Thursday, December 30, 2010


Je vais essayer de faire mes commentaires sur Le Papillon Schaphandre et en français depuis le réalisateur Julian Schnabel a insisté sur l'interprétation de raconter son magazine Elle l'éditeur Jean Dominique Bauby dans sa langue originale. La plupart du film est du point de vue de Bauby, qui est paralysé à l'exception de son oeil gauche. Il s'agit d'un point de vue unique dans lequel à la base un film et est largement réussi.

Il ne me rappellent un peu de la Humphrey Bogart film Dark Passage (Le Couloir Sombre). Je comprends que ma structure de la phrase française ne peut pas être très précis, je crois néanmoins la nécessité de mentionner Charles De Gaulle, Brigitte Bardot crêpes et de la Tour Eiffel. Et Fries français, ne l'oublions pas Fries français!

Je vous remercie, Krista.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


(Rod and Chip Go To the Movies Part 3:The Final Chapter)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.

Sometime in the 80’s…

Rod and I came out of The Silver Screen Theater breathing a sigh of relief. After the fiasco a couple of weeks ago involving our unwitting viewing of the gay oriented films Satyricon and Sebastiane, our recent Silver Screen double feature viewing of Peeping Tom and Black Narcissus provided a welcome relief.

“Can you believe Peeping Tom was made over twenty years ago?” I asked Rod.

Rod rubbed his chin as he thought my question over. “It kind of puts Blood Beach and New Year’s Evil in their proper place on the movie quality food chain. Oh, and did you catch the nude scene? It was only for about a second. But I clearly saw breasts.”

“No way, that was a 1960 movie. You were just imagining things.” I said.

“I know what I saw,” Rod said, holding his position.

I told him that if he imagined a brief nude scene, than a nude scene it was. I didn’t want to argue the point. When I asked him about the other film we saw, Black Narcissus, he looked much more puzzled.

“That was a tough nut to crack,” he said. “Beautiful looking film. I wasn’t sure of the point. I have to admit when that nun shed her habit and put on her lipstick it was pretty darn sexy.”

“We got to get you a girlfriend, pronto.” I snickered as I said it, but I actually found the scene a bit provocative as well.

“Back to your original question,” Rod said. “I wasn’t really sure of the point of Black Narcissus, but just by definition of it being shown at the Silver Screen, it had to have a point. Am I not right, Chip old man? That’s the comfort in seeing a movie here. You know they're not going to show something like Chu Chu and the Philly Flash or Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. What they show will have significance to someone, somewhere in someway. Comprende?”

I nodded as I thought he had actually made a good point. As we left the theater, I grabbed the Silver Screen calendar.

“Before you continue with your metaphysical philosophy on film choice, why don’t we take a peek at the coming attractions,” I said.

I looked at the calendar for a moment before all feeling left my hand and dropped the calendar to the sidewalk.

Rod picked it up and looked at it. “What’s the matter with you, are you-Oh, my God!”

Rod and I sat down at the same time on the bench outside the box office.

“It’s over. Can you believe it? This is the last movie,” Rod said.

Neither one of us said anything else for the next minute until a man in a three-piece suit came up to us.

“Hey, I know you guys,” the man said. “I saw you at the Rhodes for Motel Hell and for Il Sebastiane here couple of weeks ago.”

Being still in a state of shock, it took a moment for us to recognize him as the man who was dressed as Frank-n-Furter at the Rhodes Halloween week and the man who was with another man he referred to as his husband during the showing of the infamous Sebastiane the week after. It’s funny how the embarrassment of seeing that film seemed suddenly so unimportant.

“Oh, hello. You look different.” I said to him, though my mind was still on the closing of the theater.

“Well, I wouldn’t get much business as an accountant if I dressed like a queen from nine to five, would I? Anyway, my real name actually is Frank. You probably don’t believe it, but it's true.”

He stuck his hand out for us to shake. After we shook his hand, he joined us on our bench.

“A shame this place is being shut down, isn’t it?” he said.

“What happened Frank? Why are they taking away our theater?” Rod asked.

