Mr. and Mrs. Bridge / Merchant and Ivory / Evan Connell and Paul Newman

Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. A Merchant & Ivory flick, they filmed it here in ’89. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were in it. She’d optioned the rights to the Evan Connell novels on which the movie was based; in fact she’d optioned them way back in the early 60s, and waited for the right time to produce them. He told me this once in Santa Fe, when I met him for drinks at the La Fonda. Quiet dude, eloquent, and at the time enjoying the considerable success of his book Son of the Morning Star, a biography of Custer. It couldn’t have been more different from the Bridge novels, but that’s a reflection of Connell’s talent.

Unfortunately this movie doesn’t have the wonder of other M&I films (A Room With A View, The Remains of The Day), and is frankly tedious in many places. But perhaps that’s the point: the tedious lives of tedious little minds who happen to have money. The books were set in KC, where Connell grew up, so they filmed the movie here. I worked briefly on the set as a gopher. I had a BMW Cafe Racer at the time, and they thought I’d be able to go and fetch things very quickly for them. I could, and did; the people were charming, and always kind; but the pay sucked, so after a day I quit and went back to cutting trees.

Newman was great in the movie (reminded me of many businessmen that I knew as a boy); so was Woodward (reminded me of certain wives of those businessmen). Did it capture the attitudes, prejudices and inhibitions of the time–or as those things related to the Upper Class in the 1930s Midwest? Yes, I’d say it did. Would I see it again. Sure, someday.

But I have to be honest. Had I been raised at that time, in that world, would I have been any less narrow-minded? Probably not. Either way, I’m grateful to live in this time.

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