Tag Archives: Buck Henry

The Set of 400: #50 – My Favorite Spectral Comedy Club

Today! Because if you really wanna make this place feel like Earth, you should open a few of those mini-malls –

Defending Your Life (1991)

Directed by Albert Brooks (x2)

Starring Albert Brooks (x5), Meryl Streep (x3), Rip Torn (x4), Lee Grant, Buck Henry (x4), George D. Wallace, Lillian Lehman, Susan Walters, Shirley MacLaine (x2), Ethan Embry (x2), James Eckhouse (x2), Gary Beach, Mary Pat Gleason, Nurit Koppel

Why aren’t there more movies set in the afterlife? This seems like a setting rife with possibilities, given the complete lack of agreement what the hell is sitting out there waiting for us, if anything. Seriously, we’ve got the hyper complexity of NBC’s The Good Place, a bunch of movies dealing with some manner of reincarnation – Heaven Can Wait/Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Down to Earth, Oh! Heavenly Dog – or ghost visitations – Beetlejuice, Topper – but very few actually set in a heaven/hell/purgatory. Is this too troubling for audiences? Was a survey conducted discovering people don’t mind tales of trying to right your life’s wrongs and winning heaven as a prize, but not the actual heaven part?

Defending Your Life, in fairness, doesn’t cover this either – but it also isn’t set on Earth. I guess heaven has no conflicts inherent in it. The Good Place bends over backwards coming up with twists to prolong the story – and to marvelous effect, I might add – but couldn’t we just get a movie set in the great beyond with a parade of CGI guest stars from eons past? You know what, forget I mentioned it – I’ve got whole sections of my long-unfinished Choose Your Own Adventure style book dealing with this very thing. Maybe it’s time to break that out onto its own.

Available for pre-sale now, coming in 2026 (still editing)

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The Set of 400: #100 – My Favorite Nude Medal Ceremony

Today! Because in order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying –

Catch-22 (1970)

Directed by Mike Nichols (x2)

Starring Alan Arkin (x5), Jon Voight (x2), Martin Balsam (x3), Buck Henry (x3), Richard Benjamin, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins (x2), Art Garfunkel, Jack Gilford (x2), Martin Sheen, Orson Welles (x2), Bob Balaban (x2), Paula Prentiss, Norman Fell (x2), Charles Grodin, Austin Pendleton, Peter Bonerz, Jack Riley (x4), Bruce Kirby, Richard Libertini (x3), Elizabeth Wilson (x2), Susanne Benton, Jon Korkes, Marcel Dalio

The Top 100! We finally made it! This is what the list always was in the past – a tight group of a hundred films I love, not this insanely bloated collection including a ton of movies I like but would probably be embarrassed to bring up to the Gallery of Sound register. And often floating near the end of those lists from days gone by is this adaptation of my favorite book, Mike Nichols’ noble experiment in bringing Joseph Heller’s unfilmmable novel to the screen. I don’t anticipate ever doing a list like this of my favorite books – come on, that would be far too difficult, as I don’t really re-read books much, so even though I remember loving The Stand, how it would compare to something I read last month is questionable. So, just for your edification and because this is all about me anyway, Catch-22 is my favorite book. I’m not sure what is ever going to supplant it, but I suppose anything’s possible. I’ve still never read The Da Vinci Code!

The movie sucked pretty loud, though, as I recall

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The Set of 400: #311 – My Favorite Hotel Check-In

Today! Because I just want to say one word to you. Just one word –

The Graduate (1967)

Directed by Mike Nichols

Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft (x2), Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Elizabeth Wilson, Murray Hamilton (x2), Buck Henry, Norman Fell, Alice Ghostley, Brian Avery, Walter Brooke, Richard Dreyfuss, Mike Farrell

One of the undeniable classics of the New Hollywood 1960s, and easily the most popular cougar seduction comedy of all-time, The Graduate didn’t come on my radar for some time. It was probably college before I really watched it – that being the obvious right time to see this film – but it is such a universally known and referenced film that I’m pretty sure all the major elements were already familiar to me. Mrs. Robinson. Ben sitting on the bottom of the pool. Plastics. Banging on the window in the church. It’s an across-the-board iconic movie.

But my first real exposure to it was almost certainly through its writer, frequent Saturday Night Live host of the 1970s Buck Henry. Even though he had a pretty decent writing/acting career, Henry’s big claim to fame in the late ’70s was still his Oscar nominated screenplay (and bit role as the hotel clerk) for The Graduate. Also, can you believe this didn’t win for Screenplay? This is the exact kind of movie that wins Screenplay and gets snubbed for everything else – funny, but with depth, that ten years later is hailed as a classic. And while In the Heat of the Night is a perfectly fine movie, did it win because Stirling Silliphant is the greatest name in the history of names? All he did after this was write action and disaster movies, including The Towering Inferno and Shaft in Africa. That’s right, the screenwriter of the third best Shaft movie once won an Oscar!

Silliphant, left, with In the Heat of the Night award winners Ashby, Steiger, and Mirisch

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