Sunday, June 22, 2008

Being Ernest

The massive intrusion of Euro 2008 in the television schedules has stopped me watching the box. I can talk about football. For instance, the average pitch is a waste of nine croquet lawns. But that’s pretty much it. So when I’ve been in of an evening, it’s pretty much been picking a selection of DVDs off the shelves. Last Sunday it was Powell & Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, and today Untitled, the director’s cut of Almost Famous.

Over the weeknights I started with The Poseidon Adventure, then turned to The Dirty Dozen, and finally Ice Station Zebra. There wasn’t any method in the choices, just reaching for films that I enjoyed and hadn’t watched in a while. Probably, I was looking for films concentrating on story rather that walloping the audience with brash CGI special effects. Either caught up in the enjoyable hokum, or simply slow on the uptake, it was only during John Sturges’ Cold War drama that I realized that I’d put together a pretty decent Ernest Borgnine triple bill.

I suppose I could have substituted Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, or added it to make an interesting quartet. Or tried to track down the episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants in which he played the Mermaid Man. I knew that Ermes Effron Borgnino was still with us, but at ninety-one years old, I figured he was kicking back and enjoying retirement. Apparently he's still working, and still going strong, which, at a time when a generation of Hollywood players is starting to leave us, is a very good thing.

So here’s the thing, if you fancy it, pick yourself a favourite Hollywood actor/actress and come up with a triple bill of their films (preferably available on DVD) that would make entertaining viewing for a time when there’s nothing else on. Also, think of them as introductions to the actor for people unfamiliar with their work.


At 12:33 pm, Blogger Tom said...

Good post. Guess I'd have to go for George C. Scott and have Dr Strangelove, Patton (obviously) and The Changeling as the three films.

At 2:13 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Oh, that's a top George C. Scott triple!

Dr Strangelove could form a great Sterling Hayden triple, along with The Long Goodbye and The Asphalt Jungle.

Looking at the shelves again, I was thinking of Jaws, The Taking of Pelham 123, and Robin and Marian to celebrate Robert Shaw.

Actually... that's not a bad idea. With tennis now on as well as the footie, that's not a bad idea at all.

At 3:58 pm, Blogger qrter said...

Might do an Audrey Hepburn one - not a great actress, really, but she had something (and plenty of it) - the inevitable Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday or Charade and Wait Until Dark (Robin and Marian could tie in here, too).

Wait Until Dark could be used in an Alan Arkin triple bill, next to Glengarry Glen Ross and Little Miss Sunshine, perhaps.

Maybe a sleazy Tony Curtis triple bill, although I'm not sure about a third title - I'd go for Sweet Smell of Success and The Boston Strangler, but what could be the third one?

At 6:32 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Breakfast at Tiffany’s may be inevitable but it’s a great, great film. I’d plump for Charade over Roman Holiday, simply because it’s the best Hitchcock film that Hitch never made. (Another good Stanley Donen thriller in the same vein is Arabesque, made the year after Charade).

And Wait Until Dark is a top choice as well. Although, there’s also the couple of wonderful scenes she appeared in, in Always. They need someone to play a sort of guardian angel, who else would you call?

That Alan Arkin triple is simply faultless. Although I’d cheat and make it a quartet by adding Rocketeer, simply because I love that film.

That’s the difficulty with Tony Curtis, it’s difficult to thing of really sleazy roles he played to make the trio. I’d give up and add Some Like it Hot, making the excuse that it would be good to see some variation.

Speaking of Sweet Smell of Success, there’s the great Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker, which would mean adding Elmer Gantry and Local Hero. Magic!!

At 7:05 pm, Blogger Lee said...

Bob Mitchum for me. Out of the Past and Night of the Hunter make an obvious pair, but how to complete the trio? I'd probably plump for El Dorado.

Or how about putting together On the Waterfront, In the Heat of the Night, and The Pawnbroker for a Rod Steiger triple?

At 8:45 pm, Blogger qrter said...

Yeah, I think I'd go for Some Like It Hot too, in the end - it's just a wonderful film, like Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Sweet Smell of Success is one of my favourite films - the only disappointing thing about the film is that Curtis' character doesn't "win" but has to lose, within Hollywood movie rules.

Here's another one - Sigourney Weaver. I'd go for Alien, Ghostbusters and The Ice Storm. (Maybe Galaxy Quest as a treat..)

At 9:38 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

...a pretty decent Ernest Borgnine triple bill.

There you go, pandering to popular tastes again.

At 9:41 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


Oh, El Dorado would really complement those two. Although if wet, maybe Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza. Again, I just wish The Friends of Eddie Coyle was out on DVD. Mitchum is just so superb in that.

Jeez, that Steiger triple bill would be a pretty intense experience... Hell, why not?


Oh, Sweet Smell of Success is just perfect. Great direction from Alexander Mackendrick; stunning cinematography from James Wong Howe; and an absolutely crackerjack script from Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman.

Amongst all the sharp dialogue, I love the line the cop says to Sidney Falco: “Come back here Sidney, I wanna chastise you.”

I’d say Sigourney Weaver was too young for the list, but the choices are great.

