Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Being Modern

In Cary Grant’s 1960 film The Grass Is Greener, we see an old fashioned man fighting, in his own way, for his wife against a modern millionaire.  There is a conversation near the beginning of the film between Grant’s character, Earl Vitor Rhyall, and his butler, Sellers, in which the butler lays out for his master this particular conflict of being a non-modern man in a modern world.  In this scene, Sellers is concerned because he does not seem to be able to make progress with a novel he is writing.

Sellers: Almost certainly the basic trouble is myself.  I’m fundamentally happy and contented.  That’s bad enough of course.  But on top of that, I’m normal.  That’s fatal.

Victor: Hmmm you mean you’d prefer to be unhappy and abnormal.

Sellers: (Smiling) Of course.  You see I want to be a success and to be a success one has to at least start off by being modern.  Like yourself, m’lord, I’m not.  It means I have no feeling of insecurity or frustration.  No despair.

Victor: And that’s essential.

Sellers: First essential.  I feel perfectly contented, really rather blameless and hardly resent anything at all.

Victor: Tsk, tsk.  You are in a pickle, aren’t you?

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