It’s a movie. With Vincent Price and Jean Tierney.
It’s choked full of gothic story anvils, but no genuine shivers.
1840’s America. Farm girl from Grenwich Conn. is invited to a distant cousin’s manor on the Hudson, Dragonwyck, to be a governess to a bratty tween girl who states her parents don’t love her and she reciprocates the distaste. There’s a ghost. We hear the ghost play the harpsicord twice. Nothing happens as a result of this visitation.
An earnest young doctor makes his presence known and asks if he may visit Jean Tierney the following Tuesday after sneaking her off to an Independence Day festival. She agrees
The existing lady of the manor is a passive agressive compulsive overeater, asking her husband if he remembered the honey puffs and the bon bons. No really.
The young governess thinks her female relation a bit odd, but begins to be captivated by the mournfully nasty Vincent Price.
Well, the wrong piece of cake dispatches Mrs. Dragonwyck, and Price moons around and eventually snaps up the governess as wife number two.
(Evidently he still thinks he’s living in a previous century because he thinks he can tell his [newly emancipated by state law] tenant farmers,’ that they owe him tribute. Even sits on a throne while asking for it.)
The clueless heroine provides the obligatory male offspring, but he dies of a heart defect the moment after his baptism.
I think the most ‘shocking’ thing about Price’s character to 1940’s movie audiences would have been his openly militant atheism, and scorn for all things religious, moreso even than his heroin addiction.
Evidently, when addicts hid themselves away to get high in the 1840’s it was known as ‘brooding in the tower room for three weeks.’
In the original draft, Price becomes pathetic and delusional, heads for his garden ‘throne’ and commits suicide there, but film code wouldn’t permit that, so an accidental shooting gets Price off the screen.
The black robed widow can’t get herself out of there fast enough…even though the earnest young doctor still wants to see her next Tuesday….
It’s a little early for Hallowe’en, but WTH.
Disclaimer: While I’ve gradually gotten the hang of respecting Wicca/holistic medicine/New Age beliefs and practice, I don’t move through those circles I don’t consider it my belief system. In the boring day to day, I’m a survivor and a pragmatist. Hardly a carnival mentalist, gypsy or witch.
I believe it was the early fall of 1982. It may not have been a dark and stormy night, but we got a lot of those, at the tiny college I attended…There was something just a little off about the place, in part due to its remoteness (at the time) from civilization…the road signage for example. Coming from the north heading south on state route 44, the sign says: “abc College Town 10 miles.” Coming from the west, heading east at that same intersection the sign says “abc College Town 11 miles.” Evidently mapmakers knew where it was, but it was a near miss…Just a bit Brigadoonish…if you didn’t have a car you were well and truly stuck sometimes.
And it was *just* the college. Barely enough accouterments to store your work study paycheck or write home. A bank, a post office, a pizza joint and the college…
I knew already that my brain was different. Not just the CP, but the perfect pitch as well…a documented ‘gift,’ if you will. And sometimes…it seemed like I had another….
Deja vu, premonition, damn good guessing, listening and observing that was pretty sharp and bordered on these things….I don’t know….and it showed up when *it* felt like it. Didn’t have many times when it seemed amenable to being directed…
Turned out one of my best friends occasionally perceived flashes of the same sort of thing in herself…
So, one night (We were sober, for the record.) A underclassman was having romantic trouble…and she’d had a bit much to drink. Crying, she fled the dorm and ran outside.
I don’t know why we decided to make a minor spectacle of ourselves…but we did, in a split second…
We, watching, didn’t think her heading back to the source of the trouble, the former boyfriend was a good idea. We deputized a male friend to go out and head her off. But which way? No one had time to check when she fled. The male friend was about to head out towards the boyfriends dorm…but we, she and I, asked each other where we thought she was. I thought hard, fished around in my head, and said with no prompting….”She’s near Bates [hall]. By the pine trees…”
That was the theater. Not a hangout for her. Not the boyfriends dorm. Our friend shot us an odd look and went to check.
The troubled girl was near Bates Hall. By the pine trees.
