The Arnold Project #12: Scavenger Hunt

After It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, ensemble road comedies became all the rage, but few if any captured the same magic. Scavenger Hunt is not one of them, but it manages to collect some of the best comic actors of the time and thus keeps a low buzz of enjoyment throughout. It’s a long way in before Arnold shows up as a gym instructor named Lars, and it’s a big step backward from his role in Stay Hungry– he just has a cameo, really, dragging Tony Randall into a fitness regimen when he just wants to steal a medicine ball.
Board game creator Mr. Parker (of Bros. fame) croaks one day while playing games with his sexy nurse, and wills his inheritance to the heirs who complete his challenge- a scavenger hunt! They have to solve the clues and collect the proper “treasures,” as the game goes. Vincent Price is the croaker- he dies playing an analog version of Frogger- and his heirs include:
His servants, with Cleavon Little as the chauffeur, James Coco as the chef, and of course a ditzy French maid and Roddy MacDowall as an effete Brit butler;
Tony Randall with geeky glasses and a gaggle of kids;

Two guys (including Dirk Benedict, “Face” from the A-Team) and their shag van, with an earnestly mourning gal in tow;

His mercenary sister (Cloris Leachman), her idiot son, and Richard Benjamin as her sleazy lawyer; they’re the bad guys if you can’t figure it out;

and Richard Mulligan of “Soap” fame as Dummitz the dopey cab driver.
They get their list and hit the road in Cadillacs, vans, cabs and convertibles, stealing everything from toilets to Jack in the Box heads, Rolls Royce grilles, beehives and carnival prizes. If Tony Randall annoyed you on “The Odd Couple,” you’ll be delighted to watch him try to snatch a beehive. This is the kind of movie where Richard Benjamin steals an old Indian’s dentures, and he shoots arrows at their Cadillac, and tracks them with a tomahawk the whole time.
Cameos are the bread and butter of these films, and that’s where Arnie comes in- along with Ruth Gordon, Scatman Crothers, Steven “Flounder” Furst, and Meat Loaf! The film is elevated by Cleavon Little, best known as Bart from Blazing Saddles, who always brought class to everything he did. It helps that this was directed by Michael Schultz, one of the most prolific black directors, who also brought us The Last Dragon (full review), Car Wash, Cooley High, Krush Groove and that insane Beatles cover musical Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I can watch Scatman Crothers and Ruth Gordon in anything. Here they have a lot of fun, as a security guard who catches Dummitz in a bridal gown, and a saucy old gal with an arsenal full of weapons. Meat Loaf plays Scum, leader of a biker gang. The movie is actually pretty good, and I forgot I was watching for Arnold! Some of the humor is inspired, like when Cleavon & co. get trapped in a school, and try to set off the sprinkler- but the sprinkler catches on fire!
The ending is a bit weak, but all movies of this kind suffer once all the heirs or challengers come together. Mad Mad World topped it all with a crazy scene on a fire truck ladder where all the greedy goofballs got their comeuppance, but Scavenger Hunt opts for a lesson about sharing. It sort of fizzles out, but it’s satisfying to see the good guys win, even if they were thieves too.

Rating: You should not drink… and bake!
(low Arnold content, but otherwise an entertaining bit of ’70s nostalgia)

View all the entries in The Arnold Project

Currently only available on VHS or through questionable means

Stay Hungry

As part of my quest to see all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films, I dipped back to his first big role- Stay Hungry, with Jeff Bridges. He plays a bodybuilder named Joe Santo, who even wears a Mexican wrestling mask sometimes, like Santo of film lore. It’s not really an Arnold film, but he plays a major part and doesn’t use his “Arnold” persona at all- he’s in the gym working out a lot, and gets to be himself.

Thank you masked man!

Jeff Bridges is Craig “Buck” Blake, an idle southern gentleman whose family wants him to make something of himself; but the movie isn’t so much about plot as the mood of its era, and character. He’s been whiling away his inheritance by big game hunting, escaping to the wilderness, and playing the part of the dilettante. Willie the house servant, played by Scatman Crothers, ups and quits over Buck’s shenanigans.

