Always Ingrid

Notorious (1946)

    When I was 14 I remember going with my dad to Best Buy to get a VHS copy of Casablanca.  I had seen it on tv or rented it maybe, and I needed to own it.  I had fallen in love with Ingrid Bergman.  She was the best woman I had ever seen; I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  When the newspaper came I would look through the TV listings to see if her movies came on that week; if they did, I would tape them.  One year I read a biography of her, and to this day it remains the saddest book I’ve ever read, because Ingrid Bergman gets sick and dies at the end.  She was the first movie star I really went nuts for.

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My favorite movie star

    Notorious is the best Ingrid Bergman movie.  Well, we can’t count Casablanca; it’s too perfect.  It’s not in the running.  So, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 masterpiece Notorious is the best Ingrid Bergman movie.  The movie is a tale of espionage, intrigue and Nazis up to no good in post WWII Brazil.  The plot doesn’t need explaining here.  Trust me, it’s fucking awesome and you just have to see it.

    The pedigree on this movie is unmatched in Hollywood history.  Hitchcock, who was in the zone since coming to America a few years earlier, was at the height of his powers when he directed Notorious.  The screenwriter, Ben Hecht, is not as famous as the legendary director, but he may very well be the greatest screenwriter in the history of Hollywood.  In the late 1960s Jean Luc Godard said that Ben Hecht “invented 80 percent of what is used in American movies today.”  Hecht wrote a ton of screenplays, many of them legendary, and a few, Notorious among them, are perfect.  

    The stars of the movie are the best.  Cary Grant is definitely on the short list for greatest leading man of all time, and I personally think he’s tops.  Here he plays it very cool as Devlin, an intelligence agent who finds himself falling for Alicia (Ingrid Bergman, duh), a beautiful playgirl whose father was a high profile Nazi.  I don’t know if there is any other role where Cary Grant is so tense.  Devlin’s not sure if he should love Alicia, and his torrent of emotions are kept in check by tight-lipped professionalism.  That is, until he and Alicia wrap each other in one of cinema’s most passionate, desperate embraces.

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Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman

    Ingrid Bergman is so fantastic in this movie it is absurd.  I don’t know how she didn’t win an Oscar for this; it is her best performance.  Alicia is so in love with Devlin she’s going crazy, and she is so hurt when he acts coldly towards her, I almost want to punch Cary Grant, which I would never ever do.  It’s hard to think of any of the other great female stars ever having starred in a movie as good as Notorious, and Ingrid was in her absolute prime when she did it.

    I love a lot of actresses.  The list is long and includes women from all over the world.  But I never fell for any of them the way I did for Ingrid Bergman.  Maybe it’s because I was just 14, but I did not merely love the Swedish actress, I was in love with Ingrid Bergman.  I still am.

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Two Jeannes Singing

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Once I lived with three girls, one French, one Italian, and one Swiss. This is a true story! They were fantastic roommates and all very sweet girls. One time I was watching Jules et Jim with the French girl, Jeanne. She was nice enough to have the English subtitles on; what a nice gesture! Well, when we were watching the movie something happened that I’ll never forget. When Jeanne Moreau began singing “Le Tourbillon” little Jeanne my roommate began singing along. Maybe it was a big deal because I’d never been so close to anybody singing in French in person like that, or maybe what made it special was that both girls were named Jeanne. I don’t know what it was, but it was a special moment that I’ll always cherish in my memory.

The Double Deuce is Now Hiring

Road House (1989)

    When watching movies, there is the inherent need to suspend disbelief.  I mean, if you couldn’t do this at all, you’d just be yelling at the screen, “why doesn’t Will Smith say something about all the cameras!”  You have to believe in the movie you’re watching, at least a little bit.  And honestly, this isn’t hard.  Just watch the movie, try to enjoy it.  Don’t get caught up in “did he fire seven bullets and not reload?”  For really great movies, the suspension of disbelief usually just isn’t a problem.  The story is good, the actors execute, and the whole thing is satisfying.  No need to nitpick.  Other movies make it harder.  There’s one movie I know that defies logical thinking and is completely devoid of any kind of credibility.  It bears no resemblance to reality, and in every scene, pretty much at every single line, you could say, no, scream, “THAT WOULD NEVER FUCKING HAPPEN!”  This movie is 1989’s barroom brawling cult classic and Swayze star vehicle Road House.  It’s one of my favorites.  If I’m drunk as shit, it’s my very favorite.

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“You’re too stupid to have a good time.”

    Road House.  Goddamn Road House.  To those who’ve watched it, they’ll never forget it.  If nothing else, Road House is memorable.  How could it not be?  Here are some choice lines from the movie: 


1. some chivalrous guy: “for twenty bucks, you can kiss ‘em!”  (referring to his girlfriend’s tits)

2. Dalton: “Pain don’t hurt.”

3. Wesley: “fire like that, nothing you can do (referring to the auto parts store across the way that just blew to hell).  (Now eyeing the bar) …Jack Daniels.”

4. Wesley: “Welcome to my trophy room Dalton. The only thing that’s missing…is your ass.”

5. Jimmy [ftw]: “I used to fuck guys like you in prison.”

This is just a sampling; pretty much every line in the movie maintains this level of awesome.  And there are all kinds of nice things to see in the movie.  Steve banging some underage girl in the supply closet, about to get fired, Dalton practicing tai chi in the yard, the shirtless guy dancing in the Double Deuce, completely unashamed, the shirtless woman dancing in the Double Deuce, completely unashamed, Dalton being sliced open by a knife and not even flinching, Dalton nailing the hot doctor in the barn where he lives, Wesley inexplicably arriving at his house by helicopter.  It’s pretty much all awesome.  

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Make no mistake, Dalton’s about to fuck this lady in a barn.

    I know there are certain people that may say Road House is “so bad it’s good” but I do not believe in this sort of theory.  If a movie is bad, really bad, it fucking sucks.  My friend Jeremy referred to this made for tv Robocop sequel thing we once watched.  We agreed it was the worst thing we’d ever seen.  It was bad, as in “so bad it’s terrible, worse than shit.”  I just don’t believe in “so bad it’s good.”  If I like something, there has to be something good about it, right?  I think so.  Road House is silly, it’s dumb as fuck, and the story is predictable nonsense.  But it’s good, too.  There are some undeniably good things about it.  One, the cast.  The three main dudes in the movie are played by Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, and Sam Elliot.  Say what you will, these guys are all badasses and good, charismatic actors.  I’d watch Gazarra in anything, and I pretty much want to be Sam Elliot.  The other thing I like about the movie is it’s just so much fun.  It’s a classic drinking movie.  If you are of drinking age and temperament, value a little low class fun, appreciate the skills of a blind guy playing a guitar in his lap, well then it’s settled, you should crack open a beer and watch Road House.