Rejected Titles for the New Indiana Jones Movie

Indy’s back–and he’s uh, 65! (Yes, we know it’s the new 55, but still.) Here are some proposed titles rejected by the studio that emphasized the senior side of everyone’s favorite archaeologist:

10. Indiana Jones and the Lost LifeAlert Necklace

9. Indiana Jones and Those Rough Looking Kids Across the Street

8. Indiana Jones and the Corn-Cob of Danger

7. Indiana Jones and Can You Believe They Don’t Serve Egg Beaters in this Place?

6. Indiana Jones and the Mysterious Grandson Who Wants to Study Modern Dance

5. Indiana Jones and the Ten Percent Tip

4. Indiana Jones and the Guy Down at the Elks Lodge Who Thinks He Knows Everything

3. Indiana Jones and the TV Shows These Days That Have All That Swearing

2. Indiana Jones and the Strange Case of the Bus Fare Increase

1. Indiana Jones and the Unexplained Growth


BP Double Bill: Against All Odds/Out of the Past

Baby, the odds are my back isn’t gonna hold up much longer.

Sometimes movies choose you. You can’t choose them.

In this case, as with much of young adult life, I didn’t know any better.

So when I saw Against All Odds as a senior in high school, I thought it was a fairly cool movie, as I did with Risky Business, Top Gun, Blade Runner or anything of the era. Football, Southern California, a beautiful woman, and a fire-engine red Porsche 911. Murder, intrigue, sex, cold Mexican beer.

And you know what, I still think it’s a fairly cool movie.

This is what I mean about certain films being imprinted upon you. There’s little I can do about my warm feelings toward this movie, because they are intertwined with the state of being a teenager, hopeful and easily impressed, seeing the film at the old General Cinemas at University City in Columbus with my high school girlfriend, Jennie. The good news is that after a recent viewing, it holds up well, better than I could have hoped. (The bad news is that are many more movies of the time I cherished that do not. The Last Starfighter, anyone? I mean, Robert Preston?)

I didn’t learn until much, much later that Against All Odds is, of course, a remake of one of the most celebrated film noirs of all time (should that be films noir?), Out of the Past. That 1947 film is probably best remembered as a cold war between two of the smoldering tough guys of the time, Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, blowing smoke at each other, speaking elliptically, an undercurrent of tension always crackling. Mitchum sauntering through the California countryside in a trenchcoat and fedora, a former private eye who can’t escape his past.

The basic plot of the two films is the same, but the similarities end fairly quickly. Both begin in the present and dissolve into the past and both involve the staple of the noir, the femme fatale. But here is where the more modern movie, like so many attempted remakes of and homages to 40s classics, loses its footing.

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Living ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

It’s been awhile since I have posted thanks to campaign-related work in West Virginia. But while I was there, I stumbled on to something, well, exceptional.

Parked in the lot at the Holiday Inn Express in Charleston were a bevy of black Pontiac Trans-Ams, tricked out to resemble the car Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit.

That’s right. T-top black Trans Ams. And just how cool is that?

Charleston is a stopover for Bandit Run ’08, a road rally that runs from Ohio to Georgia, presumably in more time than the Bandit and the Snowman had to pick up and deliver those cases of Coors.

Since I was there covering the Democratic race, of course, we have to relate this item somehow to the West Virginia primary. So here’s an homage to the theme song of the film, recast in modern terms.

Two hundred delegates down, loaded up and runnin’
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done
We got a long way to go and a short time to get there
She might be down, but watch ol’ Clinton run.

Keep your foot hard on the pedal…girl, never mind them brakes
let it all hang out cause we’ve got a run to make
The votes are there in West Virginia and there’s more in Appalachia
and we’ll bring them back no matter what it takes

Two hundred delegates down, loaded up and runnin’
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done
We got a long way to go and a short time to get there
She might be down, but watch ol’ Clinton run.

Those DC boys got the pressure on, but they ain’t on the trail
And they ain’t gonna rest until you bail
So you gotta dodge ’em…. you gotta duck ’em
You’ve gotta keep that campaign truckin….
just put that hammer down and give it hell

Somewhere, Jerry Reed is NOT smiling.

Five Movies for Hillary

As it appears to be heading for the twilight, here are five films that may best describe the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign:

1. Das Boot (1981)

Plot: A German U-boat goes on a long and ultimately doomed quest to return home safely.

Key line: They won’t catch us this time! Not this time! They haven’t spotted us! No, they’re all snoring in their bunks! Or, you know what? They’re drinking at the bar, celebrating our sinking! Not yet, my friends. Not yet!

2. The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

The plot: A famous but tyrannical columnist competes with a young, ambitious press agent who is forced to adopt sleazy tricks to make it big.

Key line: I’d hate to take a bite outta you. You’re a cookie full of arsenic.

3. Primal Fear (1996)

The plot: An ambitious Chicago lawyer is thwarted by a mysterious individual who assumes multiple personalities.

Key Line: I speak. You do not speak. Your job is to just sit there and look innocent.

