Tuesday, July 17, 2018

An Offer You Can't Refuse

The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire
Released: March 24, 1972

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola (lost to Bob Fosse for Cabaret)
Best Actor - Marlon Brando (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Al Pacino (lost to Joel Grey for Cabaret)
Best Supporting Actor - Robert Duvall
Best Supporting Actor - James Caan
Best Adapted Screenplay - Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola (won)
Best Costume Design (lost to Travels With My Aunt)
Best Editing (lost to Cabaret)
Best Sound (lost to Cabaret)

*It should be mentioned that the score by Nino Rota was originally nominated, but was deemed ineligible and was replaced by the score from Sleuth. This was because Rota had already used portions of this score for a 1958 movie called Fortunella. *


The Godfather Part II
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Robert DuVall, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Lee Strasberg
Released: December 20, 1974

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola (won)
Best Actor - Al Pacino (lost to Art Carney for Harry and Tonto)
Best Supporting Actor - Robert DeNiro (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Lee Strasberg
Best Supporting Actor - Michael V. Gazzo
Best Supporting Actress - Talia Shire (lost to Ingrid Bergman for Murder On the Orient Express)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola (won)
Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (won)
Best Costume Design (lost to The Great Gatsby)
Best Score - Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola (won)


The Godfather Part III
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Sofia Coppola
Released: December 25, 1990

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (lost to Dances With Wolves)
Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola (lost to Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves)
Best Supporting Actor - Andy Garcia (lost to Joe Pesci for Goodfellas)
Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (lost to Dick Tracy)
Best Cinematography (lost to Dances With Wolves)
Best Editing (lost to Dances With Wolves)
Best Original Song - "Promise Me You'll Remember" by Carmine Coppola and John Bettis (lost to "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man") by Stephen Sondheim for Dick Tracy)




***Spoiler warning for all three movies***

I'm going to say something that might anger a lot of movie aficionados: I don't care for most movies from a certain era. This "era" includes from the inception of film making to the sixties. Now I'll be the first to admit that I haven't seen many movies from these decades (you may notice that many of the movies I review are from the eighties, nineties, aughties, and whatever the heck you call this decade), so perhaps it's not fair for me to make that judgement. But every time I watch (or try to watch!) a movie from the distant past, I have such a hard time getting into it. There are a few exceptions to this. I really liked Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and 12 Angry Men (1957). And even though I'm not gaga over Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and Citizen Kane (1941), I can appreciate their places in pop culture relevancy. I actually came to appreciate Tiffany's a lot more when I tried watching My Fair Lady (1964). I couldn't even finish that one! All About Eve (1950) is another one I couldn't finish. I've seen Casablanca  (1942) and eh. I wasn't impressed. Yeah, it gives us that great line, but I really didn't see the big deal. (I'm just really asking to be murdered by a cinephile, aren't I?) And there are other movies from this era that I've seen that I don't care for. Oh! How could I forget? I really don't like one of the most beloved movies of our time, The Wizard of Oz (1939). It's been more than a minute (or a decade or two!) since I've seen it, but I think my dislike for this film is inherited from my mom who hilariously hates this movie (she said she had to watch it a lot when she was a kid and in turned started to hate it) and also, I lived in Kansas when I was a kid/teenager so I have heard many of the stupid jokes about "I don't think you're in Kansas anymore."Ugh! Everyone who ever said that to me thought they were being SO CLEVER! So yeah, now I've probably pissed off a lot of people....but don't worry, you'll be getting some good news in a bit.

You're probably wondering where the '70s fits into this (actually, you're probably wondering when I'm going to start the damn review!) as I don't count it among the decades of filmmaking I don't care for and I also haven't reviewed too many movies from that decade. Well, I hope to change that soon. As much as I hate '70s fashion (bell bottoms? ugh!), '70s music (disco? It's the WORST!), and '70s decor (orange shag carpet? Whoever thought that was a good idea?), I think the '70s has some great films and to me, that's the first decade where I truly love the majority of the films (and even though I haven't seen as many movies from the '70s than from the '80s til the present, I have seen many more films from the '70s than from any before it). Obviously you have the rise of Steven Spielberg and Jaws (1975) which is considered the first blockbuster and you have Star Wars (1977) which, while I don't really care about those movies, has been one of the biggest franchises of all time, if not the biggest. Already I've just named two movies and already this decade is way more impressive in terms of filmmaking than any decade before it. Oh, and let's just add The Godfather and it's sequel (1972, 1974) and it pretty much cements the '70s as the first truly great decade in film history. That's okay if you don't agree with me, but rejoice, film aficionados and cinephiles! You don't have to kill me! I love The Godfather movies! (Well, the first two...the third was okay, but we'll get to that later). 

Seeing as all three movies are either almost three hours long or over three hours, it took me about four days to get through all of them, but it was an engrossing experience as I knew I was in the thralls of what is considered to be two of the best movies ever made in the history of film (and the third one was still pretty enjoyable for what it is). It was like finding the Holy Grail of movies. I'm not saying this is my new favorite movie, but wow! It was so good! I was just in awe watching them. I get why people love these movies and rave about them. I get why they've won so many accolades. I get why the first one is ranked #1 (or 2 or 3) on many Best Movies Of All Time lists. The only movies that ever seem to get ahead of it on these lists are Citizen Kane and/or Casablanca, and like I've mentioned before, I don't much care for those films. The American Film Institute ranked it the second greatest movie of all time behind Citizen Kane.

Yes, believe it or not I had never seen The Godfather trilogy. I admit, the length was a big factor in that. I just never had time to really sit down and watch all of them and knowing they were all around three hours just seemed like a huge chore, but I was able to find time to set aside a couple hours each day to watch them. I also wasn't sure if I would like them. I'm not the biggest fan of the mafia/mob genre. Besides Goodfellas(which I really love), I really haven't seen many films depicting it. I watched The Sopranos (and I could tell it was very influenced by The Godfather), but it was never a favorite show of mine. Hell, I still haven't seen the last season to this day! I was very aware of The Godfather in pop culture history, how could you not be? It has been parodied countless times in other movies and TV shows. (Zootopia comes to mind). I was very aware of the horse head scene and I knew "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse" (which is the second most iconic movie line after "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind according to AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes). It also gives us the well-known mantras "It's not personal, it's business" and "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer", although I don't think they originated from the films or the 1969 novel  by Mario Puza the first film is based on, but I'm sure it helped make them popular. It also helped popularize the phase, "sleeping with the fishes."

