Archive for 1973

CLASSIC SCENE: “I’m gonna pay him”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 23, 2013 by Mark Walker

Film: MEAN STREETS.
Screenplay: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin.

20130823-195858.jpg

Setting the scene:
CHARLIE (Harvey Keitel) is a small time wiseguy who collects protection money in New York’s Little Italy. He keeps company with other known crooks that include MICHAEL (Richard Romanus), TONY (David Proval) and the young, unreliable hothead JOHNNY BOY (Robert DeNiro). Johnny hasn’t been paying his loan debts to Michael and as Charlie feels protective of him, he takes him aside to have a serious talk about the responsibilities that he has to face up to.

[Charlie and Johnny Boy exit the bar and go into the back room to talk privately]

Johnny Boy
What are ya doin’?

Charlie
What do ya mean “what am I doin”
What are ya doin’ to me, huh?

Johnny Boy
What do ya mean?

Charlie
Michael’s been on my back all night. He’s botherin’ me.
Why didn’t ya make your payment last Tuesday?

Johnny Boy
I made my payment last Tuesday. What are you talkin’ about?

Charlie
You paid him last week?

Johnny Boy
Yeah, I paid him last week.
What did he say, I didn’t pay him?
He’s a fuckin’ liar. Where is he?

Charlie
You paid him?

Johnny Boy
Yeah, I paid him.

Charlie
Last week?

Johnny Boy
Yeah!

Charlie
Last Tuesday?

Johnny Boy
Yeah…
Charlie, you don’t know…

Charlie
He’s here.

Johnny Boy
Where?

Charlie
Out front.

Johnny Boy
He’s here?

Charlie
Yeah.

Johnny Boy
So, what do I care?

Charlie
Alright, let me go get him.
We’ll straighten this thing out, alright?

[Charlie turns to leave as Johnny pauses for a moment]

Johnny Boy
Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute, Charlie.

Charlie
What?

Johnny Boy
Well, you’re right.

Charlie
I’m right?

Johnny Boy
Yeah, was it last Tuesday?

Charlie
Yeah, that’s the Tuesday that was last week, that’s before the one about to come up.

Johnny Boy
My mistake, I’m sorry. It was last week, the week before, that I was thinking of.

Charlie
Oh, yeah. It was, huh?

Johnny Boy
That’s right.

Charlie
What’s the matter with you?
You can’t bullshit people that way. You give your word about somethin, you gotta keep it.

Johnny Boy
You know what happened to me…
I’m so depressed about other things.
I can’t worry about payments, you know what I mean?
I come home last Tuesday. I have my money in cash, you know? Blah blah, bing bing…
Comin’ home, I ran into Jimmy Sparks.
I owe Jimmy Sparks 700, like for four months.
I gotta pay the guy.
He lives in my buildin’, hangs out across the street. I gotta pay the guy, right? So what happened?
I had to give some to my mother…
I wound up with 25 at the end of the week.
And today, you ain’t gonna believe, ’cause it’s incredible. I can’t even believe it myself.

Charlie
What?

Johnny Boy
I was in a game. I was ahead like six, seven hundred dollars, right?

Charlie
You gotta be kiddin’?

Johnny Boy
Yeah, that’s the streak…
You know Joey Clams?

Charlie
Yeah!

Johnny Boy
Joey Scala, yeah.

Charlie
I know him, too, yeah.

Johnny Boy
No, Joey Scala is Joey Clams.

Charlie
Right.

Johnny Boy
Right.

Charlie
They’re the same person.

Johnny Boy
Yeah.

Charlie
Hey!

Johnny Boy
Hey!

[Johnny proceeds to tell his elaborate story]

So I was in there playin’ bankers and brokers. All of a sudden…
I’m ahead like six, seven hundred dollars. I’m really winnin’.
All of a sudden some kid walks in and the kid yells that the bulls are comin’, right?
The cops are comin’. Everybody runs away. I grab all the money. I go in. It’s an excuse, like to get away. I’d give everybody the money later, and that way I’d get out. I don’t have to get into the game and get a losin’ streak and all that. What happens is, I come out into the yard, I don’t know this buildin’. I don’t know nothin’.
I couldn’t get out. It was like a box. Big, like this.

