My all-time favorite movie is The Producers.

I’ve seen it a hundred times. I have it memorized. I can tell you what line is coming up next and what the next shot is in any given scene.  I still fall off my chair laughing when  Springtime for Hitler comes on. I also love the Broadway play and the movie of the Broadway play.

But here’s the point. It’s fiction. It’s comedy. It’s made up. It’s not real.

Or is it?

For those of you who’ve never seen the movie or the play, the concept is simple. A failing Broadway producer is having his taxes done when his accountant makes an interesting observation.

“You know,” he says. “You can make more money from a flop than a hit”.

“Say that again?” classic-movie-night-com

How could that be? Well, when a show flops you don’t have to pay back the investors. You can raise unlimited amounts of money and then keep it all. The only trick is that the show MUST be a flop. If it’s a hit, you’d have to pay the investors … and if you’d been raising tons of money, you could never make enough money back to pay them.

So, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder found the worst play ever written:

Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden.


They got the worst director,

“Without the wig, you are only half dressed!”

And the worst actors imaginable.

And it became a huge hit. They all got arrested and went to jail where they proceeded to bilk the warden and the prisoners into backing a show called Prisoners Of Love.

“We open in Leavenworth on Saturday Night!”

What does any of this have to do with reality?

Good question.

We are living in a time where nothing makes sense. Everything is blowing up. The current administration is melting down. Connections between the Russians and this administration are exploding in both Putin’s and Trumputin’s face. The Republicans in Congress are falling all over themselves to prove how utterly incompetent they are at … EVERYTHING!

The mainstream media gave this clown over 3-billion-dollars of free airtime while he was running for office. They were a major factor in making him President.  To reward them for this largess, he has deemed them “The Enemy Of The People”.

It makes no sense. Unless you factor in one common denominator.


They all had different agendas, but they  all ended up being different versions of The Producers! The outcome of these elections were based on the same premise as the movie.

He would lose! Trumpy McTrumpFace never expected to win. He never wanted to win.

He ran to get a better negotiating position with NBC over The Apprentice. It’s on record. He told his publicist before he started to run that he wanted to come in a solid second in the primaries. But then he started to win. He realized he could raise a ton of money from poor stupid rural white folks — and he would never have to pay any of it back.

He could use his own plane, stay at his own hotels and funnel most of this money directly into his own pocket. He bragged he would be the first presidential candidate to make money running for president. He never had any policy plans. He didn’t need them.


He made promises nobody could keep because it didn’t matter. He was supposed to lose. Nobody thought he would win right up until election night.

Then he won.  And here we are.

Now let’s take Russia. Putin realized that hacking the DNC and releasing Hillary’s and Podesta’s emails would damage Hillary’s campaign. He had a beef with her. His plan was to screw with the campaign and maybe destabilize her administration. It didn’t matter that people with deep ties to Russia were now running Trumpy’s campaign.

It didn’t matter that this was reported during the campaign. Trump was supposed to lose.

But … he won. Suddenly this is an international scandal. Putin, just a few weeks ago, ordered a “Psychological Profile” of Humpty Trumpty. What did he find? A mentally ill man with his finger on half the world’s nuclear weapons. Most of them pointed at HIM. Oops.


Republicans had the whole game plan set out. They had four years of “investigations” into … well … everything that Hilary Clinton did, would do, or might do for the next four years. They were going to “Repeal Obamacare” at least another 60 times and block anything and everything the White House might try get done. Just like they did for the last eight years.

It’s their thing. They’re good at it. They practice it a lot.

Most Republicans did everything they could to distance themselves from the Trumpster. It was good policy. They could say “See? I knew this guy was a clown from the beginning. Vote for me!” And this would have worked.

Until he won.


As Leslie Roy Moonves (Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation) famously said early on, “Trump may be bad for America, but he’s great for CBS.”  People recording that couldn’t explain the odd whirring sound that showed up on all their recordings. It was Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Douglas Edwards and a whole bunch of other folks spinning in their graves. (NOTE: Still spinning.)

The media, mostly cable news, gave him ‘un-presidented’ air time because they were getting RATINGS! They were raking in the bucks. They didn’t bother to investigate any of the scandals, the fact that he had no policies, the fact that he was in bed with the Russians. Because THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO! He was going to lose. They could make a fortune with boosted ad rates and didn’t have to spend any money doing things like investigative reporting, exposing his lies, or pointing out that he’s INSANE! Mentally ill.

It didn’t matter that, late in the campaign, he turned on all of them. He was supposed to lose.

