Thanks for the Memories

By Jeffrey Page

Denholm Elliott

Denholm Elliott

A bunch of us got together to watch the terrific film farce “Noises Off!” which gave me a chance to see Denholm Elliott, my third favorite character actor.

The late Denholm Elliott was terrific playing an aging actor with the wonderful name Selsdon Mobray. Yet even during the movie, I started thinking about my second favorite character actor, someone else whose career I had followed.

But I couldn’t figure out who he was.

In my mind’s eye I could see this other actor perfectly. I would say he was older than Elliott, and seemed taller, grayer and with a deeper voice. Like Elliott, British maybe. But his name escaped me, and the harder I tried to come up with it the more elusive he became. I couldn’t even think of some films in which he played.

Several times, I had a wisp of a sense of understanding and had a physical sensation of something about to gallop out of my mouth. But it passed and this third favorite remained a mystery.

Incidentally, my first favorite was the late Charles Durning. I had absolutely no problem at all in conjuring his face and voice. But No. 2 remained a problem.

The slipperiness of memory as we get older has been the subject of studies and jokes. Such as:

Guy complains to his doctor that he’s getting more and more forgetful.

“Like what?”

“Did I pay the phone bill? W here did I park the car? Am I 60? Or am I 61? Doctor, what should I do?”

“First thing,” the doctor says, “pay me in advance.”

Clearly, this is a joke composed by someone in his 20s or 30s.

Finally, a full 24 hours after we watched “Noises Off!” I turned to my wife.

“Philip!” I declared rather loudly.

From there it was a breeze. Not Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not Phil Hartman and certainly not Phil Rizzuto.

A moment later I had it. Philip Bosco and I went on to say how good he was in the movie version of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

One problem. It turns out there’s never been a movie version of “Lend Me a Tenor.” But if there had been, Bosco would have been perfect for the lead.

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3 Responses to “Thanks for the Memories”

  1. bill hogan Says:

    Hi Jeff, Bosco’s a good choice as well as the others.
    We saw “Lend me…” on Broadway with Bosco running around in that very funny farce.
    John Bosco, son of Phil, went to school in Boston and are good friends since grammar school in Teaneck.

  2. Michael Kaufman Says:

    I find myself having more of those frustrating memory lapses too, You made me laugh But I love that moment of recognition. You made me laugh when you described calling out the name 24 hours later. I once woke my wife up. I was so delighted that I remembered the name I didn’t stop to think before shouting it out. (It was Kathy something….it’ll come to me.)

  3. carrie Says:

    Love that guy, Bosco. He’s the best judge of all on Law & Order…

    Along the lines of memory, I have been known to say things like – “Oh, that reminds me of that movie, you know the one, with that actor, the one with the curly hair, who was in that movie about New York…”

    And to think that I’m only going downhill from here, memory-wise.

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