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Archive for November 20th, 2011

This weekend I watched three movies – one DVD and two on-line: “The Jericho Mile” (1979), “Bruce Lee – The Legend” (1977), and “Woman of the Year” (1942).  They are all good movies for very different reasons.
The Jericho Mile” stars Peter Strauss as Rain Murphy, a man serving life for murdering his father.  The movie has multiple themes: crime, racism, friendship, corruption, justice and (mainly) running.  Rain is serving his time by running around the exercise yard of Folsom Prison.  He is fast and it gets noticed.  There are three rival racial factions in the prison: the Whites, the Blacks and the Hispanics.  Rain’s black friend and training partner runs afoul of the White gang and is murdered.  The gang tells the Black gang it was Rain’s fault and the leader of the gang beats up Rain.  Behind the scenes, the warden and the prison psych want to use Rain to inspire other prisoners to rehabilitate themselves and arrange for Rain to get a chance to run against some college runners in the hopes of getting a shot at qualifying for the USA Olympic Team.
My favorite line in the movie belongs to Murphy.  After getting beaten up, he promises to nail the Black gang leader for insulting his friend/brother and the leader asks Rain what he intends to do after that.  Rain, who is badly beaten and struggling to breathe, let alone stand up, replies: “I gotta finish my workout.
It is a terrific movie which I saw in it’s original broadcast back in 1979 (as a “Movie of the Week”).  The final running scene set against the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” instrumental is a cinema classic (as far as I’m concerned”).  The movie just appeared up on YouTube.com, so you better go see it while it’s still up there!  Strauss won an Emmy for this role.  The movie won a total of three.
Bruce Lee – The Legend” is a documentary about the life and art (martial and theatrical) of Bruce Lee.  This is the first time I’ve seen the documentary and it’s a typical promotion of a dead star by the Chinese movie industry.  Having said that, the individual scenes of Bruce getting interviewed for a job and his describing Jeet Kune Do – the martial arts system Bruce created – is truly outstanding.  If you are interested in the background of a martial arts legend, this is a good place to start.  The question will always remain if Bruce was truly a great martial artist or just a handsome and charismatic actor who was also a superior athlete and martial artist.  Because there is no record (at least I’m not aware of any record) of Bruce Lee appearing in a “real” mixed martial art competition, I’m afraid it’s a question which will never be answered.  I watched this movie on HULU.com, which is a pretty good source of current TV shows and
Woman of the Year” stars Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  The film was their first movie together and their chemistry is obvious.  The movie is a about two competing newspaper writers – one on politics and the other on sports.  They meet.  Fall in love.  Marry.  And then the problems begin.  While the movie has some tremendously funny moments – especially when Hepburn’s character attempts to cook Tracy’s character breakfast, the movie is symptomatic of its time and has an incredibly sexist message that ultimately, every woman, no matter how successful, must ultimately define herself within her role as a wife (and eventual mother).  My daughter Sarah watched the movie with Hil and me and I asked her about this message.  She said she really didn’t see it that way at all and it was “just” a funny, but unrealistic movie.  I asked her why, and she replied, “One, she never would have married that far beneath her; and, two, she wouldn’t be able to stay home and live on only his salary when it was obvious she had a much more important (and well paying) job than he did.”  From the mouth of babes……
As I said, all three are entertaining movies for entirely different reasons, but I recommend all three – particularly “The Jericho Mile“.
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In this world there are only two tragedies.  One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
  —  Oscar Wilde
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