I was watching the nineteen forty-six classic The Killers last weekend because I am slightly obsessed with Ava Gardner ever since I started reading Peter Evan’s autobiography Ava. There is a seen in the movie – it’s really the scene of the movie when Burt Lancaster meets Ava’s character Kitty Collins. She sitting at the piano smoking a cigarette stylishly and The Swede (played by Burt) is instantly smitten and awestruck by Miss Collins. The catch is The Swede is in the company of his main squeeze.
It struck me that in the modern day world we have lost our ability to insult stylishly and make the insult sound classy. I know that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, insulting people isn’t something you want to do in your everyday life but now it is calling someone a swear word – talking about them behind their back and that’s it. We have lost the ability to insult and remain classy; lost that ability to put someone in their place, while you walk away and leave them wondering what the heck just happened.
What do these two things have in common? You maybe asking yourself thinking ‘Layla, what are you talking about?’
In The Killer’s The Swede is a boxer and his other half goes to all his fights to support him. When Kitty Collins hears this, she looking up from the piano where she is sitting, stylishly smoking her cigarette, she looks at both The Swede and his partner and says to the girlfriend
How wonderful of you. I could never bear to see a man I really care for being hurt
I mean Zing! Take that Girl Friday! Of course after that, The Swede dumps Girl Friday and takes up with Kitty Collins. Why wouldn’t you? She played by Ava Gardner.
But that’s not the only instance I’ve heard a great insult disguised by a classy lady. There was a wonderful television that was on the BBC (on Australia’s ABC) called The Hour. Sadly it’s been cancelled (but if you get a chance, check it out) but it was a drama about one of the first current affairs news programs and the people that brought you the real news in spite of what the government may have wanted them to report, in many cases. Anyway one of the main characters mid-twenties career girl Bel (why must we be married?) Rowley who controls the show has a bit of a fling with the anchorman Victor – all while he is married to the picture of prefect nineteen fifties wife Marnie
They are all been invite to Marnie’s family homestead in the country for a spot of hunting (did I mention this is nineteen fifties) of course Marnie knows about Bel and Victor, so in so many ways she is setting Bel and Victor up the whole weekend, giving them obstacles. Even placing Bel in the room with intelligent and tenacious Freddie – pleading the old – Ohh, my mistake I thought you two were an item. I hope it’s not awkward. Of course there is the event of the evening, dinner where everyone is dressed up to the nines and their finest. Marnie fains interest in Bel’s dress before stating
Is it silk? One can’t tell anymore, what with all the marvelous new cheap synthetics
To which Marnie chuckles and walking down the hallway, leaving out heroine Bel alone to ponder what she really meant and how much the wife truly knows.
See what I mean?
So much better than a swear word