Category Archives: VINTAGE MOVIES

Movies Of Today: “Mistress America”

MistressAmerica

I saw Mistress America as one of a crowd of eight this week. Before the film, starring Greta Gerwig and directed by Noah Baumbach, was halfway through, the audience had been thinned out to only four. It’s shocking to admit I was almost one of their number, since I’d been counting the days until Mistress America‘s arrival. But just like that, as Jackie Wilson once put it, “Disappointment was my closest friend.”

I loved Frances Ha, the 2013 movie that also featured Gerwig and was directed by Baumbach (and was also co-written by both) with a similar “non-story” line to that of Mistress America. An upbeat woman of about 30 comes up with one crackpot scheme after another as she shuffles around the insider haunts of Manhattan where she’s known and adored by just about everyone. The most memorable sequence in Frances Ha found our girl strutting across an NYC street, stumbling awkwardly on the far curb, then resuming her triumphant gait as though nothing had happened.

Change the Gerwig character’s name from Frances to Brooke, and add Tracy Fishko (the excellent Lola Kirke) as a college freshman whose mother is about to marry Brooke’s dad. Then double the dialog load spoken by Brooke, and everything starts to wobble out of control. Brooke just won’t shut up. What once was quirky and endearing has become tedious, almost to the point of requiring over-the-counter pain meds. I looked at my watch (never a good omen) and realized we still had 50 minutes to go in a damaged feature that clocked in at a scant 87 minutes to begin with. Beads of sweat began to pop out on my forehead.

Mistress America falls flatter than a Macy’s balloon the day after Thanksgiving with an overly stagey sequence where Brooke and Tracy visit the posh residence of Mamie-Claire (Heather Lind). Once Brooke’s pal, Mamie-Claire is now an arch-enemy who stole, then married Brooke’s one-time boyfriend. Brooke has come to ask Mamie-Claire’s husband to help finance a restaurant that everyone knows will never happen. “Aren’t those my cats?” Brooke demands of Mamie-Claire in the funniest moment from a clunky scene that only tightens the screw-top lid on this disappointing vintage.

—Jud Cost

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Vintage Movies: “Nowhere Boy”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

NowhereBoy

Nowhere Boy (2009, 97 minutes)

As might be expected from its aping of the Beatles’ 1966 hit “Nowhere Man,” Nowhere Boy is yet another tunnel dug deep into the ant hill of the early days of the British musical legends. It focuses on the teenage metamorphosis of John Lennon: from raging adolescence to a young man about to have the entire world served up on a plate. It’s also the most accurate movie ever made about a music-biz mega-phenomenon that may never come this way again.

By trying hard not to mimic Lennon’s thick Liverpudlian accent, Aaron Johnson turns in a blinding performance. He’s no carbon copy of Lennon, but it doesn’t matter. John Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), whose no-nonsense upbringing helped the wayward teenager get his feet under him. His mother, Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), who would rather go down the pub with some young heart-throb than cook supper, contributed the artsy side to John’s genetic makeup—no mean feat.

Tragedy hits home when John and his uncle George are having a giggle at BBC’s The Goon Show on the radio just installed in John’s bedroom. “Come on, ye cheesy git. Get me in trouble with your aunty,” mumbles George as he snatches back a small flask of brandy from his nephew. George stands up, takes two steps toward the staircase and falls to the floor, dead as a hammer.

“Mimi, will he be all right?!” shouts John as she’s about to climb into the back of an ambulance. “He’s just had a bad fall,” says Mimi stoically. “He’ll be right as rain. Now, stop fussing.” Hours later, Mimi returns, faces John from across the room and says, “He’s dead.” John hugs Mimi from behind, sniffling, as she fills the kettle. “If you want to do that you go to your room,” she says. “It’s just the two of us now, so let’s get on with it, shall we?”

