Missouri Breakage! Classic Brando/Nicholson

DATELINE: Them’s the Breaks, Pardner


Mother Hubbard aside? Smile when you say that! 

Return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear when Marlon Brando teamed up with and up against Jack Nicholson to make a Western. It’s called deceptively The Missouri Breaks.

It was 1976, and both Godfather and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were history.

What’s left is the new frontier of two highly-charged actors going head-to-head.  However, like most of these superstar confrontations, the actual meetings are limited to some off-beat actors’ studio hambone. Brando actually has a small role and does not appear during the first half-hour.

Nicholson plays a horse thief whose gang falls under the observation of a “regulator.” It’s Brando in a dress and looking less zaftig than usual.

We may see parallels to The Left-Handed Gun in that adolescent world of cowboys because Arthur Penn is on board to direct the strange antics.

If there is a surprise, it is that Brando looks much younger than you’d expect, and Nicholson looks somewhat older.

You should expect the usual Brando laundry list: he has an inexplicable Irish brogue and other quirks that characters disdain (lilac cologne? walking under ladders?).  It is doubtful they could have switched roles like Burton and O’Toole in Becket. When Brando inexplicably wears a Mother Hubbard dress, you figure Nicholson surrendered the prize.

There is some wry humor interspersed and some outlandish details to take the Western into the Far Country. In case you are wondering, the Breaks in the river Missouri can be found in Montana.

We cannot imagine that Brando and Nicholson rehearsed any of this stuff, probably trying to shock the other’s performance. Already Brando is self-limiting, but there is no later laziness in his performance. He is up against the high-stakes gunslinging Jack Nicholson. And, perhaps, he saw this as High Noonfor the age.

Since this movie cannot be enjoyed on any conventional Western level, you take it as a psychedelic trip down memory lane. Don’t even think about the symbolism of Jack pulling a gun on Brando as he sits in his bubble bath.

With so many desperadoes (Harry Dean Stanton, Randy Quaid), you can count the deserving bad ends for western villains. It’s a romp.

Mike Napoli Oversleeps During 2014


Jack & the Sleep Apnea Knife

With the miserable Red Sox season over, the other Sox shoe drops daily. Now we know why Mike Napoli looked like a somnambulist during the past season. He needs more beauty sleep. To be successful at beauty, he needs about the same amount as you can fit into a century.

We decided to pick up one of the Sox slippers of the team’s evening men’s wear and learned it was the wrong size. To our surprise, the other shoe-sock belongs to Mike Napoli.

We have discovered why he was unable to lead the Sox to a repeat of the World Series this 2014 season. He has just had surgery to try to rectify his nightmarish problem.

Yes, Mike Napoli needs more naps. Naps for Napoli will be our clarion call for Mike next year.

It appears that our stalwart first-baseman has problems with Mr. Sandman. No, not some pitcher for the KC Royals, but Napoli suffers from sleep apnea, which is nothing to sneeze at, nor snore at either.

We aren’t sure what surgery corrects sleep apnea. It probably has something to do with a deviated septum. Being cowardly as a nature, we would opt for one of those mouthpieces that fit snugly over the teeth to depress the lower jaw.

Perhaps all those nose hairs are clogging up his air passages. Aren’t those strips you place over the nose cartilage enough to open the snort hole and allow sufficient oxygen into the lungs?

Surgery seems so drastic, but if it means fewer naps and more REM moments in the sack for the first sacker, we support undergoing the knife.

As we recall, Jack Nicholson had a nose condition in Chinatown and underwent the knife. We wish Mike Napoli well and hope he dreams a little dream of comeback.

Now Serving: McDonald’s Screws the Customer Again


 Easy, Jack

Never did we think we would become Jack Nicholson’s character from Five Easy Pieces.

We made a weekly visit to McDonald’s on Sunday for a McMuffin sandwich. We can’t recall if their motto is “Have It Their Way,” or “You Get What You Deserve.” In either case, we had our Jack Nicholson moment.

In case you forgot the movie scene, he’s the refresher. He goes into a restaurant where the waitress tells him he cannot have it his way. You can only get your toasted sandwich a certain way.

