Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hey hey in the Haystack


I must reluctantly confess that I’m a bit behind in catching up on some of my favorite blogs, so I’m coming a bit late to the party that is this questionnaire at TDOY chum Amanda’s A Noodle in a Haystack. (Anybody who admires both Una Merkel and Helen Broderick is aces in my book.)  Try it at home, but remember...no peeking!

1. What is your favorite movie starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, excluding all of The Thin Man films?

I was sorely tempted to put down The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947), because it’s a Powell film that I haven’t seen in ages and it’s really first-rate. But since Loy’s only in it for a brief cameo, I’ll go with I Love You Again (1940).

2. Name a screen team that appeared in only one film together but are still noteworthy for how well they complimented each other.

Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in In a Lonely Place (1950). (See also the answers for #30 and #31.)

3. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' best film together?

I have to confess—I’m not much of a Fred and Ginger fan. Top Hat (1935) is fairly easy to take, though.

4. Your favorite actor named "Robert"?

Robert Mitchum. (This was tough, since I also like Robert Ryan.)

5. An actor/actress who, when you see one of their movies, you always wish that someone else was in his/her role?

This is a pretty lengthy list, but Robert Cummings would probably be at the top.

6. An actor/actress that someone close to you really loves that you can't stand or vice versa?

My mom is a fan of both Steven Segal and Jean-Claude Van Damme (or as I like to call him, “Jean-Claude God Damme”). (I realize you asked for an “actor” but this is as close as I could come.)

7. An actor/actress that you both agree on completely?

James Cagney.

8. Complete this sentence: Virginia O'Brien is to Ethel Merman as...

Sorry, Amanda—this is the only question that threw me.

9. What is your favorite film starring Ray Milland?

That’s a toughie. I’ll go with It Happens Every Spring (1949).

10. You had to have seen this one coming: what is your favorite movie of the 1960s?

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). (This will be the answer to several of these questions, by the way.)

11. An actor/actress that you would take out of one film and put into a different movie that was released the same year?

Okay, I fibbed—I don’t have an answer for this one, either.

12. Who was your favorite of Robert Montgomery's leading ladies?

Since my list of favorite Montgomery films could be written on a matchbook cover, I’ll go with Evelyn Keyes (from 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan).

13. You think it would have been a disaster if what movie starred the actor/actress who was originally asked to star in it?

Frank Sinatra as “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Unthinkable.

14. An actor/actress who you will watch in any or almost any movie?

John Garfield.

15. Your favorite Leslie Howard film and role?

My intense dislike for Gone with the Wind (1939) is known the length and longth of the Internets, and one reason (among many) is that I just don’t understand what Scarlet O’ Hara (Vivien Leigh) sees in that effeminate pansy Ashley Wilkes (Howard). I don’t care for Howard, but applying The Blind Nut Squirrel Theory of Film™ I liked him as Atterbury Dodd in the seldom-seen Stand-In (1937).

16. You have been asked to host a marathon of four Barbara Stanwyck films. Which ones do you choose?

Remember the Night (1940), Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and The Lady Gambles (1949).

17. What is, in your mind, the nearest to perfect comedy you have ever seen? Why?

It’s awfully hard to beat Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

18. You will brook no criticism of what film?

Citizen Kane (1941). (Actually, I welcome all criticism of any film, I was just stuck for an answer.)

19. Who is your favorite Irish actress?

Maureen O’ Hara. (*sigh*)

20. Your favorite 1940s movie starring Ginger Rogers?

Since Ging is in Tales of Manhattan (1942), I’ll go with that one even though she’s not “the star.” (Otherwise I’d have to leave that one blank.)

21. Do you enjoy silent movies?

Tremendously!

22. What is your favorite Bette Davis film?

All About Eve (1950).

23. Your favorite onscreen Hollywood couple?

Laurel & Hardy. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

24. This one is for the girls, but, of course, the guys are welcome to answer, too: who is your favorite Hollywood costume designer?

Edith Head.

25. To even things out a bit, here's something the boys will enjoy: what is your favorite tough action film?

Well, I’m the kind of person who won’t say no to an action film but I like a little something more with it. I choose Midnight Run (1988), which is also falling-down funny at times.

26. You are currently gaining a greater appreciation for which actor(s)/actress(es)?

Gene Autry, thanks to exposure to his films on Encore Westerns.  I also enjoyed TCM's recent Alec Guinness tribute last Saturday.

27. Franchot Tone: yes or no?

Oh yes. Franch is cool with me. (Especially in Phantom Lady [1944] and Advise & Consent [1962].)

28. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?

Sterling Hayden, Van Heflin, Maureen O’Sullivan, Evelyn Keyes, Edward G. Robinson

29. Which actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?

Vivien Leigh, Van Johnson, June Allyson, Charles Boyer

30. Favorite actor?

Humphrey Bogart.

31. Favorite actress?

Gloria Grahame.

32. Of those listed, who is the coolest: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, or Patrick Stewart?

Steve McQueen. No contest.

33. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:

Comedy: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

Swashbuckler: If by “swashbuckler” you mean a lot of swordplay, then it’s Scaramouche (1952).

Film noir: Out of the Past (1947).

Musical: Singin’ in the Rain (1952).

Holiday: Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

Hitchcock: North by Northwest (1959).

Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mayberry Mondays #24: “Millie’s Girlfriend” (03/17/69, prod. no. 0126)

Well, I can’t even begin to describe for you my disappointment with this week’s Mayberry Mondays installment, “Millie’s Girlfriend”—because what I was hoping would be a fascinating tale on bakery doyenne Millie Swanson’s (Arlene Golonka) induction into the Sapphic sisterhood turned out instead to be a humdrum episode in which Millie’s friend tries to put the moves on city council head and poor-but-honest dirt farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry). (And even that falls short of expectations.) To be honest, I’d just as well skip this episode but since I’ve already paid the rent on the hall this week I guess I’ll soldier on.

As the episode gets underway, Millie is chatting up with her friend Renee via telephone, trying to counsel her on the recent breakup between Renee and a boyfriend we’ll call “Roger”…because that apparently is his name…

MILLIE (on phone): Oh no…well, he didn’t…oh, Renee, that’s awful…I hope you told him, and told him good…oh, honey—honey, don’t cry…no…honey, if he’s that kind of person, you’re lucky to be rid of him…oh, they all say they love you…

Men are scum. While this riveting conversation continues on, Sam has arrived at Casa del Millicent with a bouquet of pretties to present to his lady love. This is a pretty obvious set-up—you just know that Sam’s going to end up in the doghouse despite not having done anything because Millie’s too worked up after talking with her gal pal.

SAM (after Millie opens the front door): Hi!
MILLIE: How can you men be such beasts!

Sam, the smart money would have you walking fast and walking far. Millie returns to her phone conversation…because it’s long distance, and that was a pretty big thing back then.

