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Birthdates of the film greats

by Stella Braintree

Okay, last night I had this trippy dream I was at a café sipping a thick black beer, and heard someone pull up a chair. So I’m peering Through a Glass Darkly and as I set down the sludge-filled mug, I’m Face To Face with a grinning Ingmar Bergman.

“Like some Wild Strawberries?” he asked in a Swedish accent. And as he offers the bowl I hear Cries & Whispers from the next table. “That’s Fanny and Alexander,” he chortled.

Just then, his Persona changed when a German-sounding man joined us, “William Wyler! Why haven’t you called?” he demanded.

“For your information, I’ve been on a Roman Holiday.”

“Well, good for you… I enjoyed the Summer with Monika.”

“Oh, she’s lovely, though she can’t compete with Mrs. Miniver,” spat Wyler.

“You’re no longer with The Heiress?!” Bergman asked, a hint of schadenfreude.

“We spent The Best Years of Our Lives together, but I haven’t Ben Hur lover in ages.”

“You don’t say?”

“She turned out to be a real Jezebel.”

Bergman shook his head. “That’s a Shame.”

“Yes, I always found her to be such a Funny Girl,” a man interjected.

Where’ve you been?” Wyler inquired.

“Just got Out of Africa,” said Sydney Pollack, snapping his fingers at the waitress, “Bring another round, Tootsie!”

“That’s rather rude!” scolded Bergman.

“Oh, I meant it with an Absence of Malice.”

As they bickered, it occurred to me I’m sitting with These Three directors and should whip out a screenplay ‘cause, like, how often does this happen?!

My Fair Lady, may I join you?”

Before I could respond Wyler bellows out, “George Cukor! You’re late!”

A bespectacled gent sat down and stirred his coffee. “Apologies – I’ve been working on The Philadelphia Story, and The Women took forever —“

Pollack interrupted, “The Way We Were raised –“

I know — “Dinner at Eight doesn’t mean ten!”

Out of nowhere, a man bumps the table splattering Milk on George’s pants. “Why you – were you Born Yesterday?” Cukor implored, brushing off his trousers.

“Whoops,” offered the spiller. “Guess I was in My Own Private Idaho.”

“What’s your name?” Ingmar asked, more curious than cross.

Gus Van Sant,” he said.

I chimed in, “He’s a director, too. I see him when I’m Goodwill Hunting… Remember, this week’s blue tags.”

“Cool. I’m Restless for a deal on a Drugstore Cowboy.”

At that moment, I felt important, respectable, Almost Famous, that is, ‘til Cameron Crowe stole my thunder.

“Sorry, fellas. Jerry Maguire kept me late again,” he plunked next to Cukor.

“Always an excuse…” chided Pollack.

“Fine,” said Crowe, turning away from him. He crossed his arms and glared at the Vanilla Sky, “Next time I won’t Say Anything.”

And then a chap who’d been Following me earlier swooped by the table. Wyler eyed his watch, “Well, look who’s finally graced us with his presence.”

Christopher Nolan, pull up a chair,” Bergman added.

“Don’t have time,” said Nolan. “Batman Begins in ten minutes and I don’t want to miss it.”

“Well, take a berry as a Memento.”

Nolan plucked a couple from the bowl and was about to speed off when suddenly…

The wind picked up and we looked up into The Dark Knight and saw a hovering spaceship. The Shining light blinding us as the motor’s whir grew deafening.

“Could that be — Dr. Strangelove?” Van Sant called out, shielding his eyes.

“Or Spartacus?” Crowe queried over the drone.

The ship’s door descended and Stanley Kubrick strolls out in a Full Metal Jacket, his arm slung around a young Lolita.

Someone yelled, “Hey, how ‘bout some bubbly?”

Next thing I knew a waiter was filling flutes.

How fun, I thought. Champagne, directors, spaceships… It’s so damn glamorous! So positively grand! I’m practically a player!

Wyler nodded in my direction, “Give her the bill.”

Huh? “Why me?”

“It’s our birthday month, not yours!” snorted Ingmar.

As I scavenged my purse, blood rushed to my face. Four bucks and a Goodwill receipt. This sucked — I just came for a beer. Checked my pockets… a dime… three pennies.

“Show me the money!” the waiter insisted. “Show me the… “

“Money… the money…” The group repeated in unison, their voices becoming louder.

The waiter scratched my hand, “The meo-oney… Show me the meow-y… me-OW-ey…”

And I was jolted awake!

I sat up in bed, Eyes Wide Shut and my heart beating wildly.

My cat thumped her tail, “Meow!”

Oh, thank goodness! It was a dream — A silly nightmare in-the-making. Whew! Wow, so glad I avoided that one… Sheesh, directors can be expensive!

Happy Birthday to all – and thank you for years of fabulous filmmaking!

July 1William Wyler, Sydney Pollack

July 7George Cukor

July 13Cameron Crowe

July 14Ingmar Bergman

July 24Gus Van Sant

July 26Stanley Kubrick

July 30Christopher Nolan

Stella Braintree

About Stella Braintree

Stella Braintree is a screenwriter, performance artist and dreamer.

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