Saturday, October 31, 2015
(June 1960, U.S.)
Once again, timing and coincidence are kind to me in that I can post one of the scariest films of all time on Halloween! And once again, like POLTERGEIST, I can't believe I even have to take the time to clarify that this is the original 1960 version of the film. That in mind, I'd like to offer a heartfelt, sincere apology on behalf of myself and all classic film purists out there to the great Alfred Hitchcock for Gus Van Sant's inconceivable attempt to remake your great film in 1998 with a shabby, shot-for-shot remake. What that poor bastard was smoking at the time, I suppose we'll never know.
PSYCHO is, perhaps, a shining example of a film you feel you know so well that you actually find yourself blanking out on what you'd actually like to say when the time comes. To discuss this film seems like an act of futility in the same fashion one may feel about discussing JAWS or STAR WARS with blog readers. There are just some films the whole world just knows! On the other hand, perhaps only some of us know the drama that took place in the conception and making of Hitchcock's film, in that it all began with a real-life serial killer and grave robber in Wisconsin named Ed Gein. From that, Robert Bloch wrote his novel PSYCHO and the infamous character of Norman Bates based on Gein's actions. Hitchcock financed the film himself and kept costs low by filming it in black and white (thank goodness!) and used the crew from his "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV show. Upon the film's release, Hitchcock himself decreed that all theaters showing PSYCHO would not permit theater patrons in after the film began (something unheard of at the time!) so that audiences would take in the full effect and experience of the film and it's astounding conclusion ("Don't tell your friends!"). They even made a special movie poster out of it...
How's that for a film maker protectively standing behind his work!
From my earliest childhood memories, PSYCHO was one of the most forbidden films I was aware of. It was the 1970s and the film was frequently shown on the local station WOR Channel 9 as part of a program they called "Million Dollar Movie". I knew nothing of it except that it was considered an incredibly scary film with a vast array of frightening black and white images that began with a rather sinister looking Victorian house just steps away from an isolated California motel...
And of course, it goes without saying, there was the knowledge of the horrible murder of a young, pretty woman while she's taking a shower and the blood-curdling open eyes of the victim after she's been killed and fallen to the tiled bathroom floor...
From a kid's perspective, that's horrifying enough. I was not yet aware that part of the shock value involved was the elimination of Janet Leigh's central character Marion Crane only midway through the film (again, something unheard of at the time!) and that real life women were terrified to take a shower because of that scene. Then there was that final moment when a woman enters a dark, damp fruit cellar and attempts to speak to an old woman in a chair, only to learn that the woman is a grotesque corpse...
Oh, by the way, you may have already noticed that I'm taking every advantage to post many images from the film to accompany my writing. This is no accident! PSYCHO is as much a stunning visual experience as anything else you may have enjoyed on the screen, large or small. It's contents and it's memories for me are rich in visual photography, whether it's the experience of driving down an isolated highway or watching a detective slowly ascent the stairs of the house only to meet his demise at the hands of a a crazy person with a butcher knife! Even just before the credits, Hitchcock gives us something to think about as we say goodbye to Norman Bates' (played perfectly by Anthony Perkins!) and get that final image of him incorporating his face with that of skeletal teeth, giving us a new definition of frightening...
(Okay - I think I've made my point regarding the visual importance of this film. I certainly don't want to be accused of overkill!)
Plot wise, I've always held the strong opinion that PSYCHO is one of the strongest, most original stories every put on film (despite being based on a novel). It's one of those extraordinary times when a film starts out going in one direction and ends up in a completely different one. From the beginning, we're meant to believe that we're following Marion Crane's journey as a petty thief of $40,000 cash in order to get to and marry her secret boyfriend Sam Loomis (played by John Gavin). This is intriguing drama that may or may not lead to the traditional suspense that Hitchcock had provided in the past. Then, out of the blue, Marion is killed and we're meant to try and understand not only the big why, but exactly what unnatural force may be behind her murder and those that occupy the isolated motel. Slowly, the pieces of the mysterious puzzle are put into place and inevitably lead up to that golden moment when we learn exactly who and what Norman Bates is and how his mother fits into all of this...
