Scenes That I Love: James Bond Meets Sylvia Trench in Dr. No (In memory of Eunice Grayson)


Earlier today, I read the sad news that British actress Eunice Grayson passed away at the age of 90.  Grayson may not have been a household name but true fans of James Bond (as opposed to those who think that the franchise started with Daniel Craig) know Grayson from her role as Sylvia Trench in both Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

Eunice Grayson was the first Bond girl.  When we first meet Bond in Dr. No, he’s sitting down across from her at the Baccarat table.  When Bond asks her name, she replies, “Trench. Sylvia Trench.”  When she asks his name, he playfully replies, “Bond.  James Bond.” and history is made.

Grayson originally auditioned for the role of Miss Moneypenny but, when the producers decided to give that role to Lois Maxwell, Grayson was instead cast as Sylvia Trench.  At first, Sylvia was envisioned as being Bond’s permanent “off-duty” girlfriend.  That’s certainly the role that she’s plays when she briefly reappears in From Russia With Love.  The original plan was for Sylvia (and Grayson) to appear in at least six Bond films and to be the principal Bond girl in the sixth one.  However, those plans were abandoned with Goldfinger.

(Check out this 2012 interview that Grayson gave to the BBC for more details about her experiences as a part of the Bond franchise.)

Today’s scene that I love is in memory of both Eunice Grayson and the role she played in the history of one of my favorite film franchises.  From 1962’s Dr. No, James Bond meets Sylvia Trench for the first time…

Scenes That I Love: The Awards Ceremony From Boogie Nights


I would like to think that when the Palme d’Or is awards in Cannes, it’ll be half as exciting as when Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) picked up his second Best Actor trophy in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights.

Now, the scene below is actually the extended version of the scene that actually appeared in the movie.  In the movie, you just see Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) watching his latest film and then cut to Dirk picking up his award.  In the extended version, we get to see everyone’s reaction to Dirk winning.  They’re all there — Burt Reynolds, William H. Macy, Nina Hartley, John C. Reilly, Melora Waters, Luis Guzman, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, Robert Ridgely (as the memorably corrupt Colonel), and, of course, the dearly missed Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I can understand why Anderson chose to go with a shortened version of this scene.  Boogie Nights is a long film and obviously, it wasn’t totally necessary to see how everyone reacted to Diggler’s victory.  (By that point, in the film, we already knew how everyone felt about him.)  That said, I do prefer the extended version.  If nothing else, it’s a reminder that Boogie Nights was more than just the story of Dirk Diggler.  Instead, it was the story of a group of outcasts who became a family.

Anyway, let’s hope that whoever wins the Palme d’Or will be a bit more enthusiastic about it than Dirk.

Scenes That I Love: The Mirror Scene From Duck Soup


Since today is May Day, how about a little Marx for today’s scene of the day?

Believe it or not, when Duck Soup was initially released in 1933, it was considered to be something of a failure.  Especially when compared to previous Marx Brothers films, it was seen as being a box office disappointment.  The critics didn’t care much for it, either.  They felt that the film’s political satire was preposterous and tasteless.  Much as how today’s critics attacked the Death Wish remake for being released at a time when gun control was trending on twitter, critics in 1933 attacked Duck Soup for being a cynical, anti-government satire released during the Great Depression.

(To be honest, you would think that the Great Depression would have made people better appreciate anything that made fun of the incompetence of government but maybe people were in too bad of a mood to see the joke.  Who knows?  1933 was a strange year.)

Of course, today, Duck Soup is justifiably viewed as being a classic comedy.  It’s certainly my favorite Marx Brothers film.  In the classic scene below, Harpo pretends to be Groucho’s reflection in a shattered mirror.  It’s a marvelous piece of physical humor so enjoy it!

(And the next time you see a film bragging about their Rotten Tomatoes score, consider that if Rotten Tomatoes had existed in 1933, it would have gotten a “rotten” rating.  The truth of the matter is that most critics are as clueless as Rufus T. Firefly looking into a broken mirror.)

Scenes That I Love: Max Von Sydow Meets Death In The Seventh Seal


The Seventh Seal (1957, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

I had a bit of a panic attack earlier today when I logged onto twitter and I discovered that everyone was both sharing picture of the great actor Max Von Sydow and debating which one of his many roles was his best.

“Oh my God!” I thought, “Max von Sydow must have died!  2018 sucks now!”

I looked over at the trending topics and, to my shock, Max von Sydow was not trending.  However, Mark Zuckerberg was.

“Goddammit,” I thought, “Mark Zuckerberg is totally overshadowing the legendary career of one of the most important actors of all time!”

I was prepared to take advantage of the no-filter atmosphere of twitter and start screaming at people for not showing the proper respect to the life and legacy of Max von Sydow.  Fortunately, before I totally lost my temper, I decided to make sure that my assumptions were correct.  That’s something that I rarely do but I’m certainly glad that I did it this time because, by doing so, I discovered that Max von Sydow was not dead.

Instead, today was his 89th birthday!

Happy birthday, Max von Sydow!

