Larry Gopnik’s Movie Quiz

It’s time for another famous Sergio Leone and the Infidel Fly Rule movie quiz. This time:


My answers below…

1) Favorite unsung holiday film

One Christmas film I feel is not nearly famous enough is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. It’s a half-hour adaptation of the Dickens novel, with the roles played by Disney characters. Ebenezer is, unsurprisingly, Scrooge McDuck, but the real genius is the ‘casting’ of smaller roles. Most notably, in a flash of genius, Goofy plays Jacob Marley’s spirit.

A warning - from beyond!

2) Name a movie you were surprised to have liked/loved

The American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I watched the Swedish version when it came out, and this seemed an unnecessary remake, to spare us reading subtitles. However, David Fincher makes it visually interesting and the music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is a particular highlight. And while Noomi Rapace did an excellent job as Salander, Rooney Mara’s portrayal is different enough to be just as compelling.

3) Ned Sparks or Edward Everett Horton?

Horton wins this one by default, as I can at least recognise him as Mr Witherfork Witherspoon the head of the insane asylum (“We prefer to think of it as a rest home!”) from Arsenic and Old Lace, one of my favourites…

There is a happy dale, far far away...

4) Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy– yes or no?

No, not really. I remember watching it ten years ago and finding it rather dull. Maybe time to revisit?

5) What contemporary actor would best fit into a popular, established genre of the past

Karl Urban as a film-noir gumshoe is what came to mind.

6) Favorite non-disaster movie in which bad weather is a memorable element of the film’s atmosphere

I was going to be a smartass and say Singin’ in the Rain, but let’s go for Key Largo.

7) Second favorite Luchino Visconti movie

Let’s see… I’ve seen The Leopard and… that’s it. Really? OK, one for the watchlist…

8) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD/Blu-ray?

In the cinema – it was Thor 2. I find I have less and less time for the cinema these days and only really go to see films with a large group of friends. On DVD, the last film I saw was the Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt ‘cancer comedy’ 50/50. While the pitch sounded in really bad taste, the film is actually quite sensitive and the sometimes crude humour doesn’t come across as exploitative but rather the kind of humour people resort to in impossible situations. I guess that the reason is rings true is because it’s partly based on the screenwriter Will Resier’s battle with cancer – and the support he got from Seth Rogen.

...and what a lovely supportive chap he is...

9) Explain your reaction when someone eloquently or not-so-eloquently attacks one of your favorite movies (Question courtesy of Patrick Robbins)

I usually enjoy it. I have an ongoing email discussion with a friend I rarely get to see nowadays about the merits of various Christopher Nolan films. I mounted a spirited defense of The Prestige, but had to admit the many sad failings of The Dark Knight trilogy.

10) Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell?

Apparently they co-starred in nine movies, but I have only ever seen Glenda Farrell in anything. Another default win.

11) Movie star of any era you’d most like to take camping

Since I absolutely hate camping, it would have to be someone reasonably good at it. How about Humphrey Bogart? I bet you it wouldn’t be boring even if it would be somewhat alcoholic. Maybe also Peter Ustinov, but I imagine we wouldn’t even manage to get the tent up before the drinking started…

12) Second favorite George Cukor movie

For once in these quizzes, I have seen quite a few films. Let’s answer My Fair Lady, with the Philadelphia Story being my favourite. Just for the record, I have also seen Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz (these last two co-directed with Victor Fleming, bizarrely), Gaslight, A star is Born, Let’s Make Love and Adam’s Rib (which would be No. 3).

13) Your top 10 of 2013 (feel free to elaborate!)

Oof. I’m not sure I have actually seen 10 films released this year. I tend to lag by about a year or two…

14) Name a movie you loved (or hated) upon first viewing, to which you eventually returned and had more or less the opposite reaction

Fight Club. I loved it when I first saw it, but the second time, I was vaguely dissatisfied with it. I watched it again recently and it just gets on my nerves now… This is either me becoming cynical or growing up, not sure which.

15) Movie most in need of a deluxe Blu-ray makeover

I don’t think any films really need this. Oh what the hell, Delta Force.

16) Alain Delon or Marcello Mastroianni?

I don’t really have a strong opinion here, but at least I know who they both are. Let’s say Marcello Mastroianni…

17) Your favorite opening sequence, credits or no credits (provide link to clip if possible)


18) Director with the strongest run of great movies

How about Billy Wilder between 1950-1960? Not a bad decade by anyone’s standards: Sunset Blvd., Ace in the Hole, Stalag 17, Sabrina, Seven Year Itch, Spirit of St. Louis, Love in the Afternoon (a weak link admittedly), Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like it Hot and The Apartment!

19) Is elitism a good/bad/necessary/inevitable aspect of being a cineaste?

I’m not sure it’s good or bad necessarily, but it is inevitable. After a while, ‘unusual/novel’ holds more sway than ‘merely entertaining’. Then again, I don’t think this is specific for films either.

20) Second favorite Tony Scott film

True Romance, with The Last Boy Scout being No.1. Both liked more for their screenplays than the direction though…

21) Favorite movie made before you were born that you only discovered this year. Where and how did you discover it?

House of Wax from 1953 popped up for streaming. It’s an entertaining thing, nothing special, but that was the only film that conforms to these rather stringent criteria.

22) Actor/actress you would most want to see in a Santa suit, traditional or skimpy



Let’s face it, it wouldn’t take much.

23) Video store or streaming?

I’m not sure there are any video stores left. Besides, streaming is so much more convenient – I don’t even have to get up off the sofa to change discs…

24) Best/favorite final film by a noted director or screenwriter

I found this a really difficult question. While some directors’ last films definitely weren’t bad – e.g. Hitchcock’s Family Plot and Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut – they pale in comparison to their earlier efforts. The only satisfactory candidate I could think of was Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red – the concluding (and in my opinion best) part of the Three Colours trilogy. (Dangit, I was one ‘z’ away from spelling his name correctly without google.)

25) Monica Vitti or Anna Karina?

Monica Vitti.

26) Name a worthy movie indulgence you’ve had to most strenuously talk friends into experiencing with you. What was the result?

Evil Dead II. Let’s face it, the title doesn’t really sell it, and neither does part I. Part II, however, is a comedy/horror masterpiece. I have managed to talk two different groups of friends into watching it at two different times. Surprisingly (?) the results were nearly identical – two really strong (male) converts who wanted to watch Army of Darkness immediately afterwards, and endless eye-rolling from the girls.

27) The movie made by your favorite filmmaker (writer, director, et al) that you either have yet to see or are least familiar with among all the rest

I have never seen Hitchcock’s Frenzy.

28) Favorite horror movie that is either Christmas-oriented or has some element relating to the winter holiday season in it

Not really an out and out horror, but Rare Exports has some nice moments…


29) Name a prop or other piece of movie memorabilia you’d most like to find with your name on it under the Christmas tree

The butler from Hudson Hawk has a sort of weird, retractable sleeve-mounted short sword. That. I want that.

30) Best holiday gift the movies could give to you to carry into 2014

More reasons to go to the cinema.

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