“This is the great thing that the movies have…the potential to really press things home visually—they come closer than anything else, the people can see your eyes…they can—I remember we were up in Canada, in 1954, in the mountains shooting a picture called The Far Country. We were havin’ a bawx lunch—the usual terrible bawx lunch—and this old guy came over t’me…nawdded at me. ‘You Stewart?’ ‘Yeah…’ ‘You did a thing in a picture once,’ he said. ‘Can’t remember the name of it—but you were in a room—and you said a poem or something ‘bout fireflies…That was good!’ I knew right away what he meant—that’s all he said—he was talking about a scene in a picture called Come Live with Me that came out in 1941—and he couldn’t remember the title, but that little…tiny thing—didn’t last even a minute—he’d remembered all those years…An’ that’s the thing—that’s the great thing about the movies…After you learn—and if you’re good and Gawd helps ya and you’re lucky enough to have a personality that comes across—then what you’re doing is…you’re giving people little…little, tiny pieces of time…that they never forget.”—
Jimmy Stewart, quoted in ‘Who The Hell’s In It’ by Peter Bogdanovich
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With its nineteenth-century WASP setting, The Age of Innocence posed a new culinary challenge: how to recreate the elaborate dinners of Edith Wharton’s high society and give these unfamiliar rituals dramatic meaning? Scorsese’s solution was to go for the same total detail and authenticity as in his gangster movies. Every course and setting in every meal is meticulously researched, and its significance registered in the social dance that steers Newland Archer away from the exotic Countess Olenska and ensures that he stays with demure, yet steely May Welland. Dining is no more innocent in this social jungle, where, to Scorsese’s delight, the most violent thing that happens is a breach of etiquette.