FILMS ALL GUYS SHOULD SEE

My personal top 20, by Rich Paschall

This is probably the opposite of “chick flicks.”  You know what I mean, the romantic comedies starring Sandra Bullock or Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, or Zac Efron.  You may have to see those as a consequence of the long tradition of “date nights,” but these are some of the films every guy should see.

There could be hundreds of good films for this list.  The heroes are strong, the action is intense, the dialogue is smart and every guy in the theater would like to be the leading man of the story.  They speak not only good versus evil, or right versus wrong, but they also include noble intentions… most of the time anyway.

Since I had to stick with movies I have seen, the list will probably date me to a time when I went to the movie theater more often.  A few of these I have only seen at home, but on a much larger television than when I was young.  Whether you are a Citizen Kane or a Raging Bull, it will be a Bad Day At Black Rock if you do not see all of these.  I normally do a top ten but I could not fit The Great Escape on the list and M.A.S.H. them down to 10.  It may not yet be High Noon, but it is time for the list.

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

20.  The Magnificent Seven. Outstanding remake of the Japanese classic The Seven Samurai, but set in the old West
19.  Dirty Harry. “I know what you’re thinking.”  This movie contains some of the greatest film quotes of all time.
18.  On The Waterfront. Marlon Brando could have been a contender. In fact, he won an Oscar.
17.  Patton.  George C. Scott will scare the heck out of you as the American General and war hero.
16.  Von Ryan’s Express.  Mesmerizing performance by Frank Sinatra trying to lead his troops to safety.
15.  Rocky.  Admit it, you love it.  It is a triumph of the spirit.  The sequels … not so much.
14.  Run Silent, Run Deep.  Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable face intrigue and insurrection on a submarine.
13.  The Bridge on the River Kwai.  Alec Guinness as the noble British officer forced to build a bridge with his fellow prisoners.  And the Oscar goes to…
12. The French Connection.  New York, France, drugs, car chases, cops and the perfect cast.  An Academy award winner.
11. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. The ultimate “Spaghetti Western.”

10.  Dr. NoBond, James Bond  If it is not exactly what Ian Fleming had in mind for his spy hero, it is nonetheless a great start to the ongoing series of action adventure movies.  If it were not for Sean Connery, would this series have gone very far?

09.  The Maltese Falcon.  Humphrey Bogart plays the detective who hunts down those responsible for the death of his partner.  It’s an odd speech he gives to Mary Astor at the end, but the final scene remains a classic.

08.  North by Northwest.  Cary Grant is forced to find the killer of an official at the United Nations.  The cross-country thriller is one of the finest works of director Alfred Hitchcock.

07.  Cool Hand Luke.  Paul Newman is a hero of another kind in the 1967 prison movie which earned an academy award for George Kennedy.

06.  Glory.  I loved Matthew Broderick in a number of lightweight movies, but here he rises to the dramatic occasion as the young officer who leads a troop of black soldiers into battle during the Civil War.  Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman also head the stellar cast.

05.  12 Angry Men.  One room, 12 men, one case, all dialogue.  Henry Fonda leads the powerful cast as the hold-out jury member who is not convinced of one boy’s guilt.  The confined setting adds to the unfolding tension.

04.  Jaws.  This movie made a lot of people afraid to go in the water.  Three unlikely people (Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss) go shark hunting in this 1975 thriller, directed by Steven Spielberg.

03.  In The Heat Of The Night.  Sydney Poitier commands the screen as the Philadelphia detective in the wrong place in the South. Rod Steiger is the ultimate racist southern sheriff.  The movie should make you squirm just a bit (or a lot) no matter what side of the color line you are on.  This is way beyond the sanitized television series and an important movie in 1967.

02.  The Godfather.  While some will not agree, I find this the best of the trilogy.  Marlon Brando is the Godfather, the Italian don, head of the crime family.  The 1972 film is a movie you can not refuse.

