In the 1934 film It Happened One Night, Clark Gable teaches Claudette Colbert how to properly dunk a doughnut in a cup of coffee. Gable would have felt right at home, offering up his savvy tips on lunch counter etiquette in the short film, Coffee and a Donut (notice the commonly used spelling of the circular pastry with a hole in the middle — a corruption of the English language brought about in part by the Dunkin’ Donuts chain). It takes place in a quintessentially American coffee shop — and how much more American can you get than that? It’s the kind of place where you order two poached eggs on white toast, and the counter attendant hollers over to the grill man, “Adam and Eve on a raft!”
“All he can say in English is ‘coffee and a donut’…So that’s all he gets to eat.”
So, this film, Coffee and a Donut, is about an immigrant, Pablo, who can’t speak English and has problems ordering from the menu. All he can say in English is “coffee and a donut” (or “doughnut,” really, but don’t get me started). So that’s all he gets to eat. Days go by, and the poor bugger is eating nothing, but plain doughnuts washed down with what must be quarts of coffee. Which raises the question, can he figure out how to ask where the restroom is?
Then everything changes. A kind woman who happens to speak Spanish comes along, opening up a new world for him. It’s a bold step. But, will he be brave enough to order something else besides coffee and a doughnut? The Monte Cristo looks good. Or maybe Eggs Florentine — yes, that’d probably be on the menu. This is a hep joint, yet very, very American.
You’ll have to see the film to find out how our friend Pablo fares, and I know you will because, let’s face it, who can resist stories taking place in an American coffee shop? Certainly not me.
Coffee and a Donut (2018) Directed by Cary Patrick Martin. Written by Cary Patrick Martin. Starring Memo, Deirdre MacNamara, Rocio Mendez.
6 out of 10 Steaming Cups o’ Joe