Lorna: You are certifiable! What is this? Some sort of smart-ass joke? You’re taking cooking?
Michael: I want to learn how to cook.
Lorna: Yeah, right. You have some burning desire to learn how to make apple brown betty. . .
Michael: What are you doing here if you think so highly of it?
Lorna: Well, they wouldn’t let me take auto mechanics, and I didn’t have time to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
I think the first time I saw this film was on a hot August afternoon. I do know it was sometime in 2008 because it was the summer I moved to San Francisco the first time and I did a lot of Netflixing that summer. It was right around the same time I saw Sunset Blvd. for the first time. It was a good summer. This is a film just chock full of talent and energy and heart and soul and gravity and gaiety. It’s got everything. If you Google around, you can read about the events on which it was based; I won’t be discussing them here. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Film Editing (for Dede Allen, who was nominated for threes Oscars, though she never won and was in and of herself a ig player in the Hollywood New Wave), Best Supporting Actor Chris Sarandon, Best Actor Al Pacino, Best Original Screenplay Frank Pierson (won; more on this in a bit), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Barry Lyndon, Jaws, Nashville and winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There will be many spoilers after the cut.
Valentine ‘Snakeskin’ Xavier: You know, Lady, there’s people bought and sold in this world like carcasses of hogs. . .in butcher shops. You might think that there’s. . .there’s many. . .many kinds of people in this world. But there’s only two kinds: The buyers and the ones that get bought. [beat] No, there’s another kind.
Lady Torrance: What kind?
Valentine ‘Snakeskin’ Xavier: It’s a kind that don’t belong no place at all. There’s a kind of bird that don’t have any legs so it can’t alight on nothing. So it has to spend its whole life on its wings in the air. I seen one, once. It died and fell to earth. And its body was light blue colored. And it was just as tiny as your little finger. And it was so light in the palm of your hand that it didn’t weigh more than a feather. And its wings spread out that wide. And you could see right through them. That’s why the hawks don’t catch them. . .because they don’t see ’em. They don’t see ’em way up in that high blue sky near the sun.
Lady Torrance: What about in gray weather?
Valentine ‘Snakeskin’ Xavier: They fly so high, in gray weather, the hawks, they’d get dizzy. See, these little birds don’t have no legs at all so they have to live their whole lives on the wing. And they sleep on the wind. That’s what they do, they just. . . they just spread their wings out and go to sleep on the wind. And they only alight on this earth but one time. . .it’s when they die.
Estelle Rolfe: Could I see that picture of Garbo in the window?
Shopkeeper: Ha ha, it’s from Grand Hotel.
Estelle Rolfe: It’s from Mata Hari.
Shopkeeper: Grand Hotel, I own the shop!
Estelle Rolfe: No, it’s from Mata Hari, it’s the scene in the prison cell, where she has a reunion with Rosanoff, just before they take him to the firing squad to be executed. Look at the costumes, it’s Mata Hari.
Shopkeeper: That’s 35 dollars.
Estelle Rolfe: This isn’t rare, I’ve seen it before!
Shopkeeper: Then buy it before! The frame makes it higher.
Estelle Rolfe: I’ll take it without the frame!
Shopkeeper: I don’t sell it without the frame. That’s 35 dollars!
Estelle Rolfe: It’s Mata Hari, go to the movies!
It’s that time of year. Everyone is frantically trying to finish end of the year projects at work or at school. People are freaking out because they are alone (hopefully not forever though!), etc. etc. It’s also that time of year when we celebrate those we love by giving them things we think they’ll love (or that we love and want to convince them to love, too). Thus I give you my first-ever Holiday Gift Guide, filled with 15 things that I think would make awesome gifts for the movie lover in your life.
The first time I saw this film I was completely blown away. It’s eerie how a satirical film about television made 35 years ago can be so accurate within today’s world of television. I rewatched it recently and am just as in awe of it as ever. Network was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Ned Beatty, Best Supporting Actress Beatrice Straight (won), Best Actress Faye Dunaway (won), Best Actor William Holden, Best Actor Peter Finch (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were All The President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Taxi Driver and winner Rocky.
I thought it would be fitting to follow up my in memorium Sidney Lumet post with a more prolonged discussion of one of his greatest masterpieces. Like I said in that earlier post, I saw 12 Angry Men for the first time on PBS a few years ago. I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before. Part of what makes this an undisputed masterpiece is how timeless it feels. Yes, it’s filmed in black and white, but it feels as fresh as if it were filmed today. Amazing, considering it was Lumet’s first feature film. The only other directorial debut I can think of that is equally as amazing is Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Surprisingly this film was only nominated for three Academy Awards and lost them all to The Bridge on the River Kwai (something tells me François Truffaut was not happy with the Academy’s decision that year; read his book The Films in My Life and you’ll see why I think this). The awards it was up for were Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Peyton Place, Sayonara, Witness For The Prosecution and winner The Bridge on the River Kwai. Regardless of its Academy history, the film is ranked #7 on IMDb’s user-generation Top 250 and is generally considered one of the greatest films ever made.
I am the first to admit I have not seen as many Lumet films as I would like; I’ve only seen six of his films. But I loved all six of those films. I also recently finished reading his book Making Movies and realized there were so many of his films that I need to see. I would recommend that book to anyone who just likes watching movies and especially to anyone who is thinking of going into filmmaking. He was a passionate filmmaker and if you couldn’t tell that from his films, that book removes any doubt. So I’m going to talk about those films that I have seen, as well as a few I have but that were nominated for Academy Awards. Lumet himself was nominated for Best Director four times and Best Original Screenplay once. Sadly, he never won a competitive Academy Award, although he received an Honorary Oscar in 2005.