01.  Casablanca.  If you did not know this was coming, you have not been following me for very long.  It may be Casablanca, but we’ll always have Paris.  Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, Claude Reins, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and a supporting cast that look like they belong in the French Moroccan city.

Find trailers for the top 10 here on my You Tube channel.

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

Teen Age Idol

I’m too old for this. Teen age idol? Aw, c’mon.

I was madly in love with Johnny Mathis (who?) then traded him in for Marlon Brando who I thought was very cerebral and deep. I loved (still love) the Beatles. the Doors and the Stones, but they weren’t my idols … just great bands I enjoyed.

I had a bit of thing for Harry Belafonte, but he was hot.

72-Beatles-Imperial_02

it was more than 50 years ago. Seriously. That’s half a century.

If it was ever relevant, it has long passed over into mildly amusing trivia of the distant past.

 

THE GARNER FILES: A MEMOIR – JAMES GARNER AND JON WINOKUR (2012)

By James Garner and Jon Winokur – Release date: October 23, 2012

garnerfiles

From the first time I saw James Garner on TV as Bret Maverick, I was ever so slightly in love. I watched the show faithfully whenever Garner starred in the episode. They tried adding more Mavericks, but for me, there was only one. Apparently that’s how most viewers felt — when Garner was gone, the show was gone.

When I saw him in “The Americanization of Emily,” our relationship was sealed. I was a fan  for life. Although I have not seen every movie he ever made, I’ve seen most of them. I’ve liked some, loved most. Whenever one of his movies shows up on cable, it goes on the DVR. Fortunately Garry is a fan too.

Now, about the book. If you had the impression that Jim Garner is a plain-spoken guy with strong opinions, you would be right. He has a great many opinions and no reticence about expressing them. He’s an unabashed liberal, egalitarian, man of the people who made good.

He thinks acting should come naturally and claims he’s never taken acting lessons.

It’s true. He never took any formal acting lesson. That he spent weeks huddled with Marlon Brando when he was shooting “Sayonara” and learned an incredible amount from the man he considers the best actor ever … I guess that doesn’t count as acting lessons. And lessons or no, this is an actor who’s easy-going, deceptively relaxed acting style makes it look easy. Making it look easy took a lot of hard work which seems to be the way it works with so many things that appear easy … when someone else does it.

Garner is an honest guy. He tells it like he sees it, or at least remembers it. He ruthlessly reviews every television series he made in detail, including his favorite episodes with lots of back stories and anecdotes. He reviews and rates every movie he made. I like some of them better than he did, but mostly I agree with his assessments. We all agree “The Americanization of Emily” was not only his best movie, but maybe the best movie of that type. Ever. I’m inclined to agree. “Emily” was not merely a movie but an ideal. He spent the rest of his life trying to live up to.

Probably the one that has given me the most laughs is “Support Your Local Sheriff” in which he reprised his Maverick persona.

If “Emily” was his best movie, “Grand Prix” was his favorite. Like many other Hollywood stars, he’s in love with fast cars and racing. Grand Prix was pure fun for the entire cast.

Who he likes and doesn’t like? You won’t have to guess. He tells you exactly how he feels about everyone. He’s not big on forgiving or forgetting. Given that he shares his birthday with my husband, I’m not surprised.

Grand Prix (1966 film)

He came from a  poor, rough, abusive childhood. He worked hard and is the only person who seems to have had more surgery than me. That’s a lot of surgery, believe me.

It never occurred to me that acting was so physically taxing, but apparently he is by no means the only performer to have broken just about everything at one time or another.

His two famous battles with studios were history-making because he won. The second lawsuit revolved around “The Rockford Files” and the issue was shady bookkeeping practices employed by studios to avoid paying performers. Technically he settled out of court for what was (apparently) so much money he’s still laughing about it. He wanted to keep fighting because there was a principle involved. His friends told him to shut up and take the money. Eventually, he decided they were right. It must have been a lot of money. My guess is that the studios continue to play fast and loose with bookkeeping and will … as long as they get away with it.

