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This long poem tells a story within a story. The framing story is Charles Darwin falling asleep and thinking, "as he always does, of animals . . . . " His dream turns into the story of the Deluge and Noah and his ark. Poor Noah is a bumbling 600 year old man, who much against his own inclinations, is told by God to build the ark and, later, to stuff it with a pair of every kind of animal. Well, Noah's sons think this whole project is stupid, but they eventually go along with it.
The most difficult part was finding and capturing the animals, two of every species, including in the end, "sixteen thousand hungry birds / lusting for the eighteen hundred thousand insects, / and the twelve thousand snakes and lizards / nipping at the seven thousand mammals, / and everyone slipping and sliding around / on the sixty-four thousand worms / and the one hundred thousand spiders--." When the deluge began and the waters rose, the ark floated past all the desperate, dying people, until the last woman "holding her baby over her head" went under "and God was well pleased."
Summary:Virginia (Olivia de Havilland) marries Robert (Mark Stevens), but she soon becomes profoundly disturbed and her caring husband sends her to a psychiatric hospital. Using Freudian techniques combined with physical modalities of electroshock and isolation, her psychiatrist (Leo Genn) leads her to overcome her amnesia and to understand that her illness is the result of unresolved yet misplaced feelings of guilt over a boyfriend and her father. Just before Virginia is happily restored to Robert, the asylum patients are gathered together at a hospital party where they sing of their yearning for home.
Bud (Marlon Brando), a lieutenant in battle during World War II, is shot in the spine by enemy fire. A former college football star, he is now paraplegic. When the film opens, Bud has been in a veteran's rehabilitation unit for a year, flat on his back, bitter and depressed, with no will to help himself or to allow his former fiancee, Ellen (Teresa Wright) to resume their relationship. Ellen persists, enlisting the help of Dr. Brock (Everett Sloane), the rehab unit physician, who arranges for her to visit Bud.
Brock, a no-nonsense-tell-it-like-it-is doctor, hopes that the visit will finally motivate Bud to participate more actively in his own rehabilitation. He moves Bud into a ward with others like himself, where Norm (Jack Webb) and the other paraplegic veterans ("The Men") have developed a sardonic camaraderie; they don't allow Bud to wallow in self-pity.
Ellen convinces Bud that she still loves him and with her support and that of his fellow paraplegic vets, he progresses and does well. With some trepidation, and against the advice of Ellen's parents, Bud agrees to marry Ellen. The wedding and coming-home don't go smoothly--Bud loses his balance while trying to stand through the ceremony, and Ellen, stricken by the realization of what she has committed to, regrets the marriage. Bud runs off, returning to the hospital. In the end, Bud is forced to leave the sheltering cocoon of the hospital and decides to give his marriage another try; Ellen has reconfirmed her love for him and welcomes him back.
A depressed housewife, Eve White (Joanne Woodward), is brought by her husband (David Wayne) to consult a psychiatrist (Lee J. Cobb) because her behavior has been strange. Although she denies it, she has purchased uncharacteristically seductive clothing and has been singing and dancing in bars.
Her surprised doctor is soon confronted with a different but equally inadequate personality, the sexy Eve Black. He recognizes the case as an example of the rare condition, multiple personality disorder, and embarks on a course of psychotherapy in search of the woman's missing memories.
Eve's unhealthy marriage disintegrates when she chooses to remain in therapy rather than move away with her violent husband. Psychotherapy helps her to the repressed memory of an instance of childhood abuse: being forced by her mother to kiss the corpse of a dead relative. A third personality, that of intelligent, insightful Jane, slowly emerges to replace the other two. Jane establishes a new life with a loving man.
A film characterized as comedy/drama, The Wedding Banquet is a sensitive, tender, and sometimes humorous portrayal of a family "situation" illuminating cultural, generational, and sexuality conflicts. Wai Tung (Winston Chao) is a successful Taiwanese-American whose parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gao (Sihung Lung and Ah-Leh Gua) are determined to orchestrate a suitable match for Wai Tung from their home in Taiwan.