MILLIE: Renee? N-N-No…no, it’s nothing important… (Sam gives her a quizzical look) Look, honey—the best thing for you to do is get away from him…get away from him, New York…everything…come down and stay with me for a while…no no no—I insist…no…I will not take no for an answer…oh…good…good…yes…oh well, honey—what’s a friend for if you can’t call on her when she’s needed? Right…now wire me…now don’t cry…bye… (She hangs up the phone) Honestly…I really don’t understand you men…
SAM: What?
MILLIE: Honestly! I mean, how can you be so unfeeling…how can you…how can you break a girl’s heart like that?
SAM: Well…I didn’t mean to…

Millie finally overcomes her ditziness attack and accepts the flowers from Sam, who remarks: “I’m kind of glad I brought ‘em now—I didn’t now we were going to have a fight.” Millie then explains to Sam about the phone call:

MILLIE: Oh, it’s nothing to do with you—that was Renee, the girl I worked with at the department store in Raleigh…
SAM (shaking his head, not comprehending): Uh…
MILLIE: The fashion model…well, she became a fashion model when she went to New York…
SAM: Oh, yeah…yeah…
MILLIE: Well, she’s going to come down and stay with me for a few days…her boyfriend just walked out on her…
SAM: Oh…
MILLIE: Well, I could cry about it…I-I-I really can…I mean…you know, she was leading such a happy life until Roger wrecked it
SAM: Oh…well, Mill…you…hey, what do you say we go out and have a bite to eat? You might feel better…
MILLIE (getting angry again): Honestly! Don’t you men have any feeling at all??

I thought this shot of Sam and Millie waiting on the bus that will bring Renee into town was interesting because…well, because Mayberry’s resident fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) doesn’t have his keister parked on it, as is his wont. Anyway, the bus pulls in and Millie is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her good pal Renee. When Renee gets off the bus, she instantly seeks out Millie for consoling, and the scene is sort of amusing because Sam is valiantly trying to collect her luggage and inform her as to where he’s parked the car…but she ignores him, continuing to sob uncontrollably and talking to Millie.


Well, we’re four minutes into this thing and haven’t yet heard from Mayberry’s brain trust, Emmett and village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey). (The other member of this think tank, county clerk Howard Sprague [Jack Dodson], is MIA this week.) Emmett and Goober enter the city council office to bend Sam’s ear:

EMMETT: Mornin’, Sam…
GOOBER: Sam…we was just walkin’ by and thought we’d say hello…
SAM: Oh, good…
EMMETT: Yeah…
GOOBER (taking a swig from a bottle and then offering it to Sam): Want some root beer?
SAM: No…no thanks, Goob…
GOOBER: Oh… (After a pause) Say—who was that good looker that got off the bus yesterday?
EMMETT: The one that was blubberin’ all over Millie…
SAM: Oh yeah—that’s an old friend of Millie’s from New York…fashion model…
GOOBER: Oh… (Another pause) Well, ain’t you gonna tell us how come she was blubberin’?
EMMETT: Goob…I told you that was none of our business…
GOOBER: Well, then how come you’re here nosin’ around with me?
SAM: Look, fellas…all I know is she’s an old friend of Millie’s—her fiancé broke up with her, and Millie asked her down here for a few days to try and take her mind off it…
EMMETT: Oh…then be careful what you say to her…don’t say anything that’ll remind her of them New York playboys…
GOOBER: Yeah…try not to mention Grant’s Tomb or the Staten Island Ferry…or the Rockettes…
SAM: I’ll do my best…
GOOBER: I hear them models lead quite a life…
SAM: Yeah?
EMMETT: Oh, yeah—they work all day and dance all night
GOOBER: Well, that’s why they’re so skinny… (Stupid laugh) I’ll tell you one thing—ain’t no daughter of mine going to run off to New York and have her heart broke by no playboy

You know, if this town still had a lawman he could run both of those cretins in for felonious idiocy. Fortunately, Millie has arrived in time to break up this little conclave, and she asks if Tweedledum and Tweedledummer could leave in order to speak to Sam privately:

MILLIE: Sam, I have to work all afternoon and I’m worried about Renee…I don’t want her sitting around all afternoon alone…so I was wondering if you…well, if you could show her around this afternoon…? Anything to keep her busy so she won’t brood…
SAM: Aw, Millie…I’ve got all this…
MILLIE: Oh, please…
SAM: Oh…well…yeah, I guess I could…

Millie gives him a big ol’ sloppy and tells him he’s a doll, and after a scene dissolve we find Sam showing Renee the sight in Mayberry…

SAM: …and right down this way is the drugstore…uh, dry cleaners…library…

“Crack house…”

SAM: …and that two-story skyscraper over there…that is the City Hall…
RENEE: That’s very nice…
SAM: Yeah…as the Chamber of Commerce likes to say, the buildings aren’t too tall around here, but the sky’s a lot closer… (They both laugh) Now, don’t blame that one on me—the Women’s Club had a slogan contest

Second place went to: “It’s Mayberry…what the hell else are you going to do on a Saturday night at this time?”

Sam then asks Renee if she’s hungry, apparently not familiar with the fact that models are always hungry but that they’re not allowed to eat. He then suggests grabbing a cup of coffee at the diner, which will afford me the opportunity to get a better screen capture of actress portraying Renee in this week’s playlet:


If this face is familiar but you can’t quite summon up the name, this is character actress Marianna Hill, who appeared as a guest star in many of the popular TV shows during the 1960s including 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Dr. Kildare. (Hill also shows up a time or two in the 1960-62 TV western The Tall Man.)  She had high profile roles in Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) and Medium Cool (1969) around the same time, and substantial parts in High Plains Drifter (1973) and The Godfather, Part II (1974) followed.

SAM: Hey, don’t let your mind wander—Millie said I was supposed to keep you talking
RENEE: You’re right…I’m sorry…let’s talk about you…
SAM: Me?
RENEE: Yeah…do you like farming?
SAM: Oh, yeah…yeah, I really do…as a matter of fact, I don’t think I’d want to do anything else…
RENEE: That’s very nice…you’re lucky…you know, I don’t think I’ve ever met a real farmer before…

…and you still haven’t.

SAM: Oh, well…we’re not too much different from anybody else…except we like to dress up in bib overalls and chew on straws…
RENEE: Oh, now you’re making fun of me…

Renee then asks to see Sam’s hands, and begins to become moist with anticipation when she runs her slender model fingers along his calluses—“You don’t see many of those on those fashion designers,” she moons. (Honey, stick around Mayberry for a couple more days and you’ll soon notice that Sam never actually does anything remotely resembling farm work, preferring to fritter away most of his time at Emmett’s.  So the source of those calluses must be from something else...if you know what I mean, and I think you do.) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that she’s starting to develop a “thing” for our hero, which makes me curious about just how much of a wanker her Roger was if she’s developing feelings for a drip like Sam.

