Friday, April 29, 2011

You Really Kinda Had To Be There

Harry B. Sanderford

The picture jumps then stops and before the heat from the bulb can burn through the image completely, Marlon Brando tells Rod Steiger, “It wasn’t him Charlie, it was you.” The film melts away altogether and the theater is bathed in bright light. The trailing edge of the film slaps loudly against the projector behind me. My fellow patrons are craning around in their seats annoyed with this interruption as I make my way down the aisle and hop up onto the stage.

“I’m ready for my close up Mr. Kazan,“ I announce to ticket holders twisting back around.

 “Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson. You remember that?” My audience isn’t quite sure yet but a few are digging back into their popcorn. "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville!”

Palooka-ville, yeah that slays ‘em. They know what’s coming. It’s nobody here’s first time On The Waterfront.

“You was my brother, Charlie. you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.”  They’re with me now, hanging on every word and right on cue one audience member sets me up delivering Charlie’s line, “Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.” A hundred more voices join in unison: “You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charlie!”

I take my bow to thunderous applause. The projector rolls, and  awash in hehehehehheh--Woody Woodpecker, I take my leave. 

* all in itallics are taken directly from the movie On The Waterfront, written by screenwriter Budd Schulberg.


John Wiswell said...

It never ceases to wig me out that Brando once looked that young.

Interesting use of existing material, explicit and reverential, Harry.

Anonymous said...

The use of existing lines is odd, but works and I like how you worked your on stuff in it.

Steve Green said...

Ah, On the waterfront, a true classic.

I have actually used that line "I coulda been a contender" when mimicking someone else's boasts.

And Harry?... Stay away from Palooka-ville, the bars down there?.. they ain't friendly. :D

Alan W. Davidson said...

I enjoyed the mixing of the movie lines into the body of your story (though I had to read it twice before it occured to me what was happening. I bet that there's a guy like that hanging out in every movie theatre.


Ah ya big lug. You always know how to rile and wow 'em . . . from Palookaville to upstaging Brando and Steiger.

Funny how ya have taken to havin' a ceegar 'round lately too. Doesn't take no reel reality for Harry's stardom to line'em up with the crowd ringering 'em in.

Good one pal. You're always some Contender.

Can we turn the lights on this one again over AT THE BIJOU? Can we, huh?
~ Absolutely*Kate

Stephen said...

Really nice, compact slice of life, where everything works out in between that great Waterfront dialogue. Reminded me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with the audience participation. Good feel of businesslike avoidance of a riot, and I haven't remembered Woody Woodpecker in years... St.

Stephen said...

I've never seen On the Waterfront. I guess I'll have to make it a must see. I like that the movie theatre is filled with people who've seen the movie so many times they can recite the lines. It reminds me of those who repeatedly watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show or Monty Python's Holy Grail. Movies like those take on a life of their own in the pop culture of society, don't they? This is good stuff, Harry. I enjoyed it.

Madam Z said...

Very clever, Harry. Your quick thinking prevented a possibly calamitous riot! And Harry, you'll always be a contender in my book.

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Big smile on my face for this one, Harry.
Love this description because my dad used to have a home movie projector and it always was just like this: "The film melts away altogether and the theater is bathed in bright light. The trailing edge of the film slaps loudly against the projector behind me."
And anytime a story has the word Palookaville in it is perfect by me.