Lennon and his best mate, Pete Shotton, form the Quarrymen, named for their grammar school and influenced by the wildest American rockers of the day: Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins. Their first gig finds them playing from the back of a lorry at a Sunday afternoon church social. As the band celebrates in the parish hall with beer, a pal named Ivan introduces John to his mate Paul who plays a decent guitar. Paul rips off a letter-perfect rendition of “Twenty Flight Rock,” which earns him the chance to give John a guitar lesson. “John, your little friend is here,” says Mimi, opening the front door for Paul. The pair plays a shimmering version of “Blue Moon” before taking a break. “If we’re really gonna do this, we should write our own stuff,” says Paul McCartney to John Lennon. And so they did.

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Vintage Movies: “Baghead”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

Baghead

Baghead (2008, 84 minutes)

While film directors Jay and Mark Duplass were driving through the woods after a day spent shooting their previous movie, they were deploring the sad state of big-budget horror movies. They asked the cast members they were transporting, “What’s the scariest thing you could put in a movie?” Someone piped up, “A dude with a bag over his head, looking in the window.” Bingo! The sprout for the brothers’ next film poked its head through the garden soil.

Four unemployed Los Angeles actors—Matt, Chad, Michelle and Catherine—watch a dingy little movie by Jett Garner at an indie-film festival. Garner reveals in the Q&A afterward that his entire budget was less than a thousand dollars. They wander over to the festival’s after-party, but the admission price is too steep. Michelle (Greta Gerwig) doesn’t let that stop her. Bold as brass, she sashays right past the ticket-taker while pretending to be talking on her cellphone. Chad (Steve Zissis) tries the same ruse and gets nabbed by security before he can even open the door.

In a bar later that night, while the girls are in the rest room, Matt (Ross Partridge) asks Chad, “What’s the last time one of us had a major role in a feature film?” Chad answers softly, “It’s been a long time.” “Never!” bellows Matt. “We’ve never had a role in a big film!” When the girls return, Matt and Chad reveal the new plan. “We’ll spend the whole weekend together and write a feature film that will make big stars out of all of us,” says Matt. “My uncle has a cabin up in Big Bear,” adds Chad. “I think we should leave tonight.”

They arrive at the cabin, deep in the woods, in the wee hours, open the beer and wine and try to brainstorm a script. Matt says, “Before we go to sleep, we’ll get the plot down. C’mon, Chad, what happens?” Gazing at Michelle, Chad strums his guitar and says, “I want love to happen.” Slurring her words, Michelle burps and retires upstairs. Chad follows her into one of the bedrooms. Putting her hair clips into his hair, she tells him, “I think of you as my brother, like one of the family.” Later that night, she awakens from a horrible dream, runs to the toilet downstairs and vomits.

Next morning, Michelle, Catherine and Chad are sitting at the kitchen table as Michelle tells everyone about her terrifying nightmare: a man wandering in the woods with a bag over his head. “Matt and I had some great ideas late last night,” says Catherine (Elise Muller). “I don’t know about this bag thing … ” Without warning, Matt appears outside, stumbling from the morning mist toward the kitchen window with a paper sack over his head—and everyone screams bloody murder.

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Vintage Movies: “L.A. Confidential”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

LAConfidential

L.A. Confidential (1997, 138 minutes)

Taking a chance on unknown Australian actors Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe for the lead slots in 1997’s L.A. Confidential, director Curtis Hanson and casting director Mali Finn also dug deep for Kevin Spacey, better known at the time for his live stage work, but hitting third here in what would become a powerful lineup of big bats.

Ed Exley (Pearce), Bud White (Crowe) and Jack Vincennes (Spacey) are Los Angeles Police Department cops in the early ’50s, each with a different agenda. Exley is trying hard to show he has the right stuff, much like his dad, LAPD legend Preston Exley, who was gunned down on the job. White goes out of his way to hand out rough justice to wife-beaters, and Vincennes is the pretty-boy technical adviser to Badge Of Honor, a TV cop show similar to Dragnet. All three men work under veteran officer Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), who bends the law like a five-cent licorice whip and knows where all the bodies are buried.

Much like the stock market, the underworld has periods of boom and bust, and things have been looking up lately for the tick-birds attached to the snout of the crocodile. With the recent incarceration by the feds of Southland crime kingpin Mickey Cohen for tax evasion, a vacuum has been created for many out-of-town thugs to fill. Smith takes a pro-active stance to this influx of criminal activity, using White’s muscle to discourage recent arrivals, something like a Welcome Wagon in reverse.

