18 January 2012

The Longshot (1986) and some Heartbeeps

Dooley: Five big ones. Uh, not big ones like five dollars, but, uh … how do you say five thousand?

Lizard: (Beat) Five thousand.
Dooley: Right, that's, five thousand. I didn't know the term.

Paul Bartel delights me to no end. 1986's The Longshot tells straight-facedly a ridiculous story about four ordinary guys who want to bet big on a horse race.

Lou: Dooley I've been thinking. You can pull this off for us. All you gotta do is to waltz over to Ms. Big Bucks and see if she'd be interested in giving us a little back up loan.
Dooley: What are you talking about?
Lou: Nicki Dixon, the broad at the track. You said she got the hots for ya.
Dooley: W-wait a minute. I'm not selling this body.
Elton: You mean that piece of shit is for sale?
Lou: Listen, you don't have to romance her. [Something]. Those rich broads love to tell the girls at the club how they lend ten grand to some putz for no reason at all. And then maybe with a little wine, a little song, maybe you'll get lucky.
Elton: He may be able to do a little singing and a little sippin of the wine, but when it comes to women his winky is retired.
Lou: Winky? A grown man calls the ol' joystick a winky?
Stump: Why can't you call your wizzer a winky if you want?
Lou: 'Cause it's stupid, that's why. Who besides him do you know that would call a dork a winky? Right?
Dooley: Yeah, call it what it is.
Lou: There, you see. What do you call it?
Dooley: A monkey.
Lou: You're gonna get us this loan with a jug of wine, a loaf of bred, and a monkey?

Bartel downplays the ridiculous and emphasizes the ordinary, which I think makes the ordinary seem ridiculous and the ridiculous seem ordinary.

Clerk: Who shall I say is calling please?

Dooley: Hrm. Ah, um. Just tell her that the cigarette man is here. Oh no no … on second thought, tell her it's the guy from the track, with mud on his pants and a wet cigarette. She'll know.

Clerk: Good evening Ms. Dixon. There's a gentleman here from the track, with pants, and a cigarette.
Dooley: Mud. Mud on the pants.
Clerk: Mud. Mud, on the pants. And some cigarettes for you.

Dooley: From her. The cigarettes are from her, it was wet from her and they --

Clerk: From. You. I believe.

Tim Conway, who also wrote the amusing and likable screenplay, plays Dooley. Conway is an Ohio native who entered the entertainment industry through television alongside Ernie Anderson. I imagine Bartel enjoyed making the film, not because of the material necessarily, i.e. I don't think Bartel would have written this script, but I imagine he had affection for people who would want to make this type of movie, and in this instance that happened to include him.

Bartel was too cool, too sincere, too smart and too funny to turn his nose up to material he was handling. And to do so would have been to act like the snobby high culture elite, whom Bartel was so great at subverting with tasteful tastelessness. Bartel's fervent curiosity about all things high and low culture suggests that the world is full of living people loving things, and sometimes people with different loves and perspectives collide for humorous consequence, but all perspectives and passions are basically equal. Bartel revels in the peculiarities of society, its customs and interests, and The Longshot is full of tiny hilarities that come from careful observation of clashing worlds.

It's interesting to think that if Bartel hadn't made this movie I probably wouldn't have watched it, and that there are movies like this that Bartel didn't make that I don't feel a desire to watch. If The Longshot hadn't been made by Bartel I don't think it would have been as joyful and loving. I think some comedy directors make it very clear what is a joke and what is not, and I think Bartel knows that everything is a joke.

In 1981, Michael Phillips, Allan Arkush, Andy Kaufman, Randy Quaid, Christopher Guest, John Williams, Stan Winston, and Tina Hirsch all came together to make a robot love story called Heartbeeps, obviously.

The sum of the names involved doesn't equal Heartbeeps, not for me. I think it's a kid's movie that works only for kids, maybe, if the movie does indeed work for kids. I was unable to forge an emotional connection with the movie. And I didn't find it entertaining. I found it boring, except the first ~10 minutes, which I thought were lovely and charming. I recommend the film up to the point in which the robots leave the factory, which I think happens after ~10 minutes, maybe before, but then the movie becomes a long game of hide-and-seek, and material about bears being called camels.

I bring it up because Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel make cameos!

Bartel's line, as a house guest, after the house has been destroyed, is "I don't know about some people, I thought it was a stunning affair."

EDIT FROM THE FUTURE: Last night (2/27) I realized that Robby Müller shot Bartel's The Longshot. Very cool.

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