Now THIS Is Gender Bias: The Undeserved And Dishonest Hyping Of Elaine May

BRILLIANT!

As someone who tried, often unsuccessfully, to promote female stage directors in Washington, D.C.’s professional theater scene, I am sympathetic to the cause of providing more opportunities  for women to direct at a high level, including Hollywood, as well as addressing directly the many and varied obstacles women face. One is a dearth of historical role models in the field. Quick, now, name five successful and respected female film directors. One just died, Penny Marshall. The pioneer in the field, actress Ida Lupino, always turns up on such lists, but which of her six films in the 50’s is a classic? “Hard, Fast and Beautiful?” “The Bigamist?” I’ve seen all of the films she directed, and she was a solid, professional director (and also an excellent actress). But Stanley Kubrick she wasn’t.  Katheryn Bigelow has to be on the list, and she’s directed several excellent films, including “The Hurt Locker,” which won a
“Best Picture” Oscar. But her resume would rank somewhere around 500 or so in a gender-blind list. Okay, that’s three.

The reasons for this are not merely discrimination in the show business industries, though that is certainly a major factor. However, as we have seen and continue to see among activists for other traditionally marginalized groups, admitting inconvenient truths that counter a group identify narrative is neither popular nor common. Unfortunately, such activists have a bad and unethical habit of hyping the accomplishments of members of their favored groups, perpetuating falsehood “for the common good” and making themselves less credible and respectable advocates as a result. In politics, we saw this repeatedly during the 2016 campaign when Hillary Clinton was described as being one of the “most qualified” Presidential candidates in American history, as assertion that is simply untrue by any objective standard. As with the Clinton hyping, it is particularly troubling when the talents and accomplishments of a an individual are hyped by journalists to advance an agenda. Journalists are not practicing their craft ethically when they intentionally try to deceive the public and distort the record, regardless of their supposedly good intentions.

Now, you might say, and I might be inclined to agree, that when current journalism standards have sunk as low as they are now, and when the news media appears to be capable of previously unimaginable deceptions in an effort to advance one political party over another, a New York Times female film critic’s efforts to bootstrap the cause of female directors by absurdly hyping the directing skills of Elaine May is small potatoes indeed. However, “The Marvelous Ms. Elaine May,” by chief Times film critic Manohla Dargis, is worthy of genuine alarm. In it, an accepted “authority” sets out to claim that black is white, that May has been an outstanding film director when she hasn’t even been a good one. She relies on the ignorance of her readers to make this argument, because May’s films—she’s directed four–have been such flops that the odds of a readers having seen all of them are daunting. Worse, I have to assume that Dargis is doing this for political reasons. Either that, or she is so gender-biased that she can’t see straight.

The article’s existence in the pages of the Times tells us that even arts reporting is now polluted beyond trust and recognition by political agendas and propaganda. Moreover, its goal is to intentionally misinform the public.

Let me note here that I admire the talents of Elaine May, whom I first encountered when she and her long-time partner Mike Nichols did a series of beer commercials tha ran during Red Sox games. She  was a deft sketch comedian, and also a sharp writer of satire. My theater company in Arlington, Virginia produced her most successful play, the Off-Broadway hit “Adaptation.” However, after the team of Nichols and May broke up, Nichols became on of the most critically-acclaimed and successful film directors of the last 50 years, and May didn’t. Dargis hints that sexism and discrimination were the culprits, because May was also a “brilliant” director. This is worse than claiming the Hillary was the most qualified candidate in history. It’s more like saying that she ran one of the best campaigns in history. I’ve watched all four of Elaine May’s movies.  Can’t fool me!

Her first Hollywood effort was a mess called “The New Leaf.” My family went to see it the week it was released because we were all Elaine May fans. Writes the critic,

“In 1968, when May signed her extraordinary contract with Paramount Pictures to write, direct and star in “A New Leaf,” she became the first female director with a Hollywood deal since Ida Lupino. Her manager pushed the female angle, telling the studio that having a woman filmmaker would be of significance. Perhaps he had noticed that second-wave feminists were agitating for change, even as the industry remained stuck in its sexist rut: it’s been estimated that at the time less than 1 percent of American directors were women. She and Paramount soon clashed, though, and the studio took the movie away from her. She sued and tried to get it to remove her name. It’s still wonderful.”

