Friday, September 18, 2009

Pysc* (for Psyc*)

I recently caught a 1955 movie on TCM Underground called The Cobweb, based on a book by William Gibson. It's about a tussle over some library drapes. Seriously. It takes place in a psychiatric hospital where we're told that the difference between the doctors and the patients is that "the patients get better." Richard Widmark plays the head doctor who wants the inmates to run the asylum (at least insofar as making their own curtains goes), Gloria Grahame plays his social-climbing wife who wants the window treatments to be expensive and impressive to the visiting trustees, Lillian Gish plays the hospital administrator and penny-pincher who wants the drapes drab and economical, and John Kerr (whose role was almost given to James Dean) plays the artistic neurotic who wants to make drawings of the residents and silkscreen them onto muslin panels.

Today's high-probability typo (for words like psychiatry and psychology) occurs 147 times in OhioLINK. I considered blogging about libraries, hospitals, or institutions, but those have already been done, and the word drapes is quite possibly found more often in the film than it is in the catalog. Cool Cinema Trash writes: "There's hardly a scene that goes by in The Cobweb where the characters don't mention the dreaded drapes at least a half a dozen times. In fact, The Cobweb would make the perfect drinking game. Just take a shot every time a character says the word drapes. Anyone playing is guaranteed to be rushed to the hospital for blood alcohol poisoning before the movie is over." William Gibson, who died at age 94 in 2008, was the author of The Miracle Worker and was married to a psychotherapist. Cast member Oscar Levant, a patient in an actual mental institution at the time, is reported to have snapped at director Vincente Minnelli: "Don't try to tell me how to play crazy! I'm crazier than you could ever hope to be!"

(William Gibson in 1964, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid


Felicity Pickup said...

No matter how many times I clean up this one, there are always fresh ones appearing.

Felicity Pickup said...

Hey, I just found a good one: pscyh*