Wednesday, December 28, 2016

ANIMAL HOUSE (1978), TREE OF THE WOODEN CLOGS (1978, ITALY)

1978



1978 was a premium year for me in the going to the movies department. Of course, I attended first-run movies at movie houses that were at this time beginning to branch out to having more than one screen to show features. Beyond that, I discovered The Silver Screen Cinema, located in the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center on Peachtree Road in Atlanta. The Silver Screen showed three sets of double features a week, though sometimes it would show two or on occasion show one longer feature. The movies would be related to each other in interesting ways. As you can see by a shot from this old Silver Screen Calendar I saved, films with sexuality would be shown together (Satyricon and Sebastiane), old comedies would be shown together (You Can't Take it With You and It Happened One Night), or cult films would be linked together (Brewster McCloud and Fearless Vampire Killers). They also showed weekly midnight movies, this calendar promoting the John Waters film Female Trouble (Yes, I saw that one there).  Those were the days before we even had VHS tapes, let alone movies at your fingertips online. It was also a great experience to see these films with people who also loved movies on the big screen. The Silver Screen stayed in business until 1983, when home video began giving movie buffs another and more convenient outlet to watch their favorites from home. But with that convenience, we really lost something good.


In my files I found an old silver screen schedule calendar. It's from September, 1979. Here are a few screen shots
.





The final screen shot features a promotion for the debut of the 1978 Italian film The Tree of Wooden Clogs premiering at The Silver Screen's sister theater, The Screening Room . It only took me about thirty-eight years or so after this ad to get around to seeing it, since it is in the 1001 movie book and since I'm doing 1978 movies, I thought now would be the time to watch it...

This over three hour story about families in a peasant village often moves along at a snail's pace, but it recreates the setting and captures the feelings and struggles of these people quite well. The importance of a father's using an unauthorized tree to make his son's clogs is symbolic of a sad and moving story.

The Tree of the Wooden Clogs
Now that I'm in a somber mood from The Tree of Wooden Clogs, I'll move on to a funner movie released in 1978.

National Lampoon's Animal House is a movie I've seen at least a dozen times. It didn't make the 1001 book, but I'm not sure any movie would be more fitting to slip into a 1978 time capsule than this one. The story of the members of a slacker fraternity at a small college in 1962 features bad jokes, great jokes, offensive actions, sweet moments and of course John Belushi as a the perennially drunk student Bluto, as well as a wonderful supporting cast. What I remember most from watching this for the first time in several years is that I still remember so much of the dialogue! I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but I can reel off Animal House one liners like nobody's business. Here are ten memorable lines, but there are plenty more.

1. (Belushi as the slovenly Bluto) See if you can guess what I am now. (After he explodes all the contents in his mouth all over the place) A zit. Get it?

2. (The evil Dean Wormer to the sad sack Flounder) Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son.

3. (And Dean Wormer again as his world is coming apart) I hate these guys.


4.(Inspirational speaker Bluto) What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

5. (Bluto again...sometimes the simplest lines are the most memorable)Toga! Toga!

6.(It's nice to have a friend try to find a girl for you)

Boon: I want you to fix Pinto up, but it's got to be a very special girl.
Pinto: Look, you don't have to...
Boon: Now, she should be good-looking, but we're willing to trade looks for a certain... morally casual attitude.
Katy: You mean you want someone he can screw on the first date?
Boon: Well put.

7. (Nice pickup line when you're trying to score with the dean's wife)
My cucumber. It's bigger. I think vegetables can be very sensuous, don't you?

8. (Jennings, the cool teacher)
Jennings: Teaching is just a way to pay the bills until I finish my novel.
Boon: : How long you been workin' on it?
Jennings: Four and a half years.
Pinto:It must be very good.
Jennings: It's a piece of shit. Would anyone like to smoke some pot?


9. (When the big black man wants to dance...I've repeated this line in different contexts over the years) Do you mind if we dance with your dates?

10. (And I have to have at least one line from the snake Neidermeyer. If you repeat, make sure spittle is flying out of your mouth) A Pledge Pin! On your Uniform!

