Tag Archives: Charles Durning

The Set of 400: #117 – My Favorite Pomade

Today! Because we’re in a tight spot –

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x4)

Starring George Clooney (x4), John Turturro (x3), Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman (x5), Charles Durning (x3), Stephen Root (x4), Michael Badalucco (x3), Chris Thomas King, Daniel von Bargen (x3), Ray McKinnon, Frank Collison, Lee Weaver, Wayne Duvall, Ed Gale

When I first saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? in theaters, I was not overly impressed. In my Epinions.com review from that time (R.I.P. Epinions!), I believe I titled the post “The Acme of Foolishness,” taking a line directly from the film, because I thought I was one cute motherfucker. Whereas I normally quickly and whole-heartedly embrace Coen films, this one just didn’t work for me. Initially.

However, one thing I did glom onto right quick was the soundtrack – probably the lasting memory most people have of this movie, if they ever bothered to see it. So popular was T. Bone Burnett’s compilation/re-imagining of that sweet old timey music (#1 on the Billboard chart! 8x Platinum!), that it stayed in the public consciousness far longer than the film remained in theaters (It did gross $45 million – decent by Coen standards). And as you’ve likely gathered from what’s come before on this list, music/musicals register pretty high with this guy, so incessant listening to this CD kept me thinking and reevaluating this movie until finally I learned to like it, then madly love it. Epinions Joe got it way wrong!

And I don’t think Clooney has ever been properly credited for his dancing

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The Set of 400: #160 – My Favorite Wyoming as a Country

Today! Because I’m a fuck-up and I’m an outcast. If you get near me you’re gonna get it –

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Directed by Sidney Lumet (x2)

Starring Al Pacino (x2), John Cazale, Charles Durning (x2), Chris Sarandon (x3), James Broderick, Lance Henriksen (x2), Penelope Allen, Carol Kane (x4), Sully Boyar, Susan Peretz, Marcia Jean Kurtz, John Marriott, Dominic Chianese, Judith Malina

The bank robbery movie against which all others are forever judged, Dog Day Afternoon very basically serves as a template for how to sustain tension in a locked-in heist film where everything immediately goes wrong and negotiations drag on for hours. However, what Dog Day does different from nearly all similar films before or following is that it manages to continue throwing twists and bizarre surprises into the plot straight through to its sudden, stunning finish. Most bank hold-up films go for explosions and constant action to keep the audience engaged – here, it’s the wonderfully nuanced performances of Pacino, Cazale, Sarandon, and Durning, all masterfully guided by Lumet at his best.

It’s also a wonderfully sweaty, sloppily dressed film

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The Set of 400: #196 – My Favorite Faceless Villain

Today! Because for a tough guy you do a lot of pansy things –

Dick Tracy (1990)

Directed by Warren Beatty

Starring Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Madonna (x2), Glenne Headly (x2), Charlie Korsmo, Dustin Hoffman (x3), Paul Sorvino (x2), Mandy Patinkin (x2), Seymour Cassel (x2), Charles Durning, William Forsythe, James Tolkan (x2), James Caan (x2), Michael J. Pollard (x3), Kathy Bates (x3), Dick Van Dyke, Ed O’Ross, R.G. Armstrong, Catherine O’Hara (x2), John Schuck (x2), Charles Fleischer (x4), Henry Silva, James Keane, Frank Campanella, Allan Garfield, Colm Meaney (x2), Bert Remsen (x2), Estelle Parsons

Look, we all wanted Dick Tracy to be the second coming of Batman in the summer of 1990, and no one more than Warren Beatty. They were using these hyper-stylized, primary color posters and design schemes, and they packed the film with movie stars from the smallest bit roles to the leads. And so what if the movie doesn’t 100% work – there is so much obvious effort in every inch of this film that you can’t help but be impressed as hell.

It’s a film exploding with color, and bullets

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