What is Max von Sydow’s greatest role?  There’s so many to choose from.  He’s got a whole new legion of fans as a result of his appearances in last two Star Wars films.  Considering that he’s been an outspoken agnostic, it’s somewhat ironic that his first English-language role was as Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told and that he epitomized everyone’s idea of the ideal priest in The Exorcist.  He’s played assassins, saints, and intellectuals.  He’s twice been nominated for an Oscar.  When I asked my boyfriend for his pick for Max von Sydow’s greatest performance, he picked the Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon.  Speaking of famous villains, von Sydow also played Blofield in Never Say Never Again and let’s not forget the assassin he played in Three Days of the Condor or his role in Minority Report or his performance as Leland Gualt in Needful Things!  And what about his performance in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or his Emmy-nominated turn in Game of Thrones

Well, I could sit here and spend hours listing great Max von Sydow performances.  But, when talking about the career of Max von Sydow, you have to start with the films of Ingmar Bergman.  And when you talk about Bergman and von Sydow, you have to start with 1957’s The Seventh Seal.

(Some sites claim that The Seventh Seal was von Sydow’s film debut but that’s not true.  It may have been his first film for Bergman but von Sydow actually made his screen debut in 1949.  Before finding film stardom, von Sydow dominated the Swedish stage.)

In honor of both Max von Sydow’s 89th birthday and his amazing career, today’s scene that I love is from The Seventh Seal.  This haunting and atmospheric film is one that you definitely should see if you haven’t see it already.  Here von Sydow’s knight first meets Death (Bengt Ekerot*) and settles in for a game of chess.

Happy birthday, Max von Sydow!

—-

*While Bengt Ekerot never went on to achieve the type of international fame that von Sydow did, his performance here set the archetype of how Death, as a character, continues to be portrayed in books and films to this day.

Scenes That I Love: Wally Brando Arrives In Twin Peaks: The Return


“My family, my friend, I’ve criss-crossed this great land of ours countless times. I hold the map of it here, in my heart, next to the joyful memories of the carefree days I spent, as a young boy, here in your beautiful town of Twin Peaks.”

— Wally “Brando” Brennan in Twin Peaks The Return: Part 4

Last year, there were many Twin Peaks moments that many of us could not stop talking about.  There was Cooper announcing, “I am the FBI.”  There was Matthew Lillard’s interrogation.  There was Naomi Watts telling off the loan sharks and Jim Belushi talking about his dreams.  There were the musical performances at the Roadhouse.  There was Laura’s scream at the end of the Part 18.  And of course, there was every single minute of Part 8.

And then there was the arrival of Wally Brando.

Played by Michael Cera, Wally Brando was the son of Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Deputy Andy (Harry Goaz).  They were obviously quite proud of their son and Wally … well, Wally really loved Marlon Brando.  (That probably has something do with the fact that Wally and Marlon Brando shared a birthday.)  Interestingly enough, in the scene above, Micahel Cera is speaking to Robert Forster, who co-starred with Brando in 1967’s Reflections in a Golden Eye.

(Of course, by imitating Brando’s look in The Wild One, Wally Brando reminds us that Twin Peaks took place in a world where pop culture and society’s darkest secrets collided.)

How big of a splash did Wally Brando make?  When Part 4 of Twin Peaks premiered, Wally Brando immediately started to trend on twitter.  People were reminded that Michael Cera was capable of doing more than just playing sensitive teenagers.  It was one of the first great moments of the Twin Peaks revival.  As much attention as Cera received for his performance, I also think that Harry Goaz, Kimmy Robertson, and Robert Forster deserved just as much credit for making this scene work.  Andy and Lucy were so proud and Sheriff Truman’s reactions were just priceless.

Today would have been Marlon Brando’s 94th birthday and I’m sure that, somewhere, Wally Brando is wearing a party hat, opening his presents from Lucy and Andy, watching Guys and Dolls, and smiling.

 

Scenes That I Love: Peter Stegman Plays The Piano in Class of 1984


“I am the future!” Peter Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) announced in the 1982 film, Class of 1984, and, in many ways, he was correct.  Though it’s easy to be snarky about the fashion choices made by Stegman’s gang, Class of 1984‘s portrait of a school where teachers have taken to carrying guns to protect themselves is still relevant today.

One thing that set Class of 1984 apart from other exploitation films was that it acknowledged something that most people aren’t willing to admit.  Sometimes, the worst people can create the most beautiful music.  This is a point that was made quite literally in the scene below.

As the scene begins, the new music teacher — Andy Norman (Perry King) — is just trying to start his class when suddenly Stegman and his gang decide to drop in.  At first, Andy tells them to go away but then, suddenly, Stegman sits down at a piano and starts to play.

Timothy Van Patten, who would later go on to become an award-winning television director, reportedly actually played every note heard in this scene.  For a few brief seconds, Peter Stegman is revealed to be something more than just another high school psycho.  When Stegman sits in front of that piano, he becomes an artist and, throughout the film, both Andy Norman and the audience occasionally wonder who Peter Stegman could have been under different circumstances.

Of course, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  Peter Stegman could have been a concert pianist but instead, he went down a different path.  Over the course of the film, Stegman is responsible for not only Michael J. Fox getting stabbed but Roddy McDowall getting blown up.  When Andy makes one final attempt to reach out to him, Stegman tries to cut his hand off.   Now wonder Andy eventually allowed Stegman to plunge through that skylight.

But even as Stegman falls to his death and discovers that he’s not the future, it’s hard not to think about that beautiful piece of music that he played just a few days earlier and wonder about what could have been.

Peter Stegman.  R.I.P.

Spring Break Scenes That I Love: Plane vs Shark from Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus


Hopefully this doesn’t happen to anyone on their way home from Spring Break.

Or me, on my way home from my vacation.

Travel safely!

From 2009’s Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus: