Oscar & Emmy Watch: Musings & Misgivings: Holiday Presents
I’m as list-addicted as the next guy, but rather than yet another of those ubiquitous best-of-2010 compilations, and in the spirit of holiday giving, we’ll instead reflect in this last column of the year on two particular video gifts--one a repeat of a September conversation with a television icon, the other a barely remembered movie from 1937 without a single star--that have much to say about, in the first instance, a celebration of life, and in the second, the dissolution of family ties. Both telecasts may have escaped your attention but shouldn’t have. See them and they will stay with you. And maybe change you.
The TV show was CNN’s Christmas Week repeat of a conversation between its Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and actor Michael J. Fox . It’s a remarkable, life-affirming one-on-one broadcast in which Fox talks with considerable clarity, courage, grace, optimism and even humor about his coping with, and work on behalf of, Parkinson’s disease, which he’s had for 19 years.
“It’s the gift that keeps on taking,” he says, “but it is a gift because it’s opened me up to a more compassionate, curious, risk-taking person. I wouldn’t call the [Parkinson’s] foundation my magnum opus, but it’s definitely the most important thing I have ever done or will probably do in my life.” What do doctors know and not know about the disease? What medications work—and for how long? What of stem cell research? And brain surgery? Fox is inspiring and has a lot to say and to teach us about helping others, and appreciating even in the most trying circumstances, what we have.
The “forgotten” classic that TCM showed Christmas Eve (and is also now available on DVD) was 1937’s Make Way for Tomorrow. Leo McCarey won the first of his two directing Oscars for The Awful Truth (the second came in 1944 for Going My Way), but even he acknowledged that Make Way for Tomorrow is the superior film and perhaps the best thing he ever did. Few saw the film then and not many know of it today for two simple reasons: no stars and its downbeat subject matter--old age. “My God,” Orson Welles told interviewer Peter Bogdanovich. “That is the saddest movie I have ever seen.” You may feel the same way.Continued on the next page