actress that year and saw that it was Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Simone Signoret, and Doris Day. Taylor and Katherine Hepburn were both nominated for “Suddenly Last Summer,” Signoret for “Room at the Top,” and Day for “Pillow Talk.” I’ve seen all movies and think it was ridiculous the Oscar went to Signoret for her performance especially when compared to Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor’s work. In my opinion, this beautiful understated nuanced performance as Sister Luke, Gabrielle van Mal by Audrey Hepburn was the most deserving of all, with Taylor’s coming in a very close second. This was such a gorgeous movie of a “willful” woman who was probably much closer to God and His will than any of the bells, rules and orders of the convent with which she was always at odds. The ending is exquisite, that long silent walk until she reaches the end of the alley and steps into freedom. I know we are left with the impression that she is going to join The Underground, and yes, I could see her doing exactly that, but there was always a part of me that hoped she returned to the Congo to finish her work and there and she and Dr. Fortunati married. They were rather perfect for each other and I remember asking Mom when I first saw it, were they in love, and Mom said, “yes, I think they were.” Although that was never specifically part of the story. Even as a little girl, raised Catholic, when we were taught nuns were assured their crowns in heaven, before I was taught by some of them and had serious doubts that was true, even as a little girl, couldn’t explain why back then, but I was always glad she left.
Picked up things yesterday I missed before…such as the Congo nun who says about the African hospital aide who still wears a witch doctor’s fetish that she would do anything to convert him; she is later clubbed to death by a man whom the witch doctor said he would be rid of his dead wife’s ghost if he killed a white woman…and when Sr. Luke tells the aide this nun wanted to convert that it was their way to forgive not punish, he gets rid of his fetish leaving the impression he converted…so the murdered nun got her wish.
On another note, forgot to mention something very pleasant last week. Continuing in my vein of loving hole-in-the-wall eating establishments, or similar set-ups. Just starting before Thanksgiving last year, Canseco’s, my go to grocery for quick items, starting a pleasant Thursday evening tradition. If I was running in for something after work on a Thursday evening, I noticed, right there on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, a most wonderful smell wafted through the air. I saw a grill set up on the sidewalk and asked the person manning it what was going on–he lifted the lid to show me the most divine steaks grilling…he told me that every Thursday they would cook the steak of my choice the way I preferred it, along with a twice-baked potato stuffed with melted cheddar cheese and a medly of seasoned blanched veggies–all for $11.00. Well I enjoyed this perfume on random Thursday afternoons since November but never indulged. Driving home along Metairie Road last Thursday, this crossed my mind and I was filled with resolve that this would be the day I indulged. I chose a TBone because since the strokes I haven’t had a TBONE and asked that they cook it medium rare for me. The lady picked out a gorgeous steak, flipped it on the grill and told me it would be about 8 minutes. I window shopped the little strip mall with the quaint shops for the next few minutes, all the while the perfume of that grilling steak following me. It was soon ready and I fetched it, brought it home. All I can say is that this was a steak that nearly just melted in my mouth, perfectly seasoned, perfectly medium rare (the way I preferred them as a child), the potato was delicious and the veggies were perfect. And if truth must be told, when I had cut away the meat and eaten it, I did pick up the bone and gnaw for any remnants. I love places that are perhaps not cosmetically perfect that just offer perfect food. So, I am going to do this perhaps once a month. It’s too delicious not to enjoy again and the price is perfect.