“Georgia-Pacific bought it, I believe. The venerable old movie house just doesn’t do enough business anymore. People want to see second run movies, they just rent a videocassette these days.”

I looked at him like he was crazy. “Videocassettes? Like I have Eight-Hundred dollars to buy one of those players or sixty more to buy a movie. And I want to see it on the big screen anyway. What the hells the matter with people?”

“I know. I know.” Frank said as he tried to comfort me by patting my hand. “You’re preaching to the choir, honey.”

As if suddenly waking out of a trance, Rod grabbed me by my shirtsleeve. “At least we still have the Rhodes. They aren’t planning to shut that down I imagine.”

Frank handed Rod a copy of the Arts and Entertainment section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had just pulled out of his breast pocket.

Rod looked down the pages and began to read: Atlanta’s Rhodes theater will be showing the 1938 Spencer Tracy-Clark Gable movie Test Pilot this weekend.

Rod looked up. “You see! They’re still in business.”

“Keep reading.” Frank said.

The Rhodes is showing this film because it was the first film it showed in 1938, so the management thought this would be a fitting final farewell before the Rhodes goes under the wrecking…

Rod pulled his head from the paper and looked skyward before looking back and finishing…before the Rhodes closes its doors for good and goes under the wrecking ball.

Rod handed the paper back to Frank who casually tossed it to the ground.

The three of us sat on the bench and starred across the parking lot at the venerable Oxford Bookstore, wondering if even that Atlanta institution might one day be vulnerable to the greed of land developers.

“So, what do we do now?” I asked.

Frank turned to us and put out his hand to emphasize his point. “And they’re moving Rocky Horror from Garden Hills to Northlake Plaza next week. Can you believe it? suburbia”

Rod showed a little interest “I’ve never seen it. You, Chip?”

I shook my head.

Frank let out a laugh that came close to registering as a squeal. “Oh, my. A couple of virgins, huh? Well come down to Northlake next Saturday, midnight.”

“We might as well,” Rod said. “Our social options seem to be suddenly limited.”

Frank stood up. “I got to run. I’ll look for you kids. Remember Rocky Horror. It’ll make you forget about this disappointment. Come dressed up if you dare. I’ll copy an extra script for you if you want to participate. Hey, you’d make a good Eddie,” Frank said looking my way as he left the two of us on our bench.

“What did he mean by that?” I asked Rod

“Oh, I’m not sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore. My whole worldview has been decimated into fragments.”

I took one last look at the calendar. “Peeping Tom and Black Narcissus have one more showing tomorrow. You want to come back?”

“We’ve already seen these two, but I guess we could come tomorrow and watch them again. One more chance to…no, that would be prolonging the agony. I’m done. It’s time to move on.” Rod sighed.

“I guess you’re right. Guess I’ll save up for a video cassette player.”

“Guess the first movie you’ll get will be Pillow Talk. You’ll be able to watch it anytime you want.”

“Shut up about Pillow Talk already!”

Rod laughed and I couldn’t help but smile a little too. Though I was not smiling at his endless need to make fun of the movie Pillow Talk. I was instead thinking of all the great movie moments that I had experienced at the greatest theater in the world over the last few years.

We both turned our gaze to the Silver Screen marquee one last time before driving away.


It’s taken me awhile to get to 100 posts, but here is the list of movies I have noted on this blog so far. I’ve seen a lot of movies I’ve always wanted to see, seen some movies I had never heard of before and revisited some old favorites (and a few not-so-favorites). There are 123 films listed here. 112 from the 1001 movie book. So that would make 878 to go, right? Wait. Different editions have different movies. So would that number be closer to 960? Oh, God! Could I get some more caffeine, please?