(Sorry! I couldn't resist just one more image!). But since I posted it, I have to say there's one thing that bothers me about this exact moment. For years, as I watched Bates/Mother enter the fruit cellar and head toward Lila Crane (played by Vera Miles), I always heard her say something to her intended victim, but I could never make out exactly what. Then I finally read Bloch's novel and in it, the character says, "I'm Norma Bates!" before moving in for the kill. I watched the film again and realized that was the same line being said in the film. I won't lie to you - I was disappointed! That's a terrible line in a film filled with perfect, often quoted dialogue. Really, I wish he'd/she'd just kept her mouth shut and just screamed or something.
Let me continue with the infamous shower scene because I'm not quite done with that! There's something I'd like to discuss and it's probably not what you think it is. I want to discuss the moments of the shower scene before Marion is murdered. Believe it or not, we learn a lot about her character in the shower just before her demise. Let's recap a point or two - Marion Crane has stolen a large sum of money from her employer and, following a meal and a conversation with the clever Norman Bates, decides to go back where she came from to return the money and face whatever consequences are to follow. Look carefully at Marion's face in the shower and study it! This is not just an ordinary shower, but rather a moment of redemption and cleansing! The water is warm, it's soothing and it's literally washing away Marion's sins over the last twenty-four hours. Tomorrow, at the crack of dawn, she will take a long drive back to Phoenix, Arizona and (presumably) become a new person with a second chance at her life, which up until that moment, has been filled with confusion and dissatisfaction. We sympathize with Marion and we may even feel joy for the new positive outlook on her life. Then, in what I can only describe as the absolute sickest case of twisted irony, she's murdered with a large butcher knife and cannot possibly conceive of who or what is behind it, her chance at redemption taken away from her! To be honest, I would find it hard to imagine that no film critics or scholars have not previously considered this outlook on the shower scene, but if they have, I have yet to hear it for myself. If they haven't thought of it also, then I hope I've introduced a new take on an old classic!
Now, let me conclude with one more personal point that will (sorry!) involve one more image. If you go back in time and re-read my post for JAWS, you will recall that I described a fondness for re-release movie posters because, unlike originals, they imply and describe a history behind a film that has already had it's theatrical run and has had it's impact on audiences. That being the case, I am drawn to this particular re-release poster of PSYCHO because it follows a time in the 1960s when the film had already been shown on television with what I can only imagine were very heavy cuts and edits (they had those same edits in the 1970s when I was able to catch a bit of it here and there on TV when my parents weren't looking!) and promises audiences a chance to revisit Hitchcock's masterpiece with every scene in tact. I'm sure fans of the film were very grateful. But as you can see, you still weren't allowed into the movie theater after the film started...
Still, it's a pretty cool poster! And now, as a truly devoted fan of PSYCHO, I'd like to offer my sincerest thanks to Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Robert Bloch and Bernard Herrmann (just to name some) for all of their efforts involved in giving me, the world, and cinematic history one of the greatest shockers of all time. We're all eternally grateful. Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to go watch PSYCHO again in perfect high-definition Blu-Ray picture and sound! 'Tis a beautiful thing!
Favorite line of dialogue:
Dr. Fred Richmond: "Now to understand it the way I understood it, hearing it from the mother...that is, from the mother half of Norman's mind...you have to go back ten years, to the time when Norman murdered his mother and her lover. Now he was already dangerously disturbed, had been ever since his father died. His mother was a clinging, demanding woman, and for years the two of them lived as if there was no one else in the world. Then she met a man...and it seemed to Norman that she threw him over for this man. Now that pushed him over the line and he killed 'em both. Matricide is probably the most unbearable crime of all...most unbearable to the son who commits it. So he had to erase the crime, at least in his own mind. He stole her corpse. A weighted coffin was buried. He hid the body in the fruit cellar. Even treated it to keep it as well as it would keep. And that still wasn't enough. She was there! But she was a corpse. So he began to think and speak for her, give her half his time, so to speak. At times he could be both personalities, carry on conversations. At other times, the mother half took over completely. Now he was never all Norman, but he was often only mother. And because he was so pathologically jealous of her, he assumed that she was jealous of him. Therefore, if he felt a strong attraction to any other woman, the mother side of him would go wild."