What’s up, Doc?

Craig becomes good friends with Joe and his girlfriend Mary Tate (Sally Field) in this freewheeling ’70s tale of the joys of shunting responsibility to just “be.” Directed by Bob Rafelson of Five Easy Pieces fame, and written by Charles Gaines of Pumping Iron, you get a comfortable melding of the two. Joe Santo, the bodybuilder who runs Olympia Gym, is played cool and collected by Arnold; he has great challenges ahead, but he takes them in stride, and is always broadening his horizons- playing the fiddle with some backwoods boys, letting Mary Tate have a fling with Craig- he has a Zen-like philosophy, from which the film takes its title. Craig on the other hand, avoids all responsibility, and when he tries to involve his friends with his family and their southern gentility, is boorish and self-absorbed.

Just another trophy

Sally Field is excellent as Mary Tate, who doesn’t want to be “another trophy on Craig’s wall,” or one in Santo’s trophy case either. In ’70s movies women often got the short end of the stick- this was the era where angry young men fought for civil rights, and then told the “girls” they could help by getting coffee and maybe doing the typing. The movie isn’t about that either- it’s about making something of yourself. Craig’s one confidante in his family is Uncle Albert (character actor Woodrow Parfey) who tells him this gem of advice: “To make something useful out of a life, it doesn’t matter what you do. Just that you do something, and do it unsparingly.” He then adds, “Why don’t you shit or get off the pot?”

I refuse to do your dirty work, no more…

The movie is full of grotesques, and setting it in a bodybuilding gym where the sport of sculpting one’s own body was only just being accepted in mainstream society was a perfect move. Arnold’s Joe Santo appears as a Rennaissance Man, surrounded by misfits and pikers. One is a manic Robert Englund- aka Freddy Krueger- who plays a hyper yet likeable gym member. Another is the gym owner Thor (R.G. Armstrong) a randy old man with a toupee and a penchant for poppers, and his right-hand man, a black bodybuilder he doesn’t know is gay.

Hasta la hootenanny, baby

The weakest part of the movie is the shoehorned plot regarding mob boys wanting a “deal” with Thor and Craig; it’s unnecessary and out of place, but leads to Craig’s belated coming of age, when he comes to Mary Tate’s rescue. And some of the funniest scenes, as Thor finds novel uses for the gym equipment when the gangsters drop off some hookers to sweeten the deal; the same benches become a battlefield for the end scene, as the film spirals into absurdity. Santo is competing for Mr. Universe, while Craig is saving Mary Tate- with the help of all the bodybuilders who already competed. The famous shot of the muscle men posing on tops of buses, and running down the street, posing and flexing, comes from here. It’s Rafelson’s nod to Fellini’s parades of grotesques, I guess, and it helps deflate the unnecessary drama.

Another one rides the bus

Overall this is a fine piece of ’70s cinema for fans of Jeff Bridges and Sally Field, and if you want to see Arnold play a part completely straight. Though he does get asked by an interviewer if bodybuilders are homosexual. “No, I can only speak for myself, but if you want me to prove it…” I wonder if Arnold ad-libbed that one, since it could be right out of Pumping Iron outtakes. Things do get a little pretentious, but we do get Joe Santo’s message: “You’ve got to stay hungry. You can’t grow without burning.” And Arnold delivers it with panache.
As much as I like watching him blow things up and then spout awkward puns, I like to wonder what his career would have been like without it. The scene in Total Recall where the two sides of his character talk to each other must not have been too hard for Arnold to pull off. Arnold won a Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut for this film, but didn’t get another memorable role until he became Conan.

Arnold playing the fiddle

And while Sally Field only bares her bottom, the scene with the busty hooker trying to seduce the gay masseur is pretty funny- but she’s quite a looker too.


Okay it is not terribly original for a movie blogger to do horror movie reviews in October, but I’m doing it anyway. My Netflix queue, DVD rack, and download folder (for the out of print rarities) are clogged with horror films I’ve been told I must see, and favorites I haven’t watched in a good while. I’ll try to have a horror movie every day, but with the new car I may have less time for bloggery.