SAM: Uh…I guess we’d better be going, huh?
RENEE: Wait a minute…I haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet…

Funny…Renee never has a second cup of coffee at home. Well, after another cuppa Joe, Sam returns Renee to Millie’s—and learns that his main squeeze has come down with a case of the sniffles…

MILLIE: Don’t come near me…
SAM: Why?
MILLIE: I’m coming down with a dilly…I felt it a little bit this morning but I thought it would go away…
SAM: Gee…that’s too bad…
RENEE: Well, is there anything I can do for you?
MILLIE: No, no…I’ll be okay…well—how did you like Mayberry?
RENEE: Oh, very much…I couldn’t have had a better guide… (Millie sneezes) Oh, Millie—you sound awful…
MILLIE: Oh…
RENEE: …you sit down and rest and I’ll start supper...
MILLIE: Oh, no…no…
RENEE: Please…so long, Sam… (She exits the living room)
SAM: Yeah…bye…
MILLIE: Oh, thanks, Sam—she’s feeling much better, I can tell…
SAM: Well, I wish I could say the same for you…maybe you ought to get to bed, Millie…
MILLIE: I-I-I think I should…look, Sam…you know, I promised Renee we’d all go to the movies together…and I don’t want her to be disappointed…would you take her?
SAM: Wha…you mean just…oh…gee, Millie—I hate to leave you here alone
MILLIE: Oh, please…
SAM (resignedly): Well…okay, I’ll take her…

Now, if this was Lost in Space, that damn robot would be making an entrance right now, flailing its robot arms about and announcing: “Warning…warning…danger, Sam Jones…” Renee comes back into the living room, having changed into an apron and asking Millie where the can opener is:

MILLIE: Honey…I don’t think I should go to the movies tonight, but I want you to go with Sam…I’m going to go to bed and try to sleep…so there’s no reason for you to stay here…I want you to go—enjoy yourself…
RENEE: Okay!
MILLIE: No…I insist… (Realization kicking in) Oh…oh…good, good…th-th-then it’s all settled…
RENEE: I’ll start supper…


Yeah, and from the look on Millie’s face I can guess what’s on the menu…Filet of Renee. There’s a camera dissolve, and we find Millie confined to quarters, having a bit of soup-like nourishment and being looked after by Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Francis Bavier).

MILLIE: Mmm…that was delicious, Aunt Bee…thank you… (She hands her the empty soup bowl)
AUNT BEE: Good…is that eucalyptus rub helping any?
MILLIE: I…I guess so…why don’t you run home, it’s getting late…

“And be forced to share the same space with that idiot son of Sam’s? Not on your Nellie, missy…”

AUNT BEE: No…no…I’ll stay right here until they get back from the movies…
MILLIE: Well…they should be here any minute
AUNT BEE: Yes…of course…
(Long pause)
MILLIE: I’m glad Renee had a chance to get out…take her mind off Roger…

Aunt Bee nods her head in assent, and then makes this face which made me laugh out loud.


After a nine-month pregnant pause, Millie continues to make awkward conversation…

MILLIE: Well, Sam always likes to stay for the short subjects and cartoons…
AUNT BEE: I understand it’s a long picture, too…
(There is another long pause, and Millie sneezes)
MILLIE: I…I hear it’s very romantic…
AUNT BEE: Well…I understand it’s…more of that “moonlight in Rome” sort of thing…
MILLIE: Oh…
AUNT BEE: Oh…can I heat up your hot water bottle for you, hmm?
MILLIE: No, Aunt Bee…it’s fine…it really is…thank you…
AUNT BEE: Well, then let me get a pillow...boost you up a little…
MILLIE: Okay…


Aunt Bee goes over to Millie’s closet, and upon opening the door finds a nice little night number and starts fawning all over it. “Oh, this is so much more attractive than that thing you have on,” she gushes. “It’s Renee’s,” responds Millie, as Aunt Bee reaches up to calculate the amount of egg on her face. The tenseness of the situation is broken by the sound of Sam’s car pulling into the driveway, much to the relief of Millie and Aunt Bee. Unfortunately, the two women can hear Sam and Renee outside giggling, and it’s not because Sam has just told her one of the jokes he read in the book they keep in the outhouse. Millie is visibly upset by their gaiety, and of course, this is Aunt Bee’s cue to do what she does best—look sad and concerned.


After the commercial break, Aunt Bee comes downstairs to find Sam and Renee in the living room—and check out the red dress Renee’s got on, a little number from the Harlot collection. Sam inquires as to Millie’s health:

AUNT BEE: Well, it’s a very bad cold

“One that she’ll likely die from, and then won’t you feel guilty for having played around on her, you dirtbag…”

SAM: Oh…
RENEE: Oh, dear…
SAM: Well, maybe I’d better run up and say hello…
AUNT BEE: No, no…I think she’s about to fall asleep…
SAM: Oh…oh, here—I’ll help you with that (He helps Aunt Bee on with her coat)
AUNT BEE: Thank you…
RENEE: Well, would you like some coffee?
AUNT BEE: No…no, dear—thank you very much…it’s getting a little late, I’d better be running along…
RENEE: How about you, Sam?
SAM: No, I don’t think so, Renee—thank you…
RENEE: Come on…it’s my turn…and you promised we’d compare notes about Rome…
SAM: Oh…well, yeah…okay, then—I’ll be home in a little while, Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE: Fine…it is getting late…

“…and it is a school night, Mister…” Aunt Bee, whom I’m guessing is secure in the knowledge that not much can happen if Millie’s right upstairs, leaves Sam and Renee on their own, and Renee invites Farmer Jones into the kitchen to help with the coffee. Millie looks down on the situation from her position on the landing, but she can’t see the kitchen from where she’s at. Another scene dissolve, and Sam is telling Renee about his Rome experiences when he was in the Army:

SAM: See, when I was in Rome I was in the Army so I didn’t get around too much…
RENEE: Did you see the Trevi Fountain?
SAM: Yeah, I did see that…

Renee tells Sam of her Trevi experience, which involved having her picture taken when she was on a modeling assignment—the photographer kept telling her to step back until she fell backward into the landmark, which prompts this expression from Millie…


…maybe I’m just being catty, but Renee strikes me as the kind of dame who’d go diving after those three coins before you can say “la dolce vita.” Millie knows she has to break up this little tête-à-tête, but she’s self-conscious about going downstairs looking like something the cat dragged in (personally, Millie—you could be covered with boils and still be adorable). When Sam remarks that “Rome is a beautiful city,” Renee jumps at the chance to set the romantic mood by putting on a record of Millie’s that will “bring back memories”…and for those interested, it’s not Pepino the Italian Mouse. Finally, as a famous spinach-eating sailor once observed—“That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”—Millie makes an entrance into the living room…

RENEE: Just standing there in the Forum…you realize you’re standing on the exact spot that Julius Caesar stood…
SAM: Yeah…
MILLIEL Hi!
SAM: Oh! Millie, hi…how are you feeling?
MILLIE: Oh…lots better
SAM: Well, good…
RENEE: Did we wake you up?
MILLIE: No…no, I was thinking of getting up for a while…I didn’t even know you two were down here

“I could barely hear you trying to make time with my boyfriend, you bitch…”

RENEE: Well, would you like some coffee?
MILLIE: Oh, no…no thanks…well…how did you like the movie?
RENEE: Oh, it was wonderful…Sam and I were just talking about it…it was mostly shot in Rome, and we’ve both been there, you know…
SAM: Yeah…
MILLIE: Yeah?
SAM: Uh-huh…
MILLIE: Well, what’s new in town?
SAM: Oh…not much…oh, we stopped over at Morelli’s for some pizza after the movie…

“…and then to Myers Lake for a little passionate necking…”

RENEE: Oh, it was delicious…we’ve had a regular Roman orgy tonight!

