Film Favorites: Black Narcissus | The Long Take

How much did you remember about these films?

We’re talking about 1947’s Black Narcissus and 1949’s White Heat.

Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Black and White Quiz.

First up is White Heat:

1) Question: Although Cagney made many crime thrillers White Heat was by far his personal favorite picture.  a) True; or b) False.

Answer:  b) False.  Cagney regarded himself as primarily a “song and dance man” and once wrote: In 1942’s Yankee Doodle Dandy, in which he played George M. CohanI didn’t have to pretend to be a song-and-dance man.  I was one. (Cagney won an Oscar for his performance.)

2) Question: Early on in the picture it’s clear that Cagney’s character has a debilitating physical malady.  What is it?  a) Diabetes; b) Severe scrotum rash; c) Severe migraines; or d) Atrial fibrillation.

Answer:  c) Migraine headaches.

3) Question: Plot point: medical authorities in the movie recommended that Cody be transferred to a high security asylum because a) He was always jumping off prison cafeteria tables; b) He had a sexual tie to his mother; c) He refused to marry his girlfriend; or d) He was afflicted with a homicidal psychosis.

Answer: d) Cagney’s character was a psychotic homicidal maniac.

4) Question: Which of the following studio moguls, one profited from several of his Thirties movies, referred to Cagney as “that little bastard?” a) Jack Warner: b) Daryl Zanuck; c) Carl Laemmle; or d) Samuel Goldwyn.

Answer:  a) Warner Bros. honcho Jack Warner, who frequently locked horns with Cagney.  (Things often got personal.)

White Heat - Wikiwand

5) Question: The famous mess hall scene with some 600 extras — during which Cody has a breakdown — was adamantly opposite by studio brass because of the expense.  a) True; b) False?

Answer: a) True.  The Warner Bros. front office felt the scene, with all those extras, was extravagant given the little dialogue planned.  Warners finally relented with the promise that the extras would not be detained past lunchtime.

Now to Black Narcissus:

1) Question: Deborah Kerr and director Michael Powell clashed often on the set of Black Narcissus because a) She felt she was being grossly underpaid; b) It was an old fashioned billing dispute; c) Kerr was Powell’s former lover; and d) Powell felt Kerr was too young for the role.

Answer: Both (c) and (d).  Powell felt Kerr was much too young for the sister superior role, AND she was his former offscreen lover. Awkward.

2) Question:  She is pictured below and plays a sexually feisty character named Kanchi in Black Narcissus. She is a) Jean Peters; b) Ava Gardner; c) Jean Simmons; or d) Diana Dors? 

Jean Simmons in Black Narcissus | Jean simmons, Deborah kerr ...

Answer:  c) Jean Simmons.

3) Question:  Black Narcissus is revered for the authenticity of its exotic look at it’s locale.  That’s because much of the film was actually shot in the Himalayas.  a) True; or b) False.

Answer:  b) False. Most of the movie was shot on a studio set using landscape paintings and scale models to represent the mountains.

4)  Question: The guy pictured below is actually an Indian actor plays a young general in Black Narcissus.  Who is he? a) Saeed Jaffrey; b) Anil Kapoor; c) Sabu; or d) Deepika Padu.

Answer:  c) He was indeed an unlikely star, first in England and then in the U.S. Billed simply as Sabu he remains to this day one of the very few India-born actors ever to cross over to mainstream Hollywood success.

PopGap #19: Black Narcissus (1947)

5) Question:  When Black Narcissus opened in the U.S. on in August of 1947, it was heralded by Catholic National Legion of Decency because of its religious content.  a) True; or b) False.

Answer:  b) False. The Catholic Legion of Decency found Black Narcissus to be an affront to religion and to religious life. The movie was “condemned” and probably benefited at the box office from all those Catholics who snuck off to movies so labelled.

Did you like this? Share it: