Category Archives: VINTAGE MOVIES

Vintage Movies: “The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

MichaelRimmer

The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer (1970, 100 minutes)

Set squarely in the golden age of British television and film satire, or maybe it was the copper age. Or possibly zinc? One of those, for sure … The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer falls in between Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, two side-splitting TV shows that featured, among others, the comic genius of John Cleese. He’s that gangly fellow over there whose gait is a mixture of the Nazi goose-step and the gravity-defying amble of the common stick-bug and whose demeanor is that of someone eager to please. Perhaps too eager.

Although Cleese did write Michael Rimmer, the movie actually stars his co-writer (and Beyond The Fringe member), Peter Cook, as Michael Rimmer, the new hire of a small, under-performing London advertising agency. Well, not really a “hire,” as such. Rimmer appears one morning at the firm’s front desk with clipboard and stop-watch in hand, and follows the fellow in front of him upstairs into the office. He watches as the man in front punches Mr. Ferret (Arthur Lowe) in the nose. “Just cancelling our contract,” says the puncher, smiling at Rimmer.

For the rest of the day, Rimmer follows the firm’s employees around, making notations on his clipboard while uttering pleased sounds like “A ha,” and “Ah, yes.” Mr. Federman (Dudley Foster) is speaking on the telephone as Rimmer enters his office. “Read those figures back again, will you?” he says, a piece of chalk in hand to transfer the data to a blackboard on the wall. “That’s two pounds on Lively Lady to win and a fiver on The Groper.” Startled by Rimmer, Federman turns around and says, “And who are you?” “Rimmer, coordination,” answers Rimmer, smiling.

Rimmer interrupts Mr. Pumer (Cleese), a large number “15″ scrawled on his back, practicing the tango to “Hernando’s Hideaway” for an upcoming dance contest with his wife. “It’s my coffee break,” says Pumer weakly. “And I don’t actually drink coffee.” Rimmer watches as Ferret gropes the thigh of Tanya, one of the office’s mini-skirted female employees, as she’s reaching for something at the top of a ladder.

Rimmer even strolls into the office loo and takes notes as Pumer unzips and stands nervously in front of a urinal, all the time looking over his shoulder. Pulling a towel from the dispenser, Pumer brings the entire apparatus crashing to the floor. Federman enters and pops into one of the stalls. He spends about 10 seconds inside before flushing, smiling at Rimmer, then quickly departing the lavatory after forgetting to wash his hands—as documented on the clipboard. “If it’s all right by you, sir, I’ll take the empty office next door,” says Rimmer to Ferret at the end of the day. “Oh, good, yes,” replies Ferret. “Look, tell you what, why don’t you take it over?”

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Vintage Movies: “Little Caesar”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

LittleCaesar

Little Caesar (1931, 79 minutes)

In the days before TV sucked up all the cartoons originally created to precede the main feature at every town’s one-screen movie house, a curious phenomenon had taken place in the animated medium. Whether it was a Bugs Bunny, Popeye or Porky Pig cartoon, every now and then there’d be a cameo appearance by a real movie star of the day, in animated form, of course, and for no apparent reason. Clark Gable would address Scarlett O’Hara or Greta Garbo would spout her most famous line, “I vant to be alone.” Two celluloid gangsters also made the rounds with Jimmy Cagney muttering, “You dirty rat!” The other one was always Edward G. Robinson.

The film that made Robinson was Little Caesar, which opens with shots being fired at a late night filling-station robbery, out in the sticks. With cash in their pockets, the two perps head for the all-night sizzle of the nearest diner for some chow. “What’ll it be, gents?” asks the proprietor/cook. “Spaghetti and coffee for two,” says the nattily dressed little guy, Enrico Bandello (Robinson) who grabs somebody else’s newspaper off the lunch counter.

“‘Underworld pays respects to Diamond Pete Montana,’” says Rico, reading aloud one of the headlines. “What’s that got to do with the price of eggs?” retorts his partner, Joe Massarra (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr). “Plenty!” says Rico. “Diamond Pete Montana doesn’t have to waste his time on cheap gas stations! He’s in the big time. Look at us, just a couple of nobodies.” Massarra fires back, “Is that what you want, a big party? ‘Caesar Enrico Bandello honored by his friends’”?

