Friday, October 29, 2010


(Father, Mother, Daughter #1, Daughter #2 and Son #1 are sitting around the dinner table.)

Father: I just wanted to say how happy I am to have my entire family with me.
Mother: Yes, I can't wait for tonight's meal!

Daughter #1: Grandmamason and her legendary Suykiaki have never let us down.

Mother: And don't forget the Shishimi, honey.

Daughter #2: Yum!

Father: Has anyone seen my bottle of sake?

Mother: Go easy on the sake, husband.

(Grandmamason comes in and serves the Shishsimi)

Father: (Twirling a chopstick between his fingers) Thank you, Grandmamason!

(Grandmamason smiles, but grunts as she serves.)

Mother: I don't know about Grandmamason carrying that
heavy food bowl. She might fall down and break a hip.

Father: And if she does, we will be sure to all handle all of her medical needs.
What's that Confucian proverb say?

Daughter #2: (Speaking quickly) Be a good son or daughter when your parents are alive for none can serve them beyond the grave. We learned that in school!

(All nod in agreement as they pass around the plates. Father watches
his family with pride before taking a drink from his bottle of sake.)

Father: And what else have you learned in school?

Daughter #2: Much...much...I am accumulating much wisdom

Father: (Smiling) And what about you eldest daughter? Isn't it about
time for you to find a husband and continue the life cycle?

Daughter #1: I don't know, I'm happy with the way things are now.

(All nod in agreement as they continue to pass around the plates. Father continues to watch his family with pride before taking a drink from his bottle of sake, which had been next to him the entire time.)

Father: How about you number one son? What do you think about your sister marrying?

Son #1: I'm just thinking about dinner.

Mother: (To husband) Go easy on that Sake.

Father: You don't need to worry about me.

Daughter #2: One question, father. Why are we talking like this?
I don't usually call you father.

Father: We're trying to have a normal family conversation
in the tradition of the films of Yasuro Ozu. He magnified the simplicity and the complexity of family life in subtle terms few have been able to master as well before or since. The subtext of any simple conversation can have multiple interpretations, such as-

Daughter #1: Oh-who? Never heard of him. And the simplicity of family life doesn't really sound all that exciting to me. Besides, eating on the floor like this hurts my back.

Father: (to Son #1) What about you? You like Japanese movies.

Son #1: If its Anime.

Mother: Now, now. All of you need to try to indulge your father.

Daughter #1: This doesn't feel right.

Father: Perhaps you aren't trying hard enough dearest elder daughter.

Daughter #2: I agree with sister. I can't keep this up. It's not natural.

Father: Not natural? It's perfectly natural when Ozu writes it.
What do you think, number one son?

Son #1: I'm just thinking about dinner.

Father: (Putting head in hands before) Oh, who am I kidding?
(Throwing his chopsticks in the middle of the table) There's only one Ozu and its not me!

Daughter #1: (Leaving the table) Don't feel bad, father. I may get married someday, though I doubt it would ever be with anyone you'd approve of anyway.

Daughter #2: (Leaving the table) I've got to go text someone. Can I be excused?

(Son # 1 starts to leave the table)

: (to son#1) Where are you going?

Son #1: To play video games. Sayanora, Otosan. (Son #1 bows before departing.)

Father: (Looking at wife) You'll stay with me, won't you?

Mother: I would dearest, but a new episode of The Closer is about to come on.
(Mother takes a couple of steps toward the living room before stopping momentarily to look at her husband with a somewhat guilty look before departing for the living room.)

Grandmamason comes out of the kitchen wiping off her hands with a towel. She stares at her son-in-law sympathetically.)

Grandmamason: Isn't Life Disappointing?

Father: (beginning to peel an apple) Yes, It Is.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Tonight we're going to party like it's 1959.

Fred Kaplans' book, 1959: The Year That Changed Everything, states that this was the pivotal year that began much of what we now call modern times in the Western world. Important points for the year include:

· Mailer-Ginsburg-Kerouac-Burroughs and the banned Lady Chatterly's Lover
leading to things of a more permissible nature seeing print.
· Sputnik-leading to the space race.
· Herman Kahn's lectures on nuclear war being a lead in to the arms race.
· The introuduction of the solid intergrated circuit.
· Miles Davis, modern jazz & the civil rights movement.
· Castro's Cuban revolution.
· Cold War heating up with Kruschev's visit to the United States.
· SETI searching for life in outher space.
· Modern Art and the opening of the Guggenheim museum.
· Popular music and Motown.
· The final application for the birth control pill.
· The emergence of John F. Kennedy and the new Frontier.

Kaplan's chapter, The Off-Hollywood Movie, discusses the 1959 John Cassavetes film, Shadows. Cassavetes railed against Hollywood movies, where he said that commercial considerations were subtle, but dominate. He was more interested in the neo-realist filmmakers of Italy, who shot many of their films in the streets of Rome. Cassavetes decided to shoot a neo-realist film of his own in the streets of New York City. The result was Shadows, a story of a young black woman who passes for white, though a plot synopsis doesn't really do the movie justice, as it is largely free form and at least partly improvised. You know a 1959 movie that has a line that scoffs at the beat generation is pretty hip (or thinks it's pretty hip). Shadows, as well as other later films by Cassavetes, weren't big money makers, but did influence a generation of moviemakers such as Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanavich and Robert Altman.
I'm just glad that commercial considerations in today's American cinema have now become secondary to artistic considerations. (Hey, stop laughing!)

Thinking further about 1959, there were some interesting films NOT in the 1001 one movie book from that year.

1) The Beat Generation- Not to be confused with Beatniks starring Peter Breck, but The Beat Generation does at least have Jayne Mansfield imitator Mamie Van Doren. Or was she a Marilyn Monroe imitator? Or am I getting these movies mixed up? Well, no matter.

2) The Killer Shrews-Speaking of movies done on Mystery Science Theater 3000, this is the island adventure featuring genetically enhanced Shrews that want to kill you (hence the title) and stars James Best, that redneck sheriff guy from Dukes of Hazzard. I guess he played the sheriff, I wasn't really a regular watcher of the Dukes.

3) Gidget-Yes, the premiere of the cute little beachnik featuring Sandra Dee and later spawned a Sally Field TV series and…who am I kidding? I’ve never actually sat through a Gidget movie, though I have used the phrase “Big Kahuna” on occasion.

4) Journey to the Center of the Earth-Sure it was based on a Jules Verne story and sure it later became the basis for Rick Wakeman's magnum opus...but really, future archaeologists will unearth an old VHS copy of this and ask only one question: So, why was this Pat Boone ever popular, again?

5) The Mouse That Roared-Of note because of multi-Peter Sellers roles and the fact that I appeared in the stage version of this in High School. (Though my performance as Professor Kokintz is NOT even mentioned in The Mouse That Roared’s Wikipedia article!)

