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Tag Archives: Curtis Hanson

The Silent Partner

Image Credit: The Silent Partner, 1978

If you’re burned out by the sentimentality and commercialization of Christmas, have I got a movie for you. The Silent Partner (Disc/Download) is an unexpected holiday find, though a fantastic one. Nothing like a little Santa bank heist to put me in the yuletide spirit!

With a screenplay by Curtis Hanson, I knew I was in for a twisty, suspenseful good time. What I didn’t expect was how dark this movie would ultimately turn out to be, like a mashup between Hitchcock and Argento. Elliott Gould plays a bank teller with a dead-end love life who stumbles onto a mall Santa’s plot to rob his local branch. In an effort to finance his exotic fish collection (yes, you read that right), he starts secretly stashing money from the bank’s till before the impending robbery occurs. When the crime actually happens, St. Nick (Christopher Plummer) walks off with a little bit of money, while Gould ends up with the real fortune. However, this mild-mannered everyman didn’t bet on Santa being a twisted sadist who will stop at nothing to get his rightful share. I won’t spoil all the surprises this movie has to offer, but let’s just say Capt. Von Trapp looks great in panty hose.

Although The Silent Partner is an extremely suspenseful movie, rest assured there are a lot of fun, campy moments too. Boobs abound in this 1970s bra-free wonderland, under everything from cheeky t-shirts (my favorite: “Penalty For Early Withdrawal”), to slinky cocktail dresses. Elliott Gould’s character is perpetually horny, but I really can’t blame him. These bankers like to party, and things get a little loose. This holiday season, let’s toast a bygone era with this Blowfish cocktail.

Blowfish

2 oz Canadian Whiskey

1 oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Crème de Cassis

½ oz Simple Syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a tumbler with a large ice ball.

I love the Toronto location of this movie because we rarely get to watch a film shot in Canada that’s actually set in Canada. As it turns out, our neighbors to the north have a lot to offer. That list includes (but is not limited to) John Candy, funny Monopoly-looking money, and a really bizarre take on Christmas.  Cheers!

L.A. Confidential

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Image Credit Warner Bros. 1997, L.A. Confidential

 

Gangsters and high-class hookers. 1950’s movie stars. Glamorous fashions. Russell Crowe when he was young and thin. That’s right, I’m talking about L.A. Confidential (DVD/Download). This 1997 film based on a James Ellroy novel and directed by Curtis Hanson is one of my all-time favorites, and an absolutely perfect movie to pair with a cocktail. L.A. Confidential deserves and needs your undivided attention, so put down the iphones and laptops, and make your drink before you press Play because the plot has more twists and turns than a street in the Hollywood Hills.

L.A. Confidential centers on three cops in the LAPD who find their cases intersecting in one riveting vice/homicide mash-up. Guy Pearce plays bookish detective Edmund Exley, Russell Crowe plays the heavy-handed goon/good guy Bud White, and Kevin Spacey is the fun-loving Jack Vincennes who stumbles onto a vice case that was more than he bargained for. I love the way the script weaves back and forth between their cases, until eventually they are knotted together. Kim Basinger turns in a great performance as Lynn Bracken, the hooker dolled up to look like Veronica Lake. I love movies that reference classic cinema, and it’s a lot of fun to see actresses/models cut to look like Lake, Ginger Rogers, and Rita Hayworth. Of course one of the best scenes comes at the hands of Vincennes and Exley interrogating Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato. I laugh every time because it’s one of the rare comedic moments in this pulpy noir film (outside of any scene with Danny DeVito of course).

For my cocktail this week, I’m serving up a drink that would have been fashionable around the time this movie takes place. It was popularized by Raymond Chandler, another noir writer, though I’m making it a little differently than he would have. In The Long Goodbye, he called for simply “half gin and half Rose’s lime juice,” but I like to add a little simple syrup to my gimlet. After all, Bud White is a sweetie at heart!

White Gimlet

2 oz gin

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz simple syrup

Lime wedge for garnish

Mix gin, lime juice, and simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with lime.

White Gimlet

 

Enjoy this drink and pretend you’re Lynn Bracken entertaining either Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce in her glamorous Art Deco bungalow, or perhaps you’d rather be sipping it at the Brown Derby. This film makes me so nostalgic for the glamour of Tinseltown, because even when they’re crawling around looking for dead bodies or roughing up a gangster at an abandoned motel, these cops still call each other by their full names and wear hats. Things were so civilized back then! So enjoy L.A.Confidential as you sip your gimlet, and try not to get so drunk that you end up whispering Rollo Tomasi in your husband’s ear for the millionth time while he tries not to become annoyed with you (not that I’m speaking from experience, *wink*). Cheers!