Making sure he doesn’t spill coffee on his polka-dot bow-tie, Rico turns around and faces his partner. “Sure! When I get in a tight spot, I shoot my way out of it. Shoot first and argue afterwards, I always say! I want to be somebody who looks hard at a bunch of guys and knows they’ll do anything you tell them to do.” Massarra assures his pal, “You’ll get there, Rico.” Out of the blue, Rico proclaims, “Joe, this is the last job in this burg. We’re pulling out tomorrow, heading east, where things break big!”

Rico doesn’t waste any time once they hit Chicago. “I want to run with your mob, if you’ll let me,” he tells Sam Vittori, too busy playing solitaire in the back room of Club Palermo to glance up at the potential new recruit. “You won’t be sorry for letting me in, Mr. Vittori. I’ll shoot straight, and I’ll do anything you say. And I ain’t afraid of nothing!” Vittori finally looks up and says, “So, you think you’re a hard guy, huh? You got an idea you’re good? All right, you stick around. But remember: I’m the boss, and I give all the orders!”

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Vintage Movies: “Knife In The Water”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

KnifeInTheWater

Knife In The Water (1962, 94 minutes)

From the Charles Manson family targeting his rental house in the Hollywood hills for a gruesome 1969 bloodbath, to his own more recent brushes with the law, Roman Polanski has been the focus of many unsavory international headlines. But long before any of that, Polanski was known as a talented young Polish film director whose debut, Knife In The Water, opened plenty of eyes.

Motoring down a tree-lined country road, Andrzej and Krystyna are jarred wide-awake by the sight of a young hitch-hiker standing directly in the path of their car. Andrzej (Leon Niemczyk) slams on the brakes, barely missing the young man who has refused to move. Andrzej bursts from the car and confronts the hitch-hiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz) still standing in the middle of the road, who calmly says, “You left your lights on.” Speechless, Andrzej returns to the car, sits down and lights a cigarette. “Asshole!” he finally bellows out the window, then snarls at Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka), “If you had been driving, you’d have given that bum a lift!”

Suddenly, Andrzej has a change of heart. He returns to the hitch-hiker and ushers him into the car. “You want the front seat or the back?” he asks sarcastically, all but pushing the young man into the vehicle. “Why not grab some sleep? We’ll try not to disturb you,” he adds slamming the machine into gear before the hitch-hiker has even closed the car door. “Very fancy, could be an embassy car,” remarks the young man as he runs his eye over the small car’s less than lavish interior. “Foreigners give lifts. You could have been a diplomat,” he says. “Or a diplomat’s chauffeur out on a date,” Krystyna adds snidely.

Leaning forward and gazing at the speedometer, the young man notes, “We’re well over the speed limit.” Krystyna replies, “He’s an experienced driver.” “Where are you headed?” asks the hitch-hiker. “We’re going to the marina. What if I hadn’t pulled over?” asks Andrzej. “I’d be dead,” replies the young man. “You do it for kicks?” asks Andrzej. “Life gets boring,” replies the young man. “Charged with manslaughter for running over a puppy,” replies Andrzej, mulling it over.

Dressed in cat-glasses, a white sweater and pants, Krystyna lifts a duffle-bag from the trunk of the car—then accidentally drops it. The hitch-hiker catches the bulky luggage before it hits the dock. “Where to?” he asks. She points to the single-masted yacht at the end of the pier. “Well, I’ll be going,” the hitch-hiker says to Andrzej, smoking a pipe as he removes his jacket and tie for a roughly knit sweater. Andrzej calls the young man back before he’s gone 20 paces. “Ever done any sailing? You’re a bum, but you’re OK,” he says and nods for the hitch-hiker to climb on board the yacht.

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Vintage Movies: “Jackie Brown”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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Jackie Brown (1997, 154 minutes)

Notorious L.A. gun-runner Ordell Robbie is lounging around the Hermosa Beach, Calif., pad he shares with his surfer-chick girlfriend Melanie Ralston, spinning an advertising video, Chicks Who Love Guns, for ex-prison buddy Louis Fara. “That is a Tec-9, a cheap-ass spray-gun,” says Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). “They retail for $380. I get ‘em for two and sell ‘em for eight. ‘This is the most popular gun in American crime.’ Can you believe they’re proud of that?” Fara (Robert De Niro with Aryan Brotherhood-style tats) shrugs silently. The next weapon displayed is the roster’s superstar. “Uh oh, here we go, the AK-47, the best. If you absolutely, positively want to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.”

