Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: “High Noon” in Space

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Outland”.

A remake is a remake is a remake, except when it is not. Peter Hyams’ “Outland” (1981) is a remake of Fred Zinnemann’s “High Noon” (1952), except it’s not. “High Noon” is set in 19th century Western United States. “Outland” is placed in a futuristic outer space. There are an awful lot of differences but even more similarities.

On Io, the third moon of the planet Jupiter, Con-Amalgamate has a mining colony. Con-Am 27 mines titanium. Sean Connery is the security for the colony. He is a Federal District Marshall. He is just arriving. Gary Cooper is the town marshall. He’s just leaving town.

Both marshalls have wives. Gary Cooper’s Will Kane just married his. She is a Quaker and she hates violence. So he is giving up the law enforcement business. When Kane decides to face down his adversaries, she goes to catch a train. She doesn’t leave town but she almost does. Sean Connery’s William T. O’Niel has a wife too. But she isn’t up to being stationed on another mining colony. These differences and similarities are only cosmetic.

Marshall Kane and Marshall O’Niel both are the only thing that stand between civilization and the barbarians. Men are dying on Io and it looks like suicide but the Marshall isn’t so sure. The badass Marshall Kane put in prison to be hung has just been pardoned and he is on the noon train. Why is it always the noon train? One thing is for sure. If it wasn’t the noon train, it wouldn’t be called “High Noon”, now would it?

Marshall O’Niel starts digging and it’s not pleasant what he finds. Not pleasant at all. Like Kane, he has a choice to make. A “to be or not to be” kind of situation. He can leave well enough alone and he’ll be just fine and dandy. If he goes after the bad guys, there will be hell to pay.

Some western, huh? “This ain’t no western,” you say. “Wanna bet,” I say. Most of these space movies are westerns in disguise. Think not. “Star Wars” was a space opera that was really a western. The good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black. Darth Vader was simply an updated version of Black Bart.

Do you have a favorite remake?

Mrs. Noah

It’s raining. It’s always raining in winter here. It never stops. If only it would stop, I could get on with my life. Wonder how Mrs. Noah felt on that ark, with the fam all stuffed into one little cabin.’Cause the rest of the ark had to be used for the animals. Geez, she must have been going crazy with all those animals. And the relatives. There was that daughter-in-law she couldn’t stand. When she married the big guy, she didn’t ask for this. Over a month on this damned boat and still no land in sight. Then there was the problem with the flu. Nobody ever talks about the two weeks when everybody on the boat came down with the flu. Mrs. Noah was the only one who was able to fight it off. Not only did she have to take care of the animals, she had two weeks without a break with Mr. Noah and the three sons and their wives, puking all over the deck. Poor Mrs. Noah. By the time the ark hit land, she up and asked for a divorce. That’s why you don’t hear no more about Mrs. Noah. She was out of there and off to the Hanging Gardens for some Me time. I know she must have hated the rain. Will it ever stop?

Hamlet: Gravedigger, gravedigger

Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Cymbeline, Act 4 Scene 2.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 5 Scene 1. It’s rather late in the play. The groundlings are getting restless. They want to see someone like themselves. All they’ve been getting is royalty, royalty, royalty. Where’s the ordinary guy? Why can’t you put somebody like me in the play? He doesn’t have to be a hero, but at least, give him some lines.

Oh, sure, Will. You gave us some common folk in the guards at the beginning. But this play is turning into an epic. We’ve been standing here for over three hours and there hasn’t been anybody like us after that first couple of scenes. Pretty soon we are going to have to pee. Before we do, we want to see a commoner up there on stage.

Will is always one to accommodate. He gave the groundlings the porter in the scene in Macbeth shortly after Duncan’s murder. Funny scene that one. Important because it relieved the tension. It was a groundling who sold Cleopatra the asp. A couple of Irish cops opened “Julius Caesar”. And need we forget how important Bottom was in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. He’s the one Puck disguised as a donkey. Very funny those scenes.

So you can imagine how restless the groundlings are getting. They like to see themselves on stage. Maybe not in every scene. At least in a few. That’s all they ask. The Bard being the Bard accommodates. Will-ingly.

He throws in the Gravedigger scene. The play could have gone on without this scene. It would have made the play shorter, and that would have been a good thing. However, with death coming down on everybody’s head, some comic relief was just what the doctor order. So we are introduced to the guys who actually do some real work:

The Gravedigger and his friend, Other, are conversing. The Gravedigger was played by Billy Crystal in Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” and Stanley Holloway was in Olivier’s version. Great comic actor, Stanley Holloway. He played Eliza Doolittle’s father in “My Fair Lady” and sang, “Get me to the church on time”. Stole the show. Robert Armin or Will Kempe, both great Elizabethan clowns, probably played the Gravedigger in Will’s production of the play. Gives you some idea how important Shakespeare thought this scene was.

