Posts Tagged ‘movie moment’

Movie Millisecond: Happy Thanksgiving Thursday from Wednesday

November 24, 2011

Addams Family Values (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1993).

Wednesday: You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now, my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides; you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, “Do not trust the Pilgrims … especially Sarah Miller.”

Amanda: Gary, she’s changing the words!

Wednesday: … And for all these reasons, I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.

edit 11/24/11: Several months ago I screencapped the hell out of a gorgeous, HD version of AFV with subtitles. Then my desktop hard drive crashed. I’ve been limping along on the strength of my laptop as I attempt to reconstruct the desktop with the help of others, but I hadn’t realized the breadth of my little tragedy until I went to put together my hotly anticipated Wednesday Thanksgiving post and brokenheartely remembered that batch of files hadn’t been transferred on to my external hard drive (which I frequently updated as a backup to both systems in the face of just such an eventuality as this). Sad. I’m sad about this.

Movie Millisecond and M.I.A. May, apparently, apology — Eternal constant edition

May 26, 2011

Yeah, so, I went M.I.A. again there. What can I say. I’m not circling the drain or anything, droogies. Just been super-swamped here in E-land and a little blue, but I’m trying to get back in action and make time for the things that matter. Nolite te bastardes etc, yes?

In other news, Face/Off: still a terrible movie.

Movie Millisecond: The coolest people in McDonalds

February 7, 2011

via chocobrig on the tumblr.

A poet falls in love with an art student who gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle — and his love of heroin. Hooked as much on one another as they are on the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair.

Candy (Neil Armfield, 2006). The film is divided in to three stages as it follows the lovers, titled “Heaven,” “Earth,” and “Hell.”

Movie Moment: Groundhog Day

February 2, 2011

This post originally appeared on February 2, 2010, and I’m perfectly fine with retreading it despite it not being a Take-two Tuesday nor Flashback Friday because it’s actually quite appropriate given the film.

It’s cold out there every day. Rise and shine, campers, because it’s Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)!

Phil Connors: Excuse me, where is everybody going?
Fan on Street: To Gobbler’s Knob. It’s Groundhog Day!
Phil: Uh — It’s still just once a year, isn’t it?

Phil: I’m a god.
Rita: You’re God?
Phil: I’m a god. I’m not the God. (pause) I don’t think.

Phil: What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today!

Phil: Oh, Rita.
Nancy: Uh, it’s Nancy.
Phil: Whatever.

Phil: I went to the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl, we ate lobster, drank piña coladas … at sunset, we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get that day over and over and over??

Ned: Ned Ryerson — Needlenose Ned, Ned the Head! Bing! So, what are you doing for dinner?
Phil: Um. Something else.

Phil: You wanna throw up here, or you wanna throw up in the car?
Ralph: I think … both.

Phil: When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.

Rita: What did you do today?
Phil: Oh, you know. Same-old, same-old.

Dr. King’s Day: Movie Moment — Do the Right Thing

January 17, 2011

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989).

Do the Right Thing culminates in terrific racial violence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Park part of Brooklyn, New York.

After the film ends, two quotes, one from Dr. King, and one from Malcolm X, are presented along with a still iconic image of them shaking hands.

The quotes advance two different philosophies for accomplishing an agenda of social change. The two philosophies presented in the quotes underscore the clashing sides of the issues boiling over in the time of the film’s setting.

Dr. King’s quote is, “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

(This quote mainly comes from his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, except for the “everybody blind” part. “An Eye for an Eye leaves everyone blind” is an attributed quote that was not included in the Nobel speech. I’ve actually been unable to find it at all in his legitimate writings, but it is a good axiom nonetheless.)

This picture is shown throughout the film and at the closing.

Malcolm X’s quote is, “I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”

During his presidential campaign, I remember hearing that the Obamas saw this movie on their first date and stayed up all night debating the events in the movie, using the Civil Rights leaders’ quotes as a launchpad.

Screencaps originally by the awesome-possum buses on the lj, then edited by me. Huge thanks!)

Dip, dive, socialize. Get ready for the Saturday night.

January 15, 2011


Hitting a luxe banquet with wonderful old friendoh the Axeman tonight (aka Misterr Anndersonnn: say it in the Matrix voice). Free food, open bar — really fun company that he works for. And as for attire, am I Hep-burning it up? You bet your sweet Aunt Fanny I am. It’s the only way to fly.


