Back in May 2014, when Cinema Detroit was showing Sony Pictures’ 4K restoration of The Lady From Shanghai, I had occasion to research the making of Orson Welles’ classic film noir, and I discovered that, while Errol Flynn is (probably) not in the movie, he was present and was very much involved in the filming.

Continue reading “Errol Flynn in LADY FROM SHANGHAI?”

If it’s Springtime, Why Is It Still Cold Outside Movie Quiz

Warning: this is no lightweight quiz. Extreme brainwracking may occur! Professor McGonagall approves.

My friend Michael of It Rains…You Get Wet answered this thought-provoking movie quiz earlier, it was actually devised by Dennis at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, under the name “MISS JEAN BRODIE’S MODESTLY MAGNIFICENT, MATRIARCHALLY MANIPULATIVE SPRINGTIME-FOR-MUSSOLINI MOVIE QUIZ.” I’m so late on this that Dennis has already compiled all the answers here, here, here and here, but I still had a lot of fun with this quiz so, at the risk of total redundancy, I’m posting my answers.


1)      The classic movie moment everyone loves except me is:
Any of the 112 moments of The Constant Nymph (1943). Joan Fontaine was 25 and doesn’t seem 14 to me, just a little mental, but not as crazy as Charles Boyer’s character would be to leave Alexis Smith’s for a teenager. By the end of the film, I really felt they deserved each other.

 2)      Favorite line of dialogue from a film noir
“Baby, I don’t care.”

3)      Second favorite Hal Ashby film
The Last Detail. My number one is Harold and Maude. But have you ever seen 8 Million Ways To Die (1986)?
4)      Describe the moment when you first realized movies were directed as opposed to simply pieced together anonymously. *
I’m not really sure, but I have a pretty clear memory of my mother telling me how Atlanta burning in Gone with the Wind was actually the set from another film, and that they had filmed that first. Before that I thought they started with the first scene and went through it in the order of the finished film. I was maybe 10 or 11.
5)      Favorite film book 
Halliwell’s Film Guide. 
6)      Diana Sands or Vonetta McGee?
Vonetta McGee. Repo Man.

7)      Most egregious gap in your viewing of films made in the past 10 years
Children of Men. I know, I know!
8)      Favorite line of dialogue from a comedy
It is really difficult to choose one, but let’s go with: “All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people.”

9) Second favorite Lloyd Bacon film
Espionage Agent (1939), with Joel McCrea and Brenda Marshall. Number one would be 42nd Street.

10)   Richard Burton or Roger Livesey?
Roger Livesey.       
11)   Is there a movie you staunchly refuse to consider seeing? If so, why?
A Clockwork Orange, because I don’t want anything to ruin Singin’ in the Rain. Killer Joe, because the description of that one is enough. Twilight, I guess just because I’m sick of hearing about it. There’s many others, probably hundreds.
12)   Favorite filmmaker collaboration
Orson Welles and Gregg Toland. Christopher Nolan and Wally Pfister. Quentin Tarantino and Sally Menke. Alfred and Alma Hitchcock.
13)   Most recently viewed movie on DVD/Blu-ray/theatrical?
The Guard (2011).
14)   Favorite line of dialogue from a horror movie
“If you want good product, you gotta buy American.”
15)   Second favorite Oliver Stone film
JFK. First favorite is still Platoon.
16)   Eva Mendes or Raquel Welch?
I don’t have strong feeling one way or the other. Let the flaming commence!

17)   Favorite religious satire
The Life of Brian. With runner up to Father Ted. It’s only runner-up because it’s not a movie, and it would have made a funny one.
18)   Best Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)
19)   Most pointless Internet movie argument? (question contributed by Tom Block)
I think a lot of the time, these are the same thing. Internet movie arguments are the best, because mostly they are fun, and they’re also pointless, because I’ve yet to have one change my mind about anything important. Any argument that turns personal or has people unfollowing and blocking each other is a big bummer, though.
20)   Charles McGraw or Robert Ryan?
Robert Ryan.
21)   Favorite line of dialogue from a western
“Old man, make three coffins.”
22)   Second favorite Roy Del Ruth film
Tail Spin. First choice is Topper Returns. The movie isn’t all that great, but Joan Blondell is in it.