The first movie opens with Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), the head of one of the Five Families, a powerful New York mob family granting requests on this, the day of daughter's wedding. He has a cat in his lap who is just loving the pats and scratches and belly rubs its getting from the Godfather. We meet the Corleone family. There's oldest son, Santino, who goes by Sonny (James Caan); second oldest son, Fredo (John Cazale); youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino); and youngest, his daughter, Connie (Talia Shire). Oh, and he's also married to a woman named Carmela, but she's pretty much a non-factor. In fact, I had to look up her name. She has a couple scenes in the movie. We also meet Vito's lawyer and adopted son, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). I did not recognize DuVall at all...I knew he was in this movie and kept looking for him and just figured he had a small part and I just missed it, but no, he's a major character and it wasn't until after I looked him up that I realized who he was!

Michael brings his girlfriend, Kay (Diane Keaton) to the wedding. I knew Diane Keaton was in this movie, but I did not recognize her at all! Yeah, this movie came out 46 years ago, but I have seen Annie Hall and that was released a few years after this one and she looks like Diane Keaton in that. I'm used to Diane Keaton looking like...Diane Keaton and I did not recognize her at all! It wasn't until I was well into the movie and had already seen the other two women in the movie who clearly weren't her as they were both Italian and dark-haired, that I realized the young fair-haired woman we were introduced to early in the movie was indeed her! By the second movie, I do recognize her, although that could be because I'm already aware it's her!

So I already mentioned the infamous horse head scene but I was NOT expecting it to happen so soon! Something like that, I thought for sure there would be a build-up to it, but no, it happens just a little over half an hour into this nearly three hour saga! The poor horse was killed because of some Frank Sinatra wannabe named Johnny Fontane who sings at Connie's wedding and who all the girls and older women fawn over him like he's the Beatles or Elvis or One Direction. He wants out of his recording contract and his Godfather is able to make that happen. When a movie executive refuses to put Fontane in one of his movies, he wakes up to find his beloved $600,000 racehorse's head in his bed. I had always assumed the head was on the pillow next to his, but he wakes up to find himself in a pool of blood (a LOT of blood) and follows the trail to the foot of his bed where the head is and has the reaction I think anyone in his situation would have: he screams in horror and anguish. As horrible as this scene is in the context of the movie, I think the behind-the-scenes story is almost worse. First of all, it's a real horse's head. Ugh. Now I understand why the actor screamed like that! I would need years of therapy! I did not know about this until after I saw the movie. I just figured the horse head was donated to them after a horse died of old age or natural causes, but no...it's much worse than that. It's pretty horrific, actually. Probably just as horrific as you know, decapitating a horse after you kill it. Coppola got the horse head from a dog food company. Yes, there was once upon a time when they slaughtered horses for dog food. What the f*** kind of s*** it that? Not cool, Frank. As far as I know, that no longer happens, but you can bet I marched over to my cat's cat food to read the ingredients and was relieved to see the only protein listed was chicken. There is no way in hell you could film this scene in today with a real head, even if the animal had died of old age or natural causes. So yeah, pretty disturbing.

Despite playing the titular character, Marlon Brando wasn't in the movie very much. He's only in it for less than an hour. He gets shot early on in the movie by a drug trafficker named Sollozzo after he refuses to go into business with him. He survives the assassination attempt, but spends time in the hospital. After a corrupt cop named McClusky, who's on Sollozzo's pay roll, pops Michael in the jaw, Michael decides he's going to get revenge on them, and kill them. He also knows if they're not killed first, they're going to come after his father because they know he survived the assassination attempt.  There is a meeting set up under the guise of a truce because after the assassination attempt on their father, hothead oldest son Sonny had a hit put out on one of Sollozzo's allies. (There was a lot of plot to follow!) The only way to do this is find a hiding spot for his gun at the restaurant they'll be at since he'll be frisked beforehand. He's given advice from Sonny and Clemenza, his father's right-hand man on how the hit should go down. The advice he gets includes "two shots a piece in the head as soon as you come out" [of the restroom] and for him to drop the gun and "walk fast, but don't run." Clemenza is not amused when he asks Michael, "You shot them both, what do you do?" and Michael replies, "Sit down, finish my dinner." When he's at the restaurant, he's starting intently at the wine opener the waiter is using and I really thought it was going to come into play. Either he wasn't going to find the gun in the bathroom where they decided it would be hidden in a toilet tank and have to improvise with the wine opener or he was just going to snap and grab it from the waiter and puncture the men's necks with it. But that doesn't happen. When he goes into the bathroom, he finds the hidden gun, but instead of immediately shooting the men as he was directed, he sits back down at the table and I wondered if he had changed his mind. But no, as Sollozzo is talking to him, you can see the anger raging in him and he shoots them both in the head (and the police officer also gets it in the throat) and the table flips over. The waiter is standing right next to the table and blood gets all over his uniform and he just takes a step back, with his arms behind his back. It's very odd. He doesn't scream or look scared. The other extras in this scene just sort of slip out the back door while Michael briskly walks out the door.

The men he killed were connected to one of the other Five Families (and I'm sure somewhere out there, someone has a detailed family tree of these mafia families!) and he is taken somewhere he'll be (supposedly) safe. Picture it: Sicily, 1945. (How much do you want to bet Sophia Petrillo loves The Godfather?) He's staying there under the protection of his father's friend, Don Tammasino. He meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Apollonia and they get married. This has to be the smallest villages ever because after he sees her, he and a couple guys he was with go to an outdoor cafe and while they tell the guy who owns the cafe about the girl, we find out that she's his daughter and he's not happy they're talking about her like that! But through a translator, Michael wins him over and asks him if he can introduce him to his daughter. The marriage doesn't last very long as the bad guys have found out where Michael is and a car bomb that was intended for him, kills his first wife instead and he heads back to New York after being in Sicily for a couple of years. We never do see any fallout from her father. She could have easily been a forgotten character, but she is brought up in the third movie when Michael mentions her to his grown children. That's kind of a messed up thing to do. "Hey, kids, I was married to another woman before I married your mother, but she was killed. Otherwise, if she hadn't died, I would still be with her and you two would never exist." So yes, Michael ends up marrying Kay when returns to New York, but he doesn't approach her until he's been back for a year and they just sort of pick up where they left off, even though Kay had no idea where he was or that he was married. Their son, Anthony, is born a few years later.

