Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mean streets and The Great O'Malley

The best thing happened yesterday. I finally remembered the name of a movie that I have been wondering about since the age of 8. Hm, that's a long time. Once in a while, I would try to recall the exact wording, but nothing ever came of it. I used to call it "Policeman O'Malley," and it played an integral role in the growth of my adult values. My memory is fuzzy, and I probably have it all wrong, but here goes what I think happened:
O'Malley is one of those "buy-the-book" officers. He's always hauling people in for little petty infractions. One day, he pulls some guy over for something minor. He spends forever lecturing the guy and giving him a ticket. The guy pleads with O'Malley to let him go because he is trying to make it to his first day of work, and since it's the depression, he REALLY needs a job. But the guy ends up being late, doesn't have a job, and something bad happens to him, I forgot what it is.

So O'Malley's sergeant is fed up with him and tells him he needs to have more compassion for people. He reassigns O'Malley to be a crosswalk policeman. There's a little girl who he starts to help all the time because she has a bad foot or something. They get to be great friends, and he really likes her.

Then one day, the little girl's father gets sick or in an accident and somehow O'Malley goes over to their apartment to see the child. When he gets there, he realizes that the father is the guy who caused him to get reassigned. But of course everybody blames him for the guy's troubles and being in need of a lifesaving blood transfusion, which OH MY GOODNESS, O'Malley shares the father's RARE blood type! So in the end, O'Malley donates the lifesaving blood and everybody lives happily ever after.

It's a tale of redemption, ask anybody. Turns out that it is a Humphrey Bogart movie, but he plays the dad and he doesn't even get top billing. The movie is really entitled The Great O'Malley.

I suppose one would assume that when I say the movie influenced me, it taught me to be more compassionate. But this is why I've never forgotten it- I knew exactly how the filmmakers intended us to perceive it, but didn't care. I was on O'Malley's side the whole time. When the dad made it to work late, I thought to myself, "Well, he should have gotten up earlier, that way he would have had plenty of time." When O'Malley was busting other people's asses, I thought the people had major attitudes with him, an officer who gets PAID to catch people breaking laws, no matter what laws. When O'Malley was reassigned, I didn't feel too sorry for him because, being 8, I wished that I knew a police officer just like him, and it would be ever so convenient if he could be a crossing guard near my own school. I pictured myself lagging behind all the other kids, pretending to limp, trying to look as cute as possible so my hero would notice me.

I still pretty much feel the same way. I do have compassion for people to some extent, but I get so sick of people whining about getting busted for "little" crimes like traffic infractions. I think, "Well if EVERYBODY got away with not bothering to put a quarter in the parking meter, why the fuck would anyone ever move their cars? Free parking!" And I live downtown, so don't anybody mess with the parking around here. Pay up or get your ugly big old Hummer out of there. People litter and expect not to be called on it, and YES, if you throw your nasty cigarette butts out our car window, I'm talking about you. You deserve to be fined or even jailed. I get so annoyed every time I see a friggin' Big Gulp cup or Popeye's back in the curb. Somebody actually made a decision to THROW that stuff on the ground instead of throw it in a garbage can. JAIL, I say. JAIL!! What would happen if all of us just threw our leftover packaging everywhere? Why don't we all try it and see what happens? That way, eventually those A-holes would be forced to live in their own filth. I can't stand people who think their particular situation is so special that they shouldn't be bothered by police. So I can't wait to watch the movie again to see if it's really the way I remember it. I may be crushed if it isn't.

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