Well, not exactly—it’s unwatchable. My family wanted to walk out of it, but my dad resisted, saying that it had to get better. Hilariously, Dargis writes, “May’s inexperience as a director doesn’t show.” What I most remember from “The New Leaf” is a scene in which Walter Matthau, playing a lazy playboy who is out of cash, visits his rich uncle (played by James Coco) to beg for money. (I think Coco was an uncle; it doesn’t matter, and the less time I spend on that film the better). As we watched the scene, my father noticed that you could clearly see reflected in the large silver bowl in front of where Coco was sitting the camera and film crew, moving around and pointing! It was amazing (and distracting), and the reflection was visible throughout the rather long, unfunny sequence. That’s not just inexperience, or even a “blooper,” that’s director negligence and incompetence. When the movie was on TV, the reflection was too small to discern, and maybe by now it has been digitally removed.

May’s next film was her most successful, 1972’s “The Heartbreak Kid.” Many professional critics loved—still love— “the dark romantic comedy,” which was written by Neil Simon in a bad mood, but audiences didn’t. It lost money, and for a good reason: it’s a cruel, mean-spirited, ugly movie about a shallow man abusing women. Interestingly, Mike Nichols also directed a  mean-spirited, ugly movie with similar themes, “Carnal Knowledge”—but that film was a drama. Both movies made me nauseous, but at least the Nichols film invited us to find the misogynist behavior of the main character horrifying, not funny.

“The Heartbreak Kid”is about a Jewish shlub played by Charles Grodin who marries his earthy, Jewish, virgin girl friend because that’s the only was he can have sex with her. The young woman, played by May’s daughter, actress Jeanie Berlin, is completely guileless and trusts this creep to love her, so she feels secure being unrelentingly herself. In one scene that lives in my nightmares, Berlin tells Grodin at a deli  about how wonderful it will be to spend their long, long lives together, all the time chewing an egg salad sandwich opne-mouthed as she talks. Grodin watches the chewed egg salad periodically fall out of Berlin’s mouth with growing horror, and you can see him regretting his proposal. It’s a funny, awful scene that would be an acceptable Saturday Night Live skit, except that in the film Berlin is lovable and innocent, and you know she’s going to get hurt.

Sure enough, the poor woman gets badly  sunburned on the first day of the couple’s honeymoon. Lobster red, slathered with ointment and with her lips and face swollen, she is relegated to bed by the resort doctor. Grodin goes out to the beach by himself, leaving her alone and in pain—nice—and promptly becomes infatuated with a sexy young super-shiksa, played by Cybil Shepherd.  Before the honeymoon is over, Grodin tells Berlin that he wants a divorce, in another scene that I would have my eyes surgically removed rather than watch again. One particularly ugly aspect of May’s work on the film is how ruthlessly she exploits her own daughter, making her so unattractive in an effort to cast Grodin as a tragi-comic hero. Berlin’s performance is superb—she was nominated for an Oscar—and that role essentially relegated her to obscure films and small roles for the rest of her career. I know I never wanted to be reminded of that egg salad again. Thanks, Mom!

Movie #3 was “Mikey and Nicky.” From Wikipedia:

Originally intended as a summer 1976 release, then delayed by editing problems, Mikey and Nicky was released in New York City on December 21, 1976. Because May missed the film’s delivery date, litigation followed between her and Paramount, with the studio gaining possession of the film with final cut privilege. May didn’t direct again for over a decade.

The film’s original $1.8 million budget had grown to nearly $4.3 million ($16.6 million in contemporary dollars) by the time May turned the film over to Paramount. She shot 1.4 million feet of film, almost three times as much as was shot for Gone with the Wind. By using three cameras that she sometimes left running for hours, May captured spontaneous interaction between [Peter] Falk and [John] Cassavetes. At one point, Cassavetes and Falk had both left the set and the cameras remained rolling for several minutes. A new camera operator said “Cut!” only to be immediately rebuked by May for usurping what is traditionally a director’s command. He protested that the two actors had left the set. “Yes”, replied May, “but they might come back“. Angered by May’s contentiousness during filming and editing, Paramount booked the completed film into theaters for a few days to satisfy contractual obligations, but did not give the film its full support.

May had similar battled with the studio during “The New Leaf,” which she wanted to have run three hours. In four films, exactly half broke down over May’s “artistic temperament,” and the films suffered. Orson Welles did stuff like this, but he had also directed “Citizen Kane.”

