Went to movies this
eve after a long absence,
as I could not stay home
Today's cool weather was
certainly relieving after yester-
days terrible heat, which tired
I see daily countless
beautiful girls, and I am
longing, getting older
and longing, and no
relief in sight.
Yishane, a regular reader, noted in a comment on August 10th that she had "been wondering these past few weeks whether Papa [will] ever finally be overjoyed in the diary...The year is more than half over!" And while I happen to know he won't, I do find myself looking each day for signs of his emergence from the sadness he's felt all year, some sign that he's turning a corner. So, when he writes about how today's "cool weather was certainly relieving," the amateur psychologist in me wonders if he mentions it not just because temperatures dropped from the low 90's to the low 70's overnight but because he was feeling some sense of emotional relief.
Similarly, I'd like to believe his first movie outing in months signals a lightening mood, small step back into the world at large. Unfortunately, the rest of this entry points to an opposite conclusion: he still longs for romance, still longs for marriage, still longs for the next step in his own evolution. He goes to the movies not because he wants to be entertained, but because the emptiness of his apartment, the prospect of spending another night there by himself, is intolerable.
Papa wrote earlier this year of the escapism the movies afforded him, how they transported him to a "land of enchantment" where dreams ruled and reality had no place. Since then, though, the death of his father has triggered in him a struggle to leave his childhood and his childish daydreams behind and become more acquainted with reality. (He knows, for example, he must stop imagining the perfect life he might enjoy with each woman he meets only to be disappointed when he discovers their imperfections, yet he cannot keep himself from doing it.) Today's return to the movies therefore has the bitter edge of a fall off the wagon, a reluctant return to the dreamworld that no longer serves him well.
Then again, sometimes a movie is just a movie, and here are a few that he might have seen that night.
- Lily of the Dust with Pola Negri
- The Roman spectacle Messalina
- Little Robinson Crusoe with Jackie Coogan (I hope Papa didn't see this at his first movie outing in months; it was panned by the New York Times)
- The Iron Horse, John Ford's depiction of the transcontinental railroad's construction (Let's hope Papa got to see this one -- it's described as "one of the finest of Western epics" in American Silent Film by William Everson, which I'm reading now.)
- Youth For Sale
- The Female, with Betty Compson as Dalla, an unconventional South African woman who marries into British society
- The Man Who Came Back, geared, according to the Times, toward "ardent enthusiasts of lurid melodrama saturated with tears, sighs, drink and drugs." Sounds good to me, even if the production did need "a lot of trimming."
- Flirting with Love
- Empty Hands, a story of the Canadian wilderness directed by Victor Flemming
- Fools in the Dark, a minstrel comedy centering on the misadventures of what the Times calls "a burnt cork negro."
- The Covered Wagon (this one's been hanging around for months)
- The Sea Hawk
- Janice Meredith
- The Thief of Bagdad (also enjoying a long run)
- Monsieur Beaucaire
- Love and Glory
- The Fire Patrol
- Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall
- Fools in the Dark
- Love and Glory