Old Yellar, Marley & Me
The woman who cuts my hair asked me on Saturday if I intended to see the movie Marley & Me. There is as much a chance of this blog winning the Pulitzer Prize as there is of my seeing Marley & Me. I never read Marley & Me, primarily because I knew that at the end of the book, Marley was going to be one dead dog. I did not know this from anything I’d read or heard. I just assumed it. American authors are incapable of writing a book about a dog without putting you through the gut wrenching process of killing the dog off. If I won’t read about a dog I have learned to love, vicariously, dying, I’m sure not going to watch it in a movie. I made that mistake once. It cured me forever.
Walt Disney was a despicable human being with a sadistic streak in him a mile wide. He could not wait to make a movie aimed at making 8 year olds cry. Bambi was such a movie, but at least the star of the movie survived that film even if his mother did not. Old Yellar was not so lucky. After fighting off a pack of wolves and saving the family, Old Yeller developed hydrophobia and turned into a slobbering mad dog. Tommy Kirk, the young owner of Old Yeller had to go out and shot him dead. For some reason I had not seen this coming. I remember sitting in shocked silence, staring at Tommy’s smoking gun. Did that really happen ? did Tommy Kirk, Mousekateer and star of “That Shaggy Dog” & “Merlin Jones” really just shoot his own dog ? What kind of a world do we live in ? It turned out the kind of world where Walt Disney would soon fire Tommy Kirk soon thereafter because he found out that Tommy was gay. A gay actor in Hollywood, who would have thought that was possible ? Glad old Walt was there watching out for us kids, “Hey Yellar, over here” bang, bang, bang.
This Marley movie is a real set up. They are not only going to kill off a dog, they are gilding the lily by having two name stars in the film who are synonymous with Hollywood tragedy. Here is Owen Wilson, who tried to kill himself last year for Christ sake, and Jennifer Aniston, the girl who had Brad Pitt stolen away from her by that Harpy who keeps adopting and delivering children every six weeks. Oh my God, poor Owen, poor Jen, let’s get everyone crying and then we can kill off a dog. It’s Oscar time.
By the way, this Jennifer Aniston story is where I came in. The first movie scandal I can recall was Elizabeth Taylor stealing Eddie Fisher away from America’s sweetheart Debbie Reynolds. The country cried about that for years. Why anyone wanted Eddie Fisher is beyond me, but it sure upset everyone at the time. This all happened at about the time I saw Old Yellar.I have never forgotten either tragedy.
When my child was young, she loved watching the Disney channel. She was about four or five when I came home one day and found her watching Old Yellar. The sons of bitches had put it on cable. It was too late to turn it off, so I sat down beside her to watch it , I hoped to comfort her after the big scene. We had raised an optimistic child, possibly because I had prevented her from seeing or hearing any sad stories the first few years of her life. Her optimism was especially acute when she it involved television shows. Once, when Lucy and Ethel had cooked up some hair brained scheme, she turned to me with excitement, “Think it’ll work dad ?”. She had a lot to learn that one.
Well, just as I remembered it, old Yellar starting acting pretty strange. The evil term hydrophobia was mentioned. I shuddered. Then, the soon to be outed Tommy came out to the barn with his rifle. He took careful aim and Bang ! Yellar went down. My daughter turned to me and smiled. “Are they going to operate on old Yeller now dad ?” she cheerfully asked me. Somewhere, I swear I heard Walt Disney double over in laughter, “I got another one”.
Well, fool me once, shame on Walt, fool me twice, shame on me. Marley will have to die without me. I am not going to join a full theatre of blubbering middle aged men spilling popcorn all over the floor, trying to compose themselves, too upset to even lust after Jennifer Aniston ,who I see got over Marley’s death by posing nude for the cover of G.Q., “take that Brad, you too Angelina, no stretch marks on me.” I suggest that you stay away too and, if you can’t, for God’s sake don’t take the kids !