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  1. I must admit I loved the Soprano's. I grew up in the region where they filmed. Some scenes include locations I recognize. Moreover I have a strong suspicion kids with whom I grew up could easily have become gangsters. In fact upon watching the very first show my stomach tightened and I had an uneasy feeling as if kids with whom I grew up were pointing a gun to my head; the simple "friendly gesture" of one of the gang members but utterly frightening to all of the rest of us. Today, upon learning of some little bit of news I was feeling aggravated. In my perspective this is a classic Soprano's scene on aggravation...and to top it off ....its all about local coffee shops!!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAYq9jSUKt4
  2. I power-watched all of "Breaking Bad," and think it just may be the best TV series I've ever seen. I'm now watching "Better Call Saul," based exclusively on my adoration of "Breaking Bad," coupled with the comments on this website. I've made it through Season 2, Episode 8 ("Fifi"), and unfortunately, I don't think it's even in the same stratosphere, quality-wise. We can certainly discuss this. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** (I'm Going To Give Away Some of the Overall Story Arc Below) Truthfully, there are two - and only two - characters I care about in "Better Call Saul": Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike Ermahntraut (Jonathan Banks), and that's only because it lends some background to their *tremendous* characters on "Breaking Bad." In particular, the way Mike parted from the Philadelphia Police Department (and his corresponding love for his granddaughter, Kaylee (Faith Healey and Abigail Zoe Lewis in "Better Call Saul," Kaija Bailes in "Breaking Bad") - which I find both adorable and heartbreaking). I'm almost finished with Season Two, and not one single mention has been made of Saul Goodman, which just doesn't seem right to me. More importantly, I find literally every other story arc interminably dull: There is nothing at all I find interesting about Kim Wexler (Rhea Seahorn), Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), or Chuck McGill (Michael McKean, despite my unabashed love for McKean in "This is Spinal Tap"). All three of them bore me to tears, and their story lines - especially the annoyingly overplayed electromagnetic hypersensitivity subplot with Chuck - have me pining away for a return to Jimmy, Mike, or even *any* member of the cartel. That saxdrop says there's a loss of momentum in Season Three almost guarantees that "Better Call Saul" will be a wrap for me after Season Two - I can't imagine it getting much worse. As an unwanted side issue, Mike has clearly aged since the filming of "Breaking Bad," and thinking back to the near-superhuman things he did in that series (remember him walking through the desert after being shot?) makes them seem absolutely impossible. Mike Ermahntraut just may be my favorite character in either series - his stoic toughness reminds me of Anton Chigurh in the great "No Country for Old Men," but Ermahntraut also has the ridiculously high-level mental acuity of any action hero you could think of - the whole package wrapped in a laconic series of silence, accentuated with the occasional grunt. This series has (I think) made me like Saul Goodman less overall - it was better not knowing where he came from, or how he got to be such a bad-ass attorney. Am I the only person who loved "Breaking Bad," but isn't loving "Better Call Saul?" Why is this series boring me to tears? Not to propose the obvious, but I really feel like they made it just to wring out as much money as possible from their product, and not because they had any story to tell.
  3. I started watching this show because I tend to enjoy British TV (the shorter seasons generally make for a higher quality per episode product) and because it came recommended by some sources I trust. I also tend to like spy stuff. I think the conceit is that it's about domestic spies in England with a focus on how difficult it is to live a normal personal life when you are in the business of deceit. Overall, I think the pluses of the show are the great acting, and surprisingly high production values for a British series, and the willingness to kill of any main character at anytime, which lends a sense of urgency. There are some characters that I particularly like, such as the Tom Quinn character. It was almost a science experiment of things they could put him through the see if he would eventually break down. Other characters, like Zaf, are just poorly drawn shells of humans. My biggest beef with the show, however, is the sheer carelessness with which some episodes are written. It's painfully easy to tell at times that the writer was in a corner and had to throw in a convenient mechanism to get out of it. For instance, there is one episode where the protagonists had no leads until a government official attempted to sneak out of a meeting with several files, and subsequently admitted treason within ten seconds of suspicion being placed on her. There also another episode where one of the protagonists was framed by another branch of the security services. This was done by a recording from a subway ("tube") security camera showing her standing next to a guy that eventually jumped in front of a train, framing her for his murder. At the exact moment of him jumping, the "security footage" cut to a closeup of two hands pushing someone. The spooks were nonplussed as to how to disprove this damning evidence. I have an idea: Maybe tell the authorities there is no security camera in the world that zooms in at random times. I'm currently on season six (of ten seasons) and feel as if I should see it through.