6) Solomon and Sheba-One of those sword and sandals epics that featured Yul Brynner with hair, no less! and the Ubervoluptuous Gina Lollabridgida.

7) 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock-The only Lou Costello effort without Abbott. I remember watching this as a kid and fruitlessly WAITING for Bud Abbott to appear.

8) Compulsion-Really should be in the 1001 movie book. Based on the Meyer Levin novel (an interesting read) about the Leopold and Loeb murder case and features Orson Welles as the Clarence Darrow stand-in as well as a pre-Quantum Leap as Dean Stockwell as one of the murderers.

9) Pillow Talk-If you have to watch a Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy, this is probably the one to see. (But you don't have to, it's really not required.)

10) Plan 9 From Outer Space-You can’t make a list of movies from this year without a reference to the most famous bad film of all time. Though hardly the worst film of all time! Not as long as Manos, The Hands of Fate and Monster A Go-Go are still around.

There’s also Hiroshima, Mon Amour which is a 1001 Movies entry and was directed by Last Year at Marienband Alain Resnais. I first saw this in a history of film class at Georgia State xx number of years ago, but don’t remember much about that viewing.
In seeing it again, I like it more that Last Year at Marienband, though it still might be one that I have to see a few times to appreciated fully. It starts out in semi-documentary form dealing with the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima. The film jumps to a modern day (1959 modern day of course) showing us a brief (very brief) affair between a French actress and a Japanese architect. (The plot summary says he was an architect, but I don't remember them calling him an architect. I must have been out of the room when they mentioned it.) She has past demons from the war hanging over her largely involving a past lover who was killed. He has the memories of the atomic bomb hanging over him. Features some interesting tracking shots (not overdone like in Last Year at Marienband), gives a good feel of the city and has two appealing leads. Worth a look, but may require a second (or third) viewing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

JAWS (1975)

There was no bigger summer movie in 1975 than Jaws.

Check that. There has never been a bigger summer movie in history than Jaws.

When I first saw it in the theater, me and my friend Steve sat through it twice. Some of the patrons during the second show didn’t appreciate Steve shouting out some of the lines in the movie right before the actors said them, but I guess some people just don’t appreciate performance art.

I wrote this play based on Jaws the following school year during my Home Economics class. Yes, it was Home Economics and I should have been learning how to use a sewing machine. But I defied my teachers and said, “Sorry, Ms. Wherli, but satire awaits!” Ms. Wherli didn’t appreciate my rebellion and gave me what she considered an appropriate grade at the end of the quarter. How can you fail Home Economics? I guess if you have a teacher that prescribes to such rigid grading scheme you can! I guess she didn't appreciate performance art, either.

Anyway, I’ve blown the cobwebs from my old notebook paper and placed my play here for what it's worth. The last page is missing, so I’ve had to rewrite the ending.

Jaw-Bones from January 1976

Narrator: We now go to a small Long Island town where the swimming is popular and we see a weird old man named Simon Oates holding a broken tree branch pretending to be on television.

Oates: (into the branch) Howdy out there, ladies and gentlemen. Simon Oates here on the beach. I am now going out into the water to teach you how to swim. (Oates paddles out into the water not knowing what dangers lurk ahead.) Now let us learn. The first thing you do is "Blppp." Ouch! What the Hell was that? Ahhh, my leg. Oh! Ah! Ahhhhh!

(Next morning, a young man named Ole Olson walks down by the beach seeing the remains of this weird old man.)

Olson: Yuck! Yick! Uck! Barf! What happened to you mister? You look...dead. Oh, wait. You are dead. Help! Help! Murder! I got to go call the police.

(At exactly 7:57 A. M., Olson calls the Amity Police Department and the phone is answered by Chief Martin Brody.)

Brody: Hello, Amity police department, where being smart doesn't matter.

Olson: Officer, there's a man on the beach whose face is completely turn off, his arms and legs dismantled and his guts are all over the beach.

Brody: Is he dead?

Olson: That’s a possibility.

Brody: I'll be there in a jiffy

(15 minutes later at the beach, Brody arrives and greets Olson)

Brody: Hello Mr. Olson. Where's the body?

Olson: Under this sheet.

Brody: Let me see. (He lifts up the cover) Yuck, yick, uck, barf!

Olson: What could have done this?

Brody: Let's out of control boat, a poorly manufactured paper shredder, a shark, a...

Olson: You mean a shark could have done this? I'll go see Dr. Omar Dingle.

Brody: Hey, that's my line! I'LL go see Dr. Omar Dingle. Now get on out of here, you're just a minor character anyway.

(Now at Omar Dingle's place, we see Brody bringing the body to Dr. Dingle to verify the shark attack.)

Omar: All right, Brody. Let me take a look. (He looks under the cover.)
Yuck, yick, uck, barf! That's a shark attack all right!

Brody: Are you sure?

Omar: Does Tarzan have smelly armpits?

Brody: I must find someone to help me track down this shark!

Omar: But who? Or is it whom? I can never remember.

Brody: I know a shark specialist. His name is Matt Hooper. Are you positive this couldn't have been done by a poorly manufactured paper shredder?

Omar: I'm sure that only a shark, a really, really big shark could have done this dirty deed.

(Later at the beach, we see a country bumpkin swimming by himself. The beach now has a"No Swimming" sign, which Billy Bob McCoy is attempting to read.)

Billy Bob: I'll just mosey on down to that big river and I'll...What's on this here sign? No swinging? Well, heck fire. I'm not going swingin’. I'm goin' a swimmin.'

Billy Bob: (Now in the water) Boy, ain't it quaint, just relaxing in the water and ...blppp! Ye Ha. Dagnabit.Some carnfondid fish just bit my pants off. Wouldn't be so bad, but my lag was in it. (Crunching sound) Yaaa Yooo Yaw Yuw Yow Ahhh!

(Back at Dr. Dingle's office, Billy Bob's body has been found. Brody and shark hunter Hooper arrive.)

Hooper: So gentleman, what's this I hear about a shark attack?

Brody: We've had two of them. Omar, show him the one we found last night.

(Hopper looks at the body.)
Hooper: Well, there's just one thing to say. Yuck, yick, uck, barf! Oh, my! This shark must be thirty feet long!

Brody: What kind of shark could have done this?

Hooper: A tiger shark.

Brody and Omar: A WHAT?

Hooper: Never mind. Martin, we've got to get someone with the capabilities of destroying the shark.

Brody: But who?

Hooper: Sir Edmon Farquar, the English shark killer.

Brody: Does he make sea calls?

Hooper: You bet, Martin, You bet.

Brody: Between the three of us, we're bound to catch the shark. Matt, go get him and bring him back by 4:57 P.M. Make sure he has all his equipment make sure he know the area, and make sure you are back on time!

