When Michael of It Rains…You Get Wet asks me to blog about something, I jump! Even if it results in a major movie migraine!
Not only is It Rains…You Get Wet a wonderful blog wherein its author pens insightful film commentary, that author also happens to be one of the most supportive bloggers I’ve encountered. So, this is for him – a fantastic film friend.
Now to the task at hand, a simple “movie quiz,” which is neither a quiz (no right or wrong answers) or simple (hence the migraine). Here’s how Michael introduces his entry, which I thought a good idea to copy and pasted here so everyone knows where this originated from…
Writer Dennis Cozzalio, he of the wonderfully titled Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule site, is well-regarded for his in-depth knowledge and thoughtful essays he gladly shares with his readers. The extraordinary SoCal blogger remains one of my long-time reads for the moving picture. His semi-regular movie quizzes are online events that many look forward to. Me included. And well worth the furled brows many of us toil under to come up with just the right answers. For the dreaded hay fever, teary-eyed Spring season, he’s teed up another:
MISS JEAN BRODIE’S MODESTLY MAGNIFICENT, MATRIARCHALLY MANIPULATIVE SPRINGTIME-FOR-MUSSOLINI MOVIE QUIZ
“Miss Brodie would like to remind all participants that there are no correct answers, only thoughtful ones, though she reserves the right to arch an eyebrow in quizzical disbelief or outright cynicism if she deems your responses lazy, insufficiently elaborate or otherwise lacking in the standard of thoroughness and honor which is the hallmark of study amongst these hallowed halls. So, no pressure, only a reminder that the more windy and discursive answers are the ones most favored— clipped, blunt, one or two-word answers should be reserved for Professor Walter Hill’s upcoming class on Macho Codes and Aesthetics.”
And now “the quiz” and my answers:
1) The classic movie moment everyone loves except me is:
I’m not sure if others love this or not but I absolutely hate them – yes, “them” as I can’t separate one awful occurrence from another. I am referring to the scenes featuring Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick’s, Lolita (1962). I’ve nothing against Sellers and enjoy him in other films, although I can’t necessarily call myself a fan of his. I find he’s one of those actors that was so “out there” people love to call anything and everything he did “art” despite its quality. Having said that – I don’t blame him for the problems I have with his scenes in Lolita, I blame Kubrick for inserting them seemingly wherever and whenever so that they consistently interrupt the story enough to spoil its continuity and reason. Just – not so simply – awful.
2) Favorite line of dialogue from a film noir
If “Build my gallows high, baby” delivered by Robert Mitchum in Jacques Tourneur’s, Out of the Past (1947) ain’t one of the greatest film lines ever then I don’t know my own name. But, I cannot ignore the following exchange between murdering enchantress, Phyllis Dietrichson and insurance salesman, Walter Neff in Billy Wilder’s, Double Indemnity (1944). Delivered with whiplash speed this manages to be both steamy and cold (as only Barbara Stanwyck could deliver) – it simply cannot be beat.
Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He’ll be in then.
Walter Neff: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren’t you?
Walter Neff: Yeah, I was, but I’m sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
Walter Neff: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I’d say around ninety.
Walter Neff: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter Neff: Suppose it doesn’t take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter Neff: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder.
Walter Neff: That tears it.
3) Second favorite Hal Ashby film
As if choosing one favorite is not difficult enough now I have to quantify – if even in my own mind – and choose one absolute favorite in order to determine the one that comes in second. I know that’s a given but I must complain…
4) Describe the moment when you first realized movies were directed as opposed to simply pieced together anonymously.
From the master, his masterpiece. He manipulates us so thoroughly we are aware of it and can’t help but fall in line with the view from Rear Window (1954). I can’t remember specifically when I first saw this film. It feels as if I’ve always known it. But it is the one that made me realize – these things don’t just happen. Action – reaction – action – reaction – over and over again. There is nothing casual about Hitchcock’s direction and never is that more true than in this, his greatest achievement – although the vast majority feel that distinction should go to Vertigo (1958). With Rear Window Hitch shoves our own voyeurism in our face – deliberate shot, after shot, after shot. He leaves nothing to chance – lets us make no decision – gives our eyes no opportunity to wander. The Hitchcock camera here is as intrusive as in any film I remember, often uncomfortably so. Pure cinema – brilliance!
