Natchez is good enough for the movies

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, May 24, 2007

After reading the editorial page for the past few days, I wasn’t sure whether I was in an old movie or an old board game. First there was the Monopoly game, with “Get out of jail” passes liberally dispersed among our elected officials. Next was the image of Sally Durkin as the new sheriff coming to bring, not law and order, but movie productions to Natchez. Finally, we have the image of “Slinky Binkey” as a snake-oil salesman, with his magic potion that makes all his thievery seem palatable.

At first these seemed like three separate situations, but the more I thought about it, the more they all seem to tie together. And then I wondered if maybe there ought to be a movie filmed here, along the lines of one of those old Westerns. You know, where the new sheriff looks around town and sees:

1. The mayor burning down (they didn’t have bull-dozers back then, you see) any buildings of which he didn’t particularly approve.

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2. A crooked circuit clerk, posing as a seller of magic snake oil, admitting to stealing the citizens’ money, then paying it back with rubber checks. (Make that “fool’s gold” rubber hadn’t been invented, either.)

3. A lax and lazy attorney general who doesn’t see either No. 1 or No. 2 as a problem.

4. A judge who lets the thief out of jail and tells him to go on doing business as usual and to feel free to run for re-election.

5. A citizenry who are so accustomed to being lied to, cheated, and stolen from that they not only buy more of the magic snake oil from the thief, they even consider voting him back into office and giving him more of their money. One glassy-eyed zombie, the sweet but naive Miz Wilson, even goes so far as to say it is un-Christian to hold a criminal accountable for his crimes because none of us is perfect! One can only hope she is under the influence of the magic snake-oil, and not responsible for her thoughts!

At this point the new sheriff, seeing what (s)he is up against, quotes the classic Western line: “There’s nothing wrong with this town a few good hangin’s can’t fix!”

Now, I am not proposing public hangings for either of our law-ignoring elected officials. Instead, maybe Sheriff Durkin could convince some movie producer that it would make a good flick. Of course, there would have to be a script written first, and perhaps for that we could turn to our own famous novelist. Maybe Greg Iles could be convinced to write a “period” novel along those lines; then everyone could engage in the favorite Natchez pastime of trying to figure out who the characters really are.

While that may not be much of a challenge, it could be almost as much fun as a game of Monopoly!

Barbara Palmer

Natchez resident