Friday, June 21, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Writer's Block

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 struggle to come up with the words, but the wines come easily. Pairings for these three films about writers will flow from my brain right into the keyboard. At least I hope they will. Can someone please tell those kids in the courtyard to shut up? I'm trying to think here. 

Youngblood Hawke, from 1964, had a cast which included James Franciscus, Suzanne Pleshette, Eva Gabor, Edward Andrews, Hayden Rourke and Werner Klemperer. With names like that, a few years later it could have been a TV series. The film was directed, written and produced by Delmer Daves, who had been busy making, among other things, Troy Donahue movies. Hey, it was a living. 

The lead role was first offered to an almost unknown Warren Beatty. But Beatty demanded 200 grand and approval of script and cast. Who did he think he was, Troy Donahue? Daves must have already had Franciscus' phone number on speed dial. 

The movie was loosely based on the life of Thomas Wolfe, who rose from the murky depths of a backward southern state to write good. Real good. This is the "Look Homeward, Angel" Thomas Wolfe we're talking about here, not the "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" Tom Wolfe, although he could write good, too. 

Wolfe was only 37 when tuberculosis claimed him in Baltimore, which puts him in some rarified company. Also running out of years in Charm City were Edgar Allan Poe, Representative Elijah Cummings, Brooks Robinson and John Wilkes Booth. Why did I run down this morbid rabbit hole? I'll blame it on writer's block.

Hawkes Wines come from Sonoma County, the Alexander Valley specifically. The Hawkes family was there when prunes were the county's cash crop. They transitioned to grapes and now sell their Pyramid Cabernet Sauvignon for just under a Benjamin. Can't do that with prunes.

1945's The Lost Weekend is about an alcoholic writer. Some might say I'm repeating myself there, or even saying the same thing twice, but if it helps pad the word count I'm all in. One of the movie review sites, one which is not TFH, gives The Lost Weekend a 97% approval rating. You have to wonder what it takes to get that other three percent going. Talk about a tough audience. When they die, they'll be saying, "Yeah, Heaven's alright … I guess."

This film is anything but a slice of heaven. Ray Milland is the drunk writer, the kind of boozer who hides bottles all over the place. He hocks things to afford more bottles, he steals to cover his bar tab. And he ends up in the drunk ward of a hospital, which I suppose is better than the drunk tank at the county jail. But not by much. Jane Wyman plays the girlfriend who deserves so much more. 

It is always difficult to pair a wine with a movie that truly needs a lemonade. But here goes. From Beauregard Vineyards comes, wait for it, Lost Weekend Zinfandel. Have they seen the movie? Have they read the alcohol disclaimer on their own website? Oh, wait, it says here the wine is named after the Lost Weekend Saloon, their registered historic landmark tasting room. I guess that makes it all better. The Zin grapes were planted nearly 150 years ago in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the bottle costs $30. Don't pawn anything important to buy it.

Paris When It Sizzles takes us back to 1964 with William Holden and Audrey Hepburn in Gay Paree. He is the writer who can't, she is the secretary who can. Will they be able to write a script before Bastille Day arrives? Will they find inspiration in each other's eyes before Beaujolais Nouveau day arrives? Will they actually care what brand of Beaujolais Nouveau they are drinking? Some of these questions are answered in the film, so pay attention. 

It's not a recommendation, but I would be hard pressed not to mention Paris Winery, of Cookeville, Tennessee. Some of their wine bottles are in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. How good is the juice inside, I don't know, but the damned bottles look like they're about a yard tall. 

We should note here that Robert Mitchum has a direct link to the wine world through a song he released as a single in 1967, "Little Old Wine Drinker Me." It’s about a guy who tries to drink away his woman troubles, something that happens in this film. 

Did I lose my train of thought? What was I doing here? Oh, right, a wine pairing for Paris When It Sizzles. This writer's block thing is real, I tell ya. Anyway, it's been awhile since we highlighted a Champagne in this space, so let's do it. It's a Champagne house that is just about an hour away from Paris (France, that is) sizzling or not. Veuve Clicquot is the bubbly, and you can have it for as little as $40 if you’re on a budget. 

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