Films seen from The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die List since starting blog

Adaptation (2002)
The African Queen (1951)
Amadeus (1984)
An American in Paris (1951)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Annie Hall (1977)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958, Poland)
An Autumn Afternoon (1962, Japan)
The Bank Dick (1940)
The Battle of Algiers (1965, Algeria)
Beauty and the Beast (1946, France)
The Best Years of Our Life (1946)
The Bicycle Thief (1948, Italy)
Breathless (1959, France)
Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, Great Britain)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Cabaret (1972)
Children of God (2002, Brazil)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City Lights (1931)
A Clockwork Orange (1971, Great Britain)
Closely Watched Trains (1967, Czechoslovakia)
The Color of Pomegranates (1969, Armenia)
The Constant Gardner (2005)
Crumb (1994)
The Defiant Ones (1958)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Dracula (1931)
Easy Rider (1969)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Great Britain)
Eyes Without a Face (1960, France)
Floating Weeds (1959, Japan)
Footlight Parade (1933)
The 400 Blows (1959, France)
42nd Street (1933)
Freaks (1932)
The General (1926)
Gilda (1946)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
Grand Illusion (1937, France)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988, Japan)
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Grease (1978)
Harvey (1950)
The Haunting (1963)
High Plains Drifter (1972)
High Sierra (1941)
Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959, France)
Horror of Dracula (1958, Great Britain)
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
It’s a Gift (1934)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Jaws (1975)
The Kingdom (1994, Denmark)
Last Year at Marienband (1961, France)
Laura (1944)
The Lion King (1994)
Marty (1955)
Metropolis (1927, Germany)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, Great Britain)
Munich (2005)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
My Fair Lady (1964)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
No Man’s Land (2001, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Open City (1945, Italy)
Ordet (1955, Denmark)
Ordinary People (1980)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Pi (1998)
Play Time (1967, France)
Princess Mononoke (1997, Japan)
Psycho (1960)
Raise the Red Lantern (1991, China)
Run, Lola, Run (1998, Germany)
Sansho Dayu (1954, Japan)
Satyricon (1969, Italy)
The Seventh Seal (1957, Sweden)
Shadows (1959)
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Soviet Union)
Shane (1953)
Sherman’s March (1986)
Smoke (1996)
Solyaris (1972, Soviet Union)
Spirited Away (2001, Japan)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Star Wars (1977)
La Strada (1954, Italy)
The Thin Blue Line (1988)
The Third Man (1949, Great Britain)
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Through a Glass Darkly (1961, Sweden)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Tokyo Story (1953, Japan)
Top Hat (1935)
Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967, France)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Great Britain)
Unforgiven (1992)
The Unknown (1927)
Vertigo (1958)
Walkabout (1971, Great Britain)
Weekend (1967, France)
West Side Story (1961)
Winter Light (1962, Sweden)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Z (1969, Algeria)

Additions (Some more worthy than others)
Billy Jack (1971)
The Fog of War (2003)
Late Spring (1948, Japan)
The Merchant of Venice (2004)
My Dinner With Andre (1981)
The Paleface (1923)
The Pawnshop (1916)
Paul Blart: Mall Cart (2009)
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Taken (2008)
You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

More meaningless stats
Films seen by decade
1900 (1)
1910 (1)
1920 (5)
1930 (12)
1940 (15)
1950 (22)
1960 (21)
1970 (15)
1980 (10)
1990 (10)
2000 (11)

34 non-English speaking films seen, more or less.

*I still haven’t actually seen Chariots of Fire, but I’ll get to it.

Friday, December 24, 2010


When I was about nine or so, I saw that a version of the old fairy tale Beauty and the Beast was coming on TV. This was most exciting news. I wondered how scary the beast might be. It was a time and an age you could still be scared by things like that.

It was on PBS, if memory serves, but it was in black and white! Our spectacular new color TV made me not want to watch anything black and white at that moment.

But then again, plenty of Abbott and Costello movies that I liked were in black and white. I could still remember before last year, when everything on TV was in black and white. It was such a shock when I saw The Wizard of Oz this year magically turn to color when Dorothy went to Munchkinland.

But I digress.

Beauty and the Beast was starting. I watched. Oh, my. This was in a foreign language and I didn’t speak French! You mean I had to read and watch a movie at the same time? “Okay, I’ll do it,” I said. But that Beast better be really frightening.

Finally we got to a scene with the Beast. He was pretty scary despite wearing ruffles, but guess what? He spoke French, too! I watched the Beast’s scene, but once there was a scene without him, I turned it off.

