Daily Archives: November 27, 2010

Madre1

 

Why am I not in love with this film?

Whenever critics compile their lists of great movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age, John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is among the honored.  Yet to me, the film seems to be … missing something.  This, well, “deficiency” prevents Huston’s adventure tale from being as emotionally satisfying as other classics from the 1930s-1940s.

The movie certainly has an impressive pedigree.  Some people think it’s Huston’s best work, and this is the same writer-director who gave us The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, and The African Queen.  You can find critics who believe the late, great Humphrey Bogart delivered his best performance in this film.  When I asked my own father to name his favorite movie, he cited this one.  So why don’t I like it more?  Again, something … isn’t there.

For the uninitiated, Treasure tells the story of three down-on-their-luck American expatriates in 1920s Mexico. They team up to prospect for gold, and during their pursuit must battle bandits, the elements, and their own self-interests.  There is lots of action, and everyone who sees the film agrees that Bogart and especially Walter Huston (John’s Oscar-rewarded father) are superb.

Huston’s script has the universal themes of greed, loyalty, and honor that one might expect from a classic.  The movie was mostly shot on location in Mexico, a rarity in 1947, which adds immeasurably to its authenticity.

So once again, why on earth am I so unmoved by this beloved movie?  Two reasons, I think:  Despite the bravura performances by Bogart and Huston, their characters aren’t particularly likable.  I didn’t care if any of them got rich.

And I finally figured out what was missing from the film:  women.      Grade:  B

 

Madre2

 

Director:  John Huston  Cast:  Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya, Robert Blake  Release:  1948

 

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Madre6    Madre7

  

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by Jane Austen

Sense

 

There are two ways to read a Jane Austen novel:  with modern-day sensibilities, or by just going with the flow.  I recommend option number two.  Austen is such a witty writer that it’s easy to forget you are essentially devouring soap opera, and are getting caught up in the feelings, intrigues, and status of characters who are, after all,  a bunch of privileged snobs. 

The men in Austen books never seem to actually work and often fall prey to the sins of “idleness.”  The women are no better, wasting their time on gossip and self-pity.  Meanwhile, their servants and other lower-class citizens are barely worth a mention.  However … if you do go with the flow and can bring yourself to identify with Austen’s pampered people, it’s a rewarding experience.  Also, it’s not often I can claim that a book published in 1811 made me literally laugh out loud – but this one did.

 

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1

 

—–Original Message—–

Sent: Friday, November 26, 2010 5:31 AM

To: guest.relations@target.com

Subject: Westinghouse 42″ TV on Black Friday Ad

Congratulations. I can’t imagine a better, more efficient way of alienating customers and generating bad word-of-mouth than the way your store just treated me on “Black Friday.” You lure people in for a Westinghouse high-definition TV for $298, let us stand in line in 10-degree weather for an hour, then open the doors at 4 a.m. and … at 4:05 inform us that the TV is sold out. This should be criminal. Not only will I never set foot in a Target again, I will do my damndest to tell everyone I know about this horrendous experience.

                                      

From: guest.relations@target.com

Sent: Friday, November 26, 2010 9:31 PM

Subject: RE: Westinghouse 42″ TV on Black Friday Ad

Dear Sir,

I’m sorry the advertised Westinghouse inch TV wasn’t available for you to buy at your Target store and I apologize for your disappointing experience on Black Friday.

We work hard to make sure you find the things you’re looking for at Target. A number of factors may impact the availability of our merchandise and sometimes sales of a particular item may exceed our expectations, even when our buyers do their best to anticipate guest interest. Whenever quantities of certain advertised items are limited we’ll let you know this right in the circular.

I understand that you’d still like to purchase this item, the TV description also had a statement “quantities limited; no rain checks.”  While I can understand how frustrating this was for you, we’re unable to offer you further resolution.

Your comments are very important us, and I’ll be sure to share them with our buyers.

Thanks for writing. Hearing about your experience helps us make Target even better.

 

Sincerely,


Garry

Target Guest Relations

                  

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Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 5:48 AM

To: guest.relations@target.com

Subject: Westinghouse 42″ TV on Black Friday Ad

And I’ll do my best to forever boycott your store, and encourage everyone I know to do the same. What you wrote is a crock, and we both know it. You were fully aware you didn’t have enough of the item in stock. You do, however, an excellent job in customer alienation, and in creating lifelong enemies.


Happy holidays!

 

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*****


I stopped reading the “funny pages” in 1995, mostly because they weren’t in the least bit funny, but also because that’s when Gary Larson retired his brilliant strip, The Far Side.  But recently I discovered a guy named Tony Carrillo whose offbeat strip, F Minus, reminds me a lot of Larson.  Incredibly, against all odds, the thing is actually pretty damn amusing.  Most of the time.

 

F Minus

 

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