January 16, 1998

The Bridges of Madison County

In rooms too small for leaping,

Such lads as I are laid,

While richer boys are keeping

The girls that do not fade.

Samuel Hoffenstein, 1939

Someone once asked me where I got my ideas for my column. My answer was that everything that happens to me, everything I see, hear, or read can have an idea for a column in it.

The other evening I saw a video of a Clint Eastwood directed film, staring Eastwood and Meryl Streep called The Bridges of Madison County. The jacket says that Streep was nominated for an Oscar for her roll in this turkey. Incredible! I guess it is true that if you take a journalist and blow his brains out, you get a movie reviewer.

Don't ask me how it ended. By the middle of the film, I didn't care and went to do something else, while Lu saw it through to the end.

The movie was about an Iowa housewife who was supposed to be Italian and spoke with a Slavic accent, just like Streep did in Sophie's Choice. Why bother developing a new accent for this movie? A perceptive director would have changed her country of origin to Czechoslovakia or Poland, but I doubt that director Eastwood could tell one accent from another, having been exposed only to cowboy and Hollywood talk for most of his adult life.

The plot: A National Geographic photographer blunders on to her farm just at the time her husband and teen-aged kids are away for 4 days. Wow, what an original idea!

That photographer is played by Clint Eastwood. There are only two reasons why Eastwood would be chosen for the roll: 1.The director was out of his mind, or 2.The director was Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood, now in his late 60s, has been in the movies for a long time as an actor. He has played only one part in all of that time: Clint Eastwood. Mostly, he did westerns. Now, everything that he plays or directs is done as a western, including this movie. This time, he got to kiss Streep instead of his horse. I guess kissing a girl instead of a horse is really coming up in the world for a star of westerns.

No one seemed to care about the details. The movie starts out with the lawyer opening a standard size safe deposit box. Out of it comes an uncreased 8 x 11 envelope with a story in it. The envelope wouldn't fit in the box, but who cares? What does reality have to do with the movies?

The movie has two gratuitous scenes, unrelated to the plot, in which the principles smoke cigarettes. I wonder how much money someone was paid to include those two scenes. It was a bargain for the cigarette people, because one cigarette scene in a popular movie is worth a thousand billboards. It's better than any regular advertisement because it convinces kids that smoking is what beautiful romantic adults do in real life. The kids are also encouraged to drink beer, wine and brandy, just like the actors did in this movie.

Eastwood has gotten lots of publicity lately to go with a book that he wrote. I assume that someone wrote it for him. That is the way that most celebrities write books.

I found myself envying him a bit, because now, in his late 60s, he has a 28 year old wife and a new child. It bolsters the illusion that there really is a fountain of youth. That illusion can be briefly indulged in by an old man simply by being in bed with an excited young woman. That was the prescription that was given to the biblical King David by his advisers.

Why would a 28 year old woman marry a 60 year old man? For one thing, he's rich. When he kicks off, as he must, she will still be young enough to enjoy herself. And she will never have to worry about money for herself or her child.

So, to see the end of this column, go to the poem at the beginning.

Next Column

Return to the Light Stuff Home Page

Return to Ira's Home Page