Connie is married to an abusive man and Sonny beats him up. When it happens again (and there are  dishes being smashed and belts being lashed and furniture being turned over), Sonny heads out to help his sister, but ends up being shot at when he tries to go through the toll, but his car is blocked and he's unable to get through as the men riddle his car (not to mention Sonny himself!) with bullets. This was all a plot by one of the heads from one of the Five Families who got Connie's husband to wile her up so she would call Sonny for help and then they could trap and kill him. Of course Connie's husband will later be killed in retribution, making Connie none too pleased with Michael, who ordered the hit.

Vito, who is now recovered, calls for an emergency meeting between the Five Families and wants a peace offering. Because of this, Michael is able to return to the United States without fear of retaliation. The film will jump forward in time a few years without telling us. (They're much better about that in the second movie). All of a sudden, Marlon Brando is in old man make up and he's playing with his grandson in an orange grove where he will eventually keel over and die.  Oranges play a pivotal role in these movies: whenever you see one, a character will die or almost get killed in that scene or maybe a few scenes later. I have to admit, I honestly didn't notice it until the second movie, but when I went back and revisited some scenes, then I defintely noticed. Just keep your eyes peeled for oranges whenever you watch any of The Godfather movies (although, I swear in the third movie, sometimes there are oranges in a scene and nothing significant happens). Because of the deaths of his father and older brother, Michael is now the head of the Corleone household.

While I don't know which scene in The Godfather is the most iconic, I would have to assume it's one of the last scenes where Michael is at the church baring witness to his sister's baby being baptized while a multitude of murders are going on. Pretty much Michael is making sure he's turning on his foes before they turn on him. While the baptism is going on, we see the other heads of the mafia families being killed. Probably the most memorable death is that of one Moe Greene, the bespectacled Las Vegas casino owner who refused to sell his shares to Michael. He is shot in the eye (through the lens of his glasses) as he's getting a massage and a lot of blood spurts out. Pretty impressive how they did that. Although I have to give major props for the guy who died on the steps and rolled down them. That got a chuckle out of me.  That was some great acting there. The baby we see getting baptized is none other than future Oscar-nominated director Sofia Coppola (aka the director's daughter). She was only a couple weeks old when they filmed that scene and she was born in May of 1971, so that should give you a timeline of when the movie was filmed. I'm sure many people would agree that her performance in this movie is much better than her performance in the third movie...oh, we'll get to that in due time!

Time to move on to The Godfather Part II. Some people like the first movie the best, some people prefer the second to the first. Never is the third movie in this conversation. (Wonder if there's anyone out there who does like the third more than the first two?) While I think there are great scenes in the first movie, I think I may like the second a bit better because by this time I was more invested in the movie and I was more familiar with the characters. But then again, there are some great scenes in the first movie and you have that iconic performance by Marlon Brando. Yeah, this is tough. The second movie is the longest at three hours and twenty-two minutes. (The first one is three minutes shy of being three hours and the third one is ten minutes shy of being three hours. Dang, these are really long movies!) In a way, Part II is like watching two movies interwoven into each other: one starring Al Pacino and the other starring Robert DeNiro. The movie is so long that there was actually an intermission break after two hours! Seriously, after the scene ended, this cue card came on that said "Intermission". I have never seen a movie have an intermission, not even Titanic which is the same amount of time (five minutes less!) and I saw that in the theaters three times! This movie is the first sequel to win an Oscar, something that won't happen again until 2004 when the third Lord of the Rings movie won.

It's 1958 Michael and his family are living in a lake house near Lake Tahoe in Nevada and his children are grade school age, young Anthony just having celebrated his First Communion. Early on in the movie, an assassination attempt it made on Michael when bullets come flying through his bedroom window as he's talking to his wife, who is in bed. Nobody is hurt, but Michael will spend the rest of the movie trying to find out who put out a hit on him.

A new major character is that of Hyman Roth, a Jewish investor and business partner of Michael's. He plays into Michael's father's mentality of "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." He is played by Lee Strasberg, who, I'll admit, I didn't know who that was, but after listening to some podcasts and reading about him, discovered he was a famous acting coach who taught acting method and some of his famous clients included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Paul Newman, and his co-star, Al Pacino. When we first meet Hyman, he's lounging on a chair with one leg draped over the arm of the seat. I have never seen anyone sit like this in the movies or in real life, but now knowing his background as a method actor, it all makes sense that he would think outside the box. Needless to say, there's some shady stuff going down with Roth. Michael thinks that Roth put the hit out on him, but when Roth tells him that he was a friend of Moe Green's and heard he had been killed, he did not worry about who put the hit out on him, and let it go, insinuating that Michael should do the same. Hyman has a hit out for Michael, but Michael's men kill him first. It turns out that Michael's only surviving brother (for now!), Fredo was the one responsible for the attempted hit on him. "I knew it was you, Fredo...you broke my heart." In Fredo's defense, he says he didn't know about that, but it's too little, too late. Michael has one of his men kill Fredo (a shot to the back of the head while they're fishing in a boat), but not until after their mother has died so she doesn't have to be alive to know about it.

Kay, who is pregnant with what Michael hopes is a son (why does he care when he already has a son?) has lost the baby in a miscarriage, but later, she will reveal to Michael something I think she should have taken to the grave: she tells him she didn't have a miscarriage, but rather an abortion because she didn't want to bring any more children into this family. Well, this makes Michael furious and he slaps Kay in an intense scene. They get divorced, not surprisingly.

There's a lot more things going on during the Michael storyline, including a Senate hearing investigating the Corleone family. Plenty of oranges and murders! While all these scenes are going on, we get some reprieves with the flashbacks to a young Vito Corleone. Yes, we get the Vito Corleone origin story. And it starts at the very beginning with him. We see him as a nine-year-old boy named Vito Andolini who lives in Corleone, Sicily. His father has been murdered by Don Ciccio (pronounced Chi-chi-oh!), the main mafia leader after Antonio Andolini insulted him. (Dang, don't insult Ciccio!) Vito's older brother vowed revenge, but also ended getting killed himself. Ciccio has his men fetch Vito because he wants him killed too. His mother begs for his life, telling the crime lord that the child never talks and isn't a threat, but Ciccio doesn't care. I have to say, that he's right. Sure, right now he's a weak nine-year-old kid, but as well know, he'll grow up to be one of the most powerful men in the mafia who will build an impressive empire. And, spoiler alert, he will get his vengeance on Ciccio. Just not right now. Cuz he's only nine. Mama Andolini distracts Ciccio and tells her son to run. He complies, but she is shot. With help, Vito gets on a ship and travels to New York. Because he doesn't talk, his last name becomes Corleone, the place of his birth.

