This Week In Actual Movie Taglines


Actual tagline: It all begins... With a choice

Does it? Good to know that three movies into the franchise, Bella will make her first decision. Hey is it just me or does everyone on the Twilight posters look they're in the weird afterlife in Wristcutters (great movie, bad title) where you're physically incapable of smiling?

I bet in that world the Twilight movies play ALL THE TIME!

The Last Airbender

Actual tagline: Four nations, one destiny

Sounds cool enough- if only it was directed by someone else. For all the excitement over M. Night Shyamalan finally put his talents to work directing instead of originating concepts, I couldn't be less excited to see him work with child actors. He's already an ace at getting stiff, wooden line readings out of polished adults- what happens when that's the starting point?

Also it's sad that even funnyman Aasif Mandvi can't address the whitewashing controversy head-on.

IMDB #183 The Killing

Today we tackle the "sport of kings," with the heist-caper The Killing. And no, the sport of kings is not stealing things, but horse racing (though according to the classic late 90s show "Sports Night" it may be either poker or yacht-racing. But let's not split hairs, here).

The Key Players:

Remember Stanley Kubrick? We cross paths once again in his early, pre visionary-epic career. Seriously, this movie's only 83 minutes! A Kubrick film? I thought I would need the entire afternoon.

Noir veteran Sterling Hayden leads an ensemble cast- he would go on to play the nutty general in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, and the Irish cop in The Godfather.

Also there are like nine other roles of import, but I'm not paid by the word here.

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The Story:

Hayden plays Johnny Clay, a heist man just out of the joint looking for one last big score before settling down and getting married. He orchestrates a $2-million scheme to hold up the money-room at a racetrack.

In on the scheme- a nervous betting window teller named George (to let him in), a corrupt cop (to grab the duffel full of money when he throws it out the window), the track bartender (to leave a rifle where he can find it), and his friend Marvin to bakroll the entire affair. Said bankroll is used to pay two men to create dual diversions: a wrestler to start a brawl at the bar, and a sharpshooter to take out the favorite horse in the hundred-grand race at the same moment.

With the cops so distracted, Johnny Clay dons a clown mask and takes the bookies for all they're worth. The cop drops the bag off at his motel room, and he grabs it and heads to the rendevue point.

But nervous, weak-willed George blabbed the whole game to his two-timing wife, and Johnny Clay might be headed for a bloodbath.

The Artistry:

It's really a brief, workmanlike film. After some opening voice-over about pieces coming together in the overall fabric, or somesuch nonsense, Kubrick edits together the big caper with skill, backtracking to each individual role before the big finish.

The acting is straightforward enough- the biggest job is the role of George, the patsy, ably embodied by Elisha Cook- he sells the conflicted feebleness of the fall guy very well.

The bartender's wife is sick, but otherwise we're short on character and heavy on plotting, leaning out of the light to be framed in shadow, double talking with a femme fatale, and so on.


George's wife tipped her lover to the address of the rendevue, and he and a buddy arrive before Johnny Clay to steal the loot. George gets wise (and a backbone), and begins a shootout that leaves him the only one standing (but gutshot).

Hayden sees him stumble out to his car, and takes off on the spot, leaving the rest of the team for dead (which they are, anyway- plus our narrator informs us that this course was agreed upon earlier: any sign of trouble, whoever's got the money has the right to book).

George makes it home in time to shoot his wife before collapsing. Johnny meanwhile, hastily buys a large suitcase from a pawnshop and stuffs the wads of cash in it, and meets his bride-to-be at the airport.

The bag falls off the luggage cart, however, and his fortune is strewn about the runway. Instead of making a break for it he just figures "Eh, what's teh difference?" and waits for the cops. THE END.


Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Lower. It's diverting enough, but maybe I'm oversaturated by heist flicks and noir films- nobody stuck out other than Cook, and other than his final moments of resignation even Hayden didn't bowl me over.

The Legacy:

It was up for the BAFTA. That count?

