Three old movies.

Kate had an unexpected sleepover Saturday night, normally a clarion call to head out and see an R-rated movie, but we were both dead tired, and so we stayed in, cooked a Splendid Table pasta recipe, and watched a triple feature of movies we’d already seen, on cable.

I’m a big fan of the re- experience. I reread books, rewatch movies, rewrite stupid blog entries that no one gives a fig about. It’s a form of mania, maybe, but you learn something. Among the things you learn: Kathleen Turner is so sexy she managed to make a nation forget that air conditioning had, indeed, reached Florida by 1981. So, first up: “Body Heat.”

I recall being blown out of the water by this one. Saw it several times in the theater, went around quoting its best lines. My favorite: “You’re not too smart. I like that in a man.” While I could never pull off the Full Turner — tight skirt, no bra, poky nipples and Veronica Lake hair — in my mind, I aspired to be Matty Walker. Who wouldn’t? She apparently possesses the world’s most powerful sexuality, enough to hypnotize William Hurt into killing her husband, after which she frames him for the deed and escapes to the tropics with all the cash. But I was ignorant then. In 1981 I’d not yet seen the film’s predecessors, “Double Indemnity,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and other noir classics. I see now what I couldn’t see then, that Lawrence Kasdan was referencing an earlier era, and his story is equal parts homage and retread. The update, I guess, is that one of the two killers skates free at the end, which was not the case in the earlier era, when the guilty had to be punished.

I was thinking it would have been more interesting with a few more contemporary details. The lack of air-conditioning, even in Matty’s mansion, shows the script isn’t entirely rooted in reality, but I’d like to have seen Hurt with, say, a minor cocaine habit. That was certainly pretty standard for weasel Florida lawyers in the early ’80s, and would have underlined his poor judgment. Even in 1981, did men ever fall for lines like, “I’ve never wanted it like this,” breathed in his ear as he’s dragged back to bed? With a head full of coke it’d be more believable. And, OK, it’s a young Kathleen Turner delivering the line, so I concede the point: He wants to believe.

But these are quibbles. The script is as tight as Turner’s skirt. It’s refreshing to see what was sexy in a less vulgar time, when hemlines were lower (but the slit skirt was in its full flower). When Hurt peels off Turner’s panties, they’re real panties, not a whale-tail thong. And how brave is Turner, showing off her lean, nude body so boldly. So that’s what a pair of unaugmented breasts looks like. Not bad.

So: It holds up. Just don’t think too hard about the air conditioning.

Next was “Igby Goes Down,” c. 2002, another film I recall loving at the time, but now? It just got on my nerves. It’s an update of “Catcher in the Rye,” a rich-kid-loose-in-the-city tale, but it’s a story that didn’t need updating in the first place, unless you have a deep need to sympathize with rich brats. The stagy dialogue grates, even in the hands of great actors. What is Susan Sarandon doing in here? Looking fabulous and classing up every scene she’s in, that’s what. Ditto Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum and an early Amanda Peet who wasn’t quite recognizable as the current Amanda Peet, so I’m wondering if there hasn’t been a little work done in between, or maybe just the five pounds of weight loss that makes the face of a woman in her 30s different from the same face in her 20s.

This is another story that has to be looked at with of-the-period eyes. In 2009, it’s impossible to find the existential angst of a rich prep-school dropout compelling in any way. Get a job, kid. The world’s a tough and unforgiving place.

And the late show was “Bringing Out the Dead,” which I told Alan during the opening credits was “a rare Martin Scorsese disappointment,” but found myself loving. I had my head up my ass in 1999; this is a wonderful movie. Halfway through, I figured out what I was responding to: Scorsese’s heart. The guy always swings for the fences, and if you can’t respect that, go rent “The Dark Knight.” I recall this movie got meh reviews at the time, so I wondered what Roger said, and hmm, looky here:

To look at “Bringing Out the Dead”–to look, indeed, at almost any Scorsese film–is to be reminded that film can touch us urgently and deeply. Scorsese is never on autopilot, never panders, never sells out, always goes for broke; to watch his films is to see a man risking his talent, not simply exercising it. He makes movies as well as they can be made…

I love it when Roger agrees with me. “Risking his talent, not simply exercising it” — that is the challenge for the talented, particularly the greatly talented. Watch “Kundun,” a film about the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, a story about meditation and silence and inwardness, and goddamn, but it works, and how many filmmakers could have pulled it off? I’ll follow this guy anywhere.

So that was Saturday movie night. I went to bed around midnight, exhausted but thinking “Milk” will have to wait for another sleepover night.

Do you still want some bloggage? How about this: The Portland mayoral sex scandal, in which Taylor Clark wonders how it might have played out if the mayor weren’t gay.

I was rooting for the terrier, but I respect the winner. An elderly Sussex spaniel takes home the big bowl at Westminster. Although I already miss Uno.

And with that, it’s time to start the real work. Good day to all. More coffee for me.

Posted at 10:17 am in Current events, Movies |

68 responses to “Three old movies.”