When we see Vito later, he will now be a young man and he's played by Robert DeNiro. He was thirty when he filmed this and he looks so young! Even if I didn't know he was in this movie, I would have recognized him. I grew up with '90s and '00 Robert DeNiro, so I'm used to him being fifty and older in his movies (think Meet the Parents or Silver Linings Playback DeNiro). He does a good job of adopting Brando's mannerisms from the first movie. All the Vito scenes are subtitled in English because the characters are speaking Italian. Vito lives in Little Italy (where else?) with a family that are distant relatives of his. This is where he meets Genco, who he will eventually start an olive oil company with called Genco Pura. (Mmm, olive oil). He gets a job as a grocer at Genco's father store, but understands when he has to be fired because a man named Fanucci, who has a lot of power and is able to get his way, wants his son to have the job. We see how Vito meets Clemenza and Tessio who are both important figures in the first movie and become important allies for Vito. They start an illegal operation and Fanucci gets wind of this and demand that Vito and his men cut him in for a profit or he will go to the police. Vito will hide in a dark shadow of Fanucci's apartment and kill him with a towel. Well, a gun wrapped inside a towel. Before Fanucci will meet his demise, he will grab an orange from a market. Should've gotten an apple, Fanucci.

Speaking of people who Vito will get his revenge on, remember good old Ciccio? He's a much older man, but he's still alive (for now) when Vito goes back to Sicily twenty-two years later under the guise of selling his olive oil to him. When the hard-of-hearing Ciccio asks his name, Vito replies, "Vito Corleone" and when he asks who his father is, he has to tell him twice that it's Antonio Andolini because Ciccio didn't hear him the first time. As he leans closer to tell him, he knifes him in the stomach, cutting him diagonally as he say, "And this is for you!" Yep, Ciccio was smart in wanting to kill Vito when he was a young boy so this wouldn't happen to him!

Time to move on to The Godfather Part III which came out sixteen years after Part II and is set in 1979. I was kind of surprised to find out it was nominated for Best Picture (even though it didn't win like the first two did) because whenever The Godfather trilogy is brought up, people HATE this movie and talk about how awful it is and how it can't be counted as a perfect trilogy because this movie brings it down. I do agree it's not as good and doesn't have the same pedigree as its predecessors, but honestly, I didn't think it was that bad. Of course, I was expecting for something really awful, but it was still an enjoyable stand alone movie. I think it has my favorite Al Pacino line from any of The Godfather movies which is, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" This movie came out the same year as fellow gangster flick, Goodfellas, also nominated for Best Picture. That movie was much better than this one.

While I didn't think the movie was as bad as everyone made it out to be, I did have to agree that Sofia Coppola was awful in it. This was something I also heard in regards to this movie, and hoo boy, they weren't lying. "Sofia Coppla was really good in Godfather 3," said no one ever. I totally blame this on the director, what was he thinking putting his eighteen (nineteen?) year-old daughter in this? I guess Winona Ryder was originally supposed to have the part, but she dropped out to be in Edward Scissorhands. While there were other actresses who expressed interest in playing the role, they were on a tight schedule and Sofia was the only one available...or something. I'm not quite sure about the whole story. Maybe Francis Ford Coppola had his father glasses on and his children can do no wrong in his eyes, but did he not see how awful his daughter was in this movie? Even Stevie Wonder could see that! Her voice and delivery are flat, she has no emotion, just everything about her acting is terrible. Well, I thought she was good in one scene, but I'll get to that later. (And you'll think I'm so mean!) I have enjoyed Sofia's movies she's directed, so she does have talent...acting just isn't it! I do feel bad for Sofia because she was so young and she got a lot of flak for this. That's gotta be hard. FFC is no stranger to casting his family in his movies. Talia Shire, who plays Connie in all three movies, is his sister.

I should probably mention that Sofia plays Michael and Kay's daughter, Mary. Yes, Diane Keaton is back too and they're still divorced, but on more friendly terms. There's this really creepy and icky subplot involving Mary where she falls for her cousin, Vincent (Andy Garcia) who is the illegitimate son of Sonny and a woman he hooked up with at his sister's wedding. They are flirting with each other and when they start making out with each other after what is supposed to be a sensual scene of him guiding her hands to make gnocchi (think Ghost with the pottery), I thought I had misunderstood the scene of them earlier where they're talking about "the old days" with their fathers and something else entirely had come out of their mouths or when they called each other "cousin" or "cuz", that was a term of endearment in Italian. I was thinking, THEY CANNOT ACTUALLY BE FIRST COUSINS AND MAKING OUT! THAT IS DISGUSTING! Seriously, I almost threw up in my mouth a little when they say, "I love you cous" and start kissing. By the way, how embarrassing would that be to have your dad direct you in a make-out scene?  I totally thought I had misunderstood this whole business of them being cousins! But, no, they ARE first cousins as her father points out (thanks for clearing that up, Al) later on. When Michael says, "He's your first cousin," she replies, "Then I love him first." GROAN. And, ewwww. Was this acceptable back in the '70s? Is this an Italian thing? I don't get it! While he does say it's a no-no since they are cousins, he seems more concerned that it's too dangerous, you know, since Vincent has family connections. Vincent does agree to stop seeing Mary and when we see that scene, are we supposed to feel sad they're not going to be together? Cuz I sure as hell don't! I don't care that's she boo hoo hoo-ing and sad. Girl, go meet somebody who isn't related to you and shares your blood! Ewww! Seriously, if I were in a movie where my character was in love with her first cousin, I would tell the director (especially if it was my own dad!), "Uh, you sure about this?"

Anyway...as with any Godfather movie, there are one or two (or three or four) death scenes, but some of them in this one are way over the top. One of the earlier ones feels like it came out of a Die Hard movie. Michael is in a fancy conference room with other mob bosses and a helicopter starts gunning them down from the ceiling...its quite ridiculous. One idiot dies cuz he's trying to get his lucky coat off a hook. Don't think that coat is lucky anymore. Of course the only people who get out alive are the two main characters. There's also an assassination attempt on Michael when the whole family (including Kay) are in Sicily to see Anthony (their son, remember) perform at an opera. Anthony has decided to be an opera singer for whatever reason. The opera is called Cavalleria Rusticana and it looks like the most boring opera ever. It looks very religious and long and weird and boring. Seriously, I wish someone would shoot me if I were watching that! It's not until after the opera when everyone is outside that Michael is shot at, but his shoulder is grazed and instead Mary gets hit in the chest and falls on the stairs. This is when Sofia has her best scene: when she's lying dead on the steps, not breathing. (Heh, I told you it was mean!) Michael gives a chilling reaction to his daughter's death. He later dies as an old man. Okay, the more I think about it, the more this movie isn't that great and I take back what I said about it being not as bad as I thought it was. It is pretty bad. Except for the one Al Pacino line I like.