(points finger at Lila Crane)
"When he met your sister, he was touched by her, aroused by her, he wanted her. That set off the jealous mother and mother killed the girl! Now after the murder, Norman returned as if from a deep sleep. And like a dutiful son, covered up all traces of the crime he was convinced his mother had committed!"
Sam Loomis "Why was he dressed like that?"
Officer: "He's a tranvestite!"
Dr. Richmond: "Ah, not exactly. A man who dresses in women's clothing in order to achieve a sexual change, or satisfaction, is a transvestite. But in Norman's case, he was simply doing everything possible to keep alive the illusion of his mother being alive! And when reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion...he dressed up, even to a cheap wig he bought. He'd walk about the house, sit in her chair, speak in her voice. He tried to be his mother! And, uh...now he is. Now, that's what I meant when I said I got the story from the mother. You see, when the mind houses two personalities, there's always a conflict, a battle. In Norman's case, the battle is over...and the dominant personality has won."
Sheriff Al Chambers: "And the forty thousand dollars? Who got that?"
Dr. Richmond: "The swamp. These were crimes of passion, not profit."
Monday, October 26, 2015
(June 2012, U.S.)
For the life of me, I don't think I'll ever fully understand what goes through the moviegoing public's little minds when it comes to the art of science fiction! For popular franchises like STAR TREK and STAR WARS, audiences tend to (unfairly) react negatively if certain films in the franchise weren't just like their successful predecessors (i.e. STAR WARS Episodes I through III). And Heaven forbid people are required to actually take some time to think about the story they're watching...well then, the film might as well be considered a flop right there and then! Consider some of the best science fiction films ever made like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), THX-1138 (1971), BLADE RUNNER (1982), DUNE (1984) and INTERSTELLAR (2014 - and actually, that film did pretty well. Go figure!) - films that were initially considered disappointments or flops when first released in theaters and over time turned into either cult hits or highly-intelligent and highly regarded pieces of artistic cinema. Let's face it, people - if a new sci-fi film isn't fast and fun and requires little-to-no thought, it's tends to disappoint at the box office and with some professional critics. Even Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi with PROMETHEUS was not considered a success with audiences and I cannot entirely fathom why! Was it because it required some thought?? Was it because people expected too much direct reference as a prequel to Scott's ALIEN (1979) and perhaps it just didn't deliver enough of that promise? Whichever question is relevant, I hope maybe I can come up with a few answers here.
Admittedly, many sci-fi think pieces, including the ones I mention above, require more than one viewing, including PROMETHEUS. The film is not entirely easy to absorb and a second and third viewing will almost guarantee to not only fill in some of the holes, but may also shed a fresh light of appreciation. It's the year 2089, and a team of archaeologist, geologists, soldiers and even an android named David who's trying to model himself after Peter O'Toole in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA are on a journey to the planet known as LV-223 to investigate what has come to be understood as an invitation from humanity's forerunners that they've chosen to call the "Engineers". Like many other fantastic stories of this nature, it's a mission to try and discover not only life on other worlds, but a further understanding of humanity's origins. It would seem that we may have been spawned from another race from another planet. Sounds beautiful, doesn't it! Of course, hopes and anticipations are quickly squashed when the team encounters hostile and dangerous organisms that attack their human prey. In what becomes a race for survival against time, our human scientists must not only fight the hostile elements of the planet, but also stop a superior being from traveling to Earth with a potentially dangerous and lethal iridescent liquid that will ultimately cause humanity's extinction. As we watch this film, we're not only required to sit still and think about man's connection with his possible past, but also try and put together the pieces that link PROMETHEUS with ALIEN, and believe me when I tell you that the connection has very little, if nothing to do with the actually alien beast that was created for the original 1979 film. So let me try and help out with this one a little...
