Happy 25th OETA Movie Club
It's possible Cary Grant is the love of my life. He died when I was nine, but I don't think death should have any bearing on true love.
Cary and I met when I was a teenager. It was a Saturday night. I was home; he walked in. After a few moments with his flirtatious dimples and sarcastic mumblings, I was smitten. And he didn't even buy me dinner.
That's how all great love affairs begin, with a lonely girl, a bag of popcorn, and a classic. Or at least in my world they do.
B.J. Wexler did that for me. He introduced me to Cary and Jimmy, William and John. Saturday nights were OETA Move Club night. This was in the age of VCRs and that crumpled, creased, crazed ribbon era of the VHS tape. It was simply too risky to set the VCR and go out. So, unless a boy could entertain me with something more witty than fart jokes, I spent my Saturday nights laying on my parent's living room floor, chin in hand, popcorn reachable, Cary for company.
It couldn't have been easy to bring the classics to public television. At least not in that age. It was 1988 when the OETA Movie Club premiered, a time when men teased their hair more than women. Then the 90s hit and the highest mark a woman could get was that she was "tough" and could act like a man.
We've been confused ever since.
What the classics taught me was the delicacy between the sexes. The charm of a feminine female. The attraction of a strong male lead. Men like Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart weren't the clueless male characters of today. You would never have caught William Powell in a role where he was the punch line.
Instead, they were like gales of strength, overcoming obstacles with boldness, tenacity, bravery, and, yes, a healthy dose of sexy confidence. When they failed, they apologized. Then they went back to work and got it right in the end.
Recently, I was talking to a young girl in her early 20s about movies. She mentioned to me how black and white movies seem boring. I think I died a little inside.
"Have you ever seen a movie with Cary Grant?"
She shook her head no.
"I would recommend it," I told her. "You need to watch a classic so you know what the word 'entertainer' really means."
Sadly, she probably thinks George Clooney is debonair and Matt Damon is manly. I'd cross myself right now if I was Catholic.