July 18, 2009

Episode 12-2/3: What's YOUR Favorite Line?

I like movies, but I'm not what you would call an "day-vo-tay of la cin-eeh-maaw."

I don't expect movies to have any great social meaning or redeeming value, make a profound statement or illustrate some universal truth. And I don't give a rat's patootie whether or not Kevin Costner in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" spoke with an authentic British accent. (I suspect that if a modern-day Briton, or any of us, met someone who spoke true 12th-century English, we wouldn't have a snowball's chance of understanding, anyway.)

I like movies for their entertainment value. Over the years, I've found them to be my mini-vacations from stress, responsibility and the normal pressures of life. Nothing more. That's one of the reasons I get so irritated by the sewage that Hollywood scriptwriters put into the mouths of their characters.

Now, don't misunderstand. I'm not a prude. I've slung my share of raw epithets. But do the people who make otherwise good flicks think that we won't watch if the F-word isn't bouncing around in their movies like a verbal ping-pong ball?

Take "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," for example. Steve Carell was pretty funny, as were his supporting actors. It wasn't a bad flick. In my mind, however, it could have been an excellent one. I've heard drunken sailors who didn't spout as much crap as the scriptwriters put in that dialogue. Do they actually BELIEVE that everyone talks like that?

Okay, wait....

Umph! There. I'm down off my soapbox now. Let's continue.

Some of us like campy trash flicks like "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." Others like serious historical drama such as "Valkyrie" (which I Netflicked last night and loved) or "Schindler's List." Some us can't get enough gore in our films (If you're one of those, I worry about you.). Some of us like Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd or the Marx Brothers.

My dad refused to go see anything other than westerns, war movies or gangster flicks. He just couldn't suspend his belief -- a requisite, they tell me -- enough to really enjoy any sort of fantasy or sci-fi. And he thought slapstick was infantile idiocy.

Mom, on the other hand, apparently loved infantile idiocy. I never realized until she was well into her 80s that Mom was a closet slapstickian . She was visiting us around the holidays several years ago, and I came home from a late evening meeting to find her in the rocking chair, glued to the tube. The Three Stooges were on, and she was chortling up a storm. Apparently, the Stooges had slapped and gouged their way into Mom's heart decades earlier, and when she found out they were on one of the cable channels at 11, she'd been surreptitiously tuning in after the rest of us went to bed.

Myself, I like a bit of everything -- except I hate slasher flicks. By contrast, though, I can really get into a good suspenseful horror movie, as long as it's not needlessly graphic. I like shoot-em-ups, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, even some classic p.i./spy flicks. But what I really enjoy are well-done satire and comedy, both slapstick and subtle. Different strokes, they say....

Now, I come to what I really sat down to write about: a poll of sorts.

We all have our favorite movies. Additionally, we all have movie lines that have stuck with us. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," from Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind," for example. Or, "I'll be back" from Schwarzenegger's terminator in "The Terminator."

My all-time favorite line is actually a short exchange between Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) and Gen. Kuhster (the late George Macready) in "The Great Race". Disguised as a monk, Fate's henchman Max (Peter Falk) had helped hero, The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis), break out of a dungeon. So, Kuhster tells Fate.

Fate: "Escaped?"
Kuhster: "With a small friar."
Fate: "Leslie escaped with a chicken!?!?!?"

What I'd like to ask everyone who reads this is, "What is YOUR most absolute, all-time favoritist FUNNY movie line?" No overused stuff ("Here's looking at you, kid," "Life is like a box of chocolates," etc.).

I look forward to hearing from you. I think this could be fun.

Or, maybe we can just dance....

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