Once more the bell has been rung, and so, now that I have regained consciousness, I have charged into the breach with my shield of oak, a banana peel, and the answers to Professor Larry Gopnik's Post-Hanuka, Pre-Christmas, Post-Schrodinger, Pre-Apocolypse SLFIR Holiday Movie Quiz courtesy of our Quiz-Master at the always entertaining and brain-stumping Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.
1) Favorite unsung holiday film?
I just love how the haunting and taunting chorus of "Jingle Bells" triggers Dana Andrews' psychotic episodes in this thing.
2) Name a movie you were surprised to have liked/loved?
I expected to like it because it would be terribly stupid based on the premise alone, but turns out I liked it, a lot, due to its inspired premise which over-achieved to something really good despite its irreverent stupidity. No. Really!
3) Ned Sparks or Edward Everett Horton?
Answer: Roaring Chicken, son of Sitting Duck.
4) Sam Peckinpah's Convoy-- yes or no?
That's a Big 10-4, Good Buddy. The only disappointment is it failed to inspire Black Bear Road: The Movie.
5) What contemporary actor would best fit into a popular, established genre of the past?
Chris Cooper as a been there, done that, hard boiled dick in a Columbia low rent noir. Lots of mileage in those eyes and face.
6) Favorite non-disaster movie in which bad weather is a memorable element of the film’s atmosphere?
I was gonna go with the biblical storm in Caddyshack (1980), but, no, let's go with the hurricane in Key Largo (1948). Both of them. I love how McCloud and Temple freak Ricco and his gang right the hell out with tales of the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, wiping out the train full of veterans, which only escalates when the present storm hits as the tension escalates inside while all hell breaks loose outside.
7) Second favorite Luchino Visconti movie?
Magic 8-Ball says, Not Applicable. Alas!
8) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD/Blu-ray?
Theater: Thor: The Dark World (2013). I could nitpick but I don't wanna. Had too much fun.
DVD: The Killer that Stalked New York (1950). The Naked City meets Outbreak via a diamond smuggler who brings an unexpected bonus back home with her: a case of smallpox.
Blu-ray: John Carter (2012). Wow. The cavalry and Josey Wales subplot still needs to go, but, Why was everybody hating on this so much again?
VHS: The Angry Red Planet (1959). Everybody loves the rat-bat-spider but I was always partial to the Jell-O mold blob with the spinning eyeball.
Streaming: When the Wind Blows (1986). I swore I'd never watch it again, but a discussion on Facebook had me revisiting this wrenching animated study on human tragedy, where we watch an old and feisty British couple survive a nuclear attack but slowly succumb to the fallout, made doubly-devastating by their never-say-die attitude and a misguided faith in the powers that be, believing they will soon have everything back in working order; and so, I watched it again and got a mudhole stomped into my soul -- AGAIN.
9) Explain your reaction when someone eloquently or not-so-eloquently attacks one of your favorite movies? (Question courtesy of Patrick Robbins)
I try to ignore it but, honestly, it depends on the viciousness of the attack, and, once that's sussed out (do they really not like it or are they just being a jerk and yankin' yer chain), I will either engage them to try and change their mind, call them a big dumb stupid-head, or drop trou' and drizzle on something they enjoy because, yeah, I am that petty sometimes.
10) Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell?
Stop it. Just stop it. Fine. *sigh* I love Blondell, but I am in love with Glenda Farrell. All the tics and quirks, the motor-mouth, and, again, a lot of mileage on that face that I find very endearing. Torchy Blane is one of those perfect fusions of actor and character.
11) Movie star of any era you’d most like to take camping?
He would have the best chance of bringing me back alive -- if he doesn't kill me over my fan-boyish attitude about The Rockford Files, that is.
12) Second favorite George Cukor movie?
The Blue Bird (1976) for all the wrong reasons. Such a gloriously misguided, mind-f@ck of a movie.
13) Your top 10 of 2013? (feel free to elaborate!)
I fear I'm not much of a new movie guy as I've only seen about ten new movies period. Here they are in the order of enjoyment.
10. Man of Steel / Star Trek into Darkness. I didn't hate them as much as most folks did -- stress on the as much.
9: Evil Dead: I have no doubt the filmmakers hearts were in the right place, but it just wasn't very good. Sorely lacking the humor infusion of the original.
8. The World's End: Brilliant first two acts marred by a rote climax. Expected more from this trio.
7. Grabbers: Even I found the plot contrivance almost too silly, but glad I stuck it out.
6. The Conjuring: I know its bullshit, you know it's bullshit, and it took a bad left turn for the climax, but this is still a very well executed fright flick.
5. Iron Man 3: Like Thor, I could nitpick, but I don't wanna. Had too much fun.
4. Thor: the Dark World: Cosmic whiz-bangery of the highest order.
3. Europa Report: A more scientifically grounded remake of The Angry Red Planet. Van Vogt by way of Bill Nye, proving that hard science and fantastic fiction can mix without curdling.