Horror movies are their own beast. It’s hard to be truly scared by a movie as an adult. Sometimes if you’re home alone with all the lights out at night, you can get so absorbed in a horror film that the scares still work, but it’s been difficult for me. And the theater experience is even harder nowadays with jackasses talking, texting, and getting calls during movies. Before I begin this horror movie marathon, let me name my favorite horror movies and why I enjoy them so much. Most branded my childhood brain and therefore sit on the pedestal of nostalgia. It is very difficult for new movies to compete with such memories, but some have managed.

1. Poltergeist is my all-time favorite scary movie. A normal family composed of little-known actors in your standard Haunted House movie, but with so many bizarre occurrences that you are drawn in to their terror. This is also what Richard Pryor used to call a “dumb white people” movie, because “black people would move the fuck out of the house!” And I suppose that’s true. If my walls bled and disembodied voices growled “GET OUT” I’d probably high-tail it out the window in my underwear. But we can suspend disbelief for a little while, and imagine being sucked into the static of the television, or having chairs rearrange themselves behind our backs, or that creepy tree out our window suddenly decide we look pretty tasty. Some of the effects are dated- the fake faces that get torn apart, mostly- but the rest are still terrifying. When Paula Prentiss turns around and her kitchen chairs are neatly stacked on the table, it’s one of the most subtle, creepiest scenes put to film. It merges creepy classics like The Uninvited and The Haunting (1963) with Tobe Hooper’s gory sensibilities for the perfect mix of the unknown and the unfathomable.

2. The Thing (Carpenter version). Probably the pinnacle of stop-motion and traditional effects, and taking place on the loneliest spot on Earth- McMurdo Station in Antarctica. A dozen men braving the coldest of winters, we are immediately thrust into an unlikely science fiction story where anyone can be not what they seem. The sense of paranoia and isolation is driven home by the amazing score, and the “things” are still some of the most bizarre creations on film. Kurt Russell went from being a Disney movie kid to an utter bad-ass with Carpenter, and as the unseen enemy winnows down the cast we have no idea what will happen next. We’re on the edge of our seats. It’s Hitchcock-level suspense in a horror context.

3. Alien. Sure, you could say it is science fiction, but it is just a monster movie moved to space, where no one can hear you scream. Still one of the best and most memorable taglines ever written. Ridley Scott and Dan O’Bannon put together a great cast and made them cozy and believable, and then subject them to visceral, instinctively repulsive situations with H.R. Giger’s primal monster designs. He took simple, primal forms like the spidery, handlike “face hugger,” which not only grabs your face but essentially fucks it and pumps a larva load into your chest cavity. When it bursts out of your chest, it now resembles a snake- another creature, like spiders, that people tend to fear and hate on a primal level. And the final design goes beyond Freud to resemble a sleek black creature both phallic and technological- while later movies make it clear that it is a natural beast, Giger’s own style has always been “bio mechanics,” making uneasy mergings of flesh, steel and silicon, not unlike Cronenberg’s horrific visions in Videodrome. The story is a simple slasher tale as the fodder is devoured and the virginal female remains, but damn if it doesn’t scare you on a visceral level.
4. Videodrome. I saw this last year and regret not getting into David Cronenberg earlier. Much like Alien, it plays on our fears of the great progresses in technology. Here a late-night TV channel is affecting us, and we are not sure what is reality and nightmare anymore. The stunning visuals are still creepy today, and while the “breathing videotape” is quite dated, James Woods and his poor “hand gun” are still cringe-inducingly horrific. It helps to remember when not every station was owned by a cable conglomerate, and you could see some strange shit just flipping the channels. The mood of the film is incredibly bleak and gripping, and the ending is unexpected, shocking, and a true classic. This may not have big scares, but creepiness and sense of dread throughout are impeccable, and must be experienced.