So after a decade of being shut-out of directorial opportunities due to her own ineptitude and arrogance,  May finally got a big-budget comedy to direct–“Ishtar.”  (May wrote the screenplay.) “Ishtar” is not only hard to watch, it’s hard to watch without becoming furious. I know a lot about this film, because my late friend, Bob McElwaine’s brother produced it, and I heard a lot of behind-the-scenes tales. The best that the film’s own producer could say about “Ishtar” was that “it wasn’t as bad a people said.”

The film was vanity production pushed by pals Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty to prove that they could be a comedy team like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in their famous “Road” movies. Anyone who had followed these actors’ careers should have known this was a disaster in the making. While both have played characters in comedies, neither is a natural comic. Hoffman in particular labors when he’s trying to be funny (See: “Hook”): his best comic turn, by far, was in “the Graduate,” under the direction of …Mike Nichols. He also did well in “Tootsie,” under the hand of another superb director, Sidney Pollack. Unfortunately for Dustin (and Warren), “Ishtar” was directed by May, and the result was  painful, amateurish performances that made it clear that what Bing and Bob did on “The Road to Morocco” wasn’t as easy as they made it look.

“Ishtar” lost money, embarrassed its stars, and jsutly ended May’s directing career, yet Dargis writes–she really does—of its failure,

“Ishtar” didn’t sink its studio and some critics dug it, but it didn’t take off at the box office and effectively marked the end of her directorial career. It’s a tremendous loss, and a scandal. Filled with great physical comedy and songs that are so awful they’re great, “Ishtar” is a movie whose time is now.

Because, you know, a woman directed it. Like it or else, you misogynist bigots!

64 thoughts on “Now THIS Is Gender Bias: The Undeserved And Dishonest Hyping Of Elaine May

  1. Ida Lupino is also known to “Twilight Zone” fans as the only woman to have directed an episode, season 5’s “The Masks”. She appeared in a first season episode as a lower-key Norma Desmond called, “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine”. She was a superb actress and her direction for “The Masks” was quite good.

    I could have done without that “Batman” episode she appeared in with Howard Duff, though…

  2. First, I love Walter Matthau.

    I found “A New Leaf” on youtube, and clicked around in it to see if I could find the scene with the reflections. Nearly every time I clicked, I landed on Matthau in the center of the screen, if not in close up. Could you imagine that – three hours of full-face Matthau growling at you? You’d have to tie me down, then put something heavy on me.

  3. I get the impression that there is a growing divide between critics and the audience in their impression of films. This divide is probably ideological, as Hollywood has decided their job is to force the audience to think correctly about social policy and the critics seem to agree that they need to help force the unwashed masses to become progressive Trump-haters. I understand that film critics are film snobs and like different things than their audience, but if they are only going to review a film for other film critics, I don’t understand why they are published.

  4. Mrs. OB and I walked out of “Ishtar” within no more than ten minutes of it’s beginning. (The one and only time we’ve ever walked out of a movie.) It was once in a lifetime bad. If “Ishtar’s” time is now, we’re in real trouble. I had no idea until now who the director of “Ishtar” was.

    Propaganda in the arts section. Not really a surprise. Just impressive in its magnitude.

    • A film podcast I respect said that *moments* of “Ishtar” were surprisingly modern, calling ahead to comedy from Flight of the Conchords or Fred Armisen/Bill Hader. But it didn’t say those moments were funny.

      • It is breathtakingly horrible. At least the few “moments” I saw were. But to say it was “Springtime for Hitler in Germany” is just absurd, a preposterous reach.

  5. “Ishtar’s” time is now? Really? Hmmmm. I am a little afraid. Has the last of the 4 Horsemen rode in on a cloud of flames? If that is the case, then, as Father Robbins used to say at Mass at St. Anne’s, “Jesus is coming – look busy.”

    jvb

    • What do you think, is “the time is now” a feminist clarion? The time is now to decide all women and their work are superior, and reality be damned? I think so. The time is now to call Manohla Dargis the most brilliant critic ever!

      • I read it to mean that the movie is more relevant today than when it was (unfortunately) made. Sheesh. Think of all of the new, lovely film canisters that could have been put to better use than in that embarrassment. Frankly, I can’t imagine how that movie would hold better today than when it was released. It was God-awful then and is probably still God-awful today.

        jvb

        • I took it to mean “Ishtar” could catch on with today’s subcultures that celebrate egregiously, famously, and/or fascinatingly bad movies (see “The Room”, MST3K reboot, YouTube channels that showcase “lost” VHS content). There’s a trend for surreal, slipstream comedy that fits in with this. Note that none of these are new phenomena, just more visible right now.

