I’m playing hookie today watching The Man Who Knew Too Much: the Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart. What strikes one watching films made in the 1950s and based in London is how polite everyone appears and how well-dressed the ladies and gentlemen are. It is truly a different world compared to the loud, yobbish and uncouth city London has become. Since when has it become socially acceptable in Mayfair to spit on the streets or hawk one’s guts up in the presence of ladies? We have regressed.
Not that I’m a huge fan of Hitch despite loving Witness for the Prosecution (‘wanna kiss me duckie?’), To Catch a Thief and Rear Window. Hitchcock’s major movies are sadly sadistic and misogynistic. I am thinking of Psycho, The Birds and Marnie. The women are always mentally unstable and ultimately butchered. In The Man Who Knew Too Much Doris Day gives one of her greatest performances. She plays a singing star (natch!) who has been forced to retire by her husband who works as a doctor in Indianapolis. She also has a ‘nervous’ condition: doubtless exacerbated by her youngest son being abducted in Marrakech…paging Mr Savile.
The film is a thriller that reaches its climax in the Royal Albert Hall where Doris and Jimmy narrowly avert an assassination attempt. The film reaches its finest moment when Doris sings Que Sera in a foreign embassy where her abducted son is being kept hostage in one of the attic rooms. Movie buffs dislike this scene because they think it was slipped in to give Doris a chance to clear her windpipe and – incidentally – win a Best Song Oscar. I disagree. The Man Who Knew Too Much is not only beautifully dressed. It is beautifully paced and acted. Do rent the DVD toot sweet.
I would imagine few of the gum-chewing, tattooed, pierced and Twittering children in this country won’t know who Doris Day is. More’s the pity. Doris is actually the last surviving great golden age Hollywood star. She retired after a successful career whereby she left the screen when age caught up with her and stopped her record-breaking TV career when the cameras could be smeared in Vaseline no more. This I call class. Knowing when to move on and out is a talent many stars in the public arena today should pay great heed to.
Don’t you loathe the current crop of ‘slebs’? My heart sinks like a stone every time I see a Mail on Sunday cover announcing ‘Jamie Oliver: Why I’ve never been so happy’ or ‘Cheryl Cole: My Simon Cowell Hell’. Does anybody really give a rat’s ass for these nonentities and their mental states? I sincerely hope not but fear they do. This is what fuels all the gossip magazines who pretend that celebrities are their best friends in the absence of real friends.
It is so depressing that ‘slebs’ these days feel that they have to spill personal details in order to keep the public’s attention? In the days of Dietrich or Garbo, mystery sold the tickets on the door not confessionals. I am at a loss to know why stars today feel compelled to spill their guts out in the newspapers and on telly. Surely there is enough misery in the world without hearing that phenomenally rich people who are beautiful and talented are as frustrated as the rest of us. We want the privileged to enjoy their privileges not bleat about how ‘nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen’.
There are millions of people who heroically struggle with financial penury, divorce, death and terminal illness who do not have the benefits of money, privilege, fame and beauty. It is they who deserve the Victoria Cross not ‘slebs’. Apropos of this, weren’t you horrified by the Liverpool Corridor of Death or whatever the NHS call the health lottery? This scheme deprives patients with prognosis not terribly good of sustenance and replaces life-saving drips with Morphine and certain death. It makes a mockery of DIGNITAS and that poor man who the courts wouldn’t allow to die who died days after the verdict.
I am all for people checking out when life becomes too painful or tedious to bear. This is every human’s right. But sometimes people aren’t thinking straight and aren’t looking at the long game. We all feel blue one day and elated the next. This is the human condition. I am a great believer in the solid gold truths of the Broadway musical. The sun will always come out tomorrow so bet your bottom dollar hang on until tomorrow. Sure, it won’t be much fun if you are a ginger orphan but it’s a hell of a lot more fun if you are a hungover Miss Hannigan who will always live to twang another garter and lift another bottle of bootleg gin.
Amen to that. My Paris launch for The Perfect Gentleman is back on the rails thanks to Hugo ‘Parisian Gentleman’ Jacomet who I always suspected was a treasure. My publisher backed out for lack of funds for hooch. This will not stop us nor will it stop the Brussels or London launches at Maison Degand and Huntsman respectively. Comes a time you need friends and family on side not people who are financially bound to one’s talents. By the way, Jerry Hall voted off Strictly Come Dancing? Surely some mistake. She took the piss and was terribly lazy but as my friend Patricia Carruthers once said, ‘the glamour, dear, the glamour!’