By the way, the next time I send an audience research report around, you\'d all better read it, or I\'ll sack the f--king lot of you.

4. Network (1976)

The plot: A ruthless and ratings-obssessed TV network executive cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor’s ravings and revelations about the media to advance her career.

Key line: I seem to be inept at everything except my work. I’m goddamn good at my work and so I confine myself to that. All I want out of life is a 30 share and a 20 rating.

5. Red River (1948)

The plot: A young cowhand challenges the trail boss’s leadership and splits from the herd. The trail boss relentless pursues him, swearing revenge.

Key line: Cherry was right. You’re soft, you should have let ’em kill me, ’cause I’m gonna kill you. I’ll catch up with ya. I don’t know when, but I’ll catch up. Every time you turn around, expect to see me, ’cause one time you’ll turn around and I’ll be there.

Honorable Mention: Election (1999)

The plot: An ambitious student sees her campaign for student council president upset by a popular athlete.

Key line: He was no competition for me; it was like apples and oranges. I had to work a little harder, that’s all, see I believe in the voters; they understand that elections aren’t just popularity contests, they know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don’t have everything handed to them on a silver spoon.

The people at Slate figured this out way back and produced this great mashup:

Hillary: Requiem for a Heavyweight?

Hillary Clinton has repeatedly compared to herself to Rocky Balboa, the pugnacious Philadelphian who never gave up. (Wags, of course, responded by saying Rocky lost his fight to a younger, famous black man.)

But if we are coming to the end of the road for the Clinton campaign, we would be derelict in not offering this clip up, if only because it encapsulates everything that has gone on during the past few months.

It helps if you liken Rocky climbing up the ropes to Clinton’s win in Ohio. Oh, and you also have to pretend Talia Shire is Howard Dean. Then it all works.

BP/DVD Review: The Darjeeling Limited


Have you noticed we all have similar noses?

Have you noticed that we all have very similar noses?

Year: 2007

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman


I approached The Darjeeling Limited with equal parts anticipation and trepidation.

Wes Anderson’s films are like the elaborate set designs he favors: they are easy to appreciate, yet ultimately claustrophobic. He fashions worlds that match his highly styled characters and only they can truly feel comfortable within them. The rest of us find ourselves looking for an exit.

I say this while admitting that Rushmore, my first exposure to Anderson, felt like a small miracle. I reveled in its tone, its refusal to provide anything in terms of narrative comfort. Anderson constructs worlds with rules that are known only to their inhabitants.

And The Royal Tenenbaums holds a special place on my DVD shelf, if only for Owen Wilson’s thickheaded author. (“Everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is . . . maybe he didn’t?)

But then came The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which I eagerly anticipated and which left me almost angry. And what was becoming clear is that Anderson’s world was growing smaller even as his subject matter (and his budget) was adopting a large scale. While his films had never been studies in realism to begin with, Life Aquatic felt rooted in nothing save the production design, with its characters completely subsumed within.

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‘I’m gonna barbecue your ass!’

It’s hard to explain the popularity of a movie like Smokey and the Bandit.

In one form, it was just escapist trash, no different than The Fast and the Furious or National Treasure. For an 11-year-old boy, however, it was about the coolest movie in the world. Fast cars. Trucks. Cops. Cursing. Burt Reynolds, who basically played an 11-year-old adult. And it was a huge hit.

Watching it last evening, it struck me how much a product of its time it is. It was the late 1970s and light, escapist movies were coming into vogue. The mainstreaming of the auteur movement in cinema had peaked and was rapidly in decline. Jaws and Star Wars had ushered in the popcorn movie.

Smokey and the Bandit is a pure popcorn movie, requiring not an iota of thought. For the uninitiated, Burt Reynolds is the Bandit, who is basically a bootlegger. He and has running mate, Cletus, are roped into a bet which says they can’t run a truckload of Coors Beer(!) from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours. (This was back when Coors was legendary in the East because you couldn’t get it there.) Cletus drives the truck. Reynolds runs interference in a black T-top Pontiac TransAm. That’s the plot. They race to Texas and race back, dodging cops along the way, including one Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason).

Gleason plays in an inept, racist Southern sheriff. Reed, also a country music performer, sings. Sally Field shows up to sit in Reynolds’ car and be the spunky girl. (This was before she became the serious actress.)

The real stars of the film are the CB radios used by Reynolds and Reed to talk to each other, which sparked a craze of CB users and films about them, as well as a wave of southern-fried movies and TV shows, such as “The Dukes of Hazzard.” As hard as it may be to believe now, the idea of drivers being able to talk to each other was radical and exciting. Now, cities pass laws against it.

In that sense, the movie is the forerunner of modern films involving technology, including movies where the Net and cellphones play a prominent role (and which are almost always terrible). In fact, citizen band radios were an early form of social networking. Think about it. Users had “handles” like usernames that they used to communicate with people in a tight community.

According to Wikipedia, Alfred Hitchcock confessed that Smokey and the Bandit was one of his guilty pleasures.

Men of a certain age still probably look longingly when an old black TransAm rolls by.