There are many more...feel free to add your own


Animal House
______

Going down the list of 1978 releases I came up with forty right off the bat that I have previously seen that did not make the 1001 Movies list cut. 


1. FM-FM was heavily a heavily promoted film about a radio station that was supposed to be 1978's answer to Saturday Night Fever. The soundtrack of the movie is truly good snapshot of 70's music that I like, including the theme song by Steely Dan. But the movie itself died a quick death...though the similarly themed WKRP in Cincinnati became one of my favorite shows later that year.


The soundtrack to FM.


2.Autumn Sonata-One of Bergman's (Ingmar) strongest later dramas featuring strong performances from Bergman (Ingrid) and Liv Ullman as a mother and daughter with a complex and troubled relationship.

3, American Hot Wax-I liked this movie based on the story about pioneer rock and roll DJ Alan Freed...but it's been a long time. I always liked Tim McIntrye, who played Freed. Jay Leno has an early role.

4. The Bad News Bears Go to Japan-Despite the fond memories I have for the first movie in this series, the sequels? Eh, not so good.


5. The Boys from Brazil-A bit of an absurd plot about Runaway Nazi Josef Mengele cloning several little Hitlers while being chased by Jewish Nazi hunter Laurence Olivier. Based on Ira Levin's book, this film is still a favorite of mine, absurd or not.


Jeremy Black as one of the little Hitler's in
Boys from Brazil

6. The Buddy Holly Story-The companion piece to La Bamba features an impressive lead from Gary Busey.

7. The Cheap Detective-The debate between what is better The Cheap Detective or Murder by Death rages on.

8. Coma-Pretty good thriller about corpses and such based on Michael Crichton's book. And any movie with Genevieve Bujold will always get me to say that I just loves me some Genevieve Bujold!

9. Capricorn One-The Moon landing (at least this one) was indeed faked! Far fetched, but like The Boys from Brazil, a  personal favorite.


10. Coach-So, me and bunch of friends go to this movie to see a little sex...And that's what we got-with an emphasis on the word little. We do get to see Cathy Lee Crosby take her shirt half-way off  (or was she putting it on?).


Coach....I remember when they put this on television
they changed the name to The Swinging Coach
11.California Suite-Multi-vignette comedy of Neil Simon plays. I must remember something about it...Oh, yes. Michael Caine and Maggie Smith were in one of the sections!

12. Coming Home-Coming Home, The Deerhunter and Apocalypse, Now will always be the late 70's Vietnam war trilogy.

13. Damien: Omen II-The kid from The Omen grows up to be the President and later be in Jurassic Park.

14. The End-I have good memories about this Burt Reynolds comedy about a man who discovers he only has a short time to live. And I don't have particularly good memories about too many Burt Reynolds comedies from this era.


15. Midnight Express- Hard-hitting drama about an American busted for drugs and sent to a Turkish prison is one of my favorite movies from the 70's.


Midnight Express the movie is not related to the
80's Wrestling tag-team of the same name.


16. Every Which Way But Loose-Eastwood-lite, but how can you not love that orangutan? 

17. Fingers-Harvey Keitel at his most intense.

18. Foul Play-A winner right off the bat in the movie career of Chevy Chase...though first of a limited number, I'm afraid. 

19. Harper Valley PTA-I know I like Barbara Eden and all, but thinking back, I wonder if I would just go see anything playing at the theater in the late 70's?


20. Magic-Film based on William Goldman's book about a ventriloquist with a dummy named Fats that takes over his personality is pretty good, even if we have seen similar stories before.


Fats and Anthony Hopkins in Magic

21. I Wanna Hold Your Hand-About teenagers trying to get to see The Fab Four in 1964.

22. House Calls-Movie was okay...TV series that came out of it was okay...everything here is just okay!

23. Interiors-Woody Allen does Bergman even if he says he's not doing Bergman. Not his best, but some good moments of drama mixed in-between the pretentiousness.

