Scenes That I Love: The Final Scene of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita


100 years ago today, the great Federico Fellini was born in Rimini, Italy.  It seems appropriate that today’s scene of the day should come from my favorite Fellini film, 1960’s La Dolce Vita.

In this scene, which occurs at the end of the film, jaded journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself hung over on the beach, watching as a group of people pulls a dead sea serpent out of the ocean.  The serpent appears to be a giant squid of some sort.  Myself, I’ve always felt that it was the equivalent of the Biblical Leviathan and maybe the fish that swallowed Jonah.  Regardless of the fish’s history, it’s now dead but, as Marcello points out, its eyes continue to stare.  The people on the beach are less interested in what the fish is and instead more concerned with what they can do with the carcass.

Marcello looks away from them and sees a young woman named Paola (Valeria Ciangottini) standing at the other end of the beach, calling out and motioning to him.  Marcello attempts to hear what Paola is saying but he cannot hear her words over the sounds of the ocean.  For once, Marcello, the journalist and the high society insider, does not know what is being said.  Finally, Marcello walks away with another woman, leaving Paola’s message a mystery.

What was Paola saying?  Perhaps, in the end, that’s not as important as what we think she may have been saying.  (Sofia Coppola later played a sort of homage to this ending with the final scene of Lost In Translation.)  Marcello missed the message but the good life — La Dolce Vita — continues.

Scenes That I Love: James Earl Jones in Dr. Strangelove


It seems rather appropriate that, while we spend this year celebrating TSL’s 10th birthday, we’ve taken the time to recognize the birthdays of so many of our favorite directors and actors.  Earlier today, Jeff already paid tribute to Andy Kaufman and Donald Cammell.

Well, today is also James Earl Jones’s birthday and there’s no way we’re going to let that go unacknowledged.  James Earl Jones is 89 years old today and he’s still working.  Everyone, of course, knows Jones’s voice and the story of how, when he was a child, he suffered from a stutter so severe that he refused to speak.  (Jones has described the years before he entered high school as being his “mute years.”) What’s often overlooked is just how good of an actor James Earl Jones is.  Jones has played everyone from villains to mentors to heroes.  He’s appeared in every possible genre and his presence has never not been welcome.

James Earl Jones made his film debut with a small role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satire, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  Jones played Lt. Luther Zogg, one of the men aboard the B-52 bombardier that eventually causes the end of the world.

Jones has often said that he didn’t really care for either the role or the film.  Lt. Zogg is a small role and it is true that, if not for the fact that he’s played by James Earl Jones, you probably wouldn’t remember much about him.  For the most part, Jones spends the majority of the movie listening as Maj. Kong (Slim Pickens) talks about following orders and doing their patriotic duty.

And yet, I think Jones is a bit too dismissive of the role.  It’s a small role but the undeniable authority of Jones’s voice provides a nice contrast to the country drawl of Maj. Kong.  Without Lt. Zogg calmly following orders, it would be too easy for the audience to dismiss Maj. Kong as an outlier as opposed to a representative of what the film viewed as being the military’s blase attitude towards the possibility of nuclear war.

Add to that, Jones’s delivery of “Hey, what about Maj. Kong?” is absolutely perfect.

So, with that in mind, here’s James Earl Jones in two scenes from Dr. Strangelove!

Scenes That I Love: Nic Cage Meets The Bees in The Wicker Man Update


From the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man.

Actually, I don’t know if love is quite the right word.  I’m actually kind of annoyed that The Wicker Man has gone from being one of the best horror films of the 70s to being known for the remake’s bees scene.  That’s one reason why remakes, in general, are not a good thing.  That said, for the record, I don’t like bees either.

Horror Scenes I Love: The Dead Rise From The Ground In Poltergeist


This is from 1982’s Poltergeist.

I love Craig T. Nelson’s delivery of the headstones speech.  James Karen is staring at him the whole time like he’s thinking, “Is anyone going to say ‘cut?'”