The Lady Eve, 1941

After studying snakes on the Amazon for a year, Henry Fonda, an ophiologist (one who studies snakes), and William Demarest leave the Amazon river and catch a ride on the cruise liner Barbara Stanwyck is on. Demarest is Fonda’s body guard – and did he ever need one. Stanwyck is the con artist, and Fonda is the eligible bachelor she’s after. Stanwyck, who is looking for a rich man to con, finds Fonda, who is looking for a ride home. They both get more than they bargained for.

All the guests at dinner are staring at him as he reads a book by himself at his dinner table. Because he’s sitting behind her, Stanwyck sees him through her small mirror and gives a hilarious play-by-play of what everyone must be thinking or saying. Then as he walks by, she sticks her shoe in his path. He trips and she blames him for not looking where he was going. She shows him the broken heel off her shoe and suggests he accompany her to her room to get another pair of shoes  because it’s the least he could do. She was able to snag the one man everyone else wanted. But that was only the first part of her plan.

When Stanwyck finally meets Emma, the snake in Fonda’s room, she’s frightened and he follows her to her room where she grabs him and brings him into her room, makes him check under the bed and under the sheets to make sure there weren’t any snakes in there. Too bad he didn’t realize he was talking to one.

After having seen Titanic, Fonda’s romantic walk with Stanwyck up to the bow of the boat where they could stand in the wind took a humorous turn. I expected them to climb up with their arms outstretched and shout how they were kings of the whatever.  

Written and directed by Preston Sturges, this film had plenty of good scenes. The best line of the whole film had to be, “They say a moonlit deck is a woman’s business office.” And every businesswoman needs a great wardrobe. This was Edith Head’s first movie to design gowns for Stanwyck.

Fonda’s character was painted to be a dimwitted dude. Not bright enough to see what is right in front of him – twice. As a ophiologist, he should’ve been able to see her clearly enough. But he didn’t. Poor guy.

Even though the guy was seen as naïve and gullible, I have to believe he was just playing dumb. He had to be on to her scam. I have to see him as heroic when he risks being bitten a second time by the same snake. The happy ending briefly showed him trusting her enough to give her a second chance, which made him a hero in her eyes.  

The Unexpected Blessing

Have you been diligent to make orderly plans only to have someone come in and mess up all your plans? No parent gets to have everything going according to the plan. There is always something that unexpectedly changes everything.

Heroes in novels must face unexpected changes to their plans. But they adapt and continue to their goal. That’s how we know they’re heroes. They persevere in the midst of surprises.

Today at Seek God With Me, I’m studying an unexpected blessing. If you read the book of Genesis in the Bible, you’ll find Isaac planning to give his son Esau a blessing. However, there was a change to the program. Jacob re-wrote the plans without telling his father. Come check it out and see what happened.

Monkey Business, 1952

Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers pair up in this wacky comedy about a scientist who is trying to create a formula that will renew the youthfulness of adult bodies. Creating a scientific formula for the fountain of youth takes a lot of trial and error, mostly error. When a monkey breaks out of the cage and quickly pours chemicals into the lab’s water supply without anyone noticing, it seems the monkey is the smartest one in the room.

Cary Grant’s character is married, but under the influence of the “water” does things a twenty-year-old would do. He is paired with Marilyn Monroe who is excited by the young-acting scientist. Happily, Grant stays true to his lovely wife. When his wife finds out about his shenanigans, she’s unmistakably jealous, but controlled.

Directed by Howard Hawks, the film has enough surprises to keep the audience happy. The screenwriters took a story from Harry Segall and worked it into a suitable comedy showpiece for Cary Grant.  

An Unexpected Leader

I think we all have asked, “How can I be anything great when there are so many negative voices in my life?” Or, “How can I overcome disadvantages and lead my family into prosperity?”

There are many stories of surprising success. How many mothers have prayed for their children to rise above the limited successes achieved by the parents? How many great leaders have come from disadvantaged backgrounds?

Do you study the successes of others, trying to find your own path to unexpected greatness? Today at Seek God With Me, I’m looking at the story of Gideon who never thought he’d lead a small army into a victory so great that his name would be remembered for thousands of years. Join me and see if you can imagine yourself in his place. Are you an unexpected leader?

Boys Town, 1938

Spencer Tracy is Father Flanagan in the movie which tells the story of the Boys Town organization. The movie is engaging and emotional. And Boys Town is a real place. The people at Boys Town contacted me on Twitter after I tweeted that my son enjoyed the movie.

Mickey Rooney was awesome as the cocky little bad boy who challenged Flanagan’s patience. I love that one of the quotes used to express Father Flannigan’s heart for the boys is “There is no such thing as a bad boy, just bad behavior.” He was a believer in rehabilitation, rather than punishment. Another Flanagan quote is “A man is never as tall as when he stoops to help a child.”

Spencer Tracy won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in this film. Tracy shared the Oscar he earned with Boys Town for the boys to see and touch. (A second statuette was made so both Tracy and the boys could keep one.) If you visit the Boys Town Hall of History, you’ll be able to see that it’s still there.  

Other than Spencer Tracy’s Oscar and the one which was awarded to Eleanore Griffin and Dore Schary for Best Writing, Original Story, there were three other Oscar nominations for this film. The writing was very well done. One of the best scenes in the movie was when something unexpected happened to change a boy’s perspective. Unexpected love usually changes our perspective.

Expectation of Heaven

This summer, my family took a vacation in beautiful North Carolina and saw the Biltmore Estate. Somehow, it’s difficult to imagine myself as a guest in that house back in the days before it was a tourist attraction. There were plenty of activities for guests back then, decades before we had iPads and Wii games.

As beautiful as that estate is, I imagine Heaven is so much more beautiful. Incomparably beautiful. Today at Seek God With Me, I’m sharing a Bible verse that brings to mind the attention to detail that I saw in the Biltmore Estate. Join me and find out what Jesus has already told us about our future home.

The Bible tells a little about Heaven so we’ll know what to expect, but I think Heaven holds many wonderful surprises for us.

What's Heroic?

What is a hero? That question is considered in literature class, but rarely in life. Why? Possibly because heroes don’t wake up in the morning thinking about what they might do that would be considered selfless. They don’t try to act like heroes. When someone calls them a hero, they’re surprised. It’s unexpected.

Heroes try to help others because it’s the right thing to do. They help out because there is an opportunity to help. A man riding a bus who gives his seat to a woman carrying a stack of books doesn’t consider himself a hero. But maybe she’d been dreading the bus ride home because she knew the bus would be standing room only as usual. For that moment, his generous act seems heroic, possibly because she wasn’t expecting it.

This month, I’m going to show a few unexpected things. Spencer Tracy’s character, in the movie Boys Town gives several boys some unexpected help. Also, I’ll post on my devotional blog about an unexpected hero in the Bible who led a relatively small group into victory. Gideon’s courage to obey instructions which might have seemed a little unconventional or even illogical proved to be what promoted him to hero status.

Who “saves the day” in your community? How do you show appreciation for your local heroes?