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More Joy: Owl Wagon - Laura Wise

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January 17th, 2012


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07:37 pm - More Joy: Owl Wagon
So, anyway, I still have some More Joy requests to fulfill.

Today I want to tweak gwynnega's request to talk about a 1930s movie I love... and, well, talk about a 1941 movie i love. More specifically, talk about a scene in a 1941 movie I love, to wit, Sullivan's Travels.

But let's talk about the term "owl wagon," about which a quick google does not reveal much beyond the fact Preston Sturges used it in, you guessed it, Sullivan's Travels. Best I can tell, from some thinly sourced online notes: all-night diners used to be called "night owls" in some parts of these fair United States; diners also used to be (literally) built from 'wagons,' discarded transportation vehicles, like old train cars or similar. Hence, Sturges' creation of "owl wagon" (all-night diner).

Because my mind works in a particular way, I immediately think of a foggy night, and an owl-wagon on the side of a city street... except no one in the burned-own neighborhood remembers how it got there, and there are always the oddest sounds coming from it in the dark and fog. The short-order cook always wears a cap -- but one night Mrs McGee, laundress and seer, exhausted from a day of washing and a feverish child, went into the empty diner for a cup of coffee and a couple of sinkers to go (her Joe just having gotten back from his second shift at the factory), and she swears she saw the cook sitting in the back, his hat off and his hair sticking up in tufts, and when he saw her, his low-voiced curse sounded like a "Whooo." But nobody listens to crazy Mrs McGee....

Preston Sturges didn't write about an owl wagon like that. No, he used the all-night diner to set up the meeting of Sullivan, Hollywood director on a quixotic quest to live the life of a poor man in order to gain material, and The Girl. Funny how she doesn't have a name -- but Sturges cast Veronica Lake as the Girl, and her wit and her hair give us plenty of personality to work with.

The owl wagon scene in Sullivan's Travels, which is a Thing of More Joy indeed. :-)

"Don't be a sucker," and More Joy to you all!

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:paratti
Date:January 18th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
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I've not seen it yet, but it sounds great:)

((hugs))
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 11:42 am (UTC)
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Sullivan's Travels is a problematic movie in many ways, and a wonderful one in others. ;-)

Cheers and More Joy, L! [hugs]
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From:anne_d
Date:January 18th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
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I do love your tricksy mind...
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
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Thank you, A. :-)

Cheer and More Joy to you today!
[User Picture]
From:gwynnega
Date:January 18th, 2012 01:28 am (UTC)
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Yay Veronica Lake and owl wagons! :-)

::hugs::
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
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More Joy, Gwynne! More Joy and L.A. stories. :-))

[hugs]
[User Picture]
From:mamculuna
Date:January 18th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
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Ah, so evocative. But then there are also Nighthawks...
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 11:44 am (UTC)
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I love that painting.

Now, an interesting question I can't tell from the prints I've looked at -- is that an actual 'wagon', a converted train car or similar? (Not that it matters, of course.)

Anyway, cheers, thanks, More Joy!
[User Picture]
From:wildrider
Date:January 18th, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
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More joy! Cookies arrived today! (And hopefully yours arrived safely and weren't TOO stale when you got home! :) )

[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 11:46 am (UTC)
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I DID get my cookies when I returned from the Plains, and they were good indeed, and I thank you and Barb very much. :-))

Hope the cookies I sent are good! Hugs! More Joy!
[User Picture]
From:wildrider
Date:January 19th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
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Delicious as always! NOM!

Hugs!
[User Picture]
From:mobile_alh
Date:January 18th, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I'd forgotten how good she is in that...thank you!
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
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Isn't she awesome? (And oh, Joel McCrea....)

Cheers, ALH! Cheers and More Joy!
[User Picture]
From:stevie_carroll
Date:January 18th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC)
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I love the way your mind works.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 18th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, kind Stevie! :-)

Cheers and More Joy for you, too!
[User Picture]
From:heron_pose
Date:January 19th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
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I only saw that film one time, maybe 15 years ago, but I was really charmed.

You and your owls & wagons!!!!

::HUGS::
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 19th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
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H-P!! [cheers and stuff]

Sullivan's Travels has some real problems esp in regards to race, but it's clever and heartfelt all the same. And Veronica Lake is awesome. :-)

Hugs hugs! More Joy to you!
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From:stateless82
Date:January 20th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
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A thing of very much joy. Veronica Lake is a wonder.

And I love your owl wagon.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 20th, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you, S!

Hugs and More Joy to you today, with or without owl wagons. :-)

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