The Corn Is Green (Or Red) From Here To EternityTuesday, August 28, 2007
Of late I have lost that desire I used to have of taking photographs of people of note. They have become so commonplace that I find it difficult to imagine that I would be excited if someone said, "How would you like to photograph Ben Affleck?" Until quite recently I would have replied, "Who is he?" Contentment is to find pleasure in taking pictures of the common person's comon face and to find the beauty that is there. To perhaps capture a bit of that person's essence is no different and perhaps better than sitting for a portrait with Affleck.
The only subject I would have sold my soul to capture on film was Graham Greene. I have always had an admiration for his writing and his interest in Russian roulette. I had my hopes there, while the man was alive, and then I read Paul Theroux's obituary in the New York Times, An Edwardian on the Concorde and I cried.
That list got longer last night. Rosemary and I saw Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair To Remember.
All this would be simpler if I could post a portrait of Deborah Kerr. It would save me from writing all this stuff I have here. It is a roundabout explanation, that, alas, I never had a chance to photograph Deborah Kerr.
Consider that I could happily watch King Solomon's Mines and The Prisoner of Zenda over and over during a weekend. In a pinch you could replace those two with her portrayal of a nun (forget that flying nun, Kerr is the real thing) in Black Narcissus and I would be just as happy. There has always been something about Kerr that reminds me of my first ever love.
When I read Great Expectations in school I fell hard for Estella. Deborah Kerr was and is Estella as an older woman. She has the same voice and Dickens probably did not consider it important to mention that Estella had red hair. I have always known that.
In the mid 80s Rosemary and our two daughters Ale and Hilary went to Europe and we stayed a week at the Cumberland Hotel in London. High points were stepping on HG's tombstone ("High HG!") at Westminster Abbey, seeing a love letter to Lady Hamilton signed by "Your Loving Horatio" and getting drunk (one of the few times in my life) with my crazy Estonian friend Matti Lansoo.
For a whole morning and afternoon he took me from one bar to another. I drank Tio Pepe (he thought I was nuts, as did the publicans) and he drank double Scotches. In the 80s, pubs closed in the early afternoon. Matti took me to "underground" pubs that were open. I was drunk. "You need to eat something," he said. He bought two sandwiches and threw away half the bread and made one giant sandwich. By the time he dropped me off at the Cumberland I was in terrible shape. Rosemary, Matti's wife Jo, Matti and I were to attend a performance of the Corn is Green with Deborah Kerr at the Old Vic. Where we going to make it? I drank coffee and more coffee. We were picked up that evening by Mati and Jo in a tiny Mini Minor. Matti was still drunk. Driving in the back seat of that car through London was one of the scariest moments of my life.
To make a long story short, Deborah Kerr was hopeless in a hopelessly outdated play. Rosemary and I kept nodding off.
We had to celebrate all that, insisted Mati in the best place for oysters and Champagne in the city. It was at Bentley's. We went there without scraping the Mini. It was was closed. Matti shouted and shouted and the establishment opened for us.
We went back to the Cumberland. Mati explained that as long as I showed my room key the hotel bar had to stay open. It did. Sometime in the middle of the night Matti wanted to meet my daughters. They dutifully came down. Afer that I don't remember much else.
But I must say that if I had to do it again I would jump at the chance of seeing Deborah Kerr in The Corn is Green.