Have a great night out there and I’ll catch you on the flip!

First B@T’s Movie Moment of 2011. Balloons just fell all over us all.

Movie Millisecond: Mass-production

December 17, 2010


Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976).

Movie Millisecond: A nice bag of tricks

December 13, 2010

Newman’s Own Christmas List.

via tocaptureyou on the tumblr.

The Young Philadelphians (Vince Sherman, 1959).

Movie Moment — 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies, Inaugural Edition: Better Off Dead

December 12, 2010

Welcome to the inaugural edition of 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies, because Jingle All the Way and all its ilk should burn in hell. I’m kicking things off with a little Better off Dead.

Better Off Dead (Savage Steve Holland, 1985). Maybe some forgot this was a holidayish film, but I did not. How could anyone forget when you have the following scene?


Lane, I think it’d be in my best interest if I dated somebody more popular. Better looking. Drives a nicer car.

(Beth Truss. And we’re all like that, each one of us.)

What do you do when the center of your universe walks away?

A teenager has to deal with his girlfriend dumping him among family crises, homicidal paper boys, and a rival skier.

(the imdb.)

Absolutely sick pyjamas. On the kid, not on David Ogden Stiers. Scooter Stevens, who plays the lineless younger brother, did some television roles and played “Bonnie’s Date” in She’s Out of Control. That’s his final credit, so I think it’s safe to say he went on to a life of education and handsomer-than-average anonymity.

Though his voice work in this film was dubbed by Rich Little, Yuji Okumoto, the Howard Cosell brother, has gone on to act his ass off. Seriously, you give that guy a spin on the imdb and he has a credit or ten for, like, every year since this movie was released. Very impressive. He was the one I thought was cuter. So I’m pleased. Brian Imada, who plays his brother, has done a crapload of stunt work and will be appearing in utility stunt capacity in the upcoming Green Hornet film, which is getting its own post soon as a “Hot Man Bein’ Hot” for the new Kato. Ow! I like Asian dudes. Blame Sulu and alert the media.

Featuring marvelous Curtis Armstrong as Lane’s best friend, the eccentric Charles De Mar. Doin’ whippits and trying to get a line on nosespray in a top hat.

Suicide is never the answer, little trooper.

Curtis Armstrong is so good at conveying the “cool” geek. Total old school unlikely G. In fact, I do believe he was the second subject in that category.

Steve Holland: That part when Lane does this in the garage is true. I went into the garage, and I put an extension cord on a pipe, and I’m on a garbage can, and I’m thinking, “Should I do this? Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” Anyway, it was a plastic garbage can, and my weight just, like, crashed through it, and I fell, and the pipe broke!

And it starts pouring water everywhere. And I’m basically in a garbage can, drowning. And my mom comes in, and my mom starts yelling at me for breaking a pipe, which is what any mom would do.

So I started writing down stupid ways to kill yourself that would fail after that, and I put them in sort of a diary. And that diary kind of became Better Off Dead.

(“Better Off Dead – Savage Steve Holland.” Awesome interview and article on The Sneeze.)

It’s got raisins in it. You like raisins.

Lane’s suicide stunts smack a little of Harold and Maude, but only a little. Certainly Jenny Meyer is worlds away from Vivan Pickles. Taking it down the very absurd road carries it far enough from Harold and Maude that it becomes apples and oranges (with raisins). Mainly.

Holland’s vision of the cafeteria as the intersection of absurd personal fantasy time and a rigidly enforced caste system is a standout in a decade that brought us dozens of shudder-inducingly accurate cafeteria scenes (I think of Sixteen Candles, when Molly Ringwold spots Jake Ryan, dumps her tray, and runs: “I can’t let him know I eat,” or Martha Dumptruck from Heathers).

Lane, I’m thinking about asking out Elizabeth.

R.I.P., Vincent Schiavelli. A great character actor and kickass chef.

Charles de Mar has a hand in a jar. Say it three times fast and Curtis Armstrong will appear! He currently voices Steve’s friend Snot on American Dad.

I love the animation Scooter Stevens brings to his role — it’s a shock to realize Badger has no speaking parts, yes? His eyes on the “Trashy Women” book … priceless.

