Tennis Shoes

"Oh, Jeannie, am I married.  Yeah, I'm married.  I got a son almost as old as you.  He thinks he's a grown man.  He goes to college.  I wanted him to go to one of those midwestern schools and play football...but his mother said, 'no, no football.' So he said, 'Alright, what the hell, no football.'

So instead he goes to Dartmouth.  Goes out for tennis instead.  All day long he walks around in tennis shoes.  What kind of a thing is that for a grown boy to walk around in tennis shoes all day long?  What the hell.  He's my son.  Even if he wants to nance around, I say, 'so what?'  Everybody's gotta lead their own life, right?  So, he goes out for swimming and track....and wears tennis shoes.

Jeannie, do you know what it is to be a promo man in a firm like mine, huh?  I'll tell ya.  You meet more millionaires and more presidents...than you dream could exist.

So, what have I got after all those years?  A big house, a kooky wife, and a kid who wears sneakers."

A little heart-to-heart with Jim McCarthy from "Faces" by John Cassavetes, 1968.

So much of this movie is about youth and age, appearance and its discontents; what better indicator of that divide than sneakers.  This confessional is spoken by a man in the middle of a long scene where the putting on or taking off of jackets is also very important; the vestiges of the formal language of clothing are being pulled like so many late-'60s dinner jackets.

We hear the click clack of the men's shoes much more sharply than we do the women's.

And to top it off: a nice long shot (or three) of the Chelsea boots of our other representative Young Man, Chet, as he tries to convince his new middle-aged women friends that the crazy new dance moves at which he is so expert are the new great release of youth.  After all the to-do about the college boy's sneakers, I couldn't stop thinking about those boots.  They are so perfect!  They were more indicative of his place in the ladies' living room, the film and greater Los Angeles of 1968 than his lack of jacket or button-up shirt, but to the director or the designer's credit, the wardrobe played a poignant but only supporting role.

But I thought this quotation was worth including for its emphasis, the meaning the words "tennis shoes" had for the character and the contemporary audience.  And the words "Dartmouth" and "nance."  Yes, it is mainly the sport that concerns him (and possibly the school, hah), but the father's aggravation manifests itself into the shoes, a signpost of "nancing around" and playing pansy sports but also of the relaxation of the father's sartorial social codes that we all have heard (ad nauseum) was so threatening to the men of his generation.

SNEAKERS! A (nancy) revolution.