Tag Archives: North to Alaska

Movie Wisdom- Wendell Mayes Edition

29 May

The other day, I got a call from Ken Beck, a friend and journalist who writes a lot of articles about local history. He asked if I have ever heard of a former Cumberland University student named Wendell Mayes. When I said that I did not know the name, Ken began to explain.

While doing research on something else, he came across Wendell Mayes and learned that he was a Hollywood screenwriter who worked on screenplays for such movies as The Spirit of St. Louis, Anatomy of a Murder, North to Alaska, The Poseidon Adventure and Death Wish. Ken wanted to write a story about Mayes but discovered that he had no children to interview. He found a great article about Mayes. However, one great article does not turn into another great article. In short, I was sent on a mission to find out about his time at our university.

After spending time not finding much at the Alumni House, I asked one of our librarians. Here is a hint. If you need to find information then see a librarian. They know all of the tricks. One of their best tricks is finding someone who can find the answer. Within a few hours, Joshua, one of my former students, sent an email with information.

Wendell Mayes was born in Caruthersville, Missouri in 1914. This is important because most sources list him as being born five years later. He attended law school at Cumberland University in the 1933-1934 academic year. Joshua even found a copy of his student registration card.

Internet Movie Database list Mayes’ first writing credit in 1951. If anyone knows what happened in those 17 years please let me know.

In the meantime, I will honor Wendell Mayes’ legacy by listing some words of wisdom that came from his movies.

From The Spirit of St. Louis

Nothing too wrong with this dead reckoning navigation… except maybe the name.

From The Hanging Tree

If you open your eyes and look, you’ll see things for what they are.

Where the wind blows too hard, the trees gotta bend.

From Anatomy of a Murder

People aren’t just good or just bad. People are many things.

I never met a gin drinker yet that you could trust.

From In Harm’s Way

All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are seated on nothing but our own arse.

Fish, or cut bait.

Indecision is a virus.

From Hotel

A sure way to empty a hotel fast: drop an elevator.



Movie Wisdom – John Qualen Edition

29 May

I like watching old movies, and, as a watcher of old movies, I see the same actors show up time after time. These are not the ones who are famous and play in the leading roles. These are the ones who play in the supporting roles. They have familiar faces, but they do not have familiar names.

John Qualen was one of those actors. He was in tons of movies and television shows. In almost all of them, he had a Scandinavian accent. That is pretty good for someone who grew up in Illinois. In honor of John Qualen and other character actors, I have decided to continue the “Movie Wisdom” series with his movies.John Qualen

In the past, I have searched for nuggets of wisdom from the movies of different actors. There have been many, but the search for wisdom in the films of Burt Reynolds and Don Knotts are the most popular. I have also covered Kevin Costner, Steve McQueen, Ellen Barkin, Don Johnson, Paul Newman, Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Sheb Wooley, Lee Marvin, and George Peppard.

The rules are always the same. I must have seen the movie, but it does not matter which character spoke the line.

From The Grapes of Wrath

I wouldn’t pray just for a old man that’s dead, ’cause he’s all right. If I was to pray, I’d pray for folks that’s alive and don’t know which way to turn.

Seems like the government’s got more interest in a dead man than a live one.

Takes no nerve to do something, ain’t nothin’ else you can do.

Maybe there ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue, they’s just what people does.

From Knute Rockne All American

Anyone who follows the truth in his heart never makes a mistake.

From The Devil and Daniel Webster

A man can always change things. That’s what makes him different from the barnyard critters.

From Casablanca

I never make plans that far ahead.

If we stop breathing, we’ll die.

Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

From The Searchers

Figure a man’s only good for one oath at a time.

I don’t believe in surrenders.

From North to Alaska

A bullet through the head is always the best cure for love.

From Two Rode Together

Well, there are some men you just can’t trust to stay where you put ’em.

You know, sometimes it takes a lot more courage to live than it does to die.

I can tell when a man walks through that door whether he prefers blondes or brunettes, drinks whiskey or beer, plays blackjack or poker, is a cheapskate or a high roller.

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern!

From Cheyenne Autumn

Does it ever matter who fires the first shot?

Now, as I understand it, a mademoiselle is a madam who ain’t quite made it yet – only younger and friskier.

From A Big Hand for the Little Lady

There’s a whole world waitin’ for you out there.

That’s a bargain all right, but a bargain ain’t a bargain unless it’s something you need.

Now look, mister, the first rule of the game of poker, whether you’re playing eastern or western rules, or the kind they play at the North Pole, is put up or shut up!