One of the taglines for this film is: Insanity doesn’t run in the family, it gallops. This is a reference to Arsenic and Old Lace, where the line went, “Darling, insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”

During a screening of Better Off Dead, John Cusack stormed out after twenty minutes, saying, “You’ve ruined my career!” He allegedly hated and despaired of the film, and told Holland, “I will never trust you as a director ever again, so don’t speak to me.”

I’m guessing that the mad science at Pig Burger was one of the scenes he found unpardonable, cause I guess if you are trying to be a cool cat, it could be perceived as kind of cheesey and out of place. But, hey, what a great anticipation of Igor. Who knew? Because that entire movie was insanely cheesey and out of place. I hold children’s movies to a very high standard and I don’t brook a bunch of shit, sorry.

And Cusack went ahead and allowed Hot Tub Time Machine to refer to the film, so perhaps time has softened his view. Or money. But most likely time, I’m just sure.

I have great fear of tools. I once made a birdhouse in woodshop and the fair housing committee condemned it. I can’t.

“I cannot do it” is your middle name. I think all you need is a small taste of success, and you will find it suits you.

[Lane’s] father is so stumped in trying to understand the confusing habits and behavior of his teenage son (and, at one point, is temporarily convinced Lane is using drugs) that he clumsily attempts repeatedly to interfere in Lane’s love life.

(the wiki)

For half a second, the q-tip face makes me like John Cusack and start to giggle, and then I remember all the reasons I’m mad at him and I wipe the smile off my face. Spiders in the mail? So immature.

It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon. Any actor wants to play the cool guy. So playing the role of a borderline mental dork in the movie is not necessarily your first choice as an actor, however, in a way you’re kind of creating it yourself.

It’s not like you’re being made fun of, you’re making fun of yourself by creating this persona. So it didn’t bother me a lot since I was playing a character who was so far away from me.

(Interview with Dan “Ricky” Schneider. The Sneeze.)

This is similar to the kind of present-giving I did one Christmas as a child. I wrapped up things we already had and was surprised when my parents were clearly feigning their enthusiasm. I think it was very zen: I considered all of our possessions to be gifts.

Savage Steve Holland: And every day we were going, “This is hilarious. Am I wrong?” And it was like, every day anything we shot was really funny. So at my first test screening… I’ll never forget it, the movie was like five or seven minutes longer, and the audience reaction was pretty good, but it wasn’t that good.

And I remember one guy walking out, and for some reason he knew me, and he goes, “Hey, better luck next time.”

And I’m like, “Oh shit, I’m doomed.” It really hurt.

The Sneeze: Do you know where he is today?

SS: He’s probably running Paramount with my luck.

The Sneeze: I was just hoping he was homeless.

SS: No, because mean people always get the good jobs.

(Aforementioned The Sneeze interview.)

I’ve been going to this school for seven years. I’m no dummy. I know high school girls.

You’ll make a fine little helper. What’s your name?

Charles de Mar!

Not you, geek. Her.

John will never talk about Better Off Dead, and One Crazy Summer, and I read something recently where he called me “the director.” He wouldn’t use my name, and he said, “the director wanted to do absurdist comedy and that’s just not the thing I like to do,” or something like that.

I feel like I let him down. And it totally surprises me so much because I have to say the most important person to me about that movie, was John. I really wanted him to love it as much as I loved it. And once he said that stuff, it was like a girlfriend who breaks up with you. You can’t fight with her. It’s like everything is so great, and then they say “I hate you!” out of nowhere. There’s really no argument you can have. I had my heart broken. That was the second time my heart was broken since that girl that Better Off Dead was about — honest to God.

(Steve Holland, Ibid.)

Truly a sight to behold. A man beaten. The once great champ, now, a study in moppishness. No longer the victory hungry stallion we’ve raced so many times before, but a pathetic, washed up, aged ex-champion.

That’s actually a line from one of the car race scenes, but it’s my favorite. Challenge: call someone “a study in moppishness” this week — to their face!

I really thought as time went by, [Cusack] might feel differently. But I read one other article that he got jailed for something. Somebody in his car had something, I don’t know what, but he got jailed for something. He said, “Jail sucked the most because everybody kept coming up to me going, ‘I want my two dollars!'”