Yowsah! If that’s not an invitation to a three-way, I don’t know what is!



SAM: They were eating pizza in the movie and we got kind of hungry for it...

Never mind…Millie sneezes again, and a concerned Sam suggests that she hit the hay—because he needs to be moseying on home himself (though not to rise and shine for farm work, I can assure you). Thanking Renee for the coffee, she brightly suggests that the next time she make espresso…or a little Renee au lait, perhaps?

SAM (to Millie): You take care of yourself...huh?
MILLIE (stuffed up): I will…
SAM (to Renee): Well, I’ll see ya…
RENEE: Arrivederci!
SAM: Yeah…arrivederci…
RENEE (to Millie): Oh…that means…
MILLIE (sharply): I know


Gazing longingly at Sam as he takes his leave, Renee comments: “Sam’s very nice…” She then asks Millie if she and Sam are engaged, and when Millie responds in the negative, Renee does everything but write “Mrs. Renee Jones” on her school notebooks. The tough thing for Millie is, the one person who would act as her confidant in this situation is macking on her boyfriend, so she has to seek out advice from Mayberry’s resident spinster—a woman who couldn’t even get Will Geer to march down the matrimonial aisle.

MILLIE: I should have never asked her to come here in the first place!
AUNT BEE: Well, you were only trying to help her…
MILLIE: Oh, yeah…and now she’s helping herself…boy…you know, I just don’t understand it…I mean, how could she fall for Sam so fast? Three days ago she hated men with a passion
AUNT BEE: Well, it’s the oldest story in the world…she’s on the rebound
MILLIE: Well, let her rebound with somebody else’s boyfriend…you know, I bet she brought this cold with her, too…
AUNT BEE: You don’t think that Sam…
MILLIE: Oh, no…men are too dumb to know anything

That certainly sounds like Sam.

AUNT BEE: You know what I can’t figure out? Why she’s after Sam—he’s so different from this Roger…
MILLIE: Well, that’s just the big thing—she has some idea she’d make some pretty little farmer’s wife…you know, with her man toiling in the fields while she waits daintily on the doorstep…in her pussycat negligee…Aunt Bee, she doesn’t belong on the farm—she’s not the type at all! Well, do you see her as a farmer’s wife?
AUNT BEE: Well, Millie…I’m on your side…


And that’s when Aunt Bee…whom we have established in previous Mayberry Mondays segments is pure dagnasty evil…starts to formulate a nasty scheme in that feverish housekeeping brain of hers. “I’ll tell you what—why don’t you invite her out here for dinner,” she suggests to Millie.

MILLIE: Here?
AUNT BEE: Mm-hmm…
MILLIE: With Sam?
AUNT BEE: Mm-hmm…
MILLIE: Why, I thought you were on my side!
AUNT BEE: I am!
MILLIE (after a pause): Oh, Aunt Bee…Aunt Bee, I think I like that sneaky look in your eyes…

Twisted and evil. Dissolve to the dinner party, as Sam ushers Millie and Renee inside Rancho Jones…

RENEE: Oh, this is very nice…
SAM: Thank you…thank you…hey, Mill—how’s the cold?
MILLIE: Oh, much better…
SAM: Good…sit down…
(Aunt Bee then enters from the kitchen, carrying a cord of firewood)
AUNT BEE: Hello everybody! Sorry I’m late with the firewood…
SAM (rushing over to help her): Aunt Bee, you didn’t have to get that…
AUNT BEE: No, no, no…you do the man’s work and I’ll do mine…but I’d wish you’d sharpen the axe…Renee, would you help me, please? (Renee reaches over to grab a couple of logs from Aunt Bee) Careful of the wood spiders!
(Renee shrieks and drops the logs on the floor)
SAM (giving Aunt Bee a look): I’ll get it…
MILLIE: Uh, Aunt Bee…what’s that I smell out there that smells so great?
AUNT BEE: Oh, it’s roast turkey—whoo, and it’s a big one…took me hours to pluck it…
RENEE: Pluck it?
AUNT BEE: Mm-hmm…
RENEE: Well…how do you pluck a turkey?
AUNT BEE: You just grab and pull and grab and pull…come along, girls—help me in the kitchen…
(Aunt Bee heads toward the kitchen, with Renee and Millie following…but Sam stops Millie before she gets there)
SAM: Millie…Millie…I bought that turkey at the store
MILLIE: Then why didn’t you have it plucked?

Day-amm, but Aunt Bee is one crafty old dame. Her plan is to present such a miserable portrait of what it’s like to be a farmer’s wife that Renee the Boyfriend Stealer will be repulsed and she’ll scamper back to the Big Apple, never darkening Mayberry’s doorstep again. To be honest, Aunt Bee could have saved herself a little trouble by just showing Renee some pictures of farmers’ wives, letting her see firsthand how such an existence takes a toll on beautiful women—here’s one for example:


Um…okay, maybe that’s not such a good illustration…let’s try this one…


Oh, come on—there must be one case in point of a homely farmer’s wife…


That’s a farmer’s daughter, you…oh, never mind—let’s let Aunt Bee play this hand out…

MILLIE (in the kitchen with Bee and Renee): You must be tired, Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE: I am—and you know, I really shouldn’t be…I slept in till five this morning…
RENEE: Five?
AUNT BEE: Mm-hmm…I felt so guilty…I ran around and I fed the chickens, then I baked the bread, and did the laundry…mended the overalls…and then I got the breakfast…
RENEE: You did all that before breakfast?

Sam, who’s been eavesdropping on this performance from the other room decides to get a closer look and heads into the kitchen…

SAM: Well—how’s it coming?
RENEE: Oh, it’s fine…I guess…
SAM: Is there anything I can do?
MILLIE: Oh, no…I think we can handle it…
SAM (under his breath): I’ll just bet you can…
MILLIE (through slightly gritted teeth): Go read your paper…
SAM: I wouldn’t want to miss anything…

When Renee starts folding napkins, Aunt Bee tells her not to worry—she doesn’t have to do that, because she’s company. “And we don’t have company on the farm very often, do we?” Aunt Bee prompts Sam. When Millie tells Bee that Renee technically isn’t company because she’s going to be staying with her for a while, Renee conveniently remembers that she left the oven on back at her place in New York. “A person shouldn’t run away from their problems…they should face up to them,” she philosophizes. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to miss any modeling assignments.” Aunt Bee gives Millie a big wink.


And so, through the machinations of Aunt Bee and Millie, Renee’s attempts to lure the unsuspecting Sam into her web have been foiled…though he seems a bit disappointed. When Renee and Aunt Bee are out of the kitchen, he laments: “I don’t know…just don’t know…”

“What do you mean by that?” Millie asks.

