Friday, March 22, 2013


And finally, part four of our investigation into the very special teacher's guide to Miss Jean Brodie's very own Best Of-- these are, of course, the answers she received for her Modestly Magnificient, Matriarchally Manipulative Springtime-for-Mussolini Movie Quiz. The staff here at SLIFR University thank her very much for her participation, but most of all we thank all of you who contributed answers to this class session. They were, as always, extremely amusing and enlightening to read, and also loads of fun to excerpt-- the unexpurgated submissions have been and will always be available to peruse in the comments section under the original quiz post. (And the SLIFR administration wishes to apologize to Peter Nellhaus, who chose to sit this quiz out, thereby missing the opportunity to have his typically erudite and entertaining answers highlighted here. We hadn't anticipated a full-on answer recap, Peter, but Miss Brodie insisted, having a full head of steam and ambition, not to mention an unexpected window of free time on her hands. In your honor we will strive to impose the same standard on our next scholarly host, but only if you take part!)

So here we go, one last look at what you had to say in response to Miss Brodie's stimulating, squirm-inducing inqury. We shall begin with a consideration of the cinematic ideal.

25) Is there such a thing as a perfect movie?

I do hope not. (estienne64)

Intellectually, no. Emotionally, sure there is. (Self-Styled Siren)

Sure, but definitions vary. It usually implies that the director (or whoever) got exactly what he/she wanted onscreen, and what resulted is good in every regard. But cinema is much more volatile than that. Unintended happenstances are part of the charm, and what may look like an imperfection could enhance the movie, making it more perfect. The first example that comes to mind is the story (which might not actually be true, but the spirit speaks to my point) of the last shot in The Last Temptation of Christ, in which some camera problem causes causes a white-out at exactly the moment Jesus dies.    Anyway, as long as Casablanca exists, it’d be hard for me to say otherwise. (Scott Nye)

My head says ‘of course not,’ but my other head says, ‘please point out the flaws in Rules of the Game, Tokyo Story, or Seven Samurai.’ Or The Maltese Falcon. Or etc. (Jeff Gee)

I find that the best films are made better because of their flaws. Extreme example: Can anyone follow what the fuck is going on in The Big Sleep (1946)? And yet... (Tony Dayoub)

There must be. There's no other explanation for Sunrise. (Sean Axmaker)

I think so. I don’t know what I’d change in Grand Illusion, Ride the High Country and probably half a dozen others. (Tom Block)

As Geoffrey Tenant said in the great Slings and Arrows: “Nothing is more boring than perfection.” So, to answer the question: Perhaps – but it wouldn’t be a fun thing to witness. (wwolfe)

Not often, but yes. I do grow weary of critics proclaiming every movie they see from their favorite director as a masterpiece. After a while the word starts losing its meaning. (Craig)

There are movies that couldn't have been any better than they were. (Robert Fiore)

Perfection is for math and science, not art. The flaws are often what makes a work of art special. (Robert T. Daniel)

Well, people aren’t perfect, and most movies are about people. It would probably have to be about something entirely different. Robots, maybe. Like Wall-E. Except that had humans in it in the second half, and it kind of spoiled a great beginning. Animals are pretty perfect, though. Maybe Winged Migration -- birds being birds. Except they got humans to write the music, and to narrate it. Drop the score and the narration track and there you have a perfect movie! (Weigard)

If there is, I haven't found it yet. The closest I think I've come to is the recently departed Del Tenney's The Horror of Party Beach (1964).No. Seriously. (W.B. Kelso)

26) Favorite movie location you’ve most recently had the occasion to actually visit

I drive through half the location shots of The Avengers and Alex Cross on my way to work every damn day, and I cursed every cast and crew member of both for six damn months because of it. (xterminal)

In NYC last couple of weeks, and conscious of passing through shots from Dressed to Kill, Death Wish, Panic in Needle Park, Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and of course King Kong! (Jeff Gee)

In an hour we could walk from my house to the subway station where the gunfight happens in 48 Hrs., the cemetery where Madeleine visits Carlotta’s grave, and the dentist’s office in Greed. My favorite location is also probably Vertigo-related: the mission at San Juan Batista, which looks amazingly like it does in the movie. A buggy and papier-mâché horse are still sitting in the barn. (Tom Block)

Dexter Lake Club, Animal House. (Katherine Wilson)

Almost every day, I walk or drive past the restaurant/bar where the interior for most of the first half of Death Proof was shot. (Josh K.)