To properly and effectively connect this film with ALIEN, pay close attention to these two images from the 1979 film and we'll go through them one at a time...
This is the alien derelict space ship that was discovered by the crew of the Nostromo that appeared to have crash-landed on the planet. PROMETHEUS defines for us in full detail the meaning of that ship, where it was headed, how it crash landed and who was responsible for it. Remember this photo and you've made the proper connection.
This is what I guess we can call the control seat and equipment console to the above-mentioned ship with a dead pilot that was also discovered by the crew of the Nostromo, whom they deduced had exploded from the inside. PROMETHEUS also defines this for us and how the pilot of the ship came to end up the way he did. Again, remember this photo and you've made the proper connection.
Finally, we learn at the film's final moments just how the infamous "alien" creature was first born, though the moment is only very brief just before the end credits, as it appears that Carlo Rambaldi's wonderful creation was the result of the impregnation of one galactic creature by one of the planet's hostile organism's. Basically, the alien was a result of a hostile rape, if you'd like to look at it that way (LOL!!!). So I hope that answered a few confusing question for those of you who may have been a bit lost in the whole PROMETHEUS/ALIEN shuffle!
Now, whether or not you like this film, love this film or even understand this film, Ridley Scott, a film maker who has spanned the decades with a vast array of original storytelling and movie making, gives us a return to sci-fi that is a haunting visual grandeur both in design and aesthetics. The photography and set pieces are beautiful to look at as we explore a planet that we're meant to come to know a whole lot more once the true ALIEN stories begin. The performances are stunningly solid, particularly by Michael Fassbender playing the android David. There's just one thing that doesn't quite connect in this story and perhaps one of you reading this post can fill in the hole...the planet that this team travels to is called LV-223 and we come to understand that it's the same planet that Ellen Ripley will stumble onto in later years. But by the time we get to the story of ALIENS (1986), the planet they return to is known as LV-426. So exactly when and how did the LV's number increase by a factor of 203?? Somebody please clarify this now (the rest of the film I understand!)!!!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Charlie Holloway: "What we hoped to achieve was to meet our makers. To get answers. Why they even made us in the first place."
David: "Why do you think your people made me?"
Charlie: "We made you because we could."
David: "Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?"
Charlie: "I guess it's good you can't be disappointed."
Monday, October 19, 2015
(March 1968, U.S.)
Director Mel Brooks, despite the legendary comic status he holds in the history of cinematic comedy, has always been hit or miss with me. For every laugh-out-loud comic film of genius like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and BLAZING SADDLES (both 1974 - what a year!), I find myself having to contend with the equally mediocre (SILENT MOVIE, HIGH ANXIETY, HISTORY OF THE WORLD-PART I and SPACEBALLS) and the absolutely downright awful (SILENT MOVIE, LIFE STINKS and DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT). Thank goodness for THE PRODUCERS! Such a satirical comedy not only glorifies the world of Broadway theater and all of its potential silliness, but in its own way, captures that very small bit of New York City pop culture in the late 1960s without all the hippies!
The film tells the story of an elaborate financial scam as it plays out in the hands of has-been theatrical producer Max Bialystock (played by Zero Mostel) and boring accountant Leo Bloom (played by Gene Wilder) who want to produce a sure-fire Broadway flop. The plan is that they'll raise more money from naive little old lady investors than they can repay (the shares they sell total more than one hundred of any potential profits) and then plan to abscond with the enormous profits as soon as the play closes, presumably after just one night. An intelligent and elaborate scheme, for sure, in the hands of men with brains. But this is a Mel Brooks film - brains are often in short character supply. So after reading many bad plays, the two finally settle on a lavish musical titled "Springtime for Hitler"...come on, say it just a few times to yourself...how can you help but not laugh! Bad play must ultimately follow with a bad director (that big guy that played TV's "Mr. Belvedere" wearing a dress!), bad actors and very tasteless musical numbers and dances. When you're watching scantily-dressed chorus girls dressed up with giant pretzels and giant mugs of beer celebrate the glory of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany rising as "the master race", you have every confidence that the producer's outlandish scheme is going to work like gangbusters!
