To Sir, With Love

First of all, how about them Buffalo Bills, as of today AFC East champions for the second straight season! Let’s see who’s up Saturday… hmmmmm…Patriots? Chargers?

UPDATE: Patriots.

Second, I was shocked to read about the passing of the world champion of telling the “the Aristocrats” joke, Bob Saget. I really hate it when the funny ones die.

Third, To Sir, With Love.

Propelled by the recent death of Sidney Poitier, after the Big Sunday Dinner, we landed on this for a movie. And, I mean, it’s all right. Dated. Kind of weird. Kind of after-school special. Lulu as that generation’s Adele. Contrived situations that kind of make no sense. An extended dance scene betwixt teacher and student without even the benefit of John Travolta’s choreography. It’s kind of a squeaker. Better than Birdman, I reckon.

But without it, is there a Dead Poet’s Society?

Yeah, probably. Maybe we should have gone with Lilies in the Field.


Turner Classic Movies sucked me in early this morning, causing me to watch nearly all of a 1975 film starring Goldie Hawn, Goldie Hawn’ mini-skirts, Warren Beatty, juror #7 in 12 Angry Men, and a 17-year-old Carrie Fisher.


Beatty plays George Roundy, a hairdresser in Beverly Hills who bangs every one of his customers, and follows his attempts to juggle these relationships on the night before the 1968 presidential election. I’ll say this, I am certain that Ben Stiller spent some time with this film when he was formulating his Zoolander character.

Such an experience is one reason I keep the silver channels. Through my Saturday, I had on this nutty film, but earlier they played Bad Day at Black Rock, which I’d seen before but is always worth a view. This stars Spencer Tracy as a one-armed guy who stops into a weird backwards town looking for someone. The dude has a bum arm, but he can still kick Ernest Borgnine’s ass. Then they showed Gilda, which is the reason men sit up a bit in their chairs when you say the words “Rita Hayworth.”

Since I’m thinking about movies, one should probably give a moment to reflect on Sidney Poitier, who, strangely, has been on my mind the past month or so. Lilies in the Field, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, how do movies get any better than these? Poitier died this week but leaves behind a trove of amazing work.

A Distinguished Career

  • Ready for Love (1934)
  • Bright Eyes (1934)
  • The Dark Angel (1935)
  • Fury (1936)
  • The Buccaneer (1938)
  • Barefoot Boy (1938)
  • Stablemates (1938)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • The Women (1939)
  • Bad Little Angel (1939)
  • Calling Philo Vance (1940)
  • The Ghost Comes Home (1940)
  • Son of the Navy (1940)
  • Cinderella’s Feller (1940, Short)
  • The Old Swimmin Hole (1940)
  • The Chocolate Soldier (1941)
  • Rings on Her Fingers (1942)
  • Twin Beds (1942)
  • Tortilla Flat (1942)
  • George Washington Slept Here (1942)
  • The Heavenly Body (1944)
  • Adventures of Rusty (1945)
  • Easy to Look At (1945)

This is the entire filmography of an actor named Terry, a versatile actor who did her own stunts and was in fact one of the most sought after, best-paid actors in the business at the time.

You know her as Toto.

She was a cairn terrier.

March 24, 1984

Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,
The Breakfast Club

The Hospital

When Paddy Chayefsky was thinking about writing a movie about a news television network, he asked his friend, news anchor John Chancellor, if it was possible for an anchorman to go crazy on the air.

“Every day,” Chancellor replied.

The resulting film, Network, is one of those films that seems with hindsight to be less farce than prognostication. You know, like Idiocracy. Well, my DOD was reminded by the news of actor Diana Rigg’s death of Chayefsky’s previous effort, The Hospital. This we watched today in our ongoing Pandemic Theater series. It’s a bit more awkward a film and did receive mixed reviews in 1971, but it did win the Oscar for best original screenplay.

As Roger Ebert pointed out the film’s most confounding aspect is that it turns on a dime from farce to whodunnit. But watching this does make it difficult to argue with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that Chayefsky was “the twentieth century’s most important screenwriter.” The studio was not altogether happy with the film’s yen for algebraic dialogue, but it’s the lines that compelled me as a viewer.

Well. That and the oddball premise that someone is lurking around a hospital murdering doctors and nurses.

So, good pick. Once again, it was better than Birdman.

One should note: It’s also fun to watch for seeing who is in this little film, starting with Nancy Marchand, who played mother of both Tony Soprano and Frasier Crane. This is not the first time Marchand had appeared in a Chayefsky project, she also played Clara in Marty. Other faces that struck me: Katherine Helmond, Stockard Channing (an uncredited brief appearance), and Frances Sternhagen (another Cheers connection, she played Cliff Claven’s mother). Apparently Christopher Guest is also somewhere in this movie as well.