5) Favorite film book
This question could mean book “about” film or book from which a film was made. Since it’s the easier of the two I am choosing the latter and my answer is, Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird.
6) Diana Sands or Vonetta McGee?
7) Most egregious gap in your viewing of films made in the past 10 years
Hmmm…I’d have to say my failure to keep current with releases, specifically Academy Award nominated films in recent years.
8) Favorite line of dialogue from a comedy
(Purposefully ignoring every single word Billy Wilder ever wrote for the screen. An attempt to pit great Billy Wilder lines against great Billy Wilder lines would cause irrevocable damage.)
“If there’s anything I hate more than not being taken seriously, it’s being taken too seriously.” – Billy Wilder
9) Second favorite Lloyd Bacon film
YIPES! If I’ve seen a handful of his films it’s too many. And of those I distinctly remember two so… my second favorite would have to be Golddiggers of 1937 (1936) – with 42nd Street (1933) taking my number one spot.
10) Richard Burton or Roger Livesey?
Richard Burton and his overacting, Shakespearean self.
11) Is there a movie you staunchly refuse to consider seeing? If so, why?
If I’d known ANYTHING about Pedro Almodovar’s, The Skin I Live In (2011) I would have staunchly refused to see it. But I didn’t and I did. So a moot point here but I had to mention it. Other than that particular example, I’m not sure I’d ever be against a film so adamantly as to veto it but there are plenty I’d never consider paying to see – slasher films for slashing sake, endless regurgitation of needless remakes, 3-D releases of classics for money’s sake, etc.
12) Favorite filmmaker collaboration
Well. Assuming this means collaborations between directors, I am most familiar (of late) with the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez pairings and enjoy them. But, since I always try to find a way to cheat to suit my film “needs” in these question and answer or list things, I am going for two other mentions:
First, a group of (then) future-directors and one particularly influential director:
That would be mentor, Roger Corman and his notable mentees – Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, among others.
And, collaborations between mentor, Ernst Lubitsch and mentee Billy Wilder – together, one’s vision and the other’s pen made magic, leading to one of the greatest film visionaries ever that resulted from the original collaboration of both. Does that make sense? No? Good! I’ve no business (ever) trying to explain either of these two geniuses.
13) Most recently viewed movie on DVD/Blu-ray/theatrical?
DVD – Citizen Kane
Bluray – On the Waterfront (Criterion)
Theaterical – Argo
14) Favorite line of dialogue from a horror movie
“To a new world of gods and monsters” – Dr. Pretorius in James Whale’s, Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
And if you think I’m leaving Dracula out of this you are in serious need of blood…
15) Second favorite Oliver Stone film
Because it so absolutely defines an era and because Michael Douglas is so absolutely sexy in it – my choice is Wall Street (1987).
16) Eva Mendes or Raquel Welch?
No disrespect to Eva but how could anyone not choose the classic? Raquel.
17) Favorite religious satire
If Stanley Kramer’s, Inherit the Wind (1960) and its “Gimme that Old Time Religion” doesn’t quite fit this “Satire” business, then I’ve no answer. However, I’d argue it does. After all, “it was good for little David…and it’s good enough for me.”
18) Best Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)
I enjoyed a vast discussion on twitter a few months back concerning what constitutes a “classic” film. The bottom line, appropriately – it is largely subjective.
19) Most pointless Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)
Any film discussion or argument where someone uses the word, “EVER” with regards to film. Be it “best ever” or “worst ever” it is pointless given the vastness of our film horizon and the variables that affect movie tastes. For every person’s “ever” there’s another equally significant and adamant “ever” to counter it.
20) Charles McGraw or Robert Ryan?
21) Favorite line of dialogue from a western
So many greats to choose from. This is one time I’m happy to have a terrible memory.
Butch Cassidy: Alright. I’ll jump first.
Sundance Kid: No.
Butch Cassidy: Then you jump first.
Sundance Kid: No, I said.
Butch Cassidy: What’s the matter with you?
Sundance Kid: I can’t swim.
Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.