Hooper: Ya vo, mein fureher!

(After Hooper leaves, Brody sits at his office enjoying a bottle of yahoo. The chocolate drink for men, a tattooed sea salt comes into Brody's office.)

Quint: Aye Maties, Quints me name, killing sharks is me game.

Brody: Do you really think you can kill this shark?

Quint: Can't you tell I'm a rought exteriored, sea soaked, horn swaggled salty dawg?

Brody: What's your fee?

Quint: Ten grand.

Brody: Don't call us. We'll call you.

Quint: When you change your mind, I'll be at the Quasi Moto resort for rough exteriored, sea soaked, horn swaggled salty dawgs.

(Quint leaves as Hooper returns with the English shark hunter.)

Hooper: Martin. I'd like you to meet Sir Edmond Farquar.

Brody: How do you do?

Farquar: Ah. Pip, pip. Cherrio and all that kind of rot.

Brody: Let's get down to business. How much do you want for this extermination?

Farquar: Ten

Brody: Ten? Are you crazy? I just had an expert come in here a minute ago and ask for 10. If I turn down an expert, why should I hire you?

Hooper: Martin. He doesn't want 10 thousand. He wants ten dollars. You see he's from Sussex and not too bright.

Brody: Sir Edmond, you're hired.

Farquar: A good decision, Mr. Brody. I'm a great whale hunter.

Brody: You mean shark hunter.

Farquar: Whatever.

(At the dock, we now see Hooper, Brody and Farquar loading up on Farquar's boat, "The Nausea.")

Brody: What equipment are you bringing?

Farquar: A net, a cage, a spare

Hooper: You mean a spear.

Farquar: Whatever.

(Later, out at sea)

Brody: Which direction are we going, Farquar?

Farquar: Westward, Marty my boy.

Brody: Why isn't Matt steering the boat?

Farquar: He's got it on automatic and he promised me he'd separate the equipment on the floor.

Brody: You mean the deck.

Farquar: Whatever.

Hooper: Farquar! Martin! I see something. It's big. 20 feet long at least, with teeth two feet long!

Brody: Is it a shark?

Hooper: Either that or the ugliest prom date you'd ever want to have.

Farquar: I'll shoot it with my gum.

Brody: You mean gun.

Farquar: Whatever.

Hooper: He's rocking the boat!

Farquar: I'll get him. (He fires. Kablamm! Kablamm!)
I'm falling! Help! (Brody manages to pull Farquar out of the water as the shark goes back under.)

Hooper: Get him out!

Brody: I got him. Are you all right?

Farquar: No, the flippin' fish bit off my arm.

Hooper: You mean leg.

Farquar: Whatever.

(The shark bobs up before going back down with Farquars legs hanging on his jaws. This gave Hooper, Brody and Farquar a chance to get back to shore and rush Farquar to a hospital. At the hospital, Dr.Dingle is checking Farquar.)

Omar: How is the pain, Mr. Farquar?

Farquar: I feel unstrong.

Omar: You mean weak?

Farquar: Whatever.

(Dr. Dingle goes out to talk to Hooper and Brody.)

Hooper: How is he, Doc?

Omar: You know this shark is good for business.

Brody: He asked how is he?

Omar: Oh that. He doesn't have a chance.

Hooper: If we have to, I'll tell him.

(Hooper goes into see Omar)

Hooper: Sir Edmond, your condition fatal.

Farquar: Just as long as its nothing serious.

Hooper: But Edmond, your'e going to cry.

Farquar: You mean die.

Hooper: Whatever. You got me saying it now! Edmond, Edmond. Oh No.

(Hooper returns to the others.)

Hooper: He's dead.

Omar: I told you.

Brody: I'm going to hire Quint to kill the shark.
(Dramatic music plays in the background.)

(Brody and Quint meet in Brody's office.)

Brody: I've asked you to come here for one purpose.
To hire you to kill the shark.

Quint: I give you sharkies head and you give me 10 grand.

Brody: You're going to have to come down on your price.

Quint: How about you give me 10 grand and I give you sharkies head.

Brody: Now we're getting somewhere.

Quint: I'll need you to come along as me mate and I'll need someone
else to navigate me old buzzard.

Brody: Is that your ship?

Quint: No, that's me wife. Aye, aye, aye. A little sea humor there.

Brody: Matt Hooper will go with us.

Quint: Matt Hooper? Sounds like a vacuum cleaner.

Brody: That's Hooper, not Hoover.

Quint: All righty. Sounds like a basketball player then.

Brody: That works.

(Quint, Brody and Hooper are loading the ship)

Quint: I've got all me stuff to kill the beast. Hey, Hooper
what's all the crap you're bringing aboard.

Hooper: My cage, my dart gun and my-

Quint: You forgot your six-shooter, Tex. What do you think this is? Cowboys and Indians?

Hooper: These are a necessity in shark catching.

Quint: Phooey. With our splitting the money, I"m only getting $3,333.34 out of this.

Hooper: You are getting a penny more than us.

Brody: Stop arguing! Okey Dokey, guys?

Quint: Okey Dokey? I'm hunting sharks with Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody!

(At sea, a few hours later.)

Quint: Hooper, do you see the shark?

Hooper: I see him. I see him.

Quint: I got him on my line. Brody give me me harpoon. Hooper, I hope you got
me barrels secure. (He fires the harpoon) Got him!

(Quint manages to shoot three harpoons into the shark. However, the shark seems
unimpeded and goes underwater. That night, the three of them got drunk.)

Quint: HIc. I got this scar by a killer whale and this one from a swordfish.

Hooper: Oh, yeah! I got these scars by an electric eel and a tiger shark.

Brody and Quint: A WHAT?

Quint: You got any scars, Brody?

Brody: (showing his hand) Sawfish.

Hooper: Sawfish?

Brody: Yeah. I saw Fish Finnigan steal some cookies in third grade.
I said I would tell, so he scratched the "bleeep" out of my hand.

Quint: Great. I served on the Indianapolis and this land lubber is
telling me stories about a Chips Ahoy thief!

Hooper: Come on guys, let's all sing.

Quint: Hic! Okay

Brody, Hooper, Quint:
Show me the way to go home. Bum bum
I'm tired and I want to go to bed.
I had a little drink about an hour ago
and it went straight to my head.
Over land or sea or foam,
wherever I may roam.
You'll still hear me

Hooper: Who said crunch? That's not how it goes.

Quint: It's the bloody shark, you twits!

(The shark goes down with a piece of the boat causing
the men to sober up quickly.)

Quint: Ah, he got away before I could blast him. But he'll be back.

Hooper: Let me go down in my cage and shoot him with my poison dart.

Quint: Go ahead. This boat can't last too much longer.