I enjoyed reading the book on Kindle and then enjoyed it a second time as an audiobook. I wish Garner had done the narration himself. Although Audible found a narrator whose voice and intonation resemble Garner’s and it’s good, it’s still not the same as having Garner do it.

This is a must-read for anyone who’s a fan of James Garner and his movies … or for anyone who likes knowing what was going on behind the scenes. It’s entertaining, honest, surprising and often funny. I enjoyed it a lot and I’ll probably read it again. I’d give this one a solid 9 out of 10.

It’s a fine autobiography. It’s available on Kindle, Audible.com, in paperback and hardcover (large print).

– – –

My Empty Bucket

postaday 2013 - long

WordPress suggested we write about the 11th item on our bucket list. The subject alarmed me. I don’t have a bucket list. I’ve never had a bucket list. Until the movie of the same name came out in 2007, I’d never heard the expression.

Clearly I am and have always been out of touch with popular culture. When I was a kid, I always had my head in a book. When everyone else was dancing to the tunes on American Bandstand, I was practicing Chopin or Mozart on the piano. I didn’t have time or — if I want to be honest, the inclination — to spend afternoons watching something I found kind of dopey. I wouldn’t have admitted it under torture, but I never understood what they found so interesting.

In elementary, junior high school, and even high school, I was so out of step that even amongst misfits I was a misfit. Yet by the time I got to college, there were enough people like me to form a sub-culture of oddballs who did their own thing. I finally fit in.

At some point in my life, I opted out of trends and fashions. I stopped reading reviews, cancelled subscriptions to fashion and home decorating magazines. I have no idea what’s in style. I’m wearing the same kind of clothing I wore in college. As for home furnishings, decisions are entirely based on affordability, back-friendly design and how well the upholstery can withstand and/or blend with dog hair.

Because I read voraciously and enjoy movies, I poke around to see what’s coming out, but I have no idea what’s on any best-seller or most-popular list. I have favorite authors and genres. I listen to the same music I listened to 40 years ago. It wasn’t popular or fashionable then either, but I like it. Good thing my husband shares my lack of concern with what’s current, trendy, or “hot.”

The closest thing I have to involvement with The Latest Things is a passion for technology. From the day I first got my hands on a computer back in the early 1980s, a lightbulb went off and I said “This is a better way.” I never looked back. I’m not quite as on top of the techno wave as I was a decade ago when I was working in the development world, but I retain a keen interest and strong opinions about technology, operating systems, databases and software. My granddaughter makes fun of me … until her computer stops working and suddenly, I morph from granny to guru.

11 - The History Of American Bandstand - engli...

Photo credit: Affendaddy

I enjoy donning my cape and mask and slaying computer demons. It is a rare Old Person who gets to be a heroic in the eyes of  a 16-year old, however briefly.

I am most at home in the world of words. As much as I write, I read even more. Obviously I don’t sleep much. This blog is my reward for spending my entire working life writing about abstruse software and hardware. I finally get to write for fun.

One of the things I try to do is correct cultural errors, as least as they pertain to books and movies. If I feel something has gotten a bad rap and deserves better, I tell people about it. Movies that got bad reviews, books that have been overlooked, authors who haven’t gotten the recognition they deserve. I’m kind of like a literary Chicago Cubs fan. I hang with underdogs.

Many of my favorite books and movies got lousy reviews. The books didn’t sell, the movies flopped at the box office. Garry still reads reviews and passes them to me if he thinks I’ll be interested. It is not uncommon for us to wonder if these reviewers watch or read the same stuff we do. It doesn’t sound like it.

My life in publishing … ah memories

I worked at Doubleday back in the 1970s before it became part of an international conglomerate. I worked in the book club division. Each of the writers — we were called editors even though we had no editorial responsibilities — had our own book clubs. We wrote flaps for book jackets,  monthly mailers for club members and promotional stuff for whatever was new. Everyone wrote for the two general interest clubs — The Doubleday Book Club and The Literary Guild.

