The film buff

A story about ambition

Harvey was born in a working class family in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn. He was an  only child, and was close to his mother but a  disappointment to his father as he was no great shakes at football or cricket. Harvey was a sensitive shy boy who did not mix particularly well with the children of the neighbourhood and those at his school and was therefore often lonely.

As a teenager he developed a passion for the movies, and  could be found every Saturday afternoon in his local Hoyts suburban theatre.  There he dreamt into reality the glamorous make-believe life of the screen and became much enamoured with  the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger  Rogers. and he must have seen every film this famous pair ever made at least twice.

As he sat in the darkened theatre watching the dance routines and following the simple plot that seemed to be recycled in every film, he could never understand how a beautiful talented young woman like Ginger Rogers could fall for a desiccated shrimp like Fred Astaire. It eventually dawned on Harvey that it wasn’t really the person of Fred Astaire that did the trick for him but his singing and the dancing that got Ginger into bed, albeit always with at least one foot on the floor as demanded by the film censors at the time.

  When Harvey got a bit older and his desires became clearer to him, the realisation dawned that if he were to get a girl like Ginger, or any girl for that matter, to come to bed with him

he needed to be able to dance and sing just a bit like Fred and lessons would be required. This in fact he did with enthusiasm and dedication. Unfortunately as it turned out Harvey was a lousy dancer and his attempts at seduction via the dance floor remained largely unsuccessful, in fact they stayed zilch.

  However the singing lessons had a more positive result, as his voice soon developed into a warm light tenor with a pleasing range. At the urging of his teacher he joined a church choir where he had the pleasure as a tenor to stand close to and behind the sopranos, giving him the opportunity of being able to look down their dresses  as they expanded their diaphragms. Further attempts to get closer were in vain as somehow the word got out amongst the girls that Harvey was an atheist.
He was then encouraged by both his mother and his teacherto enter into singing contests so popular at that time, where he had several podium results perhaps not in the modern vein of raucous noises accompanied by an out of tune guitar but more in the manner of  Corsican pre-war idol  Tino Rossi and Harvey’s rendition of ’Parlami d’amore Mariù’ quickened the heartbeat of many of his growing band of fans.

  His popularity however was confined to the mothers and grandmothers of the girls he was hoping to bed and he remained singularly unsuccessful as a seducer of the girls of  his own generation. Nevertheless there were compensations. As his  repertoire grew with the addition of many of the French and Italian romantic  from the thirties and the forties songs like ‘Catari, Catari,’ and his personal favourite ’J’attendrai’ he became a welcome quest at the places of the more mature generation of women and was highly in demand at the parties of the well to do where he performed at the piano like a latter-day Cole Porter. Indeed once his manners improved and his repertoire had grown he began to be accepted as a house guest and as he frequently discovered, there was sometimes a bit on the side.

  It was when he added ‘Just a Gigolo’ to his repertoire that he abruptly realised that he was now living his songs and moreover, actually  enjoying the lifestyle and the company that surrounded him. It left him no time for sorrow or regret. As it did for the unknown  gigolo in Bing Crosby’s hit of 1931

 Just a gigolo, everywhere I go
People know the part I'm playing
Paid for every dance
Selling each romance
Every night some heart betraying

There will come a day
Youth will pass away
Then what will they say about me
When the end comes I know
They'll say just a gigolo
As life goes on without me