5. The Shining. This is one of Kubrick’s masterpieces, and Stephen King fans be damned, it is still one of the best horror movies ever made even if it strays far from the storyline. It takes several viewings to understand just how fucked up Jack and family are before they arrive at the Overlook Hotel, and what happens there is now among the greatest haunted house tales ever put to film. This film is an old friend to me now, and I watch it every year when the snow comes down. Like The Thing, it makes use of the isolation winter brings, and the cast is full of archetypal characters. Jack with the rage bubbling beneath the surface, fearful Shelley Duvall who is obviously an abused wife, though we never see it, and little Danny, the child of an enraged, unloving father who flees to an inner world and deals with powers he cannot comprehend. I’m not sure if Scatman Crothers is the first Magical Negro on film, but he’s definitely the best. The film also has a lot of dark humor, that it takes several viewings to realize in its richness. Check out Scatman’s art collection, for example. All these years later, I’m still on the edge of my seat when they try to escape the hotel and its hedge maze. It’s a tale by a master storyteller twisted to a master director’s ends, and while it may not be King’s vision, it is still an unforgettable one.

6. Jacob’s Ladder. Without this movie there’d be no “Silent Hill.” Tim Robbins is a Vietnam Vet dealing with what he thinks are flashbacks or effects of a chemical they used on the battlefield, and the entire film is one gigantic mindfuck beginning from there. He soon can’t tell what is real and what is not, as his visions get increasingly terrifying and bizarre, reminiscent of The Thing and Cronenberg’s body modification fetishes. Once again the director draws us into an unfamiliar world more disquieting than scary, and Robbins’ paranoia is quickly infectious. Playing on our familiar nightmares where we remember things that may not be real, this movie stays with you long after it ends.

7. The Descent. This is one of my favorite recent horror flicks and while it has its flaws- namely the interchangeable characters- it also works on a dream-level and pulls a great switcheroo in the middle. A group of athletic gals meet to go spelunking as they do once a year; this time in remote Appalachia. Playing on familiar fears of claustrophobia and darkness, of course they run into trouble and need to find a new way out of the cave; also, no one knows where they are, because it is a new-found system and one gal “wanted to be the first.” So we also get that lurking sense of dread that comes with being lost in the woods, another archetypal fear from fairy tales and childhood. By the time we find out they are not alone in the caves, we are already engrossed in a great survival horror tale, and this take on the Sawney Bean tale amps things up to 11. It is also unclear if this is reality or a dream, and the bleak ending is one of my favorites.

So that’s 7 for now. Why not 10? Well, I have a month to watch 30 horror films and see if I can find 3 more I consider great. There are plenty of modern, good horror movies, but the great ones have been elusive. Calvaire and High Tension out of France have come close, but have more style than substance. They are definitely worth seeing. I’m told that Them (remade in America as The Strangers) is worthy of the title, and both versions are on tap. [Rec] is supposed to be zombies meets The Blair Witch Project, and has many fans. That will be considered. Hell, I may revisit Blair Witch, since I missed it in theaters and only saw it on a small screen. A lot of people love it, and the “lost in the woods” vibe, with weird happenings that may or may not be supernatural is a great premise.

This month I will also be watching a few Paul Newman films I’ve missed, and if I see anything in the theater or with Firecracker (who doesn’t like horror much) I’ll try to squeeze them in here. It will tax my blogging skills to the max. So watch this space for the inevitable meltdown!

Ralph Bakshi’s Coonskin

Like Bob Clampett’s masterpiece “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs,” and Disney’s sadly buried Song of the South, Coonskin is one of the more infamous animated films. Like those films, it is sort of unofficially “banned;” it’s not available on an official DVD, but you can get a VHS copy burned to DVD if you look around. It’s also on Google video and youtube in its entirety.