          That said, movies like “The Room” developed followings because viewers discovered them for themselves and spread them through word of mouth (though I can see a case for “The Room” having a clever PR campaign). Audiences decided they were entertaining enough to watch and interesting enough to dissect. If audiences want to discover “Ishtar”, they’ll discover “Ishtar.” A top down push from the NYT isn’t going to make that happen.

          • I’d watch “the Room” before I’d endure “Ishtar” again. At least I would be visualizing Bing Crosby and Bob Hope spinning in their graves. The real question is whether the film might have worked, or at least been a lot better, if actual comedians were cast instead of Hoffman and Beatty. Martin Short and Chevy Chase? John Candy and Bill Murray?

            • Honestly, I haven’t seen “Ishtar” and can’t fairly comment, but the guys you cited had the capacity to be really bad themselves. I wonder if it still failed with real comedians, we’d at least remember it as a more noble failure.

              I think “The Room” caught the public imagination because it was a such an oddity that was completely outside anyone’s frame of reference. It’s hard to make even a bad movie that fresh and unique.

  6. The article’s existence in the pages of the Times tells us that even arts reporting is now polluted beyond trust and recognition by political agendas and propaganda.

    Once a paper will distort and lie about any topic, it is only a matter of time until the corruption is in everything the paper writes. The Times crossed that line years ago. The are not the ‘paper of record’ any longer.

    Paper of prog?

  7. Hmm, I did not know Ishtar had a female director. Looks to me like she only got partway through an AD apprenticeship before she was out on her own. She was a groundbreaker, but wasn’t enough to make it stick. That may not be all her fault, if she didn’t get enough training and mentoring to see the problems. What is her fault is in pitting everyone else’s money and reputations at risk by not begging or hiring a co-director to handle her weaker areas. A tv director sounds like a good prospect for Ishtar, there still should have been some Burnett or Osmond directors around then. Asking the Hope or Crosby family for likely members maybe.

    Reading this made me wonder who has a Road picture to watch during the Superbowl, though I usually watch the puppy bowl…

  8. The sad thing is that this incident matters very little. Who really cares that much? No offense to Jack, but most people would ignore the article and figure it was lying anyway. If anyone actually still believed such lies, they would have been conned into watching some bad movies and maybe being brainwashed into thinking they were good. The issue is that this is a symptom of a broader problem. Colorado Springs, CO eliminated fitness tests for officers because the federal courts found that fitness tests discriminated based on sex and were meaningless for job performance. The female officers were awarded $2.5 million to make sure the city got the message. No more fitness tests for female officers. Why? Because you can’t design a meaningful fitness test that doesn’t have a higher failure rate among female officers.

    We don’t live in the la-la-land of federal judges. I think this has real consequences for public safety. It also has real consequences for qualified women and minorities. I have seen studies where fake resumes are sent out with different names to see if there is a difference in responses. The results seem to be that ‘white male sounding’ names get called in more than others. But why? Women and minorities are in great demand. Why wouldn’t they be PREFERRED over the ‘white males’? Well, I think AI has the answer.

    People keep noticing that AI always ends up being ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ and they can’t stop it. I think the problem is our disconnect between reality and our PC mandates about what is required to be true. AI keeps connecting athleticism to men and domesticity to women. It genders intentionally androgenized language. It has a harder time distinguishing blacks than whites in facial recognition software. Why? Because AI looks at how things are and learns from them. AI won’t learn that men and women are identical because they aren’t. AI misidentified a man bent over a stove wearing an apron as a woman because how many men wear aprons?

    How does this affect employment? Amazon’s hiring AI kept marking down feminists. It would mark down women who listed ‘Women’s X’ on their resume. They had to manually alter the result in programming. They had to enter 50,000 exceptions to try to get it to stop doing such things, and by that time it was just recommending random people. They keep trying to fix it, but I think they don’t realize the AI is just reflecting reality. What if female resumes are (on average) inflated, just like Elaine May’s directing career? The AI will learn this and start scaling women down, rating a man with identical qualifications better than a woman. If this is true, hiring managers would have discovered this as well. They have conversion charts for GPA’s from different schools, majors, etc (a 3.5 GPA from MIT is not worse than a 3.8 GPA from North by Northwest South Dakota A&T plus Fullering Academy). It wouldn’t surprise me if they have conversion charts for sex and race as well. If you give the hiring people a list of 50,000 things they can’t use to make a decision, they will just start randomly recommending people.

