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Tag Archives: Richard Dreyfuss

American Graffiti

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American Graffiti

Image credit: American Graffiti, 1973.

If we’re to see anything positive come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, please let it be the return of attractive automobiles. For someone like me, who spends most of her time watching films of the 1950s and ‘60s, it can be a huge letdown to leave the house and see nothing but ugly, insect-like vehicles on the road. Give me fins, bench seats, and rounded, impractical bodies. Give me the sort of adorable European car Audrey Hepburn would drive. Give me the pastel beasts of this week’s Cinema Sips pick, American Graffiti (Disc/Download).

As I explained in a recent Moviejawn article about drive-ins and dating during the time of COVID-19, our cars will be the solution to loneliness. Truly, with only half the U.S. population wearing a mask (on a good day), the only safe place we have outside the house is inside an automobile. One thing that struck me about American Graffiti, George Lucas’s ode to cruisin’ in the 1960s, was that these teens could flirt and have entire relationships without ever leaving their vehicles. Taking place over the span of one night, four teen boys come-of-age to the sounds of Wolfman Jack and the revving of engines. Relationships are broken and mended, futures are decided, and Harrison Ford finally gets his chance to shine under a cowboy hat and devastating smile. But the thing is, this movie only works with gorgeous classic cars. Copping a feel from the front seat of a Toyota Corolla? Yeah right. Luring a girl into your Mercedes sedan for a night of innocent fun? Heated seats or not, I’m still unimpressed.

Completing the film’s early 1960s tableau is the soda shop as gathering place. There are roller-skating waitresses, doo-wop records on the jukebox, and car-loads of teens ordering fried foods. Let’s get this party rolling with a boozy cocktail that goes down smooth. While watching American Graffiti, I recommend drinking this High-Octane Cherry Coke.

High-Octane Cherry Coke

1 oz Bourbon

½ oz Cherry Heering

¼ oz Amaretto

8 oz Coca-Cola

Luxardo cherry (for garnish)

Build drink over ice, stirring to combine. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

High Octane Cherry Coke

It’s heartbreaking to me that George Lucas never made another small film like American Graffiti, preferring instead to devote much of his career to blockbuster special effects extravaganzas. To each their own, but this beautiful work of art is proof that there’s an incredible storyteller under all those light-sabers and Ewok costumes. This movie isn’t just about cars, but about human relationships and the way we can’t help but call out to each other, from behind our moving temples of glass and steel. And if any auto manufacturers happen to stumble across this little blog post, let me take the opportunity to plead my case for a retro-styled hybrid white T-bird. I’m in the market for a new car, and I hear blondes look bitchin’ in them. Cheers!

 

Jaws

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Image credit Jaws, 1975

Image credit Jaws, 1975

Lately it seems like Jaws is EVERYWHERE. Because we just passed the 40th anniversary of its release, this movie is popping up at my local indie cinema, a public swimming pool, and of course cable TV.  I just can’t escape the shark. But with something this good, why would you want to? Jaws (DVD/Download) is the quintessential summer blockbuster. It’s a film that keeps me riveted and entertained from start to finish, and it makes me feel a little better about the fact that I live in Texas (far, far away from open waters). Featuring plenty of drunk fishermen, it’s also a great movie to watch with a cold cocktail.

Jaws is not simply a movie about a killer great white shark. It’s also a psychological thriller where often what you don’t see is a lot scarier than the sight of the actual latex-covered beast. A dark shadow, the tip of a fin, the tug of a raft- TERRIFYING. This could have turned out to be a laughable schlock-fest featuring a clunky mechanical shark, but with Steven Spielberg’s expert direction, and amazing performances by Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, and Roy Scheider (obviously preparing for his later role as Capt. Nathan Bridger on SeaQuest), it’s a shrewd example of how great horror films can be. I must admit, the scene where Richard Dreyfuss swims under a fishing boat to examine the hull and finds a corpse still makes me scream and jump three feet in the air, even though I know what’s coming. Everything after that- shark attacks, bad 70’s eyewear, the chum bucket- is no big deal.