But my favorite is simple…
“A wed wose. How womantic.” – Lili Von Shtupp in Mel Brooks’, Blazing Saddles (1974)
22) Second favorite Roy Del Ruth film
Just taking a stab at this one with Born to Dance (1936) to purposefully give recognition to the fabulous Eleanor Powell (although she did at least one of The Broadway Melody films with him too.) That’s it. Before I change my mind.
23) Relatively unknown film or filmmaker you’d most eagerly proselytize for
I’m playing so many of these responses as if I were taking a Rorschach test, but if I don’t I can never decide what to make note of. With that in mind here are a few I think should have made a bigger splash than they did:
In no particular order -
One of my favorite Tom Hanks performances (underrated I think) is in Gary Marshall’s affecting, Nothing in Common (1986), a film that also features an impressive supporting cast – Jackie Gleason and Eva Marie Saint among them. Hoping I don’t sound like a broken record with a film I never tire of advocating for – one of the best from one of our best directors, Sidney Lumet’s, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007). And – I know little about foreign films but if you happen to like heist films this is a truly enjoyable one matching twists and turns with the best of ‘em, from Argentina, Fabián Bielinsky’s, Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas, 2000).
OR – should I give a very timely (and deserving) shout out to the remarkable King Kong (1933), which is celebrating its 80th Anniversary this year with barely a mention anywhere?
OR, should I simply shout “classic films are wonderful” from every rooftop so the masses can hear? Why don’t they realize giving the classics a chance would only enhance appreciation for modern film, by the way? I don’t get that.
Anyway, I suppose if I’d have to proselytize for one filmmaker I’d make it Charlie Chaplin. I believe viewing his films would both lend a hand toward broadening the appeal of silent film, as well as enchant everyone and anyone.
24) Ewan McGregor or Gerard Butler?
McGregor, if you please.
25) Is there such a thing as a perfect movie?
I tried to really cheat here by posing the question to followers on twitter – few bit with no definitive response.
My answer – yes. There are many perfect films for me – for my moods and sensibilities. If I am entertained, which is the shared bottom line for all films for all of us, then it is perfect for that purpose. If I need a laugh and a film supplies it, it is perfect in that sense. If I “feel” – be it joy, heartache, outrage – then a film has achieved a not-too-simple task as a medium of expression in images and words. I love the medium of motion pictures for so many reasons and in so many ways I can’t pinpoint why or how a film is perfect – but there are many that are. For me.
26) Favorite movie location you’ve most recently had the occasion to actually visit
Unfortunately, I don’t travel much so I have to pick my home town as my favorite movie location – that would be, New York City. It happens to be one of the greatest film locations ever anyway.
27) Second favorite Delmer Daves film
Oh my. This one has to be a tie for me – between two films that couldn’t be more different. One, I love for its darkness and fabulous cast. The other for its heart (I’ve loved it since I was a very young girl). I can’t, in good conscience, choose one over the other.
28) Name the one DVD commentary you wish you could hear that, for whatever reason, doesn’t actually exist
I’d love Charles Laughton to walk me through scene by scene of The Night of the Hunter (1955).
29) Gloria Grahame or Marie Windsor?
Wow – this one’s rather unfair, but I have to go with…
30) Name a filmmaker who never really lived up to the potential suggested by their early acclaim or success
I happen to discuss this filmmaker and his “breakout” film with a friend a couple of weeks ago, trying to convince him to contribute a post on it for the 31 Days of Oscar blogathon last month. He didn’t, but the director is on my mind and is my choice – Michael Cimino. Cimino reached he heights of filmdom with his second film, the extraordinary, The Deer Hunter (1978), which stars the greatest actors in a generation. Then, for some reason he directed only a few more films that never repeated the acclaim or success.
31) Is there a movie-based disagreement serious enough that it might cause you to reevaluate the basis of a romantic relationship or a friendship?
I don’t like it when people don’t value classic films, give them their due, appreciate them as art. However, I can’t blame anyone for not having been born with good taste.
“Good taste is the worst vice ever invented.” British poet, Edith Sitwell
…and there you have it. What do I know?!
Anyone reading this is welcome to participate by offering his/her two cents on this madness, which also happens to be loads of fun. You can do so in the comments section or post to your own blogs.