Monthly Archives: July 2015

“Walter? Walter? Walter!”

Whoever coined the phrase, you always remember your first(s), was not lying.

My first kiss–Beth Eddington.  I was six.  We obviously didn’t know what we were doing and we closed our eyes too soon and bonked each other with our noses.  Our lips touched.  Hers were wet, mine were dry…

…that was about it.  I ran away, blushing. She smiled and watched me act like my hair was on fire.

I remember the first time I scored a goal playing soccer.  It was my third year playing.  We had a pretty decent team and a great coach.  I was in the box, there was a square pass made to me and I kicked it as hard as I could at the net, past the goalie.  I was pretty close, it wasn’t very fair.  After I got my first one, they just started flooding in and I can’t remember any of the rest.

Just like after your first goal when there are many more goals to quickly follow, such was the case with the first Cary Grant movie that I ever watched.  I had to watch many more.

I’ve discussed a lot of the bonding that I’d done with my dad and movies on this blog.  Time to share about my mom too.  We absolutely loved Cary Grant, and “Father Goose” was a pure joy to watch.  When Cary Grant passed, one of the networks (I can’t remember which one) ran a late evening marathon over the weekend of a lot of Grant’s pictures.  We discovered the marathon right before “Father Goose” started and my mom grabbed a tape and we started recording.  Standard practice at this point.

We took turns “pausing out” the commercials.

As I was looking for quotes, there were so many well crafted moments, that it was hard to pick just one.  It was a movie that had such well written dialogue delivered by so many talented people, that it is truly an underrated Grant gem.  My mom and I weren’t the only ones that thought so. Peter StoneFrank Tarloff, and S.H. Barnett won the Oscar for Best Writing, Story, and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen in 1965.  The Oscars and I rarely agree…an exception I’m glad to concede.

Being that this was my first experience with Cary Grant, a decade later I found out that he was an Englishman (in real life that is) and was dumbfounded.  In this and many of the other roles he portrayed in American films…he was an American. He would always, in some way be, the unshaven, un-bathed, crusty old American drunkard, Walter Eckland, who ends up being responsible for the lives of a school teacher and her female students on an isolated island during World War II.

Cary Grant Goose

Grant and girls Goose

I’ve raved about Grant, Leslie Caron as, “Catherine Louise Marie Ernestine Freneau,” was given a role of a lifetime and did beyond her very best with it.  The Chemistry that Grant and Caron were able to share in this picture goes right alongside Redford and Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” as one of the greatest pairings on film–in my book any way.

leslie caron

Grant and Caron

It would be a shame not to mention the great Trevor Howard as Commander Frank Houghton.  He plays the “friend” responsible for conning Walter into taking a job reporting enemy war craft that he spots while remaining on an isolated island after an unfortunate “accident” with Walter’s boat and the Commander’s ship.  The majority of the dialogue shared between Walter and Houghton is over the radio; cut and edited to perfection by Ted J. Kent.

The comedic timing portrayed between Grant and Caron on the island and with Howard over the radio was not only entertaining, I haven’t seen this type of scenario performed better in movies that share the same ploy.  The closest is probably the scene in “Roxanne,” when C. D. is trying to help Chris woo Roxanne in person while Chris wears a listening device under an Elmer Fudd cap.  Again, that is one scene.  Grant, Caron, and Howard did it similarly throughout multiple scenes of an entire motion picture.

I know that I have not talked about the scenes in detail.  Again, I do that because I do not want to spoil the comedy that you will find viewing this film fresh for the first time.

Enjoy.

PS–I have decided that Cary Grant’s career has earned a Multi-Movie post as well.  Keep your eyes open for that one.  It’s gonna be big and you won’t want to miss those titles.


——

Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

Advertisements

“Hi. How’re you doing? I’m the Easter Bunny.”

Oh man, this one is going to be another tough one, I can feel it.

I was just reading through some of the quotes and my eyes started tearing up reading them and thinking about my first viewing.  What an experience.