The non-linear storytelling surely influenced the current wave of Tarantinoism.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube:

Not too many, but someone thinks the brawl is the best fight scene EVER. Or at least the goofiest.

Leftover Thoughts:

-Maybe I'd be into it more if I was a horse-racing guy.

-Do they still have Checker and Chess parlors anymore? I love chess.

-The sharpshooter totally gets shot to death, forgot to mention that. But nobody seems to regret it, plus he killed a horse.

Coming Up...

182. Judgment at Nuremberg

181. The Incredibles

180. The Princess Bride

IMDB #184 The Wild Bunch

It's been a long time since we've done a Western, hasn't it? Today we finally graduate from John Ford's more traditional The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and slightly subversive The Searchers to the revisionist, wandering, lyrical, and all-around bloodbath The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah's 1969 squib-packet opus.

The Key Players:

While Peckinpah's legacy as a blood and bullets pioneer is justly deserved, he rose to fame making more conventional tv westerns, and his most successful film was the straightforward Steve McQueen thriller The Getaway. But it's the gritty violence of The Wild Bunch the controversial misogynism of Straw Dogs, and the macabre black comedy of Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia that live on.

William Holden is starting to become a pretty familiar face around here. He and Ernest Borgnine (an Oscar winner for Marty) lead a large ensemble that includes Robert Ryan (The Dirty Dozen) and Edmond O'Brien (The Barefoot Contessa).

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The Story:

The Wild Bunch was at one point rushed to beat Butch Cassidy into production because of certain superficial similarities in plot. And while they do both loosely follow outlaws to a grisly finish in Mexico, Peckinpah's influence assured that the two stories couldn't be more different.

This story opens with a quiet town in the WWI-era remnants of the wild west, where the banks need to hire inept posses of gunhands for protection and the children amuse themselves by feeding scorpions to ants.

Pike (Holden) and his gang of outlaws (Borgnine's his number two, Dutch) are disguised as soldiers and hit up a railroad office for a huge silver payload. A former associate of Holden's turned straight named Thorton (Ryan) knows about the raid, however, and sets up a rooftop ambush.

This leads to a very lengthy, bloody shootout, wherein several outlaws, viglantes, and innocent townspeople are shot to death. Ultimately five members of the gang survive: Pike, Dutch, the brothers Lyle and Tector Gorch, and Angel (the lone Mexican member). They rendevous with Sykes (O'Brien), Pike's old mentor of sorts, only to discover that they stole several bags of common washers, not silver. A set up!

The railroad empresarios, who employ Thorton under threat of jail, give him a thirty day ultimatum to bring Pike in, and so the chase through Mexico is on.

What follows are many long, slow scenes taking in the Mexican sites, enjoying Mexican brothels, and planning the gang's next move. Eventually they make a deal with a ruthless general named Mapache to steal arms from a US Army train for him (after a slight hiccup in which Angel shoots the general's mistress, a former girlfriend of his).

They successfully rob the train (and send Thorton and his inept posse down the river via booby-trap in the process), but Angel is captured by Mapache after stealing some of the guns to help his opressed village fight the general's corrupt local influence.

Will the gang come to his rescue, or look out for themselves? I bet you can guess.

The Artistry:

There are plenty of things to enjoy in The Wild Bunch, but man it was loooong. It sort of makes The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford seem like a nikelodeon short by comparison.

After the opening thrill of the railroad station heist, and it is thrilling in its chaotic violence, I was amazed how bogged down the film got in specific moments in Mexico- there's a scene following the outlaws out of town on horseback that must take five minutes alone, just for the townsfolk to wave goodbye.

Maybe it wouldn't be as jarring after the innovative, influential action sequence, though. Peckinpah's rapid editing, occasional slow-motion for emphasis, and fondness for blood-filled squib packets are all things that revolutionized action films- following the briefer taste of what audiences were willing to sit through in 67's Bonnie and Clyde, of course. Both films are often mentioned as a dual turning point in the overall screen violence pervasiveness many percieve in cinema as a whole.