    An IQ study was done in South Africa on a bunch of psychology majors to test race and IQ. The white and black students were all in the same program and the two groups had the same average GPA’s. The test was designed to have no cultural or language barrier issues (all abstract pattern matching, no words) The white students had an average IQ of 105, the black students ended up with 82. The researchers couldn’t explain how the test could end up with such a racial bias. But what if the racial bias was actually in the GPA’s? What if the IQ differences between the groups is forced BECAUSE of the racial bias in the grading (smarter black students go to more demanding programs or better universities)?

    If we keep altering reality to make it fit an artificial definition, people will find a way to make it reflect reality. This would make it difficult for actually qualified women and minorities to be hired and taken seriously. If the last 5 ‘qualified’ female applicants couldn’t actually do the job, are people going to assume the 6th will be any different?

  9. OK, I saw Walter Matthau in a ‘lead role’! I don’t have much experience with movies but we have a huuugge collection of the Criterion Films. Many of them are sort of for film buffs and film historians though.

    And I watched two films with Matthau in them: Bigger Than Life and Hopscotch.

    He has the lead in Hopscotch. It is a good film. Enough that I watched it twice.

    And thank you for diverting my attention from the swiftly coming cultural wars in America! I also scanned through the film Heartbreak Kid (available on YouTube).

    Of all the film recommendations I have gotten here Falling Down is one of the best. The opening scene is unparalleled! Is that not a good metaphor for the *original demographic* of America!

    • I should be more specific: he has been CAST in lead roles, but he is miscast in such roles. Matthau fans will love him in anything, but the films whre he has been the lead—like Hopscotch–didn’t make money, for the most part. As part of a duo (The Odd Couple—Jack Lemmon IS a lead actor), or as a supporting character, he is more successful.

      • Is there a blog post where your movie recommendations can be found? I just pulled out Bull Durham in the Criterion Collection and it says it is one of the best baseball films. (I also liked Moneyball quite a bit). Field of Dreams I hear is a good one…

        • Best baseball fiims in my book:

          “The Natural
          “Field of Dreams”
          “The Bad News Bears”
          “The Gehrig Story”
          “Moneyball”
          “Major league”
          “42”
          “61”
          “A League Of Their Own”

          I don’t consider “Bull Durham” a baseball film, but it’s good.

          • Hmmm…
            Is this a “Die Hard is not a Christmas movie” type of argument? It is not about baseball; baseball is just a backdrop (like Fever Pitch perhaps)?

            Been a long time since I saw it. I recall parts of it being baseball specific enough to be a baseball film. But, it could equally be considered alongside any precocious youth/grizzled veteran storyline

            -Jut

            • Fever Pitch was about the way a fan’s devotion to a baseball team dominates everything. People thought it was exaggerated. It wasn’t. It had me when he caressed the photo of Tony C. OOPS! I forgot to put “The Sandlot” on the list!!!!!!!

              • “A” baseball team? No. Fever pitch is not a movie that could be written about just any baseball team. It is about the momentous Red Sox season. It could never be about the Cubs (that’s science fiction) or even the Cleveland Browns (not only science fiction, but baseball, unlike football is a daily grind for more than half of every year. That it why baseball is a pastime: you can miss a month and almost miss nothing because, if May is passed, you still have time. Oh, you had a 12 game winning streak in April? Let’s see where you are at the All-Star break.

                You could never make Fever Pitch about football, or about most baseball teams.

                It takes a certain psychopathy to embody a Red Sox fan. And Fallon nailed it (for the most obsequious of Boston fans).

                -Jut

          • I don’t consider “Bull Durham” a baseball film, but it’s good.

            How interesting. I watched it. My critique of it would be completely scathing. It is a film that is, more or less, pornography-lite. A *reckless phantasy*. There will never arise another occasion to watch it. There is nothing redeeming in it. I should have stopped it but I admit with embarrassment I watched it through.

            I could I think write out a fuller critique and (naturally) I would connect it to destructive social trends that can be traced in films.

            I’ll spare you …. 🙂

            • I don’t consider “Bull Durham” a baseball film

              BUT! BUT!