So it took me over thirty years to finally watch it again. I’ve seen hundreds of black and white movies since-that’s no problem. I’ve seen many movies in French-that’s no problem, either. But now this movie has to compete with my image of the Disney Beauty and the Beast, which I’ve seen so many times.

Well, in the old Beauty and the Beast (AKA Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast) the walls were alive, but they didn’t do show tunes like in the Disney version. A hand did come out of the dining room table to pour drinks and the faces on the walls did stare at you. I guess I can live without the show tunes.

There are shady characters in the Cocteau version, though none as dastardly as Disney’s Gaston. I can live with that, though I do miss Gaston’s songs.

There are some funny characters in Cocteau’s film (Belle’s sisters), but they can’t really compete with a wisecracking candlestick or a dancing teapot. But I guess, I can live with that.

I’ve just got to realize that the Cocteau film is a just a subtler movie experience …but I can live with that and hope I don’t have to wait another thirty years before I see it again.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Here’s the scene where…

I’ve just finished watching the scene from The Best Years of Our Lives where soda jerk Dana Andrews encounters a customer that questioned his friend Harold Russell's wisdom in participating in a war that cost him his hands. Dana punches the customer, who falls through a glass case and Dana is fired. "The customer is always right, but this customer wasn't.”

This made me think about some movies that I've seen over the years where you might be flipping channels and you come to a part in the movie where you say, Here’s the scene where…(Example: Here’s the scene where Dana Andrews punches out the guy that insulted Harold Russell!)

So I made a list of 20 Here’s the scene where… moments.
Not necessarily a TOP 20, just 20 that come to my head

There is a clear number one, however.
1) The Godfather
In my book, The Godfather is the king of here’s the scene where moments. Here’s the scene where …Michael protects Vito Corleone at the hospital from a hit."Stand him up." The crooked cop says before he hits Michael in the face. I was going to list more, but The Godfather has so many here’s the scene where moments, they are just too numerous for me to get into right now. This may explain why its so hard to watch one scene when this comes on television because it leads to yet another here's the scene where moment! and you probably just ought to watch the whole damn thing at that point.

The sequel ain’t bad either.
2) The Godfather II
Here’s the scene where …Freddo whines to his brother how he's smart and was
passed over in the chain of command. Michael Corleone admonishes him.
"Your not a brother, you're not a friend. If you come to visit our mother, I want to know a day in advance so I know not to be there.”

Reveal scenes are good too.
3) Tootsie
Here’s the scene where …Dustin Hoffman takes off his wig on live TV and shows that he’s not a woman. Reveal scenes don’t have to be quite that dramatic to be a here’s the scene where …moment, but it helps.

When you see a movie dozens of time in your youth and practically have it memorized,it’s going to have its share of here’s the scene where moments.
4) Animal House
Here’s the scene where …they have a cafeteria food fight or the Delta House invades the parade or they go to the grocery store in Flounder’s brother’s car or they steal Niedermeyer’s horse or they go see Otis Day and the Nights…You get the idea.

Most movies with Clint Eastwood have built in here’s the scene where …moments.
5) Dirty Harry
Here’s the scene where …he doesn’t’ know whether he has any bullets left in
his gun and…well, you know the rest. Or you should know the rest.

Great transcendental moment scenes from important movies of their era
6) Easy Rider
Here’s the scene where …Jack Nicholson smokes pot for the first time
and discusses the aliens living among us. The scene in the cafeteria with
the rednecks is a pretty good here’s the scene where …moment as well.

Famous coming of age moments
7) The Graduate
Here’s the scene where …Anne Bancroft tries to seduce Dustin Hoffman.
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”

If it’s the most famous scene in movie history, it should be on the list.
8) Casablanca
Here’s the scene where …a drunk Humphrey Bogart asks Sam to play As Time Goes By.“Play it, you played it for her.”

Just one more Bogart scene
9) The Caine Mutiny
Here’s the scene where …Captain Queeg goes nuts on the witness stand and rails on about his missing strawberries. Though I think I’ve seen Rich Little’s impression of Bogart doingthis scene enough times to satisfy myself for one lifetime.

