Tag Archives: Charles Napier

The Set of 400: #146 – My Favorite Hidey Hidey Hidey Ho

Today! Because they don’t have my address. I falsified my renewal, I put down 1060 West Addison –

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Directed by John Landis (x3)

Starring John Belushi (x2), Dan Aykroyd (x5), Carrie Fisher (x5), James Brown (x2), Aretha Franklin, Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn, Matt Murphy, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, John Candy (x8), Henry Gibson (x4), Lou Marini, Willie Hall, Kathleen Freeman (x3), Frank Oz (x5), Twiggy, Charles Napier (x3), Steve Lawrence, Steven Williams (x2), John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, Steven Spielberg, Alan Rubin, Tom Malone, Murphy Dunne

One night while still living in Scranton, with then-girlfriend Sarah’s brother and his then-girlfriend visiting, we all became gripped with the idea that we needed to acquire a copy of The Blues Brothers, immediately. As I’ve written somewhere before, I have something like 1800 movies on DVD, so not having The Blues Brothers was simply insane and unacceptable and needed to be remedied post haste. So we loaded into this Oldsmobile Achieva I was driving at the time and went to the only place still open at this late hour that might possibly sell a copy of the SNL classic – Wal-Mart. You’d be right to warn against the sorts potentially encountered at late night Wal-Mart, but that evening, I think those deviant sorts were us. We were rolling frozen concentrated orange juice down the aisles and causing general mayhem – and I’m honestly not sure if they even had The Blues Brothers. We ended up with a copy eventually, but I’m not sure if it was that night.

(Incidentally, this was also the night the gas pedal on the Achieva somehow got stuck down, and for a few seconds I was convinced we were going to die. There are some indications that we possibly did all fly into a coma that night, and that everything that has happened since has been some crazed dream, what with all the Red Sox World Series championships and the current occupant of the White House. Shit, is he still president in February of 2020?! This was like the summer of 2004, I think, so maybe brain-damaged induced fantasy would’ve run out of logic, chronologically and otherwise, by this point.)

Like, this really happened, didn’t it?

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The Set of 400: #275 – My Favorite Bye Bye Blackbird

Today! Because they didn’t burn down Rome in one day – you got to keep pluggin’ –

Melvin and Howard (1980)

Directed by Jonathan Demme

Starring Paul Le Mat, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Michael J. Pollard, Gloria Grahame, Robert Ridgely (x2), Charles Napier, Jack Kehoe (x2), Pamela Reed, John Glover (x3), Dabney Coleman, Elizabeth Cheshire

A very deceptive movie in its marketing and general awareness, Melvin and Howard ostensibly is about when milkman and all-around blue collar shlub Melvin Dummar met billionaire/eccentric/nutcase Howard Hughes in the desert one night and gave him a lift home. This is the scene that opens the film, and then isn’t mentioned again, for about an hour. And because of the bookending of the film with constant Hughes intrigue, not only did that become the focus of the movie, but everyone tends to forget the middle hour, as we watch the daily employment and marital struggles of Melvin, which is the key to the whole story.

Grizzled!

Otherwise, what really are you left with? Sure, Robards makes a great Hughes, but he’s in the movie for about ten minutes, and then is just mentioned endlessly, making it feel like he’s a much larger character. In fairness, the movie should’ve been titled Melvin and Lynda, as Mary Steenburgen has far more and trickier acting to handle, and rightfully won an Oscar for her efforts. The spurious will and debate is intriguing, and knots the whole film together, but (and this shouldn’t be much of a spoiler) with Melvin never really having a chance at the Hughes fortune, the dramatic heart of the movie defaults to Melvin’s good-natured bouncing from one setback to another across the story. You might be more an American Graffiti fan, but for my money, this is Paul Le Mat’s best work. Melvin could come off as a doofus, or a con man, or just super pathetic, but Le Mat’s delicate balance between these shades make for more of an endearing character than he probably deserves. Steenburgen and Robards got the lion’s share of attention, but it’s Le Mat’s steady work that drives the movie. Continue reading

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