So yes, while Part III brings the overall score of the Godfather movies down a peg, the first two movies are quite a cinematic achievement and I have to wonder what it would be like to see it in the theaters when it was released. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sasquatch Sighting

Harry and the Hendersons
Director: William Dear
Cast: John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Don Ameche, Lainie Kazan, David Suchet
Released: June 5, 1987

Oscar nominations:
Best Make-up (won)


My knowledge of Bigfoot/Sasquatch stems from this movie and an episode of The X-Files, so that means pretty much none. I know there are (were?) shows about tracking down Bigfoot, but I don't watch those. That has to be a boring show because you know they're never going to find him! I am not a Bigfoot believer. You should go to the Bigfoot Wikipedia page and read the paragraphs under "hoaxes" - it's very interesting. I also thought "Bigfoot" was two words, but it appears to be one.

This is a movie I've only seen once, maybe twice before so I really don't have any sentimental attachment to it. The Hendersons, a family who live in the Seattle suburbs, go camping and on their way home, the patriarch, George Henderson (John Lithgow), stops suddenly when he sees something big and hairy in the road and hits it and it tumbles to the side of the road. His wife, Nancy (Melinda Dillon aka the mom from A Christmas Story) tells him he needs to check on the animal to make sure it's not suffering if it's still alive. To them it just looks like a giant ball of fur and they can't tell what it is. George gets his rifle from the back of the station wagon (understandable) and goes closer to the animal. Nancy thinks it might be a gorilla, but George tells her that gorillas don't "usually get this big around here." Huh, I had no idea gorillas could be found in the Pacific Northwest! That's an unusual habitat for them! 

While George is inspecting the dead (so he thinks) animal, his young son, Ernie, screams out the window, "SHOOT IT!" to which his dad tells him that it's already dead and Ernie screams, "SHOOT IT AGAIN!" Here is a good time to tell you how much I hate the kids in this movie. First of all their son, who is about ten years old, is a little blood thirsty. He just wants to kill and shoot things! It's a little disturbing. He tones down his bloodlust as the movie processes so he's just a normal kid, however his older sister, Sarah, oh my God, she is THE WORST! Ugh, I couldn't stand her! She is your typical sullen teenager and she is that way throughout the entire movie. 

When George sees the large ape-like paw, he realizes they must have stumbled across Bigfoot and that a museum will want him, so they need to take him home. Um, why doesn't he just call somebody? Why does he need to take this (seemingly) dead animal home with him? But he has his family help hoist the Bigfoot on top of the station wagon and they begin driving again until a few moments later, the creature, who is clearly very not dead, surprises them by peeking down at the windshield. George slams on his breaks and sends the creature hurtling off the car. Again, he checks on the animal and determines that this time, it is indeed dead. As he tells his wife, "Nancy, I'm no doctor, but it has no pulse, it's not breathing, and it's cold as a popsicle." Bigfoot must have some kind of ability to appear dead when it's really not...because he's not dead here either! They continue to take him home and it's really funny when they pull into their driveway and you see these two huge feet sticking out of the tarp that covers the rest of the Bigfoot's body. 

While all this is going on, we see a Bigfoot trekker named Jacques LaFleur (David Suchet) who finds the bent license plate that fell off when the Hendersons hit the Bigfoot and hairs he cannot identify (and licks them for some reason...gross). 

At 5:30 in the morning George hears something and goes out to the garage where he notices there's not a big lump under the tarp on the top of his car anymore. He hears crashing coming from his house and in his kitchen he sees Bigfoot drinking milk out of the fridge which he has knocked over. Bigfoot growls at him and comes toward George who shields himself with a table, then a chair, but Bigfoot only knocks him it out of the way. I liked the shots from Bigfoot's perspective when he's looking down at George so you can see just how much taller he is than George (and at 6'4", John Lithgow is very tall! The actor who was in the Harry costume (and how hot did that had to be, wearing that costume?), Kevin Peter Hall, was 7'2" and also played the predator in...wait for it...Predator).  It isn't until George starts screaming for help that his family wakes up. Did they not hear all the racket when tables and chairs were being thrown across the room or what about when the fridge tipped over on its side?

It was funny when Ernie, who comes down first, says, "All right! I knew you weren't dead!" and his dad replies, "Not yet, I'm not," and his son says, "Not you, him!" Nancy is able to lead the creature away by spaying a bottle of Glade and they are all able to get away from him, except for the daughter who is a complete moron. When she sees Bigfoot eating her 15th birthday corsage (who gets a corsage for their birthday? I have never heard of that), the one she saved for 6 months, she gets all indignant and starts reprimanding him like a dog. ("That was a bad thing you did! Do you hear me?") Girl, what the hell are you doing? Look, we all know this is a family movie and Bigfoot will turn into a friend of the Hendersons named Harry and they'll all come to love him, but right now...they don't know that! Let's not anger this huge creature that could squash you like a bug! Not a good idea, Sarah!

The Hendersons go outside and watch as their new visitor wreck havoc on their house because of his sheer size. We soon learn where Ernie got his bloodlust from because there are a lot of dead animal heads mounted on the walls. Harry sees one of a deer and punches through the wall to try to find the rest of the body. They see him go outside to bury Helen's mother's mink stole. George quickly realizes he has to hide all his taxidermy animal heads in a closet and this is when we see just how many kills he's done in the past. There is a moment when George climbs up to the second floor with his rifle and has a chance to shoot Harry, but he sees humanity in the creature's eyes and can't go through with it. Instead, he calls the police who don't believe him and just start laughing at him.

Their nosy neighbor, Irene (Lainie Kazan), who has been watching their dog while they were away, comes over to return him. They know that if Irene finds out that a Bigfoot is at their house, then the whole world will know. They shut curtains as Irene walks across the yard, trying to peer in and Ernie takes Harry down the basement. He tells him he'll like it because it's like a cave. As Harry descends down the stairs, the first step he takes, the entire staircase crumbles.

