Do you remember the golden oldie movie “Kismet”?
A sumptuous color ﬁlm with handsome swaggering Howard Keel and petite beautiful Ann Blyth and their glorious voices? Costumes to die for, painted background scenery with breathtaking dimensions, Baghdad in all its Hollywood infused glory.
I’m at MOMA for an afternoon matinee showing of “Kismet.” The audience consists of retired middle aged people, since a younger crowd is working or in school. They are what I call the regulars as I’ve been there for other showings and I recognize them. Most of them read or do crossword puzzles waiting for showtime. When the screen lights up and it gets dark they seem to come alive.
They laugh at anything and everything. What’s wrong with me?
The jokes are very silly and not worth the hearty roar of a laugh from the barrel-chested man in front of me. He and his companion are totally immersed in the dialogue of the poet (Howard Keel), the villain and his cheating wife (Dolores Gray), who wears tights I would love to own. Oh, and there is the new young ruler, a pathetic looking Vic Damone who wears a schmatte head turban which adds nothing to his slight stature.
I might add that this crowd is very insular. They look at you in a nasty glare if you dare to enter their row and want to sit down where they have put their coats and/or other stuff. And there is the little stooped vagrant type man with his plastic bag and accompanying odors. Great! He passed my row. and found himself a seat next to an unsuspecting person who will soon be snifﬁng to ﬁnd the origin of the smell.
And so the ﬁlm comes to its end, the lovers reunited, the bad guys killed off and peace comes to Baghdad. Reality returns as the lights come on and the crowd disperses . Was “Kismet” enough to to sustain their lonely lives until the next showing of another fairy tale world?