24. Invasion of the Body Snatchers-One of my all-time favorite remakes. And one of my favorite endings of any movie!


25. Sextette-Eighty-something Mae West stars in this strained vehicle with lots of guest stars, though none of them female as I remember. Not good, but at least it's better than Myra Breckenridge.


"The British are Coming," says Mae West to new husband
Timothy Dalton as the audience averts their collective eyes
during the final scene of Sextette.
26. Jaws 2- From the "Lets basically just remake the original and call it a sequel" school of filmmaking. 

27. In Praise of Older Women-Young Tom Berenger learns to appreciate women with a little experience under their corsets.

28. The Lord of the Rings-The Ralph Bakshi animated one that features the first part of the trilogy...still waiting for the sequels for this one.

29. Oliver’s Story-Let's see what I remember...Ali Macgraw died in Love Story, so Ryan O'Neal starts seeing Candice Bergen. I'm sure there's more than that to it, but that's about all I remember. I think the tagline was "It takes someone special to forget someone special." I'm not sure if that is right, but it's in the general ballpark.


30. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band- This weird musical comprising songs based on Beatles classics featuring The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton and others did produce some hit singles, but the movie itself is really a fiasco. What were they trying to do in the plot again? Save the princess from the Blue Meanies of Pepperland or something like that? I did find Steve Martin's Maxwell's Silver Hammer pretty funny.

"Not The Beatles" in Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band-


31. The One and Only-Carl Reiner directed, Henry Winkler starred...A movie I remember almost nothing about.

32. Rabbit Test-Joan Rivers film about the first pregnant man. You would have thought this would have killed her career...but it didn't...sigh.

33. Revenge of the Pink Panther-The Panther films were growing a bit stale by this time.

34. Same Time Next Year-Always liked this Neil Simon comedy about a man and a woman who meet for a romantic weekend once a year.


35. Superman-Was my favorite superhero movie until Superman II came out.


Superman 1978


36. Watership Down-One of the most brutal animated films you'd ever want to see. Better than Rabbit Test and Night of the Lepus combined.

37. Goin' South-I remember the commercials for this Jack Nicholson film had two or three really funny scenes. When I finally saw it, I realized those were the only funny scenes in the whole movie!

38. An Unmarried Woman-I've got to be honest...I went to this movie because I knew there were nude scenes. But I do like the movie...Though the plot of a woman adjusting to a divorce isn't typical fare for most fifteen-year-old males I'm guessing.

39. Secrets-It's a little sad when I've listed the films I saw from this year and realize that several on the list were ones I saw because of the chance to see some nekkid ladies.Secrets was actually shot a few years before 1978, but was re-released in 1978 to capitalize on the popularity of Jacqueline Bisset after co-starring with her wet t-shirt in The Deep. After my theatrical viewing of Secrets, I remember leaving the theater a bit disappointed and feeling the need to re-evaluate my life, even at that age. Moving forward to today:  I rewatched some of Secrets on YouTube and there is a nude scene with Jacqueline Bisset (or her body double, anyway)...interspersed between a lot of melodrama... and I'm considering re-evaluating my life yet again.

YouTube screen shot of Jacqueline Bisset (clothed)

40. The Silent Partner


I first saw The Silent Partner when it first came out on cable...which was probably thirty-seven years ago at this point! Oh, my...the time does go by. It's a Canadian made film with a plot featuring a bank teller played by Elliot Gould who gets inadvertently (maybe not TOTALLY inadvertently) mixed up with a vicious criminal, played by Christopher Plummer, who he plays a dangerous game (symbolized by Gould's chess board) of oneupsmanship with. I found a DVD copy and decided to watch this movie again and my opinion is about the same as it was when I first saw it. I think it's a pretty good heist drama with likable leads (Plummer is always a great heavy) but not something I would put on a "must see" list. But you know I may want to watch The Silent Partner again in thirty-seven years! (Setting viewing queue for The Silent Partner for 2053).
.
 
Plummer and Gould square off in The Silent Partner

I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday season

No comments:

Post a Comment