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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Up late on a school night (for a good cause)

Every couple of months I completely (albeit unintentionally) undermine my wife's authority with the big kids and let them stay up on a school night for an impromptu movie night. 

Now, before anyone chimes in with free parenting/medical advice, I really don't need to be reminded that 11 and 12-year-olds need sleep to function in school.  I know that.  I also know from experience that if they stay up past, say, 9:30 or 10:00, they will be complete basket cases in the morning... a treat I get to miss because I leave so early for work.

However, I sometimes feel like they are growing up so fast that if I don't steal some extra time with them now, I'll end up walking them down the aisle some day (or watching them play with their own kids!) wondering silently to myself why I hadn't built more memories with them while they were young. 

So, earlier this week I checked to make sure they had both finished their homework and asked them if they wanted to stay up and join me for a movie.  This was around 8:25PM. Did I mention it was a school night?

I don't really need to tell you what they answered, do I?

I have a bunch of classic movies on DVD set aside for these movie nights and I picked one of my favorite bits of empty entertainment, Sergio Leone's classic 'The Good, the bad and the Ugly'.

There is simply nothing redeeming from a social or art standpoint about this 'spaghetti western'.  But it is perfect for curling up on the couch with the kids, eating junk food and laughing our collective keesters off.   

Some of the things that slayed the kids:

1.  The terrible overdubbing of the 2nd tier actor's/extra's lines.  The spaghetti westerns are second only to old Hong Kong karate action films for bad overdubbing.  It was so consistently bad that part way through the film the kids started looking at each other (and me) and saying random things while moving their lips in an unrelated patterns.

2.  Ellie Wallach as Tuco (the ugly).  First of all, the kids couldn't get over the fact that he was a Brooklyn-born Jew.  But aside from that cultural disconnect, they loved how transparently devious he was in the film and how he served as the object of so many of the other actor's classic insults and abuse.

3.  The music/theme song.  I remember falling in love with the quirky soundtrack of this film when I first saw it in 1970 or '71.  Since seeing the movie, Gilad has been singing and whistling the classic theme to the point that even Yonah is now singing along with him.   

4.  Classic lines*:

Tuco (after having just shot a man who made the mistake of delivering a typical western-genre 'I'm going to lecture you before I kill you' speech instead of pressing his advantage):  "If you're going to to shoot... shoot, don't talk!".  This is one of Gilad's favorite lines from the movie.

Tuco: [trying to read a note] "See you soon, id..." "id..." "ids..."
Blondie: [taking the note] "Idiots." It's for you."  This line cracked the kids up so badly we had to pause the film while they pulled themselves together.  Then they made me play it back about three more times so they could laugh over it.

Tuco: "G-d is on our side because he hates the Yanks!"
Blondie: "G-d is not on our side because he hates idiots also."

Tuco: "I like big fat men like you. When they fall they make more noise!"  Gilad spilled his drink on this one.

The inconsistencies:  I won't list them all here, but most of them offered opportunities to teach the kids something about history. 

The film is set early in the Civil War (1862), yet makes direct reference to Generals Lee and Grant as being in charge, neither of whom had assumed their roles as heads of their respective armies yet. 

There is a funny scene where Tuco and Blondie are setting dynamite charges to blow up a bridge, but dynamite wasn't invented until after the Civil War ended.  As an added bonus, during this scene a car can be seen momentarily driving across the background... a neat trick for 1862!

This last one isn't so much an inconsistency as an odd director's rule that Sergio Leone employs throughout the film:  There are several points in the film where things outside the camera frame that should be visible to the characters are not visible to them until they come into the frame and the audience can also see them.  Both the kids commented on this.

Anyway, I think (hope) Zahava has forgiven me by now (yet again) for keeping the kids up on a school night.   And I might as well go ahead and ask forgiveness now for the next time... and the one after that.  Because I wouldn't miss these late evenings together for the world.

* Source

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Posted by David Bogner on November 1, 2006 | Permalink

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Sounds like a great idea....if you want to try it with something more historical/educational, take a look at some of the archive's films. http://www.spielbergfilmarchive.org.il

We have over 300 online.

