Friday, October 14, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - The Peerless Otto

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, we examine a few flicks from the peerless Otto Preminger, with a wine pairing for each.

I should apologize for the title of the column this week. The Peerless Otto seems to be a bit of wordplay on the "Peerless auto," a British car company that went belly up after only a few years of production. The great director, who is the subject of our snark, was successful for quite a bit longer. 

Otto Preminger was one of a handful of celebrities who achieved the rarified air of being included in my impersonation repertoire as a kid. It wasn't very good, but it delighted the friends of my parents in southeast Texas, who sometimes commented that Jimmy and Mary's son "didn't have hardly no ayukcent at awul!"

The 1971 comedy-drama Such Good Friends is one of those movies we look back on as a touchstone for a decade. At least I do. It had that wonderful feel of being either funny about serious stuff or serious about funny stuff - it was hard to tell which. A lot of folks had trouble with that and panned the movie at the time of its release because of it. Some of them still feel that way and refuse to watch it when it comes on late-night TV. 

A woman finds that her husband - who is in a coma - was screwing all her so-called friends for years. See what I mean? Laugh or cry? With friends like that, who needs enemies? The sarcasm of the film's title is impossible to miss, unless you, too, are comatose.

George Wine Company has a label called Sonoma Coma, so let's not get cute by trying to do better than that. It's a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley which appears to sell for about $60. I don't know what it tastes like, so make sure you really want that label in your home before you plunk down for a case.

Anatomy of a Murder is a 1959 courtroom drama, and it's considered one of the best of its kind. The cast includes Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden and George C. Scott. Oh, and Duke Ellington appears briefly - taking a break, no doubt, from his work in creating the score for the film. 

The story was "ripped from the headlines," as it was based on a real-life murder trial in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where the movie was shot. A local lawyer beats a murder charge against his client with a twist on the insanity plea, but there are plenty more twists as the trial unfolds. The film got a bad mark from the Catholic League of Decency - or whatever they call themselves - for its frank handling of the subject of rape. Preminger did not shy away from the tough topics.

There was a murder case a while back in New Jersey in which a woman killed her wife with a wine chiller - an aluminum cylinder used to quickly cool a bottle of wine. I know, at first I, too had an image of someone crashing a wine refrigerator down on someone else's head. Now that scene lives rent-free in my head, like a bad song that popped up on SiriusXM and just won't go away.

Where was I? Oh, the wine pairing. We need a killer wine for Anatomy. Come and gitcha red hots, right here. Killer Merlot comes from Mendocino by way of Brutocao Vineyards. If it needs it, I'll be chilling mine in the fridge, thank you. 

Now, let's take a walk down a dark street - far enough down that you find the place Where the Sidewalk Ends.  This 1950 noir has nothing to do with Shel Silverstein's later poetry collection under the same title.  No, this story is not suitable for the youngsters in the crowd.  You won't find "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout" lurking in these frames.  Preminger directed Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in this violent cops-n-criminals yarn.  

Andrews is a cop who hates criminals so much he actually scares the other cops.  That takes some doing.  He is the sort of cop that other cops call "badge heavy." Wouldn't it be something if he ended up being the one wearing the handcuffs?  The story starts with a gangster's gambling game and runs through murder, misdirection and mayhem.  It's hard to tell the good guys from the bad without a scorecard.  Hey, it's film noir - put your money on "bad."

Footpath Winery uses organic grapes from the Temecula Valley to create some pretty nice Cab Franc, Barbera and Malbec.  Try one of those for your sidewalk-less viewing party.

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