23)   Relatively unknown film or filmmaker you’d most eagerly proselytize for
It used to be Rian Johnson, because I knew he was a genius about 5 minutes into Brick. Richard Linklater is hardly an unknown filmmaker, but his Bernie (2012) is mostly unknown, and that is the one I’ve probably yammered on about the most.
24)   Ewan McGregor or Gerard Butler?
With apologies to Ruth at Flix Chatter, Ewan McGregor.
25)   Is there such a thing as a perfect movie?
I don’t know. But there are some that are pretty darn close. Casablanca. Jane Eyre.
 26)   Favorite movie location you’ve most recently had the occasion to actually visit *
Da Stuzzi, the café they dressed for Café Debussy in Inception (2010).
inception location - Café Debussy
Pointe Hardware & Lumber, where they filmed Gran Torino (2008).
“Clint Eastwood’s Favorite Hardware Store”
Metro Airport (DTW), used for Up In The Air (2009).
27)   Second favorite Delmer Daves film
As a director, Destination Tokyo (1943). First is Dark Passage (1947). As a writer, An Affair to Remember (1957). First would be The Petrified Forest (1936). I know, it was an adaptation of a play.
28)   Name the one DVD commentary you wish you could hear that, for whatever reason, doesn’t actually exist *
29)   Gloria Grahame or Marie Windsor? Gloria Grahame.
Gloria Grahame as Violet in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
30)   Name a filmmaker who never really lived up to the potential suggested by their early acclaim or success.
At the risk of incurring some major wrath…Orson Welles.
31)   Is there a movie-based disagreement serious enough that it might cause you to reevaluate the basis of a romantic relationship or a friendship? *
Not based on a certain actor, director or film. Twitter is basically an exercise in “to each his or her own.” However, I can’t be friends or more with anyone who enjoys rape scenes, i.e. clapping, cheering, wolf whistles.
* denotes a classic or, if you must, recycled question from quizzes past that Miss Brodie thought might be interesting to revisit.

Film Noir Friday – TOUCH of EVIL

I’ve had a horrendous case of writer’s block this week, trying to come up with something original to say about Orson Welles’ 1958 film noir masterpiece, Touch of Evil. As I noted last August, it’s practically impossible to say anything that hasn’t already been said about Welles and his work. After all, there are countless books and movie blogs rightly singing their praises, and Touch of Evil has long been regarded as a great of the film noir genre. But I’ve got to add my $.02 because Detroit Film Theatre is showing the film on Saturday, January 14 at 4:00 p.m. as part of their DFT 101 series. So I’ll just list why I’m so looking forward to this opportunity to see it as it was meant to be seen:

  • Touch of Evil is arguably the last in the film noir classic cycle. Welles’ own Citizen Kane is considered an important influence on what would eventually come to be known as film noir, and it’s clear that he had mastered the elements of film noir style, exemplified by his use of chiaroscuro lighting and subjective camerawork. Welles also wrote the film’s script, which contains most of film noir’s thematic elements. A hero (Charlton Heston as a Mexican narcotics officer named Mike Vargas) lost in a labyrinth of shadiness and duplicity, shadowed streets, corruption, and seedy characters. In Welles’ hands, it’s a feast for the eyes.
  • Welles also stars in this, his last American film, taking on the role of corrupt, alcohol-soaked cop Hank Quinlan. Quinlan’s jurisdiction is Los Robles, a seedy town on the Texas side of the U.S.-Mexico border where all sorts of crime occurs, but Quinlan seems to be the worst. We see him slowly losing even the pretension of moral authority, as he conspires against Vargas, endangers Vargas’ wife (Janet Leigh), plants evidence, drinks to excess, and generally acts as judge and jury, convicting anyone he doesn’t like, usually a Mexican.


  • It will be a joy to see the film’s opening sequence, a three-minute, 20-second long take, on the big screen. We are shown a bomb being armed and concealed in the trunk of a Cadillac, which we then follow over the border in an amazing continuous shot, that ends with the explosion of the bomb.
  • As Tana (Marlene Dietrich) might have said about the 1958 version of Touch of Evil, “Honey, you’re a mess.” Welles wasn’t allowed to control the film’s final cut. The studio’s version placed the credits over the long take, added a musical soundtrack to it, and added some scenes to the rest of the film —  apparently the film’s plot was deemed to intricate for the average moviegoer. Thankfully, DFT will be showing the 1998 restoration, which was based on a painstaking 58-page memo Welles sent to the head of Universal Studios (who ignored it), so that what we see on Saturday will be as near to what Orson Welles intended as possible. Don’t miss it!

The DFT is located on the John R side of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Avenue. To purchase tickets, call 313.833.4005 or visit the DFT Ticket Info page.