“I had a great thing going there and you just blew it…” Millie playfully strangles Sam…but let’s see that ménage a trois photo one more time…


Okay…let’s wrap this one up.

Hanging out at Emmett’s playing darts—as if he didn’t have a care in the world or a farm to run—Sam is being questioned by Emmett and Goober:

GOOBER: Everything okay with you and Millie now?
SAM: Oh, yeah…sure…
EMMETT: Well, why wouldn’t it be? It wasn’t Sam’s fault that some beautiful sexy female wanted to chase after him…
GOOBER: Huh…shows what you know about females…they take a thing like that and twist it all around until it was all his fault… (To Sam) Did you and Millie kiss and make up?
SAM: Well, now…that’s…that’s a little personal, isn’t it, Goob? (He then succumbs to a sneeze)
GOOBER (to Emmett): They kissed and made up...

You know, the last couple of times Aunt Bee has been on an R.F.D. episode it’s like she’s there for evil, and not niceness; someone needs to get her a white cat to stroke…nevertheless, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Mayberry R.F.D. Bee-o-meter™ moves up a notch to eleven appearances in total for both the first season and the series. I’ve previewed next week’s episode, “The Church Bell,” in advance and while it’s no great shakes it does feature a bodacious number of familiar TV character faces…so please make it a point to join me.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mayberry Tuesdays #23: “Emmett’s Retirement” (03/10/69, prod. no. 0124)

Before I start this week’s Mayberry Tuesdays, I think a rather Earth-shattering announcement is in order…


…Arlene Golonka, best remembered as the lovely bakery goddess Millie Swanson on Mayberry R.F.D., has accepted my Facebook friend request. I expect the two of us will be dating any day now, and I don’t have to tell you what that means.


Perzactly…free donuts. I’m assuming that this is the real Arlene Golonka; sometimes it’s kind of hard to tell on Facebook. For example, I am chums with several notable celebrities on the popular social network: El Brendel, Bette Davis, Verna Felton and Ann Sothern, to name a few. However, I have it on reasonable authority that these individuals—though they live on in the hearts of their fans—are, for lack of a better description, dead. But there are a number of famous people who have not only managed to momentarily outwit the Grim Reaper but maintain a Facebook profile—I’d list a few of them but I don’t want to come across as a name dropper (and anyway, my sister Kat remains skeptical that these are the actual people; my only defense was “If you were going to be someone important, what are the odds that it would be Frank Bank from Leave it to Beaver?”)…but having Arlene accept me into her circle of friends was a real coup. (This may just be a guess on my part, but I’m betting she doesn’t read the blog.)

Getting back to this week’s episode, I’m sure if you’re like me your first thought after reading the title was “Retiring from what?” Having invested the time to watch twenty-two episodes of the famed Andy Griffith Show spin-off, all I’ve ever observed fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) do is sit around monkeying with appliances that the good people of that town have been duped into thinking he can repair. However, from the amount of time the main characters spend lollygagging in his shop; one can only assume he’s providing a valuable civic service…namely, a crap game taking place in the back.

As the episode begins, we find city council head and poor dirt farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) leisurely strolling along Mayberry’s main street, stopping only to remind an unseen person named “George” about the council meeting on Friday. As he passes by the town landmark that is Emmett’s shop, its proprietor emerges and asks him if he has a minute. (Oh, I’m guessing he probably does—that farm of his practically runs itself.) As he crosses the threshold, he finds village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague waiting inside.

SAM: What’s going on?
HOWARD: Don’t ask me
GOOBER: Big mystery…
SAM: Yeah? (Chuckling) What’s up, Emmett?
EMMETT (taking down a large dish from a shelf and carrying it over to his workbench): Oh, hold your horses…
HOWARD: Come on, Emmett—look, I’ve got to get back to the office…

“Those paper clips don’t count themselves, you know…”

EMMETT: Okay…but you’re going to miss something that only happens once in a lifetime…

You’re bringing your wife to orgasm?

SAM: Well, I guess we can spare a couple of minutes for that…
EMMETT: Please, fellas…this is a very solemn occasion…first, we set up the chafing dish… (Striking a match) Then we light the ol’ blowtorch…
GOOBER: I’ll bet it’s gonna be a magic trick…I just love magic tricks…
HOWARD: Emmett, look—I’ve got work to do…
EMMETT: It’s not a magic trick…now, first… (He walks back over to the counter and pick up a pile of paper) We glance through the morning mail…what do we have here…?
GOOBER (to Howard) Hey—I’ve seen this…he pulls a rabbit out of the chafing dish…
EMMETT: Looks like a letter from the bank…now, observe… (He sets the letter aflame with the blowtorch)
HOWARD: Emmett…what in the world are you doing?
EMMETT: Gentlemen…you are now witnessing that great American ceremony…known as…burning the mortgage…
HOWARD: Aww…
SAM: Hey…no kidding? Aw, that’s great, Emmett!
HOWARD: Yeah…
EMMETT: Yeah…that little ol’ house is now all free and clear…
HOWARD: Congratulations! Wonderful!
GOOBER: I should have known it wasn’t a trick—they always break an egg in there, too…

Well, this is certainly a happy occasion for Mr. Clark…all those years of hard…well, whatever the hell it is he does in that place have finally paid off. “It’s hard to believe that the day finally comes when you don’t have to make any more payments,” observes Sam. Howard and Goober then announce that they both have to return to work (it’s like Mayberry has gone crazy!) but before they leave, Emmett has even bigger news…


As you have no doubt guessed by the sign, Emmett is hanging out his “out-of-business” shingle and retiring to a life of leisure…although how that differs from what he does now is probably going to be the focus of this little morality tale. (Truth be told, the real surprise here is that he was able to spell everything correctly.)

SAM: You’re retiring?
EMMETT: Yep! No more nine-to-five for Emmett Clark!

I guess one of the side effects of retirement is premature senility—the only time Emmett was familiar with “nine-to-five” were the odds on a horse he once bet on in Raleigh.

HOWARD: He’s serious
SAM: Well, Emmett—that sounds just great! What are you going to do?
EMMETT: What am I gonna do? Just everything I’ve always wanted to do…a little fishin’…take trips…read them great books…

Like the one about the whale and the crazy captain?

EMMETT: Today’s the day of leisure…most guys wait too long, not me…I’m quittin’ while I can still grab a hunk of life…
HOWARD: Well, more power to you, Emmett…
SAM: Well…we’re eating our hearts out…
HOWARD (sudden realization kicking in): Hey…that means I’m going to have to find a new tenant for the place here…

…and the crap game will have to be moved! Howard tries to remain philosophical, musing that “that’s just one of those problems you have when you’re a property owner.”

“Well, I’m givin’ you plenty of notice,” responds Emmett. “I’m not movin’ out till the weekend.” Goober then asks Emmett what Martha (Mary Lansing) thinks about this whole retirement deal, prompting him to remark: “Oh, we’ve been talking about it for years—she’s all for it!


Oh, yeah…that’s the look of a woman who’s 100% behind the idea of her husband sitting on his ass all day and doing nothing. (Actually, Martha did kind of a semi-spit take with a glass of water but I couldn’t get a decent screen capture of it.)