(Steve Holland, Ibid.)

The buttrape, on the other hand, was “pretty okay”.

Look, Charles, I’ve got to do this. If I don’t, I’ll be nothing. I’ll end up like my neighbor, Ricky Smith. He sits around crocheting all day and snorting nasal spray.

He snorts nasal spray? You know where I can score some?!

So you won’t tell anyone?

What, that you’re a Dodgers fan?

I do love the wink, here. It always comforts me to know that there are other people on the earth who are as truly bad at winking as I am. Not a lot of other people, but a few.

Sure, you can park your Camaro on the lawn at Dodger Stadium. Happens all the time. Goddamn if that is not the most eighties-riffic thing I’ve seen all week. Ski rack, saxophone, mom jeans, and John Cusack: winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Hope you’ve found the inaugural edition of 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies enlightening. And now you’re armed with this very sad backstory of the dissolution of the friendship between the star and the director — because nothing says the holidays like, “You are dead to me.” So cue it up, grab your gelatinous raisin-riddled mass, and bask in Better Off Dead’s warm 80’s glow.

Movie Millisecond: Sliced bread, upgraded

December 10, 2010


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Garth Jennings, 2005). I’ve finally acheived the optimal balance of seeing this movie sober and, um, less so (it happens), and I can confidently say what I figured all along, which is that of course I liked the books better. But I think it’s really great that I live in a world in which a brace of shit movies get churned out per annum, making it so easy to lose hope — yet a Douglas Adams-book-based flick actually got off the ground and got made. That’s a ray of sunshine through the clouds. Yes?

Movie Millisecond: Moebius strip of misery

December 8, 2010

À bout de souffle / Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960.)

Movie Millisecond: Cancer of the Soul

December 6, 2010


The Passion of Anna/The Passion/En Passion (Ingmar Bergman, 1969).

Movie Millisecond: Les diaboliques

November 24, 2010

Les diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955).

I had a friend around a decade ago whose girlfriend was horrified whenever she would catch him having opened his eyes to glance down at their interlocking parts during sex. “Stop looking,” she would say. He was fool enough to tell us this and naturally we all started to say it to him all the time, and it caught on well enough that it became a thing to say it even when he was not around. “Stop looking!” we’d tell each other.

They’re married now so I assume either he stopped looking or she let it go.

Movie Millisecond: Dr. Strangelove

November 23, 2010


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964).

Take-Two Tuesday — Model Citizens and Movie Moment: A case of the Mondays cured

November 9, 2010

This post originally appeared on November 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm.

Got a case of the Mondays? Not me, because I pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. But in case you have somehow been enslaved by the System and are sneaking peeks from beneath fluorescent lights in some dreadful cubicle, here’s some Office Space quotes to snap you out of it, and some naked models too. You’re welcome!

Doutzen Kroes and Raquel Zimmerman, “Working Girls,” by Mario Testino for V magazine, Spring 2007.

Peter Gibbons: So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.
Dr. Swanson: What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Dr. Swanson: Wow, that’s messed up.

Peter Gibbons: I don’t like my job, and I don’t think I’m going to go anymore.
Joanna: You’re just not going to go?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Joanna: Won’t you get fired?
Peter Gibbons: I don’t know, but I really don’t like it. And I’m not going to go.
Joanna: So you’re going to quit?
Peter Gibbons: Nooo. Not really. Uh… I’m just gonna stop going.
Joanna: Well, what are you going to do about money and bills and…
Peter Gibbons: You know, I’ve never really liked paying bills. I don’t think I’m going to do that, either.

Peter Gibbons: It’s not just about me and my dream of doing nothing. It’s about all of us. I don’t know what happened to me at that hypnotherapist and, I don’t know, maybe it was just shock and it’s wearing off now, but when I saw that fat man keel over and die – Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.
Michael Bolton: I told those fudge-packers I liked Michael Bolton’s music.
Peter Gibbons: Oh. That is not right, Michael.

Peter Gibbons: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you’re not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, “Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays”?
Lawrence: No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you’d get your ass kicked sayin’ something like that, man.


Photograph by Ellen von Unwerth

Look. I understand financial obligations and suchlike, but please be sure to draw lines in the dirt declaring how much you let the world and its ways infringe on your personal happiness, and ask yourself what you would pay to be happier; if the amount is the difference between the wage you make at the miserable job you have and a lower-paying job that you would better enjoy, then jump!

