Sunday, July 22, 2012

Walter Matthau as Christian Grey

While I was reading all three volumes of "50 Shades of Grey", I looked for a movie that might be enjoyable one evening.  I tried some current show about spies or bank robbers or something but it seemed too much the same old thing.  I stopped and searched some more.  I spied "A New Leaf" with Walter Matthau and Elaine May, a 1971 film.  I respect both actors and their talents and watched the show.  I was surprised that the story was "50 Shades" in a different version.

Matthau is Harry Gardner, a grumpy, spoiled middle-aged guy who has been quite wealthy all his life, from birth to now.  He believes that luxury is his due and it damned well better show up on time and stay showed.  His various advisers have repeatedly warned him that he has dwindling funds and they finally show him that he is going into debt and has no more money.  None, he is out.  He slowly gets the message and begins to face his situation.  His butler has been with him since his birth and he asks the butler how one goes about acquiring lots of wealth quickly without talent or effort.  The butler answers that one marries someone who is wealthy.

So, we meet Henrietta Lowell, Elaine May.  She is quite clumsy and our first sight of her at the party where Harry plans to meet her is her spilling her tea cup.  She is not married and she is quite wealthy.  Once one looks beyond the horn-rimmed glasses, a few mannerisms and the awkwardness, one sees an attractive woman.  That is not the important fact for low-libido Harry, though.  He cares about her fortune, her marital availability and just as importantly, how vulnerable she might be to murder.  Harry works on his project, learning about poisons in the garden shed and opportunities for his fiance/bride to slip off a cliff.  But all the while, her basic goodness is working on our grouchy child-man, evidently without his being aware of the fact.

I am honor bound to go no further in revealing the plot.  But I can say that just as Anastasia Steele is able to show Christian a better, more loving, more sustaining and less abrasive way of coexisting, our heroine comes out the champ in the end. Don't go up against love.

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