(Hooper goes down into the water and spots the shark. The shark, not
wanting to let a human get the best of him, hits the back of the cage
before reaching his jaws in and taking a bite out of Hooper.)

Hooper: Ugh. This is really bad for the liver.

(Back at the boat)

Brody: What's taking him?

Quint: He's dead.

Brody: Is not.

Quint: Is too.

Brody: Is not.

Quint: Is too.

(While they are aruging, the shark climbs onto the almost sunken boat and starts to pull Quint in.)

Quint: He's got me! Ahhh! Me insurance is really going to go up now. (The shark takes Quint's body underwater.

(The ship is almost completely underwater and Brody is hugging the ship's mast and has a rifle in his hand.)


Brody: Looks like I'm done for and there's only one bullet left in this rifle.

(Brody sees a pressurized air tank floating towards the shark.)

Brody: Oh, my God! Maybe if that shark would swallow that pressurized air tank
and I could shoot my last bullet into its mouth... But what are the odds of that happening? Wait! He's going for it! He’s going for it! (The shark swallows the air tank) Better aim. Take that you son of a bitch! (He fires)

(The impact of the bullet against the air tank in the shark’s mouth causes the shark to explode.)

Brody: Woo Hoo! Our plot just jumped the shark and the term hasn't even been invented yet!

(Brody paddles back toward the shore on the fallen mast.)

Brody: So glad I survived that! I’m free to be in All That Jazz now!(Brody starts humming On Broadway as he continues to paddle back to shore.)


Sunday, October 17, 2010



Josey Wales pointed his pistol at the bottles on the fence in front of him.

Four shots rang out...Three bottles shattered.

He was getting good, but would it be good enough when it came time to face the Redlegs?

It was at that moment that Josey heard a distinct rumbling coming from the distance. He took his gun and hid behind the bushes. Could the moment of truth be upon him already?

As Josey saw four figures coming over the morning mist of what was once his farm, he cocked his gun in preparation.

"Josey Wales!" one of the figures shouted at him. "We come in peace. We are here to help you."

These were clearly not Redlegs. As the figures came closer, he noticed a familiar look to them. Josey came out with his weapons drawn as they approached him.

“Speak your piece and do it quick,” Wales said.

"We are here to help you," the first figure, who had the appearance
of a grizzled gunfighter, said. He had a slight growth of beard, squinted and spat. After the gunfighter spat, Wales spat immediately after him.

"My name is William Munny,” he said.

Wales tilted his head to get a better look at the gunfighter. "You look like-"

"I know." Munny said.

The second figure spoke.
"And my name is…well, I don't have a name. Some call me the High Plains Drifter."

"I don't know if I can trust a man without a name." Wales said.

"I do want you to trust me, so I've got to admit to you that my real name is...Ellen." The drifter spat.

Josey spat in response. I'm not real comfortable calling you that. Can I just call you, Hey You?"

"That works for me." Hey You said.

Wales tilted his head slightly to the left at Hey You. "You look like-"

"I know." Hey You, said.

The figure next to Hey You was wearing a dress outfit that Josey had never seen before, not even in the city.

"My name's Harry Callahan." he said with a smirk.

"That's a mighty big gun you have there, Harry." Josey said.

"It isn’t just cause I'm just glad to see you." he replied before spitting on the ground.

Wales turned his head in the direction of Harry Callahan. "You look like-"

"I know." Callahan said.

Josey looked at the fourth man. He was much smaller than the others with a short haircut, white shoes a red bow tie and an ill-fitting poncho.

The little man put out his hand and said. "HELLO! My name's Pee Wee! Pee Wee Herman! HA! HA!” Pee Wee tried to spit on the ground, but his saliva seemed to get stuck in his throat and all he could manage to do was loudly swallow it. He laughed again and looked around sheepishly.

Josey took a step back.

"He's all right, Josey." William Munny said. “Pee Wee is just the result of a computer glitch. I still don't rightly know what went wrong. But let me tell you, he's a good fighter."

"A competer what?" Josey asked. "What is going on here? Aren't you fellas here to help me fight the Redlegs?

"I think we need to talk," Hey You said.

Josey motioned for the group to proceed to the burned out remnants of his farmhouse.

Pee Wee took the lead and bounced his arms vigorously and skipped as he went into the house.

The other four sauntered in and they sat down at the table.

"Josey, your enemy isn't the Redlegs, because you ain't the real Josey Wales." William Munny said.

"You're a computer generated version of Josey Wales." Harry Callahan clarified.

"That's crazy talk!" Josey said springing up in his seat.

"Sit down, Josey. Let me prove it to you. You feel grief for your wife and son, right? But do you actually have memories of them? Well, do you? Its all part of a computer program," Hey You said.

Josey sat down in the recognition that their assessment of his memory was correct.


"You are part of a role-playing computer game called TractorLand. Millions of people play it, I'm not sure why. It looks really boring to me. I know you don’t understand, we didn’t at first,” William Munny said

“But there are animals on this game that appear to be docile and benign
but take it from me; they aren't." Hey You added.

"I don't even know what a tractor is. Do I?” Josey asked.

"Tractors are pretty cool, Josey." Pee Wee interjected. "Of course I get all I need from my bike. Ha Ha."

"Time is running out Josey. To make a long story short, they're coming back for you.They’re coming for all of us. It took us awhile to get use to this reality but you don't have the luxury of time. I’d say we got about thirty minutes before they come back." Hey you said.

Josey buried his head. "But I don't understand!"

Harry Callahan grabbed Josey's arm. "There's not time, man.

Josey moved his head around to the others and nodded in agreement. Now they were able to plan.

Josey Wales and William Munny positioned themselves in the house with rifles ready.Harry Callahan and Hey You stationed themselves outside behind some rubble with their respective Magnum and Six Shooter drawn. Pee Wee lurked behind the building equipped with a bike and really loud black horn.

Then they came.

First a group of pigs came at the farmhouse. These weren't any normal pigs, these were pigs flipping nun-chucks. These nunchuck pigs were vicious, but were clearly not ready for the ambush awaiting them. Harry Callhan's Magnum took the lead in wiping out the nunchuck pigs. The other gunfighters offered cover and the pigs not slaughtered made a hasty retreat.

Callahan came up to one of the pigs that was wounded but still alive. The pig’s hoof wasin reach of his nunchucks as the animal eyed Callahan and his weapon. Harry raised his gun. "I know what you're thinking. Did I shoot 5 or 6? But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your snout clean off, you've got to ask yourself. Do you feel lucky, pig? Huh? Go ahead, make my day!"

The pig grabbed for his nun-chuck, but a shot rang out from Harry's weapon before the pig could reach it. "Guess I had one left." Harry said.

Next came the Samurai cows mooing as they brandished their swords.
"Shoot for the utters!" William Munny yelled out. As the bullets from the farmhouse came at the cows, the gunfire tearing into the utters caused most of the cows to explode in a milky explosion leaving nothing but their Samurai swords behind.