And don’t forget to refuse to be normal at all times. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, chickpeas. Quit your job and go on tour.

edit: What I like about Flashback Friday and Take-Two Tuesday is that it gives me a chance to take a recent-reflective turn in this business of self-audit. This was written nearly a year ago. Do I still “pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want?” Not really, but not in a depressing way and certainly when I do it is not in a rude or irresponsible way — but, examining that period carefully, I didn’t really much then either. Anyway I despised that job (professional plagiarism: I hated almost everything about it) and it tarred my soul. Substituting when I can and caring for my grandmother is infinitely more satisfying, fulfilling, and uplifting. And I am doing what I want, I think perhaps much better now than then. I like it.

Movie Millisecond: V for Vendetta

November 5, 2010

Remember, remember.

V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2006). I have not yet seen this movie, but I’ve had the graphic novel* since the Dead Sea was sick.

Have you seen it? Should I download it — super-legally, naturally, wink-wink-nudge-nudge** — and watch it while I work out, or is it not a worthy adaptation?


*Let’s call them graphic novels and hold our pinkies out, mmkay.

**Just kidding, Wachowski Brothers. You know I got your backs; I saw Speed Racer three times in theaters, for crissake. Homies to the grave, dudes. I’d never do you like that. Besides, I can’t get Demonoid to work this week.***

***Anyone know how to get Demonoid to work this week? It’s not Demonoid. It’s me. I updated Mozilla and monkeyed with the proxy and firewall settings, and now I’m facing all manner of sassafrass left and right in the form of peer-to-peer denials, time-outs, and failure to connect. Luckily my sex life has conditioned me to expect this. (rimshot!)

Movie Millisecond: Langue v. Parole

October 20, 2010

Sedmikrásky/Daisies (Vera Chytilová, 1966).

Take-two Tuesday — Daily Batman: Advice, The Dark Knight edition

October 5, 2010

This post originally appeared on November 28, 2009 at 3:07PM.

This picture from The Dark Knight brings up two pieces of advice.

First, it is very important that you look at the Joker when he talks to you. Do not forget.

Second, you must accept that sometimes a thing is a foregone conclusion. Friend, he is wearing an apron fashioned of a garbage bag. There is no scenario in which this ends well for you.

Questions for discussion:

  • This scene is one of two in which the Joker gives a very detailed origin story about his scars. He is not asked about his scars by the people to whom he tells the stories, and the stories do not match. Why do you think this is?

  • Why do you think is it so important to the Joker that people look at him when he speaks to them?
  • Would you feel nervous if you had to talk to the Joker? (Suppose in this case he were not wearing a garbage bag and rather was just in his de rigeur violet and puce duds.) Why or why not?
  • Movie Millisecond: The Big Lebowski

    October 2, 2010

    via One Day, One Movie on the tumblr.

    Movie Moment: Bonnie and Clyde

    September 30, 2010

    Promised a Movie Moment yesterday on Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967), and here it is. The night that I first saw this film is one of those instances that really stands, clear, head and shoulders above others in my mind. I was a sophomore in high school and my father and I had got takeout Chinese food and rented Bonnie and Clyde some weekend when my mother was doing some church lady thing (now I’m a church lady, too … time marches on). As an already solid gold Daddy’s Girl, when my father told me it was “a very important movie,” and that “you will love it,” I was set with anticipation. Also, I really like Chinese food.

    I had already read, a few years earlier, a good-sized, detailed book about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker that I’d picked up at a thrift store. Lots of pictures, reprints of Bonnie’s poems, the whole nine. But what I saw was not what I remembered reading. I was surprised at the many deviations in the screenplay from the true accounts of their partnership and crimes that I’d read, yet I found the movie so absorbing and excellent, such a blend of glamour and grit, that I didn’t mind the liberties at all. I was totally taken with it — especially Faye Dunaway and her costumes and styling. Dad warned me to look away at the end, but of course I didn’t, and I gaped at the dancing corpses. This, I knew, was accurate, but to see it on the screen brought the unbelievably vivid violence of it to a shocking level that my imagination had not reached when I only read about their deaths. I thought then, and think now, that it’s one of the best movies ever made.

