Saturday, September 18, 2021

MY THIRD TOP 10 + 2, continued

Continuing the third list of my personal Top 10 + 2 films, based on the Otto Watchability and Repeated Watching Index © . . .

The list so far:
1. Breakfast Club
2. The Enemy Below
3. The Searchers
4. The Quiet Man
5. Forrest Gump
6. Midnight Sting
7. Once Upon a Time in the West
8. Shawshank Redemption

(Steve, you won’t like these new ones either).

Warning: spoilers ahead.


9. Kill Bill (2003):

It seems somewhat unfair that a continuing series of films should be pitted against a single eg Star Wars, Lord of the Rings. The films in those continuing parts should be assessed individually but I am breaking that protocol by treating Kill Bill 1 and 2 as one extra long movie.

On the Otto Watchability and Repeat Index © (meaning eminently watchable, that it can be watched again and again), this has a high rating. I know this because I have watched it again and again.

Kill Bill is director Quentin Tarentino’s homage to grindhouse cinema, (theatres showing mainly low-budget horror, splatter and exploitation films), including martial arts films, samurai cinema, blaxploitation, and spaghetti Westerns.

Although filmed as one movie and planned as a single release, Bill Bill 1 and 2 had a total runtime of over four hours so was divided in two. KB 1 grossed over $181 million on a $30 million budget; KB 2 grossed $152 million.

How can you not like a film (Steve?) that opens with a title card " 'Revenge is a dish best served cold’ - Old Klingon proverb”, and has such memorable characters as Bill, Elle Driver, O-Ren-Ishii, Gogo, Hattori Hanzo and Pai Mei. And who expected that, after all the preceding slaughter-fest, the climax of the film would be a complete reversal using instead Pai Mei’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.


Recently Quentin Tarentino was still laying hints that there might be a Kill Bill 3 at a future date. Set 20 years in the future, it would recast Uma Thurman as The Bride and her real life daughter Maya Hawke as her screen daughter, battling the daughter of Vivica A. Fox’s character, Vernita Green, who seeks to avenge her mother’s death. He has also intimated that revenge might further be sought by Elle Driver, Gogo’s sister and Sofie Fatale (O-Ren-Ishii’s lawyer, second in command and friend in Kill Bill 1). Whether it will happen remains to be seen.


One final note: my experience is that those who like Tarentino films would be willing to watch every one back to back; those who don’t like hem couldn’t be forced to watch, even if their lives depended on it.


10. A Night at the Opera (1935)

It’s hard to believe that it has taken the third Top 10 + 2 before reaching a Marx Brothers movie. It is even harder to believe that the one chosen is now 86 years old, made 7 years after the release of Jolson’s talkie The Jazz Singer. The poster at the time proclaimed “The Funniest Picture in 10 Years!” The 10 can now be changed to 86.

Some highlights of this film:

The banter between Groucho as Otis B Drfiftwood and Marx Brothers perennial actress Margaret Dumont. Sample:

As Otis and Mrs. Claypool are boarding the ocean liner, she asks him, "Do you have everything, Otis?"; he replies, "Well, I haven't had any complaints yet."

The exchange was banned in a number of Sates in the US as being too suggestive.

The famous crowded stateroom scene:


The aviators segment


The contract discussion between Groucho and Chico as Fiorello (“You can't fool me! There ain't no Sanity Claus!”)

A witty script, sample:

Otis B. Driftwood: [to carriage driver] “Hey you. I told you to slow that nag down. On account of you I almost heard the opera.”

Herbert Gottlieb: Mrs. Claypool, you're as charming as you are beautiful.
Mrs. Claypool: I'm afraid you've used that speech before, Mr. Gottlieb.
Otis B. Driftwood: Now, listen here Gottlieb, making love to Mrs. Claypool is my racket. What you're after is $200,000. And you better make is sound plausible; because, incredible as it may seem, Mrs. Claypool isn't as big a sap as she looks. How's that for love making?
Mrs. Claypool: I think the Europeans do it better?
Otis B. Driftwood: Okay, Gottlieb, it's your turn. You take a whack at it - and keep it clean.

Chico at the piano:


Harpo on the harp:


By the way:

In exasperation after several attempts to have Groucho Marx read one of his lines in the manner director Sam Wood had requested, Wood exclaimed, "I guess you just can't make an actor out of clay." Groucho Marx instantly responded, "Nor a director out of Wood."

By the way #2:

Producer Irving Thalberg would often call people in for meetings, and then keep them waiting in his office for hours while he attended other meetings on the MGM lot. One day, during pre-production for this picture, Thalberg kept The Marx Brothers waiting for several hours in his secretary's office while he was in his own office making phone calls. When Thalberg's secretary went home for the day, the brothers decided they'd had enough. They pushed the office file cabinets against Thalberg's door, trapping the producer in his office. Afterwards, Thalberg kept his appointments with the Marx Brothers, but would often interrupt his meetings with them and step out to attend other meetings--again keeping the brothers waiting for hours. One day Thalberg came back from another meeting to find Groucho Marx, Chico Marx and Harpo Marx sitting in his office completely naked, and roasting potatoes on sticks in his office fireplace. Thalberg sat down with them, had a potato and never missed or interrupted another meeting with the Marx Brothers.

All in all, a film well worth watching, especially by both opera lovers and opera haters.


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