  4. I remember when "Good to Go" was released in 1986 - I knew nothing about Go-Go, other than the posters (white background, pastel rectangles with black typeface) advertising concerts at the DC Armory (does anyone else remember these? I had just moved back to the DC area after spending nearly seven years roaming the country, and I was oblivious), and what I saw on "Soul of the City" with "The Moonman" (I can't find *any* internet entries for these - "Soul of the City" was Channel 20's poor-man's version of "Soul Train," and "The Moonman" was its version of Don Cornelius). What I don't want to be is a white person pretending I'm black (we've had enough restaurant critics doing this); what I *do* want to be is a white person acknowledging the rich heritage of this city's primarily black, 1980's population, and the incredibly important (oh, you don't know it's important yet?) influence of Go-Go, Trouble Funk, and Chuck Brown. When I say "incredibly important" ... it isn't ... yet, but I can hear - with my own ears - this influential style in today's rap, hip-hop, and whatever else you want to call popular music, and many of the roots were planted right here, in DC, less than forty-years ago. In the first seven (seven!) minutes of "Good to Go" (which was pulled from the shelves shortly after its launch, and renamed "Short Fuse"), you get scenes of an inner-city black youth, toting around his conga drum, and (this is why it was pulled from the shelves) the scenery includes The Washington Monument, The White House, a meeting inside The Watergate (really), and of all things, that nasty, concrete staircase that only upper-middle-class, white hikers, cough, embarking on The Capital Crescent Trail, neart its trailhead, close to the origin of the Whitehurst Freeway, knew about, as it was the only way to traverse Canal Road (the map of it is right here). Yes, there was a meeting there between two drug dealers - this is all in the first seven minutes of the film - they must have phoned each other, and said, "Let's travel 45 minutes each way into lower Georgetown, and have a 30-second meeting in that nasty concrete stairwell." Somewhere in this world, about four people are laughing right now. Well, I haven't watched the entire film (yet); just dribs-and-drabs, but it all streams for free right here on YouTube. As insane as it sounds, "Good to Go" is an important film, or will be, at least on a cult basis: I remember when the impossibly lame "The Big Chill" came out, three-years before "Good to Go" did - I protested the quality of the movie *loudly*, but everyone, and I do mean *everyone*, always replied, "But the *music*!" Rubbish. The film is lame, and the music is just as lame - cherry-picked to appeal to aging yuppies. At least with "Good to Go," fans of the genre can say, "the *music*!" and not hang their heads in shame: The opening theme alone is fresher and more original than anything "The Big Chill" has to offer ("Good to Go" could be on the Rolling Stone's Top 100 List of greatest and/or most-influential contemporary songs in history - other than pure rebellion, why is "God Save the Queen" any better than this?). Sanitized or not, "Good to Go" is probably going to be what Go-Go is best remembered for being (it isn't a dying genre, so much as a genre that has melted into other genres; pure Go-Go has come-and-gone with the crack-ridden DC of the 1980s, Marion Barry, etc. - that's not a racist statement; it's a historical statement, and it's true). "Good to Go" was made on a $1.5 million budget, and I think I remember reading once that Art Garfunkel's salary was half of the film's budget! Don't quote me on this, but it was either some crazy-high percentage, or he decided to forego being paid, or something odd like that. That said, Robert DoQui is in this film also, and he was a known actor at the time; Wikipedia incorrectly lists Anjelica Huston in the credits (and sent me on a wild goose chase, looking for a cameo!), but the actual actress' name was Angelica Houston. The "Most Awkward Performance" award goes to Michael White, who played Gil Colton (the national-level music rep, whom local rep Robert DoQui is soliciting at the Watergate) - he has a pretty big role in this film, and is as stiff as a board. Anyway, here's the film (for now): If anyone doesn't hear shades of "Rapper's Delight" in the song played around the 25-minute mark (or, a much closer match, the Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle," which was undoubtedly influenced by this), listen again.
  5. I stumbled upon Season 1, Episode 1 of "Making a Murderer," and was surprised at how much it sucked me in. One thing led to another, and before I know it, the entire first season, which was released on Dec 18, 2015, had been power-watched. I knew absolutely nothing about the documentary beforehand, and waited until it was over to look anything up about it at all. Now I see there will be a Season 2, and also that it is widely criticized for being one-sided and for leaving out crucial evidence, and emphasizing skewed evidence - two of the very same things it accuses the Wisconsin criminal justice system of doing. Has anyone else seen this popular series? And, if so, are there any opinions, either about the show, or the subject matter?