Anyway, the performances are all fine, if a bit lost in the ensemble nature of The Wild Bunch and the wandering focus. Holden has some awkwardly introduced flashbacks that attempt to lend depth to his past with Ryan, and the woman he onced loved. But neither angle really comes up again, and the simmering resentment between the gang and Mapache is the only very comelling character drama.

The Wild Bunch's other major influence is its revisionist, realist take on the wild west, with the influence specifically on the "wild." Being a thug and a robber back then didn't mean you were some sort of dust-strewn Robin Hood, and no one in The Wild Bunch acts noble whatsoever- they frequent prostitutes and show no remorse about killing. Sure they have moments, but only that: Angel wants to help his village, but he'll gun down his old flame in a rage. Holden seems to live by a code of some kind, but it's a code that includes using bystanders as human shields during a shootout.

Hell, before the march for a the big final showdown, two of the gang remind us of their natures by stiffing a prositute by ten pesos (she said "doce," not "dos").


After Mapache has some fun dragging Angel around tied to the back of a car, the gang slow-marches over to his courtyard and asks for their friend back. He says sure, and promptly cuts Angel's throat. Enraged, Holden draws down, and the next ten minutes are likely the bloodiest in Western movie history- Mapache and all his highest generals get it, along with several dozen of the Mexican Army in tow (there's an automatic machine-gun thing involved). Of course, the four remaining outlaws (Thorton's gang wounded Sykes, the old man, some time before, so he was left behind) get theirs too, but not before taking out many times their number.

Later, Thorton looks on at his rival's corpse somewhat bittersweetly, and declines to go with the posse as they start to haul them back to the railroad for the bounty. Of course, Sykes and a new gang of local "puro Indio" indigenous take them out, and Thorton joins them to make the most of his remaining time in the dissappearing West.


Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Points for ground-breaking, but maybe slighly lower. There's a specific vision to it, sure, but that's no reason it couldn't have been more linear, less indulgent, and maybe forty minutes shorter.

The Legacy:

The Wild Bunch was nominated for two Oscars, Screenplay and Score, but lost both to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It's also in the NFR, and ranked as the sixth best Western of all time by the AFI.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube:

Opening shootout! Count the bullets at home!

Leftover Thoughts:

-There's a lot of characters laughing hysterically for long periods of time in The Wild Bunch, which also seemed off-tone to me. Nothing they're laughing about is all that funny, even in context.

-Sometimes I wish I could grow a mustache. Sigh...

Coming Up...

183. The Killing

182. Judgment at Nuremberg

181. The Incredibles

This Week In Actual Movie Taglines

Grown Ups

Actual tagline: Boys will be boys... some longer than others.

OR: Back Then They Were Too Young To Know Better. Now They Have No Excuse.

Or even better, Most Of These Over-grown Frat Douche-bags Will Make Millions Of Dollars To Clown Around In This Terrible Excuse For A Film! Why mince words, taglines?

(Although Rob Schneider prolly just makes hundreds of thousands)

Actual tagline: none

Is is just me, or is that poster... What? For a gimmicky Tom Cruise vehicle? What's happening? I'm scared.

IMDB #185 Children Of Men

With climate change, overpopulation, food shortages, international terrorism and strife, and economic destabilization, you can make a pretty convincing case that the world is going to sh*t. But there's always hope, even intangibly, for the future- a promise we may not live to see fufilled, but a promise that's nonetheless always been there.

What Alfonso Cuarón's modern classic, 2006's Children Of Men asks us: what if that promise were revoked?

In a world where all women become mysteriously infertile, where there's no future on the horizon, a chaotic and bleak dystopia hangs on for dear life in 2027 England. Join me for a road-movie with lots of rubble, broken ideals, a curious lack of editing, and some delicious stork dinners.

The Key Players:

Cuarón made a reputation with the classic-lit adaptation of A Little Princess and the modern update of Great Expectations, both of which are better than you remember them being. He would gain critical acclaim with Y tu mamá también (earning a screenplay nomination) and add commercial success by knocking Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban completely out of the park (still the best film in the series. I will fight you.).