White reveals to Exley that he’s placed first of 23 candidates on the lieutenant’s exam and asks him which department he’d prefer to join. “I was thinking detective bureau,” says Exley. “You have the eye for human weakness but not the stomach,” says Smith, shaking his head. “You’re wrong, sir,” replies Exley. Smith reels off a few sample questions to justify Exley as a candidate for the detective bureau. “Would you be willing to plant evidence on a suspect you knew to be guilty to insure an indictment? Would you be willing to beat a confession out of a suspect you knew to be guilty? Would you be willing to shoot a hardened criminal in the back to offset his being set free by some high-priced lawyer? If not, for the love of God, don’t be a detective!” Exley replies: “Dudley, I know you mean well, but I don’t have to do it the way you did.”

Mere hours after the office Christmas Eve party has ended, it’s all hands on deck. Five corpses have been found littering the kitchen of the Nite Owl Cafe—and it’s happened with Exley as temporary watch commander. One of the bodies is that of Dick Stensland, White’s former partner, recently terminated from the force due to Exley’s testimony.

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Vintage Movies: “High Sierra”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

HighSierra

High Sierra (1941, 100 minutes)

Humphrey Bogart, about to turn 42, got second billing to Ida Lupino in film noir gem High Sierra. It was the last time he’d play second banana to anyone. His breakthrough performance as ex-con Roy Earle paved the way for every Bogey classic yet to come, from The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca to The African Queen and The Caine Mutiny. Only George Clooney, in recent years, has approached such a middle-aged bonanza.

The gates to Mossmoor Prison swing open and Roy Earle walks out, a free man. A mug in a battered coupe opens the car door for the pardoned man. “I was gettin’ kinda worried, Earle. Been waitin’ for over an hour.” Earle looks around and takes a deep breath. “I been waitin’ too—over eight years!” he says. “The park’s down there, ain’t it?” “The park? Say, Earle, you feelin’ all right?” Earle gazes up toward the blue sky and says, “I will be, soon as I make sure that grass is still green and the trees are still growin.'”

Earle heads straight for Big Mac’s place to get connected for some work. “Where’s Big Mac?” he barks at a face he doesn’t know. “Gone to California. I’m running things from this end now,” says a guy in a three-piece suit. “Who are you?” demands Earle. “I’m Jake Kranmer,” the man replies. “Copper, ain’t ya?” snarls Earle. “Used to be. I resigned,” says Kranmer (Barton MacLane). “Don’t worry about me. Mac wants you to start for California right away. The car downstairs is yours.”

“What’s the set-up?” asks Earle warily. “Tropico Springs, the richest little resort town in the world, they say. The hotel there gets all the sugar, and you’re gonna knock it off,” says Kranmer. “Am I?!” demands Earle. “Listen, Earle, you’re workin’ for Mac now. He calls the tune and you dance to it.” Earle takes the car keys, an envelope of cash and a map from Kranmer, then slaps him viciously twice across the face and slowly walks from the room, never looking back.

As Earle crosses into California behind the wheel of a ’38 Plymouth Deluxe coupe he begins to overtake an ancient Model T with three occupants, traveling at a snail’s pace. The old man behind the wheel suddenly veers to the left as a jack rabbit jumps into the road. Earle manages to avoid a certain collision by driving into hardscrabble beyond the road’s edge. He pulls into Ed’s Last Chance For 50 Miles filling station, followed soon by the Model T. “Wow, we made it!” says the old man to Earle. “I’d sure like to shake your hand, sir. I kinda lost my head back there, but you saved our bacon.” Grinning broadly, Earle shakes the old-timer’s hand and says, “I saved my own bacon, too.”

