Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Trail's Grown Cold

Have you ever had a memory of a movie, or show or play but you can't remember enough specifics about it to look it up and find out what it was? My wife had a movie like that for years but fortunately IMDB came along and solved her problem. Well, I solved it but only because I was more accustomed to IMDB than she was. She remembered seeing a movie some thirty or more years ago where the characters were famous actors and movie characters from other movies. In other words, one of the characters was Clark Gable, the actor, and another was Scarlett O'Hara, the character - NOT Vivien Leigh but her character in Gone With the Wind. Dracula was also a character, as was Jean Harlow. Anyway, they're all on a train and it's a mystery and on top of all that, it's also a musical. I told her we could look it up on IMDB because you could put in a character or actor name, like Clark Gable, and see what movies he has been portrayed in. We did just that and quickly came up with Train Ride to Hollywood containing all the characters mentioned above including my personal favorite, Tracy Reed as "Stupid Bimbo." So, yeah, I had never heard of this movie in my life but upon hearing of it immediately wanted to see it because it seems by sheer force of will to be, no pun intended, a total train wreck of a movie. It just recently became available on DVD but Netflix doesn't have it. I should wait until it does but the lure of something so tantalizing horrible may be too much to resist and force me into a purchasing situation. But enough about that, I have other movies to discover.

You see, I have the same memory problem as my wife but unfortunately not even IMDB can solve it, yet. I simply don't have enough information and I have searched and searched on all sorts of keywords and come up blank. Perhaps you, helpful reader, will have more success. There are two movies I saw years ago and am very curious to see again. One, because I never finished it to see how it ends and the other because I'm not sure if it's a movie or a play. I will now provide the relevant information and place it in your hands.

The first one was a movie I saw on... I believe it was PBS, back in the early nineties. The plot centered around an unspecific future in which all people have a death clock implanted in them at birth and are given time on their clock. As the old saying goes, "time is money." In this case, literally. That is, every time you buy something you use a debit card that subtracts minutes or hours or days depending on how expensive the item is. The idea being to build a structured Capitalist society in which those who are not good with business, i.e. time, will go broke and die. Those who live long will be those who are smart at business and finance. The main character starts as a child in the movie. He has talent at art and sells his pictures but does not become an artist because he wants to live a long life and so abandons his art to make money, that is, time on his death clock. For whatever reason, something happened and I couldn't finish watching it. Here's where I got up to. His sister comes into a restaurant where he is having a high powered lunch with some associates. She is in a panic because she has always been disastrous with money and has but a few minutes left on her clock. She begs him to borrow a few days or even just hours. He is annoyed with her but doesn't want her to die so he agrees but before he can make the transfer her money, time, runs out and she dies. And then... I have no idea. That's where, for whatever reason, I stopped watching and I have always wanted to know how it ends. Hell, even if it's not available and one of you knows it, just tell me how it ends. I've searched "Time is Money" "In the Interest of Time" etc, etc. Every "Time" or "Money" or combination of the two I can think of on IMDB and come up blank every time. Maybe I'm missing something. If anyone can help, please do.

The second one I saw all the way through but can't remember if it was a play or a movie. I even asked a playwright about it, a successful one, and he had no recollection of it so I turn to you. The story takes place after a Civil War battle and involves only two characters (that smells like a play), one a Colonel and one a photographer. The Colonel is horrified throughout at how casually the photographer reacts to the carnage and treats his photographic subjects (the soldier corpses) with such disrespect. The photographer counters that his job is more important than the Colonel's because he brings the war to the people and can change the public opinion which can change the war and so on and so forth. Seeing as it was done nearly thirty years ago it sounds like a Vietnam allegory to me. It ends with the photographer waxing rhapsodic about his God-like stature in the modern world and how the soldiers are his stepping stones and this and that, all the while focusing his camera on a nearby corpse. The Colonel looks on horrified until the photographer ends with an almost orgasmic, "I have it!" as he clicks the camera shutter. As with the first one, I have done all kinds of searches and come up empty. If anyone has a clue, let me know.

And finally, perhaps I can help you, or someone reading this could. Are there any movies that appear in your mind as only vague memories, so vague you question if they even exist? If so, bring them up in the comment section. Maybe one of us will know it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to catch a train - to HOLLYWOOD!