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Friday, June 16, 2006

Inspire This!!

The American Film Institute (AFI) has finally released its list of the all-time top 100 inspiring films. Many of you will recall my own suggested list from last November, and will be absolutely shocked to find that I was actually correct about one of the films being on the list. Yes, Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan made it, as I expected! Congratulations to Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Ricardo Montalban's fitness coach.

[transmission interrupted]

Whoops! I've just been informed that I was wrong. Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan was not on the list at all, due to AFI's secret pact with the late James Doohan to never include a William Shatner film on any list of theirs whatsoever, unless that list was printed on the bathroom paper in the men's loo.

The actual film on the list that I, Earl Fando, predicted would be there is Shane, the heartwarming tale of a tall, good-looking, vaguely metrosexual loner, his rather large gun, and the little boy who idolises him so much he wants to grow up to be David Beckham.

I'm sure you remember the plot. Van Helsing, sorry, I mean Van Morrison, erm...Van Halen? Van Basten...which is it?

[Consults Leonard Maltin's Big Wishy-Washy Guide to Movies]

Ah, yes! Van Heflin plays the homesteading husband, mentally cuckolded by Alan Ladd's cool, self-possessing, long-barrelled, gun-wielding Shane (I mean the gun has a long barrel), and also by the fact that his wife, played by the charming Jean Arthur, uncontrollably drools on Shane any time he gets within breathing distance of her.

Meanwhile, their son little Joey, played by Clint Howard-lookalike Brandon De Wilde, follows Shane around like a Welsh Terrier, nipping at his feet and bringing him dead mice as a sign of his affection. Little Joey wants to be just like Shane, meaning he wants to brutally kill lots of people and have the most intimate relationships of his life in bordellos, pool halls, and behind the large cactus somewhere between Dodge City and Barstow.

Spoiling this idyllic little hippie commune is the evil Jack Palance played by Jack Palance. Jack wants to kill Shane because Shane's gun is longer, and also, as a bonus, for the money. After humilitaing Shane in a one-armed push-up contest, during which little Joey stands on Jack's back while he does the push-ups, Jack further ups the ante by telling a little story about the harrowing ghost of a man director George Stevens lost $40,000 (American) to in a poker game, "Believe it, or not."

Shane, enraged by such an obvious joke, shoots Jack to death in a bar, killing 4 barflys and a temperance protester as well. He then pistol-whips Jack's corpse and a passing Jehovah's Witness, just to show them who's boss.

Little Joey is only winged in the incident, when one of the barflys falls on him and breaks a bottle of "Old Muleskin" over his noggin. He declares his complete and totally innocent adolescent adoration for Shane, in the hopes that it will prevent this lunatic gunslinger from silencing his annoying whinging with a .44 caliber slug between his beady, crossed eyes.

In the final scene, Shane departs, unable to bring himself to silence annoying little Joey once and for all, and unable to stave off Jean Arthur's repeated offers to "polish his pistol." Little Joey, being quite deranged, follows Shane into the desert, crying, "Come back, Shane!" and "Daddy's all right, as long as you don't let him take the plane to Rome!" Unfortunately, little Joey wanders too far, loses his way, and is eaten by diabetic vultures, who are then instantly killed by the syrup that the film's producers exchanged for Joey's actual blood.

Shane lives a lonely but happy existence, killing old Hollywood actors in drunken sprees of gunslingling, waving his gun around in a drunken rage, drinking, and raising his daughter Cheryl. Van Heflin and Jean Arthur rekindle their love, passion, and her baked beans, and have two more boys, named Bert and Ernie, both of whom may or may not be gay, and who love beans.

Meanwhile, AFI's number one pick for the most inspiring film of all time is It's A Wonderful Life, a film about a man who throws away all his dreams to become a loan agent, is betrayed by big business and a sodden family employee, and consdiers suicide, until an angel appears and points out that he really is extremely wealthy, and that people will show up at his house with loads of cash, if only his attractive wife goes about town asking for money. I can hardly argue with that choice. At least George Bailey doesn't put a bullet through Uncle Billy's aorta at the end.


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