34 posts categorized "Food and Drink"

11 June 2013

Strange bedfellows

Pillowtalk462
Doris Day and Rock Hudson in "Pillow Talk" in 1959. (Courtesy: amazonaws.com)

Film critics don't get many death threats.  On major daily newspapers (Remember those?), anger-driven threats are usually blurted out to political columnists or someone dumb enough to mess with the layout of the crossword puzzle or TV schedule.

I got an impassioned death threat in the wee hours of the morning of Oct. 4, 1985, though.  It all began shortly after severely withered movie idol Rock Hudson, who had kept his homosexuality secret from his fans for decades, succumbed in Beverly Hills weighing a mere 140 pounds.

Rock322
(Courtesy: findadeath.com)
The next day, I was charged with writing the obituary for the Oscar-nominated star of "Giant," "Pillow Talk" and "The Undefeated" for the San Antonio Light newspaper.

"And don't forget to mention that he died of AIDS," my editor mentioned casually over his shoulder as he walked away.

That sounded a lot like a straight news story to me.  Why me?  Film critics prefer something other than the grit and grime of real life.  That's why many of us became film critics in the first place.  We like to sit in a dark room and be transported off to somewhere wonderful like Oz or Willy Wonka's chocolate factory or -- if that's not possible -- to the concession stand where Milk Duds await.

It only took me a few seconds to realize that the San Antonio Light was not my rodeo to run.  So I wrote what seemed to me at the time to be a glorious bit of prose about Hudson's long career that began as a truck driver and hanging around outside the movie studio gates in Hollywood passing out glamor stills of himself.  If we can believe Hollywood legend, and why the heck can't we?, a movie publicist coined the phrase "beefcake" with the square-jawed Rock Hudson (real name Roy Harold Scherer Jr.) in mind.

And, since the Associated Press had already spilled the beans, I included the fact that Rock Hudson, widely beloved for his squeaky clean romps in the cinematic sack with Doris Day and other starlets, had succumbed to AIDS.

You must know this.  AIDS is a horrible disease these days.  In the early and mid-'80s, it was a mystery disease that killed people -- primarily gay men -- in a raging storm of controversy.

So the next day my Rock Hudson obit hit the streets.  That night, or I should say about 3 the next morning, a telephone ring (probably about the 20th ring) rattled me out of my slumber. 

"If you write that Rock Hudson died of AIDS again, I'm going to kill you," an almost shrieking person shouted into my ear.

This is the point in our little one-sided conversation here that I'd like to report that without missing a beat I quipped back, "I don't think Rock Hudson is going to die of anything again.  Once pretty much does it, as far as we know."

I didn't, though.  I froze, then checked to make sure the doors were all locked and went back to bed thinking, "Hey, somebody is actually reading this stuff."

The next day I casually mentioned to my colleagues at the paper that I -- a film critic, no less -- had gotten a death threat during the night.  Let's just say the editors sprang into immediate action; insisting that I report the incident to the police right away.  Their prompt concern impressed me until I finally realized that they were just protecting themselves in the event of my untimely demise and a possible lawsuit by my heirs.

The two police officers who showed up at my house -- you know, the scene of the crime -- appeared to be right out of Central Casting.  We've all seen this scenario at the movies on a regular basis.  There was literally one grizzled vet two weeks away from retirement and a rookie still getting used to all the free doughnuts.

"The caller said what, that he would kill you?" the rookie asked excitedly, jotting everything down furiously in his notepad.  "Yes he did," I replied, catching a discreet glimpse of the beat-weary cop staring idly out the window into my backyard.

The last time I saw a grin that big on a policeman was years later when I was pulled over for doing 80 in a 55 trying to get down to the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory in Brenham for a Fourth of July celebration.

Hudson's death has been on my mind lately because The Hollywood Reporter posted a story recently about how Hudson's wife confronted her husband in 1958 and recorded a still-startling confession.  Click here to read the Hollywood Reporter story.

Don't miss out

If you enjoy these Movie Memories updates, here's your chance to get some bonus issues every month.  Almost daily, there's something going on in the movie industry that catches my eye and inspires a comment or two.

Or sometimes, it's just a notable event that you might not want to miss, like today's item about Gene Wilder's 80th birthday (See below).

There are two easy ways not to miss out.  Look up to the right on this Movie Memories Update page and you'll see "Join our email list" just under the Movie Memories logo.  Enter your email address and click the "Go" button and you won't miss a thing.  And we promise not to sell your email address to the Chinese government.

And/or, if you have a Facebook account, please click on the "Like" button in the white square just under the "Find us on Facebook" title.  It's not that we need the praise, but we live in a society where it's important to be "Liked" on Facebook.

Now, sit back and enjoy some dynamite outtakes from the Mel Brooks classic comedy "Young Frankenstein."  It's the least we call all do to celebrate Gene Wilder's birthday.

If you bump into Jerome Silberman today (June 11), wish him a happy birthday for me and comedy lovers around the world.  We know Jerome a little better as Gene Wilder.
Hold onto something, Mel Brooks' go-to funny guy in "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" ("That's Frank-en-steen!") turns the big 8-0 today.  Check out this tremendous reel of bloopers from "Young Frankenstein" that's posted on You Tube.  As an added treat, listen to the genius man himself, Mel Brooks, say "Action" and "Cut."  
 

04 June 2013

I wonder who's Kissinger now?

Seagal465
"Above the Law"? It looks like former action star Steven Seagal might be promoting the Russian arms race. (Courtesy: sky.com)

Henry Kissinger, where art thou?

I suppose at the age of 90, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State for both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and the Nobel Peace Prize winner who negotiated a settlement of the Vietnam War, is probably not available to whip this country's international affairs in shape.

That's a shame because you'll never guess who it's come down to:  An aging actor (of sorts) and a pierced, tattooed. over-the-hill athlete.

NKorea299r
Dennis Rodman in North Korea in February, where he's apparently applauding the fact that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un "once caught a fish this big." (Courtesy: cnn.com)
You've probably heard about Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea in February.  He posed with Kim Jong Un, North Korea's Supreme Leader and Chief Rocket Launcher.  They took in a basketball game or two, posed with the masses and sipped bubbly at dinnertime.

Rodman returned to the U.S., saying something like he'd worked out all the tension between this country and North Korea.  The words had barely passed Rodman's pierced lips when North Korea's youngun -- sorry, Jong Un -- aimed his rockets at the U.S. and Austin specifically.  I'm thinking the new supreme leader failed to get an invitation to Austin's South By Southwest Film Festival, which can be a tough ticket to snag.  (This has yet to be confirmed, but I'm pretty darn sure that's what happened.)