Scatman sings over the main titles

Ralph Bakshi has always been controversial, most famous for Fritz the Cat, and most infamous for the godawful Cool World. I feel bad for Ralph because you can see what he’s trying to do sometimes, but he doesn’t always have the talent and/or money to achieve it. There’s a saying that art fails when concept outstrips performance, and his career is unfortunately living proof. Some of his projects, like Heavy Traffic or Wizards, work pretty well on their own. Coonskin has a lot of weak spots, but it’s pretty unique in its daring, at least until Spike Lee made Bamboozled. It also has a pretty solid cast and some great social commentary, and some of Bakshi’s better animation work.

Even the prison walls be white!

We start out with a revivalist preacher giving a sermon, which goes on for way too long and makes little sense, then we cut to a scene outside a prison wall where Old Man Bone (Scatman Crothers, the best part of the movie) and Randy (holy shit, it’s Philip Michael Thomas!) are waiting for the getaway car, driven by Preacherman and Sampson (a perfectly cast Barry White). To pass the time, Bone tells him the story of Brother Rabbit, Brother Bear and Brother Fox as they carve out a criminal empire in Harlem.

Rabbit, Fox and Bear.

That’s where we switch to animation, often on top of real backgrounds. Barry White then voices Brother Bear, Randy becomes Br’er Rabbit, and Scatman plays Pappa, a street guy who narrates and raps at the audience during the many interludes. Roger Ebert didn’t think it was exploitation, but I’m not sure. It’s arty for sure, but Bakshi always knows how to use sex and violence to make the medicine go down.

Oh yeah, I did shoot the deputy. My bad.

The story doesn’t resemble the Uncle Remus tales much, since they’re all partners here. Later on it the story, Rabbit does use the “don’t throw me in the briar patch” trick to escape once. The fellas are running a cathouse in the South when the sheriff comes to take his cut. They give him a freebie with one of the girls, but it turns out to be his own daughter! So they have to shoot him and go on the lam, heading up to Harlem.

The Sopranos season 12

Up there things are run by the Mafia, run by the Godfather of course, who looks like a wrinkled fat vampire covered with moles. They also have to deal with Simple Savior, a fat black preacher who’s running his own scam on the neighborhood. There’s not much of a plot really, and the movie is boring when it tries to adhere to the flimsy one it has. The best parts are the biting satire and comedy on race relations, from a nasty cop who gets dumped in blackface in Harlem and shot by other cops, or black caricatures trying to get it on with Miss America, or a Jemima-like Mammy chasing a pancake and shooting it.

Mammy Two Shoes is done takin’ shit.

There’s a bit of crossover with Bakshi’s earlier film Heavy Traffic, about a young animator living at home with his small-time mobster father and Jewish mother, escaping with his black girlfriend Carole. (His drawing a cartoon set to Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” was the movie’s high point for me). The mafia spoof is similar here, but more vicious, with the Godfather’s gay son trying to prove himself being a running joke. The best parts resemble Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song.

No, you don’t get a piece of this pie, either.

My favorite parts are with Scatman Crothers; he gets some of the better social commentary and has the benefit of being a decent actor. He also sings scat and for a few sequences, including one in the next clip that was used in Ice-T’s

Scatman Crothers gives a little rap.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of tedious, dated stuff that was meant to make white audiences uncomfortable, like the sequence where a white couple tries to explain how they “understand” the plight of the ghetto and so on, in a Phil Ochs “Love Me I’m a Liberal” sort of way.

We understand your plight, we watch Fresh Prince!

So while some scenes make it feel like a relic, for its time it was shocking and poignant. I give Ralph Bakshi a lot of crap, but he reaches for the stars, so I shouldn’t be so hard on him when he falls extremely short sometimes. The independent animator is at the whim of the producer, and we all know what horrible taste the money men have a lot of the time. Coonskin can be tedious at times, but it’s one of the most biting racial satires put to film, along with Bamboozled, Blazing Saddles, and Watermelon Man. It’s worth hunting down if you like strange films, blaxploitation, or animation beyond the Disney variety.

