A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Key Largo

The Colds’ Milk Farm

Saturday, after touring the art fair and then dinning in, Anne and I settled onto the couch for a night of TV watching. We first watched “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which is on Netflix and which we Chromecasted onto our “big screen” TV. Having read all of the Douglas Adams books, we had looked forward to this movie’s screening when it first came out, but like most critics, were disappointed with it then. Maybe we have mellowed with age or maybe our memory has lowered expectations, but I rather enjoyed watching it this time. It’s a mostly harmless revue of the book and samples rather than retells the original source material. It was fun seeing members of the cast who then were relative unknowns, but who have since developed star power. The principles include Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent), Mos Def (Ford Prefect), Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox) and Zooey Deschanel (Trillian). We grabbed our towels and enjoyed this silly romp through space in a Doug Adams universe. Maybe time has dimmed our memories so that we didn’t miss what was left out.

Our second feature of the evening was “Key Largo”, which was being broadcast by our local PBS affiliate. We visited Key Largo earlier this year and signs of last year’s hurricane season were still all about. Still, it was better to be there after the hurricane than during. We also experienced a taste of one of these storms, when the remnants of Hurricane Gordon came to town this weekend. Maybe that’s why the station had picked this movie to air. This was Bogart’s and Bacall’s fourth and final movie pairing. They are trapped in a dilapidated hotel by both an impending hurricane and Edward G. Robinson and his gangsters. Past Bogey-Bacall movies smoldered with passion. In this one tension replaces passion as the driving force. Every good movie needs a good villain and Robinson steals the show with his Al Capone inspired character, Johnny Rocco. He holds all of the cards, until they are scattered in the wind.

Just like Hollywood did, I substituted a stand-in building for the fictional hotel on Key Largo. It is Key West’s Colds’ Milk Farm. This 1850 farmhouse is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the Keys. When it was a farm it produced both milk and chicle. Chicle is the gummy sap of the sapodilla tree and became the main ingredient in the manufacturing of chewing gum. Its introduction was a big success. Chicle is where the brand name Chiclets came from. 

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