The phone rings and Ordell says, “Grab that for me, would ya, babe.” Melanie (Bridget Fonda) puts down her cereal bowl and says, “You know it’s for you.” Ordell glares, “Don’t make me put my foot in your ass.” She reluctantly gets off the couch, picks up the phone, says “Hello” and immediately puts it down before anyone can reply. “It’s for you,” she says. As Ordell takes the call, Melanie says to Fara, “He’s no more of a gun expert than I am.”

Ordell’s got a problem with an employee. A kid named Beaumont has been busted for parole violation, in possession of automatic weapons, and faces a 10-year rap. After laying out 10 grand for bail, Ordell decides to call in a favor from Beaumont. But the kid seems reluctant to go. “I’m home, I’m high,” says Beaumont (Chris Brown). “And why are you home?” says Ordell. “I spent $10, 000 to get your ass home. And you can’t help me out!”

To keep some clients in Koreatown in line, Ordell wants Beaumont to hide in his car’s trunk. When the Koreans open it, the kid pops out wielding an automatic, just to scare them. “You’re outta your mind if you think I’m gettin’ in this dirty-ass trunk,” protests Beaumont. “I got a problem with small spaces.” “Well, I got a problem with spending 10 thousand on an ungrateful, peanut-headed nigger. And how small was that jail cell?!” roars Ordell. “You can’t ride up front with me. The surprise element is 90 percent of it!”

Changing tactics, Ordell says, “I tellya what. When we get through with these Koreans, me and you go over to Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, on me. Think about it, ‘Scoe’s Special’ smothered in gravy and onions, side of red beans and rice and greens. That’s good eatin.’” Beaumont says “Oww!” when Ordell accidentally closes the trunk on his head, then drives to a secluded spot and opens the trunk again. Beaumont’s high-pitched squawks are cut short by the roar of two slugs from a Smith & Wesson 10 entering his head.

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Vintage Movies: “Summer With Monika”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

SummerWithMonika

Summer With Monika (1953, 96 minutes)

The popularity of more recent pictures by Ingmar Bergman (Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal) at U.S. art houses in the ’60s, paved the way for the re-release of some of the Swedish maestro’s earlier films. 1953′s Summer With Monika, shocking to some audiences in America where it was re-titled Story Of A Bad Girl for its female nudity, starred Harriet Andersson, a young woman Bergman discovered in a Stockholm theater wearing a negligee and fishnet stockings, singing suggestive songs.

Monika (Andersson) and Harry (Lars Ekborg) are two young kids, still living at home, who are tired of their dead-end jobs and hum-drum social life. He’s a dogsbody driving a bicycle-powered delivery vehicle around town for a company that manufactures dinnerware. And she toils in a produce market where she is regularly goosed by fellow employees whenever she climbs a ladder. After she’s pushed into a bin of new potatoes by another worker who jumps on top of her, she decides she’s had enough.

Monika falls in love with the malleable Harry during a romantic American movie. “You may kiss me now, honey,” says the blond leading lady. “I will, my love. We may never see each other again,” answers her lover as Monika reaches for her handkerchief. After Harry gets sucker-punched one night by one of her jealous former boyfriends, Monika decides they should sail away for an idyllic summer to a deserted island and do what comes naturally. With nothing better in mind, Harry goes along with the plan.

They decide to steal his father’s boat and head for the archipelago off the coast of Stockholm. She seals the deal by stubbing out her cigarette and saying, “You may kiss me now, Harry.” On a chilly evening, the runaway lovers lug a pair of modest suitcases down to the local harbor. “We can stay in the boat’s cabin tonight to keep warm,” says Harry. Monika is already stripping down for action. “I don’t want to wrinkle my skirt,” she says, also removing her stockings and her chewing gum. “Take off your pants so you don’t spoil the crease,” she suggests to Harry. Adding extra sweaters, they climb into a one-man sleeping bag and begin their fabulous journey without leaving the dock.

Next morning, with a hint of spring in the air, Harry goes into town one last time for an armload of groceries. Monika goes home and returns as if they’re headed for the French Riviera, dressed in a white summer sweater, black beret and floral print skirt. They start the motor and nose out under Stockholm’s ancient bridges toward open water. With none of the carpentry skills of Robinson Crusoe and cooking experience that barely embraces making toast and boiling water, these two are out to prove that love alone will conquer all.