Last summer. Ridgeway, Colo. Saw some of the sets and props for the original True Grit filmed there. (Larry Aydlette)
      I drank Aqua Velvas in the bar where Robert Downey drank them in ZODIAC. Sadly the place later burned to the ground. (Matthew David Wilder)

I often find myself walking past the northwest corner of Vermont and Franklin, as referenced in Double Indemnity, but they didn’t actually shoot that scene there. (Mr. Peel)

The multiplane camera at the Walt Disney Studios. (Robert Fiore)

While in DC last year on business, I made a side trip to the infamous townhome and steps used in The Exorcist. I walked the steps from bottom to top, which gave me quite a workout! (Robert T. Daniel)

 A couple of years ago, I visited the Old Tucson Studio, now transformed into a kind of old west / western movies & TV theme park. And there walked the dry gulch where John Wayne made the prisoner exchange for Dean Martin in Rio Bravo. (Sean Axmaker)

      27)   Second favorite Delmer Daves film

Nothing can compare to Dark Passage, one of those great noirs that really deserves more attention. But Daves' gift for a tight frame and slow-building terror was well-deployed in Destination Toyko, where he also gets a tough, stripped-down performance out of Cary Grant. (Brian Doan)

3.10 to Yuma. (Favourite: Dark Passage. Not that brilliant a film, but I'm sucker for all that subjective camera stuff at the start.) (estienne64)

He wrote An Affair to Remember, so Bogey/Bacall vehicle Dark Passage. (Anne Thompson)

Cowboy, with 3:10 to Yuma being number one, although the clips I’ve seen from The Red 
House suggest a possible new fave on the horizon. (Jeff Gee)

Probably 3:10 to Yuma. (The Red House is #1). I’ll watch Jubal when the Criterion comes along. (Tom Block)

A Summer Place. (3:10 to Yuma is his best, although The Last Wagon is a sentimental favorite because my cousin Stephanie Griffin has a supporting role in it.) (wwolfe)

Rome Adventure (Katherine Wilson)

So this is Hollywood hack month? Dark Passage after Dames, but no one on earth ever called Dames a Delmer Daves film, did they? (Robert Fiore)

I should know his films better. Never did see The Hanging Tree or The Badlanders. I may have to go with Dark Passage on this one, though my 25-year-old memory wants me to put Cowboy in this spot. (Sean Axmaker)

Hey, I’ve actually seen two! Hollywood Canteen would come out second to An Affair to Remember. (Weigard)

The Petrified Forest (Jamie Lewis)

 28)   Name the one DVD commentary you wish you could hear that, for  whatever reason, doesn't actually exist 

Harpo Marx on Duck Soup (just honking). (David Cairns)

Orson Welles on Citizen Kane would be cool. I imagine he would need to do at least 3 separate audio tracks in order to get in everything he might want to say. It would probably create three new films, all very Citizen Kane-like. (Weigard)
      I think about this shit stupidly a lot: there exist no Spielberg or Lynch commentaries, and I think that is a crime for posterity. (Matthew David Wilder)

Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, and Willis H. O’Brien talking about making King Kong, constantly interrupted by asides from Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong. (Roderick Heath)

Yasujiro Ozu on his final film, An Autumn Afternoon. (Sean Gilman)

Jean Renoir on The Rules of the Game (estienne64)

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. (wwolfe)

Chester Novell Turner on Back Devil Doll from Hell. Because that dude is DEAD. (Simon Abrams)

David Lynch on Dune, not only to hear of all the production troubles he was up against, but also to hear of the different potential sequels De Laurentiis was hoping for. (Tony Dayoub)