Clive Owen, stubble-enthusiast and Oscar nominee (for the miseryfest known as Closer), has balanced indie roles like Gosford Park and his breakthrough in the BBC TV film "Croupier" with big-time starring turns in Inside Man and Shoot 'Em Up and so on.

Michael Caine pops up again in support, and Julianne Moore has a bigger part than in Magnolia (but still not a second-billing level role. That's a fake out).

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The Story:

Owen stars as Theo, a weary office worker in a drab 2027 London. He keeps his head down and tries to navigate terrorist bombings, a hyper-xenophobic government rounding up all illegal immigrants, and the memory of his long-dead son.

No one has been born since 2009, and the youngest person alive ("Baby" Diego) is murdered by a crazed autograph-seeker, to the sadness of the general public. Theo spends his days avoiding trouble and occasionally visiting his friend Jasper (Caine), a hippie-tastic former political cartoonist with a secret forest hideaway.

But soon Theo's ex Julian(ne Moore) shows up to offer him a job: arranging transport of a young woman to the coast. Julian, the mother of said long-dead son, has channeled her grief into leading a group of rebels called the "Fishes," that fight government oppression and the Holocaust-like treatment of foreigners.

Theo visits his cousin, a government minister, to get the papers, and soon hits the road with Julian, the girl Kee, and other Fishes Luke (Chiwetel Ejiafor!) and Miriam. But their car is attacked, and Julian shot in the neck and killed. Soon Theo learns "what's at stake": Kee, a young African immigrant (young being 19 or 20), is miraculously pregnant, and Julian wanted to get her to the mysterious "Human Project," a long-rumored society said to be researching a cure for the mass infertility.

At a crossroads, the Fishes decide to keep Kee in the country to give birth- Theo quickly discovers that they killed Julian, and intend to use the baby as the rally point for an armed uprising- you know, instead of trying to save the human race, whatever.

So Theo and Kee are on the run with no transit papers, no money, no sensible shoes, and only Jasper the hippie and Miram the zen-chanting midwife to help them try and get to the Human Project's ship.

The Artistry:

Production designers Geoffrey Kirkland and Jim Clay, along with set designer Jennifer Williams, would win the BAFTA for Art Direction for their amazing work on Children Of Men, but astonishingly (in retrospect) not get an Oscar nomination: (You're telling me Dreamgirls, The Good Shepherd, and the second Pirates movie were all beter? Please.).

But the lived-in plausibility of Children Of Men's future is what makes it such a great film. In the features, Cuarón says he wanted to make the "anti-Blade Runner" and keep it as much in the background as it could be. So there are new, different types of cars, but they're already rundown and dingy. There's commonplace, Tokyo-like, LCD billboards everywhere, but we only see them briefly in a handheld, casual shot, as if to say "meh."

The thing about the future is, the people in it don't think of it that way- so the only context we get are tv news reports, casual references, and old headlines we can read off of newspapers stuck to the wall- the only reason any characters exposit on the fertility crisis (the cause is never made clear) at all is because Kee's pregnancy makes it relevant to talk about.

Children Of Men is really about today even though it's set in the future, which is a large part of why there are no silver jumpsuits and why the film wants us to experience the harrowing action sequence in real time. A few masterfully choreographed, long takes (or takes blended to look like one take through some sort of trickery) in particular stand out:

1. the first scene of the film follows Theo into a coffeeshop, out on the street, and pans around him just as the coffeeshop explodes. The extras, explosion, and all the cars in the street had to be precisely in place at the right moment.

2. When the car is attacked and Julian is shot, a special camera rig swivels all around the interior.

3. When Kee gives birth (uh, spoiler?) it's all in one take, culminating in a real-looking lil' CGI-baby.

4. A 7+ minute sequence in a raging refugee-camp battle near the film's end follows Theo through streets, buildings, and hundreds of extras as bullets and bombs fly.

