Friday, July 14, 2006

The Tandy-Cronyn Geriatric Sci-Fi Legacy

I look at them and my heart swells. The late Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Fifty-two years of marriage, sparkling theatre careers (six Tonys between them), and then a shared career renaissance in the '80s with a trilogy of science-fiction films: Cocoon, Cocoon: The Return, and *batteries not included (which I viewed repeatedly when I was young -- so much that Cronyn and Tandy became like a third set of grandparents to me).

How did this trilogy even happen? Can you imagine the pitches to studios? For Cocoon: "So we got these old folks at an old folks home, and then they break into an old mansion and use the pool, and it makes 'em feel real good, and eventually they hitchhike on a flying saucer and blast off to an eternity of no-aches-and-pains." For *batteries: "So we got these old folks who are too old to run their diner, and the woman has Alzheimer's and still thinks her dead son Bobby is alive, and it looks like the end of the road until a family of robotic aliens shows up and helps them out with the cooking and the serving and their apartment building, which is about to be torn down by greedy developers."

Suffice to say: These movies would've never gotten made today.

The Cocoons are throwaways, but *batteries is priceless. Amid the sci-fi wizardry and general mayhem, Cronyn and Tandy fashion a portrait of a marriage that is both wearing thin and getting stronger because of age and affliction. It seems ridiculous to say this, but with the help of these aliens ("the little guys," as Tandy calls them), they find a way to connect through the haze of Alzheimer's. It's beautiful and moving and unexpected. Does anyone else have a special place in their hearts for *batteries not included?


Mike z said...

Of course, after spending my youth watching it almost every time I visited Grandma & Grandpa's, I bought it when it came out on DVD. I watched it a couple weeks ago, actually.

Middento said...

Reacting to the side comments: You are clearly not in the Godfather mood these days, are you? I think your reaction to the films needs further explanation in a larger posting, personally.

J.J. said...

I ain't ready to take on the world in that respect. Suffice to say: the physics of the mafia world make no sense to me, and it's best when it's treated absurdly (like in, say, Goodfellas). That said, I think The Sopranos is great. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

First off I want to say that Im really upset that this blog was posted on my birthday and I didnt get to see it on my birthday! :)
I most definitely agree with a lot of people in here, throwing differnet views, different discussions. THIS IS WHAT I LIVE FOR!

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