Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Overlooked Movies -- Send Me No Flowers

There's a story that goes along with my report on this movie.  

The sad picture on the left is of the 25th Street Theater in Waco, Texas, or what's left of it.  While there are people who'd like to save the building, its ownership is disputed, and the city is losing patience.  I'm afraid the building isn't likely to survive.  You can read about the problems here.

Maybe you're wondering what this has to do with a post on overlooked movies.  Well, I'll tell you.  Judy and I used to go to this theater on dates now and then, and on one big date in particular, way back in 1964.  
November 5 of that year was Judy's 21st birthday.  I couldn't be there on that day because it was a Thursday.  I was teaching school in Corsicana, Texas, and Judy was attending Baylor University.  We had a date on Friday night, though, and we were going to see Send Me No Flowers at the 25th Street Theater.  We were also going to have dinner at a restaurant called The Hickory Stick.  It was what passed for a fancy place in those days.  The specialties were steaks and barbecue, and the steaks were cooked on an open fire right there in the dining room.  The Hickory Stick is long gone now, although the building remains (for now)).

My plan was to give Judy the engagement ring at dinner, probably along with some clever comment about it being her birthday present, but I was too excited and couldn't wait.  We weren't far out of Thornton when we stopped at a crossroad.  I got out the ring and asked her to marry me.  Smartest thing I ever did.  I don't think she was too surprised, and it didn't take her long to say yes.  We were both pretty happy about it all.

I could say that everything was a blur after that, but I remember dinner and even the movie, which starred Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  Hudson is a hypochondriac who believes he's dying because he's misunderstood an overheard conversation in his doctor's office.  Hilarity ensues, as Rock tries to push his wife,  Doris, off on another man, played by Clint Walker, in a role very different from the one he played on Cheyenne.  He's good in it, too.  Hal March plays a guy who's always dating widows, and Rock doesn't want Doris involved with him, which is why he's pushing Clint.  Tony Randall is also in the movie as Hudson's best friend, and Paul Lynde is around, too.  You can't go wrong with those two.  Everything is, of course, resolved in the end, as you'd expect.

At the time I had no idea who Jules Epstein, the writer of the screenplay, was, but he's the guy who wrote Casablanca.  This isn't Casablanca, but it's a funny movie.

I did, however, have an idea about Rock Hudson's sexuality, as even in the very early 1960s rumors about him circulated widely.  They didn't seem to affect his chemistry with Doris Day, though.  This was the third of three comedies they made together, and all three are a lot of fun.  Or they seemed to be at the time.  Now they're a more than a bit dated, but I still get a kick out of them.

Years ago I bought Judy a copy of the Gold Medal movie novelization Send Me No Flowers for one of our anniversaries.  I don't think she ever read it, though.  Neither did I, but it's probably pretty good since it was written by Robert W. Krepps.  I miss the old days.

17 comments:

Daniel Stumpf said...

A charming story and a charming movie to go with it.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Bill, thanks for sharing the lovely anecdote with Judy. I quite enjoyed this film and later my wife gave me a copy of the book to read, the same one pictured above. As I recall it was a thin novel.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Great story. It wasn't my favorite of their movies together but it was OK.

I'm more interested in the birthday/engagement/restaurant story anyway.

Sometimes I miss the old days too.

PS - I'd forgotten Hal March, whose career was nearly ruined by the corruption surrounding The $64,000 Question (which he hosted), was in it.

Deb said...

Great remembrance. You never forget the movies that go hand-in-hand with important life events. My now-husband then-boyfriend and I were on our way to see (get ready) THE STEPFATHER when he told me he loved me for the first time. I sat on a cloud of sunshine that evening watching an eighties slasher movie and knowing my life was really about to change.

/We can never watch THE STEPFATHER without smiling.

Bill Crider said...

Old songs, old movies. Lots of memories tied up in those.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

It's a good thing we don't believe in omens or symbolism, as our first real date was to see WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF! We'd known each other as friends for 2-3 months by then.

James Reasoner said...

Great story, as usual.

Don Coffin said...

Bill, it's obvious why you became a writer; your ability to tell a story well is amazing. And that was a wonderful story.

I still, by the way, remember my first date with my first wife. W were students at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and there weren't a lot of date options...only one theater (the Voncastle) or whatever was happening on campus. Well, we went to the movies. And was that a mistake...the movie was "Barbarella." The theater was basically populated by drunk fraternity boys having a drunk fraternity boy time...but we were too embarrassed to get up and walk out. I was amazed when she agreed to a second date. (And, btw, the movie is not as bad as its reputation.)

Bill Crider said...

Great story, Don. Judy and saw BARBARELLA, too, but we were already married at the time.

Elgin Bleecker said...

Thanks for sharing the memory, Bill. And thanks for giving a Doris Day-Rock Hudson movie a boost.

Bill Crider said...

Those movies are still fun. Or maybe a geezer like me just can't relate to the current comedies.

Elgin Bleecker said...

Bill - I don’t get a lot of what passes for comedy today, but it fractures some of my friends. I grew up watching re-runs of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. So, maybe Carl Reiner influenced me. And Steve Allen, who had a syndicated talk show back then. Those guys were funny.

Bill Crider said...

Durn tootin'.

Cap'n Bob said...

Great story, and the roots of a fantastic marriage. I really believe things were better then, old fart that I am.

Bill Crider said...

I'm another old fart right there with you, Cap'n.

Max Allan Collins said...

Lovely memoir. Again.

Juri Nummelin said...

It's a touching story, Bill.