In 1969, I was entering teen-hood. I had just discovered girls came in two different flavours, icky and not-so-icky. The latter kind was beautiful, beyond reach, and spoke with a french accent. We had one at our school, Hilda. She was too beautiful for words (or ones a twelve-year old could find) and was treated as such by the whole male contingent at Clark Boulevard Public School.
Because of her great beauty, nobody, not even the big men on campus, approached her. She was so obviously above them, they were ALL scared off. She walked alone, scorned by her jealous girl classmates, treated with reverence and awe from afar by all of us boys. She was the loneliest girl in the school. Beautiful and all alone.
Which brings me to the movie of the day, The April Fools, which came out in 1969. It stars the always funny Jack Lemmon and the girl of my dreams (well, until I saw Capucine. But more of her later), Catherine Deneuve. Keep your Sophia Loren, Deneuve has been the prettiest girl in the room all her life and continues to be, no matter how many youngsters might be in the room with her.
And she has that french accent.
I really shouldn't need to say anything more. But I have to. This movie is, I believe, impossible to get on DVD. You have to catch it on a late-night movie showing. And it's absolutely worth it to stay up late and marvel that Deneuve can, once again, see the worth in somebody beneath her station.
Lemon and Deneuve are married, but not to each other. Lemon's wife is played by Sally Kellerman and Deneuve is hitched to Peter Lawford. Back in the day, those were the kinds of supporting actors you got. There's more. Myrna Loy and Charles Boyer play an older couple, around to shepherd the illicit affair between Lemon and Deneuve through to the movie credits. Each of the six actors mentioned in this paragraph give outstanding performances. Add in Burt Bacharach's music and a title song by Dionne Warwick, plus the first hearing of "I Say a Little Prayer," and you have a masterpiece of a movie.
Okay, I'm a sucker for love stories. And adultery be damned, this is one great love story. The ending... well... be surprised a bit when it gets there. But enjoy the ride.
Back to Hilda for a second. After I saw this movie, I didn't race out to talk to her. But eventually I DID find the courage to approach her. You know, beautiful people are real people too. We never became great friends. But I at least helped her feel a little less lonely.
And then she moved away during summer break.