  1. Randy said on February 11, 2009 at 10:35 am

    So Nancy, would you consider The Dark Knight to be paint-by-numbers, for lack of a better term? I have not seen it yet, but probably will on the wekend. The Heath-as-Joker fooferah has kind of obscured the question “Is it a good film?”, for me anyway.

    I can always re-watch Goodfellas. The Onion’s AV Club has a great interview this week with Illeana Douglas, and part of it is her recollection of working with and dating Scorsese, in the early 1990’s. It’s worth a read.

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  2. coozledad said on February 11, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I even like “Heaven’s Gate”. But I think people don’t like being reminded of what shitheels the cattle barons really were.
    Update: Sorry: I thought HG was Scorcese, but it’s Cimino. I’m surprised I didn’t think it was Sergio Leone.

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  3. nancy said on February 11, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Haven’t seen “The Dark Knight” either, so I’ll concede that’s probably a cheap shot. However. I rarely like movies based on comic books (or graphic novels) and most action films bore me. What I appreciated about “Bringing Out the Dead” was how Scorsese action-ized the ambulance scenes without making them totally ridiculous, so that’s what I was reacting to.

    I do plan to rent “Iron Man” one of these days, as well as “The Dark Knight.”

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  4. Jen said on February 11, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I highly recommend “Milk,” if ever you have the energy to get out during one of Kate’s sleepover nights. It was extremely well-made, well-acted, interesting, moving … I enjoyed it a lot, and thought about it for days after seeing it.

    (Though, I understand the appeal of watching movies in the comfort of your own home — that was my life last weekend.)

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  5. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 10:55 am

    The kids and I caught Dark Knight, and I thought the political over-lay was very, shall we say, Cheney-esque. Aside from that, I was put off by the somewhat remorseless violence (I think we see 8 or 10 guys get whacked in the first 5 minutes; rough stuff for the young folks)

    Iron Man at least was a redemtion tale, whereas DK is very much closer to a tale of damnation.

    Anyway, Body Heat made a Turner fan out of me. First, nudity is ALWAYS a winner with young fellers; and then, as you say, watching it again in later years, it offers so much more.

    Another period piece that I never fail to become mesmerized by is North by Northwest; makes me wanna ride the train from NYC to Chicago (and thence into Indiana, if memory serves, where the crop duster goes after CG)and wear a suit and tie in the dining car.

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  6. Jeff Borden said on February 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

    As a tonic for the cold, cold and wet winter, there’s nothing like relaxing on the couch with a cocktail and “Body Heat.” I bought it as soon as it was available on videocassette and then upgraded to DVD when it showed up there. Aside from being a nice, tight little movie, it has a fabulous retro jazz score. I could listen to the title music anytime, anywhere. I would guess I’ve sat through it from title to end credits no less than 20 times.

    A note about Kathleen Turner and her incredible body in that film for all you film buffs out there.

    The last movie the great Robert Aldrich ever directed was a pretty terrible action-comedy called “All the Marbles,” which starred Peter Falk as the manager of a pair of absolutely gorgeous female professional wrestlers called the California Dolls. Aldrich hired a former women’s wrestling champion named Mildred Burke (if you Google or Wikipedia her, you’ll find a fascinating story) to work with a dozen actresses and teach them how to do all the pro wrestling tricks. In essence, this was their audition as they needed to look credible during the frequent and lenghty wrestling sequences. (Except for the main matches featured in the film –where the opponents were two black women including a former model– the actresses wrestled real professional wrestlers from the U.S., Mexico and Japan.)

    Kathleen Turner was one of the actresses trying to win a part, so she went through the grueling workouts and training under Burke’s tutelage. She didn’t get it. . .and lucky for her.

    “All the Marbles” tanked at the box office, an unworthy sendoff for Aldrich. The two leads, Laurene Landon and Vicki Frederick, basically were never heard from again. “Body Heat,” however, was a sensation. . .a box office smash that propelled Turner to instant stardom.

    But if you want to know why her bod was so very taut. . .why every muscle was firm and strong. . .it was Millie Burke’s work.

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  7. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 11:10 am

    from being a nice, tight little movie, it has a fabulous retro jazz score

    Hey – a surprisingly good movie with fabulous jazz is All That Jazz. ‘Course, I like everything with Roy Scheider in it…

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  8. MichaelG said on February 11, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I thought Sam Adams was a faux artisanal beer.

    I loved “Body Heat” when it first came out. It was a very sexy movie. I thought Kathleen Turner was the hottest thing around. For some reason my former wife never liked Ms. Turner. She delighted in recent years in calling me to the TV whenever Ms. Turner showed up to point out the bloated caricature that Ms. Turner had become. She, in truth, has not aged well. My once wife, a stone head turner and a year older than Ms. Turner is absolutely in a position to throw rocks. I should rent the movie and relook.

    As a devoted race fan I’m sure Brian will appreciate the recent photos of Danica Patrick and a Cobra of the four wheeled sort. I’m not picking on you, Brian. I’m in full appreciative mode myself.