It may exist–the movie has never been released on DVD outside Japan–but I would love to hear a commentary track for Gaichu from Akihiko Shiota, Eihi Shiina, and Aoi Miyazaki. (xterminal)

Hawks, Grant, Hecht and Russell on His Girl Friday. (Larry Aydlette)

Given James Ellroy’s commentary track on Andre de Toth’s Crime Wave, in which he speculates that Timothy Carey just might be the man who murdered his mother, I’m going with James Ellroy on The World’s Greatest Sinner. (Jeff Gee)

Director Phil Tucker on Robot Monster. I really, really want to know what he thought he was making. (Sean Axmaker)

I’d love a full blown commentary on Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View. Still one of the best conspiracy films of the 1970s. (Jack Deth)

Orson Welles, regaling us with anecdotes about Joseph Cotten on the commentary track for Criterion's double-disc, full restoration of The Magnificent Ambersons. If he also wants to throw in a chorus of "The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo," I will not complain. (Brian Doan)

Preston Sturges on anything. (Robert Fiore)

Jack Nance, Eraserhead. (Thom McGregor)

I’d like to assemble a panel of the most hilarious grandparents (intentionally AND unintentionally hilarious) of my high school friends and see what they’d make of any Harmony Korine film. (Josh K.)

29) Gloria Grahame or Marie Windsor

G. L. O. R. I. A. Gloooooooria! (Larry Aydlette)

Windsor. ‘Salem’s Lot cred FTW. (xterminal)

Very, very hard choice. Very slight edge to Marie Windsor because she made every low-budget film she was in so much better. (Marilyn Ferdinand)

Crazy doesn't get any better than Gloria Grahame. (Sean Gilman)

Grahame. This is McGraw/Ryan redux. Also, much as I like Windsor, Grahame’s particular brands of sexuality, weirdness and wildness are right up my alley. (Tom Block)

Grahame. (This and Q20 make me feel I'm putting the boot into that excellent film The Narrow Margin.) (estienne64)

Grahame, isn’t it? She is something. (weepingsam)

Gloria Grahame. Because duh, GLORIA GRAHAME! (Sean Axmaker)

Marie Windsor. Gloria Grahame always looked like she was in the first stages of anaphylaxis. (Jamie Lewis)

Gloria Grahame was in better movies. Marie Windsor is just far enough off being a true glamour girl that you can imagine you'd actually have a chance at her. The kind of girl Elisha Cook, Jr. thinks he can have. (Robert Fiore)

Tough call. But I always get a special thrill from spotting MW in a bit part. (David Cairns)

Once again, have a faint idea of what Grahame looks like, so she wins. (Thom McGregor)
        Marie! Get outta here with that Gloria Grahame nonsense! (Matthew David Wilder)

30) Name a filmmaker who never really lived up to the potential suggested by their early acclaim or success

The easy answer's Kevin Smith, but I'm going with Witchfinder General director Michael Reeves, who quite literally didn't live up to his potential due to his dying at age 25. (Patrick)

I really thought that Clark Johnson had a major career in front of him. Only a couple of features to his name, and of those the TV movie Boycott (2001) is terrific and the theatrical feature S.W.A.T. is awfully well directed for such an insubstantial film (the best stuff is unscripted byplay between Sam Jackson and Colin Farrell). But he directed the pilots and early episodes of both The Shield and The Wire and was integral to setting the style and sensibility of those shows. Since then, I haven't seen him really extend himself. He's got a solid career directing television, and he does it well, but he should be directing features or developing shows himself. He just seems to be marking time on other people's projects. (Sean Axmaker)

John Frankenheimer (estienne64)         

        Franc Roddam. I loved Quadrophenia at the time. (Thom McGregor) 

 Woody Allen (Robert Fiore)
Definitely Shamaylan. Runner up would be De Palma. (Jack Deth)

Cheating a bit, but--Charles Laughton. (Mike Schlesinger)

George Lucas. Makes me weep. (Mr. Peel)

I’ve been disappointed by every post-BODY HEAT Lawrence Kasdan film. (Josh K.)