Movie night with my parents as a kid was like a surprise birthday party.  I was young and involved in sports so I didn’t watch a lot of television and didn’t see a lot of trailers.  Plus, if the TV was on, I was playing The Legend of Zelda on my Nintendo Entertainment System.  I didn’t care how many times I beat it, I kept playing that damn game over and over again.

Anyways….

I’d come home from a practice and I’d see some rentals in their clear plastic cases on the counter.

fod vhs case

They would always rent a “new release” and an “old” movie that they wanted to share with us.  This experience was a “new release” and it was one of the most emotional experiences that I have had with a film on its first viewing.

Before I say anything else, I want to share that I am not a baseball “fan” per se.  I can sit and watch a game with my friends given the perfect set of circumstances.  I understand the game enough to know the strategy and the lingo, but I’d rather watch football, basketball or soccer.

With that said, there is nothing like going to the ball park, getting a dog and a beer and relaxing in the sun.

Even if you are not a baseball fan, this movie can help you appreciate why people are still so enthusiastic about experiencing it.

Field of Dreams” is about why there is passion for baseball.  It has moments where I watch it and think that W.P. Kinsella (novel) and Phil Alden Robinson (screenplay) conspired to answer an elementary short essay, “Why do you love baseball?”

Watching James Earl Jones as Terence Mann and Burt Lancaster as Archibald “Moonlight” Graham as they monologue on their different reasons for loving the sport is more than inspiring.  I can get goosebumps thinking about their descriptions.  Lets be honest, listening to James Earl Jones read the back of a cereal box can give you goosebumps.

All of that is great, but the heart of the movie comes from Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner).  We learn very early on that his father, John, was also a man that had a passion for baseball like Terence and Archibald.  Throughout the film it is learned that Ray’s rebellion with his father happened at a young age when he rejected the sport that his father loved so much.  Ray remembers feeling wrong for having rebelled against baseball and his father and always felt that there was a necessary apology that he was never able to make before his father passed.

This of course is told appropriately over the course of the film and delivered in a most well written fashion.

I remember enjoying the energy that Annie Kinsella (Amy Madigan) displayed in her effort to support the eccentric decisions that her husband decides to make throughout the movie, along with influencing their daughter and community to make healthy decisions.  When she is able to inspire people in their town to choose not to ban a book at their local schools, it is both humorous and moving.

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson is played with the correct level of poise and passion for such an iconic Major League figure.  When he talks about putting a glove to his nose with his bright blue eyes, he’s in a trance.  I wanted to go grab my glove and smell it while he was talking about it (I didn’t need to, I could smell the glove where I was sitting…I think I was hypnotized).

shoeless joe

This is the first film I recall watching where my dad could not contain the tears.  They poured from him at the film’s climax after Terence disappears into the corn and Ray Kinsella demands clarity from Shoeless Joe.

I found later that my dad’s father had a very similar story to John Kinsella.  He played in the minors and was on the cusp of moving up into the majors, but made some choices in his life that impeded this.

Like Ray Kinsella giving out hints about his relationship with his father throughout the movie, my dad gave me as many clues about his relationship with his father throughout his life with me.  This is the movie that got my dad talking with me about his baseball experiences…and sometimes, when I was lucky, a little more.

——

Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“Gradual school is where you go to school and you gradually find out you don’t want to go to school anymore.”

My conservative family (mom and dad) are very interesting to me.

They knew that when they first saw this next film, they were watching excellence, even though a lot of the source material made them feel uncomfortable.

To me, it is truly a masterpiece, and one of the most well written and clever films I’ve seen.

Given that the material is drawn from a John Irving novel would probably make it seem pretty easy to create a masterpiece script, however, “Cider House Rules” was also adapted from a JI novel…and that was a POS…IMO.

This film is not a POS.  It is an energetic yet smooth, strange gem, with actors that fit the roles they are given perfectly.  I cannot imagine anyone else being portrayed by another actor, even down to James McCall, who had the difficult task of depicting our young protagonist.

The World According to Garp” is one of the best screenplays out there.  Steve Tesich deserves accolades for adapting a decent novel into a perfect screenplay.

