Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sister Clodagh’s Superficially Spiritual, Ambitiously Agnostic Last-Rites-of-Spring Movie Quiz

Every now and again Dennis Cozallio, the great film writer over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, comes out with a 30 or so question quiz that is posted on his blog and sent out to all those web-based critics and cinephiles for completion at their leisure.  Sometimes I participate, other times I do not.  Now the causes for my non-participatory parts of this equation really have nothing to do with the quality of the quizzes - for they are always fun stuff indeed - but more because I procrastinate and end up forgetting all about them.  Well not this time true believers (thanx Stan), for here is my completed quiz.  Take that!

The original post from Dennis' site can be read here and you can post yr own answers there as well.. 

And here is the quiz and my answers.

1) Favorite movie featuring nuns?  To be funny I suppose I could see Killer Nun or Nude Nuns With Big Guns (or even Lindsay Lohan at the end of Machete) but of course I will have to go with Black Narcissus.  Not only is this Powell/Pressburger film one of the best films ever made (nun-related or not) it also has Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron as the two sexiest nuns (in the most varying ways) ever on film.

2) Second favorite John Frankenheimer movie?  I have never seen either Birdman of Alcatraz or The Manchurian Candidate (believe it or not), nor have I seen Grand Prix (though currently perched rather high on my Netflix queue), and since Seconds is my sure fire fave Frankenheimer, I suppose I must go with the oft-overlooked 1964 film, The Train.  So there.

3) William Bendix or Scott Brady?  Gotta admit I do not know much about Scott Brady (I like his brother though) but since Bendix not only played Babe Ruth in a film, he was also a batboy for the Yankees in the 1920's and got to see the Bambino play (how's that for research for a role), I am going to go with him.

4) What movie, real or imagined, would you stand in line six hours to see?   Have you ever done so in real life?  I have never done so.  Perhaps an hour at most back in the day.  Star WarsRaiders.  The most recent was The Red Shoes at Film Forum two years ago.  Of course nowadays, with online tickets and advance ticket sales, lines need not be a big thing.   What film would I do that for?  Knowing me, pretty much anything I am really excited for.  I have no qualms about such a thing.

5) Favorite Mitchell Leisen movie?  I believe, though more thanks to Gene Tierney, Miriam Hopkins and Thelma Ritter than to Leisen, that I would call The Mating Season his best work.  Of course I have never seen Midnight, his most acclaimed work.

6) Ann Savage or Peggy Cummins?  Miss Savage may have been a great femme fatale in Detour, but no one beats Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy.  You would have to be crazy to not make this choice.  The sexual explosiveness of her character, her wild, untamed persona, the crazed look she gets in her eyes, and don't forget that cowgirl outfit, make this one a no-brainer in my book.

7) First movie you remember seeing as a child?  I have rather faint memories of watching Disney's The Jungle Book as a wee one, but considering it played in theaters the year I was born and was not rereleased in nine years later, I am guessing that was on TV (this was back in the days before home video possibilities).  I also remember seeing The Poseidon Adventure at our local drive-in when I was five or six, but the first film I remember seeing in a movie theater proper was Benji in 1974, when I was just seven years old.

8) What moment in a movie that is not a horror movie, made you want to bolt from the theater screaming?  The moment I realized I just spent hard-earned money on Titanic.  Seriously though, no matter how bad or even disturbing a film is (or even how dreadfully boring) I have never walked out, so I do not really have a serious answer for you on this one.

9) Richard Widmark or Robert Mitchum?  Now I love Richard Widmark.  His work in Pick-up On South Street and Kiss of Death are things of cinematic magic, but c'mon now, he is no Robert Mitchum.  Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter alone is cause enough to celebrate, and when you toss in things like Out of the Past, Crossfire, The Lusty Men, Angel Face, El Dorado and Track of the Cat...well, you get the picture.  He's Mitchum!

10) Best Movie Jesus?  Great question, and I have a great answer.  Enrique Irazoqui in Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew.  Runners-up include Willem Dafoe in Scorsese's Last Temptation, Jeffrey Hunter in Nick Ray's King of Kings, and less traditionally, Don Sutherland in Johnny Got His Gun and Graham Chapman in Life of Brian.

