We are all the lead character in our personal narrative yet this bothered me. Behind the scenes was my forté, I wasn’t ready for a starring role, never had been. Why was that? And why couldn’t I stop thinking about myself in relation to Cooper? What also bothered me was that I was including him in a category usually known (at least in risk assessment circles) as an act of God, an unforeseen and unavoidable force of nature, and in that instant I decided to stay put, remembering a movie line that justified my resolve.
Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.
This sentence was pronounced through rigidly smiling lips by Katharine Hepburn (who played missionary Rose Sayer) as she poured out tugboat captain Mr. Allnut’s (Humphrey Bogart’s) liquor into the Ulanga River in The African Queen. The film was directed by John Huston and the screenplay was by — well there were four writers however, the one on location in Africa was Peter Viertel. I also remembered an anecdote about the whole crew of the movie and all the actors suffering dysentery on location, with the notable exception of Bogart and Huston, who, it was rumored, never drank anything but alcohol. That, my angels, is the myth of drunken genius writ bold. Wouldn’t their livers have turned to mush? Such is Hollywood. It believes its own hype and prefers to print the legend.