It lends a raw, documentary feel to the proceedings- at one point during the battle sequence, fake blood spatters on to the lens- cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki convinced the director to keep the take.

Children Of Men is about the world dying; it's a film about loss. Julian tells Theo the ringing in his ears from the cafe explosion is the sound of the ear cells dying. "Once it's gone you'll never hear that frequency again."

We hear the ringing as well, on the soundtrack, and not only after the bombs- Julian's shooting and Jasper's death at the hands of the rotten Fishes are scored with high-pitched death rattles as well, a note of finality.

There's no beauty to the future, usually a pristine visual place to visit- the only works of art left are collected by Theo's cousin, who dines next to Michealangelo's David and Picasso's Guernica (and even a Banksy piece) as his dead-eyed son ignores him. When Theo asks this conniseur how he can pretend preserving art matters anymore, he cooly claims "I just don't think about it."

The similarities of the refugee camp to war footage from Iraq was striking in 2006, and even moreso now that the war's more than doubled in length in the years since. And though it strains belief a bit, it's a powerful moment when everyone stops shooting upon hearing the cry of an infant, a death song of the past or the birth of a future.

If I have one complaint about Children Of Men, it's the complete lack of chemistry between Owen and Moore- they only seem like they've even met before in one moment in the car, which is right before Moore's character dies anyway. Otherwise the roles are very second to the atmosphere, with only Caine's inimitable character acting rising above an archetype. But that's fine with me.


There's no beauty, and almost no hope in Children Of Men, but "almost" is the key word. The Human Project, which only Julian had spoken to directly, turns out to be real after all. Theo and Kee dodge bullets and tank mortars to row out to sea to greet them.

Theo, sadly, has taken a bullet to the stomach, and slowly collapses as they wait in the fog. Kee settles on a name for the first baby in eighteen years- after considering "Bazooka," she names her daughter "Dylan," in honor of Theo's son.


Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Higher than high: not to get too Oscar-centric (though when am I not?), I don't know if any of those nominees will stand the test of time against Children of Men- not even The Departed, and especially not Little Miss Sunshine.

The Legacy:

It would settle for Writing, Editing, and Cinematography nominations instead- though it won a BAFTA for Art Direction and Cinematography- Lubezki also took home the guild award for his trouble.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube:

This making-of featurette (mostly about the long takes) is pretty neat.

Leftover Thoughts:

-"Gossip Girl" star Ed Westwick has a wordless bit part as Theo's cousins' zombified son.

-Cuarón's next film, Gravity will open with a 20-minute long tracking shot and at least co-star Robert Downey, Jr. I am so there already.

-Isn't the plural of "fish" still just "fish"? Just saying.

Coming Up...

184. The Wild Bunch

183. The Killing

182. Judgment At Nuremberg

IMDB #186 Kind Hearts and Coronets

A rare countdown entry about which I knew absolutely nothing beforehand- I can't say I'd ever even heard the title. Sounds kind of like a tearjerker.

So what a suprise to find 1949's sickly ironic Kind Hearts and Coronets instead. If subverting rigid post-WWII class castes strikes you as hilarious, you won't want to miss this one.

The Key Players:

Robert Hamer was an editor turned director just making his name with Pink String and Sealing Wax, It Always Rains On Sunday, and this film before unfortunately dying of pneumonia at 52.

Gentlemanly star Dennis Price was otherwise well-known in the 60's for playing Jeeves in "The World Of Wooster" tv series, based on the P. G. Wodehouse stories.

And I would reccomend seeing this movie if only to forever change your perception of Alec Guinness- famous for his drama work with David Lean (including an Oscar for The Bridge On The River Kwai), and as Obi-Wan Kenobi, he pulls off a comedic feat in multiple roles few are capable of, and in a subtler way than the Eddie Murphies of the world.

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The Story:

Once there was an aristocratic family called the D'Ascoynes, headed by a Duke. A junior lady of said family eloped with a poor opera singer named Mazzini, and was subsequently osctracized for it.

