Woo-hoo! Another Infield quiz, these always make my day/week.
1) Favorite Biopic
Such a tricky little genre, I’m not always sure what really fits and doesn’t. Is Lawrence of Arabia (1962) a bio-pic? It must be. Based on the accounts written by T.E. Lawrence, the film recounts his accomplishments and trials during his stay in Saudi Arabia during the first world war. Peter O’Toole’s performance is incredible, he brings to life the elusive and bombastic personality of Lawrence to the screen like no one else could have. Lean’s careful direction brings life to the surrounding world, making the life and struggles of the dessert all the more real.
2) Dyan Cannon or Tuesday Weld?
I haven’t seen any of their films, but I’ve always thought Tuesday Weld was adorable.
3) Best example of science fiction futurism rendered silly by the event of time catching up to the prediction.
Tough call, I don’t watch too much science fiction. What I usually find somewhat absurd, is films set just 30-40 years in advance in urban settings, where the cities are rendered virtually unrecognizable with little explanation why there are no or little remnants of it’s past.
4) Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon or Troy Donahue & Sandra Dee?
Ooo, I don’t know anything about these folks except I’ve seen Sandra Dee in Imitation of Life. Another one to skip.
5) Favorite Raoul Walsh movie?
I have to go with White Heat (1949). One of the very first DVDs I bought in my cinephile days, and still very close to my heart. I like to imagine it was sort of sequel to Cagney’s pre-code gangster films, a look into the future if the characters in those films hadn’t met their untimely demise. A look at the changing the world, the new misanthropy, post-war angst and middle age anger. The ambition and yearning for success and powers remains however, unchanged by time, filtered only by a new lens of hopelessness. Though films like The Public Enemy or Scarface were marketed as “warning” films, to the potential evils of difficult times, there was a huge sense of glamorizing the lifestyle and creating cult heroes of these villains. They were fighting against a system that failed the people and succeeding… nearly 20 years later, people were down on their luck again, but the idea of a hero was somewhat disturbed and diluted by war, and the returning veterans who were met with a changed world.
6) Sophomore film which represents greatest improvement over the director’s debut
Really difficult, I can’t think of anyone. I might edit something in if it comes to me.
7) Ice Cube or Mos Def?
8) Favorite movie about the music industry
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, with The Girl Can’t Help it as runner up.
9) Favorite Looney Tunes short (provide link if possible)
Probably The Rabbit of Seville
10) Director most deserving of respect or upwardly mobile critical reassessment
I don’t think Russ Meyer gets nearly as much respect as he deserves. His works are brilliant, very smart, funny and formally interesting. Love him.
11) Ruth Gordon or Margaret Hamilton?
Both are awesome, but my childhood love for The Wizard of Oz gives the edge to Hamilton. It’s just by a hair though.
12) Best filmed adaptation of a play
I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but it’s difficult to beat the raw claustrophobia of Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Such an emotionally painful experience… his camera work, the sort of docu-drama style of filming and the moving camera really brings these incredibly disturbed characters almost too close to home. It’s wonderful.
13) Buddy Ebsen or Edgar Buchanan?
Tough, I’ll go with Bunchanan for my love of westerns.
14) Favorite Jean Renoir movie?
I haven’t seen nearly as much as I’d like. I’ll go with La Grande Illusion though, just a beautiful film.
15) Favorite one-word movie title, and why
Laura, because whenever I think of it, I imagine how all the different characters who love her say it. It’s funny.
16) Ernest Thesiger or Basil Rathbone?
Another difficult one Leaning towards Rathbone, love his villainous incarnations in all those swashbucklers. I think my favourite of his performances is probably in The Mark of Zorro… I need to see more of his Sherlock Holmes films.
17) Summer movies—your highest and lowest expectations
Highest expectation? Probably the new Terminator, because it’s one of the few that has the possibility of being mildly intelligent. Lowest? Wolverine... he attacks a helicopter.
18) Whether or not you’re a parent, what would be your ideal pick as first movie to see with your own child (or niece/nephew)? Why?
A silent comedy like Chaplin or Keaton. I think maybe it’s because at that stage, words don’t mean quite as much, and laughter means everything.
19) L.Q. Jones or Strother Martin
Why are they all so difficult? Jones has like, one of the best moustaches ever, but Strother Martin… is awesome… I have to go with Martin.
