Perhaps the Devil made me do it but I couldn’t help myself. As I thought about the goings-on in Washington I went to my film library to find something appropriate for the occasion – and I did. It was a classic film and one which I suspect I shall be watching more frequently over the next four years. Released in 1956 it stars Danny Kaye, Glynnis Johns, Angela Lansbury and Basil Rathbone. The movie is “The Court Jester.”
Kaye, always the master of physical comedy, passed away in 1987. He plays the court jester who saves the English kingdom from the impostor who sits on the throne and secures the rightful heir his title. Obviously, Kaye’s death means that he is too late to help us in our present situation.
Surprisingly, this film has not been banned. A significant part of the cast is an ensemble of midgets who assist the jester in accomplishing his mission. The last I heard is that people who have their condition are either on an “endangered species” list or are receiving SSI disability payments and thus are unavailable for work.
As I viewed this film which I had not watched for several years, my convoluted thinking led me to yet another artistic work. In this case, the piece was produced by a former Harvard University math professor, Tom Lehrer. Mr. Lehrer’s musical cynicism was in great vogue in the late ‘50’s and ‘60’s. He recorded upwards of forty songs dealing with social issues, mores and values and political matters which were at that time in the limelight of a then much more involved and thinking public.
One of those, presented below for your enjoyment, is a song simply entitled by the name of its subject matter, the then newly elected Senator from California, George Murphy. The year was 1964 and Murphy had defeated Pierre Sallinger who had been President Kennedy’s press secretary.
Mr. Murphy’s career in Hollywood centered about his primary skills – as a song and dance man. And now we have a newly inaugurated president in the White House who believes he has those same sort of abilities. The nice thing about art is that, at least for the moment, everyone is entitled to her or his opinion. But I couldn’t help think of the then newly elected Senator from California and the newly elected community organizer from Illinois when he took his seat in the august chamber of the Upper House of Congress.
Keeping that in mind, allow me to share with you what I think might be the most appropriate song which could have been played at the Inauguration festivities.
Let me close by reminding you that tomorrow, January 21, 2013 we celebrate the life of a man who was a true American, a visionary, a patriot and a man of conscience, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keeping his life and legacy in my thoughts may help me make it through the next four years.