The difference between the two was entirely a matter of presentation. The Literary Guild was supposedly more high-brow than Doubleday Book Club. In fact, the same books were sold in both clubs, but you used bigger words when writing for LG than DBC. And LG was more expensive because paying more makes some people feel superior. I have never been one of them. My mother taught me  only fools pay full price. If it isn’t on clearance or at least a second mark down, why are you buying it? It wasn’t just a matter of money: it was a point of pride. There are people who feel anything inexpensive isn’t worth owning. Thank God for them. They keep the economy going.

When you wrote up a new book, you got the book plus the official summaries and descriptions from headquarters. Most editors used these summaries as the basis of whatever they wrote.

I read the books. All of them. I’m a fast reader and getting paid to read seemed a great gig. More often than not, the material from the main office had little or nothing to do with the books. The writers of the summaries hadn’t read the book either. I got the impression that me and the author were the only ones who had actually read the whole book.

Flaps were often embarrassingly wrong. I couldn’t control what others wrote, but if it was anything coming through my clubs or any club for which I was writing, I read the book. I was considered extraordinary. After all, this was just promotional material. I thought even promotional material should be accurate. Apparently I was one of few who felt that way. I suspect a great deal of current “critical reviewing” is done using the same inaccurate write-ups from corporate publicists.

I thought then … and still think … that a combination of laziness and an unwillingness to offend The Powers That Be has more influence over reviewers than the quality (or lack thereof) of books and movies. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

Then there’s the politics, about which the less said, the better.

Back to the future … or present

This all leads back to why I remain so disconnected from pop culture. Call me cynical, but I’ve seen too much to trust anything that comes out of a corporate office.

And thus my failure to have a bucket list. If I really wanted to do something, I did it. If I didn’t do it, it was because it wasn’t all that important to me. Today I’m limited by money and health, but when I was younger, I did my own thing. I wanted adventure. A life composed of suburban predictability was much scarier than any risk I could take.

I wanted to live in another culture and I did. It cost me a lot. International moves with 10 year interruptions of career are not fiscally sound life choices, but I wouldn’t trade that “lost” decade for anything. And who’s to say it would have turned out differently anyhow? I bet we wind up where we are supposed to be no matter what we do.

I don’t need to regret what I missed. I know it’s a cliché, but “at least we have memories” isn’t ridiculous or sentimental. It means you’ve lived. You can’t buy a  life you missed. You have to be there, have been there. You had to choose the foolish, unsafe path to get the stuff that money can’t buy.

The whole idea of a bucket list bothers me. How can you codify life on a list? You get opportunities, see forks in the road. People come into your life. You choose to do it or not. If you say no, maybe you’ll get another chance, a different opportunity … but most people never accept any invitation to get off the path, even temporarily. They have lots of good reasons. Money, responsibilities, uncertainty. Fear.

They wind up with bucket lists that are a summary of regrets, an organized statement of missed opportunities, paths not taken. Maybe that’s the sensible way, but I would have hated it. So I don’t have an 11th item on my bucket list. I don’t have a 1st item. I just have a life.

“VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD” – An honor and a privilege …

Very Inspiring Blogger award

First of all, thank you to Bette Stevens of  4WRITERSANDREADERS who has honored me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

This means a lot to me. As I go about my daily life, paying bills, figuring out how we’re going to get through another month that contains more bills than money, as I watch my family struggle and grope toward solutions … and nobody is the interested in anything I might have to say on the matter … I ponder how the people who know us best are the most likely to ignore us.

Not like this is unusual or rare. It probably wasn’t a new concept when it found its way into the gospels.

Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown: John 4:44. 

I guess it’s not especially surprising if we are taken more seriously by virtual strangers than we are at home, in the bosom of our family. Or at least in the bosom of mine.

