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Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #7: The Eccentrics Part 3

The three wonderfully distinctive personalities I encountered and will mention in this series were all outspoken, eccentric to be sure, but full of passion for the unusual things in life. They all shared a sharp and wicked sense of humour and a youthful exuberance that probably presented itself to most who crossed their paths. I'm fairly certain of this because I had friends who encountered them as well. I feel extremely fortunate to have met all three. Sadly they have all passed on.

 

Part 3:

For many years when living in Los Angeles, I regularly frequented a "macrobiotic"/Japanese restaurant called Inaka (which means "country style"). I began my relationship with this small but popular restaurant as a customer, motivated by becoming healthier through a diet consisting primarily of cooked grains and vegetables (with some beans and seafood also permitted). Years later I began marketing a naturally sweet rice drink I invented called Amashake, and exclusively for Inaka, a pudding made from that drink that used seaweed as a thickener and maple syrup as a sweetener. 

It was during this later period that I really took notice of comedian, actor and entertainer Andy Kaufman, also a frequent diner. As a customer myself, I had seen him in the restaurant many times before, and knew he was a regular performer on a popular TV series called Taxi, but since I had never watched the show or seen his comedic performances, took little notice. When he became enamoured with my Amashake chocolate pudding I came to know him fairly well. If my memory serves correct, he'd be at the restaurant every one of those nights when I delivered the product, anxiously awaiting its arrival, having eaten half a dozen or so, perhaps even more, of the last delivery. 

He was a strange one, always standing straight, looking a bit like he was in a trance. His typically shy, innocent demeanor (perfectly captured by Jim Carey in the excellent film Man on the Moon) also implied he knew something you didn't but, like a kid with a secret or a more subdued Harpo Marx, he wasn't gonna talk about it. 

His questions to the staff working at Inaka about the chocolate pudding availability became so frequent, I had the temerity to put on the wall menu one night "Andy Kaufman's chocolate pudding" without asking his permission. On the next night, just after he arrived, Andy asked (of course) about the dessert, and then looked at the wall menu. Afraid that he'd find my gesture offensive, I tentatively said "I hope that's all right" and he immediately replied "No, I'm flattered."

We became friends. He would talk about his favourite movie, A Miracle in Milan, relationships, people he met and even play little jokes on the staff at the restaurant, several of whom he became quite close to. His was a warm, beautiful spirit. It almost seemed like he was personally drawn to those who were perhaps a little down on themselves and needed a lift. He provided that.

One night he was talking to the owner of Inaka and dropped, for us, a bombshell by saying he'd have a steak, chocolate cake at a well known L.A. hotspot and then come into Inaka to "balance it out." I remember Jay (the owner) and I in unison shouting "NO ANDY! It doesn't work that way!"

Andy Kaufman (January 17, 1949 - May 16, 1984) R.I.P.

Andy Kaufman (January 17, 1949 - May 16, 1984) R.I.P.

Even later, when he contracted what was diagnosed as cancer, he visited the restaurant, once in a wheelchair. The chemo and the disease it was designed to fight had taken its toll. Andy sadly lost that fight. I miss him.

 

 

A.G.

 

 

I have included here Andy's first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (03/03/1977) so that one can get an idea of his offbeat sense of humour and amazing talent.   

Of all the Elvis Presley impersonators, he was the real Elvis' favorite.

"Now Listen To Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings:

 

First off, my best wishes to all for a most enjoyable and happy New Year!

 

There are 3 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:

 

The first is Marcel Carne's masterpiece, and one of Cinema's greatest artistic achievements, (See: Top Ten World Cinema Treasures), Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis). This is an epic romantic tale of conflicting desires and sacrifice. Its spellbinding power can be most fully realized after viewers have seen it. That's because of the filmmakers' masterfully hypnotic hold over us as we watch their remarkable characters develop during increasingly compelling interactions. It airs Sunday January 4 at 11 pm PST in its original full length: 190 minutes.

 

 

 

Then we have the somewhat obscure western Gunman's Walk. The central character, a most respected and powerful rancher, played superbly by Van Heflin, has two sons (actors James Darren and Tab Hunter) who both test their father's resolve in extremely different ways. How Heflin chooses to handle the difficult situations that arise makes for a most enthralling viewing experience. This may have been made as a "B western" but rises in stature because of Phil Karlson's tightly controlled direction, Frank S. Nugent's intelligent script and the three expert lead performances. Only available on a French DVD with forced subtitles, it airs in widescreen glory on TCM Wednesday January 14 at 9pm PST.

