Allegory in Three-Part Harmony
Part the First
Some years back, in a How To Write Movies Good text, I read a "treatment" by William Goldman about a barber who liked his job and grew quite enraptured by a haircut. Mr Goldman took the idea to a director he had worked with successfully named George Roy Hill, who proceeded to cut it to pieces. Said Mr Hill: "I don’t like allegory."
"I don’t like allegory."
Part the Second
I was fascinated to find in a play once a speech by a slaggard name of Falstaff about how though he be reluctant to engage on the field at Agincourt yet could he make use of the gout resulting from his dissolute ways.
(Side Note: I used the speech to illustrate a cartoon I had drawn based upon a portrait of one of the actors who had played the roguish knight over the years, and I placed that drawing upon my wall, where it remained most of the nigh-on 26 years I counseled military veterans, among which were plenty of latterday Falstaffs. Not one soul ever mentioned the artwork.)
"A good wit will make use of anything"
Part the Third
I am in my early days inside the Best Theatre for my weekly hit of B-westerns. I am watching Allen "Rocky" Lane against the owl hoots who are attempting to force a crusty old coot and his delectable daughter off his ranch because Big Black Bart wants the land. Rocky has traced a nefarious crew to a cave. They park their wagon and begin hauling wooden barrels from the wagon inside the cave. We know the barrels contain gunpowder, and we watch as Rocky does as they store the barrels in a huge magazine which we learn is directly below the Coot’s ranchouse.
Rocky figures it out pretty quick. They mean to blow up all possible human interference. He follows the last bad hat into the opening, hides behind a bend in the tunnel, continues his surveilance.
Right at the point where a wood table has been set with a kerosene lantern on it (yes, that’s what I thought, too, even at 8 years old), Rocky is spotted by one of the enemy, who reaches for his pistol. Rocky creams him, although he’s still holding his barrel of powder, which falls to the cavern floor and rolls rollickingly towards the pile of them later in the cave. We note the barrel is cracked, and so a narrow train of powder escapes all the way back to the magazine.
It’s a traditional fistfight, first one then the other, until they tumble over the table, which knocks over the lamp, which ignites the powder trail, which then becomes a fuse and the sputtery flash of flame follows the track of the busted barrel back towards kingdom come.
The boys continue their fracas.
Now wait a minute, I am thinking. They are engrossed in their petty little manhood measuring while the whole set is bent on utter destruction? Isn’t this a good time for a temporary truce? For what avails it to be ahead on points when everybody in the neighborhood be converted to a wispy ash?
And it isn’t that Rocky, at least, was not aware of the danger. For as soon as he prevails, as he always does, he rushes to the track of doom and scuffs the powder trail with his pointy boot and the fire fizzles.
I didn’t even know what allegory meant then, and had no idea I’d remember anything about the days when I watched mayhem and madness at the Best Theatre. It must’ve been one crazy time, I thought, them western days.