For my drink this week, I’m paying homage not only to the familiar sight of red-tinged water, but also the filming location of the movie. Set in a fictional coastal New England town called Amity Island, Jaws was actually shot on Martha’s Vineyard. I know my favorite beverage when I’m up in that area is the Cape Codder, and how fortunate for me that Deep Eddy Vodka has essentially bottled this drink with their Cranberry Vodka! While watching Jaws, I recommend drinking a Blood in the Water cocktail.

Blood in the Water

1/2 oz. Lime juice

4 oz. club soda

2 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka

Lime Wedge

Fill a tumbler with ice, lime juice, and club soda. Slowly pour the vodka over the back of a spoon into the glass so that it floats toward the top. Finish with lime wedge, and a macabre swizzle stick!

Blood in the Water

I love the scene in Jaws when the three men get drunk aboard the Orca and compare bite wounds. Of course, Quint takes it a little too far with his horrifyingly depressing story about the USS Indiana, but up until then it looks like a fun party. In the words of the salty dog himself, “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women.” Cheers!

The Goodbye Girl

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Image Credit: Warner Bros., 1977, The Goodbye Girl

Image Credit: Warner Bros., 1977, The Goodbye Girl

My Arthur post a few weeks ago got me thinking about another New York movie with a fantastic theme song. Alas it was David Gates, and not Christopher Cross who sang the Goodbye Girl theme, but it’s definitely in the Yacht Rock vein. The Goodbye Girl (DVD/Download) is one of my favorite films, and I’ve seen it so many times I could probably recite it line for line. In fact, it was the first movie I turned to while recovering from eye surgery a few years ago- the snappy dialogue is so brilliant that I didn’t even need to see the screen to enjoy it.

The Goodbye Girl is essentially The Odd Couple with male-female leads instead of two men. Richard Dreyfus plays struggling actor Elliott Garfield, who sublets a New York City apartment from another actor acquaintance. Marsha Mason plays that actor’s recently-dumped girlfriend Paula McFadden, who is shocked to find a soaking wet Elliott at her doorstep with a signed lease. Broke and desperate, she agrees to let him move in even though he’s, as she puts it, “another goddamn actor”. I feel her pain (theatre-folk can be pretty excruciating). Luckily, Richard Dreyfus is incredibly charming, and his performance as a gay Richard III off-off-off Broadway is side-splittingly funny (keep an eye out for Waiting for Guffman’s Paul Benedict as the director!). Paula and Elliott butt heads at first but then of course he wears her down. Paula’s daughter Lucy is played by Quinn Cummings, who was one of the youngest Oscar nominees in history for her performance. My mother always laughs when Paula says of her daughter, “you were never four-and-a-half, you were born 26.” Apparently, so was I.

My drink references one of my favorite scenes (there are so many!) when Elliott and Paula decide to make amends and go dutch on a home-cooked spaghetti dinner.  He stops to buy Chianti, she gets mugged, and in the ensuing chaos spills all of her groceries in the middle of the street.  Of course she blames Elliott, and the Chianti.  While watching The Goodbye Girl, I recommend drinking a New York Sour.

New York Sour

2 oz Bourbon

1 oz simple syrup

1 oz lemon juice

Chianti red wine

Mix together bourbon, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake until chilled, then pour into a rocks-filled tumbler.  Slowly pour chianti over the back of a spoon so it floats on top.

New York Sour

It’s hard to imagine exactly what Elliott sees in Paula- she’s needy, she’s whiny, she’s “animal crackers”, and wants nothing more than to spend his money decorating their apartment (notice I said his money, not hers- Paula seems content to let a man take care of her, as soon as she can hook one). As a feminist narrative it’s a bit lacking, but I can overlook it all for 70’s-era Richard Dreyfus. He’s manic, he’s funny, he’s romantic- yes, Mr. Garfield, you definitely “charis” me. Cheers!