MARTHA: You’re going to retire?!!!
EMMETT: Well…it’s what we’ve been talking about for years…as soon as we paid off the mortgage…we’ve got enough money to get by with…
MARTHA: Well, I know, but…
EMMETT: We’ll have a lot more time together…


I’m beginning to understand now why Emmett never went into sales…he sure seems to be having difficulty getting Martha on board with this retirement thing.

MARTHA: Well, that sounds wonderful, of course…I-I just hope you’re sure this is what you want…
EMMETT: Of course I’m sure…
MARTHA: Well, what are you going to do with all that free time?

“Be a constant pain in your ass, my little figgy pudding…”

EMMETT: Well…start livin’! Why do you ask a thing like that?
MARTHA: Well, I…I guess I keep thinking about Mr. Peabody…he hasn’t moved out of that rocking chair since he retired…

“…and had Sherman put to sleep…”

EMMETT: Well, that’s the whole point—he waited until it was too late…I’m still young enough to do things! Hikin’, skin divin’…
MARTHA: Skin diving?
EMMETT: Well…whatever… (He takes a sip of water) I’ll tell you one of the first things we’re gonna do…we’re gonna take a trip…
MARTHA: Oh? Well, where?
EMMETT: Now where have we always been talkin’ about? Washington, D.C…

“We’ll see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House…we’re gonna go first class, too—stay in a hotel and everything!” Emmett exclaims. It’s enough to make Martha forget momentarily that for the rest of his retirement Emmett will be hanging around the house yelling at kids to stay out of his yard. At the fix-it shop…or I should say, the former fix-it shop…Emmett is clearing out his things—and it’s interesting to note that with everything gone, the conversation in the shop has a sort of canyon-like echo to it…if you listen closely, you can hear the ghostly voices of Mayberry citizens from the past saying: “Papa needs a new pair of shoes…”

EMMETT: I’ve got most of my stuff stored at home…you fellas can help yourself to the little odds-and-ends left around here…
HOWARD (studying the wall): Boy, you sure left enough nail holes in the wall… (He pulls a loose nail out)
EMMETT: Oh, Howard…you gotta repaint for the next tenant anyway
HOWARD: Yes, but there’s still such a thing as a regard for another person’s property…
GOOBER (still studying the chafing dish): I bet I know how it works…they hide the rabbit in the lid…

Goober…let. It. Go.

SAM: Well, I guess there’s nothing left to do but turn the ol’ key in the door, huh?
EMMETT: Yeah…plenty of good memories around here, all right…

“Do you guys remember that time when we decided not to go back to work and instead talked for hours about who was the better Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore or John Hart? Good times, good times…”

EMMETT: I’ll give ‘em a thought now and then when I’m hauling in the trout…
(He reaches over to the light fixture in the wall and begins to unscrew the bulb)
HOWARD: Hey, what are you doing?
EMMETT: Takin’ the light bulb…
HOWARD: Well, you can’t do that…the bulb’s part of the fixture, and the fixture’s attached to the wall…and that makes it part of the real property—it’s right in the lease… (He pulls out a sheath of papers to show Emmett, who takes the light bulb and sticks it in his shirt pocket)
EMMETT: I’ll tell you one thing I’m not going to miss…

The four men file out of the store, and while Howard carefully places a “For Sale” sign in the window, Emmett is fighting back the temptation to get misty…

EMMETT: Well…look out, world—here I come!
GOOBER: Is that all there is to it?
EMMETT: What do you mean?
GOOBER: I mean, ain’tcha gonna stand back and look at the shop or say some words or nothin’?
EMMETT: What for?
GOOBER: Well, a man winds up his life he ought to say somethin’
EMMETT: I ain’t windin’ up my life! I’m just startin’ it!
SAM: I think what Goob means is that you’re probably going to be at loose ends for a little while…
EMMETT: I ain’t gonna be at loose ends at all!
GOOBER: Now you’re gettin’ grumpy like ol’ Mr. Peabody…
EMMETT: I am not grumpy! I’m makin’ a smart move, and you guys are too blind to see it!

Sam reassures Emmett that he, Goob and Howard think his retirement is swell and that what they’re feeling is nothing more than a twinge of jealousy…he also wishes Emmett well on his impending Washington excursion. Emmett exclaims: “We’re going to enjoy every minute of it—and I’m going to take time to see everything I want, ‘cause one thing I’ve got plenty of is time.”


At this point in our narrative, we could very well rename this episode “Mr. Clark Goes to Washington”—because like the movie’s Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), Emmett is excitedly taking in the sights, accompanied by Mrs. Emmett…er, I mean, Martha. As they return to their hotel room…

MARTHA: Emmett, what are you doing?
EMMETT (taking two suitcases to the bed and opening them up): Gonna pack…
MARTHA: Oh, where are we going?
EMMETT: Back home…
MARTHA: Back home?
EMMETT: Well, yeah…
MARTHA: We just got here last night…and …and we’ve only been out an hour-and-a-half this morning…
EMMETT (putting clothes in the suitcase): But we saw Washington, D.C., didn’t we?
MARTHA: We rode around a little…I thought we were just getting our bearings…
EMMETT: Look…we saw the Washington Monument, and the House of Representatives, and the White House…and the Government Printing Office!
MARTHA: But we didn’t go in any of them…
EMMETT: Look, dear…when you’ve seen one building, you’ve seen ‘em all

Yeah, that whole Smithsonian Institution? An overrated tourist trap.  The Library of Congress?  For suckers only.

MARTHA: Emmett, I don’t understand you…for years you’ve been talking about coming to Washington, and now we spend a few hours here…were you disappointed?
EMMETT: Heck no! Every minute was a thrill!
MARTHA: Emmett, I thought the whole reason for your retiring was so you could relax
EMMETT: I am relaxed! It’s just that…when you retire, there’s so many things you can do—I don’t want to waste any time!

At this point in the conversation, Martha digs in her heels. “Look, Emmett—while we’re here there’s one thing I insist on seeing…and that’s the Supreme Court of the United States…”

“Oh, fine!” Emmett replies, kissing her on the forehead. “We can drive past on the way out of town!”

Back in Mayberry, we’re treated to the rare sight of Howard actually getting some work accomplished…and in a snazzy, Stacia-approved cardigan. Emmett enters the office, holding something behind his back…

HOWARD: Say, when you’d get back from Washington?
EMMETT: Last night…
HOWARD: Gee…that was a quick trip…
EMMETT: Yeah…
HOWARD: How’d you enjoy it?
EMMETT: It was a great thrill…and then, bright and early this morning, I was out fishin’…
HOWARD: Oh… (Emmett reveals a string of fish from behind his back) Oh…hey…beauties, huh? Hey hey…
EMMETT: Thought maybe you’d like ‘em for dinner!

