воскресенье, 3 января 2010 г.




Out of Place: Men in the Kitchen 

One of the greatest delights I find in old movies is watching everyday situations turned upside down. This is why I adore screwball comedies. But one can come across most unusual setups in the most serious films, even in dramas. Today I will cover male presence in the kitchen. “Don’t tell anyone how tied I am to your apron strings,” says Burt Lancaster’s character J.J. Hunsecker to his sister in “Sweet Smell of Success” (1957). To him it is just a metaphor, but there WERE men who were not afraid to tie real apron strings around themselves! I will feature some brave ones who dropped into kitchens not just to eat, and I will grade their behavior according to my own criteria: overall class, banter with onscreen partners, complexity of the dish, environment, etc.

1. Van Heflin in “East Side, West Side” (1949)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to cook an Italian dish (eggs with mushrooms and onions) +1
* For whom he cooked: for a lady — Barbara Stanwyck +1; but she was someone else’s lady -1
* In whose house he cooked: not his own, but he was quite at home there +1
* Banter during cooking: +1
* Overall class: +5 (after all, he’s Van Heflin who could do affable like nobody else!)
* Bonus: +10 (he actually wore an apron!)
Total: 18
2. Jack Lemmon in “The Apartment” (1960)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to cook an Italian dish +1; but it’s just plain spaghetti -1
* For whom he cooked: for a lady — Shirley McLane +1; but she was someone else’s lady -1
* In whose house he cooked: his own, and he did not feel quite at home there! 0
* Banter during cooking: +1
* Overall class: -1 (using a badminton racket for a drainer!)
Total: 0
3. Robert Mitchum in “The River of No Return” (1954)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to cook some domestic fare 0; but later he cooked wild deer! +10
* For whom: for a kid +1, a man +1 and a lady — Marilyn Monroe +10 (just because he got to cook for Marilyn Monroe); although she was someone else’s lady, he wasn’t trying to entice her with his cooking, so he doesn’t get a point subtracted; later he fed two more men +2
* In whose house he cooked: his own 0; later he had to cook during the journey on a raft, in rough conditions, without any kitchen appliances +10
* Banter during cooking: +1
* Class: +10 (Mitch looks cool in any surroundings)
Total: 45
4. William Bendix and another mafia henchman, Eddie Marr, in “The Glass Key” (1941)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to cook a steak +1
* For whom: for themselves 0; they did not get to eat it -1; they never thought of giving a bite to poor Alan Ladd who was in their captivity -10
* In whose house they cooked: some hideout -1
* Banter during cooking: +10 (Eddie Marr uttered a very cute phrase, one of my faves from ol’ movies: “My first wife was the second cook at a third-rate joint on 4th Street.”)
* Overall class: -10 (they spoiled the food)
Total: -11
5. Vincent Price in “Laura” (1944)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to wash the coat -1
* Knowing the cook: +1
* In whose house it was: in someone else’s, and he was perfectly at home there +1
* Banter: +1
* Bonus: he gets to eat chicken livers +1
* Overall class: +1
Total: 4
6. Dana Andrews in “Laura” (1944)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to cook breakfast +1; intention never materialized -1
* For whom: for a lady (Gene Tierney) +1; not his own (yet) -1
* In whose house it was: in someone else’s, and he was wasn’t in the least bit awkward there +1
* Banter: +1
* Overall class: +10 (Dana!)
...and in “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946) — it wasn’t exactly kitchen, but still Dana was to serve some food
* What he served: ice-cream +1
* For whom: for a customer +1
* Where: at a job place: 0
* Banter: -1 (the talk did not turn out very well)
* Overall class: 0
* And Dana gets a bonus for multiple tries: +2
Total: 16
7. Spencer Tracy in “Woman of the Year” (1942)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to watch Kate Hepburn struggle with kitchen appliances 0; he never helped her -1
* He did not cook himself, did not even try: -1
* In whose house it was: in his own 0
* Banter: 0
* Overall class: -10 (a detestable character, really)
Total: -12
8. William Holden in “Stalag-17” (1953)
* What he cooked: a fried egg 0 (too easy!)
* For whom he cooked: for himself -1; but he had to give it away to another POW +1
* In what conditions: in a POW camp +10
* Banter +1
* Overall class: +10 (it’s Holden!)
Total: 21
9. Gary Cooper in “The Wedding Night” (1935)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: apparently to cook something (after his manservant left him, ‘coz he “not like Connecticut”), but his intention never materialized, ‘coz he did not even manage to light the fire in the stove -1
* For whom he intended to cook: for himself -1 (he failed miserably, and Anna Sten came along and helped him out)
* In whose house: in his own -1
* Banter: +1
* Overall class: +10 (it’s Gary Cooper!)
Total: 8

10. Edward G. Robinson in “Scarlet Street” (1945)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to wash the dishes -1
* In whose house it was: in his own 0
* Banter: 0 (some dreary conversation with his nagging wife)
* Overall class: 0 (not this time, sorry, Mr. Robinson)
* Bonus: +10 (he wore an apron and looked so damn cute in it)
Total: 9
11. William Demarest in “The Lady Eve” (1941)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to interfere with others’ business -1
* In whose house it was: in his employer’s 0
* Banter: +1
* Overall class: -1 (Demarest means comedy relief, not class!)
Total: -1
12. Herbert Marshall in “Forever Goodbye” (1938)
* Purpose to be in the kitchen: to cook a steak he so much bragged about +1
* For whom he cooked: for himself (-1) and Barbara Stanwyck (+1)
* He failed to so: first they couldn’t turn on the oven, then the steak got burnt -1
* In whose house it was: in Barbara Stanwyck’s +1
* Banter: +1
* Overall class: +1
* Bonus: +10 (like #10, he looked quite cute in an apron)
Total
: 13

And the WINNER is Bob Mitchum!!!!!! I adore him. Those eyes. That voice. That feline gait and grace. The very definition of coolness.

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