Tag Archives: A Face in the Crowd

Movie Wisdom – Patricia Neal Edition

5 May

When all of the grading is over, I am going to watch A Face in the Crowd, a movie that I have seen a bunch of times. It stars Andy Griffith as a hobo who becomes a huge television star. Unfortunately, his ego grows along with his fame. It also stars Walter Matthau and Patricia Neal, an actress who I feel belongs among the all time greats. She also grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee.Patricia Neal

In honor of Patricia Neal, we are going to look for words of wisdom in her movies.

From The Day the Earth Stood Still

There must be security for all, or no one is secure.

It isn’t faith that makes good science. It’s curiosity.

I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

From A Face in the Crowd

A guitar beats a woman every time.

Nothing’s illegal if they don’t catch you.

From Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.

It’s better to look at the sky than live there.

From Hud

This country is run on epidemics.

Nobody gets out of life alive.

Don’t go shooting all the dogs ’cause one of ’em’s got fleas.

It don’t take long to kill things, not like it does to grow.

From In Harm’s Way

All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are seated on nothing but our own arse.

 

 

Days Of Wine And Roses

9 Feb

Actually, there is nothing about roses in this post. I have been trying to find a way to steal that title for a while and finally figured out a way to do it. This post is entirely about wine and the growth of its popularity in the United States.Wine

Wine is everywhere. We have a wine fridge in the bonus room. There is a new store in town that focuses on wine. I have friends who are proud to wear the moniker of Wine Snob. I know a guy named Dave who makes homemade wine. Doctors tell us that drinking wine is good for our hearts. Restaurants have wine lists that match the wine that goes best with a meal. As I said, wine is everywhere.

I understand the love of what. However, I do not understand when that love began. Historically, the United States has been a nation of people who desire alcohol that is made from grain. Whiskey. Rye. Beer. Those types of things. This history springs, I think, from two places.

One, the United States was birthed from Great Britain and its tradition of grain alcohol. I am not an expert in the history of European agriculture, but I think grapes have always grown better in southern Europe. Great Britain was in a non-grape zone.

Two, Americans did not run into proper grape growing areas until someone figured out that it could be done in northern California. I am not sure when that started, but it was long after Americans had created a tradition of drinking something else.

I suppose that wealthy Americans have always consumed wine and saw it as a symbol of success. However, regular folks stayed mostly with the grains. This even became the focus on a presidential election. In 1840, William Henry Harrison was portrayed as a whiskey drinker who connected with the common voter. His opponent, Martin Van Buren, was portrayed as a drinker of wine and champagne, which meant that he was out of touch. Harrison won.

This is just one example of how American has generally been a grain alcohol nation, but there are probably others. As a student of the American West, I cannot imagine a cowpoke walking into a saloon and saying, “Give me a bottle of your house red.” Instead, I can imagine him saying, “Give me a shot of red-eye.”

Prohibition was a big event in American history. Alcohol was made illegal, but organized crime made sure it was available. I have read that an underlying reason for Prohibition was to take wine away from immigrants from southern Europe, but I have never seen a film of G-Men hacking through barrels of wine. It was illegal beer and whiskey that they were after.

This love of grains can also be seen in popular culture. Think back on some of those film noir movies. How many times did the detective or dame pour a glass of wine? How many times did they put some ice in a glass and pour some whiskey over it? I think about a movie called A Face in the Crowd when Patricia Neal goes to a bar and has a cocktail sitting in front of her.

It happened on television, as well. In the 1960s, a bunch of television homes had bars, and they were all filled with whiskey bottles. I can remember Darrin, or Derwood, getting a drink whenever the antics of Samantha and her fellow witches were driving him crazy on Bewitched.

I write all of that to say that wine is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States. When did this happen? Why did this happen?

Did the economic boom of the 1990s make people want to grab wine as a symbol of success? The wealthy have been drinking it forever. What better way to prove economic success than to adopt a tradition sign of that success?

Was it the marketing of wine producers? Did they follow in the footsteps of the Ernest and Julio Gallo campaigns?

I know that people have always drank wine, but, at some point, it became the drink of choice for a vast number of people. Like with a lot of things, I have my opinion as to how that happened. It was not a booming economy. It was not an ad campaign. It was these women.Sex and the City

I know that the women of Sex and the City drank martinis and other types of cool drinks. However, the show also provided the idea that a stylish, successful woman about town knew her wine. This popular show introduced wine to a segment of the population that drives our sense of style, and that sense filtered to other segments of our society. Then, we Americans figured out that we liked wine. Apparently, we are not as crass as we are sometimes made out to be.

Am I crazy? Probably. However, the mass love of wine by Americans is a recent development, and it had to start somewhere.

Listeria – Going to the Picture Show

2 Jul

The folks at Entertainment Weekly just came out with a bunch of lists. The 100 greatest television shows. The 100 greatest novels. The 100 greatest albums. The 100 greatest lists of great things in popular culture. It is perfect fodder for “Listeria”, the ongoing examination of our fascination with lists.

