Tag Archives: Shelley Duvall

The Set of 400: #121 – My Favorite Ghost Bartender

Today! Because there ain’t nothing in Room 237. But you ain’t got no business going in there anyway –

The Shining (1980)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x3)

Starring Jack Nicholson (x5), Shelley Duvall (x3), Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers (x4), Barry Nelson, Joe Turkel (x2), Anne Jackson, Tony Burton (x4), Philip Stone, Barry Dennen (x2)

Poor Shelley Duvall.

My least favorite version of this story, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is nonetheless a triumphant masterpiece of cinematic horror – unnerving, upsetting, bizarre, and fucking gross as hell. It became such an iconic landmark in film history that it weirdly spawned countless interpretive and/or conspiracy-esque theories about its hidden messages – largely chronicled in the terrific documentary Room 237 – and functioned as a key level in the Spielberg adaptation of Ready Player One, wholly replacing the book’s trip through WarGames. It provides countless memorable quotes – “Heeeere’s Johnny!” “I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in!” “Redrum.” – and unforgettable visuals, like that elevator tidal wave of blood or that guy in the dog suit, whatever that is.

Is it a statement about the environment or something?

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The Set of 400: #125 – My Favorite Astrodome Circus

Today! Because he may posture, so as to reveal his gaudiest nuptial plumage, spread his tail and erect his crest or inflate brilliantly colored pouches or parade, dance, fly with dizzying acrobatics, sing his most fetching love song –

Brewster McCloud (1970)

Directed by Robert Altman (x4)

Starring Bud Cort (x4), Sally Kellerman (x3), Shelley Duvall (x2), Michael Murphy (x5), Rene Auberjonois (x3), John Schuck (x3), Stacy Keach, William Windom, Margaret Hamilton (x2), Jennifer Salt, Bert Remsen (x3), G. Wood, Corey Fischer

In going through a big tear of Robert Altman movies a few years ago – upon realizing that while I’d seen his most acclaimed movies, he made a ton of other films ranging from well regarded to strongly recommended curiosities – I finally tracked down a copy of what I remembered vividly from video stores when I was a kid. I always confused the title with a western – I’m guessing John Wayne’s McLintock or the Dennis Weaver TV show McCloud – but the tape cover was as above – this kid flying inside a dome, and it always stuck with me. And so began my love affair with the wholly original – even inside the Altman canon – Brewster McCloud.

Cort and Duvall are typically wonderful

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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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