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Vintage Movies: “Beyond The Sea”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

BeyondTheSea

Beyond The Sea (2004, 118 minutes)

This must be a project that Kevin Spacey, one of the finest actors of his generation, has dreamed about since he first appeared in moving pictures almost 30 years ago: to direct and star in the story of ’60s pop singer Bobby Darin. Spacey, who does all his own vocals here, is the perfect fit as the enchanting-yet-abrasive entertainer who switched gears before you could count to four, from raunchy R&B belter (“Splish Splash”) to jazzy, Sinatra-like balladeer (“Beyond The Sea”). And, just as quickly, go from loveable pop star to burr under the saddle when things went wrong.

When I interviewed Roger McGuinn, lead guitarist/vocalist of majestic folk-rock combo the Byrds, for liner notes to one of his solo albums, he spoke fondly of his days before he formed the folk/rock legends, when he played lead guitar in Darin’s backup band.

The story here opens with Darin (Spacey) celebrating his 10th anniversary in show biz with a rare, intimate performance at New York’s Cocoanut Grove night club. The orchestra vamps with the opening chords of “Mack The Knife” as Darin is escorted to the stage by an entourage of about a dozen. Everything sounds right on the money when the singer abruptly pulls the ripcord on the song, three choruses in, when he spots the kid who plays the 10-year-old Bobby Cassotto (Darin’s birth name) at the back of the club.

Darin blames the interruption on the band to the grumbling fans who’ve paid big bucks for tickets. “I can do it much better,” he says to the unhappy audience as he leaves the club. One of the band members moans to Darin’s manager Steven Blauner (John Goodman) that it’s unfair to blame this on Darin’s musicians. “They’ve been working their asses off for him,” he says. A recent recruit to Darin’s backing outfit chimes in, “Yeah, I’ve never worked for such an arrogant asshole!” Blauner faces the complainer and levels him with, “Listen, you prick, there are four people around here who can’t be fired, and you’re not one of ’em! He might be an asshole, but he’s our asshole!”

Suddenly, Darin is transported to the Italian neighborhood in the Bronx where he grew up, as the family doctor explains to his mother that young Bobby has rheumatic fever. “It’s an illness that damages the heart and effects the joints and muscles too. Even with the best medical care in the world, the boy will be lucky to see his 15th birthday.” A few weeks later, young Bobby is awakened by his mother playing “Up A Lazy River” on a newly purchased piano. “It’s for you Bobby,” she says. The adult Darin muses, “Mama was right about music. It opened up a whole world to me outside of time and illness.”

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Vintage Movies: “Rear Window”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

RearWindow

Rear Window (1954, 112 minutes)

Director Alfred Hitchcock never made more out of a less-promising canvas than he did with Rear Window. From a vantage point of a second-story New York City apartment, the camera roves around a smorgasbord of open windows across the courtyard during a sticky summer morning. A lithe black tomcat slips up a staircase for an all-day nap after a night on the town. A milkman’s bottles clank as he makes his morning deliveries. The camera briefly returns to home base as sweat beads up on the forehead of L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (Jimmy Stewart), sleeping fitfully next to his rear window.

It’s back outside into the courtyard as a radio bellows, “Men, are you over 40?!” and a paunchy man in a tanktop undershirt, who answers the radio’s desscription, lathers his whiskers with a shaving brush. An elderly man sits bolt upright on the fire escape, followed by his wife, sleeping head to toe. A shapely girl with a blond pixie cut pirouettes into her living room while attempting to snap on her strapless bra. She drops the undergarment on the kitchen floor, then readjusts it faster than Nijinsky could ever have done.

Jefferies is now seen in a hip-to-toe plaster cast of his left leg, bearing an inscription: “Here lie the broken bones of L.B. Jefferies,” with the second “e” squeezed in later to correct a typo. His apartment’s walls are covered with framed black-and-white photographs. Two Formula One racing cars careen upward like dinosaurs after a violent collision. Three people are running desperately from a burning vehicle in another photo, and a third depicts a man, maybe a police officer, falling into the path of a ’53 DeSoto. A coffee table bears a stack of LIFE magazine’s recent “Paris Fashions” issue piled next to a very expensive camera with flash attachment.

