To any men who may have been invited, persuaded or even tricked into following this blog, read on at your own risk. There will be talk of bosom friends, puffed sleeves and possibly even flowering cherry trees…this one may go over your heads. Girls – I’ve got you covered.
To my dismay, I read recently that Jonathan Crombie, the actor best known for playing Gilbert Blythe in ‘Anne of Green Gables’, had died at age 48 on April 15 of a brain haemorrhage. This news, although tragic, brought back many happy memories of watching ‘Anne of Green Gables’ which has always been one of my favourite movies. Before you put me in a box, I should add that ‘Dumb & Dumber’ is also another favourite. What can I say?… I am an enigma. As a child (and let’s be honest, a teenager and woman) I watched ‘Anne’ over and over again. Growing up as the only girl in a home with 4 brothers, it was like a refuge for me. My brothers would put on the cricket for hours on end and I would repay them with the 3 hour version of ‘Anne’ and then the subsequent sequels, a total of about 10 hours of viewing pleasure. I’m not sure if that trauma ever completely left them and it certainly took some of them many years before they could even look at a red headed woman without shuddering. But for me, it was bliss, the first movie particularly. I think I still know all the lines off by heart. And it didn’t matter how often I watched it, not even my stone cold heart (you’ll learn…) could resist blubbering like a baby each time I watched Matthew die…“I never wanted a boy… I only wanted you…from the first day”. Oh come on! If you can’t cry at that you must be some kind of cyborg.
The original Anne movie was something preferably watched with a kindred spirit and I tried to do just that. I recall the first time I watched it with hubby George not long after we were married. As I suspected, he had not seen it and I felt the need to remedy that. We were holidaying in a little house on the NSW central coast and on a rainy day, I suggested we put it on. He reluctantly agreed, I think partly because there wasn’t much else to do and partly because he envisaged earning significant brownie points. Wisely, I omitted disclosing to him the duration of the film, lest he change his mind from the outset. As Anne’s story unfolded, he coped. I think he may have even enjoyed it (enjoyed/tolerated…potato/potato). At around the 90 minute mark, he asked how long it had to go. I couldn’t meet his eyes as I told him we were only about halfway through. My sensitive, loving husband was done. “I’m sorry” he said. “I just can’t do this, I’m outta here”…and before I could say ‘carrots’, he had vanished, leaving behind only a puff of smoke and a butt print on the couch where he had once sat. Apparently the gain was not worth the pain. Men!
But for us gals, an Anne of Green Gables viewing was an almost sacred affair. It was such a pure, clean pleasure. No sex, swearing or violence, just beauty and goodness set in a heavenly place filled with brooks, meadows, flowering cherry trees and puffed sleeves. Megan Follows portrayal of Anne Shirley was superb. Gosh I loved Anne’s ambition, her temper, her courage, her outbursts & subsequent apologies and of course, her red hair! It was immensely satisfying to watch her gain a family, education, a ‘bosom friend’ and eventually, true love.
Crombie’s portrayal of Gilbert was also a huge part of the success of the film series. He was perfection. What girl watching didn’t dream of him saying to them “there will never be anyone for me but you”. Gilbert was sensitive and faithful enough to pine over his unrequited love for years on end, gallant enough to graciously accept Anne’s volatile behaviour towards him, man enough to be able to love a fiery & independent woman and good looking enough to tempt us all.
Sadly, Jonathan Crombie is no longer with us. But Gilbert Blythe will continue to live on in our hearts and make the men in our lives look inadequate for many years to come.