John Landis (Katherine Wilson)           

Richard Kelly (Jamie Lewis)

I’m starting to worry about Paul Thomas Anderson. The guy’s a fucking master but I’m not sure what all that technique is in service of. (Tom Block)

I know he’s a favorite “whipping boy” for questions like this, but Michael Cimino. The Deer Hunter is a brilliant, explosively acted film-and his infamous follow up, Heaven’s Gate, truly is a pretentious mess that derailed his career (and it’s still a mess, no matter what revisionist history has occurred recently). (Robert T. Daniel)

What about John Singleton? It feels remarkably dated now, but Boyz N The Hood was a huge deal back in 1991-- it came out the summer before my freshman year of college, and the impact on people my age, especially, was immense: it was the crest of the so-called "Black Pack" renaissance that Spike Lee had kicked into gear with She's Gotta Have It, and the future seemed like an endless horizon of potentially great films. Singleton followed it up with the flawed but interesting romantic drama Poetic Justice, and the heavy-handed but skillful Higher Learning. And then...

And then what? He's continued working on projects both personal (Rosewood, Baby Boy) and product-driven (Shaft, 2 Fast 2 Furious), but none of them show the flash of personality that his debut film did. He's only 44, so he has a lot of time to explore, but it's hard to imagine him ever capturing that kind of excitement and insight again. (Brian Doan)

Stanley Kubrick (wwolfe)

David Gordon Green is an obvious example; there might be better, but he is the obvious one. (weepingsam)
       There are so many, it hurts to think about. Read Pauline Kael's late, post-retirement reminiscence of Peckinpah. It is one of my favorite essays, if you want to call it that, about filmmaking. A superfan, Kael is remarkably clear-eyed--terrifyingly so--about the man Peckinpah was. She described him as "the most unfulfilled of all great directors," and though that label might belong with Welles, she may be right. What's worse, a cult has grown around his garbled, poorly thought out and/or mutilated films. (Matthew David Wilder)

Catherine Hardwicke. I liked Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown an awful lot, but boy, ever since then... (Scott Nye)
What if Welles had finished more movies, been more disciplined, worked within the system? (Anne Thompson)

Isn't it a shame that Howard Hawks never managed to top Scarface? KIDDING. The Siren points to her sidebar to reiterate that one good movie, for her, is enough. But because she re-watched Force of Evil recently, the Siren will name Abraham Polonsky as a filmmaker thwarted by the tenor of his times. (Self-Styled Siren)

31) Is there a movie-based disagreement serious enough that it might cause you to reevaluate the basis of a romantic relationship or a friendship?

Gosh, no. I’ll take imperfect people over perfect movies any day. (Weigard)

If someone seriously defended the idea that Bio-Dome was a funny movie. (Subjectivity is one thing, but there ARE limits.) (Edward Copeland)

Sure. I used to have a girlfriend/eventual roommate who called almost everything I liked “pretentious shit”, and that was only the seventh or eighth most serious relationship problem we had. I’ve had other friends who, given the choice between a good American film and a good foreign film, would reflexively pick the American one every single time, and that drove me nuts. (Tom Block)

Yes, if they don't like Hayao Miyazaki, we're through. (leo86)

Nah. Unless The Sound of Music is your favorite movie. Then we're gonna tussle like Milton Berle and Terry-Thomas! (W.B. Kelso)

Not necessarily... but I have stopped reading certain film critics when a pattern of contrarian-ism develops which they can't adequately defend. At least Farber and Kael can back up their iconoclasm with some serious and well-expressed thoughts. But simply trying to get attention is cause for me to move on. (Tony Dayoub)

      I lived with a girl with whom I suspected I had some really grave differences. I took out a CD and said, "If I die first, I want you to play this music at my funeral." I played it: "Cockeye's Theme" from Once Upon a Time in America. It's a long piece. She was lying on the couch. When it was over, she looked up at me and said, "Kinda....cheesy, isn't it?" In that moment I knew the relationship was over. (Matthew David Wilder)

