Tag Archives: Live and Let Die

Movie Wisdom – Yaphet Kotto Edition

29 Nov

Yaphet Kotto is an actor in several movies that I like. Some of them are Westerns. Some of them are Action. Some of them are from the Blaxploitation genre. Through them all, Yaphet Kotto always makes an impression.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to see what wisdom we can find from the movies of Yaphet Kotto.yaphet-kotto

From 4 for Texas

A secret whispered in a coffee house is as confidential as a headline in a newspaper.

A man who’d try to con you when he has a gun held on him can’t be all bad.

You really need only a little patience and self-discipline.

From 5 Card Stud

A man don’t work, he ain’t respectable.

The funeral is for the living.

From Live and Let Die

Names is for tombstones.

From Friday Foster

You treat a person like a person.

From Brubaker

You can’t reform the system if you’re not in it.

From The Star Chamber

It turns out that right and wrong count.

From The Running Man

Don’t touch that dial!

 

Mourning in the Movies

29 Jun

This past week, I watched The Godfather on the big screen with my dad and my nephew. Obviously, it is a great movie, and I have seen it many times. However, this time was different. In a dark theater with no distractions, I was able to focus on details  that I had missed and also fully enjoy some of my favorite scenes.

One of those scenes is the funeral of Don Corleone. Movie funerals have always fascinated me. Usually, they are essential to the plot, but that does not have to be the case. For me, a well filmed funeral scene stands out, and I do not know why. Perhaps, it is because a movie funeral makes the film more realistic. It could be because it provides the ceremony of a funeral without a person really being dead. It could simply be the drama of it all. Whatever the case, some of my favorite scenes are funerals.

The funeral of Don Corleone is especially good because of all the underlying consequences. The heads of the other families get out of their limousines for the burial of the Godfather while they are plotting to bury the entire Corleone empire. Michael knows a betrayal is coming but does not know who the culprit will be. As people mourn his father, Michael is set up to be assassinated by Sgt. Fish from Barney Miller.Godfather

Another great movie funeral actually involves an assassination. Before Paul McCartney sings the iconic theme song. Before Jane Seymour makes her appearance as a Bond Girl. Before Roger Moore makes his debut as James Bond. Before all of that, an American agent is killed in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He watches as a jazzy funeral procession passes by and does not realize until too late that it is his funeral.Jazz

With that, Paul McCartney is cued to sing, and Live and Let Die begins.

Before the death of the agent, the jazz band is playing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” a traditional gospel song. Other movies have also used well-known religious songs to great effect. This is where I have something to confess. In my mind, one of the most beautiful sounds in the world is “Amazing Grace” being played on a bagpipe, and no movie does this better than Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. As Spock is buried in space, Scotty plays the pipes.Spock

Then, Spock is shot into a dead planet that immediately springs to life.

I guess that you could say Spock went out in a Blaze of Glory. That can also be said Valeria, Conan’s girlfriend in Conan the Barbarian. After being killed by a poison snake arrow fired by James Earl Jones, Valeria is mourned by Conan and burned on a funeral pyre. The wizard thinks the pyre will not burn, but the fury of Arnold makes it burn.Funeral Pyre

Another dramatic exit took place in V for Vendetta, the graphic novel inspired story of a masked terrorist. When he dies, his muse, played by Natalie Portman, puts him on a train filled with explosives and flowers.Vendetta

She then sends it down the tracks toward Parliament. Once there, he finishes what Guy Fawkes started way back in 1605.

As far as funerals for graphic novel anti-heroes go, V has nothing on The Comedian from The Watchmen. His death drives the plot of the movie, but there is more greatness. It is a miserably rainy day.Comedian

The other anti-heroes show up.  Dr. Manhattan even wears a suit. However, those are not even the best parts. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel plays over the scene to greater effect than it did that scene in The Graduate.

Then, there is the mourner who hides during the service. My favorite movie funeral scenes have someone watching from the distance who feels like they should stay away. Once everyone leaves, they go to the grave for their own private ceremony. In The Watchmen, Rorschach is the outsider who moves in after the fact.