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Vintage Movies: “The Philadelphia Story”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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The Philadelphia Story (1940. 112 minutes)

The Philadelphia Story has twice the firepower of your average screwball comedy. Both Cary Grant and James Stewart drop one-liners around the slender, pants-wearing figure of Katharine Hepburn like mashie-niblick shots stuck like darts onto the 18th green of the Philadelphia Country Club by 1939 U.S. Open champ Byron Nelson. Not to mention the repartee Hepburn fires back at anyone who crosses her path with the aplomb of a wicked ground stroke by 1940 U.S. Open tennis title-holder Alice Marble.

George Cukor’s Oscar-nominated gem wastes no time. It opens with C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) angrily stomping out of his showcase home, lugging a pair of modest suitcases, followed by his wife Tracy (Hepburn), carrying his golf clubs. After removing the driver from the bag, she tosses the clubs down at Dexter’s feet. Holding the remaining club aloft in both hands like a flaming-haired priestess, she snaps it in two over her knee as if it were kindling for the fireplace. Dexter raises his left fist over the head of his future ex-wife, then thinking better of it, places his hand over her face instead and shoves her backward onto the plush hall carpet.

Two years later, the family is preparing for Tracy’s second wedding, this time to George Kittredge. “Did Dexter really sock her?” Tracy’s 13-year-old sister Dinah (Virginia Weidler) asks their mother (Mary Walsh). “The papers are full of ‘inundo,’” adds the girl. Tracy inspects the sterling silver wedding presents littering the living room, then eyeballing her sister, says, “These cards have been changed.”

Tossing a yoyo up and down, Dinah says, “There must be a ghost loose in the house, maybe of bridegroom number one.” Their mother protests, “Oh, don’t talk about Dexter as though he were dead.” “He might just as well be, for all Tracy cares,” says Dinah. “We both might just face facts that neither of us has proved to be a very great success as a wife,” says their mother, taking Tracy by the arm. “We just picked the wrong first husbands. We both deserve some happiness now,” says Tracy. “I like Dexter,” says Dinah. “Really?” says Tracy. “Why don’t you postpone the wedding by getting smallpox?”

Angry at his current assignment to cover Tracy’s wedding, Mike Connor (Stewart) barges into the office of SPY magazine publisher, Sidney Kidd. “I’m gonna tell him it’s degrading, Liz,” Mike tells his photographer, Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey). “I’m a writer, not a society snoop!” Kidd (Henry Daniell) finally looks up from his desk. “Your assignment will be SPY‘s most sensational achievement,” he says, ushering in Dexter, the story’s all-access pass to the grand ceremony. “This Tracy Lords, she knows you?” asks Mike. “You might say we grew up together,” says Dexter. “You might say you were her first husband,” offers Liz. “Yes,” says Dexter, “you might.”

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Vintage Movies: “Grosse Pointe Blank”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, 107 minutes)

Martin Blank has shown up without an appointment at the office of Dr. Oatman, his psychiatrist. In a scene that foreshadows the confrontational  sessions between Tony Soprano and his shrink, Oatman suggests Martin’s line of work might have something to do with his depression and anxiety. He’s already made it clear he doesn’t want Martin as a patient, since he didn’t get around to mentioning his occupation until his fourth visit. Martin (John Cusack) is a professional contract killer, and Oatman (Alan Arkin) is very uncomfortable.

“I’m not taking notes anymore because I’m afraid of you,” the doctor says. “If you’ve committed a crime, I have to tell the authorities.” Martin replies, “I know the law. But I’m serious about this process—and I know where you live.” Visibly shaken, Oatman says, “Now, see, that wasn’t a very  nice thing to say. That’s a not too subtle form of intimidation. I get filled with anxiety when you talk like that.”

Martin half-smiles and says, “Aw, come on, I was just kidding. I don’t talk about work because I don’t think that necessarily reflects who a person is.” The reason he’s returned, he explains, is that he’s been invited to his 10th high-school reunion in Grosse Pointe, a suburb of Detroit. “I’m conflicted. I don’t have anything in common with those people—or with anyone, really,” he says. “When they talk about what they do, what am I gonna say? ‘I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork?’” What he doesn’t reveal is that he will be in Detroit that weekend anyway, for professional reasons.