Posted by: Safranit | Nov 1, 2006 1:33:30 PM

Sounds awesome! That's so sweet to do that with the kids every once in a while. Such a good idea.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Nov 1, 2006 2:00:05 PM

Sounds like so much fun!!! I let my kids occasionally play hooky to spend a day with me. (I have 6 so individual time is a precious thing)

Posted by: Kelly | Nov 1, 2006 2:16:01 PM

I love that movie. So much fun and so many good scenes.

The prison camp always gets me, music in the background as Angel Eyes and company take care of Tuco.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 1, 2006 5:34:43 PM

~T~ and I do that sometimes too... I let her stay up last night so we could watch a movie for Halloween!

Posted by: jg | Nov 1, 2006 5:35:17 PM

I noticed a pattern here... Gilad seems to have your sense of humor, but what was Ari doing during the movie? I've never seen the movie, but as soon as I heard it was a Western (classic or not), it wouldn't be my first choice to try. (though after hearing a bit about it, I might have to check it out).

Posted by: val | Nov 1, 2006 6:21:49 PM

Do you have a fist full of dollars? Another great classic.

Posted by: avner | Nov 1, 2006 8:36:44 PM

well worth one sleepy day at school.

Posted by: weese | Nov 1, 2006 8:38:43 PM

It's a funny film alright.

I think I prefer "Hang 'Em High".

When you gonna show them "Red River"? Walter Brennan is so good in this John Wayne classic. "Yer wrong, Mister Dunson; yer wrong."

Posted by: benning | Nov 2, 2006 5:27:48 AM

Haven't seen that particular movie, but two other Leone movies I've seen were both very good. And I love the Morricone music.

Posted by: Irina | Nov 2, 2006 7:34:28 AM

All of Clint Eastwood's films are bad, but the old ones (pre-Dirty Harry) are so bad that they're entertaining.

Eastwood's no John Wayne -- Wayne built a career out of producing the same bad flick over and over.

Posted by: Bob | Nov 2, 2006 6:47:38 PM

"There is simply nothing redeeming from a social or art standpoint about this 'spaghetti western'. "

This is a sure sign that you are not into it (yet). In my family (sans the spouse) you would have been already drawn and quartered for saying this.

Most probably you need another 20-30 viewings to get your bloodstream completely clogged by it.

But then I am older...

Posted by: SnoopyThe Goon | Nov 2, 2006 10:41:54 PM

thursday night is our movie night -- since friday is usually a light day anyway. or sometimes we play hooky on fridays (when the day is longer) and make it a family day... without sundays, ya gotta make do!

Posted by: nikki | Nov 3, 2006 10:29:59 AM

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

"Arsenic and Old Lace"

In the first two, you get to play "name all the comedians," apart from laughing loud and often.

Posted by: Wrymouth | Nov 4, 2006 5:44:03 AM

Just out of curiosity, what have some of the previous films screened on Bogner movie night been?

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 5, 2006 9:09:55 AM

Safranit... Thanks for the tip. although I think part of the point of the exercise is the lack of redeeming value of the film. :-)

tnspr569... They are good company during movies (except that Gilad asks endless questions).

kelly... We too have the 'mental health day' concept in our house. :-)

Jack... Gilad seemed fascinated by that scene as well.

jg... From what I've read about your relationship with 't' I'm not a bit surprised to hear it.

Val... They both have my sense of humor. :-)

avner... No, but it's on my wish list.

weese... no doubt.

benning... I love that one too, but it doesn't have as many laughs for the kids.

Irina... Drop everything and go out and rent it. Invite a bunch of friends over and have a screening. Trust me.

Bob... So you're suggesting that Eastwood made a career of producing a wide variety of bad films? :-)

snoopythegoon... I'm willing to put in the screening time if necessary. :-)

nikki... The problem is that Thursday night we are all tired from the week.

Wrymouth... The first two are on my list. Thanks for the third... I hadn't thought of that one.

mcaryeh... I'll have to draw up a list.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 5, 2006 5:49:22 PM

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