Now, there's even bigger trouble looming on the volatile international scene.

Russia, it seems, has decided that fading Hollywood action star Stevan Seagal, who once hinted to me that he was, or had, worked in U.S. intelligence  ("I can't talk about it.  It's that secret," he said over lunch at the time.), is the perfect guy to be the -- And I am not making this up -- "face of a new campaign to promote Russian weapons."

That's right.  According to published reports, like this one posted on sky.com, "the 61-year-old American appears to be the unlikely choice to boost the
country's arms sales as it makes a push to be the world's number one
exporter.

"Seagal accompanied Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to the Degtyarev gun manufacturing plant in Kovrov earlier.

"According to Russian news agencies, Mr. Rogozin said the actor may head up an international marketing campaign for the factory.

"He said: 'You're ready to fight American (manufacturers) with your teeth and
your intellect, and if Americans are prepared to promote and support you, that says we're learning new ways to work on corporate warfare markets,'" the Sky.com article states.

One of my favorite phrases is, "Well, the world has still not gotten crazy enough for me."

I admit, though, with this news it's edging plenty close.

Oh brother, Henry Kissinger, where art thou?

31 May 2013

Go ahead, make Clint's birthday

Clint300rIf you need some inspiration to put a little pep in your step, consider this.

Near-legendary actor, director, composer and producer Clint Eastwood, who, yes, occasionally likes to chat with an empty piece of furniture before a TV audience of millions at a national political convention, turns 83 today.

What's Eastwood up to on this momentous day, you ask:  Sitting at home softly plunking keys on the piano?  Perhaps hitting the links for a little golf?  Or maybe just relaxing, contemplating his early acting roles as Jonesey in the talking-mule movie "Francis in the Navy" (1955) or his 216 episodes as feisty Rowdy Yates on the TV Western "Rawhide" from 1959 to the mid-'60s.

Clintchair326lIf you believe any of that, you rank right up there with that empty chair at last year's Republican National Convention.

Eastwood, you see, is -- as usual -- juggling future movie projects.  According to published reports, the filmmaker with the squinty eyes and low, raspy voice has put his remake of "A Star Is Born" on the back burner.

It looks like Eastwood, last in the director's chair guiding Leonardo DiCaprio through "J. Edgar" in 2011, has his late-season career sights set on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in a big-screen adaptation of the Broadway hit musical "Jersey Boys."

"Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Eastwood is in talks with production entity GK Films and Warner Bros. to take on the high-profile project, though neither the studio nor the production company or Eastwood's reps would confirm the negotiations," a Hollywood Reporter article states.

Maybe Eastwood will celebrate his 83rd birthday with a little sip of sherry to pay homage to the Four Seasons' first No. 1 hit in 1962 and perhaps Clint's next as a filmmaker.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Eastwood, and bottoms up!

 

 Brookhaven, you're all class

Thanks to DeBorah Whaley-Stephenson and all the fine folks over at Dallas' Brookhaven College for including my "Five Decades, Five Great Movie Classics" film appreciation continuing education class in their Students 50+ Education Program spring semester.

The students were all attentive and appreciative as we watched and discussed five classic films on five consecutive Thursdays in May.

We called it a wrap yesterday (May 30) with cookies and immersing ourselves with a screen full of a very young looking Jack Nicholson sparring verbally with Faye Dunaway and a grandfatherly, yet evil John Huston in "Chinatown," circa 1974.

Thanks, students, for being a terrific class.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone (and more) for my upcoming fall semester class, a look at classic films either about Texas, shot in Texas or starring Texas-based actors.  Let's fill up the classroom for that one.

 

(Clint Eastwood photo courtesy:  google.com/Eastwood and chair photo courtesy:  wheelercentre.com)

10 May 2013

Those other Cannes Cannes girls

Hooker275rIt's oh-so ordinary for flashy starlets and would-be ingenue hopefuls to flock to the South of France to share the limelight of the Cannes Film Festival, which cranks up the projectors May 15 and unspools celluloid through May 26.

But, according to a Hollywood Reporter article by Dana Kennedy, call girls flock to Cannes during the festival in hopes of making what the article predicts may be as high as $40,000 a night.  (Quick, how many euros is that?)

"'We all look forward to it,' says a local prostitute in Cannes who goes by the name of Daisy on her website but declined to give her surname. Daisy is one of many independent escorts who have their own websites and usually avoid going to hotels and bars -- except during the festival. 'There's a lot of competition because there are so many girls, but the local ones have an advantage. We know the hotel concierges.'

"The local prostitutes, says Daisy, routinely drop cash off with concierges at the town's top hotels. In return, if they are lucky, concierges sometimes steer clients their way. During the 10-day festival, an estimated 100 to 200 hookers stroll in and out of the big hotels every day, according to hotel sources," states the Hollywood Reporter article.

That's not the Cannes Film Festival I remember from 2005.  I recall working almost around the clock to attend screenings and world premieres and attending press conferences where filmmakers and stars converged to talk about their latest project.

That included extraordinary actor Tommy Lee Jones that year.  Jones, who took the top acting award during his visit, enjoyed what might have been a career humbling highlight when his gritty Texas-set crime-drama "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (starring Jones, Barry Pepper and January Jones) earned a 7-minute standing ovation following its world premiere.

Maybe because working film critic slugs like me didn't have the time, money or inkling to hang out in the palatial top-dollar (top-euro?) hotels, I didn't notice a swarm of girls with, let's say, monetary aspirations in mind.

Here's what I do remember.  Once I felt confident enough with my broken French to order food, I stopped off at a sidewalk bistro for lunch.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself for ordering in French as I gazed out at the busy, frenzied even, people strolling the streets of Cannes.

My pepperoni pizza arrived with one slight language barrier problem:

There was a fried egg nesting right in the middle of it.

On well, c'est la vie.

I think that means "that's life," but you might not want to take my word for it.

(Image courtesy:  nbcdfw.com)

15 March 2013

Big thanks, giant mosquitoes, oh my!

I want to take a moment to thank everyone in the enthusiastic crowd that came from near and semi-far (Little Elm, I know of) to attend Richland College's Emeritus plus 50 gala "Music, Magic & Movies" extravaganza at the Fannin Performance Hall Thursday.

My highest praise goes out to The Levee Singers and magician David Hira, who drew respective standing ovations for -- What is the notch just above outstanding?  OK, got it ... -- stellar, crowd-pleasing performances.

