Thursday, December 3, 2009

“Gee whiz, Professor!”

Over at the hallowed halls of SLIFR Academy, teacher’s aide Dennis Cozzalio—being the sniveling little toady he is—dropped a massive film Thanksgiving/Christmas quiz into the laps of his faithful blog followers, a test created by none other than Professor Russell Johnson, best-selling author of The Seventh Stranded Castaway. Normally when I take these quizzes I post my responses over at Dennis’ blog but the recent restrictions on the length of comments instituted by Blogger has kind of put the kibosh on that. Besides, I was stuck for a post today and I figured this would be as good a candidate as any. If any loyal TDOY readers are interested in taking the quiz I encourage you to do so…but I do not encourage you looking at my test answers.

1) Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie.

The Big Lebowski (1998). When I first saw this in the theatre I didn’t care for it (and couldn’t believe the lame ending) but I get something new out of it with each repeat viewing.

2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus)

Ride the High Country (1962). Actually, any one of the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher westerns would work, too—particularly Ride Lonesome (1959).

Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal)


4) Favorite moment/line from a western.

“All I want is to enter my house justified.” (From the aforementioned Country.)

5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most?

Literature. All good movies need good stories.

6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).

Ghost World (2001). The reason I chose this as misunderstood is because I don’t understand its appeal…so apparently I don’t understand it.

7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.
James Woods. He used to be good once.

8) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee?

9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1993)

10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
If the only thing Hall ever did was In Cold Blood (1967) I’d still choose him.

11) Second favorite Don Siegel movie.
Madigan (1968).

12) Last movie you saw on DVD/Blu-ray? In theaters?
The last movie I saw on DVD was Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936). And until further notice, I refuse to answer the “In theaters” question because the last movie I saw in a theater was Get Smart (2008). (You only do this to make fun of me in front of the class.)

13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
I don’t have a Blu-Ray machine yet, but the first disc I buy if I do get one will be North by Northwest (1959).

14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse?
Since I’ve never heard of Mintz-Plasse, I’ll go with Deezen. On the basis of I Wanna Hold Your Hand [1978] alone. (He was in 1941, too—wasn’t he?)

15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything.

There are too many on my list to count, but I’ll go with John Garfield.

16) Fight Club -- yes or no?
Emphatically no.

17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland?
I like Livvy, but I’m positively ga-ga over Teresa—The Little Foxes (1941), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Pursued (1947), The Men (1950), Track of the Cat (1954), The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) and her cinematic swan song, The Rainmaker (1997).

18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir.
From His Kind of Woman (1951):

Mitchum: Whenever I have nothing to do and I can't think, I always iron my money.

Russell: What d'ya do when you're broke?

Mitchum: When I'm broke, I press my pants.

19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any other unsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blog Destructible Man for inspiration.
Best: The engineer’s “arm” in The General (1926).

20) What's the least you've spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly)
I spent three bucks to see Last Action Hero (1993) because I didn’t have A/C in my apartment. It wasn’t worth it.

21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin?
Heflin. Not even close.

22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film.
Remember My Name (1978).

23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see.
One Bright Shining Moment (2005). One of the best political documentaries ever made. Runner-up: An Unreasonable Man (2006), another first-rate poly-doc.

24) In deference to this quiz’s professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded.
We're Not Dressing (1934). (Well, I damn sure wasn’t going to answer Cast Away [2000].)

25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share.

Well, I remember being in a chat room one time where several members of the female persuasion were discussing “GK” and because I thought they meant “Grace Kelly” so I mentioned I saw Fourteen Hours (1951) earlier that week. (They were actually referring to “Gene Kelly.”) But there wasn’t any humiliation involved—I just twiddled my tie in Oliver Hardy-fashion and we moved on.

26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette)

This is a toughie, but I’ll go with Gerry on the strengths of The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945), Three Strangers (1946), Nobody Lives Forever (1946) and The Pawnbroker (1964).

27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who?


28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why?
The Passion of the Christ (2004). I don’t abhor violent movies, but several people I’ve talked to who’ve seen it say it’s a bit over the top.

29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambience.
A Simple Plan (1999).

30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones?
Well, Graham is in Greetings (1968), Demon Seed (1977) and Used Cars (1980)…while the only thing I liked Jones in was Ed Wood (1994). Advantage: Graham.

31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever).
I don’t think there is such an animal. Cultural stereotypes have always existed in films and as long as they are shortcuts to avoiding actual character development they’ll be around for a long while.

32) Second favorite John Wayne movie.
The Quiet Man (1952).

33) Favorite movie car chase.
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941).