Black History Month: Big Bald Black Men Whom I Admire

Let’s face it, there’s just something about big bald black actors. There are roles only they can play, shoes only they can fit. Can you imagine Marsellus Wallace being played by a big bald white guy, like Stone Cold Steve Austin, or Jason Statham, or even Vin Diesel? (Though apparently Vin is biracial, there’s some oil in the diesel). It would not work. Pulp Fiction would be doomed to failure. Forrest Gump would somehow be worthy of beating it for Best Picture, which is crazy talk.

So in honor of Black History Month, which ends in a few days- we gave them the shortest day of the year, that was mighty white of us- in no particular order, here is my completely opinionated list of My Favorite Big Black Bald Guys and how they have influenced my life, and yours.

Keith David is one of the most underutilized actors working today. You probably know him best as the Dad from There’s Something About Mary, with the immortal lines, “How’d you get the beans above the frank!?” But he wasn’t bald in that! For me, he will always be Childs from John Carpenter’s The Thing, with his cleanly shaven skull and ferocious smile. When he hacks down the steel door with a fireman’s axe, he looks like he could kick the Thing’s ass all by himself. And eat it.

If you forgot The Thing, here’s the whole movie in 6 minutes.
On the internet, he’s probably more well-loved for his role in another Carpenter film, They Live. You know, the one with the sunglasses, and the aliens, and Rowdy Roddy Piper… and one of the longest fight scenes in film. Probably to appease the wrestling fans who can to see their hero sans kilt, Mr. David and Roddy ad-libbed their fight scene for several hours, all of which are in the rare director’s cut of the film, which I sold on ebay to make my enormous fortune. Let’s view it here, in the shorter theatrical cut, which only lasts 36 minutes.

Just wear the damn glasses, Keith.

The other thing Keith David has going for him is a great voice. He narrates documentaries and commercials, and may be fondly remembered by people nerdier than I as a voice from the cartoon “Gargoyles.” He narrated Ken Burns’ documentary on Jazz, but wasn’t in the IMDb for it, so I just submitted it. You’re welcome, Mr. David! I’d be floored if you sent me an email or a signed photo.

To end his entry on a disturbing note, if you saw the soul-crushing Requiem for a Dream, he plays Big Tim, the pimp who tells Jennifer Connelly, “I know it’s pretty baby, but I didn’t take it out for air.” Chilling words you never want to hear his basso voice whisper from across a dark prison cell. On the other hand, how’d he let this photo be taken?

Irving Rhames. It takes a real bad-ass to be called “Ving” and not have anyone ask “what the hell is a Ving?” for 13 years until I finally saw it was short for Irving. Names definitely factor into the person we become, and I’m sure Mr. Rhames’ badassery is due in part to growing up in Harlem with the name Irving. I was even more shocked when his IMDb bio said that SUNY roommate Stanley Tucci gave him the nickname. Well, that sort of makes sense, since we Italian-Americans like to shorten nicknames down to one syllable, if not one letter. Thus the progression of being called, Anthony! Tony! Tone! T! Ving’s lucky he’s not Irv or V.
Everyone remembers his performance in Pulp Fiction, which is iconic and unforgettable, and endlessly over-quotable. I’m not going to make you relive his rape scene set to “Yakety Sax,” though that would be extremely funny. That song makes anything funny. Someone has set it to “My Sharona,” however.
I liked him a lot in Bringing Out the Dead, the Scorsese movie so few people seem to love. I think it’s a fantastic dark comedy, and has some of the best performances its leads have given in years. Nicholas Cage, for example, actually acts. John Goodman and Ving are both great in it, and Aida Turturro is incredible as the cold nurse. Go rent it now.
He was also the best part of the Dawn of the Dead remake, so here he is in all his bad-assery.

Fuck y’all.

#3. Scatman Crothers

Although Benjamin Sherman “Scatman” Crothers is most famous for getting killed by Jack Nicholson in The Shining, he was a badass and a very memorable part of the collective 80’s childhood. Not only was he Jazz in the Transformers, but he was also Hong Kong Phooey, one of the first African-Americans to break the barrier and play an Asian canine. His comforting voice, reading off the long list of the food in the Overlook Hotel from this scene in The Shining, would be perfect to lull yourself off to sleep with. Turkeys, hams, legs of lamb, beans, ice cream… everything a growing boy needs, right Doc?