And thanks to Mitzi Werther, who heads up Richland's Emeritus plus 50 program, for inviting me to emcee and perform in the program, Nick McMinn up in the Fannin Performance Hall booth and to my new partners-in-entertainment (for one day, at least), Ed Bernet, Dick Bernet and the two Ralphs, Sanford and Lindsey, and, of course the mysteriously engaging David Hira.

Also, if you couldn't join us for "Music, Magic & Movies," keep reading down the page for the next exciting Emeritus plus 50 event, the Bonnie and Clyde Bus Tour.

One more thing.  You missed the update on those giant mosquitoes that are 20 times the normal size in Florida.  As you will discover by clicking the link below, however, the mucho-plus-sized mosquitoes appear to be no real threat at all.

  

'Bonnie and Clyde' still wanted dead, thank you

Bonnieclyde220
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in a photo found by police at their Joplin, Mo. hideout in 1933.  (Courtesy:  http://en.wikipedia.org)

Both members of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde are quite dead.  Still, they can't get away.

Movie Memories and the Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program has a dandy day bus trip planned for April 20. We're forming a posse to retrace the famous outlaw's steps.

Once again, it is my goal to make Richland Emeritus plus 50 leader Mitzi Werther order a bigger bus.  But I need your help to do that.

It's time to sign up for the "Bonnie and Clyde Bus Tour."  It all kicks off with a screening of the 1967 Oscar-nominated crime-spree classic "Bonnie and Clyde" Friday evening, April 19.  The next morning, we'll get on a comfortable bus and begin our tour at the CRM Studios in Las Colinas.  Tim Eaton, who so eloquently guided us around Waxahachie last year, is back to show us around celebrity-themed dressing rooms at the CRM studios.

After lunch, we'll tour Dallas-area locales where notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde gunned down two law enforcement officers, other related sites of interest and finally visit the couple's grave sites, which are not together in case you are wondering.

Charles Heard, author, cinephile and collector of movie memorabilia, will guide us along the Bonnie and Clyde part of the tour.  Sign up early, please.  Once the bus is full, it's full.  You can call 972-238-6147 to register for the bus tour.  Here's a link with all the info:  http://www.richlandcollege.edu/emeritus/trips.php

13 March 2013

Hurry, it's spring break fun for us

MMMovies302There is no denying it.  We've had some potentially tragic near-misses lately.  We survived the meteor that ravaged Russia.  You know, the one no scientist saw coming.

We even made it through the recent too-close-for-comfort asteroid fly-by on Feb. 15.

And, so far at least, it appears we've even passed the crisis stage in Dennis Rodman's recent visit to North Korea, where the multipierced, multitattooed former NBA elbow-slinging rebounder hammed it up with munchkin leader Kim Jong Un.

Who says spring break is only for the kids?  I say it's time to party Baby Boomer style!

I'd like to personally invite you and as many friends and loved ones you can round up to join us at Richland College's Fannin Performance Hall tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) for "Music, Magic & Movies."

The gala celebration begins at 10:20 a.m. and includes The Levee Singers, Dallas's own legendary folkies, celebrated magician David Hira and yours truly as master of ceremonies.  In addition to serving up some heart-pumping movie memories to set the entertainment mood, I'll also have a few tricks up my sleeve.

And who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Remember, that's four hours of music, magic and movie fun for the small fee of only $15.  And a box lunch is provided.  Also, we plan to have you out of there by 2, so don't worry about fighting rush-hour traffic.  Call 972-238-6147 to register for the event (Course No. 814388) or click on this link for more info.

And, by the way, if you have difficulty registering today because of the late date, send me an email at lrratliff@verizon.net and I'll see if I can help.  See you tomorrow!

'Bonnie and Clyde' still wanted dead, thank you

Bonnieclyde220
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in a photo found by police at their Joplin, Mo. hideout in 1933.  (Courtesy:  http://en.wikipedia.org)

Both members of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde are quite dead.  Still, they can't get away.

Movie Memories and the Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program has a dandy day bus trip planned for April 20. We're forming a posse to retrace the famous outlaw's steps.

Once again, it is my goal to make Richland Emeritus plus 50 leader Mitzi Werther order a bigger bus.  But I need your help to do that.

It's time to sign up for the "Bonnie and Clyde Bus Tour."  It all kicks off with a screening of the 1967 Oscar-nominated crime-spree classic "Bonnie and Clyde" Friday evening, April 19.  The next morning, we'll get on a comfortable bus and begin our tour at the CRM Studios in Las Colinas.  Tim Eaton, who so eloquently guided us around Waxahachie last year, is back to show us around celebrity-themed dressing rooms at the CRM studios.

After lunch, we'll tour Dallas-area locales where notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde gunned down two law enforcement officers, other related sites of interest and finally visit the couple's grave sites, which are not together in case you are wondering.

Charles Heard, author, cinephile and collector of movie memorabilia, will guide us along the Bonnie and Clyde part of the tour.  Sign up early, please.  Once the bus is full, it's full.  You can call 972-238-6147 to register for the bus tour.  Here's a link with all the info:  http://www.richlandcollege.edu/emeritus/trips.php

11 March 2013

Happy B.D. to the 'other' Stooge

Shemp248
Shemp, the middle "Stooge" brother. (Courtesy: http://trakt.tv)
Had he lived an extremely long life, Shemp Howard, the lesser known "Zeppo Marx" of the Three Stooges slapstick comedy act, would have been -- ready? -- 118 today.

He didn't, of course.  Samuel Horwitz (Shemp Howard), the middle brother between elder Moe (Moses Horwitz) and younger sibling Curly (Jerome Horwitz), died from a heart attack at the age of 60 in 1955, reportedly in the backseat of a car on the way home from a boxing match.

Known by many as "the forgotten Stooge," Shemp could hold his own comically, even without big brother Moe or Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg; no relation to the Howards) around to "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk" it up.

 

Join us for laughs, movies, magic, lunch, music

MMMovies302You know, we've had some potentially tragic near-misses lately.  We survived the meteor that ravaged Russia.  You know, the one no scientist saw coming.

We even made it through the recent too-close-for-comfort asteroid fly-by on Feb. 15.

And, so far at least, it appears we've even passed the crisis stage in Dennis Rodman's recent visit to North Korea, where the multipierced, multitattooed former NBA elbow-slinging rebounder hammed it up with munchkin leader Kim Jong Un.

Who says spring break is only for the kids?  I say it's time to party Baby Boomer style!

I'd like to personally invite you and as many friends and loved ones you can round up to join us at Richland College's Fannin Performance Hall on Thursday, March 14 for "Music, Magic & Movies."