Conflicted or not, Martin is drawn to the reunion like a moth to the flame. His first stop is a quick spin by the old high school where he runs into Mrs. Kinetta (Belita Moreno), his former English teacher. “My god, Martin, is that really you, Detroit’s most famous disappearing act?” she asks, extending a hand. “You look great, Mrs. K. Still got that Mary Tyler Moore thing going,” he says. “Oh, thank you, Martin,” she replies. “You were always good at saying that without sounding like a kiss-ass. So, what happened? We all thought Princeton, Harvard. You fooled us all.” He gives the stock answer: “Like Horatio Alger, Davy Crockett, the Donner party, I went west. Are you still inflicting all that horrible Ethan Frome damage?” he asks. “No, that’s been dropped from the curriculum,” she smiles as the class bell rings.

Driving down the main drag, Martin hears the voice he knew he’d run into sometime this weekend. It’s the sultry sound of the drive-time disc jockey for WGPM, “79.5 Radio Free Grosse Pointe.” It’s also the  voice of Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), the girl he jilted the night of the senior prom, 10 years ago, when he joined the Army.

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Vintage Movies: “The Thin Red Line”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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The Thin Red Line (1998, 170 minutes)

A crocodile slithers into a green river and exotic birds screech as the sun rises over a tropical paradise. On an island in the South Pacific, native kids are dancing on the beach, then diving into tidal pools for shellfish. One youngster with blond hair clings to his mother, flirting with an American dressed in the bare essentials provided by the U.S. Army. Another American runs from the beach, shouting about military patrol boats headed this way.

“How many times you been AWOL, Witt? Isn’t it about time you smartened up?” asks Sgt. Edward Welsh (Sean Penn) of C Company. “We can’t all be smart, sergeant,” answers Pvt. Robert Witt (Jim Caviezel). “The truth is you can’t be trusted with straight duty in my company,” says Welsh. “Consider yourself lucky. Normally, you’d be court-martialed, but I’ve worked out a deal for you in a disciplinary outfit. You’ll be a stretcher-bearer, taking care of the wounded.” Witt replies, “I can take anything you can dish out. We’re livin’ in a world that’s blowin’ itself to hell. All a man can do is close his eyes.” Where Witt’s new unit is going, there will be plenty of wounded, but nowhere near as many as the dead.

On a troop ship anchored a safe distance from the foggy coast of the island known as Guadalcanal, Brigadier General David Quintard (John Travolta) speaks to his officers about the task at hand, as he spreads out a map on the main deck. “No one wants this island, though the Japs put an airfield there,” he says. “This is their way of controlling the sea lanes to America. If we’re going to stop the Japs’ advance into the South Pacific, we’ve got to do it right here,” he says putting his cap back on his head. “The Marines have done their job, and now it’s our turn.”

The men about to be deposited onto the beach at Guadalcanal are getting cleaned up one last time in the belly of the ship, shaving, showering and brushing their teeth. “I just can’t help how damned scared I am, sarge,” one of them confesses to Welsh, looking into a steamy mirror. “My step-daddy beat me when I was real little. I slept in the chicken coop a whole lotta nights, and I never thought it’d get no worse than that. But we’re gonna be landin’ soon, and there’s gonna be air raids. We’ll probably die before we get off the beach. This place is like a big, floatin’ graveyard.”

“What’s your name, kid?” asks Welsh as he begins to shave. Ignoring the sergeant’s request, Pvt. Edward Train (John Dee Smith) rambles on, “I want to own an automobile when I get out. The only permanent thing is dyin.’ And this war ain’t gonna be the end of me.”

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Vintage Movies: “Ballad Of A Soldier”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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Ballad Of A Soldier (1959, 88 minutes)

There must have been a mild thaw in the Cold War when U.S. art houses began showing Russian films during the Kennedy administration, with Grigori Chukrai’s Ballad Of A Soldier as one of the first. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, only recently pushing up the crocus, would have been appalled at the very idea.

Alexei Nikolaevich Skvortsov, Alyosha as he is commonly known, is a good boy. But when the orders came for him to join the Russian army and report to the eastern front, he didn’t even take time to say goodbye to his mother. In the middle of intense fighting, Pvt. Skvortsov’s radio post is attacked by a Nazi Panzer unit. Skvortsov bravely stands his ground until he can report the strength of the attack. “I see tanks, four of them!” he screams, somehow disabling one of them with his armor-piercing weapon, then runs for his life. As he’s about to be ground into dust, the second tank rears up over a boulder and gets stuck, allowing the soldier to send a death blow into the heart of the huge machine. “You don’t like that,” he says as though the tank were alive.

