Friday, May 19, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - The Script's The Thing

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 three films which rest on the masterful scripts that were written for them. We are in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, and whether you carry a sign or post one on social media, we hope you join us in supporting the fine members of the WGA as they strike for the future of writing.

George Axelrod's Paris When it Sizzles is a 1964 remake of a 1952 French film. Axelrod based his screenplay on Holiday for Henrietta. Since one should write what one knows, the Sizzles script centers on a screenwriter. He has been hired to put words on paper, but keeps putting off the job at hand. Writers will relate to the situation. 

William Holden and Audrey Hepburn may not have sizzled in their starring roles, but the movie they are writing in the movie has plenty of references to their previous film work in real life. Paris When it Sizzles fizzled out when it came to the critics. The work of the lead actors gained praise, but some scribes felt that Axelrod should have put a match to his pile of paper.

The pairing of Holden and Hepburn recalled an earlier time when the two had a fling. Holden said he didn’t know which was worse - having to face Hepburn again or having to face his growing problem with alcohol. Both proved to haunt him.

Pairing a wine with Sizzles will most assuredly require a glance at France. We're looking at you, Burgundy, with your elegance on display both in the red and the white. For Holden, a nice Pinot Noir, Vincent Girardin's Cuvée Saint-Vincent. It sells for a reasonable $35. For Hepburn, Louis Moreau Chablis is 100% Chardonnay and smells just like the sea. At $30, a very good deal.

Preston Sturges made 1941 a year to remember with his great Sullivan's Travels. The movie concerns a director who wants to quit making comedies and turn out serious art instead. He travels as a tramp, learning the value of comedy in the process. Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake star in the film, and despite their on-screen chemistry the pair would never work together again. That was reportedly McCrea's choice. Sullivan's Travels is recognized today as a masterpiece of filmmaking. 

Censors must have used up a box of red pencils on this script. They thought the word "bum" would be off-putting to the British. They warned about the scene in which McCrae and Lake's characters share a bed - in a homeless shelter. The prison sequence rankled federal censors, who felt it showed inhumane treatment which could be used as propaganda during wartime. In the end, Paramount no doubt felt they had gotten their money's worth of trouble and talent. They reportedly paid $6,000 for the screenplay.

You have a bargain script - you want a bargain wine, too? If I told you there is a California Cabernet Sauvignon for $5 at your local supermarket, would that be of interest to you? Meridian Cab is actually pretty good, although nobody is going to forget about Opus One because of it.

Michael Tolkin based his screenplay for 1992's The Player on some pretty good source material - his own 1988 novel of the same name. A studio executive kills a writer - the wrong writer, it turns out - and sets in motion a green light project which has red light written all over it. Stars, no stars, happy ending, bummer ending, bad title, bad traffic - this film-within-the-film has everything in Hollywood attached to it.

There are so many famous people making cameo appearances in The Player that you may think you pushed play on It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World by accident. You'll know you didn't make that mistake because Tim Robbins is so very much taller than Terry-Thomas. 

I wanted to get cute with the wine pairing for The Player by selecting a Black Knight Wine from golfer Gary Player. My wife, though, thought I should honor Greta Scacchi - the "happy ending" of the movie - with a beautiful Italian wine. I have found that it is good luck to agree with my wife, and I happen to have a lovely Italian wine right here - the Pio Cesare Barolo. Its brawn doesn't get in the way of its elegance. 

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