Little do they know of Wai Tung’s long-term relationship with Simon (Mitchel Lichtenstein), but Wai Tung is able to play the reluctant recipient of his parents’ matchmaking because of the thousands of miles separating them. When they announce that they are coming for a visit, Wai Tung and Simon must not only hide their relationship (Simon becomes Wai Tung’s landlord-roommate), but Wai Tung decides that he is going to fake an engagement to Wei Wei (May Chin), a struggling artist who is one of his Taiwanese tenants (he’s a landlord himself), because she is about to be deported. It seems to be a perfect solution.
When the Gaos arrive they are shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed that Wai Tung and Wei Wei are not going to have a huge wedding banquet but have opted to get married in a civil ceremony with no guests except for them and Simon (still playing the landlord-roommate). After the wedding the group goes to dinner where one of Mr. Gao’s former army colleagues offers to host a "proper" wedding banquet for the newlyweds. Mr. and Mrs. Gao are ecstatic; Wai Tung, Wei Wei, and Simon are caught in a web by now and agree to continue the charade until the Gaos return to Taiwan. The wedding banquet takes place, and it is an opulent affair. In their drunken state, Wei Wei and Wai Tung make love in their "honeymoon" suite.
Not surprisingly, Wei Wei becomes pregnant. As the story unfolds, Simon becomes angrier and angrier; Mr. and Mrs. Gao stick around far longer than is expected because of Mr. Gao’s illness; Wei Wei decides to have an abortion, and backs out; and Mr. Gao witnesses (and hears) a blowout between Simon and Wai Tung, (no one was aware of his rudimentary English skills), and now knows that they are lovers.
The story ends with Wai Tung, Simon, and Wei Wei deciding to keep the baby and all live together and share parenting. Wai Tung discloses his relationship with Simon to his mother (who begs him not to tell his father, who already knows!), and privately Mr. Gao lets Simon know that he "knows" and honors him as his son’s partner. Mr. and Mrs. Gao leave for Taiwan, sadly but with the knowledge of their son’s happiness and the prospect of a grandchild, all in confines of this very, very strange family that is, nonetheless, a family.
Summary:Miss Gee wants to be a good girl and keep "her clothes buttoned up to her neck." Time goes by. Finally, she gets on her bicycle and goes to the doctor about "a pain inside me." The doctor diagnoses cancer. Later, over dinner, he comments to his wife that "cancer's a funny thing" that attacks "childless women" and "men when they retire."
Summary:The narrator of this poem is the father who is dying. He takes all kinds of pills in different colors which he identifies, perhaps correctly, as poisons. He knows he is dying and so does his son, who brings him his medicine and "sees poison in my eyes." The last few lines are especially touching: "He wants to take my hand, but he's / afraid. That's two of us. / For heart I take a white one once."
Summary:This remarkable poem notes the contrast between the mechanical, technologically manipulated heart today (without faith or spirit) and the mysterious, spirit-creating heart of Riverius. In the days of Riverius, the heart created spirit which "descended like dew" into the body and "ascended like steam" into the head--"how souls and bodies blended!" But now all mystery and spirit are gone. Cadaver-cutting scientists made an ox of the heart which pumps "the blood in dispirited circles" (note the wonderful use of "dispirited").
Summary:A woman named Kitty calls the doctor and reports that her husband has died. "Can you come over?" she asks. At the house he finds that the husband has been shot in the head. It is evident that the wife has killed him. The doctor reflects that Kitty "held the record for most abused woman in Taylor County." He remembers how many times he has seen her badly beaten by her husband. In the end he decides to "play God." He calls the police chief and reports the death as a "clear" suicide.
Summary:The speaker evokes the isolation and boredom of the sick as they sit in a waiting room, "pretending to read." The poem comments on the mystery of life and death and the patient's need for the physician to bring healing, hope. As people sit in the waiting room, the speaker thinks about their isolation and wonders what they might be thinking (a man who is "wondering what disease / is buried in his body/ like a treasure"). The darkness of the afternoon is dispelled by a nurse turning on a lamp, "but the examining room is dark / as the doctor's eyes, hidden / behind the strongly focused beam / shooting out from the silver circle, / . . . coming / out the center of his head."