what i watched last week
best films of the decade

a fellow will remember a lot of things

I’m watching a movie, and in that movie, Love in the Afternoon is playing on a TV in the background. It stars Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn, and I saw it once, long ago, when I was a teenager. My memory is that it wasn’t much of a movie … Cooper was twice Hepburn’s age and their affair wasn’t believable. But the truth is, I don’t recall much about the movie, because of the circumstances under which I watched it.

I was at a friend’s house, a girl for whom I had a long-standing and terrible crush. We watched the movie, we made out, we watched the movie some more, I slipped my hand down her t-shirt, we watched the movie some more. Her mom kept coming in to check on us, see if we wanted a snack or a drink … I suppose she guessed there was some minor hanky-panky going on. The point is, I couldn’t tell you much about Love in the Afternoon, but seeing it in the background of that movie today, I instantly recalled my hand inside that shirt. I’m reminded, as I often am (more so the older I get) of Everett Sloane as Bernstein in Citizen Kane, reminiscing in his old age about a girl he saw once when he was young:

A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.

As for our advancing ages, I should note that I am the same age now that Gary Cooper was when he made Love in the Afternoon. I’m not on the prowl for women half my age, but my wife can tell you that I’m still interested in the hand inside the shirt.



Funny, that has always been my single favourite moment in Citizen Kane (a moviegoer will remember a lot of things...). I'm now wondering if maybe Scorsese had this scene in mind also in Taxi Driver, when the voiceover of Travis describes seeing Betsy for the first time: "I first saw her at Palantine Campaign headquarters at 63rd and Broadway. She was wearing a white dress. She appeared like an angel. Out of this filthy mass." Entirely different context, obviously -- as different and yet as similar in its way as your hand-inside-a-shirt story -- but not out of the realm of possibility, I suspect.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)