To open Act 5 with a scene in the graveyard seems an act of genius. Death is everywhere. There is foreboding all over the place. So what does Shakespeare do? He uses that foreboding for some relief. It’s kind of like the jokes between the doctors and the nurses in the Emergency Room. It allows those folks a way to relax so they can do their job.

The Gravedigger, Goodman Delver, is a realist, a reminder of how we all end up.

“Are they going to give her a Christian burial when she seeks her own salvation?” he asks as he digs. Reminding the audience that everybody thought Ophelia was a sucide.

“I tell thee she is,” Other answers. “Therefore make her grave straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it Christian burial.” How about that? Make her grave straight. As if Goodman could make it crooked. He probably could if he tried. He is that good of a gravedigger. But why would he?

I find the picture of the coroner sitting on Ophelia’s body funny. But that was the way folks talked back then.

“If she wasn’t a noble woman, there’d be none of that Christian burial-ing.” Even in those days, bribery worked. Somebody greased the palm of the coroner to get the results they wanted. That is what our Gravedigger friend is saying.

“Is that how the law sees it?”

“Ay, marry is it. Crowner’s quest law.”

“If you’re a commoner, that is.”

“There’s one law for the likes of they,” Gravedigger Goodman comments. “And one for the likes of we Christians.” Then he speaks to his shovel. “Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentleman but gardeners, ditchers, and gravemakers. They hold up Adam’s profession.”

“Was Adam a gentleman?” Other asked.

“Don’t you understand the Scriptures? The Scripture says Adam digged. I’ll put another question to you.”

“Go ahead.”

“Who is he that builds stronger than a mason, the shipwright or a carpenter?

“The gallows-maker, of course, Other answers, sure of himself. “That frame outlives a thousand tenants.”

“The gallows only does well to those who do ill.”

“Who then?”

“The gravedigger, that’s who,” Goodman says proudly. “The houses he makes last till doomsday. Now go fetch me a stoup of liquor.”

Now you might frown on the gravedigging business. You say that you would not want your kids going into the trade. Here’s something to think about. Gravediggers always have business. As long as folks die, there is no recession in the gravedigging enterprise. And it pays top dollar. ‘Cause there’s a lot of folks who won’t do it.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: A Steven Spielberg Epic

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Empire of the Sun” (1987):

We don’t get to see many epics these days. Mostly Hollywood doesn’t even try. They really don’t know how. Thank, God. When they do an epic, it’s a remake anyway. Just look at some of the recent ones.

There was “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. A failure of a remake of “The Ten Commandments”. Lots of cgi and a bad script. We got Jon Snow’s “Pompeii” which could have been a re-do of “The Last Days of Pompeii”. (Actually it was Kit Harington but who cares.) I mean, who wants to go to see a movie when everybody dies at the end? Guess that was why they didn’t put “Last Days” in the title. Even the Ancient Romans wouldn’t go see it. And now it’s giving “Ben-Hur” the re-do treatment. Another bad idea. We’ll see how that one turns out.

Personally I am for Hollywood leaving the epics alone. Stick to what they know. Super heroes, Twilight fake vampires and it-go-boom kind of movies. They have no depth but neither does Hollywood. So it’s a perfect match.

I can think of only a few successful epics in the last thirty years. “Braveheart”, “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Lord of the Rings” are on that list with a few others. Problem is that it is very hard to make a great epic film. A film that includes both the big picture and the little picture equally well. David Lean probably did it best.

In the last few years, Spielberg is one of the few who have actually pulled it. For my money, “Empire of the Sun” is one of his best. It was made back in the days when he was hungry, and had something to prove.

The Lovers

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

“Such a beautiful rainbow,” Melanie said to Walt.

“I made it just for you,” Walt said to Mel.

“You didn’t,” she said. “You can’t make a rainbow.”

“Oh, you think not,” he said, squeezing her hand just a little to show his love. “I spent several years at the rainbow-making school. I was their star pupil.”

“Were not.” She laughed. She liked it when Walt made up stories just for her.

“I was.”

They two stared at the rainbow, thinking beautiful thoughts. Walt thought about a Mel who could walk, Mel thought about a Mel who could walk. And they were very very happy.