It is established that Harry stinks to high heaven, so when they answer the door, Irene takes a big whiff (why? In fact, she keeps sniffing! Don't sniff if the smell is so bad!) and asks what that smell is. George, Nancy, and Sarah are all blocking her, but she can still peer around them and see all the carnage from the mess Harry made. When asked about the tipped over fridge, Nancy replies, "We decided to defrost the fridge", which you would have to be an idiot to buy that line. I'm beginning to think Irene is one because George starts moving up because Harry's head has lifted the floor where he's standing and Irene doesn't even look down to notice that something is coming out of the floor and believes George when he tells her he's exercising. And right when she's about to leave, she sees a huge paw come through the laundry chute, but doesn't even question it. The Hendersons tells her it's Ernie's new pet for a science experiment; that it's like a gerbil, "only bigger!" (Yeah, much, much, MUCH bigger!) I feel like if I were Irene in this scenario, I would have a lot more questions!

There's a cute moment where Harry lifts Ernie up to the main floor and smiles at George. He and Ernie want to keep Harry and charge people to see him so they can get rich, but Nancy is against that idea. She thinks Harry might be some kind of human as he has many human characteristics which include sitting on lazy-boys and laughing during a sitcom while dipping plant leaves in dip. She mentions that they don't even know if it's a male or female and Sarah says, "It's definitely male". Nancy asks, "How can you tell...don't answer that." They don't show anything graphic, but you have to wonder....where does this thing go to the bathroom? You know what? Don't answer that! Maybe that's why their neighbor's pool gets the color it does (which is a murky brown).

There's a funny moment where George has taught Harry to sit by giving him a sugar cube and everytime he sits down (and he takes a huge jump before he does), he breaks something - the couch, a table, stool. He's ruining everything in their house and Nancy tells George that they can't keep him and they need to send him back to where he came from because it's the right thing to do for him and they can't be selfish and think of ways to get rich off of their new discovery.

Harry is a little reluctant to go (you think he'd want to return to his home since he has a Bigfoot family waiting for him!) and George tosses a fish sandwich (they know he's a pescetarian because he ate one of their goldfish), fries, and a chocolate shake (with the lid tightly on!) into the backseat of the car to entice Harry to get in. Oh, and while all this is going out, little Ernie is crying his eyes out, telling Harry how much he's going to miss him. And this is from the same kid who wanted his dad to shoot his new friend twice! Your crocodile tears don't fool me, kid! This is the moment when Harry gets his name. George tells Ernie that they should say goodbye to their "hairy friend" and Ernie says, "Harry? Since does he have a name?" and his dad replies, "Since right now." When they go check on the car after hearing a loud noise, they see that Harry has escaped (do they think a locked car is going to stop him? All he has to do is rip off a door!) I'm not really sure why he escaped. Doesn't he want to go back to his family? Does he want to stay with the Hendersons? Not really sure what's going on here except to advance the plot.

I'm not sure how long Harry is gone from this moment until he's reunited with George, but there are suddenly an outpour of Bigfoot sightings in Seattle and George starts keeping tabs on the areas where people mention they've seen him. George works at a place called Shoot N Stuff (hilariously stupid name) that sells rifles and other hunting equipment. His father is the manager and he wants George, who we learn loves to sketch and has a talent for it, to create a Bigfoot cutout that they can display at the front of the store with a map of the area and keep track of all the places where people have spotted Harry. He wants him to draw the Bigfoot with long sharp teeth and claws and as scary as he possibly can, but as George tells his wife, it's like he's drawing a wanted poster of his best friend and ends up drawing the Bigfoot to look exactly like Harry: calm and gentle. When he sees the drawing, his father tells him it looks like "a giant gerbil".

Jacques LaFleur gets the Henderson's address by getting the DMV to run their license plate number (by the way, are they not aware they're missing a plate?) He tells the woman at the DMV that he saw an old army buddy from forty years ago and took down his license number because he couldn't remember his name. Something tells me that this kind of thing wouldn't fly in this day and age! He pays a visit to their home where he tells Nancy he's with the U.S. Forest Service and they're investigating about a large animal that was either maimed or killed. Nancy plays dumb and tells him it all happened so fast, they didn't see what kind of animal it was, but that it was okay because it "walked" back into the forest. LaFleur questions her choice of the word and she quickly chooses other words such as "crawled, scampered, scurried, waddled, and creeped." This woman is like a walking thesaurus!

He next goes to Shoot N Stuff where he buys "some pretty serious ammo", according to George. He asks LaFleur if he's going on safari, but LaFleur just replies he's only going hunting in "his own backyard" which concerns George greatly. George's father tells him that LaFleur always shows up when a Bigfoot sighting is reported and that he is the one who caught and killed "Claws" the huge taxidermy grizzly bear in their store. George checks out a bunch of books about Bigfoot at the library and when he and his family are at home reading them (well, except for Sarah who's on the phone), there's a photo of LaFleur and Nancy realized she was duped by him earlier. All the books make the Bigfoot creatures into man-eating killers except for one by a Dr. Wallace Wrightwood (Don Ameche) who is an expert on Bigfoot and works at the North American Museum of Anthropology (which is just a rundown shack in the middle of nowhere) where George pays him a visit.

Meanwhile, we see Harry looking forlornly across eight lanes of traffic at the mountains where his home and family is. There's also a weird scene where Harry is looking into the window (and not even attempting to hide himself at all) of a home where he sees a woman put a whole raw chicken into a pot of boiling water. While this is going on, he also sees a couple getting into a hot tub, also bubbling. This concerns him because I guess he thinks the people are cooking themselves. It's hilarious, but a little dark!

With the last known location of Harry, George is able to find him in the one part of Seattle that doesn't have any traffic or people. (I know, I know, it was a movie lot with a fuzzy Space Needle slapped into the background). He's in the bin of a garbage truck, but LaFleur finds him first and Harry jumps up and surprises him (and anyone watching, I'm sure!) and flings him into the bin with him. George hears all the growling and commotion and this is how he finds him. Some garbage man is getting fired the next day because George is able to drive the truck because somebody left the keys in the ignition. While George is driving the truck, LaFleur points a gun at Harry, but he knocks it out of his hand and proceeds to the point the gun at himself between the eyes. A but intense for a family movie! LaFleur reaches to pull the trigger, but at that moment, George slams on the break to avoid hitting a homeless man and the bin goes flying, then skids across the street. And when I say flying, I mean flying. Nobody (or living thing!) would get out of that unscathed...but of course both Harry and LaFleur are perfectly fine. I laughed when Harry gets into George's car by tearing the other back door he hadn't torn off previously and getting in and George just shrugs. His head also stretches the roof of the car to accommodate his height.