    I’m looking at a five day weekend. Hoo hoo!

    The Tour of California begins here on Saturday. It’ll be televised on VS. See your local listings. The Saturday weather is progged to be the worst weekend of the year so far. Thanks a lot. I’m a volunteer with the tour. This year I’ll be working in “security”. Haven’t the faintest idea what my job will be. They’ll tell me Saturday. I hope, whatever it is, I’ll be in a position to get some good pix. For you bike folks, this is the biggest non-European race of the year. Lance, Landis, Leipheimer and the rest of the Amis along with the full cast of Euro riders will be on hand. It starts here in Sacto. on Sat and ends on Feb. 22 in Escondido. Check it out.

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  9. nancy said on February 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Great story, Borden. I think Turner tells a story about her first day at work on that film in her memoir. I didn’t read it, but in an interview she describes the young, unknown actress’ nightmare: Her first scene was a full-on, totally nude love scene, and she shows up in her robe. In walks William Hurt, they shake hands (meeting for the first time), drop the duds and get to it.

    Alan has pointed out that the first rule of musicianship is to never shake hands with the guys onstage, because the audience doesn’t understand that a group of musicians who’ve never met or played together can assemble, sit down before sheet music, and perform competently. Let them preserve their illusions that you all played together back in the day, says the conventional wisdom. And I know acting is a craft with its own technique and standards of professionalism. But I’ve never understood how you could do what Turner and Hurt did within minutes of meeting.

    Later in life, Turner had rheumatoid arthritis, and had to take steroids for the inflammation. That blew up her lovely face and pretty much put an end to her sex-symbol days, but of course she had to listen to all the sniping about “getting fat.” It’s times like this I believe actors earn every penny.

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  10. moe99 said on February 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

    You know, Body Heat was sorta spoiled for me when it first came out because I read an article about when they filmed it the temperature was in the low 40s high 30s and they had to spray water on the actors to get that sweaty look and the actors were freezing at the time.

    So it was hard to believe the heat part for me.

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  11. Randy said on February 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Nancy, I hope you enjoy Iron Man. While a lot of good actors have attempted and somewhat succeeded at super hero roles, Robert Downey seems to have gotten it just right. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a really fun ride, and the only one lately that offers a convincing argument for a sequel. Any film that can make Gwyneth Paltrow seem appealing has accomplished something, IMHO.

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  12. Scout said on February 11, 2009 at 11:24 am

    We went retro last weekend as well, we borrowed Hitchcock’s “Family Plot” from the library. That guy was a master at building suspense from the most innocuous and non dramatic sequence of events. Whatever happened to Barbara Harris?

    Looking forward to “Milk”, probabaly this weekend. The movie I can’t get out of my head two weeks later is “Slumdog Millionaire.” It was nothing like I expected from what I had heard. I predict it wins best picture.

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  13. jeff borden said on February 11, 2009 at 11:41 am

    ONe of the other treats of “Body Heat” are the interesting ancillary characters: Mickey Rourke, of course, as the bomb maker, but also Ted Danson as the D.A. who likes to tap dance, Richard Crenna as the stone cold bastard who is Mr. Kathleen Turner and J.A. Preston, best known for his work on “Hill Street Blues,” as the cop who really likes Hurt’s character, but must dog him for the murder nonetheless.

    All of these performances add so much to this film. One of the things I always loved about the old Warner Brothers films were the supporting cast members drawn from the ranks of the studio regulars and recycled through countless movies. I’d put the work of the supporting crew in “Body Heat” in the same category. First-rate pros.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on February 11, 2009 at 11:45 am

    We were blown away by Frost/Nixon last weekend; that is to say I was blown away and the DH noted the lack of car chases and explosions. (By his definition any movie lacking those is a chick flick.) I have such vivid memories of the time and how it affected my outlook on politics. It has taken 35 years and Obama to think things really might change. Having my doubts this week, though.

    We tried to talk the movie up to our kids, for whom it is ancient history, to a resounding meh. So maybe it won’t do great box office.

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  15. crinoidgirl said on February 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    An Ebert rumination on mortality:

    “The day will come when the words of Shakespeare are no longer known. The day will come, perhaps sooner, when all the words on the internet, in every language, have disappeared. These very words, and all the words we have read and written, will no longer exist. Oh, for a long time they may be on a hard drive somewhere, one able to store the entirety of the web. But not forever. Not even close. A word not read is like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. The word existed, the tree fell, but without witness, what does it mean?”

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  16. John said on February 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I saw Dead Reckoning about a month ago on either AMC or TCM. That is a great film noir. But of course, I agree with Brian about the nudity thing.

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  17. Gasman said on February 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Wow, a “gay sex scandal [that] features a Breedlove, a Ball, and a Wiener.” Insert your own joke here.