In my twenties, maybe, but not anymore. (Sean Axmaker)

None of the usual arguments, like Pauline Kael dismissing anyone who does not loveMcCabe and Mrs. Miller. I would have to rethink relationships with people who enjoyed or cheered on rape scenes in movies. (Marilyn Ferdinand)

A total disregard of Monty Python. (Jamie Lewis)

I have a friend who likes both Gangster Squad and Les Miserables. Every day is a struggle to forgive. (Roderick Heath)

Anyone who sincerely believes that Peter's Friends has any redeeming features is unlikely to feature on my Christmas card list. (estienne64)

No, that would mean you are an extremely shallow or self-absorbed person, probably both. (Larry Aydlette)

In college I called my boyfriend Peter a "movie moron" for not having seen 2001: A Space Odyssey. He never let me forget it. (Anne Thompson)

If someone wants to say to me that they hate Lubitsch/Wilder/Hawks/You get the idea and they’re coming at it from a serious, thoughtful place I’d like to think that I’d be open to what they have to say. Maybe they would make me think about whatever the film is in a way I’d never considered before. I’ve certainly heard intelligent people say bad things about movies I love and they had a good reason. But if it’s someone who thinks that these movies are boring or dumb or old-fashioned or only good for watching on Mystery Science Theater 3000 then, well, what would even be the point of continuing a single conversation? Also, if someone told me they preferred digital projection to 35mm, that might be a rough start. (Mr. Peel)

Whenever she's asked this question, the Siren likes to point out that she married a man who dislikes John Ford. Her dissent-tolerance is pretty well established. (Self-Styled Siren)

I think if someone said, “I just don’t like black-and-white movies” – meaning, really, any older movies – that would put a serious crimp in the relationship. (wwolfe)

I was going to say no, but I remembered a former coworker who said her and her boyfriend only liked 3D movies. I wouldn’t have lasted an hour with that woman. (Josh K.)

I am not sure I can think of anything. I’m pretty forgiving. (weepingsam)

No, or it would have already happened. (Thom McGregor)


Extra credit to Bill Ryan for submitting 100% correct answers on his quiz:

The classic movie moment everyone loves except me is:

The Passion of Joan of Arc. It’s dumb as fuck.

2) Favorite line of dialogue from a film noir

“So that’s why ya killed her, is it?? Why you!” from Deadly Street Nights

3) Second favorite Hal Ashby film

Samurai Champloo

4) Describe the moment when you first realized movies were directed as opposed to simply pieced together anonymously.

The part in Touch of Evil with that big long shot at the beginning, when the camera pans by Orson Welles sitting in his director’s chair, winking and giving the “A-OK!” sign.

5) Favorite film book

Films In the Dark: American Cinema from September 1982 – April 1983: What Movies Say About You, Specifically by Rodney Smitch

6) Diana Sands or Vonetta McGee?

If Holden Caulfield married Vonetta McGee, his name would be Holden McGee. Wait, that doesn’t mean anything.

7) Most egregious gap in your viewing of films made in the past 10 years

Fart Movie

8) Favorite line of dialogue from a comedy

“If that’s your poop, then what did my doctor just eat!?” from Poop Movie


9) Second favorite Lloyd Bacon film

Whence Flew the Albatross?

10) Richard Burton or Roger Livesey?

Have you guys heard my Richard Burton impersonation? Check it out: “Humph humph humph! I’m gonna punch your face, buddy! Humph humph humph!”

11) Is there a movie you staunchly refuse to consider seeing? If so, why?

Make Way for Tomorrow, because I was in the video store years ago, and I was talking to the guy who ran the place, and I said “So have you seen anything good lately?” and he said “Make Way for Tomorrow is really good,” and I said “Oh yeah? What is that, sci-fi? Bunch of lasers and such?” He said “No, actually, it’s a pretty heartbreaking story about this elderly couple who, because of various financial and familial influences…” But I cut him off right there, because I thought I could guess, and I said “And they travel into the future? And before the old guy hits the button that goes BEEP BOOP BEEP and sends them into the time-hole, he goes ‘Okay Gladys, here we go…make way for tomorrow!” But the guy goes, “No, it’s not…” and I went “Do you see the old lady’s tits at all?” He’s like “What? No. Who are – “ “Save me the chin music, Frances,” I go, “If there’s no tits and no time explosions then fuck all y’all!” Then I stormed out. I was soooo mad, you guys.

