Two weeks or so ago, when Donald J. Trump first expressed his latest outrage - namely about the lack of patriotism indicated by those NFL players who kneel in protest during the National Anthem - Turner Classic Movies screened the 1952 Cary Grant comedy, "Room for One More."
It was a Saturday - September 24th - and I remember thinking that, if there was a remote chance that Trump was also watching the film, we'd be exposed to yet another flag-waving tirade about American loyalty/pride.
Why? Because towards the end of this charming family movie, there's a Boy Scout sequence, during which the original Pledge of Allegiance is recited, a version that does not include the words "under God"!
I can envision the Tweet...
- Cary Grant is, without question, the WORST EVER actor. A total joke. I predict he will never make another movie. And "Room for One More." VERY DISAPPOINTING. God is a really great guy. A VERY GOOD FRIEND.
For years, it was believed that those two words were included in response to the onset of the Cold War. Not true, even though the two coincided.
The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1887 by George Balch, a Rear Admiral devoted to teaching loyalty to the United States to children and immigrants.
It was revised in 1892 - in largely the form as we presently know it - by Francis Julius Bellamy, a Christian socialist minister who disapproved of Balch's version. In '54, George MacPherson Docherty, the Presbyterian minister of the church attended by President Eisenhower, suggested that something was missing and had the two words, "under God," incorporated into the Pledge. So much for the separation of church and state, right?
I had an image of Trump screaming at his TV screen - and tweeting - as the Turner movie aired. Then another movie - and another character - came to mind: Dame Marjorie Chardin, aka Maude, who had some radical ideas on the subject of patriotism that could prompt yet another tweet.
"Oh, big issues," Maude explains. "Liberty. Rights. Justice. Kings died, kingdoms fell. I don't regret the kingdoms - what sense in borders and nations and patriotism? But I miss the kings."
Colin Higgins, who wrote "Harold and Maude," was clearly ahead of his time. He knew that patriotism, ostensibly a good thing, could also be divisive, setting up unnecessary borders. And walls. And conformity.
As the NFL has regretably demonstrated.
~Cary Grant (from left), George "Foghorn" Winslow, Betsy Drake (aka, Mrs. Grant), Iris Mann and Gay Gordon reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in "Room for One More"
~The Boy Scout ceremony in "Room for One More"
~Hal Ashby directing Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon in "Harold and Maude"