This is an examination of the magazine’s list of the 100 greatest movies, or, as my dad used to call them, the picture show. When I was a kid, he would ask if I wanted to go to the picture show because he knew it drove me crazy. For those who don’t know, the picture show was a southern term for the movies. He said a lot of other things to drive me crazy, but that one was a sure thing.

Never fear, I am not going to write about 100 movies. I am going to list the ones that I have seen. To add some texture, I think I will include my favorite thing about each one.

Oh, there will also be a little trivia at the end.Ward Bond

1. Citizen Kane (1941) – The line, “A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms. Those are the only terms anybody ever knows – his own.”

2. The GodFather (1972) – The line, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

3. Casablanca (1942) – Rick’s Cafe

6. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – The floor that separates to form an indoor swimming pool

9. Nashville (1975) – The song, “It Don’t Worry Me”

10. Gone With the Wind (1939) – The coolness of Rhett Butler

12. The Searchers (1956) – Monument Valley

14. Bambi (1942) – Thumper

18. Jaws (1975) – Quint’s story about being on the USS Indianapolis

19. Pulp Fiction (1994) – The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.

24. The Sound of Music (1965) – When it was over

25. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – The music

28. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – The Red Brick Road (where does it go?)

29. North by Northwest (1959) – Mount Rushmore

33. The Graduate (1967) – Katharine Ross

41. The Road Warrior (1981) – The kid with the decapitating boomerang

43. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – Gandalf

49. Goldfinger (1964) – The Kentucky Fried Chicken in one of the scenes

52. Titanic (1997) – The wreck

53. Star Wars – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – Darth Vader

56. Schindler’s List (1993) – The last scene in the cemetery

59. All the President’s Men (1976) – Jason Robards

61. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Hannibal Lecter’s cell

62. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – The flying bicycle

63. Network (1976) – The line, “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

68. GoodFellas (1990) – The music

69. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – Slim Pickens riding the bomb.

78. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – The melting face of the Nazi

81. Blade Runner (1982) – Pris

83. The Wild Bunch (1969) – The Front Porch Massacre

85. Dirty Harry (1971) – The line, “I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

88. The Dark Knight (2008)Batman riding away at the end

89. Woodstock (1970) – The crowd shots

93. A Face in the Crowd (1957) – All of it

94. Brokeback Mountain (2005) – Randy Quaid

99. There WIll Be Blood (2007) – The line, “Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I’m so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake… I… drink… your… milkshake!”

Trivia – Ward Bond (pictured above) was in at least 5 of the top 1oo movies. This includes 3 of the top 12.

The Award for Missed Opportunities Goes To…

2 Mar

It’s been almost a week, and the wave of online Oscar recaps has subsided. Now, it seems like a good time to throw in my opinion. But first, a disclaimer. This is the first time that I have ever watched an entire Academy Awards broadcast. Usually, I try to catch the “In Memorium” part, but that is about it.

I watched the entire thing for a couple of reasons. I saw most of the Best Picture nominees, and, most importantly, my girlfriend wanted to watch it. The show was pretty good, but I couldn’t help but think about the missed opportunities. Look, I know the shoe goes on too long as it is, and they can’t do everything. However, if I was running things the following would have definitely happened.

The first thing that would have happened? Andy Griffith and Sylvia Kristel would have been included in the “In Memorium” montage.

I have written several times about my obsession with all things about The Andy Griffith Show and realize that most people associate him with television. However, Griffith had one of the most powerful big screen debuts of all time. In 1957, Elia Kazan directed him in A Face in the Crowd, a prophetic tale about the power of television. Griffith plays Lonesome Rhodes, a hobo turned television star turned megalomaniac. It’s amazing to see a down home character with an evil streak.Lonesome Rhodes

Sylvia Kristel gained fame in erotic movies such as Emmanuelle and Lady Chatterley’s Lover but came to the attention of adolescent American males in Private Lessons. In short, she was every teenage boy’s dream. At least, she was the dream of the ones who came of age while watching Cinemax.Sylvia Kristel

The second thing that would have happened? The James Bond tribute would have been a lot better. Here is a franchise that has lasted through 50 years and transformed a character from a chauvinist Cold Warrior to a modern action hero. It deserved more than a few film clips.

They had one Bond Girl, Halle Berry. They should have had a bunch of Bond Girls.

They had the greatest Bond singer of all time, Shirley Bassey. However, they also had the current Bond singer, Adele. They could have had them perform together. Goldfinger meets Skyfall.

All of that would have been great. However, none of it could compare to what they really should have done for the James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute. The star-studded crowd would have gone wild if the actors who have officially played James Bond had walked out together. Think about it. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. That would even impress Ernst Blofeld.Ernst Blofeld

Hey, here’s some trivia. George Lazenby appeared with Sylvia Kristel in a few Emmanuelle movies. Now, that’s going from one great franchise to another.