 

 

 

Finally there is Gordon Parks' autobiographical film debut 1969's The Learning Tree. I have written about this extraordinary film in a tribute to its multi-talented writer, director and composer here: Exploring the Artifacts #5. This beautiful film is scheduled to air on TCM Monday January 19 at 12:45 pm PST.

 

TCM's current schedule can be confirmed by clicking on any of the above images.

 

 

 

 

 

The soundtrack recommendation for this month is Intrada's definitive version of Bernard Herrmann's muscular and sensational score to Alfred Hitchcock's wildly entertaining North by Northwest. More information can be obtained on this thrilling score by clicking on the image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month's video recommendation is Stanley Kubrick's 1956 auspicious film noir The Killing. It's captivating in the original way it moves back and forth through time, a strong narrative device copied by Tarantino and others. An omniscient, tough talking narrator introduces a distinctive array of strong macho guys planning a unique and perfect heist while Marie Windsor's ubiquitous femme-fatal tries to listen in. Writer Jim Thompson's tough as shoe leather dialogue is speedily delivered by Sterling Hayden as the caper's imposing mastermind. All of the characters are shown to have motive, the very cornerstone of noir. It has a bar fight staged by a chess playing Russian wrestler/philosopher (Kola Kwariani), and a double cross planned by a cocky adulterer, (Vince Edwards). There's a horse assassination performed by the weird Timothy Carey, who at times, oddly speaks through clenched teeth, a crooked cop in debt (Ted de Corsia) and a henpecked husband, (Elisha Cook Jr.) who comes out blasting. Hayden performs a one-man stick up with a mask and a shot gun, with all the loot thrown out a window, acting on a time table to the beat of Gerald Fried's maniacal music, which is itself a total blast. It has palpable suspense, especially at the airport... plenty of surprises. There's humour in the scenes between Cook and Windsor playing a couple from hell whose relationship seemingly can't get any worse, but does. In short, everything that's right for the current lack of attention crowd who expect classic films to lack excitement. It's exhilarating and inspired storytelling: The perfect introduction to noir for those who think that the current crime wave is the only cinema worth watching. The stunning Blu-ray, widescreen and with lossless sound for the first time on video, has been issued by Criterion in the U.S. and is Region A locked. As a supplement the package sports the inclusion of a restored high-definition digital transfer of Stanley Kubrick’s 1955 noir feature Killer’s Kiss. Movie watching doesn't get any better than this. To order from Amazon U.S. simply click on the image below.

A.G.

Sterling Silver Dialogue #16

Sterling Silver Dialogue From The Movies:  

Do you know where they're from? Answers coming soon.

 

"You've got a nasty reputation Mr. Gitts. I like that."

Jake Gittes: “How much are you worth?”
Noah Cross: “I have no idea. How much do you want?”
Jake Gittes: “I just wanna know what you’re worth. More than 10 million?”
Noah Cross: “Oh my, yes!”
Jake Gittes: “Why are you doing it?” How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?”
Noah Cross: “The future, Mr. Gitts! The future!” 

 

 

"My purpose is madness. It's the only way you can really tell what happens in war. By lying you can open the door a little crack on the truth."

 


"I know I've got lots of faults, but being in love with you isn't one of them, is it?"

 


"I am not putting the knock on dolls. It's just that they are something to have around only when they come in handy... like cough drops."

 

 

"You like money. You've got a great big dollar sign there where most women have a heart."

 

"You have my sympathies, then. You have not yet learned that in this life you have to be like everyone else - the perfect mediocrity; no better, no worse. Individuality's a monster and it must be strangled in it's cradle to make our friends feel confident. You know, I've often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They are admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory."


Fisher: "Sounds pretty mysterious. What's it all about?"
(response) "There are some things, my dear Fisher, which bear not much looking into. You have undoubtedly heard of the Siberian goatherd who tried to discover the true nature of the sun; he stared up at the heavenly body until it made him blind. There are many things of this sort, including love, and death, and... maybe we'll discuss this later today. Please remember to make that call if I'm not back at 6:30."

(as she’s dying) "It isn't fair. I never had anybody but you. Not a real husband. Not even a man. Just a bad joke without a punch line."

 

 

"What she meant we'll never know. It's what she said that counts."

 

 

"They were all godless here. They used to bring their women here - brazen, lolling creatures in silks and satins. They filled the house with laughter and sin, laughter and sin. And if I ever went down among them, my own father and brothers - they would tell me to go away and pray, and I prayed - and left them with their lustful red and white women."