But he won. Now the media is “The Enemy of the People.”


So, there you have it folks. Four different versions of “The Producers.” They all did everything wrong.

Where did they all go right?

SO …

Can Mel Brooks sue REALITY for copyright infringement? 


Before I put a finger on the keyboard, I admit this is probably heresy, at least to some people. On this day of days, one simply doesn’t make fun of religious movies.

But I do.

Last night, Marilyn and I had our traditional viewing of “The Ten Commandments.” Cecil B was, again, going for life-altering moments. But really, he gave us much-needed laughter. It isn’t a movie that has stood up well to the years. Time tested it — and found it wanting.


Today’s lineup of movies on our favorite cable station includes almost all of the familiar biblical movies. Few stand the test of time. Some are really well intended like George Stevens’, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. But the man who gave us classics like “Shane”, “A Place In The Sun” and “Giant”, wound up with a ponderous and static film in “The Greatest Story”. It’s biggest sin? Boring.

As I write, we are watching Mel Brooks’, “History of the World-Part One” which is the perfect antidote to historical films that have become parodies or that were really never good. We probably have a greater appreciation of history because of Mel’s equal opportunity insults rather than the cardboard epics which play fast and loose with facts.

Mel Brooks last supper

I must admit I love watching gladiator movies. It’s a guy thing like war films.  I also enjoy seeing semi clad (or even less clad) young women engaging us in erotic dances before evil monarchs who are not playing with a full deck. But we’re not talking about great cinema here.

Charlton “call me Chuck” Heston was really honest when he talked about playing Moses. He told me it was a good gig. Working with Cecil B. DeMille (for a second time) was nice for his résumé. It actually gave him a boost for a religious film he really wanted to do.

“Ben Hur” is one of the best religious films out of Hollywood. It stands the test of time because of William Wyler’s fine direction. And, yes, the chariot race alone is still worth the price of admission.


This is obviously subjective stuff. If you love Cecil B’s heavy-handed narration of his version of the Old Testament, so let it be written. So let it be done,

We’re back with Mel. Now, it’s the French Revolution and those generously endowed girls are displaying their charms. It’s good to be the king!


Gratefully Guilty 

Afternoon walk - Tombstone

This prompt is 100% rerun. And this response is the identical (except for a teeny tiny bit of editing) response I made the first time around, on June 23, 2013. I keep saying: if you are going to re-issue the same prompts, I’m going to republish what I wrote in response. Not that anyone from WordPress pays the least bit of attention to what we write. You guys up there think we are really not very bright, don’t you.

No matter how sophisticated we become, how many degrees in film, literature or the arts we obtain, we keep our guilty pleasures. By which I mean the movies, books, books, and television shows we know aren’t great — and may be really dumb.

It doesn’t matter. We love them anyway.


I have a whole bushel of them, ranging from television shows about vampires with glowing eyes (Forever Knight), to reruns of the original Lassie. I’m a sucker for any movie featuring a non-human, be it cat, dog, horse, or sea creature. I’ll watch pretty much anything in which Candice Bergen starred or was at least featured. I’ll watch anything from any season of any Star Trek, even if I’ve seen it a hundred times.

I love comedies by Mel Brooks, even the bad ones because they make me laugh. Ditto the Zucker brothers for the same reason. If you can make me laugh, you’ve got me. Sometimes, I watch things that are unintentionally funny … Xena, Princess Warrior comes to mind. I don’t know whether it was supposed to be funny, but it made me laugh until I cried.

My lists of favorite movies, books and television shows are a study in contrasts. I love The Lion In Winter and The Seventh Seal. I love Airplane and Hotshots Deux. I never miss a run of Best Of Show or A Mighty Wind. Or the original version of The Haunting.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, I will watch or read whatever grabs my fancy or makes me laugh without discrimination.


It’s one of the reasons I think that “awards” like the Golden Globes and the Oscars need many more categories. How can you put a screwball comedy against a serious drama and have any kind of sensible outcome? It would be like having a dog show that included camels and goats. It wouldn’t matter how beautiful a goat or camel you have entered, it would never win Best of show.

What makes you laugh? What cheers you up when you’ve got the blues? Are you a secret fan of Gilligan’s Island or Love Boat? Time to come clean!


Sharing My World

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? (guest can be dead, alive, famous or someone you just know)

This was really hard! So many people with whom I’d love to chat, to ask questions. Or really, just hang out.

So at the top of this list, the late great Douglas Adams. I don’t know what I’d ask him, but I just want to be in his presence and smile.