Robin Williams is superb as T. S. Garp.  Watching him for the first time, I found I was wondering why he had so much restraint.  After about five minutes into his performance, I remembered thinking, oh, Robin wants to be an actor in this, not a comedian…man could he deliver when he needed to.

robin williams garp

Glenn Close as as Garp’s mother Jenny Fields is so….interesting.  She is interesting because she finds EVERYTHING interesting.

glenn garp

She encourages her son in everything that he does, and doesn’t bat an eye when he wants to be a writer.  The irony comes when she decides to be a writer and is able to generate a book that outsells all of his combined and then some.  The underlying annoyance that Garp holds for his mother’s success as a writer is one of the subtle maneuvers that makes his performance sparkle.  He is happy for her and the success she has, while he is annoyed that she can somehow steal his thunder in his profession.  She’s a nurse dammit!  So real.

John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon, an ex Philadelphia Eagle tight end, is a performance for the ages.  His ability to depict a man that has decided he is a woman, and not make it foolish to the point that we laugh “at” instead of “with” is a feat all its own.

Lithgow Garp

Outside of maybe Walter Brennan, is there a better supporting/character actor out there other than John Lithgow?  What can’t he play?  He was easily cast against “type” in this role, and he tackled it with ferocious abandon.  Show me any other man that is over 6 feet tall in Hollywood that could portray Roberta with such humanity….

…..

Yeah, I thought so.

Talking about him prior to having seen it, you would most likely believe it wouldn’t work on film.  I’m here to tell you it not only works, it’s not even a distraction–slightly.  He doesn’t overplay it, he doesn’t undersell it–it’s a perfect mix at baseline and it’s a captivating experience when you see it.

Trying to explain the story would not be fair to anyone interested in watching this movie.  It is simply the “The World According to Garp” and you need to experience his point of view for the first time fresh.

I will say that George Roy Hill was a genius for deciding to bookend this movie with “When I’m 64” by the Beatles.  He had me at “When I get older, losing my hair…”

I plug every movie I write about.

Move this one to the top of the list.

It’ll deliver.

——

Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“What happened to Sully?” — “I let him go.”

I have only one thing to be thankful to for this next post–ABC’s “Sunday Night Movies.”

For those of you that don’t know what that means, back before we had all the technologies that we have now (DVDs, BlueRays, Streaming, OnDemand, etc.) and prior to VCRs being too popular, movies used to have a much longer “window” of time prior to being released on VHS.  Once they were released on VHS, the rental stores rarely had enough copies for a very popular new release (they’d usually have about 5 copies for a very popular movie) to go around if you really wanted to see a movie.  I found that by the time you could finally get a copy of the new release you wanted to see, you would’ve already seen it on ABC’s “Sunday Night Movies”–however, it was edited for television….why else would my parents let me see it?

Ok, confession time again… “The Terminator” was not the first “Schwarzenegger movie” that I ever saw.  It was “Commando” on “Sunday Night!”

commando

Is this movie a “classic” or “must see” per say?

Hell no!

Am I glad I got to see it?

Yes.

It introduced me to Schwarzenegger, in which he became a sub-genre of Action movies in-and-of-himself.  I always heard my friends at school that were allowed to watch his movies (unedited) talking about how “awesome” they were.  After I watched “Commando,” I completely understood what they were talking about.

Action! Action! Action!

I think by today’s standards, the movie might drag in parts…but at the time, it was an extravaganza.

His daughter’s kidnap and chase down his mountain fortress, his free-fall from the bowels of the airplane, the pursuit of Sully through the mall, the battle with Cooke at the Motel, the extraction of all of the weapons at the sporting goods store, and the final sequence when he attempts to rescue his daughter are some of the action set pieces in the film.

I also found that in his movies, he took notes from James Bond and started having cool witty phrases after he murdered a villain.  The “catch phrases” are considered cliche now, because of Bond and Schwarzenegger.

The movie has a very simple premise:  John’s (Schwarzenegger’s) daughter is kidnapped as collateral by some mercenaries that want John Matrix (how cool is that name) to assassinate a political figure in a far off country over seas.  The flight overseas is 14 hours.  That is all the time he has to track the villains, find out his daughter’s location, get to her, and attempt her rescue.

