Dramatist and novelist Paddy Chayefsky (who died in 1981) wrote some terrific plays and novels. He may best be remembered for the 1955 film “Marty,” which won him the Oscar for Best Screenplay. He should also be remembered for an incident during the Academy Awards telecast of 1978.
That’s when Vanessa Redgrave (who accepted an award for something or other) used the occasion to bash supporters of Israel. None of the men in tuxes or women in gowns had the guts to answer back — except for Chayefsky. Clearly repelled by Redgrave, he used his moment at the podium to say that this was not the place for politics and that “thank you would have sufficed.” (This was Chayefsky’s polite way of saying, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” — quoting that famous line from his own movie, “Network.”)
Chayefsky, a World War II Army war hero, wrote the screenplay for the (underrated) movie “The Americanization of Emily,” from the novel by William Bradford Huie. It’s here that Chayefsky’s brilliance as a writer shines brightly – in his defense of America.
America needs defending, now more than ever, during this, the Europeanization of our president, Barack Obama.
There’s no need to unravel the entire plot of “The Americanization of Emily” except to note that it takes place in London at the onset of D-Day. James Garner plays Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison. He falls in love with British war widow Emily Barham, played by Julie Andrews. This is what he says:
“You America haters bore me to tears, Miss Barham. I’ve dealt with Europeans all my life. I know all about us parvenus from the States who come over here and race around your old Cathedral towns with our cameras and Coca-cola bottles…Brawl in your pubs, paw at your women, and act like we own the world.
“We over-tip, we talk too loud, we think we can buy anything with a Hershey bar. I’ve had Germans and Italians tell me how politically ingenuous we are – and perhaps so.
“But we haven’t managed a Hitler or a Mussolini yet.
“I’ve had Frenchmen call me a savage because I took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Miss Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service is lousy. The most tedious lot are you British. We crass Americans didn’t introduce war to your little Island.
“This war, Miss, Barham, to which we Americans are so insensitive, is the result of 2,000 years of European greed, barbarism, superstition, and stupidity.
“Don’t blame it on our Coca-cola bottles. Europe was going brothel long before we came to town.”
Someone may want to deliver that message to the White House – from a movie released in 1964.
Novelist Jack Engelhard is the author of “Indecent Proposal” and “The Bathsheba Deadline.” His latest novel “The Girls of Cincinnati” is available in paperback on Amazon. He can be reached at his website www.jackengelhard.com