The gala celebration begins at 10 a.m. and includes The Levee Singers, Dallas's own legendary folkies, celebrated magician David Hira and yours truly as master of ceremonies.  In addition to serving up some heart-pumping movie memories to set the entertainment mood, I'll also have a few tricks up my sleeve.

And who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Remember, that's four hours of music, magic and movie fun for the small fee of only $15.  And a box lunch is provided.  Also, we plan to have you out of there by 2, so don't worry about fighting rush-hour traffic.  Call 972-238-6147 to register for the event (Course No. 814388) or click on this link for more info.

'Bonnie and Clyde' still wanted dead, thank you

Bonnieclyde220
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in a photo found by police at their Joplin, Mo. hideout in 1933.  (Courtesy:  http://en.wikipedia.org)

Both members of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde are quite dead.  Still, they can't get away.

Movie Memories and the Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program has a dandy day bus trip planned for April 20. We're forming a posse to retrace the famous outlaw's steps.

Once again, it is my goal to make Richland Emeritus plus 50 leader Mitzi Werther order a bigger bus.  But I need your help to do that.

It's time to sign up for the "Bonnie and Clyde Bus Tour."  It all kicks off with a screening of the 1967 Oscar-nominated crime-spree classic "Bonnie and Clyde" Friday evening, April 19.  The next morning, we'll get on a comfortable bus and begin our tour at the CRM Studios in Las Colinas.  Tim Eaton, who so eloquently guided us around Waxahachie last year, is back to show us around celebrity-themed dressing rooms at the CRM studios.

After lunch, we'll tour Dallas-area locales where notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde gunned down two law enforcement officers, other related sites of interest and finally visit the couple's grave sites, which are not together in case you are wondering.

Charles Heard, author, cinephile and collector of movie memorabilia, will guide us along the Bonnie and Clyde part of the tour.  Sign up early, please.  Once the bus is full, it's full.  You can call 972-238-6147 to register for the bus tour.  Here's a link with all the info:  http://www.richlandcollege.edu/emeritus/trips.php

05 March 2013

Let's do lunch, have some fun

MMMovies302Let's face it, we've had some potentially tragic near-misses lately.  We survived the meteor that ravaged Russia.  You know, the one no scientist saw coming.

We even made it through the recent too-close-for-comfort asteroid fly-by on Feb. 15.

And, so far at least, it appears we've even passed the crisis stage in Dennis Rodman's recent visit to North Korea, where the multipierced, multitattooed former NBA elbow-slinging rebounder hammed it up with munchkin leader Kim Jong Un.

Who says spring break is only for the kids?  I say it's time to party Baby Boomer style!

I'd like to personally invite you and as many friends and loved ones you can round up to join us at Richland College's Fannin Performance Hall on Thursday, March 14 for "Music, Magic & Movies."

The gala celebration begins at 10 a.m. and includes The Levee Singers, Dallas's own legendary folkies, celebrated magician David Hira and yours truly as master of ceremonies.  In addition to serving up some heart-pumping movie memories to set the entertainment mood, I'll also have a few tricks up my sleeve. 

And who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Remember, that's four hours of music, magic and movie fun for the small fee of only $15.  And a box lunch is provided.  Also, we plan to have you out of there by 2, so don't worry about fighting rush-hour traffic.  Call 972-238-6147 to register for the event (Course No. 814388) or click on this link for more info.

'Bonnie and Clyde' wanted dead, thank you 

Bonnieclyde220
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in a photo found by police at their Joplin, Mo. hideout in 1933.  (Courtesy:  http://en.wikipedia.org)

Both members of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde are quite dead.  Still, they can't get away.

Movie Memories and the Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program has a dandy day bus trip planned for April 20. We're forming a posse to retrace the famous outlaw's steps.

Once again, it is my goal to make Richland Emeritus plus 50 leader Mitzi Werther order a bigger bus.  But I need your help to do that.

It's time to sign up for the "Bonnie and Clyde Bus Tour."  It all kicks off with a screening of the 1967 Oscar-nominated crime-spree classic "Bonnie and Clyde" Friday evening, April 19.  The next morning, we'll get on a comfortable bus and begin our tour at the CRM Studios in Las Colinas.  Tim Eaton, who so eloquently guided us around Waxahachie last year, is back to show us around celebrity-themed dressing rooms at the CRM studios.

After lunch, we'll tour Dallas-area locales where notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde gunned down two law enforcement officers, other related sites of interest and finally visit the couple's grave sites, which are not together in case you are wondering.

Charles Heard, author, cinephile and collector of movie memorabilia, will guide us along the Bonnie and Clyde part of the tour.  Sign up early, please.  Once the bus is full, it's full.  You can call 972-238-6147 to register for the bus tour.  Here's a link with all the info:  http://www.richlandcollege.edu/emeritus/trips.php

Thanks for sharing Movie Memories

Thanks to Robin for booking me, Owen for hosting me and the residents of Town Village North Dallas for listening to me for my "Rockets' Red Glare:  Space Race Classics" presentation Sunday evening.  Of course, "The Right Stuff" was part of the program.

  

FYI, the "Rockets' Red Glare:  Space Race Classics" presentation is so new it's not even listed among the Movie Memories presentations yet.  Be among the first to book the high-flying cinematic celebration of the U.S. -- Ruskie space race or other Movie Memories presentations (See top left side of this webpage) and call 972-599-2150 to lock in your group or organization's date and time. 

Check out The Senior Voice

SV276And I don't just mention that because my movie column, Getting Reel, appears in The Senior Voice, Carol Butler's fine  bi-monthly newspaper celebrating everything senior.

In the hot-off-the-press March-April issue, for instance, you'll find Barry Rogers' interview with "Dallas" star Patrick Duffy, the result of Bo Carter's sit-down interview with Texas Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler and -- you knew I'd eventually get to this -- my movie memory about attending a gala movie world premiere and the reason I couldn't see much of the film itself.

Click here for a link to my Getting Reel column.

That's about it for now.  Thanks for reading.

Ratliff out.  

14 January 2013

Jones, life of the 'Globes' party ... not

TLJ280
Tommy Lee Jones probably not having the time of his life at the Golden Globes this year. (Courtesy: NBC-TV)
The last thing Tommy Lee Jones needs is someone like me to spring to his defense, but here I go anyway.

If any kind of publicity really is good publicity, San Antonio's part-time resident Oscar winner is having a marvelous morning.

This is the day after the night before for "Golden Globes" watchers, analysts, hangers-on, genuine movie stars, other legit members of the movie-making community and voters of the Golden Globes themselves, a minute voting group of usually less than 100 compared to Oscar's nearly 6,000.

