View Issues‎ > ‎2019 Issues‎ > ‎1901 January 2019‎ > ‎

190121 January 21,2019

Looking for Info on the Death of a Classmate

     I mentioned last week I had been notified of the death of a 1964 classmate but the notice I was sent disappeared from my computer and cannot be found. I asked whoever sent me the notice to please resend it, but as of this date I have not received any additional information. Please, if you know of a classmate who passed away in the last two weeks please let me know so I can pass the information along to the rest of the group.

Town Without Pity

Town Without Pity -
The Song and Our Movies
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    This week the first song played on my daily walk came from the year of 1962, and I knew I could tell a story about it without thinking. The song was the theme song from the movie "Town Without Pity" and was recorded by Gene Pitney. Gene had one of those voices which was so unique it would be difficult to not recognize him on any song he sang.

    This week's song did not remind me of any dances or dates or anything of those things, but rather reminded me of the movies we went to see when we were teenagers. Whenever I have heard this song in the past, it has always reminded me of the dark movie with which it was associated - a movie I saw but cannot tell you why I went to see it. I don't even remember if I saw the movie alone or with a date or friend.  It could have been the underlying sexual theme which would attract a growing boy of 16, but I cannot be sure. I just know it was a deep-thought and black and sinister movie, helped along by being filmed in black and white instead of glorious Technicolor. I also remember wondering what the German population in Huntsville thought about the movie.

    A brief description of the film is listed on the internet as follows: "In occupied Germany fifteen years after the end of World War II, four somewhat drunk American soldiers leave a bar where "Town Without Pity" is playing on the jukebox and head to a river in the countryside. Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old local Karin Steinhof (Christine Kaufmann) has a quarrel with her 19-year-old boyfriend, Frank Borgmann, on the banks of the same river. She swims back to her starting point and strips out of her wet bikini when she is confronted by Sergeant Chuck Snyder (Frank Sutton) and gang raped by him, Corporal Birdwell Scott (Richard Jaeckel), Private Joey Haines (Mal Sondock), and Corporal Jim Larkin (Robert Blake)."

    It's hard to picture Beretta (Robert Blake) and Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter (Frank Sutton) of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. as bad guys today, but these were their early acting careers.

    Growing up my favorite genres were Westerns, comedy, and monster movies, so I cannot recall why I would have even sat through a film based upon this theme to begin with. But I did, and it made a lasting impression upon me as a bothersome film which left me depressed, even though I may not have understood the deep message embedded into the script.

Town Without Pity

    I guess, in many ways, my movies attendance habits were quite different back then. I went to see almost every movie which came out I believe. The theaters were cheap entertainment and an easy walk from my home on East Clinton Street to the downtown cinemas. Today I am lucky if I go to a movie once a quarter, let along every week.

    I got to thinking how different the availability of movies are today compared to when we were little. Back then if you missed seeing a first run movie, you normally had to wait six months to a year before it was shown in a second run drive-in, often billed as part of a double feature with one of a similar genre. But then, who went to the drive-ins to actually see a film anyway? If you tried to wait until it was shown on television, that was often a two to three year wait, and then it might be shown at some odd hour of the day when you might miss it. Only as we were turning teenagers did some of the networks start showing somewhat recent features on one or two special "--- Night at the Movies" selections. It was more normal for them to broadcast old series of movies such as Tarzan or The Bowery Boys, or things like that. Thinking about it, I wonder how long it took for a network to get the nerve to show a movie about a gang rape on broadcast TV. Rules were a lot more strict back then and the idea of showing a movie about a 16-year-old German girl being gang raped by four American soldiers was not only violent, but also sexual and unpatriotic. After all, we Americans were the good guys, and the Army was still looking for a few good men.

    Let's face it. If you missed seeing a movie you really wanted to see, or saw one you wanted to see again, it was usually years and the luck of the schedule for you to ever be able to enjoy it again. You could not call up the television station and request a movie like you could a song on the radio.

    In the late 1970s I got my first VHS tape player and finally I could chose from a select group of highly-priced movies to own and watch at my leisure, Then came along rental stores where you could just rent a movie for a couple of nights without having to pay a fortune to own it. Rapidly moving forward, (I don't have to explain it to our generation) came HBO and DVDs and On-Demand services and finally internet streaming videos.

    When I started thinking about Town Without Pity, it took me less than a minute to search for and find it available for instant streaming on Amazon Prime, and with only a few clicks of my mouse I was watching the movie while sitting at my kitchen table, watching it on my iPad. I know now I will have to sit down and watch the whole movie again just to see why it upset me so when I was 16.

    So, that's the memories inspired by this week's song and the technological advances which have occurred since I first heard this song back in 1962. How about you? Will you take pity on me and add some personal comments on this subject?

    Oh, and as a Post Script - Never in my wildest dreams back when I was 16 could I have imagined that one day in my future I would interact with one of the stars of this movie. E.G. Marshall looked dashing in his army uniform in this movie in 1962. Move forward 25 years and he is once again in film in an Army uniform, starring as General Dwight Eisenhower in the made for TV series "War and Rememberance." And who is that dashing fellow standing by him? None other than your most illustrious editor. 


        Memphis, TN - Not much doing this week, but thanks to Dianne Hughey McClure for the email about the senior trip to the lake. I cannot remember ever going to Hatfield Lake, and I know I went to Blue Water Springs Lake at least once. Can anyone else add to this memory?


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    The Lake

Dianne Hughey McClure

LHS '64

    Tommy, I remember that outing to some extent. As I remember it was at Hatfield Lake. I thought it was a Senior Day. I do not really remember that to well. What I do remember is the hat you had on and I think it was the song "Shout "came on and you danced in a circle all the way around the square patio we were on.That is my memory I think we also went swimming in Hatfield lake. I do not know how much of this is right I just remember it like this may be all jumbled since it has been 54 years. 




Join the Mailing List to Receive Notification When New Issue is Available 


 Email Me