Saturday, November 26, 2011

Movie Scenes that Made Me

Each filmmaker has a style. Even the real hack-jobs still have an influence they can give props to. I like to give props where said props are due - though the 'examples' of my influences may be obscure. Indie-film buffs will really put Spielberg down for his happy ending story formula, but that man can make an entertaining film. Ed Wood also made entertaining films, but in a totally different way. The filmmakers I have met and have also learned about can usually attribute one film or filmmaker that really changed their lives. I find it difficult to name just one picture that drove a bolt of lightning through my soul - so I figured I would just drop a few clips of some films that I believe have influenced me in some way. Here are the first two, there will be  more to come.

(In no particular order)

JAWS, [1975] - Stephen Spielberg, Director
Roy Scheider / Richard Dreyfuss / Robert Shaw
Based on the Book by Peter Benchley
Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb

Well, this one is first because it is my #1 all-time-favorite film. This film really defined Spielberg as a director and launched his career. Interestingly enough, it was thought by many to end his career just as it was about to get off the ground. NOT!

There are plenty of great scenes and lines in this movie. Like many, I will have to put up Capt. Quint's [Robert Shaw] infamous USS Indianapolis speech. Rumor has it Shaw was considerably inebriated when they shot this. It is also a known fact that this speech was dramatic improvisation at the very finest. Robert Shaw was kind of a tough character to work with, at least if you're Richard Dreyfuss, but he was one serious talent. It really is tough for me to say that THIS scene is my favorite. I like it because of the ambiance of the Orca and the impending doom of the morning - but the speech is good too.

                                                                       So..."here's to swimming with bow-legged women".

The Crucible [1996] - Nicholas Hytner, Director
Daniel Day-Lewis / Winona Ryder / Paul Scofield
Based on the play by Arthur Miller
Screenplay by Arthur Miller

Some folks don't dig period pieces, for the most part I do. The subject of this film is the Salem Witch Trials of the 17th century in Massachusetts Bay Colony, Town of Danvers. The Puritans were real buckle-heads and ran away from England because they were made fun of for not drinking and smoking - or dancing or anything. They read the bible and tried not to die in this difficult new world. They were also superstitious as hell and because their scientific knowledge was based on the supernatural and not the factual - they pretty much believed anything. 'Spectral Evidence' was not only admissible in court, it was highly regarded as fact. So the 'his word against mine' pretty much was rule of thumb. Arthur Miller wrote this during the Red Scare of the 1950's, when Senator Joseph McCarthy decided to go on a rampage and smoke out all of the communists. These trials were a miscarriage of justice in so many ways, but just like the witch trials of 1690's Salem, once accused - you had to defend yourself and prove yourself innocent, as opposed to the quite accepted method of 'innocent until proven guilty'. This ruined the lives of many prominent people including these guys.

OK - so history aside, and I love me some history - this film is filled with passion. Daniel Day-Lewis is one hell of an actor. Once you work past ye olde english way of speech - you can really feel the anguish that these people must have felt. Good God-fearing and skeptical folks who were accused of being witches that had no defense against some girls who let the power get to their little heads. Watch as his character, John Proctor, exclaims why he cannot allow his 'confession' to be displayed. This is probably my favorite scene in any film ever made (so far).

You cannot beat the froth and grit, he really sells it.

Be on the look out for the next installment of this article and I will drop some more clips on you.

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