She was brought back and calmed down….
When the larger crowd had left that evening….my friend and I snuck into the dorm kitchen…
…And proceeded to laugh our heads off….but.
Even we weren’t quite sure how we’d or if we’d done it….
One new acquaintance was scared sh!tless….Cornered me in the girls restroom….”What kind of a person are you???!!!” I couldn’t resist…flashed an enigmatic smile and left.
I’ve written before about another incident when I was thousands of miles away, very ill, and my good friend somehow knew something was up, bounced out of her dorm room disquieted and asked if any of our dorm mates had gotten a card or letter from me that day… when I returned that spring, I was unsettled by the story and the fact that her moments of disquiet matched a delirious night for me…even accounting for the time difference.
When I was married, caregiving for my husband, and was diagnosed with cancer….all of that seemed to shut down forever….made me sad, because I think those flashes might have given me some insights or energy to cope with the very-much-of-this-world stuff I was facing.
But, I got a tiny bit of hope back. I was on a bus heading to a university to take the LSAT exam in 1996. A gentleman got on. He was wearing a London Fog coat and had a briefcase. All of a sudden, my mind said, “He’s going to take the LSAT.” Not, “Hmm, he might be taking the LSAT,” or, “I wonder if he’s going to take the LSAT?”
But he got off one stop before me, and I was sad. I truly figured, “Well, that’s the end of that. The cancer just permanently shut that down.”
I went, took the LSAT. When we were released, I turned around in my chair to wrestle my bookbag and crutches and coat on, and lo…
Right behind me was Mister Briefcase, LSAT completed, picking up his things.
My good friend too, now lives wholly within the ‘real world’ with the day to day concerns of career and kid raising and the good parts of marriage.
We’ve never had a conversation though, where we diminished those past experiences. Never said,
“Remember that bullshyte we used to pull on ourselves? Wasn’t that foolish? Just a trick of overly vivid imaginations really. Ha Ha. How crazy was that?”
I don’t think we will have that conversation either. I don’t know why. I just figure we don’t need to dissect it and cut it up with rational thought.
We can have our feet firmly on the ground…and let the flashes be what they might have been…or will be.
The minute Miss Gulch went after her Lexi would have destroyed her fugly support hose and punctured the tires on her bycicle with her teeth…followed her home and barked until dawn, driving that prissy freak crazy from lack of sleep, and hidden from any gunshot Miss Gulch might want to fire.
She would have gnawed at the socks of the dead Wicked Witch of the East, just to show her dominance.
She would have loved the Scarecrow, and slept peaceably on top of his head. He would have forgiven her for the occasional straw pulling, I’m sure. She’d have been annoyed that she couldn’t chomp on the Tin Man, and barked and played with the Cowardly Lion until he was no longer fearful.
Upon facing the Winged Monkeys:
“You talkin to me? You talkin to Me!” …and leaped and snapped and barked at them until they fled in terror.
She woulda had the Wicked Witch of the West barking mad in no time. Played fetch with the crystal ball and cracked it, stolen her clothes, destroyed her broom, knocked over the hourglass,…and stood sentinel at Dorothy’s feet.
But there would have been a problem at the end, I think.
She would have shot a look at Dorothy:
He!! no! I don’t want to go back to Kansas! The rats are faster (and they talk back!), the dog food’s better, and I have cooler playmates, the Horse of Many Colors and the NoLongerCowardly Lion!
Ruby slippers my ***!
As mentioned prior, I’ve got an odd problem that all the vocal music that I knew of my youth and college days induces some kind of weird PTSD response. I cry. A lot. It’s really annoying because I’d rather enjoy it…
But, I may have found a way around that.
If an artist I liked then, has done new stuff since, no reaction but my previous normal, which is to use absolute pitch (I know what a C sounds like in my head, it’s a quirk) to sing/harmonize below or above the regular tracks after the first playing and groove on it….
here’s the YT link to a video of Suzanne Vega’s (Frank and Ava) that I’m messing with tonight.
Unable to embed, try linkage