Wednesday, September 24, 2014

As Tears Go By

I learned a little something this past weekend...

You see, I was puttering around dealing with the ongoing aftereffects of moving (more bookshelves arrived at the beginning of the weekend, and the nice men who put the bookshelves together arrived toward the middle, the Mister and I having decided that not trying to assemble Ikea furniture together is a central tenet of a happy marriage, so I had books to shelve).  The Mister was taking advantage of some rare weekend time off (his job requiring hours of almost baroque eccentricity) and channel flipping with a pair of terriers on his lap.

After all these years, I'm afraid my taste is starting to wear off on him (don't worry - it's more than mutual, as my affection for Arab pop stars, old Egyptian movies, and the Egyptian national dish, koshari, all attest), and soon enough the surfing slowed and then finally stopped, you won't be surprised to learn, on TCM.

And within less than two minutes, a room away, I was crying my eyes out.

Yes, apparently Mrs. Miniver is some sort of trigger for me.  We hadn't even come in at a particularly moving part.  Greer Garson was only sparring with Lady Beldon (in regard to youthful romance, best-rose prizes, and other essentials of village life), but off I went.  By the time Clem returned from Dunkirk, Vin came home, Lady Beldon gave out the prize, and bombs started falling, I was virtually incoherent with the kind of heartwarming misery that only MGM at its most primo could dish out.  I've always liked the movie, but I never really noticed before just how strong an impact it has.

Even searching for an appropriate still just now had me very nearly in sniffles.  And I'm really not very much of a weeper at all.

How about you? Do you have any unexpected soft spots when it comes to movies? Pop songs (I have to admit to a time when Jane Olivor's "Some Enchanted Evening" was practically Miniverian in its impact)?  Other little heart-breakers?

As for me, I'm going to go sit somewhere quiet and think about Greer Garson...


  1. "My Buddy" will, for me, always be linked to NYC in the 1980's and '90's. Proust's badass madeline didn't pack half the wallop of that song.

  2. Maybe, because I'm so Southern in my upbringing that I'm rarely in touch with certain emotions that the climactic moments of a CGI King Kong brought me to tears inside the theater. Oh yes, it happened. My niece, who was sitting next to me at the time, remarked several years later that she loved me all the more because of it.

    Not that I was raised to suppress emotion it's just something you do as a boy. A boy with three brothers but, something I think I imposed on myself.

    To this day I've only had four or five breakdown moments where I was overwhelmed and the tears came and minutes later it was over. I'll actually phone in late to watch old movies like Dark Victory just for the emotional relief. Movies with the melodrama and the soundtracks secretly give me that release, then I'm good for a year until my next momentary breakdown.

    I don't think you're alone in this respect.

    Have you given a thought to 1920's Egyptian revival? It's ever so chic and just one piece could add so much interest to a room and maybe solve a problem or two.

    Kay Francis would approve.

    1. Oh, God - the last five minutes of Dark Victory. I start sniffling the second Judith feels the sun on her hands...

      And as for Egyptian revival? One more piece of that stuff and people will start taking our dining room for an unknown corner of King Tut's tomb.

  3. Being Welsh (possibly the UK equivalent of ayeM8y's "Southern"?), I am rarely moved to tears by big-screen movies - music is a different matter. However, put me in front of a tour-de-force of acting, such as Thora Hird in the Alan Bennett Talking Heads episode Waiting For The Telegram, and I am an inconsolable stream of sobbing snot... Jx

  4. Two movies that ALWAYS do it for me are Wuthering Heights and Stella Dallas. But I think I have to watch at least the twenty minutes' worth...

  5. For me its they last 15 minutes of Terms of Endearment.

  6. "The Glenn Miller Story". Between Jimmy Stewart's 'aw gee' interpretation of the band leader and June Allyson's spunky depiction of his wife, Helen, I suppose I could be excused but, really it's the music. From the moment "Moonlight Serenade" plays under the opening credits I'm off to the Kleenex races. Of course I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that my dad was a hope-to-die Miller fanatic and shared the stuff with me until I too had developed a love for the sound of the Miller ork.

  7. It's Now, Voyager in two spots-- one, where Charlotte steps onto the gangplank, newly glamorous and very tentative; and the next, when she arrives at Cascade and sees Tina for the first time.

