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"Tony Draws a Horse" - British Madcap Situation Comedy
released on June 1, 1950
The Actors: Cecil Parker (Doctor Howard Fleming), Anne Crawford (Clare Fleming), Derek Bond (Tim Shields), Barbara Everest (Mrs. Parsons), Edward Rigby (Grandpa), Dandy Nichols (Mrs. Smith), Kynaston Reeves (Doctor Bletchley), David Hurst (Ivan), Marjorie Gresley (Mrs. Carey Brown), Gabrielle Blunt (Grace, the Parsons' maid), Cyril Chamberlain (Police Station Sergeant), Susan Dudley (bridesmaid Susan), Anthony Lang (Tony Fleming), Harold Richmond (unknown), Ann Smith (bridesmaid Ann), Michael Ward (photographer), Bill Hodge (Charles), Nicholas Bruce (airport official), Gabrielle Brune (barmaid), Jonathan Field (Mr. Smille), Jack Vyvyan (Mr. Bowles)
A Spirit of Revolution, and Mother is Not Happy
I was always . . . indeed still am . . . a very curious fellow, willing and eager to experience anything that I haven't encountered before . . . I think that on my last day I will be eager to learn something that I didn't know before. It was in that spirit that I accepted the invitation of Diane, the neighbor girl across the street from my 304 South Main Street home. I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and Diane was just a bit older. When she suggested that we crawl into the back seat of my dad's car that was parked in front of the house, I was all in. She wanted to play 'You show me yours and I'll show you mine' and I had no clue how the game worked, but I was eager to learn something new. While I remember the incident as if it was yesterday, I have no recollection of my emotions or reaction when I first discovered the difference between little girls and little boys. I do remember suggesting later that we'd have more fun if we could find my next door neighbor Pauly and play cops and robbers.
The catalyst in this story about deciding who you are and how you want to live is a drawing on a wall . . . a drawing of a horse . . . a biologically correct and well-endowed horse. The scandal that it caused changed the lives of everyone in this British upper crust comedy. The unspoken question that is answered by everyone involved is: How would you act . . . What would you say . . . What would you do . . . If no one was watching, or if they were watching and you just didn't give a damn about what anyone else thought? Youngster Tony Fleming drew the picture of the horse, and his very proper father Doctor Fleming thinks it is outrageous and the boy should be punished severely . . . But Tony's mother Clare is a progressive sort of gal who believes that it is wrong to suppress the boy's creativity . . . For Clare being 'proper' is not as important as being your honest self. Clare argues with her husband about the incident and she declares that she will leave the proper Doctor and end the impossible marriage of a free-spirit and a proper Englishman. Clare goes home to mother . . . proper, manipulative, bossy and controlling MOTHER. Her father has been controlled by her mother for all their lives, and Mother immediately orders Clare to return to her proper husband and apologize and beg his forgiveness. Clare's sense of independence flares large and she refuses . . . and her independent and rebellious attitude seems to be catchy. Clare's younger sister is about to be married just as Clare is determined to get a divorce, and her fiancé Tim seems to catch the independent spirit . . . Clare's grandpa has always been a quiet rebel, and he enjoys the rebellion around him and is the comic relief in this situation comedy . . . yup, even situation comedies can have a comic relief character . . . honest. So we have stuffy and proper Doctor Fleming, stuffier and more-proper Mother Parsons, and we mix in rebellious Clare, her younger sister Joan, her sister's fiancé Tim, proper Mother's husband Alfred, Grandpa Parsons . . . and don't forget young Tony, the juvenile artist that started all the fuss. The madcap adventure moves from London to the country home of the Parsons . . . to a wild adventure in France . . . and back to the proper and stuffy home of Mother Parsons and the family that is slipping away from her total control. One marriage may be ending and another may never begin . . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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Make them laugh, make them cry, and back to laughter. What do people want to go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise . . . Mary Pickford
Some of my Favorites:
Probably my all time favorite movie, My Man Godfrey in 1936 not only gives us an comedic peek at the wealthiest and poorest during the Great Depression, but also was the vehicle for Carole Lombard to create the movie icon of the 'dumb blonde screwball comedy' that is a popular theme even today.
Meet John Doe - 1941: The Frank Capra classic set in the Great Depression era that pits the common man against the political masters. You can't be a fan of old movies until you watch Frank Capra's old movies. This one premiered seventy years ago, and it still stirs our emotions and thoughts now. It is as timely as if it were produced today.
Angel and the Bad Man - 1947: One of the great teachers of the Secret Law of Attraction is Dr. Joe Vitale . . . but before he was even born actor John Wayne paid for and produced this Cowboy Western that featured The Law of Attraction.
The Time of Your Life - 1948: James Cagney financed this strangely different feel-good movie, and he plays the part of Joe, a barfly that tries to live his life by making everyone around him better. I watch this one often, and try to become more like Joe every day.
Painted Faces - 1929: Comedy legend Joe E. Brown is a circus clown in a surprisingly serious role as a juror in a Christmas week murder trial who tells the other jurors a story that will change their verdicts in a pre-code drama that could not have been made a few years later.
Charade - 1963: It doesn't get much better than Cary Grant and Audry Hepburn in a tale of death, deception, spies and lost wealth as a woman tries to sort out the good guys from the bad guys in this cold-war spy thriller love story.