You could fill this list with movie courtroom scenes.
10) Inherit the Wind
Here’s the scene where …Spencer Tracy/Clarence Darrow puts Frederic March/Williams Jennings Bryant on the stand and questions him about evolution. I pretty much have to watch this scene in its entirety every time it comes on.

There can be an overlap between here’s the scene where …and great movie quotes,
though I doubt this particular one ended up in Bartlett’s.

11) Ghostbusters
Here’s the scene where …Billy Murray says, "Yes, this man has no dick."

Bill Murray: take two.
12) Caddyshack
Here’s the scene where …we see groundskeeper Carl pretending to be at the Masters.(BKA: the Cinderella story scene) “It’s in the hole!”
I think even pro golfers actually playing at the Masters probably pretend they are Bill Murray pretending to be a pro golfer playing at the Masters, though I have no anecdotal evidence to prove my point.

Great endings, of course
13) The Passenger
Here’s the scene where …well, it’s the ending, can't really describe it, you just have to see it.

Scenes that have been shown so much over time that they have to be on
this list whether you like it or not.(
Note: Didn’t mean to imply I didn’t like Five Easy Pieces because I do.)
14) Five Easy Pieces
Here’s the scene where …Jack Nicholson orders lunch, but doesn’t want what is on the menu!

Great transcendental moment scenes from movies from your childhood that made you
not be able to sleep the night after you first saw it.

15) The Exorcist
Here’s the scene where …her head spins around and she’s spitting up some kind of green…I can’t watch anymore!

Some scenes you don’t remember that you remember but if the movie comes on it triggers something in your brain that makes you remember that theres a Here’s the scene where moment coming up.
16) National Lampoon's Vacation
Here’s the scene where … the Chevy Chase family parks at the end of the parking lot at Wally World and jog to the Chariots of Fire theme only to reach the park entrance and find that it’s closed.

Just because you like a movie doesn’t mean it has to have a here’s the scene where …moment.
17) My Dinner With Andre
When they order quail...or the dessert...No? I admit My Dinner With Andre doesn’t really have a here’s the scene where …moment.

Famous speeches can certainly make the list.
18) The Grapes of Wrath
Tom Joad's “I’ll be there” speech. Note: sometimes the person you are watching a movie with might not want to share your Here’s the scene where …moment. And that rates as pretty bad form in my book. So, please try not to ruin anyone’s Here’s the scene where …moment!

If someone you are with hasn’t seen the movie in question, a here’s the scene where …moment may answer certain pressing questions.
19) Singin' in the Rain
Wife: Why is this movie called Singin’ in the Rain?
Husband: Because there is a scene where he sings in the rain!
Wife: I don’t believe you!
Husband: Wait for it. Wait for it. Here’s the scene where …he sings in the rain!
Wife: Wow, you were right. I thought Singin’ in the Rain was a metaphor like in the movie The Boy Who Was Ten Feet Tall. He wasn’t really ten feet tall, you know.
Husband: And you were wrong.
Wife: I bow to your superior knowledge
Husband: As you should.

20) And one more from The Best Years of Our Lives
Here’s the scene where …Frederic March comes home from the war and sees his family for the first time. This scene is early in the movie, but try to stick around for the whole movie if you haven’t seen it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Brent Musberger: We are…LIVE from Pauley Pavilion for the finale of the 64 film tournament as the battle for the definitive Christmas movie sweepstakes has reached its highly anticipated climax.

To recap: A Christmas Story defeated Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Black Christmas (which forfeited for being directed by A Christmas Story director Bob Clark and therefore creating a conflict of interest), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Holiday Inn to reach the final four where the instant classic last second victory over the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol earned the coming of age story of Ralphie and his hunt for a Red Ryder BB gun a spot in the finals.

In the other bracket, It’s a Wonderful Life defeated Ernest Saves Christmas, Elf, Jingle All the Way, and Christmas in Connecticut to reach the final four where the story of George Bailey defeated Miracle on 34th Street in double overtime.