There are three videos on youtube of Scatman Crothers singing, but they cannot be embedded, so click if you want to hear: Mean Dog Blues, Ain’t She Sweet, or End of the Road. Here he is in Black Belt Jones- The Prequel! kicking some ass in 70’s blaxploitation style.

Bet you’ve never seen him with hair.
Now, in The Shining he played a psychic, a character created by Stephen King. Our next Big Bald Black Dude also had supernatural powers in a Stephen King movie, The Green Mile. We’ll get to Stephen King and black people later, because he likes to write about magical negroes. Now before you get all up in my ass, Spike Lee created that term and I am quoting the diminutive director, whose movies I love and admire. Especially Bamboozled.

Mr. Duncan, whom I’ve accidentally called Michael Darke Cluncan, is one of my favorite tough guy actors. Who else could play a hulking behemoth with a gold ball for an eye, or make America smile by beating the crap out of Ben Affleck? No one, that’s who. I’m glad he’s popular enough now that people don’t mistake him for Ving Rhames, because Google Image Search sure is racist.

Back to Stephen King. As much as I enjoy his books, have you noticed that he’s not all that great at writing black characters? If you slogged through the Dark Tower series and met Detta Walker, it’s about as comfortable as sitting through those clips from Bamboozled I posted a few lines up. I have a theory, and let me put it forth to you.

Stephen King has never met a black person. In Maine, they are considered mythical creatures, like unicorns. He’s only seen them in books and perhaps on “What’s Happening?” and thought Rerun was leprechaun. That’s the only explanation for why they always have the “shining,” or the “whatever the things flying out his mouth in The Green Mile were.” Now you may say bring up the excellent movie The Shawshank Redemption, but I credit Morgan Freeman for reading the script (he was Easy Reader on Electric Company after all) and saying “What’s this shit about me having a unicorn’s horn?” Trust me, it’s on IMDb in the trivia section. Or will be soon.

Here’s Michael Clarke Duncan with my cousin, Lou Taylor Pucci. They met at the premiere of Lou’s first film. Thankfully now Lou has developed secondary sexual characteristics, and doesn’t look like a blonde Javier Badem from No Country for Old Men. If you follow the link to his website, you’ll see proof that he can grow a beard. I bet some of The Dunc’s manliness rubbed off on him.

Another one of the better actors of our time who doesn’t get enough work. Get Shorty, The Cider House Rules, Clockers, Domino. These are just a few. He can play the heavy or go subtle. He was also in one of my favorite trashy 80’s movies, The Blood of Heroes. I’ll review that for one of my 80’s Trash of the Week posts, just you wait. Mr. Lindo was in one of Congo’s funnier scenes, he’s the Captain who won’t let Tim Curry eat the sesame cake. Because there are no good scenes of him in Get Shorty up on the ‘tube, I’ll let you laugh at how bad Congo is. This is the Michael Crichton movie about ancient killer gorillas. The book was hilariously dated the day it came out, about blue diamonds used to make 128k microchips with humongous storage. The movie is not much better.


Wait, you’re saying. What about Samuel L. Jackson? Now I love Sam as much as the next guy and I know he’s bald underneath that Kangol hat, but his best roles have all included hair. Mace Windu? He got killed by emo brat Hayden Christiansen! Shaft? There’s only one Shaft, and I’m sorry, he doesn’t have the triforked beard of Poseidon. Richard Roundtree is the only Shaft in my book. He’s a badass and always will be, but like Laurence Fishburne, he looks much better with a head of hair or a hat on his head.

One more Honorable Mention:

#5a. Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr. aka Deebo

Also known as the President from The Fifth Element, Tiny Lister has presence and certainly deserves better than the small roles he’s been landing lately. Who can forget Deebo from the Friday movies, on his little bike? I thought he did a damn fine job as President Lindberg, too. Maybe someday he’ll be as legendary as the others, but until then, honorable mentions to you, Tommy!