Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Dublin

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. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin in the Bronx” (1970).

One of the great things about doing the movie of the week post is I get to point my readers to quality movies either forgotten or missed. This week’s movie belongs to those categories.

Gene Wilder received rave reviews for his portrayal of the funeral director in “Bonnie and Clyde”. Then he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”. For his fourth film, he chose a quiet little movie, “Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx”. He was joined by another actor just starting out her career, Margot Kidder. This was before “Terms of Endearment” and her Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve’s Superman.

“Quackser” is what one reviewer, Gene Shalit, called an earthy romance. What could be more earthy than manure? Horse manure, to be exact. Of all the jobs in the world, I can’t think of one I’d rather not do than manure salesman. Like they say, and they say it a lot, it’s a tough job and somebody’s got to do it.

Quackser, portrayed by Gene Wilder, not only does it but he enjoys the work. He is both manure collector and manure salesman pushing his cart around Dublin and collecting the the leavings of the horses that pull the dairy vans. Then he sells the horse dung to housewives as fertilizer for their flower beds and gardens.

Plying his trade, Quackser sees himself living the life of Riley. He is his own boss. If he chooses to take a few hours off for a bit on the side, there’s no one to tell him no. If he wants to quit at one in the afternoon and take a pint with a female friend, no one’s going to stop him. He works out doors all day. He gets to see the streets of Dublin. Being a man who likes people, he is able to meet all types.

Quackser is an entrepreneur, though a lot think not. He operates a business with a low overhead. His product is free for the taking. The only overhead he has is his sandwiches for lunch and keeping his cart in good running shape. On top of that, he’s doing a public service and not charging the city. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Unfortunately a month after the movie starts, the dairy send away all the horses and replace them for motorized vans. Seems that the horse drawn vans are going the way of the buggy whip and buckboard, reminding the viewer that technological progress has a cost.

Don’t think this movie is just about manure. It isn’t. As I said earlier, it’s an earthy romance. Margot Kidder is an American student at Trinity College. She almost runs him down in a borrowed red sports car. Quackser and Margot fall into a romance. They are two people from two different worlds. Yet they are attracted to each other.

The romance and the downside of his business is enough to force Quackser to realize it’s time for a change. He either must get a job in the foundry or go off to the Bronx in America. Fortunately his name isn’t Quackser Fortune for nothing. See this little gem. It will put a smile on your face.

 

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: The Hardest Working Band in the World

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. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Commitments” (1991):

When I think of soul music, I think of Sam Cooke, Sam and Dave, Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding , Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and a long list of other African-American musicians. And The Commitments. The Commitments?

Ireland is not known for soul music. Oh, sure. It’s had its share of blues musicians.  Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher come to mind. But soul music? Nope. That is, not until The Commitments.

If you were living in a working class neighborhood of Dublin, what kind of band would you want to put together? Maybe a blues band or something folky. Surely not a soul band.

The thing is that Soul isn’t just about music. It is about the feeling that comes with the music. A feeling that no other music brings to a person quite the way Soul does. It rises up from the toes through the body and comes out a thing of beauty.

If ever there was a movie about the guts and the bravado of creating a band from absolutely nothing, “The Commitments” is it. Jimmy Rabbitte has no musical ability. But he’s in love with the music. So why not form a band and manage it? That’s just what Jimmy Rabbitte does.  It’s his way out of the working class trap of a neighborhood he lives in. He’s walking around Dublin. All he hears are bad imitations of bad imitations of folk and rock ‘n’ roll. Pop bands, playing weddings, like And And And.

He wants his band to “speak the language of the street and it should be about struggle and sex.” There’s only one kind of music that does that, according to Jimmy Rabbitte. Soul. He’s going to get his band. There’s nothing that’s going to stop him. Not the singers who audition, some okay and some really bad. Not the lack of musical instruments. Not even the resistance of the band members themselves.

To paraphrase the Blues Brothers, Jimmy Rabbitte is “on a mission from God”. He’s out to bring hope to the working class streets of Dublin in the form of a music that can save the soul and quench its thirst for something better. To help Jimmy out, the Good Lord sends him a trumpet player name of Joey “The Lips” Fagan. Before you can say “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, he’s put together him a band, The Commitments: The Hardest Working Band in the World ‘cause Jimmy Rabbitte is the hardest working manager in the world. The band is on its way and there is only thing that will stop it. The band.

Roddy Doyle gave us the novel. Alan Parker gives us the movie.  So say it loud and say it proud. The Commitments are out to conquer Dublin. Or at least their neighborhood.

Who is your favorite soul singer?