11) Silliest straight horror film that you're still fond of?  Many horror films are just silly by nature but that is the charm of them.  I think any of the films by the infamously bad director Edward D. Wood Jr. would need to be included here.  Yes he was a terrible filmmaker.  Yes he couldn't make a competent shot if his life depended on it.  Yes his films are some of the most laughably bad works of horror/sci-fi ever made - and that is saying a lot considering the history of the genre.  But still, no matter the quality, Ed Wood loved making movies.  He was rapturous about the medium and would put everything he had into his films, trying harder than most of the hacks calling themselves directors in today's world.  He was an auteur of the genre and should be praised for his love of cinema, even if the finished product was quite ridiculous indeed.

12) Emily Blunt or Sally Gray?  This is an easy one, but only due to process of elimination.  You see, as far as I know, I have never seen a Sally Gray film, or if I did, it was not very memorable at all.  So, with that being said, my answer must be Ms. Blunt.  Now don't get me wrong, I actually like Blunt as an actress, though she does delve a bit too much into the schmaltzier side of town, but even if I did not, I would have to default to her anyway.

13) Favorite cinematic biblical spectacular?  If I actually believed in the idea of guilty pleasures (why should one feel guilt over something they enjoy!?) this genre would certainly be one of them.  So much so that it is quite difficult to pick just one.  My favourites, in no particular order, are Nick Ray's King of Kings, Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah and Victor Saville's much-chastised (even by star Paul Newman himself in later years) The Silver Chalice.  If we went back even further in the annals of history, we could add Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs and Michael Curtiz's The Egyptian, but I suppose those are not necessarily biblical spectacles so much as ancient history spectacles.

14) Favorite cinematic moment of unintentional humor?  Does it make me a bad person to answer with the Singin' in the Rain rape scene in A Clockwork Orange?  Oh well, c'est la vie.

15) Michael Fassbender or David Farrar?  Man what a choice.  Both have a strange sexual predator vibe going on in nearly every one of their respective performances.  Still though, even with his performances in Black Narcissus and Gone to Earth (my two favourites) I believe Mr. Farrar is going to lose out to Herr Fassbender.  From Hunger to Fish Tank to Jane Eyre to Shame to his turn as Archie Hickox in Inglourious Basterds (the unfortunate victim of the number three) and his portrayal of one of my all-time fave X-Men, Magneto, Fassbender is the one who makes this straight man go all weak in the knees.

16) Most effective faith-affirming movie?  I know the question is alluding to faith in a higher being, God, Allah, Krishna, Jesus or whatever they are calling it nowadays, but my answer goes a slightly different direction.  I believe the second half of Murnau's Sunrise, where the couple go to the big city and find each other again, I mean really find each other again, is one of the best proofs of the existence of some sort of higher calling or power or what-have-you.

17) Movie that makes the best case for agnosticism?  Forrest Gump.  If we are to believe that God is accountable for the lifelong survival of the Gump-Dogg (and the downfall of all his less angelic compatriots) then that is a God with which I want nothing to do.  Well, also the fact that no loving god would ever make me sit through that damn movie...

18) Favorite song and/or dance sequence from a musical?  In a serendipitous moment of perfect timing, my latest "Best Of" list for the fine folks over at Anomalous Material (coming to a world wide web near you sometime next week) is on this very same topic.  As a preview of this list, my resounding answer here is the ballet finale in The Red Shoes.  Other great moments of the genre include "Remember My Forgotten Man" from The Golddiggers of 1933, "The Trolly Song" from Meet Me In St. Louis and "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Enough of the preview, check out my upcoming list for the full story.

19) Third favorite Howard Hawks movie?  After my two favourites, Rio Bravo and His Girl Friday, comes the film in question, Only Angels Have Wings.  This is a choice that may take some by surprise, being a film that usually gets pushed aside when discussing the films of the great Howard Hawks.  It is a sweet, beautiful film that deserves more recognition than it gets.  No matter the greatness of films like The Big Sleep, Red River, Bringing Up Baby, Scarface, To Have and Have Not, Air Force, The Criminal Code and Dawn Patrol (and this list could go on and on), Only Angels Have Wings rises above all of them.  Well, except those aforementioned top two.

20) Clara Bow or Jean Harlow?  I have always been a dark-haired kinda guy, so I am going to go with that adorably sexy "It" Girl from Brooklyn, Miss Bow.

21) Movie most recently seen in the theater?  On DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming?  Theater: Damsels in Distress.  DVD: It's Always Fair Weather.  Blu-ray: People on Sunday.  Streaming: It's been a while, but the last one was The Nutty Professor (the Jerry Lewis version of course).

22) Most unlikely good movie about religion?  Monty Python's Life of Brian which was not only a Pythonesque game of whirling dervishing cinema, but also a rather poignant and thoughtful look at faith and belief.  Either that or Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.