  6. The second run of "Dragnet" was even better than the first. It was in color, and featured the excellent Harry Morgan as Jack Webb's partner. Very early on in Season One, you'll see the makings of "Adam-12," with two appearances by Kent McCord in the first four episodes (with SE1 EP4 using him as the star of the show). "Dragnet" (1967 TV Series) Main Cast Series created and directed (all 98 episodes) by Jack Webb Jack Webb (Creator and Star of "Dragnet" (1951), Artie Green in "Sunset Blvd.," Creator of "Adam-12") as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday Harry Morgan (Colonel Sherman Tecumseh Potter on M*A*S*H*) as Officer Bill Gannon Webb and Morgan appeared in all 98 episodes of "Dragnet" (1967). The theme song, with its well-known four-note opening, is from the 1946 film, "The Killers," and was composed by Miklós Rózsa. Season 1 (Jan 12 - May 11, 1967)
  7. "Dragnet" (1951 TV Series) Main Cast Series created and directed by Jack Webb Jack Webb as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday Ben Alexander as Officer Frank Smith The theme song, with its well-known four-note opening, is from the 1946 film, "The Killers," and was composed by Miklós Rózsa. Season 1 (Dec 16, 1951 - Jun 19, 1952) (available in the public domain) 1.1 - "The Human Bomb" - Dec 16, 1951 - Written by Jack Webb and James E. Moser (Emmy Nominee for "Best Written Dramatic Material" for "White Is the Color" on "Medic") Featuring Barton Yarborough as Sergeant Ben Romero (Doc Long in "The Devil's Mask"), Raymond Burr as Deputy Chief Thad Brown (Lars Thorwald in "Rear Window," Perry Mason on "Perry Mason," Robert T. Ironside on "Ironside") , Stacy Harris as Vernon Carney (Jim Taylor on "This is Your FBI"), Herbert Butterfield as Lieutenant Lee Jones (The Commissioner on "Dangerous Assignment"), Barney Phillips as Sam Erickson (Haley in "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?" on "The Twilight Zone") [In the opening, Sergeant Friday is describing Los Angeles, and mentions that it has two-million people. A particularly cruel note: three days after this episode aired, and the day after the second episode was filmed, Barton Yarborough died of a heart attack (Yarborough did spend three years co-starring in the radio version of Dragnet, which aired from 1949-1957). Yarborough's character, Ben Romero, is the first name ever mentioned in the televised Dragnet series. "The Human Bomb" is the first of 448 televised episodes of the "Dragnet" franchise (to go along with 314 episodes on the radio, for a total of 762). Furthermore, it influenced the terrific Adam-12 series (174 episodes). This was a star-studded, exciting half-hour of television, and was surely one of the first-ever shows working in quasi "real-time" - it has to do with a man wielding a bomb in Los Angeles City Hall, and they have about 25 minutes to stop him. Even though this episode is 66-years old, it provides riveting, never-a-dull-moment entertainment, and you'll get to see Raymond Burr before he went on to great fame in "Perry Mason" and "Ironside," not to mention "Rear Window." Barney Phillips is also a man you may recognize, especially from "The Twilight Zone" episode, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" Given the historical importance of "Dragnet," watching the first-ever episode will certainly not be a waste of your time - note, however, that there's currently a YouTube video (<--- don't watch this) that's labeled as "The Human Bomb," but isn't; the episode can be found, as of today, on Vimeo (<--- do watch this). Some parting words about the final moments: The lighting as Friday falls down is terrific, inciting a split-second of panic in the viewer; the first line of dialog after he falls is a legendary, "No shit, Sherlock," moment, and the final word spoken in the episode is laugh-out-loud funny.]
