The relentless heat continues so I am maintaining my position near the book shelf, DVDs, and bar fridge.
I’ve just watched a 1963 movie called McLintock starring John Wayne as G W Washington, cattle baron. Maureen O’Hara plays his feisty wife, from whom Duke has been separated for two years. It’s a fun little flick, requiring little thinking, though I suspect it’s political correctness may well get the thumbs down big time these days. You see, McLintock replicates a wonderful little movie made a decade earlier, also starring both Wayne and O’Hara, called The Quiet Man. Filmed in Ireland, The Quiet Man is renowned for its fight scene, its humour, and the taming of the shrew in Ms O’Hara with a spanking and public humiliation.
( Confession : I adore this movie. Always have. I have even undertaken The Quiet Man tour whilst holidaying In The UK. Yeah, my daughters are quite embarrassed by it).
What piqued my interest in McLintock was Australian actor, Michael Pate, who played Puma, one of the last of the Apache chiefs, whom G W represents at Council (and who arranges a little mutiny).
Michael Pate. Remember him? He was in a couple of those dreadful Aussie cop shows in the 70’s before moving into directing. Back in the 40s he was in the iconic Australian movie, Sons of Matthew, with my work pal, Megan’s, Aunty Laurel.
I’ve just read Michael Pate’s, “An Entertaining War”, published in the 1980s, which I rescued from a friend who was in decluttering mode, and God Forbid, tossing a box of books into the bin.
Pate was involved in radio plays from a young age. He enlisted during WW2 though after suffering a debilitating bout of Maleria in the jungle of PNG transferred to the entertainment division where he helped boost the morale of the troops throughout the remainder of the war, both home and abroad. Singing,dancing, magic tricks, and jokes amused the soldiers and gave them a short break from the pressures they endured.
Pate gives a good account of the history of Australia’s endeavours to keep the troops chipper throughout both WW1 and 2 and drops names of many of those whom I have heard of, though never seen; old vaudevillians and radio star types. It wasn’t always as cushy as it may sound and the entertainers often put themselves in real danger.
This is an interesting read, full of personal ancedotes and the memories of other wartime entertainers. It also includes information about how soldiers liked to keep themselves entertained, particularly the POWs of South East Asia, who regularly performed their own theatrical productions using virtually nil props.
I tended to skim read this book as the information became overwhelming, including the details of the crude playhouses built in the jungle of Rabaul to facilitate performances.
Some of the personal stories of the entertainers are fascinating and I particularly enjoyed the photo of Australian actor Peter Finch, another member of the services can you believe, who later played Ringer Joe Harman in A Town Like Alice.
Michael Pate did do a fine job as an Indian, though I’m not sure he’d ever win the heart of Maureen O’Hara.