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The vagaries of memory.


slaytonf
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I have to admit, a great part of this thread is motivated by the title.  Sounds like a title of a Surrealist painting.

Lots of times I misremember parts of movies.  Things I was certain were in a movie end up being different, or nonexistent when I watch them again .  It's also not unknown for posters who are looking for a movie title to misremember details of a movie or combine two together.  This was highlighted for me recently as I have been watching my recordings.  As August is generally The Dead Month for me on TCM, I scroll through my list of DVDs and pick out ones I haven't seen for a while.  The Man in the White Suit (1951) is one of those delightful, though less well-known, Ealing comedies.  It has the typical polish, writing, direction, etc., that you expect.  And it presents lots of those familiar faces we've developed an affection for, especially Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood (who could make reciting the minutes of a local water board meeting the sexiest undertaking).  It's not hilarious, but it's jolly good fun, and deftly acted, and manages to skewer just about every sacred cow there is, both left, right, up and down.  Anyway.  Most of the movie played out as I remembered, with bits here and there that I forgot and were happy discoveries.  At the end,  I thought  I remembered Sidney Stratton passing by Daphne Birnley in her MG and exchanging some words of commiseration with her before he walks off along that damp street, ideas about how to fix the defects in his material gurgling in his head.  But all he does is walk down that street gurgling.   The encounter with Daphne actually happened toward the beginning of the movie, and had a distinctly different tenor.

The Spider and the Fly (1949) is a q u ee r combination of a copsnrobbers drama with a wartime suspense movie.  It stars Eric Portman,  Guy Rolfe, and Nadia Gray.  I admire it for its dialog and the excruciatingly reserved way it's delivered by the principals.  Reserve that does not dampen the emotional intensity, but on the contrary, ratchets it up considerably.  A French detective plays catandmouse with a frenemy, a burglar (mostly banks), with a woman between them.  Finally, through an artful, if wholly discreditable trick, the detective nabs the burglar and salts him away for five years.  In the meantime, WWI happens.  There are vital documents in the German Embassy in Bern.  The detective, now in counterintelligence, suggests his burglar as someone who could get them (hm,  sounds like a good idea for a TV series).  The burglar agrees on condition his record is cleared so he can reconnect with the woman.  He gets the documents, returns, gets cleared--and here my recording stops.  It was in the days before my DVR, and TCM was about ten minutes late with their airing, so the time I programmed on my DVD recorder cut off the end of the movie.  Not a problem, as I remembered the end.  The burglar goes to the woman, beats the time of the detective/counterintelligence, and walks off with her.  Except--

Except that, the movie is on YouTube, and after finishing with my DVD, I went to YT to see the rest of the movie.  And what happens is that when the burglar arrives at the woman's flat, police are in the process of rifling through her belongings and she is in the process of arrest for spying.  The detective/counter is there, head in hands, and explains the documents he brought back implicated her.  Bummer.  Major bummer.  The last scene is of the detective/counter at a train station, watching the burglar, now enlisted, get into a cattle car off to the front--we think hoping to get killed.  Whhooeee!  What a difference!

I heard a radio program recently about memory.  In it, researchers described how, when people are given a story, or information, some of which is familiar, and some of which is not, test participants tended to remember that which was familiar and forget that which was not.  I think a corollary  of that is that if there are gaps in our memory, we extrapolate into them from what is familiar.  So for the movie whose ending I probably never saw, I constructed an ending based on my expectations, and "saw" what never was.

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I've gone through some of that myself SLAYTON .   You know, thinking some scene in some movie is one of my favorite scenes, but when watching that movie down the road I can't figure out why that scene wasn't there.  So then I start wondering how and why that is.  And the movie doesn't have to be that old.  Just not watched for a long spell.  

If I happen to think of an example or two later, I'll be sure to post 'em.

Sepiatone

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My first viewing of Strangers When We Meet (1960) was memorable (Kim was memorable indeed, of course, but that's not the matter here), particularly the emotional plea of Barbara Rush to Kirk Douglas. To avoid a spoiler I won't explain why, but it blew me away. Her acting was splendid and the situation itself was compelling. Sometime later, years I think, I remembered that scene and made a point to hunt down the movie and watch it again. Immense disappointment! Go figure. I was moved when I first viewed it and then apparently---and is this what happens?---I built it up so in my own imagination that when viewing again it fell flat. Oh Barbara, what happened? You didn't do it right this time.

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Just wanna say here slayton (and warning, it might not be exactly the point of your thread here) but your OP somehow reminded me of something that happened to me back when I was about 12 y/o.

My father and mother and I were watching the first of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy" on that old Zenith TV set in our living room. I fell asleep on the couch near the end of it. After the movie ended, my mother then attempted to wake me and tell me that it was time to go to bed. 