20) Movie most recently seen in theaters? On DVD/Blu-ray?
In theatres, one of the biggest surprises of the year, 17 Again (2009). I’m even surprised I went to see that film, I expected to hate it, but it was a damn good time. On DVD, Tokyo Story… my first Ozu. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations but I’d like to see more.
21) Do you see more movies theatrically or at home? Why?
At home, because it’s cheaper and I like to watch older films. I do see about one film theatrically a week though.
22) Name an award-worthy comic performance that was completely ignored by Oscar and his pals.
I’m not sure if it’s exactly comic, but it’s romantic-comedy? Ryan Reynolds in Definitely, Maybe… or more, Ryan Reynolds in anything.
23) Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens or Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart
I’ll take Zac Efron with Kristen Stewart if I can cheat.
24) Name a great (or merely very good) movie that is too painful to watch a second time (Thanks to The Onion A.V. Club)
John Cassavetes Faces is one that comes to mind.
25) Beyonce Knowles or Jennifer Hudson?
Jennifer Hudson, has a more likeable screen presence… not always on the mark, but endearing.
26) Favorite Robert Mitchum movie?
The Night of the Hunter probably, it’s been among my very favourite films for a few years now and Mitchum is excellent in it. I love it’s fairy tale/biblical quality and the grandeur of Mitchum’s villainy. The whole film is beautiful, eerie and captures a sort of child-like mirror of our world.
27) Favorite movie featuring a ‘60s musical group that is not either the Beatles or the Monkees
The Strawberry Alarm Clock in Beyond the Valley of Dolls.
28) Maria Ouspenskaya or Una O’Connor?
Oh man, both are awesome. AHHHHHhhh. I’m refusing to choose.
29) Favorite Vincent Price movie?
My favourite Vincent Price vehicle is probably House of Usher, but my favourite performance of his is probably in His Kind of Woman, where he plays an eccentric millionaire. It’s really hilarious.
30) Name a movie currently flying under the radar that is deserving of rabid cult status.
Oooo… no idea.
31) Irene Ryan or Lucille Benson (or Bea Benaderet)?
I’ve seen a few of each of their films, but I can’t judge as I don’t remember their roles. I will say, all these Beverly Hillbillies things are reminding me that I need to watch the show so my co-worker doesn’t make me a la Clockwork Orange.
32) Single line from a movie that never fails to make your laugh or otherwise cheer you up. (This may be obvious, but the line does not have to come from a comedy.)
A single line is difficult, there are more exchanges that I can just think about that cheer me right up. I think this line always make me laugh, just so absurdly wonderful;
“What have you to say for yourself now? Here is a man with a beard, and you didn’t even pull it!”
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
33) Elliot Gould or Donald Sutherland?
Tough call, especially since Donald Sutherland gets a few bonus points for being Canadian… still I have to lean towards Gould, who on a good day, is among my very favourite actors. His performance in The Long Goodbye is just so perfect it hurts. I’ve seen the film so many times, and it’s better with each viewing. So much of that is because of Gould, he is our hero, he’s on the screen for probably 96% of the running time. His nuance and hidden pain is just perfect.
34) Best performance by a director in an acting role
I find something about John Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby so appealing, and yet so repulsive. I’m sure there are better examples that just aren’t coming to mind, but I find his performance in that movie so wonderfully creepy. Though maybe he doesn’t count? Is he more of an actor playing a director or a director playing an actor? Hard to say.
35) Favorite Barbara Stanwyck movie?
First is first, I’ve yet to see a Stanwyck performance I didn’t like. She’s just that good. My favourite film of hers is probably Stella Dallas. It’s just such a heart wrenching film about a mother’s love for her daughter. It’s rare that you see a film like this where the mother isn’t demonized, or made a monster of. It’s also probably Stanwyck’s best performance.
36) Outside of reading film criticism or other literature about the movies, what subject do you enjoy reading about or studying which you would say best enriches or illuminates your understanding and appreciation of life, a life that includes the movies?
I read a lot about painting and the visual arts, I always have. Even before I became interested in film, I would spend hours looking/reading books about Impressionists, great Canadian artists, art from ancient civilizations, etc. etc. I think it shaped how I understand art, and continues to do so. How movement and interest can be defined by abstract shapes and groupings. It’s created a great visual backdrop for my understanding of film and life. Makes me look at things a little differently I think.