Look to the Rainbow


photo by Angela Marie Henriette

On St. Patrick’s Day, Lorin and I watched Finian’s Rainbow on the Turner Classic Movie station (TCM). Although it was rather dated and at times, flat-out bizarre, the spirit and the songs, as well as the wonderful pairing of Fred Astaire and Petula Clark as father and daughter from Ireland, kept us engrossed. I woke up this morning with the song “Look to the Rainbow” in my head, and it won’t let go.

That’s what neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks would refer to as a “brainworm,” a bit of music that gets stuck in your head and repeats itself over and over again. I was saddened to hear that Dr. Sacks, a personal hero of mine, was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year.

I started reading Dr. Sacks’ books after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010, including Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. You might know him from the film Awakenings (also one of his books) starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro; Robin Williams plays the Dr. Sacks character. I feel I have gotten to know the man through his books and his tremendous work with countless patients afflicted with various types of neurological disorders. He has devoted his life to research and the service of others. A life well-lived.

Dr. Sacks is one of the living reminders that we must continue to look to the rainbows in our lives, wherever they may appear, whether expected or unexpected, planned or un-. This is a reminder to myself and my friends and loved ones. Times are tough, but we are tougher.

Now for Fred and Petula:

8 thoughts on “Look to the Rainbow

  1. I always enjoy your short essays and hope your are over the pains of the foot surgery.

    I hope you are over the pain of your foot surgery. I enjoyed your essay on the rainbows. Your writing is always interesting and thought-provoking.

    This is a little off-topic, but I enjoy those old movies, too. I am against censorship and support free speech, but since the 1960s, Hollywood has gone off the deep end and inserts too many steamy sex scenes that do nothing to advance the plots. If there are any socially redeeming aspects of such films, diminished by extraneous sex scenes that leave little to the imagination, especially in R rated films, they are hard to find. In the 1960s, sex seemed to have become an end in itself. The Hays Code of the 1930s was, after all, a self-compliant code, but there were fines by the powers that be for violations. Some movie makers took the chance and paid the fines. There were breaches as early as the 1940s, in such movies as Howard Hughes’ “The Outlaw,” but hearing my older male siblings and their pals talk about it made me realize, as an adolescent, I really preferred the old B MOvies, that starred Tex Ritter, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, etc., When Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita” came out in the early 1960s, almost every guy I knew in the Army ran out and bought a copy, but none on them were aware of the psychological aspects of it. It is a gem for the schooled literary critic and the study of the American social condition.

    I still nostalgically lament the evolutionary changes in the movie-making business. In the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood could cram so much more information and drama into the storylines of the Class A films . That was before the advent of so much emphasis on extraneous scenes; scenes meant to appeal to the lower instincts, mostly the instincts of the young, adult male viewers. Let’s face it, sex sells, but movies as an art suffered when that angle started too heavily influencing the making of films. I am almost as old as your father, and I often wonder how he and other actors his age feel about the changes and whether they think they were for the good of society or not..

    Hollywood has become the Big Brother that we read about in Orwell’s 1949 novel, “1984.” The big difference is that we are not “herded” into the auditoriums to see them; we are actually brainwashed, just like the viewers of those “1984” mandatory audio-visual orientations that Orwell described. The TV industry is as strikingly influential on our values and behavior as the movies and even more guilty than the film-making industry.. The psychological control is subtle,and often cleverly subliminal, but the implicit political correctness has the same effect as Orwell’s concept of double-speak and double-think. The end result is the same:steering our thinking in a direction which I do not think is all that good.


  2. Oh whoa…This movie brings back memories. I really loved this film as a kid, it was and is magical! Yes it’s a bit dated…but the beautifully conveyed intentions of love and hope still hold up in these very complex times. I’m a huge fan of Turner Classics, and this was such a treat Erica, thank you!! I’m very sad to hear Oliver Sachs is so ill…he’s trail blazed in his field of neurology, been a tireless advocate for those suffering from brain diseases…he started a journey, and we can only hope many others will continue his legacy. Look to the rainbow…never lose hope, and always keep love in your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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