Friday, March 4, 2011

Ione and Katherine - and the trouble they caused

by Robert Jevne

My lifelong addiction to movies began, not surprisingly, when I was a child, a time when suspending belief comes easily. Having more idle time than I knew what to do with, and an over active imagination, I got a lot of practice at suspending belief. It all started with "The Morning Movie with Ione,"  a program which combined a classic movie from the thirties or forties with a hostess named Ione. Ione would do stretching exercises during the commercial leotards. Ione would do wacky skits. There was a call-in trivia contest. A fake fish would drop from above with the prize attached - usually seven dollars. And Ione would leotards. It was hard to determine the focus of the show - Ione or movie, movie or Ione. Sometimes Ione would run a little long and the movie would be brutally cut - like the last ten minutes or so, but I was there...all the way there.
   There were several factors involved in my altered state. As the name implies, the "Morning Movie" aired in the morning when I was normally in school. I got to watch it when I was home sick. I was home from school and my Mom was letting me watch TV! What could be better? I'd watch these old movies through the fever and fog of illness. And these movies were old. They dropped into the present like time travelers with important messages about the distant past. That they were in black and white only added to their otherness. In a scene from the Philadelphia Story involving a late night swim, Katherine Hepburn gazes up at Jimmy Stewart, her eyes glistening, her her face shining silver with no color in it whatsoever. Just silver and shadow. Oh, the otherness. I was just a midwestern kid. She was a shimmering light-creature from elsewhere on whom even the cameraman could only focus softly. I knew nothing about love, but there she was all love and confusion, fever and fog. She was drunk. I was drunk.I was swimming in deeper waters. I hardly knew what it meant, but I knew how it felt.
   And then reality would come crashing in. The spell would be broken. Ione would interrupt. I became fickle and was annoyed with her. Leotard schmeotard. As much as I loved Ione, I loved Katherine more and I wanted her back. I was yearning. I was learning something about love, there in the safety of my living room - alone. Whether this was healthy or not, I don't know, but that was what movies could do. I only had to let go of reality, that's all. My heart could be broken, but only in make believe and only briefly, only as long as the commercial break. Then the movie would come back on and I would dip back into the depths, into the mystery beneath the surface of the screen. Suspended.

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