Sunday, May 29, 2016


Year 8, Day 150 - 5/29/16 - Movie #2,349

BEFORE: Well, "The Brainwashing of My Dad" represents another dead-end in the chain, but I did promise the director that I would watch it, and I'm glad I did so during election season, when it proved to be so relevant.  That's what I'm here to do, make a difference.  Wait, I thought I was here to catch up on classic movies that I never got around to watching before.  I guess I get a little off-topic from time to time, but that's not always a bad thing.  

But now, when I hit a dead-end, I know what to do - back up to the movie right before it and choose another path.  So Ronny Cox carries over from "Vision Quest", and that leads me to, sure enough, another classic film that's part of the fabric of pop culture, but one I'm not sure whether I've seen all the way through.  

I've been on sort of an unintentional countdown to Father's Day, what with "Boyhood" and "Taken 3" and yesterday's film, so I think I'm going to keep rolling with that, because it's time to make a stack of DVDs for June, and this theme of manly manliness is going to roll right through the first few weeks of June, anyway.  If I look back on the last week of manly subject matter like nuclear subs, hitmen, and wrestling - and that trend is going to continue, with films about war, boxing, auto racing, playing poker.  Plus I'm looking at a couple of Westerns, more crime films, something with astronauts and even a film about golf.  All stuff that Dads like, right? 

Plus, the stars of those films just don't get more macho - Steve McQueen, Roy Scheider, one with John Wayne, and perhaps the most macho man of all, Burt Reynolds.  I've got a whole week of Burt coming up, but first I need this one for the linking purposes - so separating this one from the World of Burt will make perfect sense come tomorrow.  

And hey, it's Memorial Day weekend, the official (or is it unofficial?) start of the summer season.  That means everyone's on vacation or planning to go - and what's more manly than a bunch of guys kayaking down a river, doing some hunting and fishing and camping out?  What could possibly go wrong? 

THE PLOT:  Outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

AFTER: The two things that everyone knows about this film, even if they haven't seen it, is the famous song "Duelling Banjos" and that fact that something happens in the woods that nobody wants to talk about later - hey, what happens on the camping trip stays on the camping trip, right?  If you're in the minority of people who doesn't know what I'm talking about, let's just say our intrepid outdoorsman have an encounter with the locals, and it does not go well.  

But karma's a bitch, isn't it?  These four city guys from Atlanta come into the country thinking they know everything, that they can push the locals around, hire them to drive their cars to the end of the river and not pay them as much as they want.  Burt Reynolds' character says, "Fifty dollars?  My ass..." and maybe that's a poor choice of words.  

Can we talk about "Duelling Banjos" for a minute?  Everybody knows about the creepy-looking kid who's some kind of banjo prodigy, as if that's a real thing, but the truth is that the song is not correctly named.  In the film, Ronny Cox plays the guitar, and the creepy kid answers back, playing the same passage on his banjo.  That's banjo, singular, ONE banjo, so why is the tune called "Banjos", plural?  It should be called "Duelling String Instruments" or "Duel Between Banjo and Guitar", right?  

It's interesting that this movie was made with no insurance, something that would be unheard of today.  And wouldn't you know it, Burt Reynolds got injured and broke his coccyx during the canoeing scenes, I bet that cost someone a pretty penny.  Though I'm sure if the production had been insured, no one would have been injured, that's just how Murphy's Law works.  

According to the IMDB, sales of camping equipment plummeted after the film's release.  Makes sense, I guess - but another factoid states that more than 30 people later drowned in the Chattooga River, trying to replicate the trip scene in the film.  This makes much less sense, why would anyone try to duplicate this?  Would you watch "The Towering Inferno" and then try to put yourself in a skyscraper while it's on fire?  Or take a cruise right after watching "Titanic"?  

Also starring Burt Reynolds (last seen in "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex"), Jon Voight (last seen in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider"), Ned Beatty (last heard in "Rango"), Bill McKinney, Herbert Coward, Billy Redden, Macon McCalman, Seamon Glass, Randall Deal.  

RATING: 6 out of 10 lifejackets

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