Staff Picks: Two Favorite Holiday Treats
One of my favorite holiday films is Desk Set starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. You don’t have to be a librarian to enjoy the banter among the research staff employed by a major TV Network or between the Tracy/Hepburn characters. Written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron (parents of Nora Ephron) the 1957 movie based on their hit play offers an amusing glimpse of the early days when new-fangled computers filled an entire room and were thought to replace all humans in their jobs.
Sound familiar? Tracy plays an efficiency expert named Richard Sumner, who isn’t allowed to inform the staff why he is there. Consequently, rumors abound. Classic scenes include the intelligence quiz that Sumner gives to Bunny Watson, played by Hepburn, the company’s rollicking holiday party and rival Gig Young’s encounter with Tracy at Hepburn’s apartment. While the roles of men and women reflect 1950’s attitudes, it still shines with good humor and holiday spirit.
Fannie Flagg’s Redbird Christmas is a tonic for those who are feeling out of tune with the holiday season. Oswald T. Campbell has just been informed by the VA Hospital doctor that he won’t survive another Chicago winter. Divorced, unemployed, a sporadic member of A. A. , living on a disability pension in a one-room hotel apartment, the doctor gives him a brochure about a place in southern Alabama that just might help him survive a few more months. Lost River is a kind of Alabama Brigadoon. It exists but seems to be detached from the rest of the world. Reluctantly, no enthusiasm for it touted birds and trees and flowers, Oswald takes the train with his one bag of belongings and plans to drink himself to death in this new warmer environment where nobody knows him. But it’s pretty hard to hide in the small town, where people know his name before he’s even met them. Slowly, the charm of Lost River begins to heal his health and outlook. Since there’s not much to do, birdwatching becomes a big pastime. The many unattached older women turn their focus on Oswald as a dinner and dance partner. The Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society keep things lively. He’s never had so much attention in his life! Eventually, Otis and the rest of the community become involved in the plight of a neglected child, Patsy, who doesn’t really belong to anyone, much like Otis himself. And Jack, the marvelous Redbird who survived being shot with a bee-bee gun, lives in the town’s grocery store and becomes Patsy’s best friend. The audio version is narrated by the author herself and is wonderful to listen to. The print version has a chapter of old-fashioned recipes at the end, including Potluck Casserole, Floating Island and Betty Kitchen’s Banana Pudding.
∼ Fran, Manager, Collection Development