Onto the final: It’s a Wonderful Life vs. A Christmas Story:

Round 1
The protagonist:

It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey
George’s best moment: Loans out money to Bedford Fallians to prevent Potter from taking over the building and loan.
George’s worst moment: yells at his kids after Uncle Billy loses $8000.

A Christmas Story: Ralphie Parker
Ralphie’s best moment: Saves his family from Black Bart
Ralphie worst moment: He says THE word and it wasn’t fudge!

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. The everyman is just more sympathetic than the everyboy.

Round 2
The villain:

It’s a Wonderful Life: In the person of Mr. Potter and in the set of circumstances that keep George in Bedford Falls.

A Christmas Story: The heavies here are assorted bullies, teachers, parents and grownups whose sole purpose seems to be preventing getting Ralphie his Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. Mr. Potter (the very definition of evil) is the difference here.
Potter to George: “Look at you! You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world. You once called me a warped frustrated old man. What are you but a warped frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help…Why don’t you go to the riff raff you love so much. You know why? Because they’d run you out of town on a rail!”

Evil. Evil. Evil

Round 3
Supporting cast:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy or Henry Travers as Clarence.

A Christmas Story: Darren McGavin as Dad

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. McGavin is most funny as the long-suffering, cursing dad with the obsession for leg lamps, but he did steal the fra-jilly joke from The Marx Brothers.
Nobody does nincompoop like Mitchell and nobody can order “Mull wine, heavy on the cinnamon, light on the cloves” like Travers.

Round 4
Auteur curriculum vitæ:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Frank Capra directed Arsenic and Old Lace, Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, It Happened One Night, and You Can’t Take it With You. One of the most famous American directors with one of the most impressive resumes.

A Christmas Story: Bob Clark’s less impressive film output includes: Rhinestone, From the Hip, Porky’s I and II, Baby Geniuses I and II, and of course the TV movie classic Karate Dog.

Winner: A Christmas Story. Seems like no comparison, but since Mr. Clark dug so deep to come up with one classic within a career of such mediocrity, that I think even Mr. Capra would love this underdog story. Imagine Ed Wood pulling off Lawrence of Arabia.

Round 5
Recreation of the era:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Most of the story is set in the 1940’s and the film was made in the 1940’s.

A Christmas Story: Entire story is set in the 1940’s

Winner: A Christmas Story. The recreation of a simpler time at a simpler age is what makes the film work. It may not be a fair comparison since It’s a Wonderful Life was set in its own time, but George Bailey knows that life is not fair.

Round 6

It’s a Wonderful Life: Lots of candidates, but “Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings” is probably the best. It’s certainly better than Sam Wainwright continually saying “HEE-HAW”

A Christmas Story:”You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”

Winner: A Christmas Story. Close call, but “You’ll shoot your eye out” defines A Christmas Story.

Round 7

It’s a Wonderful Life: Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett

A Christmas Story: Jean Shepherd

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. You’d think I’d know who wrote the screenplay for a movie I’ve seen twenty times, but I admit to having to look it up. As retribution I’m giving this to Frances and Albert. Sorry, Jean.

Round 8
The strange cameo competition:

It’s a Wonderful Life. The guy that opens the gym floor to make George and Mary go into the water is Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer of Our Gang.

A Christmas Story: Ubiquitous screenwriter Jean Shepherd has the wonderful credit line of Man in line for Santa.

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. How can you beat getting dunked by Alfalfa! Sorry Jean, that’s 0-2.

Round 9
Narrator wars:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Mostly Henry Travers as Clarence

A Christmas Story: Jean Shepard

Winner: A Christmas Story, Well Jean, your narration style that was later copied for The Wonder Years finally gives you a win.

Round 10
Musical interlude:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Buffalo Girls

A Christmas Story: Deck the Halls from the Chinese restaurant.

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. As funny as “Deck the Halls with boughs of horry” is, Buffalo Girls is sung by George to woo Mary and later played as George asks Mary to marry him. George lassos the moon on this one.

Round 11
Longevity award:

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Christmas classic since the advent of television

A Christmas Story: A Christmas classic since the advent of cable

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life: It may not be fair to punish A Christmas Story for only being 25 years old, but you know-sometimes you get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas and sometimes you just got to drink your Ovaltine and like it!