In Cooley High, it is Preach who comes upon Chochise’s grave after everyone else has gone. This is another awesome scene. A drunken Preach reads a poem over the grave as a classic tune plays over the scene.Preach

Then, he wads up the paper and takes off into the gloom. This movie is also cool because it tells what happens to the characters as they grow older.

Alright, those are cool, but my favorite funeral scene with a distant viewer is in a western called The Sons of Katie Elder. The sons have come back home for the funeral of their mother. There preacher says some great words, and mourners tell the sons how great their mother was. However, one son is missing. He is a gunslinger who does not need to make a public appearance. He is John Wayne, and he is standing in the rocks looking down on the funeral.Katie Elder

John Wayne is also part of another great movie funeral. As his family is being buried in The Searchers, the Duke shuts down the ceremony because the time for praying is over.Searchers

The time for vengeance has arrived.

The time to end this post has also arrived.

Aimless Wanderings of the Mind

9 Jul

Yesterday, some friends invited me to spend the night on a houseboat. Figuring that there would be a lot of late night commotion on the boat, I took my iPod in case I needed some solitude for sleep. As it turned out, everyone conked out fast from a day filled with activity, but I plugged the iPod into my ears anyway. The Guns n’ Roses version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” came on and the following took place in my mind.

I immediately thought of the original Bob Dylan version as it played over the death scene of Slim Pickens in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, one of my favorite westerns.

From there, I thought about one of the times I saw Bob Dylan in concert. He and Willie Nelson had a tour where they played in minor league baseball stadiums. As I watched them from the infield, I kept wondering what the backstage party must have been like.

Then, I started thinking about a local legend involving Willie Nelson. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a famous honky-tonk in Nashville where singers and players would congregate between sets of the Grand Ole Opry.

It seems that one night Willie was in Tootsie’s drowning his sorrows at the bar. He wasn’t making it in Nashville, and, in a moment of depression, he walked outside and sprawled in the middle of Broadway. His intent was to be run over by a car. Fortunately, they got him out of the street; he went to Texas; grew out his hair; and became a legend.

When this entered my mind, I started thinking about the time I saw Willie with Ray Price and Merle Haggard. Price’s biggest hit was “For the Good Times“, which happened to be written by Kris Kristofferson, the one who played Billy the Kid in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

The other person on the bill, Merle Haggard, is one of my all-time favorites. He performed a song in a movie I recently watched, and I started thinking about a song that appeared in a John Wayne movie called Chisum, an inaccurate retelling of the story of Billy the Kid.

As you can see, Billy the Kid and a bunch of connections to his pop cultural self kept entering my mind. That’s when I started thinking about the last time I visited his grave.At least, that’s his headstone. Some people claim that Billy the Kid got away and lived to be an old man. That’s doubtful. Without a doubt, a flood swept through the cemetery and washed away all of the markers. It may have even carried off a few bodies. So, Billy is probably not anywhere near this piece of rock. However, I started thinking, “What if they had buried him above ground like they do in New Orleans?”

Obviously, this started me down another tread of thought. Earlier this year, we took some students on a field trip to the French Quarter (I know. Cool teacher.), and we toured the City of the Dead, one of their above ground cemeteries. One of the most interesting graves was that of Marie Laveau, voodoo queen of New Orleans.

The grave has offerings left behind by people searching for a blessing. I thought about that, but I also thought about a song by Redbone called “The Witch Queen of New Orleans“.

New Orleans. It’s a cool city, and a lot of movies have been made there. They started running through my mind, but one that I saw the other day stuck out. It was Live and Let Die, the James Bond film that has the scene with an agent watching a funeral parade in the French Quarter. When he asks whose funeral it, he is stabbed and placed in the coffin. That’s when the parade really cranks up. Then, the theme song by Paul McCartney and Wings entered my brain.

That’s when it hit me. Holy crap. “Live and Let Die” was another movie song that was covered by Guns n’ Roses.

By this time, my mind was mush, and I mercifully faded out.