Well, I must have been dreaming about being a character in that film, because as I awoke but still in a groggy state, I blurted out to her, "I can't go to bed. I've got to get water to the Apaches!"

(...Mom kidded me about this for years)

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8 hours ago, Aritosthenes said:

Ive Had Days that Feel Like This.

I guess we've all had days like that, where instead of jumping out of bed to get started with a

new day we ooze out hoping it will go by as quickly as possible. I often forget the details of

movies, though I usually remember the general gist of a film. 

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3 hours ago, Dargo said:

Just wanna say here slayton (and warning, it might not be exactly the point of your thread here) but your OP somehow reminded me of something that happened to me back when I was about 12 y/o.

My father and mother and I were watching the first of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy" on that old Zenith TV set in our living room. I fell asleep on the couch near the end of it. After the movie ended, my mother then attempted to wake me and tell me that it was time to go to bed. 

Well, I must have been dreaming about being a character in that film, because as I awoke but still in a groggy state, I blurted out to her, "I can't go to bed. I've got to get water to the Apaches!"

(...Mom kidded me about this for years)

Now that's really a vagary!

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22 hours ago, Vautrin said:

I guess we've all had days like that, where instead of jumping out of bed to get started with a

new day we ooze out hoping it will go by as quickly as possible. I often forget the details of

movies, though I usually remember the general gist of a film. 

Honestly, im Not Sure i could Possibly Posit That Better Myself. And Im Not Sure Id Want to Either. 

 

     I've Been Known to, When Pressed; Compare My Day to Guernica.

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My fuzzy remembers the black cat in: The Grass in Greener (1960). There is no such cat. He had to watch it twice before accepting that his memory is faulty but I am quite very sure that he would say there is one if caught unawares.

I tend to conflate characters' abilities/method of operations in: The Safecracker (1958) and: Triple Cross (1966).

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2 hours ago, Aritosthenes said:

Honestly, im Not Sure i could Possibly Posit That Better Myself. And Im Not Sure Id Want to Either. 

 

     I've Been Known to, When Pressed; Compare My Day to Guernica.

Bombs away. That's one bad day. Hope they are few and far between. 

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On 9/1/2021 at 12:49 PM, laffite said:

My first viewing of Strangers When We Meet (1960) was memorable (Kim was memorable indeed, of course, but that's not the matter here), particularly the emotional plea of Barbara Rush to Kirk Douglas. To avoid a spoiler I won't explain why, but it blew me away. Her acting was splendid and the situation itself was compelling. Sometime later, years I think, I remembered that scene and made a point to hunt down the movie and watch it again. Immense disappointment! Go figure. I was moved when I first viewed it and then apparently---and is this what happens?---I built it up so in my own imagination that when viewing again it fell flat. Oh Barbara, what happened? You didn't do it right this time.

I know this is OT, but my Dad once cracked, while watching a well worn old flick....

"I used to respect that guy as an actor.  But every time I watch this movie he keeps making the SAME MISTAKES!"  :D 

Sepiatone

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2 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I know this is OT, but my Dad once cracked, while watching a well worn old flick....

"I used to respect that guy as an actor.  But every time I watch this movie he keeps making the SAME MISTAKES!"  :D 

Sepiatone

...thank goodness for your Dad, he never saw them corrected.

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I came on this when watching Wait Until Dark (1967) for something else.   At the end of the movie, as the stabbed Roat crawls to Suzy Hendrix, she opens the refrigerator door to the wall to protect herself while searching for the power cord. I remember after the police have arrived and they are looking over the scene they discover Roat dead in front of the refrigerator door, and her unconscious, still gripping behind it.  One of them remarks she must have held it like that against Roat, and how amazing it was that someone so small and frail could do it.

Of course, there is nothing like that in the movie.  How could I come up with that?  Am I remembering from something else?

 

BTW, it's a good movie.

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On 9/1/2021 at 1:31 AM, slaytonf said:

I heard a radio program recently about memory. 

Ah A HIDDEN BRAIN fan are we?

I have a neurological issue that absolutely manifests itself when watching movies. Especially if I fall asleep even just a few seconds. Just about every movie fade away in a month or so, UNLESS there was some big dramatic element, like Kirk Douglas screaming: "GET OUT! Sometimes I like being cheap!" in The Bad & The Beautiful. Unforgettable.

So I go around with one singular vision representing the entire story and no memory of the story or how the scene fits in.  All I retain is the feeling I experienced watching the movie.  A re-watch a few years later can be a total joy like seeing it again for the first time. Longer, dramatic movies like THE LONGEST DAY and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES are like that.

Or as is often the case of comedy, the entire thing falls flat because I'm in a different frame of mind. I couldn't believe I ever laughed -hysterically so- the first time, when  re-watching TOMMY BOY. (Earlier stated neurological issues🤡)

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