12) Favorite filmmaker collaboration

The classic grindhouse duo Hanch Furnbee and Dornis O’Horke. Best movie they made together: Don’t Answer My Question!

13) Most recently viewed movie on DVD/Blu-ray/theatrical?

Poop Movie on DVD, then again on Blu-ray, where it really pops. In theaters: Amour

14) Favorite line of dialogue from a horror movie

“I’m afraid you guessed correctly, my poor little mouse. You see, I am a mummy! GRRRRRRRRRR!” – from The Mummy’s Thigh

15) Second favorite Oliver Stone film

I Will Cart My Dick Around in a Wheelbarrow Without Even Being Asked To

16) Eva Mendes or Raquel Welch?

Ha ha ha aw yeah dude


17) Favorite religious satire


18) Best Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)

“I think There Will Be Blood is real good.” “Did you see it in Cannes?” “No.” “I did. It’s not the same movie if you don’t know that Gilles Jacob is within at least a couple hundred yards of the theater. It’s as if a certain magic has been lost.” “Why are you such a fucking piece of shit?” And so on. I’m not going to type out the whole thing.

19) Most pointless Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)

“here is some start wars opinon” “ur opin ion about start wars yoda is a dum one” “why dont u dumb ur face up ur ass hole” “that is something like wat jart jart bankes would say” “u wish” “u wish u were hant solor but u ar not as cool but i am hant solor pew pew pew” “that is no how phaser blast soun like they r like this proo proo proo i jus kild jart jart bankes” “u son of a bich” etc.

20) Charles McGraw or Robert Ryan?

My last name is Ryan too.

21) Favorite line of dialogue from a western

“Are those cows? Cows are everywhere out here in the West. God bless this land. This shall be our home.” from No Longer the East

22) Second favorite Roy Del Ruth film

Twice a Woman, Once a Cop

23) Relatively unknown film or filmmaker you’d most eagerly proselytize for

You’ve probably never heard of it.

24) Ewan McGregor or Gerard Butler?

Neither one. The sooner Scotland crumbles into Hell, the better. Who’s with me?


25) Is there such a thing as a perfect movie?

A perfect movie needs the eleven Bs: blood, boobs, barking (I like dogs, but mainly in the distance, not up close), Bakersfield (California, I’ve heard it’s nice), barns, Baal (a lesser demon), boos (scares!), blares (trumpets!), bleats (sheep!), bosses (entrepreneurs!) and BONES, if you know what I mean (skeletons).

26) Favorite movie location you’ve most recently had the occasion to actually visit

The planet Earth. That’s where they filmed most of Poop Movie.

27) Second favorite Delmer Daves film


28) Name the one DVD commentary you wish you could hear that, for whatever reason, doesn't actually exist

I’d like one for Playtime where Jacques Tati says things like “And this was the first day of filming,” and Jean Badal says “No, this was day three.” But Tati is insistent this was the first day of filming! Those two in a room together, just magic.

29) Gloria Grahame or Marie Windsor?

Ha ha I get what you are going for with this one! Up top!

30) Name a filmmaker who never really lived up to the potential suggested by their early acclaim or success

Srdjan Spasojevic 

31) Is there a movie-based disagreement serious enough that it might cause you to reevaluate the basis of a romantic relationship or a friendship?

Don’t like Summer Rental? I will no-fooling murder you with a shovel, dickface.


UP NEXT: In the ultimate expression of A Hard Act to Follow, Dennis attempts 31 swings at his own answers to Miss Jean Brodie's  Modestly Magnificient, Matriarchally Manipulative Springtime-For-Mussolini Movie Quiz!


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