2. Gravity: The plot is basically Armageddon without the Gatling guns, and it got a little obnoxious with the visual metaphors, but it's not very often when you actually get to experience that kind of total immersion at the cineplex.
1: Pacific Rim: Haters gonna hate, nitpickers gonna pick, morons are gonna call del Toro a Hollywood sell out, but I love this movie with every fiber of my being. Also, whenever a Jaeger punches a Kaiju in the face, an angel gets its wings.
14) Name a movie you loved (or hated) upon first viewing, to which you eventually returned and had more or less the opposite reaction.
I did not like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) when first encountered. Turns out, I am a complete idiot.
On the other hand, even though I enjoyed them as a teenager, looking back I'm almost convinced that John Hughes was actually the anti-Christ, cinematically speaking, and Ferris Bueller was his false prophet.
15) Movie most in need of a deluxe Blu-ray makeover?
What immediately springs to mind is William Wyler's The Big Country (1858), mostly because I just watched it recently via MGM's Western Legends DVD and it was a complete crime of dull colors, lackluster sound, mars, scratches and flaring water marks. And this massive and nearly exhausting tale of feuding frontier families and all the blood and thunder and flying lead that goes with it, set in front of that awe-inspiring and wide-open backdrop, backed by Jerome Moross' score to end all scores (a score that would make you eat your own head if it was covered in it), deserves the full restoration treatment.
16) Alain Delon or Marcello Mastroianni?
Close to a push, but I'll go with Alain Delon for Le Cercle Rouge (1970).
17) Your favorite opening sequence, credits or no credits (provide link to clip if possible)?
Artists Paul Julian and Bill Martin contributed a ton of trippy backdrop paintings and minimalist animation for the credit sequences on a lot of Roger Corman's low-budget epics of the 1950s through the 1960s. Some of my favorites are from his juvenile delinquent pictures like Swamp Women (1955), Teenage Doll (1957) and Sorority Girl (1957), or the eye-popping ones for The Terror (1963), but I think my absolute favorite is the insanely awesome undersea montages of derelict freighters and abstract critters for Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957).
18) Director with the strongest run of great movies?
Mario Bava. 37 films (and that's just directing) and the only stinker was Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs.
19) Is elitism a good/bad/necessary/inevitable aspect of being a cineaste?
Good in that it gives me something concrete to strive against partaking in it in any way, shape or form.
20) Second favorite Tony Scott film?
Even though it was John Buscema who drew the best Silver Surfer, I'll go with Crimson Tide (1995).
21) Favorite movie made before you were born that you only discovered this year. Where and how did you discover it?
Yabu No Naka Kuroneko (1968). Mesmerizing, visually stunning, and spooky as hell tale of supernatural vengeance that I found by sheer luck playing Criterion roulette on Hulu Plus.
22) Actor/actress you would most want to see in a Santa suit, traditional or skimpy?
Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster Claus. Traditional. Armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun. Lorre, Lugosi and Chaney Jr. as the elves, with J. Carrol Naish in drag as Mrs. Claus doing a rousing chorus of 'Santa Baby.'
23) Video store or streaming?
Sadly, this is becoming a moot point in my 'burgh. There is only one brick 'n' mortar rental option left aside from those annoying Red Boxes, and both collected selections skew way too 'new release' for my tastes. If there was a decent meat-space option, I'd rather go to the store to browse. As is, well, I miss the old glory days of the late and lamented Video Kingdom but even back then, selection was very limited after the great VHS purge and streaming has opened up a whole new and viable venue for us lost in the frozen hinterlands of film enthusiasm.
24) Best/favorite final film by a noted director or screenwriter?
The best? Maybe. Favorite? Maybe. Most appropriate? Definitely.
25) Monica Vitti or Anna Karina?
Pfeh. You can have them both. I'm writing in Joan Blondell. So there. *thhhbbbttthhhhhhhh*
26) Name a worthy movie indulgence you’ve had to most strenuously talk friends into experiencing with you. What was the result?
Even though my enthusiasm and recommendations have been known to get people killed ( -- it's true, there are documented cases--) I usually have really good luck playing the Pied Piper with my knot of film friends but I have so far been unsuccessful to get anyone to watch The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) with me. And until that happens, Q#26 will remain pending.
27) The movie made by your favorite filmmaker (writer, director, et al) that you either have yet to see or are least familiar with among all the rest?
Finally saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) but I still need to see all of Bringing Up Baby (1938). TO THE AMAZON!
28) Favorite horror movie that is either Christmas-oriented or has some element relating to the winter holiday season in it?
29) Name a prop or other piece of movie memorabilia you’d most like to find with your name on it under the Christmas tree?
The severed hand prop from The Thing from Another World, a life-sized Triffid for my rock garden, or the animation model of the Allosaurus Rex from The Valley of Gwangi.
30) Best holiday gift the movies could give to you to carry into 2014?
Bring back the fun, the Ballyhoo and the Bullshit so things like this can happen again.
And there ya go. Until next time, Boils and Ghouls. Quiz out!