It is the great gift of blogging that we can give our best to anyone willing to read our posts. In the semi-anonymity of our cyber lives, we offer everyone the things we love, the things that excite and fascinate us … as well as what we’ve learned, knowledge painfully learned … and hope someone will benefit. I’m sure I’m not the only one who began blogging as a way of sharing with a larger community. Maybe someone can benefit from our mistakes and avoid the missteps that have cost us dearly. Perhaps we’ll make someone laugh, open a window on something beautiful, inspire someone to read a book, take a picture, watch a movie or just think about something they’d otherwise never consider. A single idea, an unexpected image or concept can change a life and a changed life can change the world. We hope. And so, we share.

Inspiration is strange, unpredictable. A book I’m reading, a TV show, blogs, current events, sunlight filtering through leaves, watching snowflakes drift by my window, knowing my car is stuck at the bottom of the driveway until the snow melts. Being grateful we shopped yesterday and didn’t put it off another day. Glad I have a computer and a high-speed connection so I can remain part of the world when just a few decades ago, our age and my disabilities would have condemned me to isolation.

Being told that I’m an inspiration is an inspiration. It means someone hears me. I’m infinitely grateful. It’s a validation and a reward. We all need that, at least sometimes. It keeps us going when so often if feels like we are shouting into an empty space.Guy Williams as Zorro

All of you in my blogging community inspire me. I read your stories. Your pictures make me think about new ways to capture my world. I marvel at the complex lives we’ve lives, the obstacles we overcome, the problems we deal with every day, how strong we are and how amazing it is that we find reasons to rejoice despite hard times and harder choices.

The rules of this award are:

  • Display the award logo on your blog
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Tell us at least seven things about yourself that you would like to share.
  • Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them. I am not going to set a specific number. I know how difficult it can be to keep coming up with dozens of new nominees and rather than burden you all with the requirement to find in a single batch quite so many bloggers to whom you have not already passed on a variety of awards, I will suggest that as you find worthy blogs that you would like to honor, that you pass the honor to them and allow them to also pass the honor along as they find honor worthy recipients.
  • Notify your chosen bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself are:

  1. I am a born researcher. If something catches my interest, I will keep digging at it until I feel I’ve learned everything I can about it, whether it’s breeds of dogs, building tepees, or medieval history.
  2. My hair started to turn gray when I was 20 and was almost completely great by the time I was 30.
  3. I’ve always had a lot of dogs, cats, ferrets, parrots and occasionally even stranger critters in my world, but love them though I do, I never got to own a horse.
  4. I have a “thing” for masked men and had a massive crush on Zorro when I was a teenage girl.
  5. When I gave up on Zorro, I fell even more passionately in love with Marlon Brando.
    Marlon Brando in a screenshot from the trailer...
  6. My first car was a 1977 Ford Pinto in British Racing Green. I thought it was very hot.
  7. I used to be able to recite the entire family tree of the British Royal Family from Willy the Conqueror to Queen Liz II.  I thought it was quite an achievement, but no one was impressed but me.

My nominees (the envelope please):

Chiquero: Nothing But An Induced Epidemic

A barbaric YAWP across the Web:  A tale of life, love and laughter; sometimes poignant, sometimes funny but always meaningful.

THE WORD ON THE .NET ~ Writer T. James’ Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Sunday Night Blog:  A WordPress.com site by Rich Paschall

Cowbelly Pet Photography: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Woofs

Top Secret Writers

I know a couple of you are repeat awardees. It is not my fault that I like your stuff. If you would stop inspiring me, writing so well that I feel obliged to improve my work, making me think, laugh, and want to take better pictures, I’d stop giving you awards.

For my friends to whom I’ve already give several awards (you know who you are!) and who live in fear of getting another, well, you will be hearing from me. Don’t think I’ve forgotten you. Just because I skipped you this time doesn’t mean I’m not gonna getcha on the next wave! I’ve got a lot of awards to pass along, so you all know who you are. Start collecting nominees … you will need them!