On a morning after that should be abuzz with Ben Affleck's double-whammy "Argo" win for Best Picture -- Drama and Director (Affleck) (knocking out heavyweights like "Lincoln" and director Steven Spielberg, for instance) or even Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jodie Foster's terse, rambling, edgy declaration that she is (drum roll, please) single, many are focusing on Jones' grumpy-appearing reaction to Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell goofing around before presenting the Best Actress -- Musical or Comedy prize as everyone around Jones roared with laughter.

Granted, Jones sat sullen and stone-faced as the two former "SNL" stars-turned-movie actors poked fun at Meryl Streep, Jones' "Hope Springs" co-star who missed the awards gala due to a bout with the flu.  Perhaps Jones, who I've seen downright giddy -- like at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. premiere of "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," which Jones starred in and directed (and received an extended standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival that year) in Del Rio in the fall of 2005, was miffed that someone was taking comic potshots at his "Hope Springs" co-star.

Maybe Jones was extra glum because he lost earlier for his work in "Lincoln," or that "Lincoln" was virtually shut out all evening except for Daniel Day-Lewis' Best Actor-Drama win for his superb portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.

Or maybe it was unfortunate that Jones -- an extremely serious fellow (outwardly at least most of the time), was featured so prominently so close to the stage.  For my money, that's a shot-grabbing seat perfectly suited for the ever-mischievous Jack Nicholson in sunglasses, noticeably missing in action again this year.

Of course there is one other possibility:  that what we saw last night was Jones' happy face.

Don't believe that for a second.  What happened last night with Jones was just one of the oddities in a very odd but strangely entertaining "Golden Globes" telecast that should merely rank as a sideshow along the path to the main attraction, otherwise known as the Academy Awards (Feb. 24 on ABC).

 Old year's resolutions

It took me a while, decades in fact, but I've finally gotten a little smarter about New Year's resolutions.

I'm not making them anymore.

Instead, this year, I'm going back to make right on some busted resolutions from my past.

Age 7 (1954) -- After an unfortunate and soul crushing accident while asleep and spending the night at a friend's house across the street from Granny and Wally's (grandparents), I vowed that New Year 1954 would be the year that I would never wet the bed again.

That one worked itself out, thanks, I suppose, to aging a little.  Or, come to think of it, it might have had something to do with cutting down on giant Fizzies drinks shortly before bedtime.

Remember Fizzies, those giant candy pills that we plopped into a glasses of water to make our own soft drinks in the '50s and '60s?  Well, don't tell your kids or grandchildren, but Fizzies are back. (If the kids are coming over and Fizzies are on the menu, do yourself a favor and dig out the plastic sheets.)

Age 12 (1959) -- All the kids I admired on TV in the 1950s like Ricky Nelson ("The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet"), Tommy Kirk ("Mickey Mouse Club") and Jerry Mathers ("Leave It To Beaver") were slim.  Naturally, I assumed that I was too, especially since my older brother fit the sleek build profile.

RNelson250l
Ricky Nelson, looking cool and slim in 1959. (Courtesy: examiner.com)
Imagine my horror, then, when my Mother, who always made sure my brother and I started each new school year off with a new pair of Levi's and shoes, marched me into the Penney's Boys Department.

Someone could probably ram a hot metal rod though my brain without erasing the self esteem-crushing memory of what the salesman told my Mom:

"Well, we'll need to take this young man over to the Husky Boys section of Levi's."

That word "husky," which I still hate, hit me like a lightning bolt.  I clearly heard what the Demon From Hell (Opinions stated by this writer do, indeed, reflect the opinions of this publication) Penney's sales clerk said to my Mother.

When it settled uneasily into my rattled psyche, however, it was recorded to last until the end of time (way past when the Mayans shut everything down in mid-December) thusly:

"Would you like me to just take him out back and put him out of his misery now, or would you prefer to subject him to a lifetime of struggling to zip up his jackets because the zipper fasteners will forever be out of sight below his bulging belly?"

Mom opted to let me live, and I determined in 1959 to fight my way out of the Husky Dept.  It took some time.  If you catch me in a good place on my lifelong yo-yo weight cycle, though, I'm out of the husky (now, thankfully called "relaxed fit") section, at least until the next predictable relapse. 

Predictable?  Yeah-huh.  It almost always coincides with a week-long sale of Blue Bell Ice Cream at 10 pints for $10.  Addiction is a brutal mistress, but I can control even that when I grit my teeth and concentrate.

All I have to do is recall the painful sound of my stiff new Levi Husky jeans rubbing together between my legs and making an ear-piercing (to me, at least) "swish, swish" sound as I walked the shiny, freshly waxed halls of Robert E. Lee Junior High School in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Lunch cost 35 cents back then.  Some of us decked out in Levi's Huskies as our teen years loomed dead ahead and the 1950s were about to bow out in favor of the gritty '60s remember that an ice cream bar only cost a nickel in the lunchroom.

At least one of us recalls that when Mistress Sweet Tooth had us firmly in her grisly grasp, you could get right (until guilt took over) with seven Fudgesicles for that 35 cents.

25 September 2012

Let's all drive to the snack bar

Garland276It just occurred to me that when I was growing up in the 1950s and '60s in Grand Prairie (TX), I was also growing up at drive-in movie theaters.

I bet many of you did too.

For me, it was mainly the Downs Drive-in on Main Street on the West side of town, at least in the earlier years of my youth.  That's when I can still remember dangling my feet stretching my foot way down to kick the dirt (and a few red ants) below the swing set on the playground in front of the screen. 

Later, my drive-in experiences became increasingly less idyllic.  In fact, they became downright scary at times as my child's eye morphed into pre-teen, teenage and adult year vision.  The trips to the swings gave way to eye-popping moments, like when my older brother let me tag along with him and his friends.

I was in the backseat as we ventured all the way to Chalk Hill (and the Chalk Hill Drive-in) when I was 13 or 14.  My brother and his buddies were there to check out girls, so the movie choice didn't matter at all to them.

Their eyes wandered as my brother and his buds concentrated on female traffic walking by.  I, on the other hand, was locked into a shell-shocked stare as "Elmer Gantry" (1960), the adult-themed tale of fast-talking, boozing title character "evangelist" portrayed with fire and, perhaps, brimstone in his eyes by Burt Lancaster (in an Oscar-winning performance), seared the screen.

I miss drive-in movies.  Although a few are hanging on in this high-tech new century, they represent a bygone era that kids and youngsters today will never get to experience. 

So my question of the day:  Is it possible to grow up properly without skinned knees from drive-in playgrounds, the smell of 10-cent popcorn in the car and the experience of driving off while forgetting a speaker is attached to the car window?