Emmett explains to Howard that he “limited out” and that weekdays are the best time to go because there’s no one up there—and when Howard asks him if that sort of situation doesn’t make him lonesome, his friend counters that he had a chat with the forest ranger and “watched a couple of squirrels run around.” (Looking for a…oh, that’s too easy.) There are two things that occur during this scene that I find fascinating—the first is that Howard wraps up the fish in a newspaper but apparently has no place to keep them until he leaves for home (which means the county clerk’s office is going to reek like a seafood market) and the second is that Emmett asks Howard to come with him on Friday when he goes back up…but Howard begs off, explaining that he has a lot of work to do. Sure, now he has to work—what the hell was he doing all those afternoons he was pissing around at the fix-it shop, checking for termites?

I really feel sorry for Emmett in that he’s sort of retired at the wrong time in history. See, when my father retired, he had a world of opportunities awaiting him—namely sitting in his recliner and watching either CNN, MSNBC or the History Channel for hours on end. But because Emmett called it quits before the establishment of these cable networks, he’s forced to spend time outside with his archery set.


Excited that he hit the target, Emmett starts hollering for Martha, who appears at the window, kerchief tied around her head in house-cleaning mode. “Why don’t you come out and play,” he asks. “Maybe later,” she replies.


I’m not exactly certain what a “Sat. Owl Show” entails—either it’s a show for the “night owls” in Mayberry (which probably means, what a 9 pm start time?) or they actually allow live owls in the theater. Emmett has apparently just finished seeing the main attraction because he’s exiting the theater just in time to say hidy to Sam.

SAM: Don’t tell me you’re taking in matinees nowadays…
EMMETT: Well…a man’s got to slow down the pace once in a while…
SAM: Oh…well, yeah…I suppose…
EMMETT: It’s easier to get good seats; you know…you don’t have to fight the crowd

The conversation between the two men is interrupted by a familiar-looking cashier, played by cult actress Luana Anders…who many TDOY readers may recognize for her appearances in such B-movie classics as Reform School Girl (1957), Night Tide (1961), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Dementia 13 (1963) and Greaser’s Palace (1972). (Anders also appeared in quite a few films with her pal Jack Nicholson, notably 1969’s Easy Rider but also flicks like The Last Detail [1973] and Goin’ South [1978].)  Oddly enough, this is the second time this week I've seen Anders...she was in a Lawman repeat the other day entitled "The Swamper."

JULIE: Hi, Mr. Jones!
SAM: Oh hi, Julie…
JULIE: Going to the movies?
SAM: No, I don’t think so…not now…
JULIE: Oh…it’s a good show…ask Mr. Clark, he’s seen it three times
(Emmett grimaces at Julie)
SAM: Three times, huh?
EMMETT: Well, you see…it’s one of them kinda deep plots you have to see a few times to get everything out of it…

Telling Sam he has “a million things to do”—something Sam would have called bullsh*t on even when Emmett was working, Emmett takes his leave and runs off, leaving Sam on to his merry way. Sam then gets a gander at what’s currently playing at Cine Mayberry:


Must be one of those Italian westerns. After the commercial break, we are transported via the magic of television to Mayberry’s diner, where we find a somewhat depressed Martha seated and being served a cuppa joe by Flora the waitress (Alberta Nelson). Sam enters the diner and when Martha greets him, he saunters over to the table at which she’s seated and makes himself at home.

MARTHA: If you want to know the truth—I just don’t want to go home and throw a boomerang
SAM: A what?
MARTHA: A boomerang…it’s Emmett’s latest hobby…he was interested in archery, but he lost all his arrows
SAM: Well, I-I imagine throwing one of those things is kind of different…
MARTHA: Oh, I guess there’s no doubt he’ll be Mayberry’s boomerang champion

When Flora comes over and announces that today’s lunch special is trout, Martha cringes at the very thought. “Oh, don’t tell me he’s been by here, too,” she wails. From the sound of things, all is not peaches and cream in Retirementland.

SAM: Uh…I imagine it’s a…tough adjustment for Emmett to make…
MARTHA: Well, it’s an adjustment for both of us…yesterday I was out playing catch…no matter what I suggest, he doesn’t want to do it…last night I wanted to go the movies—he wasn’t even interested
SAM: Guns at Piute Pass?
MARTHA: Yes! You’d think he’d love it, wouldn’t you?
SAM: Well, you never know…
MARTHA: We don’t even talk like we used to…he used to come in and tell me about his day…now we’re all talked out before breakfast is even over…

As you can clearly see, Sam is far too polite to escape this boring conversation with a lame excuse like “I have to go, Martha…my truck is on fire.” Instead, he tries to make the best of a bad situation by reassuring Martha that things will get better—after all, Emmett’s only been retired for a couple of weeks. “It seems like years,” is her gloomy response, as she contemplates stopping by the drugstore for a little something to get rid of the pests in her house—and you don’t have to have seen multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to know what I’m talking about. Meanwhile, Emmett is hanging out at Goober’s, talking his ear off…

EMMETT: It’s been a great eye-opener, being around the house…those women always claim they’ve got so much to do…they ain’t got nothin’ to do…all they do is sit around and yack…yack yack yack…I suppose you get it around here, too, huh?
GOOBER: What?
EMMETT: The gabbers…
GOOBER (with a hint of disgust): Yeah, we sure do
EMMETT: Yeah…I used to get ‘em around the fix-it shop…talk talk talk…never get anything done…
GOOBER: Yeah…
EMMETT: Always telling me how to do my work…hey…you missed a fittin’ right there…
GOOBER: I’ll get it later…I got a routine I follow…
EMMETT: You guys really have to lube cars as often as you claim?
GOOBER: I just follow the book…
EMMETT: What kind of grease are you using?
GOOBER: Chicken fat!
EMMETT: Well, you don’t need to get so huffy about it…
GOOBER: Look, Emmett—I’m in kind of a hurry…Howard’s pickin’ this up in a few minutes…

Sam pulls up in his truck, having given Howard a lift to the station—and when Howard asks if his ride is ready Goober explains he’s running a bit behind: “I ran into a little hang-up,” he explains, glaring at Emmett. Sam then asks Goob if some spark plugs he ordered for his tractor have came in, and Goober tells Sam he’ll go get them, slamming down his tools near Emmett. When Howard and Sam ask Emmett if he’s been keeping busy he tells them that he’s going to be playing baseball with some friends tomorrow morning: “A man’s gotta keep in shape.”


I couldn’t get a decent screen capture of the punchline to this joke, which is basically a small boy on a bicycle riding past and calling out to Emmett to remind him that he’s (Emmett) pitching tomorrow morning. The boy, identified in a snatch of dialogue as “Jimmy,” is played by a young Danny Bonaduce (whose father Joseph wrote a handful of R.F.D. escapades), a couple of years before his Partridge Family fame and some thirty years before he would become part of the media freakshow that my father watches religiously on TruTV as The World’s Dumbest Criminals or whatever the hell that program is called.