Later that morning, Jefferies is trying to run an electric razor over a sweaty upper lip as his telephone rings. “Congratulations on getting rid of that cast,” says Jeff’s principal magazine editor. “Who said I was getting rid of it?” replies Jeff. “This is Wednesday, seven weeks from the day you broke your leg, yes or no?” Jeff’s eyes roll back into his head as he says, “How did you ever get to be such a big-shot editor with such a small memory?” “Thrift, industry and hard work,” replies the editor, “and catching the publisher with his secretary. Did I get the wrong day?” “No, wrong week! It’s next Wednesday I emerge from this plaster cocoon,” moans Jeff.

The injury, he learns, will cost him a plum assignment in Kashmir, “about to go up in smoke.” To dampen the anguish from this missed opportunity, Jeff maneuvers a long stick inside his cast to scratch an annoying itch just above his knee.

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Vintage Movies: “Eyes Wide Shut”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

EyesWideShut

Eyes Wide Shut (1999, 159 minutes)

It’s difficult to discuss a Stanley Kubrick film without speaking of its director. Beginning with his first widely successful effort, Spartacus in 1960, through Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and his final work, Eyes Wide Shut, he made only nine films over those 40 years—all classics. The director’s fear of flying forced him to build a mock-up of New York’s Greenwich Village at England’s Pinewood Studios for Eyes Wide Shut. It’s a brilliant farewell from Kubrick, with as much percolating eeriness as anything by David Lynch.

Tom Cruise shines as Dr. Bill Harford, married to Alice (the always reliable Nicole Kidman). The Harfords have been invited to the Christmas extravaganza of Victor Ziegler, one of Dr. Bill’s wealthy patients. “Why do you think he invites us to these things every year? Do you know anybody here?” asks Alice just as the society band strikes up “I’m In The Mood For Love.” “Not a soul,” replies Bill.

Ziegler and his wife greet them with arms wide open. “Alice, look at you. You’re absolutely stunning,” says Victor (Sydney Pollack). “And I don’t say that to all the women, do I?” he asks his wife. “Yes, he does,” she chimes in. “Hey, that osteopath you sent me to, to work on my arm, you ought to see my serve now,” he says to Bill, punctuating the remark with an overhead tennis stroke. “He’s the top man in New York,” says Bill. “Oh, I could have told you that just by looking at his bill,” groans Victor.

Alice, slightly tipsy on champagne, trips the light fantastic in the arms of a suave Hungarian who can’t help but evoke a couplet from one of My Fair Lady‘s forgotten numbers (“There he was, that hairy hound from Budapest/Never have I ever known a ruder pest”). Her husband, meanwhile, is being lured slowly into an empty room by a pair of pretty young things, when one of Ziegler’s employees interrupts, asking him to come upstairs immediately.

Very agitated, Victor is pulling on his pants as Bill enters the room. A beautiful girl is sprawled, naked on the couch, totally unresponsive. “She shot up something … a speedball, I think,” says Victor. Bill kneels down and forces her to make eye contact. “Look at me, look at me, Mandy. Good, good!” he says, quietly insistent. Eventually, she comes around. “Well, that was one helluva a scare you gave us, kiddo,” says Victor, eager to get her dressed and on her way. “Better give her another hour,” says Bill as the host looks at his watch. “Listen, I can’t thank you enough. You really saved my ass,” Victor tells the doctor. Bill will one day be equally grateful to this near-casualty of a girl.

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Vintage Movies: “Dead Calm”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

DeadCalm

Dead Calm (1989, 96 minutes)

This early look at Nicole Kidman, 10 years before Eyes Wide Shut, is an Australian thriller that co-stars New Zealand-raised Sam Neill (of Jurassic Park and TV’s Reilly, Ace Of Spies). Oddly enough, the simple plot is a dead-ringer for one used in Laurel & Hardy’s last great comedy, 1940’s Saps At Sea. Needless to say, no one in the Aussie picture is motivated to stand up to a belligerent stowaway by imploring his pal to play the trombone.

John Ingram (Neill), a captain in the Australian Navy, eagerly returns home for the Christmas holidays to find his wife, Rae (Kidman), in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after a car crash that has killed their young son. To begin the mending process from this tragedy, he suggests they take a lengthy vacation aboard their handsome yacht, just the two of them, drifting aimlessly in the Pacific Ocean off the Great Barrier Reef, heading slowly toward the middle of nowhere.

