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Between Boston & New York

Produced, Written & Directed by Kenneth A. Simon

Broadcast Premiere: 1992, CPTV

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT

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OPEN

NARRATOR: More than three million of us call Connecticut home, but who are we? Who do we think we are?

CHARLES MONAGHAN (Editor, Connecticut Magazine): Connecticut has always had an identity problem. We've never known whether to be the big-city sophisticates of New York or the Calvinist farmers of New England.

NARRATOR: What do we have in common and what divides us? Do we share a sense of place?

MICHAEL STERN (Connecticut Author): When people think of Connecticut, they think -- they don't think of anything in particular and I think that's fine. I mean, there's no reason for us to get chauvinistic and say we in Connecticut all believe in one thing or another. Ah --

JANE STERN (Connecticut Author): It sounds like a roadside attraction. Connecticut -- the mystery state.

MICHAEL STERN (Connecticut Author): What is it? Who are they?

JANE STERN (Connecticut Author): What is it?

HERB JANICK (Historian, W. CT State U.): People kind of identify Connecticut with the white picket fences and the small town, but in reality, Connecticut from the mid nineteenth century on has been a very urban, very ethnic, a very industrial place, a varied kind of a place, even though it's small.

NARRATOR: Not entirely New York. Not entirely New England. Is Connecticut after all just a place between Boston and New York or is there more to it than that?

CHARLEY DUFFY (Exec. Dir., Council of Small Towns): Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the country, which makes it the wealthiest 

place on the face of the earth. Now, the economy of this state and the region is crumbling and that may bring about some fundamental changes.

ELIZABETH SHEFF (Hartford City Council): We are really in most people's minds 169 little solvent states. What I see is a state that's fractionalized by the tradition that we hold.

NARRATOR: The search for our shared identity is far from academic. As Connecticut turns the century, it faces many economic, social and political challenges that will demand of its residents a shared sense of place and a common purpose.

JUAN FIGEROA (Connecticut State Representative): There are a number of issues that I think exists these days that bring to the forefront the fact that Connecticut today is very different than it was a hundred years ago or whatever. Income tax is one of them. Can we have a state that successfully deals with some of the political challenges that face it, all of which call for widespread sacrifice and concession and some sense of mutual obligation when in fact we have no common sense of who we are or what we want to be?

HOLLYWOOD’S CONNECTICUT

NARRATOR: Connecticut's financial troubles have been particularly unsettling, because the state has so long been associated with affluence. Until very recently, Hollywood portrayed Connecticut as a place apart, wealthy, well heeled, genteel.

COLIN MCENROE (Columnist, Hartford Courant): You know, you say, "I'm from Connecticut," and they picture you spending your weekends racing at Lyme Rock with Paul Newman and your evenings around the fireside in Cornwall with Mike Nichols and Francine Duplice (?) Grey chatting about literature.

Movie Clip from Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House, 1948: '

HUSBAND: Mary, would you spend $7,000 to tear out someone else's walls when for a few thousand more you could find a nice old place in Connecticut, fix it up and have the kind of dream house you've always wanted?

WIFE: I beg your pardon?

MICHAEL STERN (Connecticut Author): I came to Connecticut from Illinois and my image of Connecticut before I got here was extremely vague. I think when I thought of Texas, I thought of a cowboy in a cowboy hat or when I think of Iowa I think of a strapping farmer or a brash New Yorker. My image of Connecticut I think was of a man in plaid pants in a country club sipping a martini.

Movie Clip from Christmas in Connecticut, 1945:

BUTLER: Pardon me, Mrs. Lane, but I'm planning on having a farm in Connecticut myself one day. I'd like some good bottom land.

MRS. LANE: Bottom land?

BUTLER: Yes, that's best kind for farming, isn't it?

MRS. LANE: Oh, some people say yes and some people say no.

BUTLER: But, what do you say?

MRS. LANE: Ah, I'm inclined to agree with them.

BUTLER: Oh, thank you very much.

JEANINE BASINGER (Curator, Wesleyan U. Film Archives): I grew up in a movie theater in South Dakota and I had a very clear, very specific image of Connecticut from the movies and that was why I really wanted to come here. When I was offered a job here, I thought, great! I'm going to that place where they have those beautiful homes in the country with tennis courts and swimming pools and those old station wagons with wood that have two matching dogs in the back and they have those kitchens so big you could land a helicopter and everybody wears tweeds and everybody is well dressed and elegant and rather ritzy and at night they put on tuxedos and I thought, this is great. This is for me. I can go live there like being in a Hollywood movie.

Movie Clip from Adam’s Rib, 1949:

MAN SHOWING HOME MOVIE: Pretty country up there! Tree kissing, a famous old Connecticut custom. Barn kissing, a famous old Connecticut custom.

PAUL STACY (Cinema Prof., U. of Hartford): Usually it's a place to escape from. You escape from the City, ugly corrupt New York and you come to the country and you expect the uncomplicated pastoral life.

Movie Clip from Adam’s Rib, 1949:

MAN SHOWING HOME MOVIE: Wife kissing, a famous old Connecticut custom!

PAUL STACY (Cinema Prof., U. of Hartford): You got the idea that people were aristocratic, artistic, theatrical and they lived well. You look at their homes and you think, well, everyone in Connecticut's a millionaire, but that's the Hollywood image and it's a nice image, but completely false.

JEANINE BASINGER, CURATOR (Wesleyan U. Film Archives): The first thing I noticed when I got here, which I wrote home back to the folks in South Dakota was, guess what, this place is full of pizza parlors. I mean, who knew there were Italians here? You didn't know that from the movies. You really didn't know from the movies of my childhood anything ethnic about Connecticut and now the films that are made about Connecticut frequently focus on the working class as you see in Mystic Pizza.

Movie Clip from Mystic Pizza, 1988:

GIRL: Greenwich, my ass!

BOY: Daisy, look! Daisy, this is Serena Windsor, my sister. Serena, this is Daisy Arroshuo.

SISTER: Daisy, Hi!

PAUL STACY (Cinema Prof., U. of Hartford): You have the wealthy boy who's thrown out of Yale for being dishonest or cheating on an exam and he has trouble with his father, but his father's extremely wealthy. You should see their home.

Movie Clip from Mystic Pizza, 1988:

GIRL: They were being real jerks! The only jerk at that table was you. They were just being themselves. Bringing home your poor Portuguese girlfriend for dinner.

PAUL STACY (Cinema Prof., U. of Hartford): So you have representatives of the upper class and then you have the people who own and run, who work in the pizza place, so the clash between the classes is a wonderful opportunity showing you how they work, how they live. It's almost a course in sociology.

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