LaFleur is arrested for being in possession of a firearm and there's a funny scene where he's locked in a jail cell with several other inmates and every time he paces, all the other inmates go on the opposite side since he reeks so bad from being in a trash bin and being in close proximity with the pungent Bigfoot. LaFleur does not smell like his surname!

When they return home, everyone is happy to see Harry, even a reluctant Sarah. Ernie accidentally opens the door to the closet where George had stored all his taxidermy animals and Harry is outraged. They bury all of them and have a funeral and this seems to appease Harry. They give him a bath and it must have completely extinguished all the odor because they invite Dr. Wrightwood over for dinner (and they all dress up as if the President of the United States were having dinner with them) and while they're eating dinner, Harry comes up right behind the anthropologist, but he seems to neither smell nor sense Harry until the very last second when he realizes something is behind him. Can I just say that Don Ameche is the most adorable old man? His sheer joy at seeing that a Bigfoot exists is wonderful, even though his "YAHOO!" cry is a bit corny. There's little time for celebration because LaFleur is out of jail and they need to get Harry to his home, pronto. They get stuck in Seattle traffic, but after seeing cars part way for a cop car to get through, Harry sticks his head out the window (which nobody apparently notices with all that traffic around them) and imitates the siren sound, thus letting their car get through all the traffic.

LaFleur is still on their tail and the family only has a short amount of time to say goodbye to Harry. To get him to leave, George tells him that he's not wanted anymore, to go back to where he came from, and slaps him (a bit harsh!), you know the old troupe of trying to get an animal to leave for its own safety. Why don't they just tell him he needs to leave so he doesn't get killed? When they realize that LaFleur can easily just follow the footprints, the Hendersons and Dr. Wrightwood strap on fake Bigfoot feet (not sure where those came from or how he had enough for everybody) and scatter around to make footprints to confuse LaFleur.


In the end, LaFleur comes around and sees Harry as a human being as George did. When Harry is about to go back to his home, George tells him, "You take care of yourself now, okay?" and Harry replies, "Okay." This is when we see his Bigfoot family (including a little Bigfoot) who were hiding in plain sight all this time.

Like I said, this is the only movie I've seen which features Bigfoot, but I have a feeling it's the only one where they make him into a gentle giant. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Seinfeld




What is this? What am I doing with my life? Watching all nine seasons of Seinfeld in five months and writing about my ten favorite episodes, that's what I'm doing! I thought I would do it, you know, just for the little kicks of it! It was a bit difficult choosing ten episodes! So grab a poppyseed muffin top and caffe latte and enjoy!

10.   The Race (Season 6, Episode 10)

This just makes my top ten because I think it has one of the funniest scenes in the show's history. Jerry is dating a woman named Lois (and as a Superman aficionado, he loves that her name is Lois and utters things to her like, "I'm faster than a speeding bullet, Lois!") It turns out Lois's boss, Duncan, knew Jerry and George in high school and there was a race that all the 9th graders were in and he accused Jerry of cheating. Jerry DID cheat because he went when their gym teacher (Mr. Bevilaqua - now that's a great question for a Seinfeld trivia question!) said "Get Set".  He was ten yard ahead of everybody else by the time Mr. Bevilaqua said "Go". He said he won and nobody had even noticed his head start which I find a little bit ridiculous! George is the only one who knows the truth. Duncan was the only one who was suspicious of Jerry's win, but Jerry refused to race anyone and would announce "I choose not to run!" whenever anyone challenged him to a race. Now that Duncan is back in Jerry's life, he wants to challenge Jerry to a race, but Jerry keeps avoiding him. 

Since Duncan doesn't know that George and Jerry know each other, George gets the idea to "accidentally" run into Jerry and Duncan and set the record "straight" about the race. We get this hilarious scene which I think is one of the funniest during the whole series, and well, you can watch it here:




9. The Stall (Season 5, Episode 12)

Elaine and Jerry's girlfriend of the week, Jane (played by Jami Gertz from The Lost Boys) unknowingly meet when they're both in the bathroom stall of a movie theater and Elaine sees she's out of toilet paper and asks the woman next to her if she can "spare a square", but the woman can not "spare a square". They each came with their date so we see Jane telling Jerry about what happened and we see Elaine telling her new boyfriend, "pretty boy" Tony about what happened. When Elaine tells Jerry the story the next day, he quickly realizes that Elaine was the other woman in the story his girlfriend told him about. Elaine says she will never forget that voice and the two couples are suppose to double date soon. In another scene where Elaine is coming up to Jerry's apartment while Jane is there, Jerry tells her she needs gum to freshen her breath and gives her a bunch of sticks so her voice is muffled when Elaine meets her for the first time. Of course, Elaine does eventually find out who she is and ends up stealing all the toilet paper from the Monk's restroom when Jane is about to go in there.

Meanwhile, Jerry calls Tony a "mimbo" (male bimbo) and accuses Elaine of dating him just because he has a perfect looking face (which is true). Both of them agree that George has a male crush on him because he's always talking about him. We see Tony and George having lunch together at Monk's and George even turns his hat around backwards just like Tony so he can emulate him. George wants them to go bowling, but Tony says you don't get a rush from bowling (though George argues that you do if you drop a bowling ball on your toe!) and wants to go rock climbing. George agrees to it as long as it's just the two of them and offers to make sandwiches. However, Kramer enters the scene and is invited to go with them which angers George. During the rock climbing excursion (terrible green screen, by the way), Tony ends up falling due to miscommunication between George and Kramer. At first, I thought he had died, but he just ended up damaging his face really bad. And Elaine is REALLY upset! "What happened to his face? What happened to his face?" I thought it was peculiar how he all his limbs were in tact, yet his face is the only thing bandaged up.

8. The Implant (Season 4, Episode 19)



Before she was Lois Lane in The New Adventures of Superman or Susan Mayer in Desperate Housewives, Teri Hatcher played one of Jerry's girlfriends. She's probably one of a handful who went on to have a successful career because there have been a lot of actresses to play Jerry's girlfriend of the week who you have no idea who they are now. Hatcher plays Sidra, who Jerry meets at the health club and really likes. Elaine tells him that her breasts are fake which is a deal breaker for Jerry and he breaks up with her. Elaine realizes she may have been wrong about her when they're in the sauna together and she trips and grabs on to her breasts to stop her fall. Sidra give Jerry a second chance and things seem to be going good until Elaine shows up (Jerry really needs to lock his door!) and Sidra realizes that she's his ex and believes that he set her up to feel her breasts. She leaves Jerry's apartment telling him, "By the way, they're real and they're spectacular!" which has become a great Seinfeld quote. When Elaine tells Jerry that Sidra's breasts may be real, he doesn't believe her because she hasn't touched any breasts, which doesn't make any sense because you think a woman would be the number one person to know if breasts were real or not since they already have them...duh!