Decades later, her son Louis Mazzini (Price) still bears a grudge about it- denied a profitable and gentlemanly career, he works at a fabric counter and is rebuffed by his sweetheart, Sibella, who marries a rich businessman instead- though later she starts a secret affair with Louis anyway.

He monitors the D'Ascoyne's from afar- after all if 12 people were to happen to die, he would become the Duke himself- four of them do just that by illness and old age, leaving eight D'Ascoyne's to go (all of whom are played by Guinness). When Louis's mother dies, and the family refuses to allow her in the family crypt, he makes up his mind.

And since the film begins with Louis already a Duke (and writing his memoirs in jail), I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you he knocks off each one, in various inventive ways: pushing them off a waterfall, replacing parraffin in a lamp with gasoline, poisoning wine, firing an arrow through a hot air balloon, a bomb hidden in caviar, and finally shooting the Duke with his own rifle.

That's six- a shipwreck and a stroke finish the job for him, and Louis becomes the Tenth Duke of Chalfont- along the way he even becomes a successful banker (and gets to turn down Sibella's desperate and bankrupt husband for a loan), and is engaged to one of the younger D'Ascoyne's beautiful widow.

But a detective from Scotland yard appears at his corontation! How did he give himself away?

The Artistry:

When you see eight faces appear after Guinness's name in the opening credits, you're primed for sort a screwball affair, but Kind Hearts and Coronets is all refined black comedy, with Sir Alec's restraint in each role adding up to a turn more subtle than even the great Peter Sellers would put in.

The hammiest parts are an old, dotting reverend, and a lone female role a strident suffragette (who has no lines onscreen), and the others run the gamut from stolid military men to a pluckish young photography enthusiast.

I didn't laugh out loud very much during the entire film, but I enjoyed the put on stuffiness of the whole affair- like the name "Ascoyne D'Ascoyne" itself and the way the jailors and executioner are wowed by Price's composure and address him as "your grace."


Allegedly, Evelyn Waugh contributed to the final script, and the big twist is certainly worthy of his work: Louis is arrested for a murder he didn't even commit- Sibella's husband was found dead shortly after Louis refused to bail him out.

The circumstantial evidence and Sibella's cold-hearted testimony lead to a conviction. Sibella visits him and offers to "find" her husbands suicide note if Louis will agree to murder his new wife. He agrees, but no reprieve comes. Sentenced to hang the next day, Louis writes out his memoir, including all six D'Ascoyne murders, for posterity.

At the last moment, of course, word comes through that he is innocent after all, and he's released to find Sibella and his faithful wife waiting for him. Before he can make a choice, however, he remembers his incriminating memoirs, still in his cell!

And here we receive a maddeningly inconclusive "THE END." Ah, well.

The American cut of the film actually added a scene of it being found before he can retrieve it, since the Hays Code stipulated that crime couldn't be seen to pay.


Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Slightly lower? I feel like I'm missing a lot of the context on this one, since there aren't any Dukes around for me to resent. But it was fun enough to see once.

The Legacy:

Hrmm. BFI ranks it as the number 6 British film ever- for reference, A Brief Encounter is number 2.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube:

Embedding seems to be disabled on literally every clip, but go here if you wanna see Obi Wan Kenobi in drag.

Leftover Thoughts:

-David Price looks a lot like a young Gene Wilder to me.

-There's one scene where six Alec Guinnesses are all in one place that must've been hell to put together.

-'The Scapegrace of the Century!' according to the trailer. What the heck is a 'scapegrace'?

-The cover of the Criterion DVD is pretty awesome.

Coming Up...

185. Children of Men

184. The Wild Bunch

183. The Killing

IMDB #187 The Exorcist

Nail down your bedposts, put away the split-pea soup, and bone up on your Latin folks, because it's time to get straight-up horrified in here!

That's right, it's 1973's all-time classic The Exorcist.

The Key Players:

Director William Friedkin would win a Best Director Oscar for 1971's Best Picture The French Connection, and upon The Exorcist's success was hailed as one of the industry's new giants, with Coppola and the like. His career since has seen only scattered, more cult sucesses like To Live and Die in L.A. and Bug.