Everything changes one morning when the Ingrams spy another ship, a three-masted schooner, that has drifted into sight during the night. Someone from this mysterious vessel is rowing its dinghy as fast as he can toward them. The frantic man, shirtless and out of his mind with fear, stumbles aboard the Ingram’s boat, spewing a bizarre tale of what’s just happened aboard the mysterious craft. All four of his female passengers have died a horrible death from food poisoning, and his ship, rented for a pleasure trip, is now rapidly taking on water, so he claims.

The Ingrams put the delirious man, who calls himself Hughie Warriner (American actor Billy Zane), to bed. But John, with a naval veteran’s sense of something being amiss, decides to row over to the other boat to investigate this bizarre tale. When he arrives, he finds four female corpses, all brutally mangled by the man now comfortably resting below-deck aboard his yacht. Warriner was right on one count, Ingram finds: His craft is definitely taking on water. Scared out of his wits, he rows fast as he can, back toward his boat—but he’s too late.

Warriner, now wide awake, has busted free from his locked quarters below deck and delivered a vicious haymaker to Rae, knocking her senseless. Ingram arrives just a fraction too late to save his wife, as Warriner has already fired up the engines to escape. Ingram makes one desperate leap toward his boat, but bounces helplessly off the side and back into the sea, as his yacht vanishes into the distance. The distraught husband has only one recourse in an attempt to save his wife: to row back to the ghost ship with its grisly contents and follow the runaway madman in a ship that certainly won’t make the distance before it heads toward Davy Jones’ locker.

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Vintage Movies: “Rain Man”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

RainMan

Rain Man (1988, 133 minutes)

When it comes to portraying characters with severe mental disorders, the silver screen has a pretty sad track record. Since the early ’50s, only Clare Danes’ title role in 2010’s Temple Grandin, Russell Crowe playing John Nash in 2001’s A Beautiful Mind and Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt, a high-functioning autistic in Rain Man, stand out for tackling such heavy subjects as autism and paranoid schizophrenia

For a kid in his 20s, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is as self-absorbed as they get. He’s just paid for four Lamborghinis to be delivered to his European auto sales business in Los Angeles so he can sell them at a handsome profit. He bullies his office girlfriend Susanna (Valeria Golina) as they are driving to Palm Springs for the weekend.

“I just got a call from Mr. Mooney, your father’s lawyer,” reports one of his employees over Charlie’s car telephone. “He’s been trying to reach you. Your father has died in Cincinnati.” Expressionless behind sunglasses, Charlie replies, “Uh, huh.” The employee continues, “The funeral’s tomorrow. He said you’d know where. I’ve got his number if you need it.” Charlie replies, “That won’t be necessary. Anything else?”

Charlie walks into the garage of his father’s lavish estate to find the ancient vehicle still parked there, the machine that came between him and his father so many years ago. “I’ve known this car all my life,” he mutters to Susanna. “I only drove it once. It’s a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible. Only eight thousand were produced. It’s a Fireball 8 from the first full year of the Dyna-Flo transmission.” He tells Susanna about the momentous night he and a few friends drove the car, without permission. His father reported the vehicle stolen and had his son arrested. “He didn’t pick me up from jail until two days later,” says Charlie. “I ran away that night, only 16 years old. I haven’t seen him since.” Later he tells her, “When I was a kid and I got scared, the Rain Man would come and sing to me. He was just one of those imaginary childhood friends.”

Charlie becomes very angry when his father’s lawyer reads the will. The only items he will receive are the ancient automobile and his father’s prize-winning collection of rose bushes. The balance of the estate goes to an unnamed party. That person, reveals the attorney, is Charlie’s older brother. “I have an older brother?!” Charlie explodes. His name is Raymond, and he resides permanently in a home for autistic adults, explains the attorney. Charlie visits Raymond in the home and decides to set him free once he realizes this man, with his head now crammed full of minutiae, is the one who sang to him when he was frightened, the person he remembers as the Rain Man.

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