  8. How to read this index: * The pictures are my own selections of a single image that represents the episode (you can scroll through them all by clicking "Next" on the top-right of the photo). * The links in the episodes go to the New York Times, which has a paywall, but allows ten free articles per month - the short reviews are good and worth reading. * All names referenced for the first time are linked, either to Wikipedia or IMDB (if there's no Wikipedia entry). * All names referenced subsequent times have a running number of episodes that they've been involved with next to their name. - 1.1 - "Descenso" ("Drop") - Directed by José Padilha, Written by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro - 1.2 - "The Sword of Simón Bolí­var" - Directed by José Padilha (2), Written by Chris Brancato (2) - 1.3 - "The Men of Always" - Directed by Guillermo Navarro, Written by Dana Calvo - 1.4 - "The Palace in Flames" - Directed by Guillermo Navarro (2), Written by Chris Brancato (3) - 1.5 - "There Will Be a Future" - Directed by Andi Baiz, Written by Dana Ledoux Miller - 1.6 - "Explosivos" ("Explosives") - Directed by Andi Baiz (2), Written by Andy Black - 1.7 - "You Will Cry Tears of Blood" - Directed by Fernando Coimbra, Written by Zach Calig - 1.8 - "La Gran Mentira" ("The Great Lie") - Directed by Fernando Coimbra (2), Written by Allison Abner - 1.9 - "La Catedral" ("The Cathedral") - Directed by Andi Baiz (3), Written by Nick Schenk and Chris Brancato (4) - 1.10 - "Despegue" ("Takeoff") - Directed by Andi Baiz (4), Written by Nick Schenk (2) and Chris Brancato (5) (Note: I put the above index in on Nov 2, 2015, with each screen shot one I chose that I feel best represents the episode. I wrote the entire index after having finished Season One; my original Oct 22, 2015 post is below.) --- This series, which debuted on Aug 28, 2015, is a collaboration between NetFlix and Telemundo. It portrays the DEA in their attempt to hunt Pablo Escobar, and was renewed for a second season this autumn. I haven't even started watching yet, but I'm going to give the first episode a go.
  9. *** SPOILER ALERT *** --- Do not read past this point if you haven't seen the movie. In the scene which takes place in Jimmy Malone's (Sean Connery's) house (there's only one in the entire film), shortly before he winds up his Victrola, and the knife-man sneaks in, Amazon X-Ray says "References: 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971)," but it doesn't say how. Furthermore, a ten-minute internet search revealed absolutely no details of any reference to "A Clockwork Orange" during this scene, and I've seen A Clockwork Orange at least five times. Does anyone know what the reference is? Incidentally, this scene contains one of my all-time favorite movie lines - when Jimmy Malone looks up at Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), and with his final bit of energy, choking on his own blood, does his best to scream out (and it's the third time in the movie he says this), "What are you prepared to do?!" I believe it was this single line that might have put Sean Connery over-the-top for winning the Best Supporting Actor Award. Shortly afterwards, at the train station, the "other" scene that everyone remembers from this film is the baby carriage rolling down the stairs backwards. This is a direct homage to the legendary "Odessa Steps" scene from "The Battleship Potemkin" (I've started the video just before it occurs - feel free to rewind and watch the entire scene). Incidentally, even though nobody has picked up on this in twelve years, this post, too, was an homage to the same scene (if you watch to the end, you'll understand why). It was also an homage to bacon; just not that kind of bacon. It was also one of the best posts I've ever written, and can be found in "DonRocks' Greatest Hits."
  10. I never knew that Al Pacino told Sidney Lumet, before the filming of "Dog Day Afternoon" began, that he was too exhausted and depressed to take the role - he had just finished filming "The Godfather Part II." Lumet accepted his decision, and offered the part to Dustin Hoffman, whom Pacino considered to be "his rival" - and that was enough for Pacino to secrete enough adrenaline to do the part after all. Funny - while I think of Pacino and Hoffman as "contemporaries," I've never once thought of them as "rivals." I wonder if Lumet knew what he was doing, psychologically, when he made this move. Who knew? When Sonny was being interviewed by the television statement, and he dropped the F-bomb, they (apparently on a several-second delay), cut to the Looney Tunes theme song - now, *that* was funny. I had no idea that I hadn't seen this film before, but I hadn't. It's a fascinating movie - I thought after fifteen minutes it would be a real stinker (completely failed bank robbery - yawn), but then it started to get interesting, and Sonny started to acquire a Rambo-type of popularity with the general population, acquiring a folk-hero-like following, and there was still almost ninety minutes remaining. You know what? This movie is appropriate for these times (just as I'm sure other people have said about other times). People are so damned miserable that they view Sonny as a hero for their own crummy lives.
