Tag Archives: Ray Walston

The Set of 400: #282 – My Favorite Grapevine

Today! Because you have violated my farging rights –

Johnny Dangerously (1984)

Directed by Amy Heckerling

Starring Michael Keaton (x2), Marilu Henner, Joe Piscopo, Danny DeVito (x3), Maureen Stapleton, Griffin Dunne, Peter Boyle (x2), Ron Carey, Ray Walston (x2), Dick Butkis, Dom DeLuise (x2), Richard Dimitri, Glynnis O’Connor, Alan Hale Jr., Carl Gottlieb (x2), Bob Eubanks, Jack Nance, Chuck Hicks, James Coco, Joe Flaherty (x3), Vincent Schiavelli (x2)

This zany gangster movie parody from the mid-’80s was another heavy rotation film in my house growing up, again for reasons I simply can’t explain. Before I knew him as Beetlejuice or Batman, Michael Keaton was Johnny Kelly, brother of D.A. Tommy Kelly, who morphs into good-natured mob figure Johnny Dangerously, the man whose last name is an adverb. And while the movie may not totally hold up as the years wear on, it still has a ton of great one-liners, and a load of terrifically funny performances, no matter your opinion of Joe Piscopo.

From equally good-natured mob boss Jocko Dundee (Peter Boyle) to psychotic mob hitman Danny Vermin (Piscopo!) to The Pope (Dom DeLuise), yes, the movie is a bit all over the place. Essentially a Mel Brooks style parody of the ’30s mobster/cop brothers film Manhattan Melodrama, Dangerously throws a ton of gags at you, with varying success, but with this many pro comedians on hand, more land than they probably have any business of doing. And yet, amidst all the Marilu Henners (as the lounge singer moll Lil) and Maureen Stapletons (as the Kelly brothers long suffering Ma), the movie is probably best remembered (if it’s remembered?) for the extreme Italian gangster stereotype character of Roman Moronie (played by Richard Dimitri), who hilariously mangles English curse words into “you fargin’ icehole” and “som-a-nom-batches,” and later gets deported to Sweden, despite not being from there.

“Say your prayers, icehole”

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The Set of 400: #365 – My Favorite Octopus Punch

Today! Because this is a fight to the finish. The first man who’s dead loses –

Popeye (1980)

Directed by Robert Altman

Starring Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Paul L. Smith, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Bill Irwin, Richard Libertini, Donovan Scott, Roberta Maxwell, Allan F. Nicholls, Donald Moffat, Linda Hunt, David Arkin

A pretty roundly savaged film in its day, Popeye almost single-handedly ruined Robert Altman’s career. By the standards of the time, it was kind of a bomb, and it received a bunch of year-end Worst Movie joke nominations and wins. Yikes! And I’ll admit, it’s not a film that totally works – Altman’s style mixed with very child-friendly humor and some pretty cheap looking octopus effects does leave you a little bewildered at the aims of this movie. There are a bunch of Harry Nilsson songs that are silly but okay, but feel kinda jammed in haphazardly all over the place.

But this is a movie I watched to death as a kid, and can still get a lot of enjoyment from – Robin Williams’ sailor man is solidly funny, Paul L. Smith followed up his terrifying role in Midnight Express with a less menacing but equally imposing turn as Bluto, and the supporting group of Pappy, Wimpy, Castor Oyl, et al are solid in their roles. But come on, if there’s any one person to point to for the watch-ability of Popeye it’s Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl. She’s so perfect in the part that it not only gives the movie some much needed heart, it actually creates some genuine authenticity in the goings-on. Authenticity isn’t the right word. Believability? That’s not a word. Reality? It helps to engender an actual reality in the madness of Sweethaven.

Your MVP – Shelley Duvall!

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