    The Slate article is a good look at double standards among liberals. I am a dyed-in-the-wool, bloody knuckle liberal, but we do not advance our cause when we excuse moral transgressions among our own. Portland Mayor Sam Adams is an avowed liar. He is also about as credible as Ted Haggard. Ted famously bought both meth and a male hooker, but claimed he did neither. Likewise, Adams would have us believe that he lied to cover up a platonic relationship with an underage boy.

    If Portland Mayor Sam Adams were straight and it was Barbie Breedlove instead of Beau, I think there’d be even more outrage. “Lock up your daughters, here comes the Mayor!” He’d have been out of office within 24 hours of the scandal breaking.

    If we believe in total equality, then any member of a historically oppressed group is also capable of the worst accomplishments of white men, as well as their best. The heights and depths of human dignity and depravity are equally available to all. It is not the color of our skin, our ethnicity, our gender, our religion, or our sexual orientation that determines the quality of an individual’s humanity. Rather, it is as Martin Luther King, Jr. described, “the content of our character.”

    The content of Mayor Sam Adam’s character has clearly been found to be wanting in the extreme. Gay or straight, he should go.

    Let’s here it for the old dogs! Two of my three pack-mates are seniors. It’s good to see Westminster attack canine ageism head on.

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  18. MichaelG said on February 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Sniper-in-Chief here. I was unaware that Kathleen Turner’s appearance was attributable to illness and medication. Consider this an official retraction. I certainly wouldn’t have made negative comments had I known.

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  19. moe99 said on February 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    food news from Indianapolis and it is not good. So which of the microwave popcorns use diacetyl?

    And of course, popcorn has to do with movies in a big way.

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  20. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Here’s a question, Michael. Why make those comments anyway? How many people get better-looking as they get older? In particular, how many women?

    I know it’s just us chickens, here, and that you weren’t saying anything directly insulting, but I found the comments re Turner’s looks disturbing.

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  21. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    My wife does, Jolene! I haven’t read any of the Jessica Simpson articles, just seen a dozen magazine cover shots, and i’m still baffled. What was that all about? Attractive woman, even if i’m told she doesn’t know much about tuna and curses football teams (but apparently the right ones).

    Brian, the crop duster scene in “North by Northwest” was shot outside of Kentland, Indiana, a couple miles west of US 41. Where it’s a bit flat, and they grow a little corn. Alternating every third year with soybeans, but maybe not back in the early 50’s.

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  22. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    the crop duster scene in “North by Northwest” was shot outside of Kentland, Indiana, a couple miles west of US 41.

    Yes – now that you mention it, I think a US-41 sign is visible, when Cary Grant gets off the bus (seemingly in the middle of nowhere)

    And speaking of movies, here is a very short, very funny ‘movie’ (of sorts). Rule One in 2009 is – don’t believe anything you see on the internet.

    I first saw this clip 3 hours ago – via e-mail – and it made me laugh, but I didn’t believe it. But good ol’ Pam applied her superior internet search prowess to the question “Is this real”, and came up with this:

    And for a bonus, we learn the term “mwah mwah”

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  23. Dexter said on February 11, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    “…the Sussex!” Any other words out of the judge’s mouth would have left me empty. Ten years old, nearly dead of a mysterious body-shut-down disease five years ago,this beautiful Sussex just had to be the one. It was a great final to what Stump’s handler called “the West-Minister Show”. So we even got a laugh at the end, too.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I re-watch when my cable has nothing of interest. Late last night after Stump took the Blue Ribbon at Westminster, I played “The Conversation”, with Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, who gets himself in one helluva jackpot at his job of recording people’s voices for the cops.

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  24. nancy said on February 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Dexter, my high opinion of you rises even more. I love “The Conversation.” Now let’s up the ante: What do you think of “The Rain People”?

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  25. Dexter said on February 11, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Amazing. “The Rain People ” left such an impact on me I included it on my “Ten Best, All-Time” list I made twenty years ago. Released in 1969, I saw it in the post theater at Fort Ord, California, in 1970.
    Shirley Knight and James Caan made quite a couple , travelling across country in that station wagon.
    Frustated, panic stricken, Knight just may have been the inspiration for Bruce’s 1981 song which contains the lyrics: “…I went out for a drive and I never came back….Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowin’, I took a wrong turn and I just kept goin’…”
    “The Rain People” was on a cable channel a few years ago, but I only caught a few minutes of it; it would have been good to see how it holds up. I love road movies anyway, and movies like “Into the Wild” about characters with adventuresome, free spirits, who seem to get away with just leaving when they feel the urge. I gave “The Rain People” a 10. Another move from that year I loved was “The Sterile Cuckoo”. Liza just killed as a semi-stalking young woman in love with a college boy.

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  26. Dorothy said on February 11, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Somewhere in a box we haven’t unpacked yet is our son’s copy of “Ironman.” Now I REALLY can’t wait to see it. He told us it was good, but we take all of his comments with a grain of salt when it comes to movies. He’s 23 years old, after all. I haven’t seen “The Conversation” in a very long time but loved it. And I hope “Slumdog” wins, too, as we saw that between Christmas and New Years.

