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Ben Harris, an embittered, middle-aged New York City postal worker living in a Greenwich Village basement, becomes obsessed with the idea of kidnapping and enslaving the first beautiful young woman he can get his hands on. When he tries to carry out his plan, he doesn't count on suburban homemaker Gloria getting in the way.Written by
Eugene Kim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was written to the writer of a play that featured Eli Wallach
Sheila and I just watched the film"The Tiger makes out" on TMC starring your associate and friend, Eli Wallach, and I have to write to you about it. While this is rarely mentioned among important films-- script, directing or acting, it connected with me for particular reasons that I want to share with you.
I actually lived, in many ways, Ben Harris, Wallach's character. When we started to watch the film, (recorded so we could repeat scenes) at first we guessed the year of shooting- since much of it was on location in Manhattan, where I was living after dropping out of college in 1958. While working in the printing industry, I actually attending a half dozen colleges, very much what both Harris and ironically his wife Gloria Fiske (Anne Jackson) aspired to.
This gets more eerie, as there was a scene in the film where Harris explained to Gloria why he was not able to complete his treasured quest for that holy grail, a "baccalaureate" degree. It recapitulated something almost forgotten, that before I moved to N.Y.C. I had attended G.W. university in my home town of Washington. I was doing O.K that first semester except in one subject, which was French, that I could not learn no matter how hard I tried --
The scene where his captive- the woman who would be his wife for more years than probably any pair in the history of filmdom- was beyond the arts of acting, method or any other school. It could have been no less than the genuine affection that the two shared, a connection of loving concern by one human towards another. It came through with clarity, as it wasn't technique at all, but two people sharing what they were blessed to find.
Her sensitive, and clear explanation of the artifact of french pronunciation flowing between words, conveyed the pleasure of both teacher and student, the feelings between lovers or a mother and her child. As I watched, not realizing that this was between two people who had found each other in real life, I felt soothed by such caring, and genuine affection.
There's a darker side to the existence of Mailman Ben Harris, that resonated with me, his not knowing the name in the very first scene of a man he had known for a decade- showing that he had nothing that all human's need, companionship and belonging. So he set out to capture it, entering the fantasy land where he would do it by force. It could be that watching this in the movie house of 1968, where one couldn't pause and savor each scene on home TV, couldn't know how genuine was that life of the mailman- that "nut case" Ben Harris.
How lucky are those fortunate folks who have found human connections, friendship or identity groups. Those who don't suffer greatly, so relish the love of another human being in ways that "normal" people can't ever understand.
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