(feels the fabric of a guest’s low-cut gown) "Fine stuff, but it'll rot."
(touches her skin above the neckline) "Finer stuff still, but it'll rot too!"

(recurring line) “No beds!”

"The fact is, Morgan is an uncivilized brute. Sometimes he drinks heavily. A night like this will set him going and once he's drunk he's rather dangerous."

(recurring line) “Have a potato.”

 


"What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?"
(reply) "My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters."
(response) "The waters? What waters? We're in the desert."
(reply) "I was misinformed."

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

 

 

"I have a feeling this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful hatred."

Hidden Gems #7

Hidden Gem #70: Invasion of the Body Snatchers - The Director's Cut (1956, U.S.A.)

Director: Don Siegel

This very special cut of the film is without the studio imposed prologue and epilogue, but more importantly loses the useless irritating narration, so the previously "recollected"  events are now much more suspenseful and horrifying especially in the profound way they affect the characters psychologically and emotionally in the present, elevating this film to masterpiece status.

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #69: The Invitation a.k.a. L'invitation (1973, Switzerland/France)

Director: Claude Goretta

An insurance company man inherits a small fortune and throws a big party at his new lavish home in the country for his work colleagues, revealing insights into their true morals and vulnerabilities, as the liberally dispensed alcohol goes to work on  inhibitions in this brilliant homage to the other masterful observers of human foibles and frailties - directors' Bergman (Smiles of a Summer Night) and Renoir (The Rules of the Game). 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #68: Split Image (1982, Canada/U.S.A.)

Director: Ted Kotcheff

The sensational subject of a cult group's mind control of a young man is explored with precision by director Kotcheff who elicits strong performances from his ideal cast including James Woods as a confidently aggressive de-programmer, Brian Dennehy as the emotionally distraught father and a chillingly subdued Peter Fonda as the cult's leader. 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #67: Classe Tous Risques a.k.a. The Big Risk (1960, France)

Director: Claude Sautet

One of the two gangsters on the run (Lino Ventura) has his family in tow but that doesn't stop him or anyone else from committing ruthless, violent acts in this ultra-realistic criminal underworld of loyalty, sacrifice and betrayal; its gritty and explosive narrative twists and turns are courtesy of ex-con Jose Giovanni's sourced novel, and co-adaptation of the script. 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #66: Monkey On My Back (1957, U.S.A.)

Director: Andre De Toth

Compared to all of the films about famous boxers (Somebody Up There Likes Me, Raging Bull) or drug addiction (A Hatful of Rain, The Man with the Golden Arm) this true story of Barney Ross with its magnificent performance by Cameron Mitchell and underrated director at the helm is practically unheard of, but more engaging than any of the films in either category.

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #65: Scandal Sheet (1952, U.S.A.)

Director: Phil Karlson

Its plot is similar to The Big Clock and The Man Who Cheated Himself but this little potboiler has the added dynamite of Broderick Crawford in the lead, creatively trying to hide his murderous guilt from protege John Derek in this lean and mean noir adapted from a novel by director Samuel Fuller. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #64: Never Take Candy (a.k.a. Sweets) from a Stranger (1960, U.K.)

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Director: Cyril Frankel

This courageous, insightful, intelligently forthright story, which concerns a couple of young girls who fall victim to a pedophile, and the subsequent attempts to cover for the accused (since he's the town's rich, elderly  benefactor), was shunned upon its release and has been unjustly neglected since.

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #63: Blonde Crazy (1931, U.S.)

Director: Roy Del Ruth

This little pre-code gem might as well have been titled "Slap Crazy" the way Joan Blondell dishes them out to James Cagney as a couple of cons who sizzle like bacon on the barbie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #62: Rebellion a.k.a. Samurai Rebellion a.k.a. Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu (1967, Japan)

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

This incredibly moving story pitting deeply felt emotional reason against an unjust higher authority is better known than some of the director's earlier works, but should still be held in higher regard like Kwaidan or Harakiri, especially as it's written by the finest screenwriter of all time, Shinobu Hashimoto (i.e., Ikiru, The Seven Samurai, Harakiri, Samurai Assassin).

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gem #61: The Landlord (1970, U.S.A.)

Director: Hal Ashby

One wouldn't expect a director's debut film about such important issues as wealth, class and racial divides in New York City to be so charming, funny and endearing but it is that and much more because the storytellers never shy away from the serious relationship problems depicted; instead they cleverly infuse them into a learning curve for our naive but lovable central character.

 

A.G.   

