Monday, August 21, 2017


A few days ago watching Turner Classic Movies I caught the film The Reluctant Saint.  It was strikingly like the religious films of my youth in its poor production values.  I was struck though by the competent acting.  Could This be the only well-made Catholic religious film in existence?
As TCM is notorious for shamelessly showing the same "Classic" movies over and over  seeing something new there is always an occasion.  Intrigued, I continued watching.  Several actors were clearly professional and familiar from European film.  Then Recardo Montalban appeared!  What was afoot here?  I came in after the very beginning of the film so I decided to watch out of curiosity.

The next recognizable actor seemed even more out of place; it was a young Maximillian Schell.  He portrayed a very, very simpleminded Franciscan novitiate.  (Saint Joseph of Cupertino).

Now I am no actor but it seems to me that an intelligent and accomplished man like Schell might have his work cut out for him in convincingly playing a fool, especially a holy one.  It was at this point that Jerry Lewis's contribution came to mind.  Schell was clearly using Lewis's portraits of idiots as a kind of matrix to hang his performance.  Schell's simpleton monk is a fully formed human, unlike the grotesque characters of Lewis.  Never the less, tiny mannerisms seemed familiar enough for me to see Lewis's raw mud transformed into Schell's three dimensional sculpture of a saint.

The Reluctant Saint was directed by Edward Dmytryk in 1962.  A box office failure, it is well  worth viewing today as a semiprecious tessara in the mosaic of film history.  The Reluctant Saint was directed by a Jewish former Communist, yet tells the story of Saint Joseph actually levitating at face value.  You don't see that every day.  Another treat is Akim Tamiroff portraying a deeply sympathetic and humane Catholic Bishop.  Montalban even gets to portray a somewhat admirable Inquisitor.  And of course Schell's portrait of a holy fool who is as puzzled as the viewer at the miraculous.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Have you ever wondered what name you'd use if forced to pick an alias?  I do occasionally.  It can be surprisingly difficult to pic a name with absolutely not reference to one's own life and background.

Today I stumbled upon the ideal name for my deep cover existence should one become necessary.

It's Andrew Sarchus.  Why?


Thursday, June 22, 2017



My other blog. (Odysseus on the Rocks) is devoted to my rather dyspeptic views on politics, social matters and the decline of civilized life all around.  It also relates to other published matter equally contentious and disturbing to some.
This blog will be as free of such Weltschmerz as I can manage. I hope the reader will find it worthy of attention.

The rude eruption of deep orange day lilies reminds me that this is my favorite time of year; also the time of fireflies, furtive peeping tree frogs and and all the audacious growth triggered by the beginning of summer.  Every year I am vaguely surprised at how refreshingly alive my river-side environment can be.  

This must be the inverse of the pain-memory phenomena, in which the actual feeling of intense pain softens and dissolves as time advances.  We remember feeling the pain but in clinical way.
Just so I am as surprised as a baby by each new spring. May it ever be so.