Scene4 Magazine: Arthur Meiselman
Arthur Meiselman
John Garfield and Hazel Brooks

July 2013

John Garfield was a movie star in the 1940's and 50's, a counterpoint to Humphrey Bogart, a poster-man for the joyous angst, the bewildering urban stew of New York and its steaming boroughs. My small-town Mother from the Russian coast of the Black Sea loved the movies and particularly John Garfield. Truly loved him and dreamed about a life the two of them could share. She dreamed good... she had to.

In 1947, he made Body and Soul, one of the most beautifully blended (script, direction, acting, music, the breath-taking photography of James Wong Howe) and by-far the best boxing film collaged against the wet oils of New York-New York... ever made,... ever!

Garfield was 34 (dead 5 years later), and one of his co-stars, Hazel Brooks, was 22. In 1947 there were no teenagers, no tweens, no adolescents, no pre-teens. When you reached a certain age or a certain type and level of activity you were no longer a child... you became a man or a woman, or both. Look at Hazel Brooks then, she could be 40 today or 50 or 30 or even 20. Then, in that film, at 22, she was a woman, not a youngie, not a fru-fru., not a "who am I? girl-gone-wild", not a single girl who can't wait to grow up and yet can't disrobe from her over-the-head hand-clapping teeny-tweeny costumed visage. In the film, she was a beautiful, desirable woman, ruthlessly ambitious for her age. Yes, it is a film, her first by the way, in which she reflected a woman of her time, reflected by Abraham Polonsky's script, Robert Rossen's direction and the sensibility of John Garfield. She didn't do much after that. He did.

I cite this to fuel a belief: unconditional equal rights for women, in employment, healthcare, the "law", everything. Equal rights for everyone in everything. Whatever a straight, white man can expect and do, everyone should be able to expect and do the same. Achieving that goal is a slow, agonizing process, probably unachievable before the humanoid species on this planet evolves into a cybernetic state in which none of these concerns will be relevant. Until then, in this process, there is a price to be paid, a loss to be accounted for, a sad loss. It is the loss of the magic of mystery. It is the mystery of first sight, first aquaintance, first time. It is the mystery of music, of fragrance, of the silence of touch. It is the loss of gentleness in strength and strength in gentleness. It is the loss of the mystery of romance. 

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©2013 Arthur Meiselman
©2013 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Arthur Meiselman is a playwright, writer and the Editor of Scene4.
He also directs the Talos Ensemble and produces for Aemagefilms

For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives
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July 2013

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