[He makes a shape with his hands]

So I gotta go back in.
Not only do I go back in, but this kid says it’s a false alarm.
Imagine that?
I wanted to kill this fuckin’ kid. I mean, I wanna, I wanna…

[He bites his fist]

I was so crazy, I wanted to kill this kid.
Meanwhile, I gotta get back in the game.
Bing, bing, bing! I lose 400 hundred dollars.
Meanwhile, Frankie Bones is over there. Frankie Bones, I owe him thirteen hundred for like seven, eight months already.

He’s after me. I can’t even walk on the street without duckin’ that guy.

He’s like waitin’ for me.
Like I can’t move, you know.
He sees that I’m losin’, right?
So like he’s waitin’ for me here
He’s tappin’ me on the shoulder.
He’s saying, “Hey.”

[Johnny starts tapping Charlie's shoulder]

Tappin’ me like this. Like a hawk.

“Hey, eh, get it up. You’re losin’. Now give me some money.”

I says “Hey Frankie, come on. You know, eh… you know, give me a break over here. Let me win some back. You know, I got debts. I mean, I’m in a big hole.”

He says, “Never mind, give me the money.”

I says, “Okay, Frankie.”

So I give him two hundred.
Meanwhile, I lost the deal.
I go outside, I’m a little depressed…
Anyway, I’ll cut this story short
’cause you don’t want to hear all this.
I know, I know, I know.
Just to make a long story short.
So anyway, I went out shoppin’.
Got a new tie, got this shirt, right?
You like the shirt? Is that nice?
This tie…

Charlie
Hey! Michael doesn’t care if you’re depressed! What is he, your priest?
What are ya comin out goin shoppin’ when you owe somebody money, Johnny? That ain’t right.

How much ya got there?

Johnny Boy
Charlie, I’m gonna pay him next week…
I’m gonna pay him!

Charlie
You’re gonna, you’re gonna, you’re gonna and ya don’t do nothin’.
How much you got there?

Johnny Boy
I got about, I don’t know, I got about 40 dollars.

[Charlie grabs his money and starts to count it]

Johnny Boy
What are ya doin’?
I got about 40 dollars there. That’s all.

[Charlie slaps Johnny on the side of the head]

Johnny Boy
What? What are doin?

Charlie
That’s for lying! I’m holdin’ on to this till next week, till ya make the next payment.

Johnny Boy
What are you talkin about? What, there’s a little more than 40?
It’s a mistake.

Charlie
Yeah, a mistake.

Johnny Boy
Hey, listen, I swear to my mother, you come with me next Tuesday…
I sign the paycheck over to you. I swear on my mother, I swear to Christ, okay?

Come on, it’s a hundred and ten dollars. You give it to Mike.
Come on, give me some money.

We got those beautiful girls out there. We’re gonna get laid now.
I met those chicks in that Cafe Bizarre. They were fuckin’ around with these two other guys. I know we’re gonna get laid.
That one, Weintraub, is very nice.
Very nice. I want to bang her like crazy.

Charlie
Here.

[Charlie gives him some money back]

Johnny Boy
Come on…

Charlie
That’s enough for you.

Johnny Boy
Come on. Give me another five. Come on.

Charlie
Which one do you want?

[Johnny snatches some money back from Charlie's hand. Charlie stares at him]

Johnny Boy
Come on. You’re leavin’ me with nothin’.
We gotta go eat chinks?

Charlie
That’s it and you better make do with this for the week.

Johnny Boy
Alright.

Charlie
Which one do you want?

Johnny Boy
Which one do you want?…
I want the Weintraub one. She’s nice. I like that one.

Charlie
She the one on the left?

Johnny Boy
Nah, she’s the one… What? Your left or my left?

Charlie
We’re both standin’ the same way.

Johnny Boy
Well, that don’t matter.

Bang The Drum Slowly * * * 1/2

Posted in Drama with tags on October 10, 2012 by Mark Walker

20121010-112903.jpg

Director: John Hancock.
Screenplay: Mark Harris.
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Robert DeNiro, Vincent Gardenia, Phil Foster, Ann Wedgeworth, Patrick McVey, Heather MacRae, Selma Diamond, Barbara Babcock, Tom Ligon, Danny Aiello.

In 1973, two films were released that featured two very different performances from a young Robert DeNiro. One was his first collaboration with director Martin Scorsese in “Mean Streets” and the other was “Bang The Drum Slowly“. However, despite the critical plaudits DeNiro received for the former, it’s was arguably this film that caught everyone’s eye beforehand. Either way, they both marked the arrival of, what would be, one of cinema’s finest performers.

Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty) is the star pitcher of a New York professional Baseball team. He’s the type of player that can name his price when it comes to contractual negotiations. On hearing the news that his friend (and surplus-to-requirements) teammate Bruce Pearson (Robert DeNiro) is terminally ill, Henry negotiates a contract that will keep Bruce in team and save him from being transferred. Henry’s intention is to give Bruce a memorable last season at the club.

On first appearances, this film comes off as a cheap TV movie with a music score that isn’t far from something as cheesy as “Little House on the Prairie“. Quite simply, the music is dreadful but the performances manage to transcend it’s dated approach. It’s interesting watching a young DeNiro before the heights of stardom and it’s easy to see that he always had the acting ability. There’s an innocence and lack of self-confidence to his character and he plays it wonderfully. This, however, adds to another problem in the film; his talents are not utilised as well as they could be. It’s Moriarty that takes the lead and although he also delivers a solid performance, he comes across a little expressionless at times. Despite both actors playing well, the close relationship between their characters is never explained and leaves it hard to fully connect with them or accept the events that take place. That being said, the film does still have a heart and a lightness of touch which help it overcome it’s faults. It’s not a story about a dying man but more a story about life and living it fully. It’s a story about integrity and the camaraderie and teamwork amongst men. It’s also somewhat of a sports film but that becomes secondary to the human relationships. With material of this nature, the film could easily fall prey to cliche but it manages to avoid the pitfalls which is thanks to it’s sensitivity and assured handling by director John Hancock. It’s an enjoyable film but left me feeling a little frustrated at DeNiro being so underused. I know he wasn’t a star at this time but when he’s as good as he is here, you just want to see more. What it does do though, is show that he’s always had a magnetic screen presence.

A touching and poignant drama that also manages to be an understated sports film. Not many films manage to achieve this balance and despite some flaws and it’s now dated appearance, this is still worthy of attention: if only, to witness the early stages of a very illustrious career.

Mark Walker

20121010-115237.jpg

The Last Detail * * * * 1/2

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on April 23, 2012 by Mark Walker

20120423-205719.jpg

Director: Hal Ashby.
Screenplay: Robert Towne.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid, Clifton James, Carol Kane, Michael Moriarty, Nancy Allen, Gilda Radner.

The 1970’s is arguably the best decade for classic American films. It produced such quality as “The Godfather parts I & II“, “Dog Day Afternoon“, “Serpico“, “Mean Streets“, “Jaws” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest“, to name a few. It heralded the reputation of the likes of Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and this film’s star Jack Nicholson. This is another, that could be included amongst the greats of that decade.

Two career Navy men, “Bad-Ass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young) are commissioned to escort young kleptomaniac Meadows (Randy Quaid) to the brig for petty theft. En-route, the two lifers realise that young Meadows is actually quite a naive and innocent young man, who hasn’t experienced much of life. Before they deliver him to an eight year sentence in prison, they decide to show him a good time and teach him a little of life’s pleasures.

“…I knew a whore once in Wilmington. She had a glass eye… used to take it out and wink people off for a dollar.” Where else can you get a quote like that, delivered in such dead-pan style from the great Jack Nicholson? In fact, for that matter, most of Nicholson’s performances deliver at least one choice quote. His career is full of them and few can deliver a line like he can. If you appreciate such moments, then this film delivers plenty of them. It’s mainly dialogue driven and character based, providing another classic Nicholson performance. As well as, fine support in Otis Young and a young Randy Quaid. All three of them are an absolute joy to spend time with. The dialogue is razor-sharp from screenwriter Robert Towne (a year before another 70’s classic “Chinatown“) and director Hal Ashby skilfully combines the comedy and the drama to near perfection. Ashby was a director that consistently delivered superb human drama’s throughout his career (“Harold And Maude” and “Coming Home” are a couple of notable ones) but he didn’t quite get the plaudits or reputation that his peers received. However, with films of this calibre, his abilities still stand the test of time.

Humour and pathos can be a marvellous combination when done right and Ashby certainly does that… he gets it spot on.
It may be their ‘Last Detail’ but I for one, wish it was their first.

Mark Walker

20120423-205902.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,024 other followers