Last night I watched a 1969 movie, The Magic Christian, on You Tube. I was led there when someone put up a Face Book entry of a short excerpt featuring John Cleese, Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. The excerpt took my fancy.
In it, Peter Sellers who plays the part of an wealthy business man, Guy Grand, takes his newly adopted adult son, played by Ringo Starr, to an art gallery in London.
Guy grand had adopted his son, whom he calls Youngman, after meeting him by chance in a park where both men took to feeding the ducks. Youngman has lived as a vagrant sleeping in parks with no money or good fortune to speak of until Guy Grand meets him, falls in love, in a ‘paternal way’ and then takes him under his wing.
The two then go off both to spend money and to demonstrate how easily people can be bought for any price. The film’s theme song is that old Beatles number, which I still enjoy, If you want it, here it is, come and get it, but you betta hurry ‘cos it may not last….
In the art gallery Guy Grand and Youngman inspect a dark portrait painting with the air of experts. Grand asks the proprietor whether it’s a Rembrandt. It is indeed but as yet it is unauthenticated Dugdale/John Cleese tells the two Grands.
‘It’s extremely dark,’ observes Guy Grand.
'Rembrandt was a master of light and shade,' Dugdale says by way of explanation.
'What is this exercise in light and shade worth?' asks the older Grand.
‘It’s to be sold at auction,’ says the well spoken and po-faced Dugdale but we expect to get ten thousand pounds.
‘I’ll offer you fifteen thousand,' says Grand. At which stage Dugdale stops the conversation he had been enjoying with some other fellow in a suit, and turns his full attention onto Grand who ups his offer to thirty thousand pounds in response to Dugdale’s suggestion that he/Dugdale has been advised not to accept any offers prior to auction. The price seals the deal. Both men spit on their hands and shake by way of contract.
Grand then tells his son that this is a marvellous example of French painting at which Dugdale interjects, 'Rembrandt was Dutch.'
Guy Grand then takes out a pair of scissors and cuts through the canvas to remove a small square that features the nose of the character in the Rembrandt painting. Dugdale looks on horrified.
Guy Grand then offers the square of canvas to Youngman and urges his son to put it in his pocket as an excellent example of a French Rembrandt nose. As the two men walk off leaving an awestruck Dugdale behind them, Youngman turns back and urges Dugdale to keep a look out for ‘a good French ear’.
Very Monthy Python-esque you might say, a feature of the humour we enjoyed in the 1970s, British humour, that takes the Mickey out of the upper class and is deeply iconoclastic.
Somehow it fits in well with the crazy week we’ve endured here in Melbourne with our politicians seemingly going berserk. Leadership spills and the like.
I despair of politics, the cut and thrust, the constant lobbying for power. And here in Australia, I can’t help but think there are quite a few men in positions of power who are finding it hard to take orders from a female politician, whatever her merits.
Everyone acknowledges our prime minister is tough but that sort of toughness seems to intimidate or disturb many people. It’s not womanlike, so to speak.
That’s my pet bug bear at the moment, but I must be wary. On the airwaves throughout social media there are so many different takes on so many issues that seem to me to be gender based, race based and/or age based.
The –isms are everywhere. I dare not add to them with my own prejudices.