But wait, all of this would only be just so funny if things didn't inevitably go wrong. After all, things going wrong is where the fun is! By the time the opening song and dance numbers are over, we enter the bad actor known by the acronym L.S.D. playing Hitler himself (played by Dick Shawn) as a flower-power-type hippie who loves to refer to all of his Nazi soldiers as "Baby". The previously-appalled audience members that haven't actually walked out of the theater yet are, lo and behold...now laughing their asses off! Yes, things are about to go very wrong for the producers because the audience apparently possesses a streak of sick barbarism that will allow them to laugh at the idea of a lavish musical about Hitler and Nazi Germany. I suppose it's not totally outside the realm of possibility - I mean, HOGAN'S HEROES was a very popular TV show in the 1960s! And so, the play is a hit and the producers are fucked ("No way out, no way out, no way out!")! Morals and decency demand that Max and Leo go to prison for what they did (they do!), but come on, do we really want them to? These are two anti-heroes at their best because we, perhaps, identify with their twisted lust for money and all the toys that can be bought with it...even Swedish blonde secretaries that don't speak English and break into sexy dances when you tell them, "Ulla, go to work!"
Mel Brooks, while always striving to make us laugh, has also always had an equal passion for musical numbers. Even in films like HIGH ANXIETY (1978) and HISTORY OF THE WORLD-PART I (1981), he can't resist throwing some musical content into it (think "The Inquisition"!). In THE PRODUCERS, however, it's essential because of the musical within the movie content of it. The music, the singing and the dancing have to be bad or we have nothing to cling to in the hopes (yes, I said hopes!) that the con of the producers will ever succeed. What makes it all go wrong, or as Max asks in bewilderment, "Where did I go right?" is that by the time we're ready to embrace and enjoy "Springtime For Hitler", the music and the dancing are over and it's just become plain, fucking funny, despite all of its vulgarity, its bad taste and its grotesque overacting! And that, my friends, is what a successful Mel Brooks is all about, like them all or not!
Oh, by the way, in August 2001 my wife and I saw the Broadway musical of THE PRODUCERS with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick just mere weeks before the events of 9-11. It was great, but I can't help but associate the two of them within the same contents of that particular summer. I suppose that's just the quirks of my own personal memories. I didn't bother with the 2005 film version of the Broadway show. Enough is too much!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Leo Bloom: "Let's assume, just for the moment, that you are a dishonest man."
Max Bialystock: "Assume away."
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
(June 1985, U.S.)
When I was in high school in the 1980s, I saw THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER-PART II for the first time just once on HBO, which is just as good as saying that I hadn't seen them at all because to see those two Coppola's masterpieces is to view them multiple time for many years and learn to experience something new each time. To see them is to see into them, and that just can't happen when you've only seen them once. That being the case, the decade of the 1980s did not leave very much to go with in order to properly and effectively experience the world of mafia gangsters in cinema. Consider the attempts that didn't exactly leave a lasting impression on cinema history - John Cassavetes' GLORIA (1980), Francis Coppola's THE COTTON CLUB (1984), Michael Cimino's YEAR OF THE DRAGON (1985) and THE SICILIAN (1987), Jonathan Demme's MARRIED TO MOB (1988). Really, if this was the best the 1980s could offer young film fans as myself, then I can only declare a tremendous thanks to Sergio Leone for giving us ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984), the only real intelligent and substantial mafia film of the 1980s, in my opinion!
