26 February 2015

Homage

by Eve Fisher

DaVinci
the original
Mona Lisa
What's the difference between an "homage" and a shortage of ideas?  Talent.   Or gall, you take your pick.  For example, Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world, has been done a few different ways:
Marcel Duchamp's
L.H.O.O.Q      
The Mona Gorilla
Rick Meyerowitz's
National Lampoon
illustration
"Mona Gorilla"
The other night, my husband and I were watching Wim Wenders' Hammett. And I first want to give a quick shout out to Elisha Cook, Jr., who played Wilmer in the original Maltese Falcon and the taxi-cab driver in Hammett.  And, favorite movie quote:
"What's your town like, anyway?  Free and easy?"
"Yeah.  More so than most."
"Who runs things?"
"Same people who run things everywhere.  The cops, the crooks, and the big rich."
(Indeed, once you grasp that, everything makes sense.)  

The next night, they were showing Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective on TCM, which is one of my favorite movie homages/parodies of all time.  Favorite movie quote:
"Oh, no, no. No, it's, uh, my mistake here, uh. For a second here I thought that this young lady was a girl that I knew in France; I was wrong; the girl I know is dead."
"Oh, a natural error, monsieur. My wife has been mistaken for dead girls by many men."
(There's a tag line ANY noir femme fatale would be proud to have - heads up, Velma!)

Now these are two of the many variations that have been done on Dashiell Hammett/Humphrey Bogart/Sam Spade.  (Yes, I know that Hammett wasn't Bogart wasn't Spade, but on the other hand, in the mash-up that is the cultural mind, they are, and we all know it.)  With these two movies, what you get is the German Expressionist v. New York neurotic view of the H/B/S world.  One is all camera angles and moody lighting, and a constant barrage of quotes from Hammett novels.  (I would have played the drinking game every time I recognized one, but I would have passed out long before the end of the movie.) The other is a barrage of jokes, based on twisted quotes and scenes from Bogart movies and Hammett novels.  They're both good.  They're both worth seeing.

I love homages.  The instant list of my homage favorites:

   
Horror was never the same again.  Favorite quote:
     Dr. F: "You know, I'm a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump."
     Igor (played by the late, great Marty Feldman):   "What hump?"


The answer to every other "normal" sports movie.
Favorite quote:  "I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance."


So good it practically counts as a Cliff Notes of Russian literature and Ingmar Bergman.  I have the whole movie pretty much memorized.  One of my favorite scenes:
       Music teacher:  So who is to say what is moral?
       Sonja (played by Diane Keaton):  Morality is subjective.
       Music teacher:  Subjectivity is objective.
       Sonja:  Moral notions imply attributes to substances which exist only in relational duality.
       Music teacher: Not as an essential extension of ontological existence.
       Sonja: Can we not talk about sex so much?


Where the West bites the dust.
Hands down best line (written by Richard Pryor):  "Mongo only pawn in game of life."

And then there's almost anything by the 5th Baron Haden-Guest:

   

And there's a whole RAFT of movies that are about nothing but making movies in Hollywood:

  

By the way, am I the only one who's noticed that every generation, there's a new version of "A Star is Born"?  Do we really need that?  Even when its B&W and silent?

A Star Is Born 1937 poster.jpg A Star Is Born.jpg AStarisBorn1976.jpg The-Artist-poster.png

And, in the world of mysteries, besides Hammett and The Cheap Detective:

My favorite Clouseau,
for the nudist camp scene alone
Murder by death movie poster.jpg                        

So, what's your list?

7 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

A great list and some of my favorites. Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles had so many great quotes… some of them marginally printable. Perhaps the best line in Young Frankenstein wasn't spoken at all, but was Madeline Kahn's… well… inarticulate expression.

Thinking of Gene Wilder and his friends reminded me of another great: The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother.

Dixon Hill said...

I'm glad to see Murder by Death made the cut with you too. Talk about a stellar cast! Between David Niven, Peter Falk, Peter Sellers -- even Truman Capote! -- et al. I can't stop laughing when I watch it. Incidentally, I understand the screaming doorbell was an un-credited sound recording of Fay Wray, though I don't know whether that's really true.

charlotte w said...

I can think of movies that shouldn't've been remade-- fame, footloose, and the women.

Paul D. Marks said...

A great homage to homage, Eve. And a lot of movies I haven't seen in a while, but now you've sparked renewed interest.

Velma DiVine said...

Oh, Eve! Two mentions in two days! Join this gal at the speakeasy for a celebration? It's a bit smoky, but so's my voice.

Jeff Baker said...

I loved "Murder By Death!" And I hadn't thought of "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" in years!

saber tooth owl said...

A great collection, and I couldn't improve it. The Cheap Detective is a true masterpiece that I'm surprised isn't better known.

Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles are truly spectacular, and you can tell that the writers truly loved the genres they were lampooning. However, Gene Hackman's tour de force performance as the blind hermit has made it difficult for me to enjoy the original films anymore. I just can't keep a straight face, and keep thinking about Hackman's sophisticated, "bordering on gay" treatment of the character. Superb!