"The Tech Rep" By James Michener; Continued
" There was another subject for which Holt used a specialized vocabulary: the general area of life itself, the passions, triumphs and despairs that overtake the average man. For here he related all value judgements to Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart. Like the haunting jazz of the thirties, the chain of excellent movies made by these two men pretty well summarized the life experience for Holt, as the following bits of conversation show.
The son of the Pan American agent in New Delhi cringes before a bully at the international school: YOU REMEMBER HOW SPENCER TRACY MADE FREDDY BARTHOLOMEW FACE UP TO LIFE ON THAT SHIP.
A Japanese politician with a notable reputation proves to be a fraud: IT,S EXACTLY LIKE SPENCER TRACY PROVING THE FACTS ABOUT MISS HEPBURN'S HUSBAND. Invariably he referred to the lean and lovely Miss Hepburn in the formal style, and once when an embassy wife in Indonesia gossip about her, Holt rose and left the room.
Two men court the same secretary from the French embassy in Constantinople: YOU SAW WHAT HAPPEN WHEN HUMPHREY BOGART AND WILLIAM HOLDEN WERE BOTH IN LOVE WITH AUDREY HEPBURN. The other Hepburn he always referred to as Audrey. For him there was only one Miss Hepburn, the actress.
An assistant faces a difficult task transporting a heavy piece of equipment to an outpost: YOU SAW HOW HUMPHREY BOGART AND RAYMOND MASSY TOOK THEIR SHIP TO MURMANSL.
An installation runs constantly over budget: EXACTLY WHAT SPENCED TRACY FACED WHEN HE WAS TRYING TO GET ELIZABETH TAYLOR MARRIED,
A difficult job can be completed only by the exercise of indomitable will: YOUR PROBLEM IS THE SAME ONE SPENCED TRACY FACED WHEN HE WAS DETERMINED TO CATCH THAT FISH.
An Indonesian government official has to make a crucial decision: YOU HAVE TO STICK WITH IT ALL THE WAY, JUST LIKE HUMPHREY BOGART WHEN HE WAS WRITING THE TRUTH ABOUT ROD STEIGER AND THE FIGHT RACKET.
The agricultural attache in the American embassy makes a damned fool of himself over a Hong Kong party girl: WHO CAN EXPLAIN THESE THINGS? LOOK AT THE WAY HUMPHREY BOGART KEPT COMING BACK TO AVA GARDNER AFTER HE HAD MADE HER A GREAT ACTRESS. This one stumped me, as did many of his references. When I asked what picture he was referring to, he said, impatiently, YOU KNOW. THE ONE WHERE A VOICE SANG QUE SERA, SERA IN THE BACKGROUND."
To be continued:
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