    I’ll have to catch the Westminster show when it’s repeated this weekend. I was not home Monday evening and spent last night catching up on my episodes of “Big Love.” Go Nikki!!! You have more backbone than I thought you had.

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  27. MichaelG said on February 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Clearly peoples’ looks change as they age. Some peoples’ change to a greater or lesser degree than others, whether from factors beyond their control or otherwise. My comment made reference to two women of similar age. I noted my years ago attraction to one of them and further noted that the other woman did not share my attraction to the first one. At the present time, one of the two women retains her physically attractive appearance to a greater degree than the other and was not unpleased at that fact. I agreed with her observation and praised her looks. I further commented that the first woman had not aged well. People make such observations every day. It’s a human thing to do. In rereading my remarks I fail to see anything creepy or “disturbing”. Further, I retracted my comments when presented with additional information.

    You, of course, are free to disagree with what I wrote, Jolene. But can you truly say that you have never noted that somebody – anybody – has failed to benefit from the effects of aging? I detect the sanctimonious scent of the holier than thou.

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  28. del said on February 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Dexter, the Bruce song reminds me of a story out of Detroit some years back. Insert “Wyandotte” for Baltimore.,9171,958421,00.html?promoid=googlep

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  29. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    No sanctimony intended, Michael. I just thought the remark re Turner was gratuitous. Of course, some people age more attractively than others, but there are probably better and worse ways to say so and better and worse places to say it.

    I don’t want to make a huge issue of this. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. But the short story is: There is no end of commentary on the appearance of women, and sometimes it just gets tiresome.

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  30. Catherine said on February 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Am I the only one who clicked through to the Breedlove Cock doughnuts?

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 11, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Not to get in the middle of a perfectly fun fight, but the question is mooted according to Ben Brantley, who it turns out i correctly recall said very complimentary things about the naked Kathleen Turner just a few years ago — the steroid therapy having ended some years before.

    And if i were naked on stage for twenty seconds, i would surely hold in my stomach — i can hold my breath for twenty seconds, easy.

    But Brantley, who hated the play, loved Ms. Turner, and not really because of her disrobing, crucial though that was to the tableau: “Still, in the terms of what this ”Graduate” is selling, a star is a star. And Ms. Turner definitely gives off starlight. There are also a couple of moments — one when Mrs. Robinson kicks off a shoe; another when she leaps springily into bed — when Ms. Turner exudes a delighted, sprightly energy that make you realize she may be enjoying herself. It’s nice to think that someone is.”

    In other words, she’s got it, whatever “it” is. Anyhow, i’m still trying to figure out what the big deal was about Jessica Simpson’s appearance. Was it a tacky belt?

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  32. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    MSNBC is reporting that the conference committee has produced a stimulus bill that both houses of Congress will now vote on–presumably tomorrow or Friday. A bevy of senators just spent several minutes congratulating themselves. $870 billion.

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  33. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    A bevy of senators just spent several minutes congratulating themselves

    I love that sentence; the way those people always preen for the cameras at such occasions is exactly captured by the word ‘bevy’!

    And Jolene, by way of acknowledging your observation; whereas even very plain woman always have the power to turn men’s heads, dull-looking fellows (such as me!) have no such general power (whatever we do!) upon women.

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  34. Dexter said on February 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I had a sneaking suspicion that Kathleen Turner may have used the old Jane Fonda trick in her nude scenes. Some reviewers commented how “youthful”and “supple” Fondas’s body was in “Coming Home”. No wonder…a much younger body double was used in all the nude scenes in that movie. “Coming Home” came out in 1977. It is the movie I drove the longest distance to see, as I thought it would never play Toledo or Ft. Wayne theaters, so we drove to Detroit to see it. It was controversial in 1977; the country was still split in regards to pro-war and anti-war camps.
    It appears Kathleen Turner did not use any body doubles.
    “~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I saw “The Dark Knight” on my daughter’s home theater system, so I got all the audio effects , the whole experience…but I feel as though I have to see it again, because there is a lot of slow-moving non-action and I kept dozing off, and it is very long…a two-bowler-of-popcorn flick if ever there was one. Better lay in a supply of brian’s icy-cold Diet Coke, too, or a pot of coffee. The Joker, though…now that’s some crazy acting!

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  35. jeff borden said on February 11, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Any film buffs looking for unintended hilarity might consider visiting the online home of National Review, where some goofy wingnut has assembled what he calls the Top 25 conservative films. (This follows by a year or so the even more hilarious NR compilation of Top 100 conservative rock songs, which was topped by The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”) You’ll find the usual suspects in his list such as “Dirty Harry” and “Death Wish,” selected for their celebration of large-caliber handguns and vigilantism, but some of the other selections are gobsmackingly stupid.

    It must be tough to be a conservative film fan. They carry their political baggage into everything. You love Mel Gibson and you despire Danny Glover. So, do you watch the “Lethal Weapon” series with one eye closed? Fast-forward through all the Glover scenes? Hold a finger in front of your eyes to block out Glover when they’re in a scene together?

