Captain’s Log 4,386
Big Sister Mia and I spent most of yesterday together. The topper was seeing Bernie, a new film featuring Shirley Maclaine and Jack Black. It’s based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, a Texas funeral director who befriended the meanest widow in Carthage, Texas…. Marjorie Nugent was as mean as a snake until Bernie befriended her after her husband’s death. She warmed up to him and eventually the two became inseparable. They took expensive vacations together, went to the opera, etc. She spent a fortune for his companionship.
Unfortunately, she expected him to surrender his life in return. There were scenes in the movie of him folding her underwear, plucking hairs from her chin, giving her a pedicure, taking her to lunch on an exact schedule. She controlled every aspect of his life. When he didn’t answer his cell phone quickly enough, she bought him a pager. That kind of thing. Creepy.
And one day…..Bernie just snapped. He shot her in the back four times and put her in a chest freezer in the garage. For nine months, he convinced everyone she was in a nursing home in another town recovering from a stroke. And since she was so mean, nobody ever considered visiting her.
Bernie had also been given power of attorney over her estate and his name had been added to her bank accounts, so he spent oodles of her money – not on himself but to help the citizens of Carthage. Eventually, there was an investigation, and her frozen remains were discovered. Bernie was charged with murder and was found guilty. He will be eligible for parole in 2027.
Shirley Maclaine was amazing in the role of Marjorie. So bitter and fearful of the world. Jack Black as Bernie Tiede was a slam dunk. He SANG like an angel in this film – and he portrayed Bernie as the effeminate but never flamboyantly gay “companion” to Marjorie. The film uses real actors, but it also uses citizens of Carthage to tell their own personal accounts.
Yes, Marjorie had taken Bernie’s life away from him. He was completely trapped by her petty needs and demands. At the heart of the matter, he was a very nice guy who just didn’t know how to regain his freedom. I am not excusing what he did to her, but I can truly understand the circumstances that led up to it. At the beginning, his intentions were good. She grabbed on to what he offered and turned things into something that fed her own needs and wants. Hell with Bernie’s feelings. It was all about Marjorie.
I have known people like Marjorie. Fortunately, I have never been close enough to feel compelled to shoot them in the back and hide them in a freezer. I guess the wisdom of the matter is……if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If it seems as if someone is stalking you, guess what? They probably are. I’m not saying that everyone who is nice and generous is a bad person, but if that comes with emotional strings or feelings of obligation…..be careful. Neediness can turn toxic.
Anyway, this is a sleeper film. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good, it means it’s wonderful and not enough people will see it. Join the minority and treat yourself! It’s fabulous!