  8. I'm not a big crier. I cry more at small, perfect kindnesses than for very much that's considered sad or tragic.

    My most favorite movie cry was in grammar school. I was home "sick" from school - faking it because I hadn't finished an assignment. I fessed up to Mom. She was understanding and helped me with my work. The TV was on and 42nd Street played on WOR or WPIX. We were sitting together on the sofa working on my report. We were continually distracted by the corny dialogue of the movie. Even at 9 or 10, I recognized it for the hoary chestnut that it is. At some point, Miss Keeler or Warner Baxter said something that sent one of us into a small gale of giggles. From that point on, each hackneyed line or cliché had us laughing louder and stronger. Eventually, we were both in complete tears of laughter. Barely a scene went by without a scream of laughter from one of us. Our faces were soaked with tears by the movie's end.

    As for actual sad tears, few movies take me to that point. Like Felix, music in a scene can work on me. John Hughes' lesser known She's Having a Baby gets me during this section. It's as much for Kate Bush's tender "This Woman's Work" as my own feelings about relationships and babies (things I wasn't sure I'd ever have) in the late 80's. The montage of Bacon (and his ass in those jeans) and McGovern had me longing for a partner and a white picket fence. Still gets me going.

    And in the brilliantly scripted Broadcast News, amongst so many gems of dialogue, is a scene where Aaron sits on his front steps, a bit in his cups, talking to Jane and says, "I'm going to stop right now. Except that I would give anything if you were two people, so that I could call up the one who's my friend and tell her about the one that I like so much!" I was sitting next to my best friend/unrequited love when I first saw the movie and died a little inside. It took everything to fight back the tears. My secret feelings were eventually shared but not returned (he was straight). He told me if I was a woman or he was gay, it all would be perfect - which made it all the more sweet and painful. We lived to tell. There were years of perfect friendship. A few drunken near misses. And an eventual growing apart over time and circumstance. We're both now happily married and occasionally in touch. But even after a dozen or more viewings, that scene still stops me in my tracks and takes my breath. Just a wistful tear or two shed for a long ago love.

    Again, it's kindness that really gets me. For a full out cry, it's a flick on many "make you cry" lists. From the moment the snowflakes start to fall on the bridge outside of Bedford Falls in the closing minutes of It's a Wonderful Life, I start to tear up. By the time Jimmy Stewart is running through the streets shouting "Merry Christmas!" I am headed toward a good snotty, sniveling cry. When George Bailey's friends begin showing up with their pennies and dollars, I am gone. I watch the movie every year as I decorate our tree. It's a combination of Christmas memory and the cinematic sentiment, but it never fails to reduce me to a mess of wet, happy emotion.

    Oh, and two scenes from Longtime Companion. When Bruce Davidson tells his dying partner that it's okay to let go. And the closing beach scene when all the dead are momentarily back with their friends. I am undone.

    1. Oh yes. That beach scene. It is completely and utterly heart-rending... Jx

  9. I have two, first is the ending of the TV movie Something for Joey about Heisman trophy winner John Cappelletti and his brother Joey's struggle with leukemia. As soon as he starts to tear up when he dedicates the award to his terminally ill brother I'm done and can barely see the end.

    The other is the film Big but the reason is a bit more complicated. Years ago when it was first out I was managing a movie theatre but had an accident that required me to be out for a short time so it opened while I was out. When I returned to work I was on a great deal of pain medication so I was sort of a wreck. Anyway just before the films would end one of the employees would slip into the theatre and wait to open the doors for the exiting audience. Since I was easing my way back I said I'd get them for Big. I came in just before Elizabeth Perkins takes Tom Hanks back home, I had no idea what the story was but just the looks on their faces when he turns around to wave goodbye after turning back into David Moscow hit me so hard in my altered state I was weeping almost uncontrollably! To this day it doesn't matter at what point I come across it I still get misty if I watch too long the tears start rolling. It's some kind of deep rooted chemical reaction I guess since although I like the film I don't really find it that moving, it doesn't matter though one glimpse and the waterworks start.

  10. When it comes to the potent combo of music and acting, for me it's the scene in Love, Actually in which Emma Thompson becomes moderately unglued, underscored as it is with Joni, older, sadder, singing "Both Sides Now."

  11. I was once sitting next to an important and new former love in my life, when 'Some Enchanted Evening' was sung, not by Jane, but by the English singer Leslie Garrett. And the line 'once you have found him...' caused me to dissolve in tears.