              It has one of the all time great quotes for one looking to say nothing when expected to make a statement!

              “I believe in the soul. The cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. [pause] Goodnight.”

              The dialog is priceless, perhaps better than The Princess Bride (for a baseball fan, anyway) and just a shade under Gilbert and Sullivan, in my humble opinion.

              “Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.”

              ” Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.” You could look it up.”

              “Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. Win 20 in the Show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the Show, however, it means you’re a slob.”

              “This is a simple game: You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. You got it?!”

              As a participant in conversations between pitcher and catcher (coach relied on me to calm the waters from first base) I appreciate this dialog:

              Crash: Timeout. [Walks to the mound] Hey! Why are you shaking me off? Huh?
              Nuke: I want to bring the heater. Announce my presence with authority.
              Crash: To announce your what?
              Nuke: Announce my presence with authority!
              Crash: To announce your fucking presence with authority?! This guy’s a first-ball, fastball hitter, he’s looking for the heat.
              Nuke: So what? He ain’t seen my heat.
              Crash: All right, Meat. Give him your heat. [He walks back to his place behind the plate.]
              Nuke: Why’s he always calling me Meat? I’m the guy driving a Porsche.
              Crash: [to the batter at the plate] Fastball.
              [Nuke throws it and the batter hits a home run. The batter stands there, watching.]
              Crash: What are you doin’? Huh? What are you doing standing here? I gave you a gift. You stand here showing up my pitcher? Run, dummy!
              Crash: Well, he really hit the shit outta that one, didn’t he? [laughs]
              Nuke: [softly, infuriated] I held it like an egg.
              Crash: Yeah, and he scrambled the son of a bitch. Look at that, he hit the fucking bull! Guy gets a free steak! [laughs] You having fun yet?
              Nuke: Oh, yeah. Havin’ a blast.
              Crash: Good.
              Nuke: God, that sucker teed off on that like he knew I was gonna throw a fastball!
              Crash: He did know.
              Nuke: How?
              Crash: I told him.

              The last line makes me spit out my drink every time Costner says it.

              • Great line. I wouldn’t go to the mat on whether BD is a baseball movie, but to me the key is how many people who don’t like or get baseball at all think it’s a great movie. On the other hand, if you don’t like or get baseball, must of the classic “Naked Gun” baseball sequence doesn’t work.

                  • Well, you’d have to read Freud to explain it. Humor arises from unexpected occurrences and responses. Crash shocks the young pitcher by confessing that he made sure the pitcher would fail in order to teach him a lesson. It’s funny because he does this AFTER lecturing him about what was the matter with the pitch, even though a batter can usually hit any pitch, even a perfect one, a long way if he knows what’s coming. Thus the conversation really is “You idiot! When will you learn not to throw pitches like that? See what happened?” “Yeah, he hit it like he knew it was coming.” “He did know. I told him.”

                    Unexpected Internal contradiction. Humor.

                    • It was even funnier because it would never even *occur* to most baseball players to give such a tip. just is not done, for a variety of reasons.

                      This situation, though, is recognized as ‘condign justice,’ which also makes it funny.

                      Kind of like a runner at first base taking an obnoxious big lead, and being tagged out by the first baseman, who palmed the ball from the pitcher.

                    • Oh, that I understand…

                      It was this part I needed filling in about its greatness. Keep in mind I am just an ignorant lassie …

                      “I believe in the soul. The cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. [pause] Goodnight.”

                    • PS: As per my thoughtful sister’s advise — she refers to me as what I translate as ‘annoying snot’ (with affection of course) — I must excuse myself for my general pretension. My excuse? I was born this way.

                    • “A devil, a born devil, on whose nature
                      Nurture can never stick”.

                      I did not catch the reference because — up until today! — I had not read The Tempest.

                      Now, everything will be different!

                    • Sorry, Alizia. Been away for a few days dealing with family issues.

                      You asked: “It was this part I needed filling in about its greatness.

                      That quote is simply a great line, not what makes the movie great in and of itself. It is an example of a line designed to end a conversation… or start a new one. It was well written.

                      The totality of quotes about baseball is what makes the movie great. The on field situations, the commentary about minor league players looking move up, the situational humor related to different aspects of the game, all make it a great movie. Not a classic, mind you, but high marks.

                      ‘The Natural’ is a classic, in my opinion. It is a great ethics and dramatic movie. It speaks to human nature, and how we rise above it. In other words, it inspires.

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