Well, McDonald’s just pulled that gag with me. Yes, the one in Winchendon, Massachusetts, gives out a “Breakfast Club” card—another movie reference for a movie critic.

You are supposed to get a free sandwich with every sixth sandwich. They punch the card for each sandwich—or so we thought. We had a surprise when we went to save the $3 for a second sandwich. It seems they changed the rules in midstream.

You get one punch on your ticket even if you buy ten sandwiches. So, It would behoove customers to drive through drive-thru one time for each breakfast sandwich.

The best part of the insult is to have the ersatz manager tell us that we should try reading the card before using it. So much for the regular customer always being right. A friend told us that, if you go to McDonald’s for breakfast, you get what you deserve.

This is after six months in which they blithely punched one hole for every sandwich on every visit. Apparently they changed the dead horse meat in midstream.

We told them to keep their card and punch themselves.

So, if you want a breakfast sandwich, we recommend going to Drunken Dognuts down the street.

Nuclear Waste and A Safe Place


Don't Believe It!


You know you are slipping in the movie business when they slipped one past you.

This week we learned that Jack Nicholson, Orson Welles, and Tuesday Weld once appeared together in a real movie, not a roast, not an awards show, not as summer stock actors. It’s called A Safe Place, and we urge you to find one and not watch this drivel, but we loved the songs used in the score.

Yes, director Henry Jaglom actually convinced these three stars to make a movie with him in 1971. If you never heard of A Safe Place, it’s because this movie has been kept in one—a vault buried beneath underground nuclear blast sites in Nevada.

We generally won’t review terrible movies because it is too depressing for our butcher knife to slice and dice like Freddy Kruger.

If you ever have the misfortune to see this movie, please let us know what it is about. We love conundrums and allegories, but we also like logic and common sense. If Sherlock Holmes ever saw this movie, he would howl unlike the dog in the night.

No, we haven’t a clue. Apparently Tuesday Weld is a time traveler caught up with her father magician (Welles) and her first husband (Nicholson), but no one can remember what’s happened to them.

Welles repeatedly does bad magic tricks and says the word, “Remember,” to the camera. He used to sell wine more convincingly on TV commercials.

Jaglom still makes movies, but this film put an end to the acting career of Phil Proctor. He stuck to voiceover work for the most part ever after being introduced here. Yes, seeing is believing. Believe us.

Shine on, Stanley Kubrick



Joe Turkel as the best dead bartender from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon

Though the book by Stephen King was a ghost tale with a few twists, the Stanley Hotel that inspired King became a mere backdrop to the other Stanley.

Kubrick took Tommy Knockers to a new level.

Some dismissed the original film in 1980 as Jack Nicholson on PEDs. It was hypnotic, as are all Kubrick movies, and drew audiences back when VHS and later DVD allowed fans to view and re-view the dark proceedings.

The result is a stunning picture that has audiences laughing out loud at the squeamish scenes—and discovering bizarre details with each subsequent viewing. From the maze to the ominous décor of Native American artifacts to the blood flood out of the elevator shaft, every detail in the film adds to the final effect.

Performances are brilliant, with Kubrick holding his actors in frieze and tableaux as is his wont. The awestruck expressions of Scatman Crothers and Shelley Duvall are priceless, but Nicholson goes into the stratosphere of the movie that made him a living parody of himself.

Whether snidely talking to his wife, smugly chatting with the dead hotel staff, or scaring the bejesus out of his son with his “father knows best” demeanor, Nicholson is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

We came back to the movie again, after six or seven previous viewings, after the documentary Room 237 whet our appetite for another stay at the grand hotel.

We don’t need to see fake Moon landing theories, nor Holocaust references, to tell you Kubrick gives us a resonant movie, complete in its effects—from lugubrious music to startling photography and growing menace.

The Shining leaves the smell of burnt toast—and we never heard a better description of ghostly emanations made by Scatman Crothers in a seminal scene. Every time you smell burnt toast you will look over your shoulder after seeing this movie.

Movie fans will enjoy reading Ossurworld’s views in MOVIE MASHUP and its companion book MOVIES TO SEE –OR NOT TO SEE. Both books are available in ebook and softcover at Amazon.com.