I suppose so.  But who would want to?

I never ventured all the way over to Dallas's popular Garland Road Drive-in (poster pictured above).  For a nostalgic trip down Movie Memories Lane, though, click on the arrow below to hear the vintage intermission record (yes, record; a 45, in fact) that played through the tinny speakers there.

Just know one thing.  That is not your dedicated scribe in the photos.  I could never have afforded a pickup like that.

 

Also, do you have a favorite drive-in movie memory?  Share it (or them) below in our comments section and join the conversation.

Movie Memories -- The Fall Sale-A-Thon

Pat252Looking for a speaker for your group, facility, town celebration or corporate meeting?

Have we got a deal for you.  We're having a Movie Memories sale.

Book two presentations between now and Oct. 15 and save 50 bucks.  Book three and save a whopping $75.

And here's the best news.  Your events don't have to be scheduled before Oct. 15.  They can be set for anytime in the foreseeable future.

Please note:  I can't guarantee I can keep any speaking engagement dates beyond, oh, 2035.  But I'll do my best.

This is an excellent time to book my "A Salute to the Great War Movies" presentation for October and November in the general vicinity of Veterans Day (Nov. 12).  The City of Garland already has, in fact.  More details on that later.

And, of course, the holidays are just around the corner.  My presentations devoted to "It's a Wonderful Life," "Casablanca" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" are always well-received then.

Bottom line:  Book now and save big bucks later.

(Garland Road Drive-In poster courtesy:  bacougars66.com/"Patton" poster courtesy:  20th Century Fox.)

28 August 2012

Boomers sooner, Boomers later

Sly260rReady for some very good news for mature movie-goers?

Long virtually ignored and pretty much scorned by Hollywood and filmmakers, Baby Boomers are suddenly the new darlings of the movie multiplex.

Why?  Because seniors who cut their cinematic appreciation teeth on everything from "Some Like It Hot" (1959) to "Star Wars" (1977), learned early to appreciate the magic of movies in a movie theater.

I'm not too crazy about the headline The Hollywood Reporter put on its fine article on the subject, but under the headline "Old People, Old Stars:  Hollywood's New Hot Demo Is Saving the Box Office" lies redemption in print for us Boomers.  We've spent too many years watching Hollywood bow down to 18-to-24-year-old iPhone wielding, texting customers who only demand the latest comic book hero or romanticized moody young vampire up on a movie screen.

Finally, Hollywood bean counters have noticed plus-50 patrons lining up for adult-themed movies like "Hope Springs," the stale marriage revamp comic-drama starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, and even the muscle-flexing actioner "The Expendables 2" starring 66-year-old Sylvester Stallone and '80s action heroes Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and even ex-California guv Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"After years of fawning over the fanboy, Hollywood is suddenly embracing the boomer, who is turning out to be the most avid moviegoer of all as teenagers and young adults disappear behind video game consoles, computers and iPhones. 'It's the next frontier. Younger people have pretty much been milked,' says Bill Newcott, entertainment editor at AARP's The Magazine," proclaimed The Hollywood Reporter article.

The article itself provides the numbers:  There were 78 million or so Baby Boomers around in 2010, and that number is growing. 

Here's the why Hollywood is finally listening.  We love movies.  Many of us can remember when Saturday afternoon at the movies meant a newsreel, coming attractions, a cartoon, a double-feature and a 10 cent or quarter (depending on which end of the Baby Boomer spectrum we fall into) telephone call to Mom:

"Come get us Mom, we're through."

We weren't through, though.  That appreciation of something magical happening on that big lighted wall at the front of the room ignited in our formative years never faded away.  We shared it with girlfriends and boyfriends, moms and dads, buddies from the block and strangers. 

When something really special happened on the screen and the light faded and the house lights came on, we somehow exited the movie house closer -- bonded somehow -- than when we entered with a box of popcorn in one hand and a soft drink and maybe even a giant dill pickle in the other.

From this aisle seat, a message.  Dear semi-interested young moviegoers who simply must check text messages every 30 seconds while disrupting everyone else in the auditorium:

We are the Baby Boomers and we want our movie theaters back.

We will watch in awe when something spectacular happens.  We will cheer the heroes -- yes, even those actors who are now card-carrying AARP members -- and go on the intended weepy-eyed emotional roller coaster ride when love goes wrong or a miracle happens and things end well.

And we will eat our popcorn just like we always have, except for those of us with digestive challenges.  And we'll revel in the splendor of Milk Duds, except for those of us with dental issues in danger of losing a crown.

And if our iPhone rings (Yes, rings!), it won't be because we simply must text.  It'll be because we can't remember how to turn the darn thing off.

Hope463
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in "Hope Springs."

Like movies, like to discuss?

I'm pleased to, once again, offer a series of film classes this fall at Richland College as part of the Emeritus plus 50 program.

And we've changed things around a bit this time.  The "Movie Clips and Current Conversation" series, which runs for four Thursday mornings Sept. 13 through Oct. 4 from 10-11:30 a.m., will feature lively discussion along with movie clips.

It's an opportunity for you to voice your opinions and thoughts on subjects like "Do movies reflect our actions or dictate them?" and "The movies today:  High prices, outrageous snack costs and cell phones," just to mention a couple.

This is a non-credit course with a fee of only $18.  And remember, there is no homework, no outside study and no final exam, just a chance to get out of the house and meet some folks who, like you, have an interest in staying active and maybe even learning a thing or two.

If you'd like to join in the fun, call the Richland College Continuing Education Department at 972-238-6146 or 972-238-6147 and tell them you'd like to sign up for course SRCZ 1000 81911, registration No. 789367.

(Sylvester Stallone photo from "The Expendables 2" courtesy:  Lionsgate/Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones photo from "Hope Springs" courtesy:  Sony Pictures Entertainment)

20 August 2012

Once a King was enough for me

King300This is about the time I squared off for about a 20th of a round with boxing promoter Don King in the Las Vegas airport.

At a frozen yogurt stand at the Las Vegas airport to be more exact.

Eight or 10 years ago I was returning from Los Angeles movie star interviews and had a 40 or 50-minute stopover between flights at the Sin City airport.

It only took me five minutes or so to lose $37 in the conveniently located airport slot machines.  That was all I had on me, except for a fiver I kept for emergencies.  So I looked around for another vice to keep me occupied until my flight was called.

"There it is," I said to myself as I wandered away from the ding-ding-ding of the alluring slots.  "Frozen yogurt!"