Ellen Burstyn is a much-lauded actress that's a Grammy away from an EGOT- including an Oscar win for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and a Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for a role that lasted 14 seconds!

Swedish actor Max Von Sydow has parlayed an early mentorship from Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries) into a 60-year career of powerful international dignity, playing villains and noble old men alike. Some of my favorites of his more than 140 roles include turns in Minority Report, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and this year's Robin Hood.

Finally, Jason Miller otherwise focused on his career as a Pulitzer-winning playwright and theater director, and did you know that child-star Linda Blair has some sixty other film and tv roles? No? Me neither.

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The Story:

In northern Iraq, we meet Father Merrin (Von Sydow), priest and arachaeologist, who discovers some Christian artifacts oddly alongside some creepy, Mesopotamanian-demon-Pazuzu related paraphenelia as the soudtrack screeches.

Cut to Georgetown, where Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) actress, single mother of Regan (Blair) works on her latest film, while Father Karras (Miller) struggles with his faith as he tends to his dying mother.

Regan finds herself unable to sleep one night, beset by a shaking bed and strange digging noises from the ceiling. Odd, but you know how those pre-teens do imagine things. But soon she wanders in a trance into the middle of a dinner party, predicts the death of an astronaut guest, and wets herself. Chris puts her to bed, only to see the bed start violently shaking.

Despite the bed obviously shaking on its own, doctors convince Chris that Regan suffers from a brain disorder- but extensive, painful tests reveal nothing. The next day, Regan unleashes the low, guttural demon voice for the first time, is whipped through the air by an unseen force, and backhands one of the doctors to the face- still they run more negative tests.

Regan meanwhile gets no better, and has probably pushed the director of her mother's film to his death (while all assume he drunkenly fell down some stairs). A psychologist hypnotizes her, demanding to speak to the "person inside of Regan" and gets his genitals crushed by a little girl for his trouble.

Meanwhile, Father Karras' mother has passed away, and a detective comes to ask for his expertise in the area of witchcraft- it seems the murdered director had his head completely twisted around. The same detective visits Chris, who puts it together that her daughter might've killed a man- then it's go time, as Regan violates herself with a cross and does the famous headspin. Chris finally turns to Father Karras for an exorcism.

The Artistry:

I'm stopping there for now, because I think the real greatness of The Exorcist is there in the slow buildup to the various face-offs with the demon that are larger in the pop culture atmosphere.

Burstyn's frantic performance is effectively weary and hysterical at the same time, and Blair's acrobatic and technically difficult performance make a great chaotic contrast with Miller's quiet, troubled turn as Father Karras, and Von Sydow's stately resolve late in the game.

Out of ten Oscar nominations, The Exorcist would win the two it deserved the very most:

1. William Peter Blatty's Screenplay: based on his own novel, it keeps the projectile vomiting and head-spinning grounded in deeper questions of faith, science, and personal demons. The grounded characters and religious authenticity (as far as an atheist like myself can tell) make the gore (and the demon's profane streak) all the more shocking.

2. Best Sound: Is there a more obvious MVP than the sound design? The early shrieking hums, Regan's multiple voices, the animal shrieks from nowhere. There's a reason they play The Exorcist every year in the theater, and it's not green slime.

One should mention the cinematography as well, especially the foggy night scenes of light and shadow. And the editing makes the big showdown as dramatic as any action movie. Speaking of...


Father Merrin of course arrives, and is a welcome presence in his reassurance to Chris and his immediate call to action. He and Karras get the holy water ready and the Bibles out, and storm into the room with scripture and ceremonial garb at the ready, beset by epithets and banging cabinet doors from the demon all the while.

Merrin dies of a heart attack during a break, but Karras forces ol' Pazuzu to possess him instead of Regan, valiantly throwing himself out of the window to his death on the steps below to end the threat.

Weeks later, Chris and a back-to-normal Regan (who "doesn't remember any of it") pack up for Los Angeles.


