Books: The Crystal Bucket : Underneath her wimple | clivejames.com
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Underneath her wimple

As usual most of the Christmas humour on television was no funnier than a boil in the nose. On the other hand there were some diverting films on offer, chief among which was The Sound of Music (BBC1), the famous epic about an Austrian singing family who sang even the Nazis into submission.

It appears from the titles that the film was made ‘with the partial use of ideas by George Hurdalek’. The film stars Julie Andrews as a drop-out nun. Presumably George Hurdalek’s original idea was that she should be a drop-out nun with webbed feet, but they used only part of it. ‘Underneath her wimple she has curlers in her hair,’ sing the other nuns, shaking their heads with amused compassion. This is a partial use of George Hurdalek’s original idea, in which she was to have a whole hairdryer under her wimple, with a cable plugged into the refectory wall.

‘How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?’ sing the nuns with quizzical adoration, all unaware that the audience is singing a different question, to wit: is the Mother Superior being played by Charles Bronson? Finally Julie packs her bags and splits, joining up with Christopher Plummer, who impersonates a widowed noble naval captain with seven children — a partial use of George Hurdalek’s original idea, in which the same character was to be a widowed noble naval captain, juggler and organic chemist with twenty-eight children and a string of polo ponies.

‘The sky was so blew today,’ over-enunciates Julie, sick with love. Christopher loves her in return, but he is plagued by the attentions of Eleanor Parker, who has nothing to offer him except wealth, breeding, wit and stunning beauty. Meanwhile his eldest daughter, Diesel, or is it Liesel, is petting heavily in the pergola with a singing postman. And here come the Nazis! How to escape? Improvising brilliantly, Julie and Christopher get married, enter the children into the Salzburg Festival, and walk to Switzerland under cover of the applause.

This is a partial use of an original idea by George Hurdalek, in which they were to walk to Stalingrad, surround the entire German army, and accept the surrender of General Paulus.

31 December, 1978