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  36. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Can you imagine re-editing, say, the Wizard of Oz to make it a “Top conservative film”?

    For one thing, Dorothy shoulda had a gun in her basket, and been enough of a rugged individualist to have told the Scarecrow/Tinman/Cowardly Lion to get his own damned brain/heart/nerve. Come to think of it, why would she go off to the Emerald City to see the Wizard? Forget Kansas – she shoulda found work in Munchkinland. Why – those little people would have been easy enough for her to bully into submission – and it’s all fair, right? Right!

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  37. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    And if you redited Gone With the Wind to make it a “conservative classic”, the South wins the war! (and Hattie McDaniel can forget about that Oscar)

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  38. MarkH said on February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Jeff and Brian —

    Hate to disappoint you and your recognition of the Indiana countrywide, but you’re wrong on the crop duster scene location. It was filmed far away near Wasco and Delano, north of Bakersfield, CA. Hitchcock place fake Indiana highway signs in there for authenticity. I never thought that looked like Indiana anyway. Seems to me there would have been more trees visible in the far distance. The illusion obviously worked on some Hoosiers, though. Sourced here, but I believe IMDB as it also.

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  39. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Hey Mark – drive west on US-24 from Indiana into Illinois, and you will see some of the flatest, flatest, flatest ground anywhere. And it was all prairie back in the day – still no trees.

    And if you see any rises at all, the have windfarms of windmills on them.

    Just sayin’…..

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  40. Julie Robinson said on February 11, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I grew up in northern Illinois and NE Indiana is hilly by comparison. Not pretty in conventional terms but great for the farmers, with fertile and rich black earth. The glaciers that flattened everything did not leave any trees; any that you see were planted on purpose.

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  41. jeff borden said on February 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm


    I’m certainly not the first guy to point this out, but the second film featuring Dirty Harry Callahan, “Magnum Force,” did not make the top conservative film list. His foes here are fascist motorcycle cops who are taking the law into their own hands by murdering mobsters, pimps, drug dealers, etc. In one sequence with the leader of the bad cops, played by Hal Holbrook, Harry admits he “hates the goddam system,” but says he’s sticking with it until something better comes along.

    I’m fairly political, but sheesh, I love a lot of the really dumb action movies with a rightwing tilt. “Red Dawn” is violent, immature, nihilistic crap, but it’s so bad it’s good and I’ll watch it at any time. How can you not love a movie where after the invasion of a small American town, a Russian reaches down to pry the pistol from the hand of a dead citizen, who lies near a car with the famous bumper sticker: “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.”

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  42. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Say – here’s a non sequitur (in terms of movies, but not right versus left), and a genuine ‘fresh hell’ story that made me mutter as I read it

    For years, the juvenile court system in Wilkes-Barre operated like a conveyor belt: Youngsters were brought before judges without a lawyer, given hearings that lasted only a minute or two, and then sent off to juvenile prison for months for minor offenses


    In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers. [emphasis added]

    Just when you think you’ve heard everything….

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  43. jeff borden said on February 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    CNN is reporting that Sarah Palin will NOT be attending the CPAC meeting later this month. This is very interesting to me. True, she has a crisis on her hands in Alaska, as do most other state governors, but the woes up there did not stop her from going to D.C. to attend a series of parties recently. There has to be another motive.

    One thought: As shallow and unsophisticated as she is, she can see that Americans increasingly are turning away from the rancorous right embodied by Gingrich, Limbaugh and Coulter, who are star attractions at CPAC. And she must have seen the research on her very, very high negatives with independents and Dems. Is she looking to recast herself from the “pitbull with lipstick” to a more reasonable figure? That’s the talk over at the CNN site.

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  44. Kirk said on February 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Apparently after a high-level briefing with a junior-high history teacher, Rep. Steve Austria now explains what he really meant when he flat-out said that FDR caused the depression:

    “Freshman U.S. Rep. Steve Austria conceded yesterday that President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not cause the Great Depression.

    “In a one-page e-mail, the Beavercreek Republican wrote: ‘I did not mean to imply in any way that President Roosevelt was responsible for putting us into the Depression, but rather was trying to make the point that Roosevelt’s attempt to use significant spending to get us out of the Depression did not have the desired effect. Roosevelt did not put us into the Depression, but rather his policies could not pull the nation out of the recession.’

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  45. jeff borden said on February 11, 2009 at 6:28 pm


    Is that flaming buffoon from Ohio? Lord, what a macaroon. This is a real popular argument on the right these days, but Paul Krugman has demolished it time and again. It must resonate with the rightwing knuckledraggers or these pols wouldn’t keep throwing it out there.

    Steve Austria? Sounds like a porno name. Or a variation on “The Six-Million Dollar Man.”

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  46. Kirk said on February 11, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Yes, he was elected to replace David Hobson, the guy from Springfield who represented that district for many years. You won’t be surprised to learn that his campaign ran TV commercials casting his opponent as something tantamount to having been a member of Komsomol or something equally horrible.