One of the cows tried to cut into Hey You before the gunfighter knocked it down with the butt of his six-shooter. "Looks like I'm going to have to teach you some manners," Hey You said as he pulled out a brush and began painting the cow red. The cow began a deep moo before Hey You knocked him out with a stray nunchuck he picked up off the ground. Hey You was blanketed in milk, but was otherwise unharmed.

A more coordinated attack came from a group of Gladiator chickens and Judas goats.They almost made it all the way to the farmhouse. Hey You grabbed one of the discarded Samurai Cow swords and decapitated a Gladiator chicken that was about to kill Harry Callahan with a spiked club.

From the flank, three Hellhorses with fire blazing from their nostrils came at Pee Wee's bicycle. He pushed a button on his bike that caused him to spring out of his seat, confusing the two Hellhorses converging on him enough that they slammed into each other, making them dazed impaling the screeching animal and easy prey for his comrade's weapons. Pee Wee hoped onto the other Hellhorse and rode him into a broken fence at the edge of the Wales farm. Pee Wee giggled and gave his friends a thumbs up sign.

"Come on!” Josey motioned to William Munny. "We've got to get out there. We can't get enough of them holed up in here." William Munny and Josey went out with guns blazing.

The battle raged. Warrior kitties attacked without any outside weapons, but possessing a matching set of extremely sharp claws.

William Munny had five Warrior kitties almost upon him. "Damn it. I'm not like that anymore...I’m just not a killer, ah…what the hell." Munny blew away the felines with five shots.

Four fanged CyberBurros flew in the group’s direction. "These are one group of mules that I ain't gonna laugh at." Josey fired four shots. This time he was four for four.

A herd of counting sheep tried to come and make the others fall asleep, but the group was able to avert their eyes until they could be sheared with Pee Wee's electric razor.

After thirty minutes of intense fighting, the battle appeared to be over for the time being. The farmhouse was now obliterated. The group had injuries, but would survive. "We have done it." Josey said.

"For now." Harry added.

They heard a noise behind the shrub and they went over to investigate. A duck with large eyes and a pointed hat was shivering and looked at them with big, sleepy eyes.

"It's just a sweet little party duck that has lost its way,"Josey said.
In the second that he turned to tell the others, the party duck reared its teeth and flew at Josey.
"No!" Pee Wee said as he intercepted the path of the party duck. Harry Callahan came by and shot the duck in the head, but not before the damage was done.

They all came to Pee Wee's aid.
"My wounds are too great." Pee Wee said, putting his hand to his bloody neck where the party duck had bitten into him.

Hey You placed Pee Wee's poncho under Josey's head.
"You're a very brave man." Josey said to Pee Wee as he bent down to comfort him.

Pee Wee motioned to him and Josey bent down and Pee Wee said something in his ear, before Pee Wee closed his eyes for good.

"What did he say?" Munny asked.

"He said, ‘I know you are, but what am I?’"

Josey, William Munny, Harry Callahan and Hey You buried their friend on the eastern edge of the property.

"Why do people play this TractorLand?" Josey asked.

The other three looked at each other and shrugged.

A heavy wind began to blow on what used to the farm of Josey Wales.

"I think this place needs a new christening." Josey said.

They all looked around and agreed the need to acknowledge the war against evil they fought here and rename the area. Harry Callahan found a piece of what used to be the Wales barn and hammered it into the soil with his Magnum next to the newly dug grave of their fallen comrade. Hey You took out some of his red paint and wrote a name on the sign.

The four of them looked at it and nodded in mutual acknowledgement and walked away.

The sign read simply: East Wood.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

MUNICH (2005)

The 1972 Munich Olympics were the first Olympics that I can remember. Those involved will always be stuck in my memory because they seemed bigger than life to a nine-year-old. Among the athletes:

· Seven gold medal winner Mark Spitz, who used the Olympics as a stepping stone to appear in a Bob Hope special, at least that’s the only other thing I can remember him doing afterwards.
· Frank Shorter, who won the Marathon despite an imposter running in front of him when he entered the stadium for his final laps. (Featuring Jim McKay’s commentary on the imposter. “That man is getting applause that belongs to Shorter!” Or something like that. It’s just not the Olympics without the commentary of Jim McKay.)
· Dave Wottle, Gold medal sprinter (who looked nothing like a sprinter) and his unforgettable golf hat.
· Long distance runner Jim Ryun getting tripped during a race he was favored to win-though I still admire his futile, hopeless attempt to get back in the race.
· Vince Matthews and Wayne Collete, 400m medalists, who talked during the playing of National Anthem at the award presentation. (Not as memorable as the medalists giving the black power salute, but that was a different Olympics, a different time.)
· Olga Korbut, the greatest Olympic gymnast ever until four years later when Nadia Commenci became the greatest Olympic gymnast of all time.
· The Men’s basketball final where the U. S. got screwed over
by the refs in the final game against the Russians. (Editorial note: We should still field a team of college players no matter what them other countries do.)

Other names of note: Kip Keino, Lasse Viren, Shane Gould, Steve Prefontaine, Rodney Milburn, Sugar Ray Seales, Duane Bobick, Dan Gable, Dwight Stones, Teofilo Stevenson et al., etc…etc.

Sadly, what the Munich Olympic Games will mostly be remembered for is the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. I'll never forget Jim McKay's dramatic commentary as the events unfolded ("They are no more").

This clip of Jim McKay is used in the beginning of Stephen Spielberg’s film
Munich. This film is more about the covert operation by the Israeli government to find(and kill) those responsible for the murders than the Munich murders.Those murders are just the prelude here, but are smartly interspersed throughout the movie, so the viewer gets a greater understanding of what happened, or at least the films version of what happened.

Though the movie wasn't what I was expecting, it did have a lot to say about the difficulties involved in tracking, identifying, and killing terrorists.I like the way this is summed up by one of the movie’s characters:

The drunk Americans could have been CIA, for all we know Louis is CIA. They work both sides, everyone does. Or Louis is Mossad, now maybe he isn’t, but they’re using him to feed us information. There’s no direct link. Or Mossad’s giving it to the CIA, which is giving it to Louis and Ephraim’s demanding we give him Louis because we expect him to do…

How can you kill evildoers when you can’t even determine who they are?

Tough for me to watch a movie about terrorism so soon after seeing the classic The Battle of Algiers, but Munich is pretty gripping in its own right.


Gillo Pontecorvo's documentary style drama on the 1954-57 liberation of Algeria from French occupation is a must see for:

· Film buffs
· Students of History
· Terrorists/Freedom fighters
· Colonial oppressors/liberators.
· Pretty much anyone else.