So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that John Huston's PRIZZI'S HONOR is not exactly an Oscar-worthy masterpiece in my opinion, despite being nominated for best picture of 1985. Really, it's sort of like watching THE GODFATHER being played out by the cast of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (LOL!!!)! And yet, Huston is not attempting to show the mafia as a farce. These are serious Sicilian gangsters with legitimate issues in crime and murder. At the heart of this New York crime "family" is hit man Charley Partanna (played by the ever-so-effective Jack Nicholson!). His performance, while a lot of fun to experience, is something of an homage right out of the days of Prohibition and Edward G. Robinson, so you're never quite sure of just how serious to take it. As one would expect from someone like Jack, he takes his responsibilities of crime and murder very seriously and appears to have a heart of stone in his actions. The flipside of such harsh mannerisms is that he's also capable of real love - real as he puts it and not some medical and chemical imbalance that one is supposed to be experiencing when they claim they've fallen in love. When he meets Irene Walker (played by Kathleen Turner) at a family wedding (yes, people, another mafia film that begins with a family wedding!), he's immediately smitten with her (and who wouldn't be?? There was a time when Turner was fucking hot!). Just when it seems that he may never see her again, they reunite in California and he soon confesses thereafter that he loves her. Amazingly, she seems to love him just as quickly, so go figure. As the film progresses, he learns that Irene practices the same sort of hit man (woman) profession as he does and is likely just as good at her job as he is. This doesn't dissuade him - he loves her just the same, more perhaps because they now share the same level of professional respect and honor as well as their love as man and wife (yeah, they get married!). And as one would expect from just about any mafia film, money is stolen, family is betrayed by someone close and that person has to pay, or as the the chief Don puts it, "She gotta go...and you gotta do the job." Love, being what it is, cannot triumph in the end because if Charley doesn't kill Irene first, she'll surely kill him, and it would seem that loyalty to one's "family" will always come before loyalty to a wife you've only known for a few weeks (love does suck, doesn't it!).
For whatever flaws PRIZZI'S HONOR suffers from, it's truly Jack Nicholson that is the film's mighty touchstone. This film is what I can only describe as a baroque comedy about people in life who attempt to behave in ordinary ways in rather grotesque circumstances of crime and murder, and all the while it manages to squeeze out the bizarre "juices" of everyday family weirdness that many of us are likely familiar with. It's a poke of fun at a serious institution from a film maker who made his famous mark with more classic films like THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), KEY LARGO (1948) and THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)...all with Humphrey Bogart! Like I previously indicated, it's not exactly the best source of mafia cinema during a decade that followed two GODFATHER films and preceded Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS (1990) and CASINO (1995), but at least it's fun without being stupid. I suppose that'll do as a sidetrack film on the subject. If absolutely nothing else, there a very brief (but wonderful, nonetheless) shot of Kathleen Turner in a sexy nightgown with her ass showing (sorry, I couldn't find a picture of it on the web. I looked!) just before she pulls out her gun to tries and kill Charley! I can show you how she ended up, though, if you like...
That's gotta hurt!!!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Eduardo Prizzi (reading from Charley's letter): "Dominic put out a contract on me..."
Dominic Prizzi: "He's a fuckin' liar!"
Eduardo: "You wanna hear the letter? Then listen, don't talk. There's about a a hundred thirty million dollars here, maybe more. We gotta renegotiate before we get it back. Just shut up and listen. Go on, sit down. Go on. (continuing with the letter) "Dominic will say it's a lot of bullshit. But it so happens he hired my own wife and he gave her a down payment of fifty thousand dollars and my wife is sittin' here next to me and she's laughin' like hell. I personally think the Don found Dominic on a doorstep because Dominic is fifty times too dumb to be a Prizzi!"
Saturday, October 3, 2015
(March 1997, U.S.)