  11. First, let me say that if you've ever had difficulty understanding the dialog in a film, you'll understand when I advise you to consider using Closed Captions for "Trainspotting" - a film largely spoken in the "language" of Scottish, and if you've ever had a conversation with someone from Scotland, you'll know exactly what I'm saying here. *** WARNING - SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I *love* the stop-motion introductions of the main characters - and here they are: "The Worst Toilet in Scotland" scene was hi-*lar*ious. It was also one of the single-most disgusting things I've ever seen in my life: I thought watching "The Walking Dead" would cure me forever of any revulsion while watching anything going forward: Nope. Thank *God* there was some comic relief with Renton's Thomas Pynchon-inspired swim. The scene, as a whole, is legendary, and will be considered a classic even fifty years from now, and I suspect you'll remember it for as long as you live. I've never seen Trainspotting before - it's a culture (the heroin culture) that I just don't relate to, and in a sense, this movie is a lot like "Go Fish" for me - an arthouse favorite that I've just never bothered watching because it didn't call out to me. (You can also rest assured that I wouldn't have mentioned Go Fish if I didn't have plans, in the back of my mind, of seeing it in the near future). However, I can tell just seventeen minutes into this ninety-five minute film that I'm going to pretty much *love* it - not five seconds have passed that I haven't enjoyed, thoroughly and immensely, and I have a feeling the subject matter may well be the only thing preventing Trainspotting from being considered one of the great comedies of our generation - although, maybe I should wait until the end of the film before making such a prediction. In terms of dialog, character development, and an overall "likability" factor, I think Trainspotting is going to rate pretty highly with me; again, let me not get ahead of myself. If I say this at the end of the movie, then you'll know to make a beeline to watch it on Amazon Prime, where it's *free*! One thing I've always wondered is: What does "trainspotting" even mean? Like "A Clockwork Orange," it's explained in the book, but not in the movie. From Wikipedia: "The cryptic film title is a reference to a scene (not included in the film) in the original book, where Begbie and Renton meet 'an auld drunkard' who turns out to be Begbie's estranged father, in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are using as a toilet. He asks them if they are "trainspottin'." After that explanation, I *still* don't know what it means, but at least I have a better idea. Oh my *goodness*, the scatological humor in Trainspotting is abundant and dis-gusting! I know it's chocolate, I *read* that it's chocolate, but it's still as cringeworthy as anything I've seen in quite awhile. And even though you know it's chocolate, you still cringe. The Baby Dawn scene was one of the most bitter pills I've swallowed in a long, long time. And the extended scene where Renton's parents lock him in his room to become clean is quite powerful - there are a *lot* of memorable visuals in this film, some of which I'll never forget. You know, I was *just* about to write that the movie hit a slow spot not long after Renton got clean - it could either be that, or the fact that I'm getting sleepy (the same thing happened to me with Divorce American Style after the couple separated). I was just about to write that when Begbie is making out in the car with a prostitute, and all of a sudden, he sits up with a start and says, "Fuck!" It seems he put his hand in a rather private place and felt something down there he wasn't expecting. Ha! Ha! Ha! Surprise! Did I say earlier that this movie was a comedy? Well, it may have started out that way, but it shifted to an intense drama, with a heavy dose of suspense and intrigue. Trainspotting is a very good movie, and unlike anything I've ever seen. Highly recommended if you're of an exploratory nature - you won't be disappointed. It's not perfect, but few things in life are.