    He made the FDR comment during a meeting with our editorial board. Not sure how much coughing or laughter it produced.

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  47. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Mitch McConnell made similar remarks on the floor of the Senate w/in the past few days. I don’t have the quote, but it was along the lines of, “We know from history that the New Deal did not end the Depression.” Not quite as bad as saying FDR started it, but still doesn’t acknowledge that the unemployment rate dropped by 15% as a result of New Deal programs . . . or, at least, that’s what I’ve been hearing. The more dramatic federal spending program called WWII was required to introduce enough money into the economy to bring it to an end. Then, later, the GI Bill was introduced to channel the millions of young men who’d otherwise have returned to (in many cases) unemployment.

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  48. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is hosting a program re Lincoln on PBS tonight, Brian. May not be newsworthy to an expert such as yourself, but is probably worth a look-see. (Or however that’s spelled.) See

    Thanks for your earlier comment. Not sure I entirely believe it, but kind of you nonetheless.

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  49. Dexter said on February 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    del,you topped my story about my friend and his suicide…that creep that killed his kids made a much more revolting story.

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 11, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    CPAC is like junior high cafeteria without the redeeming features (of a typical junior high cafeteria). Anyone would be wise to give a wide berth to any event that gives La Coulter a spot on their program.

    MarkH — Wasco? You’re breaking my Hoosier heart. Another beautiful myth ruined by an ugly fact.

    Y’all, tomorrow is Darwin Day! 200 years since Charles and that American president fellow who’s descended from some ancestor of Tom Hanks were both born.

    The two coolest sites you’ll ever bookmark, and make sure to read at the first link Darwin’s last work, “On Earthworms.” You’ll be glad you did.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 11, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Seriously, you wanna read it —

    Happy Darwin Day, all!

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  52. Deborah said on February 11, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    I know it starred Mel Gibson (horrors) but one of my favorite movies of all time is “The Year of Living Dangerously”. It was made in the beginning of Gibson’s career, when he was still in Australia, I think. If I remember it was a Peter Wier (or Weir?) film. It also starred Linda Hunt who played a dwarf male. I think I’ve seen that movie 50 times at least since it came out. I own the DVD and the VHS before that. Sigourney Weaver also starred, another favorite of mine.
    Kathleen Turner has always been one of my favorite actresses too.

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  53. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Jeff (tmmo): Another Darwin connection: A Facebook group organized to wish him a happy birthday. I didn’t really look at the page, but it appears that the project may involve a teleconference w/ eminent scientists.

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  54. Deborah said on February 11, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Regarding Darwin, I often think about how I worked on a project for the St. Louis zoo back in the mid to late 80s. It was an exhibit that started with Darwin. My involvement was tangential, others were way more involved than I was, but it was such a big deal in our office we all were involved at some point. There was an animatronic figure of Darwin designed to be at the intro of the space. I always thought it was super lame. I hate animatronics. But we created Darwin’s environment to a T, including the wallpaper on the wall behind him, his furniture etc.

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  55. MarkH said on February 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Jolene, was Gates the guy on Talk of the Nation today? Some really fascinating stuff about Lincoln, putting a real human face to the icon.

    And, Brian, speaking of Lincoln, did this guy ever make his way to Ft. Wayne?

    Chip was a classmate and good friend of mine in Cincinnati. His one-man Lincoln presentation was apparently highly thought by aficiandos such as yourself. I would think he would have appeared in lots of places in Indiana over the years.

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  56. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    MarkH: Yes, that was Gates. At the website I mentioned, there are links to radio and TV pieces that he did promoting tonight’s show, as well as other ancillary info and the film itself.

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 11, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    OK, i’m home finally and watching the PBS thing; Gates is charming and engaging as usual, but the woman who is apparently the leading collector of Lincolniana — eeeeeekkkkk! That is one scary surgerized face, packed full of vinyl implants and Botox, bending solicitously over Mary Todd Lincoln’s needle safe — yikes. Yikes.

    (Jolene — thanks, i joined right away!)

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  58. Joe Kobiela said on February 11, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    If anyone is interested, you can go to and in the section for tail # on the left side put in N3284m, a picture should show up of the plane I was flying tonight. My flying buddies give me a hard time about the color. They say no wonder you fly at night. Landed at Auburn tonight with wind gust of 49knt that is close to 60mph. I found out, you can work up a sweat when its cold out.
    Pilot Joe

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  59. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Jolene, thanks for the link; I took the quiz there, which was fun….and only got 14 of the 15 right! The one I missed was about the myths surrounding the Lincoln Memorial (had to guess on that one, and missed it)

    MarkH – I never saw that fellow, and it sounds like we are all the poorer for his passing. Interestingly enough, the fellow only lived 2 more years than the fellow he was re-enacting. (reminded me that I read that Hal Holbrook is only just now older than Mark Twain, whom he has been re-enacting for 50 years)

    It just cannot be viewed as anything less than astounding that 200 years after President Lincoln’s birth, we are three weeks into the presidency of an American of African descent from Illinois.