As a New York (well, a Long Islander, really) and a lover of classic rock music, my radio time for nearly twenty years (beginning in the mid-1980s) was directed at only one New York City radio station called 92.3 FM K-Rock, with classic rock all day and Howard Stern (the self-proclaimed "King of All Media") all morning! The station's format is now long gone and Howard has moved onto Sirius XM radio, but there was a time, my friends, when this particular radio station ruled the New York FM airwaves...
Ironically, I only first discovered Howard Stern during his afternoon drive show when he first joined K-Rock in 1985. The film PRIVATE PARTS, based on Stern's own book, traces his life and career only up until the year 1985, when his fame (apparently) skyrocketed. So it's pretty safe to say that despite my love for the man's outrageous radio routines, I had much to learn about what happened before I discovered him. But listen to how I sound, will you! I'm talking as if I'm referring to some truly significant Gandhi-type cultural figure worthy of a substantial biographical epic motion picture. Geez, we're talking about Howard fucking Stern! I love the guy, but let's face it - PRIVATE PARTS doesn't exactly tell the story of the triumph of the human spirit facing life's insurmountable odds and obstacles! No, this is a movie about shock, disgust, filth, hot chicks sucking on very long keilbasas, and even more important, the very first naked girl in the history of radio!
(thank you Jenna Jameson!!!)
As the film is starred by and narrated by Howard Stern himself, one of the first things he tells his audience is that's he's constantly misunderstood. Whether one chooses to actually buy that statement is up to them and just how devoted they are to his real stardom. The average radio listener only knows what they hear in radio bits that are (presumably) just an act. What PRIVATE PARTS likely attempts to do is actually humanize a man who has made his way to fame by being offensive, obnoxious and disgusting. Those who listen to him know this and frankly, don't give a shit! The more offensive, obnoxious and disgusting, the better! This is why we listen to him - or as the film suggests, we want to see what he'll say next! However, the film would like us to see the real Howard Stern - the loving and loyal husband, the excited father-to-be, the loyal friend to those he works well with. From his slow rise as a small radio disc jockey, Howard is committed to staying with those he's come to depend on during his show, including long-time sidekick and friend Robin Quivers, Fred Norris and Gary Dell'Abate (all playing themselves in this film, as well). Our purpose for this film, of course, is to laugh our asses off at a man who just wants to have fun while doing his job on the radio. Should we choose to take the humanity angle of it seriously, then it's very safe to say that Howard's claim of him being misunderstood is right on. The real Howard Stern (in the film) appears to be a decent human being whom you may not mind having in your life as a friend. As a husband, he seems almost exemplary, maintaining a true devotion and appreciation to his wife Alison through all the tough times of trying to make a name for himself in radio against the FCC and horrible bosses he's nicknamed "Pig Vomit" (played outrageously by Paul Giamatti). By the film's end, he's seen simply as loving father returning to his wife and three little girls when they greet him at the airport. Of course, even the most decent of man can't resist asking his devoted wife if she'd be interested in participating in a ménage à trois with himself and model Carol Alt. Just sayin'!
And yet, I have to point out, that despite the so-called happy Hollywood ending of a man and his devoted wife and family, Howard Stern in real life divorced from Alison in 2001 and married model Beth Ostrosky in 2008. So I guess the film's happy ending turned out to be a bust! Ah, but who cares! We don't watch PRIVATE PARTS to satisfy our emotional need for human drama that one might experience in a Merchant-Ivory film! We watch for the more important things in life - filth, disgust, shock and naked chicks...and because we love Howard Stern! Though I can't say that I listen to him anymore for the simple reason that I refuse to pay for any sort of radio, which seems to be the 21st Century listening trend these days. Sorry, but some things in life are meant to stay free of charge!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Researcher: "The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes a day. The average Howard Stern fan listens for - are you ready for this? - an hour and twenty minutes."
Kenny Rushton: "How can that be?"
Researcher: "Answer most commonly given? "I want to see what he'll say next."
Kenny: "Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?"
Researcher: "Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day."
Kenny: "But...if they hate him, why do they listen?"
Researcher: "Most common answer? "I want to see what he'll say next."