23) Phil Silvers or Red Skelton?  Actually, I have always found Mr. Silvers' comedy to be rather smart and sassy as opposed to Mr. Skelton's slaphappy idea of comedy.  Okay, they are both pretty slaphappy, but Silvers decidedly less so.

24) "Favorite" Hollywood scandal?  I like that favorite is in quotes.  Anyway, there are so many good, ripe and juicy ones, that it makes it kinda hard to choose just one.  I believe I will go with a lesser known one, and leave all the big name ones for others to sort through.  I love that Gloria Grahame was cheating on her hubby Nick Ray with Ray's thirteen year old son from a previous marriage.  I also love that seven years later, Grahame and her now twenty year old former stepson were married.  I love that they actually had a baby together that was of course the grandson of Nick Ray.  Ain't love grand?  And this was all in sunny California and not Mississippi or West Virginia.

25) Best religious movie (non-Christian)?  Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo?  No?  Okay, how about Star Wars.  The force and the ways of the Jedi are more than loosely based on the Eastern religions of Taoism and Shintoism. And Jedi is the fastest growing religion in the world.  I may be a total nerd for saying this (or for knowing the rate of growth of a movie religion) but so be it.  May the force be with you.

26) The King of cinema: King Vidor, King Hu or Henry King? (Thanks Peter)  Though they all have their own manner of greatness (I just saw Hu's A Touch of Zen for the first time recently and was pretty much blown away as they say - my ramblings of which can be read here) but between the one two punch of The Big Parade and The Crowd, my answer must be King Vidor.

27) Name something modern movies need to relearn how to do that American or foreign classics had down pat.  Howzabout being able to tell a story without having to explain every little thing in detail?  I remember watching Inception when it first came out and getting pissed off every time someone in the story paused to explain everything to Ellen Page's character, a character whose seeming only purpose was to hang around so things could be explained to the audience through her.  We are not total morons who need every little thing explained dammit.  Or at least we should not be, even if many moviegoers have been turned into the type of people who no longer understand subtly.  

28) Least favorite Federico Fellini movie?  A friend of mine would answer this by saying a tie, between all of them.  I am a bit more on the pro-Fellini side though so this is not my answer.  I suppose I would have to say Satyricon.  It is not terrible, but it is the most incomprehensible of Fellini's oeuvre.  This does not necessarily make it a bad film, but we must make our decisions.

29) The Three Stooges (2012) - yes or no?  Since I am a freelance kind of film critic (as in nobody pays me for this shit) I do not have to sit through a lot of the bigger pieces of cinematic sludge that come down the proverbial pike.  With that thought, please allow me to claim that I have not seen the 2012 version of The Three Stooges, and therefore can not make a claim as to their validity.  Should it have been made?  Probably no good reason for such a thing, so no.

30) Mary Wickes or Patsy Kelly?  Oh, this is a no-brainer.  I love Mary Wickes in every damn thing I have seen her in.  Her role in White Christmas, as well as the rest of that holiday classic, will always have a warm place in this not-so-secret sentimentalist's heart.

31) Best movie-related conspiracy theory?  I cannot think of a specific one off-hand, so let's just make one up and say the Academy Awards.  How there not be some sort of heinous conspiracy when things like Forrest Gump beats Pulp Fiction, Kramer vs. Kramer beats Apocalypse Now, Dances With Wolves beats Goodfellas, Ordinary People beats Raging Bull, Crash beats Brokeback Mountain - and the list can go on?  I could ramble on all night so let us move on.

32) Your candidate for most misunderstood or misinterpreted movie.  David Lynch's Wild at Heart.  A brilliantly subversive take on the inner id of The Wizard of Oz.  I remember when the film first came out, and I was working as a projectionist at a local cinema. I actually got into a heated argument with the local newspaper's film critic (back when local paper's still had film critics).  She found it loathsome and repugnant.  I found it to be a dark and demented work of pure and quite audacious cinematic genius.

33) Movie that made you question your own belief system (religious or otherwise)?  Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.  'nuff said.


Make Your Own Quiz said...

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Dave Enkosky said...

Wholeheartedly agree about Cummins in Gun Crazy. Probably my favorite femme fatale.

Paul said...

Great answers. Gun Crazy and Peggy Cummins are the best ever. I couldn't agree much more.

Kevyn Knox said...

So many, not just here but many of those who commented on Dennis' original post, simply cannot get enough of good ole Peggy Cummins. Her performance is a big part of what makes Gun Crazy not only one of my all-time favourite noirs, but also one of my all-time favourite films.