Plundering the Genre: A Halloween Tribute to Horror in Cinema

 

The following montage is a selection of films that have included some noteworthy moments of horror throughout the years. The music from The Omen is by Jerry Goldsmith. The list of stills selected is printed below in the order they are presented.

 

The Golem (1920)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Nosferatu (1922)
Haxan (1922)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Dracula (1931)
Freaks (1932)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
The Old Dark House (1932)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Vampyr (1932)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
The Wolfman (1941)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Cat People (1942)
Dr. Renault’s Secret (1942)
I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
The 7th Victim (1943)
The Uninvited (1944)
Dead of Night (1945)
Hangover Square (1945)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
The Body Snatcher (1945)
The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)
The Thing (1951)
House of Wax (1953)
Les diaboliques (1955)
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Night of the Demon (1957)
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Psycho (1960)
Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Village of the Damned (1960)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
The Haunting (1963)
The Birds (1963)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Repulsion (1965)
Seconds (1966)
Wait Until Dark (1967)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
The Witchfinder General (1968)
Play Misty For Me (1971)
The Other (1972)
The Exorcist (1973)
Jaws (1975)
The Omen (1976)
Suspiria (1977)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
The Thing (1982)
Q The Winged Serpent (1982)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Fly (1986)
Manhunter (1986)
Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Near Dark (1987)
Hellraiser (1987)
The Stepfather (1987)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Dracula (1992)
Se7en (1995)
Ring (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Others (2001)
The Ring (2002)
Final Destination 2 (2003)
Matrimony (2007)
Zodiac (2007)
Let the Right One In (2008)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
Shutter Island (2010)

A.G.

Top Ten Fool's Gold: The Over Rated Part 4 Chinatown

In this series I would like to provide my readers with a more critical perspective to consider, one that hopefully will not detract from a person's appreciation for the films under review. At the same time, I'd question whether these motion pictures really deserve the high accolades bestowed upon them by the critical community in general. (For a further introduction on this subject please see: Top Ten Fool's Gold: The Over Rated Part 1.)
These notices are meant for viewers familiar with the following motion pictures.

(They will be addressed in alphabetical order.)

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Sterling Silver Dialogue #15

Sterling Silver Dialogue From The Movies:  

Do you know where they're from? Answers coming soon.

 

 

"You wanna be worshiped? Go to India and moo."

 

 

"You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word."

 

"Welcome to Chicago. This town stinks like a whorehouse at low tide."

 

 

"Ah Maggie, in the world of advertising, there's no such thing as a lie. There's only expedient exaggeration. You ought to know that."

 

(Referring to the drinks they've already had) "We've gotten a head start here, Mr. Thornhill."

Roger Thornhill: (Just arriving) "That won't last long."

 

(singing) "I've grown accustomed to my bourbon."

 

(on the telephone) "No. No, Mother, I have not been drinking. No. No, these two men, they poured a whole bottle of bourbon into me... No, they didn't give me a chaser."

 

"We'll get 'em. We'll throw the book at 'em. Assault and kidnapping. Assault with a gun and a bourbon and a sports car. We'll get 'em."

 

 

"You're marking time is what you are. You're backing off. You're hiding out. You're waiting for a bus that you hope never comes because you don't wanna get on it anyway because you don't wanna go anywhere, all right?"

 

 

"Two people dead, just so we can live without working!"

 

"We go together, Annie. I don't know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together."

 

 

"I didn't want a house. I didn't want all those pots and pans. I didn't want anything but you. It's God's own blessing I didn't get you."

(reply) "Why?"

(response) "Cause I'm a loner clear down deep to my very guts. Know what a loner is? He's a born cripple. He's a cripple because the only person he can live with is himself. It's his life, the way he wants to live. It's all for him. A guy like that, he'd kill a woman like you. Because he couldn't love you, not the way you are loved."

 

 

"I've had hangovers before, but this time, even my hair hurts."

 

"If there's anything worse than a woman living alone, it's a woman saying she likes it."

 

 

"You're told that the girl you were with last night was found in Benedict Canyon, murdered. Dumped from a moving car. What's your reaction? Shock? Horror? Sympathy? No... just petulance at being questioned. A couple of feeble jokes. You puzzle me, Mr. Steele."

Dixon Steele: "Well, I grant you, the jokes could've been better, but I don't see why the rest should worry you... that is, unless you plan to arrest me for lack of emotion."

 

"You know, Ms. Gray, you're one up on me - you can see into my apartment but I can't see into yours."

(reply) "I promise you, I won't take advantage of it."

(response) "I would, if it were the other way around."

 

"I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me."