With word of his feat preceding him, Skvortsov is summoned to the General’s quarters when he returns to his unit. “Well, hero, come tell me everything that happened,” says the General. “They were so close, comrade General, I was scared,” says the private. “You were so scared that you knocked out two tanks?” inquires the General. “I wish everybody were so scared. I’m putting you up for decoration.”

Skvortsov thinks for a moment, then blurts out a request to go home to see his mother and fix her leaking roof, instead of receiving a commendation. “It will only take one day,” he pleads. After asking where the 19-year-old boy lives, the General mulls over his unusual request, then smiles. “The way things are, a day won’t be enough. I will give you two days to get there and two to get back. And two more days to fix the roof.” Overjoyed, Skvortsov thanks the General profusely before beginning the long slog home.

When the jeep carrying Alyosha gets stuck in a river crossing, troops trudging in the opposite direction give them a hand. “Hey friend, are you going home on leave to Georgievsk? I’m from Uzlovaya, we’re neighbors,” says one, asking Alyosha to look up his wife. “You have to change trains at Uzlovaya, anyway. We’re in Chekhov Street, not far from the station. Just tell Liza that Sergei is all right and you saw me.” The boys in Sergei’s outfit insist that Alyosha take a bar of soap as a gift for Liza. Unwilling to surrender the precious commodity, their grumpy sergeant finally hands over the soap. “Here, take it!” he says.

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Vintage Movies: “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”

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 ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, 112 minutes)

Alice Hyatt doesn’t have much luck with men. She’s living in Socorro, N.M., with her husband Donald, who drives a big-rig, and their 11-year-old son Tommy, a little wise-acre. The kid is blasting rock ‘n’ roll on his boombox when Donald screams from the bedroom where he’s nursing a migraine. “Alice! For god’s sake! Do something about that shit!” She runs from the kitchen and switches off the music.

“How can we have a meaningful family relationship when he’s on the verge of killing you half the time?” says Alice (Ellen Burstyn) to Tommy (Alfred Lutter). “Make him finish his dinner first,” orders Donald (Billy Green Bush) as Alice brings dessert to the table. “He doesn’t want any more dinner,” she says, cutting Tommy a wedge of peach shortcake. “Yeah, but he wants that old sugar crap, don’t he?” barks Donald, shoveling three teaspoons of sugar into his coffee. He spits it out immediately. “You did that! Don’t lie to me, boy!” he says of the salt Tommy’s put in the sugar bowl.

After a head-on collision, Donald’s body protrudes halfway through the windshield of his Coca Cola delivery truck, as Alice gets the phone call nobody wants. She and Tommy leave town, a few weeks after the funeral. “Don’t look back, or you’ll turn into a pillar of shit,” warns Alice as they cross into Arizona. With no obvious job skills, she hopes to find work as a cocktail lounge singer and makes a pit-stop at a local watering hole in Phoenix. She nervously auditions, singing great American ballads (“Where Or When,” “I’ve Got A Crush On You”) behind an electric piano—and lands the gig.

That’s where she meets Ben (Harvey Keitel). He sidles up to her one night and flashes the cowpoke charm. “Hiya, Hyatt. Guess a lotta fellas pull that one on ya,” he says. “Yeah, but most of ‘em are under 12,” she retorts. The affair ends one morning when Ben’s wife, Rita (Lane Bradbury), knocks on Alice’s motel room door. “Who’s this, the Avon lady?” quips Tommy. “So he’s married? I didn’t know that, I’m sorry,” says Alice in the kitchen. “I can believe that, all right,” says Rita.

Suddenly Ben is there, beating on the front window. “Rita, you bitch! You in there? Open this door!” Ben puts his fist through the glass, throws Rita to the floor and pulls a knife. “Why don’t you calm down, Ben,” urges Alice. “God damn it, Alice! Don’t tell me what to do!” he warns her. “I’ll bust your jaw!” After a few deep breaths, Ben tells Alice, “I’ll pick you up tonight when you get off work, all right?” Shakily, she nods her assent and he leaves. Within the hour, Alice and Tommy are packed and back on the highway, headed west.

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