Overall: Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Lower 100s seems kind of low to me, for such an epitome of the genre. And I'm not even a big horror fan.

The Legacy:

Ten Oscar nominations, including Burstyn, Miller, and Blair- you have to think it would've snagged Makeup as well had the category been around at that point. It would actually beat The Sting for the Best Picture Golden Globe.

And arguably no film has had a greater influence on the countdown so far: in addition to two sequels and a prequel (of rapidly diminishing returns), it contributed to the "evil child" horror progression that we started with Rosemary's Baby, and plenty of iconic scenes and images make their way into parodies and homages aplenty.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube:

Watch the first couple of minutes of this one to see Max Von Sydow arrive out of the mist to save the day, y'know, LIKE A BOSS.

Leftover Thoughts:

-If I missed anything important, I'm sure Dave (who seriously goes to see this every year at Halloween) will point it out to me.

-As famous as they are, I think the gross-out scares (head spin, vomit) are the least effective. Give me creepy voices and booming shutters any day.

Coming Up...

186. Kind Hearts and Coronets

185. Children Of Men

184. The Wild Bunch

This [Month] In Actual Movie Taglines

Super Taglines Happy Catch-Up Fun Time! And how has your June been going, internet? Also this is the 200th post on Kinematoscope, so that's fun.

Get Him To The Greek

Actual tagline: Aaron Green has 72 hours to get a Rock Star from London to L.A. Pray for him.

Oh no, not a "Rock Star"! Pretty sure "rockstar" is one word, poster. Wiktionary confirms it- and a google result test of 22 million to 12 million. A "rock star" could just be a star within the rock community, like Igneous (whoo! Igneous!).


Actual tagline: Marriage... give it your best shot.

OR: One Day Is Enough For You!

Marriage...shoot it with a firearm! Ba dum cha! Of more interest to me is why the working title of this film was originally "Five Killers"- the internet at large seems to care very little. Did Katherine Heigl get married five times, only to find out each husband was secretly a contract killer? Because that would be cuh-razy.

Click for 6 More...


Actual tagline: Live Large

Admirable restraint from a poster that had many (doubtlessly awful) dog-related pun options. Meanwhile, now that Marmaduke and Dennis the Menace have had their day, where the hell is Ziggy: The Movie? Please go listen to this podcast which spitballs some Ziggy movie ideas rapid-fire. "Maybe the movie ends with a shot of Ziggy smirking or shrugging, even though things haven't gone his way- 'Uh oh, that's life as a Ziggy!'- OR, things HAVE gone his way- 'Finally Ziggy's on top!'- then we get to the credits, audience is about to leave, then UH OH, more footage- and Ziggy raps about being Ziggy...maybe the parrot has some gold chains!"


Actual tagline: Science's Newest Miracle ... Is A Mistake

OR: She's Not Human ... Not Entirely.

I would argue that most miracles of science (especially in movies) are mistakes in some way or another.

The A-Team

Actual tagline: There Is No Plan B

Sounds like someone's not a fan of progestin, huh? (bazing!) But seriously, was this a tagline for the original show? Because I'v never seen an episode. Not one.

The Karate Kid

Actual tagline: none

Nothing? I guess this is as good a spot as any to mention that I have Joe Esposito's "You're The Best" on my ipod for working out at the gym. And finally, we're caught up to this week...

Jonah Hex

Actual tagline: Revenge Gets Ugly

Oh, it's a revenge movie? The tv spots have lead me to believe it's more of a plotless, blowing stuff up sort of affair. But that's why we're here: to learn.

Toy Story 3

Actual tagline: No toy gets left behind.

OR: The Toys Are Back In Town.

Wooo! I'm sure this'll be great, but I really wish the marketing so far hadn't focused incessantly on Barbie and Ken's super-obvious metahumor. Though other supporting characters are also trademarked products (like the Potato-Heads or Slinky Dog), giving these two an enire subplot seems a little too obvious and product-placement-y for a Pixar film.

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