EMMETT: One of the nice things about being retired is that you have plenty of time to work with the kids…
SAM: Yeah…
EMMETT: Any feelers on the fix-it shop yet, Howard?
HOWARD: No, no…not yet…still got the “For Rent” sign up…
EMMETT: I’m surprised…you know, that’s a prime location for a restaurant or somethin’…
HOWARD: Mmm…
SAM: I…uh…I guess you can’t help missing the shop a little bit, huh, Emmett…?
EMMETT: Me? Are you kiddin’? Heh…
SAM: Well, I just thought you might miss…working with your hands…

Emmett, who’s been absentmindedly swinging a socket wrench during the above conversation, quickly throws the tool to the ground. “If I never see another tool it’ll be soon enough for me.” Goober returns with Sam’s spark plugs at this time, and things start to turn ugly…

GOOBER (to Howard): Car’ll be ready in a minute…
HOWARD: Okay, Goob…
EMMETT: Don’t forget that fittin’…
GOOBER: I told you I’d get it later, Emmett…
EMMETT: I’m just tryin’ to help out…
GOOBER (exasperated): Well, I don’t need any help! Ain’t you got nothin’ better to do? This ain’t no country club, you know…
EMMETT: What do you mean, nothin’ better to do? (To Sam and Howard) Can you get that? He’s so jealous of me not workin’ he can’t stand it!
GOOBER: Jealous? I just don’t want no loafers hangin’ around…

Oh, boy…this amounts to a major fox paw for our automobile-lubing friend, because if you’ll recall last week’s…well, let me start up the WABAC machine {{{{{wavy lines}}}}}


MARSHALL: One more thing to remember…this is a modern, efficient service station—it is not a meeting place for the town loafers
GOOBER: Oh…oh, they’re not loafers—those are my friends


{{{{{wavy lines}}}}} I’ve said it so often around here that it’s almost a mantra—but irony can be pretty ironic sometimes. Emmett drives off in a huff (or maybe it was a minute and a huff), leaving Mayberry’s brain trust a man short and standing out in front of the filling station.

HOWARD (sighing): Well, it’s as plain as the hand in front of your face—he ought to be back in the fix-it shop…
GOOBER: Everybody knows that except Emmett…and he’s so doggone stubborn…
SAM: Oh, I don’t think it’s stubbornness—I think it’s pride…you know, he sounded off to us pretty good about retiring, and now he doesn’t know how to get out of it…
GOOBER: Well, it ain’t by tellin’ me how to lube a car
HOWARD: I think you’re right, Sam…he just got himself out on a limb…


“And we’re just the fellows to saw that limb in two!” Realizing that Emmett would be much happier if he were back in the ol’ fix-it game—not to mention the population of Mayberry, who are just a smidge away from having the old coot committed—the three men put their heads together to come up with a wacky scheme that will convince Emmett he’s been a damn fool and put a closer on this sort of depressing old person saga. They arrange to meet in the council office, and…

GOOBER (looking out the window): Here he comes…right on schedule… (He runs over to the meeting table where Sam and Howard are standing, peering into a typewriter…)
HOWARD: All right…now let Sam do the talking…
GOOBER (snippy): Well, all right, all right
(Emmett walks into the office, carrying more fish)
EMMETT: Hiya fellas!
SAM: Hi, Emmett…
HOWARD: Hi, Emmett…
GOOBER: Emmett…
SAM (peering into the machine): Uh…maybe a spring slipped off the key or something…
GOOBER: No, maybe there’s somethin’ bent
EMMETT (holding up his catch): Limited out again today…
HOWARD: Yeah…that’s great…Emmett…
GOOBER: Give it a whack…that works with my radio
EMMETT: What’s the matter?
SAM: Oh, my typewriter here’s on the blink and I got some reports to get out…
EMMETT: Well, here—let me take a look at it…
SAM: No, no…you don’t have to do that…you’re retired
EMMETT: Yeah, but…I don’t mind helpin’ out in a pinch…
HOWARD: Now, look, Emmett—we’ve got to learn to get along without you
GOOBER: Yeah—you’re so busy with your boomerangs and everything…
(Howard picks a hammer and starts to hit the typewriter)
EMMETT: Howard, what are you doin’? You don’t work on a typewriter with a hammer
HOWARD: Well, I was just going to give it a little tap…
GOOBER: Boy, this town sure could use a fix-it man


That’s right…just reeeeeeel him in slooooooowly…

SAM: Say, Emmett—maybe you could recommend somebody…what about that kid who helped you last summer?
EMMETT: Burt? Are you kiddin’? He was all thumbs—he had no talent…
HOWARD: Well, what about Sy Wilkins…he’s a pretty good handyman…
EMMETT: You don’t want a handyman—you want a professional for this!
SAM: Well, we know that, Emmett…but we gotta get somebody…you kind of left us high and dry around here…
HOWARD: Yeah, the fan in my office is broke…
GOOBER: Yeah, I don’t get anything but static on my radio…
SAM: Poor old Miss Walter had to take her electric blanket clear into Mt. Pilot on the bus

Congratulations, gentlemen! You have all passed with flying colors and are now proud graduates of the Irene Shreve College of Guilt Trips. While you step up to receive your diplomas, Emmett will get back to work at the shop (fortunately, landlord Howard never did find a prospective tenant for that prime piece of Mayberry real estate). “You guys can stand around here all day and shoot the breeze if you want to, but I’ve got work to do,” he scolds his pals as he exits the council office, proving once again that sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

Coda time!

Emmett is on the phone with a Mrs. Reese, promising that he’ll have her appliance fixed by Wednesday—“I’m pushin’ it through for you”—and when he finishes, he walks over to where Sam is staring at the workbench with rapt attention…

EMMETT: You know, Sam—I don’t mind tellin’ you…it’s good to be back in the ol’ mainstream
SAM: Yeah…I suppose it is…
(As Emmett walks further over, the camera pulls back to reveal that Sam has been eyeballing a checkerboard…)
EMMETT: Whose move is it?
SAM: Yours…

Now, I kind of thought this was sort of a clever closing gag—but writers Perry Grant and Dick Bensfield kind of belabor the point by having Emmett ask Sam if he’d consider playing hooky from work tomorrow to go fishing. “Have you got time?” Sam asks.

“Heck no!” is Emmett’s reply. “That’s why we should go…a lot more fun goin’ fishin’ when you ain’t supposed to.” Not only does this serve as a sad commentary on Emmett’s pathetic existence, but seeing as how Sam manages to run a farm without doing any actual physical work is starting to make me think those stories my father used to tell me about his miserable existence on the farm were all poopy-caca.

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Mayberry R.F.D. Bee-o-meter™ remains in the number ten position this week, with Aunt Bee a no-show (of course, no sign of Mike the Idiot Boy, either, so it’s not a total loss). I’ve commented before that because these shows were edited for syndication that we’re really not getting the full Mayberry—I’m not certain exactly what was trimmed from “Emmett’s Retirement” but if I had to hazard a guess I think it might have been a scene with Emmett and Goober because Goober seems a little too quick to anger in the sequence that remains, which seems out of character for the beloved R.F.D. gas pump jockey…even if he is a simpleton. Next week—an episode with the…what? Is that really the title? Ahem…next week’s playlet is entitled “Millie’s Girlfriend.” (Bow-chicka-wow-wow…)

Bookmark and Share