You know frozen yogurt.  It's that mystery chilled concoction -- neither ice cream nor yogurt, really -- that ice cream-a-holics like me shovel down with slightly less guilt than the full-fledged stuff that comes from the overly contented cows seen in TV commercials slurping down grass outside the Blue Bell ice cream factory in Brenham, TX.

I was looking over the wall menu when I heard some commotion behind me.  I looked around just in time to see Don King and his entourage nudging people in line aside as they plowed their way in unison -- like a well-trained NFL offensive line; No, more like a snowplow disrupting a tranquil neighborhood street full of playful kids -- to get to the counter.

"I don't care if it is Don King.  They'll have to get through me if they want the No. 1 spot in line," I thought as my lips tightened and I prepared for battle.

Well, they got through me without much of a fuss (for them, at least).  I floated out of their path with the slightest wimpy resistance.  Unlike Muhammad Ali, I never quite got around to stinging like a bee.

I was seething and hot under the collar, though.  In fact, I had to order a large to cool down after King and his court were gone.

I say all that to say this.  Somewhere, Don King is celebrating his 81st birthday today.  So, happy birthday, Mr. King.  I hope you're enjoying a celebratory frozen yogurt without having to bluster your way to the front of some line today.

And I apologize for thinking what I wanted you to do with that frozen yogurt (cone and all) back in Vegas.  I've calmed down since then.

Besides, I'm pretty sure that's not even even humanly possible.   

Great to CD you, Ron Young

RYoung260
Ron Young's been pickin' and singin' "Under the Texas Radar" too long.
I have no idea when Ron Young's birthday is.

But know this, the title of Ron's new CD, "Under the Texas Radar," sums up the talented Texas troubadour's plight and fight to claim a place as a Lone Star singer-songwriter to be reckoned with right alongside Willie Nelson (the king, of course), Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Billy Joe Shaver and The Derailers (a personal favorite).

Ron has pulled off the near-impossible; making the difficult transition from a music critic to a bona fide musician himself.

The first time I met him Ron walked into the San Antonio Light newspaper newsroom in the early 1980s to drop off his weekly music column.  I had just arrived in San Antonio, and was settling in as an entertainment reporter and film critic.

Although his music reviews were concise, informative and fun to read, Ron just had that look.  He was not yet where he was someday going to be.  From this aisle seat, Ron has arrived there with "Under the Texas Radar," a 15-tune declaration of independence and Young's bill of rights.

I'm still humming the catchy, somewhat playful beat of "Done (Stick a Fork in Us)," a tune of remorse over a busted relationship that somehow comes with its own musical fog machine in an attempt to shield the pain.

Young, like so many others with a heart bursting with dreams, a guitar case in hand and a notebook full of songs, made the musician's pilgrimage to Nashville, and has written more than 400 songs by his count.  "A Long Ride" chronicles those years.

What impresses me most is that Young bares his soul between the guitar strums.  That has to be the real test of a singer-songwriter worth his salt and shot of tequila at the end of a long barroom night.  The song that got to me most was "Daddy's Chair," a lament about what really matters in life.

You'll hear a little Bob Dylan, a little Hank Williams and even a little Bob Wills in Young's music.  And perhaps Young's knowledge of his musical peers, perhaps a byproduct of his old music critic days, inspired his request for a little musical mentorship in "Waitin' On Willie."

What makes "Under the Texas Radar" a four-jalapeño listening experience for me, though, are those moments when Ron breaks the bonds of his influences and just sings as himself.

Ron Young doesn't need to wait on Willie any longer.  He has arrived.

An open invitation

I'm very happy to, once again, offer a series of film classes this fall at Richland College as part of the Emeritus plus 50 program.

Things will be a little different this time.  The Movie Clips and Current Conversation series, which runs for four Thursday mornings Sept. 13 through Oct. 4 from 10-11:30 a.m., will feature lively discussion.

It's an opportunity for you, the student, to share your opinions and thoughts on subjects like "Do movies reflect our actions or dictate them?" and "The movies today:  High prices, outrageous snack costs and cell phones," just to cite a couple.

This is a non-credit course with a fee of only $18.  And remember, there is no homework, no outside study and no final exam, just a chance to get out of the house and meet some folks who, like you, have an interest in staying active and maybe even learning a thing or two.

If you'd like to join in the fun, call the Richland College Continuing Education Department at 972-238-6146 or 972-238-6147 and tell them you'd like to sign up for course SRCZ 1000 81911, registration No. 789367.

(Don King photo courtesy:  telegraph.co.uk/Ron Young photo courtesy:  Tana Thomasson/Ronlyoung.com)

09 July 2010

Play movie trivia, win some stuff

Cup200 Summertime, and the feeling is movie trivia.  It's fun.  It's easy and, this summer, it's rewarding. 

In fact, the first person who e-mails me with all five correct answers to this month's trivia will win not one, but two Movie Memories collector coffee mugs stuffed with decadent popcorn and candy.

Second place picks up one Movie Memories mug filled with sticky candy and microwave popcorn.

So get busy, and e-mail your answers to MovieMemories@verizon.net.  If you're stumped and just want to learn the answers, also e-mail MovieMemories@verizon.net and I'll gladly send them to you.

'You must remember this.' -- Movie trivia --

1.  Complete this classic movie title.  "The Long, Hot ..."

a.  Dog

b.  Summer  

c.  Lindsay Lohan

2.  One more time.  "Suddenly, Last ..."

a.  One in is a rotten egg

b. Will and testament 

c.  Summer

3.  Thing you absolutely can't do in a movie theater:

a.  Text

b.  Tweet

c.  Go to an R-rated movie without someone bringing a child.

4.  Movie concession stand treat that's not what it sounds like: 

a.  Hot Tamales

b.  Cheese nachos

c.  Popcorn 

5.  Which is not a real movie title?

a.  "Drag Me to Hell"

b.  "Exit Through the Gift Shop"

c.  "Put a lid on it" 

For Trivia Answers, or to enter this month's trivia contest (See above), e-mail MovieMemories@verizon.net.

Upcoming Movie Memories presentations

(Have you booked one for your group yet?)

July 21:  An Enrichment Presentation at Richland College, Dallas. "'Casablanca' -- My Favorite Movie of All Time." 1:45 p.m.

Aug. 2:  Richland College Emeritus Program class No. 1. "If You Can't Say Something Nice -- My Career as a Film Critic" presentation.  10 a.m.

Aug. 9:  Richland College Emeritus Program class No. 2.  "Deadline Pressure ... What Deadline Pressure" presentation. 10 a.m. 

Sept. 13:  "'Casablanca' -- My Favorite Movie of All Time" presentation at Presbyterian Village North, Dallas.  6:30 p.m.

