Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pieces of Dreams - Revisited

There is this movie Pieces of Dreams 1970 with Robert Forster. He plays a young priest who falls in love with Lauren Hutton. The movie is based on the book “The Wine and the Music” by William E Barrett who also wrote “Lilies of the Field” and the “Left Hand of God”.

The title of the movie shares the title of a Michel Legrand song “Pieces of Dreams” sung at the end of the film by the legendary Miss Peggy Lee. I never could find this song listed on any of Peggy’s records. It was I believe the best sung version ever of what is now considered a Michel Legrand classic. The next best singer on the planet for this song is Shirley Bassey.

Anyway, it was a small budget production and it did not have a lot of Hollywood polish. A lot of shots on location in New Mexico gave it a feeling which was not the standard Hollywood product in 1970. It is a good average watchable flick which I guess in today's terms you could say has what is called an independent production feeling to it in terms of originality and quality.

Forgive my Critique. These days everybody is a pundit or a critic. Perhaps it a substitute for a two way conversation on the Internet. I believe it did not have a large budget because in those days Hollywood never spent a lot on so called controversial films which in 1970 this film might have been categorized. Hollywood in its prime never made controversial movies though it did touch upon controversial subjects like Anti-Semitism as in Gentleman’s Agreement with Gregory Peck in 1947.

Hollywood made these much older limited audience appeal movies in black and white instead of color not expecting much of a return on investment.

There is a lot of soul searching in “Pieces of Dreams” by the main character Father Gergory Lind about what he wants, to be a servant of God or get laid etc.

In the framework of the time, Father Gregory Lind did not have many options. Many European priests would have just had Lauren Hutton on the side as a mistress and continued to give outward lip service to God and the Church.

This film touches in me some of the raw nerves that Vatican II left behind by ripping the scab off the Medieval Catholic church and shoving the wound briefly, very briefly, into the cleansing light of day.

There is a scene whereby Gregory visits his local bishop to be allowed to be released from his vows. The Bishop played beautifully by the veteran actor Will Geer appeals to Father Gregory Lind and says something, things like celibacy would change in time. I think back to that scene probably filmed forty years ago and the Vatican has still not delivered on changes that the laity would feel comfortable with like married priests.

The reason I remember these lines is because in the raw period after Vatican II when priests and nuns jumped ship in droves and the laity were still a little shell shocked, most of us accepted the concept that change in the Church was a good thing.

There was an unstated and undelivered promise about the celibacy thing to the laity back then - first the English Mass, then we will talk about other subjects. Back then nobody even thought of women as priests. Add that to a lot of items the laity thought were coming down the pike for putting up with John XXIII's opening up the windows and throwing the filled to the brim chamber pots of the Pius X Medievalists out the window. To this day the emergency group therapy sessions in the Vatican are about - No there were no babies thrown out - only chamber pots during Vatiican II.

Well anyway, the quid pro quo of the laity putting up with change and looking for a brighter church never happened. They are selling churches out from under the feet of the people of God these days.

I think that the lines of the lyrics of the song Pieces of Dreams best fit the conundrum of a church in search of a mission or a soul since Vatican II.

Little boy lost
In search of little boy found
You go a wondering,
stumbling, tumbling
'Round... 'round...
When will you find
What's on the tip of your mind
Why are you blind
To all you ever would
Never would
Really are
Nearly are
Little boy false
In search of little boy true
Will you be ever done
Always unraveling
You ... you
Running away
Could lead you farther astray
And as for fishing in streams
For pieces of dreams
Those pieces will never fit
What is the sense of it
Little boy blue
Don't let your
little sheep roam
It's time come blow your horn
Meet the morn
Look and see
Can you be
Far from home?

P.S. Lauren Hutton was hot back then. She still is!