December 10, 2008
RomTome Hall of Fame: The Thornbirds
This adaptation of Colleen McCullough's novel about forbidden love is an oldie, but goodie. Kim and I started re-watching it last night and were reduced to fits of laughter. Needless to say, not all of it withstands the test of time. Still, it's good stuff.
1) Every single completely inappropriate moment between Father Ralph deBricassart and young Meggie, including his setting her up in a bedroom right next to his, as well as this tormented line, "OH WHY DO YOU TUG SO AT MY HEART?!?" These scenes would not fly today. Watch the scene and you will laugh but simultaneously be creeped out.
2) Richard Chamberlain, buck naked, being hit on (and groped) by a white-haired Barbara Stanwyck. Watch the scene and you will laugh but simultaneously be creeped out.
Aside: I found this Richard Chamberlain quote about that scene:
Richard: We had this scene where Father Ralph comes to the big verandah at Drogeda in a huge rainstorm and there’s nobody around. He’s soaking wet and so he strips, there on the veranda thinking there’s nobody around. But, I’m standing there totally naked and um, Stanwyk comes out, she said a couple of lines and I said a couple of lines and she dried and she had never, ever had any trouble with her lines, ever before. And there was a shocked pause on everybody’s part and the kind of moment of silence and then she said ‘I’m sorry. It’s just been so long since I’ve stood next to a naked man.’ And I thought that was a really great compliment. And I thought, ‘oh, wow, I turned her on a little bit!’
3) The delicious overacting of John Friederich, who played Meggie's big brother, Frank. This guy made sure EVERY scene was his Emmy reel. Fabulous. There is lots of Oedipal stuff going on with this character and his martyr of a mom.
4) I have no beef with Sydney Penny, who played the young Meggie, but only want to point out that she went on to play Julia Santos on "All My Children" and Samantha Kelly on "The Bold & the Beautiful."
5) Father Ralph thinking that telling a story about a bird that IMPALES itself on a thorn bush is going to cheer up a sad little girl. Next time, stick with the Brothers Grimm, dude.
We will be savoring the movie in slow increments....stay tuned!