    But not everyone shares my view. Especially initially, some critics outspokenly hated Bonnie and Clyde:

    It is a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    (“Movie Review: Bonnie and Clyde.” Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times. 14 April 1967.)

    Such ridiculous, camp-tinctured travesties of the kind of people these desperados were and of the way people lived in the dusty Southwest back in those barren years might be passed off as candidly commercial movie comedy, nothing more, if the film weren’t reddened with blotches of violence of the most grisly sort.


    Oh, noes. Violence. That has no place in a movie.

    Arthur Penn, the aggressive director, has evidently gone out of his way to splash the comedy holdups with smears of vivid blood as astonished people are machine-gunned. And he has staged the terminal scene of the ambuscading and killing of Barrow and Bonnie by a posse of policemen with as much noise and gore as is in the climax of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

    This blending of farce with brutal killings is as pointless as it is lacking in taste, since it makes no valid commentary upon the already travestied truth.


    “As pointless as it is lacking in taste because it makes no valid commentary on the already travestied truth.” Let’s explore that criticism, shall we?

    According to statements made by [posse members] Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn:

    “Each of us six officers had a shotgun and an automatic rifle and pistols. We opened fire with the automatic rifles. They were emptied before the car got even with us. Then we used shotguns … There was smoke coming from the car, and it looked like it was on fire. After shooting the shotguns, we emptied the pistols at the car, which had passed us and ran into a ditch about 50 yards on down the road. It almost turned over. We kept shooting at the car even after it stopped. We weren’t taking any chances.”

    (the wiki.)

    The lawmen then opened fire, killing Barrow and Parker while shooting a combined total of approximately 130 rounds. Barrow was killed instantly by [an] initial head shot, but Parker had a moment to reflect; Hinton reported hearing her scream as she realized Barrow was dead before the shooting at her began in earnest. The officers emptied the specially ordered automatic rifles, as well as other rifles, shotguns and pistols at the car, and any one of many wounds would have been fatal to either of the fugitives.


    Officially, the tally in Parish coroner Dr. J. L. Wade’s 1934 report listed seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow’s body and twenty-six on Parker’s, including several headshots on each, and one that had snapped Barrow’s spinal column. So numerous were the bullet holes that undertaker C. F. “Boots” Bailey would have difficulty embalming the bodies because they wouldn’t contain the embalming fluid.


    So … maybe that outburst of unthinkable retributive violence on the side of the law had a little something to do with the film’s objectionably grisly ending? Just a very, very belated thought for the late Mr. Crowther, who I must add with real respect was an esteemed and important critic in his time — pretty much until this review. All the cool kids stopped listening to him and assumed he was part of the stuffy establishment, and his reputation suffered. I think he really was not ready for this picture, is all.

    Contrary to how he comes off in the review owing to our modern hindsight, Bosley Crowther had a very open mind, wrote against HUAC as curtailing art and freethinking, a brave and dangerous thing to do in the 1950s, and praised films with strong social content while disdaining jingoism and oversimplification of political ideas. Mr. Crowther insisted on the relevancy of foreign film to English-speaking audiences and did great things for the careers of some of my favorite overseas directors, including Fellini, Bergman, and Roberto Rossellini. That — to me — pitch-perfect mix of braggadocio and embellishment, expositorily satirical idealism, and vérité in Bonnie and Clyde, together with the innovative cinematic discourse which has been cited as ushering in a new era in Hollywood, just seems to have put him over the edge.

    In any case, Bosley Crowther was not the only reviewer who found himself initially less than thrilled by Bonnie and Clyde.

    Beatty, playing the lead, does a capable job, within the limits of his familiar, insolent, couldn’t-care-less manner, of making Barrow the amiable varmint he thought himself to be. Barrow fancied himself something of a latterday Robin Hood, robbing only banks that were foreclosing on poor farmers and eventually turning into a kind of folk hero. But Faye Dunaway’s Sunday-social prettiness is at variance with any known information about Bonnie Parker.

    (“Cinema: Low-Down Hoedown.” Time. 25 August 1967.)