For conversation, I first thought I’d invite a couple of favorite living authors. But there are too many. Many, many, too many. How could I possible pick just two?

TV Camera-25

So I’ll just invite Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. They are — so far, so good — alive and funny. I will ask them to do “The 2,000 Year Old Man.” Then I can sit there and laugh until I cry!

With what can you always be found?


A camera and spare eyeglasses. I don’t get along with bifocals, so I carry computer glasses (with which I can also read) plus prescription sunglasses and a spare pair of regular “seeing” glasses. And my Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS -25, my latest, greatest go everywhere compact super-zoom camera.

What is the most fun thing you did in school?

Being a pain in the butt. Then getting punished (?) by being sent to the art room where I could spend the day mucking around with paint, glue, scissors, and oak tag. I answered too many questions which interfered with the education of my classmates, so they got rid of me by banishing me.

I loved it. Just me and all that stuff. I didn’t even have to share. Yay.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

Since I have no idea how other people do stuff, I have no way to know if I do it differently. Whatever it is. I can’t think of anything I do in an especially unique way. But I’ll let you know if I think of anything.

What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward next week?

A new book — the first of two — by Carol Berg, one of my favorite authors, came out this week and I bought it on Kindle and as an audiobook today. I also have James Lee Burke’s latest waiting for me, as well as Gretchen Archer’s latest (not yet published — an advance reader edition of Double Strike) David Way caper. Next week, when Garry goes to New York to visit his brother, I am going to indulge in an orgy of listening to audiobooks and reading in bed.

This may not sound exciting to you, but to me it sounds like heaven.

Stay In The Car and Other Classic Lines – Marilyn Armstrong

In the spirit of clichés that pop out of the mouths of Our Heroes with alarming frequency, despite the fact that they have become standing jokes for the audience (apparently nobody mentioned this to the script writers), our personal favorite in this house is “Stay in the car.”

On the NBC TV series “Chuck.” it’s a gag line. Unfortunately, on most shows it is supposed to be real dialogue  and not cause hilarity … but it does. Every time.

I checked on Subzin, a movie database that lets you enter a piece of dialogue, then reports in how many and in the specific movies where you’ll find it. According to Subzin, “Stay in the car”  can be found in 356 phrases from 296 movies and series. Yet, they continue to use it.

Lethal Weapon 2: (1989)

uses the line a lot.

Then, there’s  Last Action Hero (1993), my favorite Arnold Schwarznegger movie in which the line is understood to be a cliché , which is more than you can say for most of the places you will hear it:

But don’t feel that this is confined to modern movies. High Sierra, with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, 1941 used the line too.
Speaking of Humph, there’s one great line in Treasure of the Sierra Madres that has become, by its utter perfection, a cliché or maybe … a laugh line?
And again, from Blazing Saddles (1974), a movie so quotable that we can recite the entire dialogue as we watch:
And then there is:
Ah, so many clichés. So little time. And then … they all walk away …

THE FUNNIEST YEAR – My Favorite Year


This is one of those movies that I will watch any time it shows up on cable. No matter when (doesn’t matter since we have DVRs all over the house), it’s laugh-out-loud funny, funny enough to laugh at the jokes in advance after you’ve seen it a dozen times or move. Everyone in it gives a perfect performances. If you haven’t seen it, grab it before it gets away.

It isn’t merely funny. It’s also history, the history of comedy. The crazy kids who grew up to create the movies and television shows that made history and formed the comedy genre as we know and love it.

This is a wonderful, nostalgic, hilarious movie based on the “kids” who wrote the material for the “Show of Shows”, a live comedy show starring the great Sid Caesar. Among the many writers to emerge from this incubator of talent were Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Howard Morris, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Norman Lear, Larry Gelbart (creator of MASH, the TV series) and many others. The writer’s room group reads like the who’s who of comedy.

Much of the story is based on an actual event, the week that Errol Flynn (Peter O’Toole) came to town to guest star on the Sid Caesar show. Mel Brooks, the kid in the movie was in fact assigned to “babysit” Flynn and make sure he stayed sober and showed up for the broadcast. Although the character is a bit of a composite, he’s mostly Mel.

Richard Benjamin directed it. Joe Bologna as “King Kaiser” (Sid Caesar) is wonderful. And as far as I’m concerned, this is far and away Peter O’Toole’s best performance. You may prefer Lawrence of Arabia, but this movie does it for me.

We never get tired of it. We never stop laughing. We watched it last night for maybe the 100th time and laughed as much as ever.

You WILL enjoy it. You have my personal guarantee on that. Or double your money back!

(Not really 🙂 )

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