Round 12

It’s a Wonderful Life: Bedford Falls has Christmas lights, bells, carolers, a movie theater showing Bells of St. Mary’s, and the wonderful old Building and Loan.
Pottersville has bars, blaring sirens, night clubs, pool halls, fights every Wednesday night, pawn brokers, girls-girls-girls burlesque, and a Dance Hall where Violet Bick gets picked up for prostitution!

A Christmas Story: The leg lamp or the bunny suit

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. But you got to admit that sometimes it’s more fun to live in Pottersville than Bedford Falls.

Round 13
Hot mom award:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Donna Reed

A Christmas Story: Melinda Dillon

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. Melinda Dillon was much more attractive in other movies such as Slapshot and Close Encounters as she was a bit frumped up here to be believable as Darren McGavin’s wife.
Donna Reed was at the height of her beauty here, at least when she’s not closing up the library!!!

Round 14
Citation for scene disparaging to libraries:

It’s a Wonderful Life: When George asks Clarence where Mary is in the reality in which George was never born, Clarence informs him that the ultimate tragedy has happened: First she’s an old maid and even worse: “She’s closing up the library!”
I’ve got to dock It’s a Wonderful Life for this one.

Winner: by default is A Christmas Story

Round 15
Evilest teacher:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Mrs. Welch gets admonished by George when she checks on Zuzu. Mr. Welch later punches George. Should Mrs. Welch suffer for the sins of Mr. Welch?

A Christmas Story: Ralphie’s teacher can’t seem to understand the importance of the Red Ryder BB gun!

Winner: A Christmas Story. Sorry, Mrs. Welch. Nobody punches out George Bailey and gets away with it!

Round 16
Remake Problems:

It’s a Wonderful Life: I know I shouldn’t keep punishing for the sins of others, but the 1978 television remake with Marlo Thomas as the female equivalent of George Bailey and Cloris Leachman as the female equivalent of Clarence was just wrong and someone should be held responsible!

Winner: A Christmas Story, but I just found out it has a sequel of it’s own called It Runs in the Family from the 90’s. I’ve already awarded the round, so A Christmas Story may have gotten away with one here.

Round 17
Unsympathetic authority figure:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Gower the druggist smacks George on his bad ear. Booooo!

A Christmas Story: Santa Claus can’t seem to understand the importance of the Red Ryder either. Booooo!

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life. Mr. Gower wins because he does become a good guy and a friend to George (Except in the world without George where he is an alcoholic child murderer!) Ahem. Wait a second. George isn’t born and Gower becomes a drunken killer? On second thought, A Christmas Story wins. Santa just doesn’t want him to shoot his eye out, after all. He doesn’t kill anybody!

Round 18
I discovered it:

It’s a Wonderful Life: It’s just been around forever so gets no credit for discovery for me.

A Christmas Story: I was the one to discover this movie. Okay, not really. But I was one of the first to appreciate it. “Why wasn’t this more popular?” I said when it first came out. Now it is.

Winner: A Christmas Story

Round 19
Dumbest kid stuff dealing with ice:

It’s a Wonderful Life: Harry Bailey sleds onto thin ice and almost drowns.

A Christmas Story: Ralphie’s friend sticks his tongue to a frozen flagpole.

Winner: A Christmas Story. Equally stupid thing for a kid to do, but funnier in A Christmas Story.

Round 20
The ending:

It’s a Wonderful Life: George’s friends bail him out, his family embraces him and they sing Auld Lang Syne.

A Christmas Story: Ralphie dreams of making hip shots with his gun.

Winner: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Christmas Story’s ending is OK. It’s a Wonderful Life’s ending might be the most inspirational ending in filmdom. A no-brainer for It’s a Wonderful Life.

Brent Musberger: And the winner in the definitive Christmas movie sweepstakes is…wait a minute, here comes Tiny Tim Cratchit and the Little Match Girl…What could they want? Tiny Tim seems to be trying to tell me something. Excuse me…we seem to have a new development. Little Match Girl, are you in agreement? All right then. Everyone grab hands. George, Ralphie, Uncle Billy, Mr. and Mrs. Parker, Bert, Ernie, Flick, Mary, Department Store Santa...come on out. Form a line.
The final decision from these two adorable little children is that you the viewer need to find room in your holiday season for both of these Christmas classics.