    Variety disagreed with Time‘s slight of Faye Dunaway, saying

    Like the film itself, the performances are mostly erratic. Beatty is believable at times, but his characterization lacks any consistency. Miss Dunaway is a knockout as Bonnie Parker, registers with deep sensitivity in the love scenes, and conveys believability to her role.

    (“Film: Bonnie and Clyde.” Kaufman, David. Variety. 9 Aug 1967.)

    Overall, however, Mr. Kaufman pans the film, saying,

    Warren Beatty’s initial effort as a producer incongruously couples comedy with crime … Conceptually, the film leaves much to be desired, because killings and the backdrop of the Depression are scarcely material for a bundle of laughs. … This inconsistency of direction is the most obvious fault of Bonnie and Clyde, which has some good ingredients, although they are not meshed together well. … Arthur Penn’s direction is uneven, at times catching a brooding, arresting quality, but often changing pace at a tempo that is jarring.


    Fortunately, not everyone agreed, and more and more people began to “get” the picture. By the time Oscar season rolled around, Bonnie and Clyde received an impressive ten Academy Award nominations and secured two wins. Burnett Guffey received the Oscar for Best Cinematography and Estelle Parsons won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Blanche, Clyde’s sister-in-law. The other nominations included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Actor (Beatty), Best Supprting Actor (both Gene Hackman and Michael J. Pollard), Best Original Story and Screenplay, and Best Costume Design.

    1967 was a banner year for films — some of the movies to which Bonnie and Clyde lost the Oscar were Coolhand Luke, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, The Graduate, and In the Heat of the Night. I said goddamn; what a year.

    Modern critical reception of Bonnie and Clyde places it in the category of top films in Hollywood history, a landmark picture not only in the business and art of making movies, but also in the career of director Arthur Penn, whose death yesterday prompted this Movie Moment.

    Bonnie and Clyde developed the aesthetic that marked Penn’s high-visibility period: slyly accented, harmonica-hootin’, harvest-gold-patchwork Americana; ever-poised violence; and an open invitation to apply the story as a flexible allegory for the issues of the day.

    (“Anthology takes a tour of the Bonnie and Clyde director’s America.” Pinkerton, Nick. The Village Voice. 12 Nov 2008.)

    Going back to my own reflections at the beginning of this entry, when I saw the film again in college (after which I regularly re-watch it now), I was able to crystallize exactly why the changes in the screenplay from how the real-life story played out so imperturbed me.

    The accuracy of the facts being related is not as important as the yarn being spun, and that yarn needs to be by turns a little soft-focus with family, a little jump the crick in a jalopy while banjos play, a little sexy and simultaneously innocent, teeming with tinfoil chicken and mishaps and stolen laughs besides stolen money, in order for the juxtaposition with the sharp reality of the consequences of that story’s heroes’ actions. Not just at the end, but throughout the film there are these jarring standoffs and murders that shoot the child’s balloon of the idea of what’s happening right out of the sky and back in to the reality of what is happening — and its inevitable conclusion.

    Besides that most of the changes between the real story and the script make the tale tighter and better solidify characterization, the embellishments and inflated sense of ego in the main characters and in the cinematic discourse with which we are presented are important to the overall type of story being told. The grand Depression-era myth of the infamous lovers, robbers, and murderers Bonnie and Clyde, as Beatty and Penn have conceived and shot it, is more like the story that Clyde Barrow would have told to cellmates in prison. This is Bonnie and Clyde, so far as we can tell, as they saw themselves, something like folk heroes flying by the seat of their pants, living a ruthless dream and getting real scars from it. This version is a compelling and archetypal campfire story, like the epic outlaw poem that Bonnie Parker wrote about them while they were on the road, “The Trail’s End” (later renamed “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” by the press), excerpts from which I’d like to use to end this very long — but I think justly so — entry.

    They don’t think they’re too smart or desperate,
    They know that the law always wins;
    They’ve been shot at before,
    But they do not ignore
    That death is the wages of sin.

    Some day they'll go down together;
    They'll bury them side by side;
    To few it'll be grief —
    To the law a relief —
    But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.

    (“The Trail’s End.” Parker, Bonnie. April 1933.)

    R.I.P. again to Arthur Penn, who had the courage to make this fantastic piece of cinema his way and received just due for it within his lifetime. May we all be so brave, visionary, and fortunate.

    All screencaps via the wonderful screenmusings collection.