I see the phrase "a great achievement" bandied about in a lot of movie reviews and think it is much overused. That being said, The Battle of Algiers I would say, is "a great achievement!"

Haven’t seen it yet? Well get to it, mate!

Monday, October 11, 2010


The 1001 blog writer finds himself sitting in front of the remnants of a burned-out Volkswagen in the Australian outback. He glances at his watch before a strange being appears next him.

The Presence: (Dusting himself off) Hello, How are you my friend?

1001 Blogger: Well, if it isn't The Presence, my supernatural movie-watching comrade. I figured you were the one responsible for bringing me here. And you've obviously been spying on me to know I was watching the movie Walkabout. I'll say this; you've certainly recreated the setting of the movie well. By the way, do you know I can see you now?

The Presence: (Slowly spinning around) And what do you think of my appearance? Like my cloak?

1001 Blogger: I take it you're going for a Death in The Seventh Seal look, but your appearance really has more of a Michael Myers/Shatner-mask Halloween vibe to it.

The Presence: Is that good or bad? It’s strange to have to care about what you look like when you’ve been invisible most of your existence. Anyway, I’m getting way to metaphysical. Let's talk about you. How do you feel about being out here? Do you desire food?

1001 Blogger: I suppose I could go for a glass of water and I am a little hungry. I was just wondering if I should find something to club that wombat over there. What does a wombat even taste like?

The Presence: Do I look like I've ever eaten a wombat?

1001 Blogger: I really don't know what someone that eats wombat would look like, but you strike me as having real potential in that area.

The Presence: Considering you are at an unknown place, in unknown circumstances and don't know where your next meal is coming from, you seem pretty calm.

1001 Blogger: I think that was the biggest sticking point in the movie for me. The cute schoolgirl and her six-year-old brother seem pretty adaptable considering they are in unknown, unpleasant circumstances, don't know where there next meal is coming from and are facing multiple suicides. Don't get me wrong, I liked the movie, but I did have issues with it.

The Presence: I think you need one of the characters from the film to help you. (The Presence waves his arms and a six-year-old blonde boy wearing a school blazer appears.)

1001 Blogger: To tell you the truth I was hoping more for the cute school girl, but I guess you know what you're doing.

The Presence: (Turing to the school boy) My friend here seems to think that you and your sister not having a complete breakdown during the time you are wandering through the outback is a weakness in the movie.

1001 Blogger: (Whispering to The Presence) I don't think he can hear or see you. Let me ask him. (Turing to the boy) During your time in the Outback, I found that you and your sister not having a complete breakdown during was a weakness in the movie.

Young white boy: (Turning to the 1001 blogger) It's a bloody allegory. Don’t be such a git!

1001 Blogger: Maybe I was taking it a bit too literally, eh?

Young white boy: Now you get it. And another thing-

The Presence: Now that we've established that-

1001 Blogger: Hey, you interrupted my new friend! You brought him here. Let him speak.

Young white boy: Since I have experience out here, I can give you a few pointers if you like. I know where the watering holes are and I know where the cool cliffs are. We can play with my Matchbox cars.

The Presence: I wonder if bringing this boy here was such a good idea. I know you don't want to play with toy cars.

1001 Blogger: (To the Presence) Would you be quiet and stop interrupting? I loved my Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars when I was his age.

The Presence: Well, If you want to talk to him and just ignore me, I'm going to leave. (The Presence snaps his fingers and disappears.)

Young White Boy: You know, some of these rocks are really comfortable to sleep on if you spot the right one. Some of these slabs are really smooth. I'm sorry I called you a git by the way.

1001 Blogger: No problem, pal. I think you are giving me some really good survival tips. By the way, where's your sister?

Young White Boy: I think she's a yuppie in the future remembering a past that wasn't quite real to begin with.

1001 Blogger: So young, yet so profound. You're a real credit to the Aussie Elementary School system.

Young White Boy: I've got some Wonder Bread in my backpack if you want to smack that wombat over there in the head with a club and turn it into a bloody sandwich.

1001 Blogger: Now we're talking!

(The Presence returns and jumps in front of the 1001 blogger.
He is naked and painted from head to toe as a skeleton and begins shaking a ceremonial stick with a shrunken head attached to the end. The Presence starts moving rhythmically to a song that apparently only he can hear.)

1001 Blogger: (To the Presence) What the hell are you doing?

Young White Boy: Who are you talking to? Do you see a mirage?

1001 Blogger: I wish this sight were only a dream.

(The Presence snaps his fingers and the young boy vanishes.)

1001 Blogger: (To the Presence) Now why did you get rid of him?

The Presence: I don't think we need him after all. How's about you and me sing a rousing duet of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" or maybe "Who Could it Be Now?"

1001 Blogger: No, lets go back. I'm a bit tired of the outback anyway. (The 1001 blogger turns around and notices The Presence has disappeared again. The blogger walks to the other side of the Volkswagen to find The Presence with his eyes closed, lifeless and hanging from a tree.)

1001 Blogger: Oh, please! Why don't you just put a sign around your neck that says, "I'm needy?” (The 1001 blogger folds his arm waiting for the Presence to move.) Come on down or I'll make you watch Pretty Woman again.

The Presence: (Opening his eyes and hopping down from the tree) You don't have to threaten me! Don't worry. I'll have us out of here in a Canberra minute.
1001 Blogger: And put some pants on. I don't mind being able to see you, but I don't really care to see quite that much of you.

(The Presence snaps his fingers and they both disappear)

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've just finishing watching five films out of the W. C. Fields collection: It's a Gift, The Bank Dick, International House,You Can't Cheat an Honest Man and My Little Chickadee. Two of these films are in the 1001 movie book: It's a Gift and The Bank Dick.

#1 It's a Gift is my favorite Fields film and I admit I was a little wary of seeing it again for fear of being disappointed, as I haven’t seen it in many years. But I'm glad to report that it does hold up for me and would be the first Fields film I would recommend to anyone. The long scene where Fields is trying to get some sleep on his front porch and is constantly being interrupted by everything is a great comic scene. Baby Leroy floods his store with Molasses and a sign has to be put up that says "Closed on account of Molasses." I like this a lot for some reason. Best of all is the interactions between Fields, as the henpecked husband, and Kathleen Howard as the domineering wife.
Censorship watch: Fields cursing thinly disguised as "Shades of Bacchus", "Mother of Pearl,” or "Godfrey Daniels."

#2 The Bank Dick is a much wilder Fields vehicle, which I don't like as much as It's a Gift, but also has its share of fine comic moments.Some of Fields' improvised rants are the best parts of the film. And who wouldn't want to go to a bar tended by wayward stooge Shemp Howard?
Censorship Watch: That same bar is named the Black Pussy. How did the censors miss this little joke?

