Moments out of Time 1982

[Originally published in The Informer, January 1983]

• The first shots of E.T.: the downward slant of … something, maybe just our own gaze, across the starry night sky, and then the cut to the extraterrestrial craft already at rest on Earth…

Slaughterhouse diplomacy: "The Long Good Friday"

• Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), bowling through the slaughterhouse to confront the other mobsters he has hung upsidedown on meat hooks, strides across a butcher’s scale; the needle registers his passing, then forgets him: The Long Good Friday….

• Roaring through the Wasteland with The Road Warrior: The Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence) sits tied in position in the backseat of “the last of the V-8s.” Pointing at the center of his face is a gun. The string leading from the trigger is tied to a bone held in a dog’s teeth. Outside the window, a rabbit runs by. The dog’s eyes notice….

Le Beau Mariage: Sabine (Béatrice Romand) standing at the window, her back to the wedding party, wondering whether Edmond (André Dussollier) is going to come back …

• The sometimes dramatically synchronous, sometimes just-there aural and visual presence of the space heater, as Chris (Mariel Hemingway) and Torry (Patrice Donnelly) get acquainted on the floor: Personal Best

• The mother in Poltergeist (Jobeth Williams) humming the tune from the Miller beer commercial as she does the housework…

• The supreme sleaziness of Schuckert (Mario Adorf) in Lola: his rolling gait as he crosses the street, cigar aloft, fingers fiddling in his wad of cash, to make a donation to the political activists who are protesting his brand of bourgeois venality…

• In Tootsie, Jeff’s (Bill Murray) response after the fuddled old soap actor (George Gaynes) assures him that “Nothing happened here” between him and Dorothy (Dustin Hoffman): “Thank you, John.”…

• Things suddenly start going against Concannon (James Mason) in The Verdict; he turns toward the bench with a “Your Honor—” but Judge Milo O’Shea’s glare says, “Get yourself out of this one, boyo!”…

• Sophie (Meryl Streep) sweetly notices that Stingo (Peter MacNicol) is wearing his cocksuckerSophie’s Choice….

• Gregory’s father makes a date to see him at breakfast sometime—Gregory’s Girl….

• Not sure what they’re agreeing to, but hoping for the best, Burt and Goldie each assert that “I dee ‘n’ doe!…”—the Chicano wedding ceremony presided over by Richard Libertini, Best Friends….

• The creek very audible in the background as the would-be C&W singer auditions for the Honkytonk Man

• The sound of water lapping, though there isn’t any water at all on this ersatz San Francisco hillside, calls Hammett back to his typewriter, his mind’s-eye glittering with pearls and menace….

• Maxwell’s (Tony Roberts’) professional medical advice to his inventor pal (Woody Allen): “You shouldn’t fly, Andrew, you’re a mammal!”—A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy

•Typical of the generosity at every level of Blake Edwards’ Victor/Victoria: it’s a supporting player (Alex Karras) who gets to deliver the payoff line for a whole reel’s worth of comedic buildup: “Do you have heat in your room?”…

• And another instance of generosity in which first-time director Richard Benjamin proves himself a real mensch, in My Favorite Year: rather than diving straight for the comic complication with the lascivious young thing at the nearby nightclub table, Benjamin allows Alan Swann’s (Peter O’Toole) dance with the anniversary bride (Gloria Stuart) its own moment of sweetness and grace, sans cutaways. Noblesse oblige…

• The way a tree looks when you’re lying on the ground beneath it, about 13 years old, and thinking-about-but-not-really-expecting a first kiss—The Devil’s Playground

• Bodies on the ceiling: Costa-Gavras’ Missing

• As Andre (Gregory) tells Wally (Shawn) how a certain Scottish physics professor met his first faun, another faun—Andre’s own reflection—peers over Wally’s shoulder: a moment of no-sweat visual finesse in Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre

• Without explicitly doing so, Modell (Paul Reiser) manages to raise the question of who is going to eat the second half of Eddie’s (Steve Guttenberg) roast beef sandwich—Diner….

• Robert(a) Muldoon (John Lithgow) “had great hands!”—The World According to Garp

• Christy (Colleen Camp) storms through an encyclopedic inventory of John’s (Ben Gazzara) faults, in They All Laughed; trouble is, “…you’re such a great kisser!”…

• One moment of directorial validity in Annie: the characteristic Huston two-shot of Annie’s (Aileen Quinn) more-talked-than-sung “Tomorrow,” with a slightly out-of-focus Warbucks (Albert Finney) watching from behind, registering simultaneously that this must be a remarkable child and he must care about her…

• One rare moment of emotional truth in On Golden Pond: Henry Fonda (rather than Norman Thayer) bending to look at the family photos posted on the wall of the summer place, releasing a heartbreaking moan, and then demanding; “Who are all these people?”…

• “Those are the most bodacious tatas I have ever seen!”—David Keith, An Officer and a Gentleman

• Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) rousting an entire redneck bar, 48 HRS.: “I am your worst nightmare come true, a nigger with a badge!”…

• Paul Bland (Paul Bartel) surveilling Raoul (Robert Beltran)—from the roof of Raoul’s van—as they whip down Hollywood streets to the accompaniment of a salsa “Devil with a Blue Dress On” … Eating Raoul

• The romantic theme of The Quiet Man swelling on the soundtrack of a new film as a cascade of forever-freed pickerel frogs comes spilling out the schoolhouse windows: the sort of special-effect in which E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial is uniquely rich…

RTJ

© 1983 Richard T. Jameson