Kay Hively: No match for ‘The Miracle Worker’
Last weekend I happened upon a movie about Helen Keller. I have long admired Miss Keller, who was born unable to hear or see but became one of the most admired women in the world.
I have equally admired Anne Sullivan, the feisty teacher who taught Miss Keller most everything she knew. She took Helen as a young girl and battled her tooth and nail to bring her from an almost animal lifestyle to become a brilliant and world-famous woman. In my view, Anne Sullivan was more courageous than anything else.
The movie, titled “The Miracle Worker,” was filmed in 1962 and starred Patty Duke as young Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan.
As I sat watching the movie, I had every kind of emotion. In that famous dining room scene where Miss Sullivan is determined to teach Helen to eat from her own plate, there is a fight that will rival any movie gunfight you ever saw. Two very bull-headed people clashed until it was absolutely worn out and I know they must have just collapsed when that scene was finished.
Then, of course, there is a climatic scene at the water pump where the light of language snaps on in Helen’s head. That's when the tears came rolling down my face.
Both Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft were awarded Oscars for their magnificent work on that film. And I don’t know that I have ever seen a movie where the awards were more deserving for such fine performances.
When I was growing up, I was a big movie fan. I lived a half-block from the local movie theater and I saw every movie that came. That meant I went to the movies about three times a week. If I recall correctly, a movie opened there on Monday and then another opened on Wednesday night and, finally, there was a third movie that ran as a matinee on Saturday and Sunday and on each of those nights.
On a rare occasion, I did not see a movie -- such as not liking monster movies or science fiction movies. And I never cared for comedies such as the Three Stooges or even Bob Hope or Martin and Lewis.
I enjoyed everything from the cowboy matinees on Saturday to more serious movies other times in the week.
And I dearly loved musicals. I think one of the most wonderful scenes in movie land is Gene Kelly singing and dancing “in the rain.” I could then, and mostly still can, sing all the major songs from Hollywood musicals. I loved the “biblical” movies which had a great run in the ‘50s and ‘60s. I enjoyed everything from “The Ten Commandments,” to “The Robe” to “Spartacus.”
I read every movie magazine, knew every movie star, knew which star was married to which other star, and I waited on the edge of my seat to find out the Oscar winners.
But movies have changed and I can’t get excited about mechanical men and women or something that seems like a real person who melts down to his skeleton. I like movies that have a great story, whether it’s told in a dramatic or a musical style. I like movies that teach me something and make me think how I might handle a dramatic situation or choice.
All that, of course, does not make me a movie authority, but in my humble view we don’t get many actresses who can perform as well as Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft did in “The Miracle Worker.” They won Oscars when, to me, the award meant something.
Neosho Daily News