#3 International House
is about a world exposition featuring a 1933 television prototype, which is an interesting concept in itself.
And features an eclectic cast that John Waters would have been proud of: Fields, Bela Lugosi,Burns and Allen, Cab Calloway, Rose Marie, Rudy Vallee and Peggy Hopkins Joyce as herself and remind me who Peggy Hopkins Joyce is again?
Censorship Watch: How did Cab Calloway get away with his song Reefer Man even in pre-code Hollywood?
Lyrics: Have you ever met that funny reefer man?
He smokes a reefer he gets high, and he files to the sky. That funny, funny, funny Reefer Man.

#4You Can't Cheat an Honest Man-Many funny moments here as well, many featuring Fields's barbs with dummy Charlie McCarthy. I also really enjoyed watching Fields as the blue-collar circus owner at a high society house for his daughter's wedding. I like this one enough to add to the 1001 movie list.
My favorite line in the movie is when Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy are staring at Fields's beautiful daughter in disbelief that Fields was able to contribute to the procreation of someone that attractive.
Edgar: I can’t figure it out.
Charlie: I must read up on evolution sometime.
Censorship Watch: Hey, I'm a Fields fan, but I could have done without the scene where he takes off his shirt.

#5 My Little Chickadee. The famous pairing of Fields and Mae West has its moments, but really wasn't as good as maybe it could have
been. Part of the problem was certainly the fact that the two stars didn't get along and rewrote each other's scenes.
Censorship Watch: Everything Mae West says could easily be misconstrued. But that was the point, eh?

W. C. Fields by Nicholas Yanni, Pyramid Books, 1976
A Statue I painted of W. C. Fields, bought at an Exxon station 1985.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


In 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) published a list of top 100 American movies. There have been updates and separate lists in different genres, but of the original list, I had seen all but five of the films. A workable number indeed! I may never get through the 1001 movie list, but as God is my witness I could at least complete the AFI list!

Completing the final five, I had to hop aboard an 18th century British vessel
headed for Tahiti, a smaller boat heading down an African river in pre-World
War I Africa, explore the darker side of post World War II Vienna, the lighter side of World War II Paris and finally venture to the American West.

Watching a lot of many movies from the 1930's-50's lately, I've noticed so many memorable performances from supporting players that often had careers that had well over a hundred film credits. Each film listed here I will give a supporting performer award in honor of Elisha Cook Jr.,(memorable as the gunsel in The Maltese Falcon and small time hood in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing) the shrimpy second banana who either supplied the exposition, got gunned down in a crossfire or at least went to fetch a cup of coffee for a much bigger star.

(Film #1) Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) cost two million dollars to make, which in todays money is…a lot. It seems like the reputation of this movie has faded a bit over time. In fact, the AFI dropped it out of the top 100 for its 2007 list. I think it’s still a pretty good adventure story, though the heroism of Fletcher Christian in the movie versus the heroism of the real Fletcher Christian seems to have been a bit exaggerated. (Movies tend to do that don't they?). And who could ever forget Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh?

Favorite Mutiny on the Bounty quote:
Officer Byam: "Hithiti, your language is most un-English. It means exactly what it says. Here are the three pages on your words meaning, "look." There's one for the downcast eyes, one for the sidelong glare, one that invites, one that consents. A whole language of looks!"

Hitihiti: "Byam, you think too much. One day, you head go crack!"

Elisha Cook Jr. supporting performer award:
The first Elisha Cook Jr. supporting performer award goes to the hard working, but largely forgotten Donald Crisp. At least I had forgotten about him, though he did win an Oscar for How Green Was My Valley. How can you have a movie with a big cast from this era without a crusty character actor like Donald Crisp? I thought about giving the award to Tahitian island girls Movita and Mamo, but Donald really deserves it.

(Film #2) is director Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene's The Third Man, a film noir set in post WWII Vienna, where the black market is running amuck. This is really the film of these five that I would rate as a must see. But how did a largely English film make the AMERICAN Film Institute list, whether deserving or not? David O'Selznick was one of the producers, and it does have American stars Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, so I guess that was enough. Regardless, this film should be seen no matter what list it pops up on. The score features nothing but a zither, which I thought was great. Opinions on the zither differ.

Elisha Cook Jr. supporting performer award:
to Trevor Howard as the dedicated and relentless police inspector. He's terrific, but so are Orson Welles as the mysterious Harry Lime and Joseph Cotten as the Western pulp fiction writer who is always one step behind.

Favorite The Third Man quote:
Harry Lime: "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
or Holly Martins: "Hey, satchelfoot! Who's your boss?"
I don’t know why I like this second quote so much. It’s what Cotton says right before he finds out Harry Lime is still alive. If I am calling out to someone and don’t know who it is, I like to yell out, “Hey Satchelfoot, who’s your boss?” Don’t you? No? Well, lets move on then.

Film #3, An American in Paris, like Mutiny on the Bounty, was another best picture winner. It may not be the best movie to see right after The Third Man. The comparison makes An American in Paris seem too glossy and overproduced. I eventually got into the film, but it did take some time. There are some fine production numbers and memorable songs (That Wonderful, Fabulous song) and Gene Kelly was one of the most likable
stars around (Let’s just try to blot out from our minds his later appearances in Xanadu and Viva Knievel and everything will be fine).

Favorite An American in Paris quote:
"I got music...I got rhythm...I got my gal. Who could ask for anything more?"

Elisha Cook Jr. supporting performer award:
Oscar Levant, as Kelly's pianist sidekick- You know the type-smart alecky to the main character's optimism, the one who knows what's going on before the main character and the one who steals most scenes he's in.

Film #4 The African Queen-Famous author C. S. Forester, acclaimed director John Huston. Only teaming of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. Irascible boat captain and spinster head down the river through many obstacles before they find their freedom...and each other. If this movie was ever remade, it would be a big time chick flick. Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock, maybe? Nah. A beloved movie to many, I'm glad I saw it, but was definitely not my favorite film of either star or the director.

Favorite The African Queen quote:
Allnut: "That's what you get for feeling sorry for people. I ain't sorry no more you psalm-singing skinny old maid!"

Lost in Translation moment: The DVD I was watching this on was a cheap Chinese/Korean issue and the subtitle translations were sometimes a bit off .
The most egregious example was Bogart's line "I'm the captain that's who and I won't take you along." becoming "I'm the captain asshole and I won't take you along!" Oops.

Elisha Cook Jr. supporting performer award: to Robert Morley. This is a fairly difficult movie to give a supporting performer award to, as it's almost an exclusive cast of two, and Morley has the rather thankless and small role of Katherine Hepburn's brother, who dies in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. However, I'll give Morley a lifetime achievement for future scene stealing roles in Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe and as a snobby theater critic who ends up having to eat his own prized poodles in Theater of Blood.