After all the actors we’ve conjured up, I’ve just finished watching John Huston’s 1963 thriller The List of Adrian Messenger. It stars George C. Scott and Kirk Douglas, and has some playful cameos from Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra. It’s a great little movie.


Oh, good one. Yeah, I'm such a dirty sellout.

At 9:53 pm, Blogger Lee said...

Damn you, Good Dog, this is far too much fun. I know what I'll be doing every Sunday afternoon for the rest of the year: bringing out the DVDs!

Lee Marvin: Point Break, Bad Day at Black Rock and The Big Red One.

Joel McCrea: Sullivan's Travels, Ride the High Country, and Foreign Correspondent.

Sean Connery: The Hill, The Man Who Would be King, and The Untouchables.

Joseph Cotten: Shadow of a Doubt, The Third Man, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Henry Fonda: The Lady Eve, The Grapes of Wrath, and Once Upon a Time in the West.

Walter Huston: Dodsworth, The Devil and Daniel Webster, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Claude Raines: The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and Casablanca (might swap for Notorious)

Gary Cooper: Ball of Fire, Man of the West, and The Westerner (or Mr Deeds Goes to Town, or High Noon. I think I'll give Gary two weekends.)

I could play this all night.

At 10:35 pm, Blogger qrter said...

One of my favourite Sweet Smell lines has to be Hunsecker's "You're dead, son. Get yourself buried.".

At 11:07 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Lee, what have you done? I’m supposed to be getting an early night tonight.

Having watched The Dirty Dozen, afterwards I was thinking it had to be Point Blank with Lee Marvin but I wasn’t sure about the third. The restoration of The Big Red One is another war movie, and the Don Siegel version of The Killers also pairs him with Angie Dickinson. I think my third would be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Top choices for Joel McCrea, Joseph Cotton, and Walter Huston. My third Connery one with be Robin and Marian but the first two are blinders!

The Henry Fonda triple is simply magnificent. That deserves a standing ovation!

For Claude Raines, I’d swap Casablanca for Notorious. I watched it a while back and he’s just so great in it, especially the sheer desperation in the closing minutes.

Yeah, good luck getting Gary Cooper down to three. I was trying to figure out which three Jimmy Stewart movies to put together and ran screaming from the room.


Jack Lemmon would be The Apartment from his Billy Wilder films, The Odd Couple, and then The China Syndrome, although it would be a toss up with Save the Tiger and Glengarry Glen Ross, and even his great couple of scenes in JFK.

George Kennedy – who, for a long time I only knew as the airplane-saving Joe Patroni in all the Airport films – would get Cool Hand Luke, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and The Naked Gun

The William Holden triple would be Stalag 17 (rather than Sunset Blvd.), The Wild Bunch (although I think the film really belongs to Robert Ryan) and then rounding it off with Network.

And qrter, since you've used my favourite Sweet Smell line,all I can say to that my dear is:

"Don't remove the gangplank Sidney, you may want to get back on board."

At 11:25 pm, Blogger Lee said...

Liberty Valence was this close to making the cut. Three Jimmy Stewarts? Hell, that's tough; reckon if I had to, I'd go for The Philadelphia Story, The Naked Spur and Vertigo, but that's a discussion that could go on forever. Damn, that was some career.

A more modern choice - Jeff Bridges: Fat City (actually Stacy Keach's film, but a good 'un), The Fisher King, and (of course) The Big Lebowski.

At 7:57 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

Absolutely, Vertigo would make the list. And The Naked Spur is a good call. As well as a Hitchcock there has to be one of the Anthony Mann westerns. I suppose that means the third should be a Capra movie, but... Much as I love The Philadelphia Story, I’d go for Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey.

At 12:43 pm, Blogger qrter said...

I'd go for Harvey too, although I might go for Rear Window instead of Vertigo. Controversial!

Another hard one is Cary Grant. Let's see.. North by Northwest.. Arsenic and Old Lace.. Charade?

I'd like to do an Edward Woodward one, but beyond The Wicker Man and Hot Fuzz I can't think of a third one.

And here's one back at you for the great "gangplank" line:

"The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river."

At 2:22 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I’m going to answer the easy one first... The third Edward Woodward film has got to be Breaker Morant which is just brilliant.

Cary Grant, for me, is a tricky one. With his Hitchcock films, I tend to watch To Catch a Thief more than North By Northwest - and not just because the sexual innuendo is better. Went it comes to the early comedies, Arsenic and Old Lace is a real cracker, but for me it has to be His Girl Friday. Charade is probably the film where he really perfected the Cary Grant role, before bowing out. But since that’s in the Audrey Hepburn triple, I’m going to plump for Gunga Din, simply because.

And, of course, “Every dog will have his day.”

At 5:30 pm, Blogger Lee said...

Totally agree with your Grant line-up, GD, Gunga Din in particular, but you've trumped me with Breaker Morant. Never even heard of it. Must check it out.

At 5:54 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


I should warn you, you'll start watching Breaker Morant as a man but finish the film weeping like a little girl.

Or maybe it's just me.


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