BOOM!

I found that making light of the murders with his catch phrases made the movie less gruesome.  After all, they were villains and we wanted him to kill them (come on, they kidnapped his daughter).  I also enjoyed the performance of Rae Dawn Chong.

Rae-Dawn-Chong-Commando

She plays Cindy, an innocent woman that is at first hijacked by John Matrix and forced to do some unpleasant things for him.  She is reluctant to help John Matrix (I just love that damn name) at first for good reason, but is eventually won over and becomes his ally.

I liked her anxious flare and watching her arm and discharge a rocket launcher is priceless.

Again, this is a movie that helped create the “cliche action” movies that we make light of and laugh with now.  If it was not for movies like this and the Stallone “Rambo” series, we wouldn’t have the pleasure of enjoying movies like “Hot Shots!I and II. Which I found pleasure in watching, very much.

——

Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.

“Why’s he calling me meat? I’m the one driving a Porsche.”

Prior to watching “Bull Durham,” my experience with baseball in movies was “The Natural,” and “Major League.”  Two very different movies.

The Natural” was all about the passion and drama that comes with the love of baseball.  Upping the stakes, at a big game to win it all.  Pitching, home runs, the high-light reel, etc.

Major League” starts off as a screwball and ends up having a shining moment as epic as any baseball scene in sports movies, over the ages.

Bull Durham,” was somewhere in between the two and was more about taking the glamour out of the game and writing a travelogue of how hard the minor-league life is.  It is a very well written story centered around a woman who fancies herself as a baseball “theologian.”

Annie Savoy (played by a very sexy Susan Sarandon–in this role any way) is a woman that takes it upon herself to “date” one member of the local Durham Bull’s baseball club a year.  She brags that this generally gets them to “The Show,” thus only allowing her one relationship per season.

Susan

Her two candidates are Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (played brilliantly by a very young and energetic Tim Robbins) and the wily veteran, Crash Davis (Kevin Costner).

meat and crash

Crash diplomatically relieves himself from the competition with a very poetic monologue, and Annie realizes that her approach was a huge mistake.

Crash and Annie both take on Nuke as a men-tee, with very different tactics, obviously.  Annie is a nurturer/lover and educates him with poetry, spirituality, and “magic” garments…?

Crash is a tough love father figure.  Crash’s nickname for Ebby is way more fitting than “Nuke,” IMO…he even goes so far as to tell the opposing hitter what the pitch will be when Ebby “shakes” Crash off.

I remember this as the first movie I had seen referring to the majors as, “The Show.”  I love that.

The film consists of many well written scenes.  The dialogue is original and witty.  It’s safe to say that writer/director Ron Shelton has spent some time travelling from town-to-town on a few minor league buses.

That is the essence of the movie.  The experience of being on a minor league team.

It is very quotable:

Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!

Larry: Lollygaggers!

Skip: Lollygaggers.  What’s our record, Larry?

Larry: Eight and sixteen.

Skip: Eight… and sixteen. How’d we ever win eight?

Larry: It’s a miracle.

Skip: It’s a miracle. This… is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.

This scene is of course delivered by the late great Trey Wilson (mentioned in “Raising Arizona“) as Skip and Robert Wuhl as Larry.  I feel it is one of the great moments in movies about sports.  There is purpose to it for all of the characters involved, and at the end of the day, you get a great laugh.  Did I mention that Skip decided to deliver this message when they were all in the shower room after having grabbed a pile of baseball bats–and in dramatic fashion–throwing them at their feet?

Even though there is a lacking in the glamour of baseball in this picture, Ron Shelton treats baseball with the utmost respect.  The title character has made a religion from baseball, and Crash cannot help himself from causing humiliation and harm to Nuke when he feels he “disrespects” the game.

Don’t expect any game winning home runs, or bases loaded strike outs, but this movie bleeds baseball in every bit of dialogue from three very passionate players.

crash annie nuke

Just remember:  “The rose goes in front, big guy.”

Words to live by…

——

Please join my newsletter #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.