Here’s not looking at you, kid

THE REAL REASON why Rick didn’t want Ilsa on the plane in “Casablanca.”

Note to readers: Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column is taking a week off. Here’s a classic column from a year ago when the pandemic was just getting underway.

I am bored. Don’t get me wrong, I love my time with Marilyn and the pets – and hope they feel the same way about me – but there’s just “too much of nothing,” as Bob Dylan wrote.

A lot of us are getting just a bit snappy and itchy without movies to attend, restaurants to dine at and stores to browse. I understand the necessity but sigh nonetheless.

Folks I know are finding all kinds of ways to cope. Some people are in a frenzy of cleaning. Some are finding solace in cocoanut cream pie, some in a bottle of merlot. And there’s always a lot of napping, especially if you are retired, voluntarily or not.

Since I love cinemas and bookstores, I sometimes occupy my mind with this fun idea: alternate endings/scenes from famous films.

  • “Casablanca.” Rick says to Ilsa, “You’re getting on that plane.” She replies, “But why, Richard, why?” He says, “Because you’re high maintenance. You don’t think I didn’t notice that you have a different expensive outfit in every scene? I can’t afford that kind of clotheshorse bill on what I make as a saloonkeeper. I’m going to see what Yvonne is up to.”
  • “Gone With the Wind.” Scarlett O’Hara is making her vow. “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” Then walks into Atlanta’s first Hometown Buffet.
  • “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) tells R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) he needs one more vote to turn on the TV to watch the World Series. He approaches the Chief (Will Sampson) to get his support; the tall stoic Native American says “Actually, I think baseball is too dull of a game. Have you got any soccer?”
  • “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Al Pacino is about to chew out Kevin Spacey for messing up a real estate deal. Just as he starts to speak, Al’s mother walks into the office. “You stupid …. uh … silly person. You just cost me $6,000, not to mention a Cadillac. No, Ma, no I don’t mean that everything is about money. No, Ma, for … gosh sakes, I’m not yelling, I’m just trying to … Ma, please, this is a business, you can’t just come in here and … No, of course, Ma, I’m not embarrassed by you, I just …” He follows his mother out, apologizing.
  • “Titanic” (1997). The ship has sunk and Kate Winslet (Rose) is safe on a piece of floating planking, but Leonardo Di Caprio (Jack) can’t seem to climb on board. He’s about to slip under the surface of the freezing water when Kathy Bates (Molly Brown) grabs an oar from her lifeboat and paddles it over to where Jack is almost gone. She pulls him into the boat, saving his life. They get married in the closing scene.
  • “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is in trouble; his goofy Uncle Billy has misplaced $8000 and ruin looms ahead. He happens to run across bartender Nick (Sheldon Leonard) and tells him his trouble. Nick, who has some shady associates, tells George not to worry. The next day evil banker Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) is found to have “fallen” into the river after leaving a suicide note, “confessing” to having stolen the money. At the Christmas party, George tells wife Mary (Donna Reed) that “no man is a failure who has friends … in the Mafia.”

Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” is posted on alternate weeks, trading places with “Usually Reliable Sources.”

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