Sunday, February 27, 2011

Watching and reading

I watched Heaven Knows Mr Allison the other night. It is a two-hander between Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr as a marine and a nun trapped on a Pacific Island during the war against Japan. It has a happy ending with Mr Mitchum only scratched and Miss Kerr with her honor intact. It was a typical piece of period hokum that was enjoyable enough though both the leads played sterotypical characters and nothing very surprising happened. It might have been fairly shocking at the time with a mixed sex cave for sleeping in. Today the most shocking thing about it would be the anti-Japanese racism since the Nips were portrayed as semi-comical ineffectual individuals that one could hardly imagine conquering most of the Pacific.

We also watched the latest instalment of Nanny McPhee, which was fun. How we would all wish for a nanny like that to solve our problems! Emma Thompson, who wrote it, is a Left-wing socialist atheist. She obviously has a strong religious empathy, nevertheless. Christians would recognize the Holy Spirit as McPhee's paradigm.

I have also read the latest Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight. This is supposedly for younger readers, though the level of humor, complexity and adult themes is as great as in the other Discworld novels. It concerns the teenage witch, Tiffany Aching. Among the topics it covers are cutting the toenails of an old woman who has not had her shoes off in a year, a miscarriage in a 13-year old brought on by a severe beating from her father, attempted suicide, time travel, young love dissipated, joke shops that sell plastic doggie-poo, the responsibilities of leadership, death and bereavement, hiding one's abilities in order to fit in, weddings and funerals, bullying and standing up to bullies, the hidden truths in folk-myths, and prejudice and how it spreads in a community. Such serious subjects (apart from the joke shop) are handled with fun and humor and a delicious use of English. There are now 38 books in the Discworld series; I feel like reading them all again.


Anonymous said...

I well remember 'Heaven Knows Mr. Allison'. I watched it as a youngster. A group of us went the the theater, probably shepherded by one of the parents. I remember the scene when someone, probably Robert Mitchum, hitches a ride on a giant turtle. At least I think it was in that film.

It came out in 1957 or thereabouts, and WWII was only 12 years distant. Not many people liked the Japanese, since their many atrocities were well-known by then. Their behavior in China and elsewhere, was vile, to say the least.

Terry Hamblin said...

Yes,you are right about the turtle. Right also about how teh Japanese were hated then. Their treatment of British prisoners in Burma is recoreded in Bridge on the River Kwai.