Merry Christmas everybody! This is Brent Musberger reporting.

*This blog is a reprint from last year, but I couldn't think of anything else new to do for Christmas. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LAURA (1944) vs. GILDA (1946)

Why Laura vs. Gilda?
Answer: Both have a one-word title of the name of the main character, both were made during the same relative time period, both are film noirs, and both feature the premiere screen beauties of their era. (Rita Hayworth as Gilda and Gene Tierney as Laura in case you didn’t know.)

On to the categories…

Best opening line:
(Laura) “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died… A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass.
(Gilda)“To me a dollar was a dollar in any language.” As a pair of dice come rolling toward the screen.
Winner: Laura. Both lines are winners, but I’ve got to go with Clifton Webb’s voice over narration for Laura here.

Best setting: Laura is mostly set in the various apartments and homes of the main characters, though there is a very nice country scene where Detective Dana Andrews interrogates Vincent Price. Gilda’s setting of Buenos Aires is a bit richer and really becomes part of the story.
Winner: Gilda

Best story: Vera Caspary’s story (Laura) went through many changes and rewrites, but it is largely solid, especially the lines for Lydecker (Clifton Webb). Gilda has some good dialogue as well, such as the famous “Statistics show there are more women in the world than anything else…except insects,” uttered by the cynical gambler Johnny (Glenn Ford). I’ll still go with…
Winner: Laura

Best supporting cast: Gilda’s Joseph Calleia as the all-knowing wash room attendant and George Macready as the enigmatic millionaire are fine, but you really can’t beat Laura’s oily playboy Vincent Price and acerbic columnist Clifton Webb. (Yes, I’ve mentioned Clifton Webb three times now)
Winner: Laura

Best leading man: Tough call. Overall, I like Dana Andrews (Laura) a little more than Glenn Ford (Gilda) and I was going to give the round to Laura, but I’ve reconsidered and think Ford’s considerable chemistry with Ms. Hayworth is worth a tick in the Gilda column.
Winner: Gilda

Best use of cigarettes: Frivolous category you say? It’s a good thing classic film noir came out before there was a report against smoking from the surgeon general, because they light up in practically every scene and almost always pull their ciggy from a stylish case. At least the detective in Laura occasionally forgoes a smoke when stressed and plays his toy baseball game instead. But for its consistently noirish and seemingly endless use of smokes, I’ll give this round to Gilda, but only because it was filmed pre-surgeon general. (They’re bad for you, you know.)
Winner: Gilda

Best music: Laura’s haunting theme has been played and recorded countless times over the years. What has Gilda got? Rita Hayworth singing Put the Blame on Mame? Be serious…wait. Rita’s scene is coming on. She’s taking off her gloves. She’s dancing. She’s moving. Ahhh...she’s won me over. Guess I’m easy. Despite all logic to the contrary, you win this round, Rita.
Winner: Gilda

Best director: Both films are well done, but I'll go with Laura director Otto “Mr. Freeze” Preminger. Nothing against Charles (never played a Batman villain) Vidor of Gilda , but I’ll go with Mr. Freeze here. Interesting that Preminger and star Vincent (Egghead) Price went on to be Batman villains. Or is that just interesting to me? Anyway…Winner: Laura

Best leading lady: Of course, it comes down to this. Rita Hayworth as Gilda, the voluptuous redhead or Gene Tierney as Laura, the brunette with the impossibly beautiful face. How can you beat Hayworth’s first scene where she flips her hair and smiles for the camera? But how can you beat Tierney’s opening scene, which is really just her portrait, though it’s more than enough for detective Dana Andrews to fall in love with her?
Winners: They both are, of course.

Personal choice: Well, I’ll actually pick a winner this time. Ultimately, I’ll go with the stronger narrative and pick Laura as the winner. (But still try to catch both if you can.)