Film #5 Shane
My final film of the AFI 100 list is the George Stevens Western Shane. It is a beautifully photographed story of the mysterious ex-gunfighter Shane who aides a farmer and his family against those that want to take over his land.

Favorite Shane Quote:
Shane: "There's no living with a killing. There's no goin' back from one. Right or wrong, it's a brand... a brand sticks."
Or if you don’t like that one, let’s stick with
Joey: "Shane, come back!"

And the final winner of the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting performer award (And you probably see where this is headed) goes to: Elisha Cook Jr. Who's going to
do the exposition without Elisha Cook Jr.? Who's going to be the sacrificial lamb? Who’s blood must be avenged by the hero? Who's going to provide the comedy relief? Unlike The Africa Queen, there are a bevy of worthwhle suporting players in Shane: Edgar Buchanan, Van Heflin, Jack Palance among others. But how can I deprive Mr. Cook of his own award?

The legacy of Elisha Cook lives on in today's movies in actors like that guy…you know the one I mean, he's in everything. What was his name again?

Note: If you are wondering (or even if you aren't) how many of the AFI 100 are in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Book-
The answer is: 99 out of 100.

The only omission: Entry #99 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. (Now don't you feel better for knowing that?)

Here’s the official site of the AFI if you want to see the original 1998 list.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Actual promo for 1962 U. S. double feature:

"A Double Shocker! A Master Suspense Thrill Show!"

Film # 1 The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus
A Macabre Masterpiece!
Never before have audiences been so terrified. Never again will you experience a tale of terror to compare with The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus! (narrators voice amplified).The London Observer compares this to "the ghastly elegance, which often suggests Tennessee Williams in one of his more abnormal moods." Featuring Pierre Brasseur as a depraved scientist who uses women in the most frightening way imaginable. Alida Valli as the accomplice who procured the young girls he needed so desperately! Juliet Muyniel as the innocent victim of a madman's perversity The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus! (voice amplified again). A Motion picture as fascinating as it is fantastic! As frightening as anything you will see on the motion picture screen!

Film # 2 The Manster
A terrifying creature is on the loose! Half man! Half monster! (We hear gurgling screaming in the background).A fiendish creature threatening to destroy all that stand in its way! An American reporter in Tokyo who SHOCKINGLY became a victim of a shocking scientific experiment that turned him into half man...half monster...
THE MANSTER! (announcers voice amplified). Once a normal man. Now a hunted animal! There's panic in the streets as the unheard of terror of a half man and half monster runs wild through the city. Don't miss THE MANSTER! (announcers voice amplified).A genuine thriller in the most shocking sense of the word!

The above promos are real. But how are they relevant to the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book? Yes, indeed. One of them is indeed an entry in the book. Let's be thankful it's not The Manster.

The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus is actually a later English dub of Gerorges Franju's French horror film, Eyes Without a Face. And no singing the Billy Idol song of the same name while reading the title. And no confusing it with Eyes Wide Shut, either. The films have little in common. On second thought, the main character does wear a mask during key parts of both films...but I don't want to go down that road. The actual French title sounds a bit more elegant anyway, Les Yeux Sans Visage.

The tone, texture and time period of Eyes Without a Face reminds me a bit of Carnival of Souls (which I thought should have been included in the book.) The plot involves a doctor (who is oddly not named Faustus) who is trying to find a suitable replacment for the face that his daughter lost in an accident that was his fault. I'm not sure how many women the doctor operates on unsuccessfully before finding someone that is a compatible donor, but we see enough to know he is a MADMAN! He also does experiments with innocent dogs, so he's definitely a bad guy in my book. Spooky and macabre, I suppose I can accept this is an entry for the book, if nothing else as a change of pace.

And anyone know where I can get a copy of THE MANSTER?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The recent death of Bernie Schwartz BKA Tony Curtis might be a good time for a re-evaluation, at least for me. Part of my initial dismissal of him as a bit of a lightweight stems from the old Golden Turkey Awards book by Michael & Harry Medved which places him as a finals candidate for the Worst Actor of All-Time (He gets beat out by Richard Burton).

I also remember Billy Crystal's exaggerated Brooklynese imitation of Tony from Spartacus, "I'm the singer of songs!"

There was also an episode of Leave It To Beaver where June tells the Beave to wash his neck or the like before dinner and Beaver replies with something similar to, "Gosh Mom, a guy doesn't have to look like Tony Curtis just to eat franks and beans! (queue laugh track)"

Yes, it was easy to dismiss TC in the mind. Misfired epics like The Vikings and Taras Bulba and The Manitou (which has to do with an ancient spirit embryo growing on the back of woman's neck or something like that), the Jerry Lewis/Tony Curtis teaming in Boeing, Boeing and that great epic sequel The Bad News Bears Go to Japan don't help the defense too much.

However, there are a few of his roles (all in the 1001 movie book) which are memorable. The teaming of Jack Lemmon/Marilyn Monroe and Curtis in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, Spartacus (His Brooklyn accent really isn't that bad.), The Sweet Smell of Success (he's actually pretty good in this as the ruthless press agent) and the film I just watched The Defiant Ones. The Defiant Ones is Stanley Kramer's allegory of black/white relations featuring too escaped convicts, the bigoted white man (Curtis) and a black man (Sidney Poitier). They fight, call each other names, but eventually learn that they need each other to survive. Some of it seems a bit dated, but is still a worthwhile film. And any film with both Lon Chaney Jr. and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer in it has that going for it.

On a different topic: The Defiant Ones if the only Stanley Kramer directed or produced movie in the entire 1001 movie book! This seems like a more than a bit of an oversight. The 1001 movie book loves Stanley Kubrick (which I have no argument with) but seems to hate Stanley Kramer (which I take issue with).

Here are some of the notable Kramer omissions:

Champion (A defining Kirk Douglas role loved by Douglas impressionists like Rich Little who like to blurt out, "I want to be champ!")
The Member of the Wedding (Based on Carson McCullers famous story, exactly the type of film that I thought my slip in on the list.)
The Caine Mutiny (How can you leave out Bogart and the Strawberries?)
On the Beach (Highly thought of film and book, though I haven't seen it.)
Judgement at Nurembug (How could they leave out Judgement at Nuremburg?)
Inherit the Wind (Fictional version of the Scopes trial would definitlely be on my list.)
It's a Mad,Mad,Mad,Mad World (A personal favorite I admit, but you'll never see another comedic cast like this.)
Ship of Fools (Nominated for a lot of awards at realease, but I admit it's kind of hard to sit through today. Good omission.)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Not as well thought of as it was at the time of its release. I'd probably leave this one out as well.)
R.P.M.(Not a great movie, but memorable as one of the 60's student protest trilogy, along with The Strawberry Statement and Getting Straight.

Let's work on this in future editions, eh 1001 Movies editors? (I know, they aren't listening to me.)