40 / CHRONICLESnalong that he was the Hero as Outsidern(things just got worse as he got older).nThe Irish camaraderie, the drinkingnand roughhousing within the small,nwarm group, was forced — a mask.nFord’s real idea of a good time wasnsolitary reading, alone out on his boat.nAs usual, it is Gallagher who comes upnwith the crucial evidence, the testimonynof Ford’s longtime friend, the actornFrank Baker: “He was never relaxed,nnever mellow, never allowed you tonrelax either. He was always unhappy.nHe never had a day’s happiness. Willnhe find peace? Lonely spirit! What wasnhe looking for?”nWell, the whole world is full ofnneurotics. But few American artistsnhave equaled John Ford’s impact:nWith the help of his collaborators, henestablished America’s vision of its ownnpast, from Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)nto Cheyenne Autumn (1964) — andnnot just a vision, but an emotion, ancelebration of community and tradition.nIf the fiercely secretive Ford wasnalso secretly a tormented man, he wasnnot the first Irish poet, nor the last, tontransmute inner torment into lastingnartistic achievement.nArthur Eckstein is professor of historynat the University of Maryland.nPins in the Carpetnby Katherine DaltonnDancing in the Dark; screenplay bynLeon Marr from the novel by JoannBarfoot; directed by Leon Marr;nNew World Pictures.nThe Stratford Festival Theatre in Ontarionhas been training and cultivatingngreat actors for years now—WilliamnHutt, Maggie Smith, Brian Bedford,nMarti Maraden, Alan Scarfe, andnMartha Henry have all done beautifulnwork—probably some of their best—nthere. However, with the slight exceptionnof Smith, none have made thentransition to film. So to find MarthanHenry starring in a new Canadiannmovie was a great and pleasant surprise.nDancing in the Dark is directornLeon Marr’s feature film debut and anvariation on the theme of “diary of anmad housewife.” In it Martha Henrynplays Edna, a woman who has devotednher life to her not unkind but somewhatnboorish businessman of a husband.nShe is a woman of single purposenand few friends, spending herntime cleaning house, cooking, andnwaiting for Harry to come home.nWhen the inevitable phone callncomes relating Harry’s equally inevitablenadultery, Edna falls to pieces. Thenmovie cuts between scenes of beforenand after, from Edna at home (dustingnthe very antennae on the television setnand ironing even her underwear) tonEdna in the hospital, where she hasnbeen placed by the court following hernbreakdown and her husband’s death.nThe script is sometimes overblown butnnot without subtlety, and if the wholenmovie runs a little too closely alongnthe lines of a feminist stereotype, it isneverywhere redeemed by Henry’s performance.nAfter the call comes, thenphone drops from her hand, andnHenry as Edna sits motionless in hernchair as the day turns to dusk and thenndarkness, tears streaming down an expressionlessnface. There is no onionnheld furtively just out of camera rangenhere; 30 long years of training andntechnique are behind the performingnof that scene. It is agonizing and beautifulnto watch, and a scene that demonstratesnso well that Henry has fewnequals.n”The alarming thing to me,” saysnHenry, who is in New York just for thenday, “was that playing Edna didn’tntouch me at all. She felt just exactlynthe way I didn’t feel, and that wasnwhat was so scary.” It is not so muchnthat Edna has chosen to be a housewife,nsomething Henry as an actressn(hence working woman) and feministnfinds hard to understand—what is terrifyingnabout Edna is that she hasnnothing else. She has no resources; nonchild, no evident other family, no realnfriends, no outside interests of anynkind, nothing so much as a goldfishnthat is separate and hers alone. WithoutnHarry there is only a void. “I lovednhim for giving me a life,” Edna says,nand when he shatters her life, she takesnhis: four robotic stabs with a kitchennknife.nLove, or at least some kinds of love,nare very greedy. Edna has given everythingnshe can to a man who nevernasked for it all, perhaps, but whonreadily accepted it; the bargain wasnnnstruck, then, and in return he had tongive her the requisite parts ofnhimself—praise, solicitude, a littlentime chatting over dinner, fidelity.nEdna doesn’t need any more, but shencan’t survive with less, or so she hasnmade herself believe. But Edna thenmeticulous balustrade cleaner is notnthe real woman. The real woman isnthe mad woman in the hospital, silentnin her efforts to deal with a flood ofnthoughts that had been damned up innher head for years and years, fillingnnotebooks with bitter observations in anperfect script.nHenry says what she sees whennwatching her performance remindsnher of her mother, now in a hospital innMichigan. Henry’s mother was not anhousewife, but like Edna she spent hernlife making those around her happynand comfortable. “This was her job,”nHenry says. “What I see now is anwoman who doesn’t have to do thatnany more, because nobody caresnwhether she’s charming or not. In fact,nthe less charming she is, the morenlikely she is to get somebody to helpnget her out of bed, or look after her. SonI guess that’s what I see. Somebodynwith it stripped off.”nThus peeled, Edna is more realnthan she has ever been and alsonunreal — there is always somethingnunbelievable about a broken mind.nBut she isn’t playacting; she is finallynnot playacting. She was always shattered.n”There must have been pins innthe carpet that I did not see. . . . I’mnsure I could have been perfect,” shencontinues, “with more effort.” Henrynflies north tonight to return home;nEdna we have left back in the theater,nfinally acting out the one fantasy shenseems to have ever had. In her hospitalngown she is dancing around andnaround in the twilight—“trying,” asnHenry put it, “to become a humannbeing, against impossible odds.”nKatherine Dalton writes from NewnYork.n