    Speaking of “that one”, I have been savoring President Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, lately. One passage jumped out at me to the extent that I marked the page; and as the Federal government continues to deal with our economic crisis, and our new president goes to various public venues to sell his stimulus plan, this excerpt from his book seems especially appropriate.

    (With emhasis added by me) here’s what caught my eye, in a chapter titled “Politics”;

    And in one fashion or another, I suspect this is true for every senator: The longer you are a senator, the narrower the scope of your interactions. You fight it, with town hall meetings and listening tours and stops by the old neighborhood. But your schedule dictates that you move in a different orbit from most of the people you represent.

    And perhaps as the next race approaches, a voice within tells you that you don’t want to have to go through all the misery of raising all that money in small increments all over again. You realize that you no longer have the cachet you did as an upstart, the fresh face; you haven’t changed Washington, and you’ve made a lot of people unhappy with difficult votes.

    The path of least resistance – of fund raisers organized by the special interests, the corporate PACs, and the top lobbying shops – starts to look awfully tempting, and if the opinions of these insiders don’t quite jibe with those you once held, you learn to rationalize the changes as a matter of realism, of compromise, of learning the ropes. The problems of the ordinary people, the voices of the Rust Belt town or the dwindling heartland, become a distant echo rather than a palpable reality, abstractions to be managed rather than battles to be fought

    Another marvelous book that I read last month is called Lincoln and Freedom, a collection of essays by 16 top Lincoln scholars about Emancipation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (edited by Harold Holzer and Fort Wayne’s own Sarah Vaughn Gabbard).

    All of the essays are enlightening, but the one by Michael Vorenberg in particular fascinated me. He looks at the sausage making; how congress and President Lincoln wrangled to pass the 13th Amendment, and submit it to the states. In a nutshell, the congress rejected the amendment earlier in 1864. But in the November elections, Lincoln won his (just months earlier, highly improbable) re-election campaign, and the Republicans won lots of congressional seats….So Lincoln had lots of political capital, and he set out to spend it to get that amendment passed, by THAT congress.

    Lincoln wanted the old congress to be the one which passed the amendment, and not the new (more Republican) one; precisely because he wanted to reach out and make the passage of the amendment a more bipartisan American act, and not a more narrow partisan Republican act…..and the old congress indeed ultimately did it; the same congress that rejected it, ultimately passed it as their last act.

    Indeed, the amendment that ended legal slavery in America came the way all legislation does – deals and understandings were arranged…. including direct presidential arm twisting, pleading, and promises. Among several other interesting quid pro quos, The Camden and Amboy railroad enjoyed a monopoly in New Jersey, and Senator Sumner was energetically working to end that monopoly….but (for certain considerations) the railroad could help swing votes from opposition to support of the 13th Amendment, and senate action against their monopoly somehow stalled and died, and votes were indeed flipped.

    If you want an interesting book about the presidency of Lincoln and the end of American Slavery, Lincoln and Freedom is flat-out good stuff….and with bite-sized essays (each about 10 pages) how far wrong can you go?

    Happy Birthday President Lincoln!

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  60. nancy said on February 11, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Wow, Joe. It’s, like, the Full Homosexual trim package!

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  61. brian stouder said on February 11, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I like the mauve- it works!

    If it were my plane, here’s the mauve nose/tail art I’d opt for

    As Joe says, the wind is just howling tonight; it was nearly 60 degrees today, and quite rainy…actually, it was pretty much monsoonal today.

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  62. Jolene said on February 11, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Great looking plane, Joe. Seems like it should be flying in Hawaii, w/ you handing out leis to passengers.

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  63. mouse said on February 12, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Kathleen Turner was nude ,sexy@great in BODY HEAT.Did another movie abit later with Nickolas Cage called Peggy Sue Got Married.I liked her in that one as well.

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  64. Dexter said on February 12, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Pilot Joe…nice landing in Auburn…wind over here in Bryan is fierce…knocked out power and sent stuff flying for two hours…scary…here’s Pilot Steve, my daughter’s S.O. in his Net Jets airplane …

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  65. Dexter said on February 12, 2009 at 1:55 am

    She’s a great actress, has been for ten years and more…but doesn’t she look absolutely HIDEOUS in this dress? Kate Winslet:

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 12, 2009 at 6:48 am

    I’m thinking a Morticia wannabe. But hideous? Hideous is the poor lady in the PBS Lincoln program, or Cruella DeVille. That’s an attractive young woman in a dress her ten year old daughter picked out, that’s all.

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  67. Jolene said on February 12, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I think it’s just a somewhat unfortunate photograph. I’ll bet that if we could see the real fit and drape of the dress, we’d think she looks great.

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  68. brian stouder said on February 12, 2009 at 9:16 am

    What Jolene said!

    (for me, Kate Winslet would look great in a potato sack)

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