  12. I'd never seen a Rat Pack movie before, and only knew of "Ocean's 11" by name (this 1960 film was remade as "Ocean's Eleven" with an ensemble cast of mega-stars in 2001. This is a "heist" film taking place in Las Vegas, where Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) reassembles his WWII 82nd Airborne Division buddies for "one more mission." The number of recognizable faces (Henry Silva, for example) in Ocean's 11 is remarkable (the same can be said for the 2001 remake, although I've never seen it - when Andy Garcia is the 5th-most famous actor/actress in a movie, you know you've spent some money on salaries). Rapid-fire dialog was extremely popular in the 40s and 50s (think: "His Girl Friday"), and there are a few wonderful examples here as well: Vince Massler (Buddy Lester) approaches Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford), worried about the caper, and this amusing exchange takes place in less than two seconds: "I can't do it boys. I got my wife to think of." "Think of her rich." "Think of me dead." The dialog in this movie is not only "rapid-fire," but it's classic "rat-pack" - cornball gangster talk like something out of a Mickey Spillane novel: Picture Mike Hammer on speed. The drinks are fast, the women are furious, and this is classic 1950s pulp that simply cannot be replicated: Even though I haven't seen the 2001 version, there's no way George Clooney could pull this off - he just doesn't have the gangster in him. It's not even a positive trait; it just is what it is, and it's a product of its time - I'm only 45 minutes into the movie, and I'm surprised nobody has used the term "doll-face." --- Okay, I finished the movie (I even rewatched the first half, because I took a couple of days off), and my assessment is that it's really a pretty awful film, and should only be watched by Rat Pack devotees and completists. This is a 2:10 movie, and the entire first half - maybe a little longer - is devoid of anything, with the possible exception of some character development. You're basically "getting to know" Danny Ocean and his ten friends who were deployed together in WWII, and it is *slow going*, and I mean *boring*. The payoff in Ocean's 11 comes in the last ten minutes, when a genuinely great twist ending will leave your jaw hanging open, but you have to "suffer and endure" up until that point. If I had to pick a "least favorite" and "most favorite" character, respectively, it would be Akim Tamiroff (in a needless, comic-relief role as Spiros Acebos, "the big boss"), and Cesar Romero (as Duke Santos, the man who *nobody* wants to mess with - this film does a good job at making him look enormous in physical stature (he was 6'3" but seemed even taller)). I'm very curious to hear from some Rat Pack fans about why I'm wrong. I have never seen a movie with more stars in it that flopped so badly - actually, it wasn't a "flop" so much as that it was just dull, dull, dull. We were literally halfway through the movie, and didn't know anything at all about what was going to happen - people were just sitting around, chatting, drinking, and shooting pool. Recommended for historical purposes only; not recommended for anyone wanting to watch a good film. The closing shot is absolutely fantastic, with The Pack walking by the viewers. The following video shows the ending, but doesn't spoil anything about the main plot of the movie - still, since it's such a cool scene, I'll mark it as a spoiler. If you watch it, do note the *very* tongue-in-cheek, hilarious billboard in the final moments, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the film: *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** To see why I'm so anal about tagging threads, click on Richard Boone above - we're building something beautiful here.
  13. I suspect many of our younger members aren't familiar with the 1973 film, "Walking Tall," and that many of our older members have either forgotten about it, or don't remember its relative cultural importance. While it was never a threat to win any awards, it was one of the first "hicksploitation" films, which paved the way for "the angry, white vigilante" (if you look at that link, you'll see very few movies released before 1973 - one notable exception being 1971's "Dirty Harry,") However, "Walking Tall" is essentially a rewrite of the 1955 film, "The Phenix City Story," which was directed by the same man: Phil Karlson. On the Facebook page, "Buford Pusser: The Other Story," it states: "You can take the script from 'The Phenix City Story,' replace John Patterson with Buford Pusser, and you have basically the same story. Although there are some occasions where the movies strays away from being totally accurate, 'The Phenix City Story' is fortunately a true story which was told in a far more accurate way than was 'Walking Tall.'" The film is a semi-truthful story of legendary Sheriff Buford Pusser, who really did get the crap beaten out of him, who really did get tried for his "crimes," and who really did run for (and win the election for) Sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee - that much of the story is true. Pusser was an enormous man: 6'6" tall, and very athletic - he was indeed (as depicted in the film) the professional wrestler known as "Buford the Bull," based out of Chicago in the late 1950s. And if you want a robust chuckle, Pusser was born in the town of Finger, Tennessee. Amazingly, The Finger Diner was purportedly the impetus and inspiration for the very first Hard Rock Cafe - you can choose to believe that, or not. In the movie, Pusser was portrayed very well by Joe Don Baker - himself a large man at 6'3" - and someone with "that familiar face" which you could swear you've seen somewhere before. And in fact, you probably *have* seen it before, because even if you don't know who Joe Don Baker is (which is quite possible, even though he was pretty famous in 1973), Baker was the man who portrayed "The Whammer" in "The Natural." How about that! One thing about Walking Tall is that the film is very racially progressive for its time - Pusser deputizes a gentleman of color, his old friend Obrah Eaker (played by Felton Perry, who was the reason I watched this film in the first place - I saw Perry in a very impressive, very important "Adam-12" episode: Season 3, Episode 20 - "Log 76 - The Militants," which I urge people to watch). Another celebrity who played in Walking Tall was Leif Garrett, who played Pusser's son, Mike. Here are Baker, Garrett, and Perry in shots from the movie:
  14. "Rope," Hitchcock's first Technicolor film, was an experiment of sorts for the director. The action takes place in real time, edited to appear as a single, continuous shot through the use of long takes. This movie is based on a play of the same name, and this filming technique makes the viewer feel as if they are watching a play rather than a film. *** SPOILER ALERT! *** "Rope" is the tale of two young roomnates who strangle a former classmate minutes before they host a dinner party. The corpse is stuffed into a large chest, on which they decide to serve their meal to their guests. The men had no issues with the deceased; they merely wanted to murder for murder's sake. Among the guests at the dinner party are the dead boy's father and fiancee. James Stewart plays the young men's prep school housemaster, who eventually unravels the mystery. John Dall is outstanding as the arrogant Brandon Shaw, who thinks commiting the perfect murder makes him superior to other men. Constance Collier gives a delightful performance as the dead man's aunt. James Stewart seems miscast in his role, and Farley Granger overacts on occasion as the nervous pianist. There is, however, a wonderful scene with Granger playing the piano while Stewart's character questions him. The metronome ticks faster and faster while the music becomes increasingly dissonant, creating a palpable sense of terror and suspense.