34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins)
Since I abhor remakes as a general rule, I refuse to answer this question as it would compromise my principles. And if you don’t like my principles…well, I have others…

35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon?
“If you don’t mind, 99, I’d like to handle this myself…”

36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie.
Pitfall (1948).

37) If you could take one filmmaker's entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
Harmony Korine’s.

38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it.
I can’t think of a film that I actively hated…only to come around and embrace it like a bastard son in later life, but there are movies that left me cold and that I later warmed up to. The first time I saw Animal House (1978) I was completely stone-faced…but subsequent viewings (I highly recommend seeing it with a large crowd) changed my opinion a great deal.

39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
Gotta go with Max on this one, for Exhibits A, B and C: Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Caught (1949) and The Reckless Moment (1949). (Not to mention La ronde [1950], Le plaisir [1952] and Madame de... [1953].)

40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality?
My Delta Tau Chi name would be “Flounder.”

41) Your favorite movie cliché.
The bad guys are all seated around a table in a saloon, tossing back one after another—leading to raucous laughter and slurring of speech. When the hero enters, he eventually draws his gun—prompting all of the drunks to sober up at the drop of a hat.

42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
Minnelli. No contest.

43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence.
Black Christmas (1974).

44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.
C. Aubrey Smith’s decision that he and wife Elizabeth Risdon will stay behind in Five Came Back (1939).

45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
The cult of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson?
Munro, but it was a close race.

47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio)
Raoul Walsh. (Was there any doubt?)

48) Favorite ambiguous movie ending. (Original somewhat ambiguous submission---“Something about ambiguous movie endings!”-- by Jim Emerson, who may have some inspiration of his own to offer you.)
Petulia (1968).

49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for?
Turner Classic Movies. Without it, I would go insane.

50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
If we’re talking about Police Squad!, North. Anything else, Kennedy.

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Dennis Cozzalio said...

Bravo, Ivan! That Mitchum line made me choke on my low-fat sausage McMuffin!

And thanks too for being the only one to even acknowledge that the Munro-Carlson contest was any kind of contest at all!

Pam said...

Wow! Good thing you chose Minnelli. After all, Donen is to blame.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I've been looking at some of the responses both at Dennis' blog and other blogs and I've been positively gobsmacked at how many people have chosen Donen over Minnelli. Granted, I enjoy films like Charade (1963), Bedazzled (1967), Two for the Road (1967) and Movie Movie more than, say, Lust for Life (1956) or Gigi (1958) but I can't deny that Vinnelli had a lot more range and much more artistic vision.

Someone--and don't ask me who it was, 'cause I don't 'member--answered "Donen" because "he directed Singin' in the Rain." It was at that point that I heard you shrieking: "I cannnnn't stannnnnd it!"

(If memory serves me correctly, he had a little help on that one.)

le0pard13 said...

I recently pick up North by Northwest on Blu-ray Disc. You made an excellent pick - and it looks great on BD. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your movie quiz answers [even though I'm one of them who picked Donen ;-)]. Thanks for this.

Pam said...

Yes, Donen had a little help with Singing in the Rain. The moral of the story is: 1. don't die first and 2. come first alphabetically.

Frontal Lobe Jello said...

I also at first didn't get The Big Lebowski. But I kept seeing little parts of it and one day it just "hit me".

NOW, I've watched it so much, I can pretty much know all the dialogue by heart and quote it often in "real life"

The Baby said...

Lol remember we used to do general entertainment "this or that", in chat?

Those were always fun. I think my fave was always "Jackie Wilson, or Wilson Pickett?"

Come up with quite a few since those old days.

The Baby said...

Mine's up, even though I'm not a regular at that blog. Just could not resist. Oh, Ivan, I mentioned you re: sending me The Giant Claw that time. I still have that tape.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I tried clicking on Baby’s link and got only the Western Electric logo. Fortunately, my Internet sleuthing skills allowed me to locate her blog in a nanosecond (it’s here). Since it’s not comment-friendly (and considering the content, I can certainly see why) I thought I would post my comments on TDOY.

Glad to see that I’m not the only individual who hated Eraserhead. I probably would have put it down as my choice, but I paid to see Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Honest to my grandma, I had forgotten all about sending you The Giant Claw. (I did remember sending you Crazy House, which I am pleased to report I now have a better copy.) But thanks for the credit!

And you’re right: I do need to see Scandalize My Name: Stories From the Blacklist.

The Baby said...

Ha, looks like neither link worked. How about

Yeah, gotta keep the weirdoes away, so no comments on it. Will be bbl to comment on your choices.