Nov. 16:  "'Casablanca' -- My Favorite Movie of All Time" presentation at Chambrel at Club Hill, Garland.  6:30 p.m.

02 February 2010

Has a movie ever changed your life?

"Elmer Gantry," the Oscar-winning, hard-hitting religious-drama changed mine in 1960.

ElmerOLnewsuse
(Courtesy:  MGM Home Entertainment)

I was thinking about "Elmer Gantry" and the effect one movie can have on a life the other day because Jean Simmons, who co-starred with Oscar-winner Burt Lancaster in the film, passed away at the age of 80.

I was on the cusp of becoming a teenager and beginning to think about what, if any, place I might have in this world when my older brother, three years my senior, got his driver's license in 1959.  We lived in Grand Prairie (TX), a sleepy underachieving gas stop between Dallas and Fort Worth where you could buy hamburgers seven for a dollar. 

There wasn't much for a kid like me to do on weekends except walk across the railroad tracks to town, or more specifically to the Uptown Theater for a Saturday afternoon at the movies.

The long, joyous afternoon typically began with cheesy MC Jerry Silver (the owner or manager) hopping on stage and pretending to swallow a lighted cigarette.  After a newsreel, cartoons and maybe a "Flash Gordon" serial short, there'd be a double-feature.  John Wayne was usually involved, as were "bad hombres" and/or "ingins."  (The Duke's words, not mine.)

That all changed when my older brother got the keys to the car.  Looking back, it was probably a minor rite of passage for him; freedom and an introduction to the world of unchaperoned dating, etc.

A trip to the nearby Chalk Hill Drive-in, however, changed my life in 1960.  For some reason I can't recall, my brother and a couple of his buddies actually let Little Larry tag along.  I remember my mother asking what was showing.  My brother replied something about a Disney movie.

It is very likely that a Disney movie was playing in theaters (including drive-ins) back then.  The Mouse House released "The Sign of Zorro" and "Swiss Family Robinson" that year, along with "Pollyanna."  I'm pretty sure my brother didn't say we were heading out to see "Pollyanna."

Mother would have snapped that something risky and bordering on dangerous emotional territory was up.  The trip would have been canceled before my brother could back our '57 Chevy out of our two-strip, cracked driveway.

But we didn't pull up to the Chalk Hill Drive-in speaker pole and face the screen playing a Disney movie.  This carload of semi-naughty boys were "getting away with something."  I was in the back seat; not a hostage nor a willing co-hort, but just a forgotten extra kid in the backseat.

We were there to see "Elmer Gantry." And it altered my life forever.

Set in the 1920s, "Elmer Gantry" starred Jean Simmons as an angelic-looking tent evangelist named Sister Sharon Falconer.  Her life changes drastically and unexpectedly (like mine) when a loud, but charismatic traveling salesman named Elmer Gantry shows up.  He's quick with a joke and even quicker to pull out his flask of whiskey.

Lancaster, nominated for Best Actor Academy Awards for "From Here to Eternity," "Birdman of Alcatraz" and "Atlantic City," won instead for this amazing, grandiose title-role performance.  Elmer takes a shine to the saintly evangelist and pulls out all the stops -- even joining her troupe of tent preachers -- to use his gift of salesmanship to, shall we say, win her over.

I'll never forget how Lancaster emphasized the name "Sister Sharon," lifting it to such heavenly heights in his sermons that she might have been one of the original disciples.  More often, though, Elmer stoked the hell fires of the crowd by charming them before Bible-thumping the fear of everlasting damnation into them:

"I have here in my pocket - and thank heaven you can't see them - lewd, dirty, obscene, and I'm ashamed to say this: French postcards. They were sold to me in front of your own innocent high school by a man with a black beard . . . a foreigner."

If my brother or anyone in the front seat with him had turned around, they would have seen a future film critic stunned by the brute power of effective, provocative drama as the projected colors of "Elmer Gantry" danced across my frozen face.

Academy Awards an ex-family affair this year

This year's Academy Award nominations were announced before the sun came up in Hollywood on Feb. 2, and things are a little more interesting than usual this year.

For the first time in Oscar history, the best picture and best director race looks like a domestic squabble that -- if multi-million-dollar movies (or a billion in one care) weren't involved -- might be settled in family court.

And it gets better.  "Avatar," directed by "Titanic" filmmaker (and Oscar winner) James Cameron, and "The Hurt Locker," helmed by Cameron's ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, tied with nine Academy Award nominations each to lead this year's race for the golden statuettes.

Too bad Bette Davis isn't still alive to say, "Fasten your seat-belts, it's going to be a bumpy night."  Look for the awards on ABC on March 7.

"You must remember this." -- Trivia time!

How about a little fun?  Answer all five of our trivia questions correctly and you'll earn the highly coveted Movie Memories 4-jalapeño salute.  (See answers below.) 

1.  "My Bloody Valentine" was:

     a.  My Valentine's Day card after I pricked my finger on a rose thorn.

     b.  A 1981 slasher movie (later remade)

     c.  A holiday drink made with vodka and tomato juice

2.  On Valentine's Day it's traditional to send your sweetie . . .

     a.  Flowers

     b.  Chocolates

     c.  Packing

3.  The St. Valentine's Day Massacre happened in . . .

a.  Chicago

     b.  Hico, Texas on Memorial Day

c.  Walmart during a giant-reduction sale

4.   Most dangerous movie snack food:

     a.  3-year-old Milk Duds

     b.  Walnuts in the shell  (Think about it.)

     c.  Bananas Foster

5.   The movie Jean Simmons wasn't in:

     a. "Spartacus"

     b.  "Guys and Dolls"

     c.  "My Bloody Valentine"  

(Trivia Answers:  1-b, a 1981 slasher movie/2-a, flowers/3-a, Chicago/4-c Bananas Foster/5-c, "My Bloody Valentine")

Upcoming presentations

April 13:  "'Casablanca' -- My Favorite Movie of All Time" presentation at The Village at Frisco Lakes.  7 p.m. (Residents only)

June 9:  "'Casablanca' -- My Favorite Movie of All Time" presentation at The Forum at Park Lane, Dallas.  6:45 p.m.

July 21:  An Enrichment Presentation at Richland College, Dallas. "'Casablanca' -- My Favorite Movie of All Time." 1:45 p.m.

Aug. 2:  Richland College Emeritus Program class No. 1. "If You Can't Say Something Nice -- My Career as a Film Critic" presentation.  10 a.m.

Aug. 9:  Richland College Emeritus Program class No. 2.  "Deadline Pressure ... What Deadline Pressure" presentation. 10 a.m. 


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