  15. It's incredible that I'd never before seen "The Maltese Falcon" (it's one of those films where you're not sure if you've seen or not, but I hadn't). Turner Classic Movies has embarked upon a project where they're slowly releasing classic films in dribs and drabs onto the big screen - one, maybe two, a month - and out here in San Francisco right now, "The Maltese Falcon" is playing only four times (two days this week, twice each day). I am *so* glad I saw this on the big screen. I really wasn't expecting all that I got from this film, but I thought it was wonderful. It was Humphrey Bogart's first leading role. It was Sydney Greenstreet's first role period (he was in his 60s, and made his Hollywood debut). It was the first major effort in the film noir genre, and I can't imagine anyone but Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade. It was a delightful hour and forty minutes, and I simply cannot compare this with Star Wars: The Force Awakens I saw two days before because I liked this infinitely more. Stepping out of the theater, I felt like I saw a *movie*; not rode a ride designed by computer-effects specialists at Walt Disney. You can call this film noir if you want, but it was also a character study, with virtually no character being portrayed in black-and-white terms. This was the films 75th anniversary, and oh, how Hollywood has fallen backwards in so very many ways. (I'm not saying in *all* ways; when I say "no character being portrayed in black and white terms," I could have also said "no black character portrayed" except maybe a bellhop.) At one point in the film, Humphrey Bogart burned a piece of paper in an ashtray, and we couldn't figure out what it was, or why he was burning it - has anyone seen this film recently? This film is based on Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel of the same name, and was actually the *third* version of the film released by Hollywood (there was one in 1931, and one in 1936 (*) Bette Davis), but this is reportedly the best of the three by far. (*) To tie this post in with restaurants, I swear to you that the 1936 film, entitled "Satan Met A Lady," featured none other than Arthur Treacher. Yes, *that* Arthur Treacher.
  16. I thought I'd start this thread to see if anyone is watching Hannibal on NBC. The first season is available on Amazon Prime and we're two episodes into season two, Friday nights at 10 and probably OnDemand. While watching this past week's episode, and seeing Dr. Lecter make an amazing osso bucco (albeit from a human leg) I thought how much this show was about the food and insane appetites of the title character. When I was thinking about starting this thread, Andy Greenwald wrote a fantastic spoiler-free article on Grantland: Night of the Manhunter and the food stylist for the show has created a blog for her work: Feeding Hannibal. Both of these, and just the pure beauty of the show, made me think it was worthy of discussion or even turning other people onto the show. Sure it's bloody and about horrific killings, but Bryan Fuller is truly a television auteur with a unique eye and voice. His other work is worth looking out for as well, Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls were both built around restaurants and a little bit of the supernatural.
  17. A little late with this, but True Detective is top notch TV. The finale is Sunday night, but you might be able to catch up in time with on demand or HBO GO. I don't want to say too much about it to avoid spoiling for anyone who is considering taking it up, but it's a single-season cop drama, starring Woody Harrelson and now oscar winning Matthew Mcconaughey. The acting is superb, and the plot is outstanding. It's well worth an 8 hour investment and it would be best to do it now because whatever the resolution is on Sunday, it's going to be spoiled for you if you read the internet much at all. aside: I did not care much for Dallas Buyer's Club, but was rooting for MM to win the Oscar anyway because of his ridiculously good work in this series.
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