Meanwhile, Kramer is convinced that Salman Rushdie is hanging out at the health club. "Salman" tells Kramer that his name is "Sal Bass" and he's a writer and he's spent some time in the Middle East.

Also, in this episode we see another well known actress play George's girlfriend. Megan Mullaly aka Karen Walker from Will & Grace plays Betsy. There's a funny scene where they're at her apartment and the phone rings, but George tells her not to pick it up and she asks what if it's an emergency and he tells her there's probably only 3 emergencies going on right now, what are the odds that this would be one? She answers the phone anyway and it turns out it IS an emergency because her aunt has died. George mutters, "All right, maybe four emergencies". It's funny seeing George in the background reacting to Betsy's phone call, who has her back to him. Jerry thinks George should go to the funeral (which is in Detroit) because it will score him big points and he'll be "the consolation guy". Kramer tells him "It's like ten dates in one shot". George is worried about it being an expensive flight (any mention of George being a cheapskate is always gold) and Kramer suggests he use the Death-in-the-Family fare which is where you go to the airline and tell them you have a death in the family and you get 50% off your flight. So apparently these were once a thing, called bereavement flights, but they don't seem to be offered by many airlines anymore...I'm sure many people took advantage of them as George did! There's a catch that he has to pay the full fare now, then when he returns with the death certificate, he will get a refund. The woman tells him they do this or otherwise people would take advantage and George says, "What kind of sick person would do that?" Haha.

At the wake, we get the "double dip" scene where George dips a chip, takes a bite, then dips it again and Betsy's brother sees this and calls him out on it. In my mind, I remembered it as George being the one to call the other person out doing the double dipping, but if George can take an eclair out of the trash that only had one bite taken out of it, then I can believe he would also double dip!

George talks to a family member, telling him he needs the death certificate because he's making a scrapbook for Betsy about her aunt's life. In the end, he never gets the death certificate, but tries to pass off a Polaroid of him next to the coffin as the next best thing, but it doesn't work.

7. The Dinner Party (Season 5, Episode 13)


The gang are headed to a dinner party. Elaine says they should stop to bring a bottle of wine and cake, but George says they should just bring Ring Dings and Pepsi because that's what he would prefer. (How ghetto, George!)

It's cold outside and George is wearing this ridiuclous puffy parka made out of Gore-Tex. I guess this was before they made thin coats that could keep you warm. There's a call back to an older episode where Jerry calls him "Bubble Boy." While Jerry and Elaine go to a bakery, George and Kramer stop to get a bottle of wine. George is infuriated that the bottle Kramer picks out costs $12 (LOL, I love how cheap he is) and he'll have to pay for it because Kramer forget his wallet. He only has a 100 dollar bill and the man tells him he can't give him change for that. Kramer tells him he can break the bill and goes outside, yelling, "Hey does anyone have change for a hundred?" before George tells him to stop. Kramer suggests that they buy some things at a newsstand to get change. Once they have change, they go back to the wine store to buy the bottle and when they go out to their car, someone has double parked in front of them. You can tell that a lot of time has passed because it's gotten dark and George is worried that Elaine is going to be mad. He's a little afraid of her because one time he was wearing a Panama hat when she got mad at him and she pulled the brim down so hard that his head came through the hat. Kramer is cold and they go back inside the store.  George knocks over a display of wine because of his ridiculous coat and he has to pay for all those bottles he broke. He doesn't have enough money, so he gives up his new coat. It is revealed that Saddam Hussein (or is it?) is the double parker. Super random!

At the bakery, Elaine and Jerry decide to get a chocolate babka, but when they forget to pick a number, they try to get it from a couple who they know they were ahead of. This couple is also going to the same party as them and they refuse to give up their number AND they buy the last chocolate babka. They end up getting the cinnamon babka and Jerry also buys a black and white cookie, which he loves because "it's two races living in harmony". However, the cookie isn't so harmonious because Jerry ends up getting sick and throwing up, ending his 14 year streak of not throwing up since June 1980. They find a hair on the babka (SO gross...when it comes to the "Would you rather have food in your hair or hair in your food?" debate, I always choose the former). Jerry says it's probably Elaine's, but she tells him she takes such good care of her hair, that "you could serve dinner on [her] head!" They exchange the babka for another one, but the woman is hacking and coughing and Jerry says, "Yeah, you want to trade your hair for some phlegm." As gross as hair is, someone coughing on your cake is much worse. I guess this explains why Jerry got sick, although this coughing fit for the woman seems to come out of nowhere as she was fine earlier. Surprisingly, Jerry will go back to this same bakery in "The Rye" where he will steal a loaf of marble rye from an old lady. If I went to a bakery where I threw up from eating one of their cookies, got a cake with a hair, AND someone was coughing all over my purchase, I would never go there again!

They go to the party, give their wine and babka to the woman, then leave. After the night they just had, I wouldn't want to stay at that party either!

6. The Betrayal (Season 9, Episode 8)


This episode should have been called "The Backwards Episode". It's the one with the gimmick of being shown backwards. If this were a regular episode, it wouldn't have made my top ten. Apparently, on the DVD you can watch it straight forward, but I've never seen it that way. They did a Memento before Memento was even a thing! It starts with the end credits and ends with the beginning credits and familiar theme song. We get title cards like "One day earlier" or "30 minutes earlier" or "5 minutes earlier". Watching it in "real" time, it honestly wouldn't be that great of an episode, but when you watch each scene from last to first, you get some great gags, like when Kramer goes between apartments talking to his nemesis and Jerry, the lollipop he's been licking keeps getting larger and larger. There's also a hilarious scene where Jerry opens his silverware drawer and finds a bowl of cereal (with milk!) in there for some reason. Well, a few short scenes later (earlier?), we find out that Kramer put the cereal in the drawer. He had been pouring himself some Fruit Loops and spilled them all over the counter and he hid it in the drawer when Jerry came back to his apartment. There's a funny scene where Kramer goes to Newman's apartment where he's having a birthday party and says he wasn't invited and Newman goes, "Your invitation must have gotten lost...in the mail!" and him and all his postal buddies start cackling like it's some stupid inside joke (which I'm sure it is).

Elaine, George, Jerry, and George's girlfriend, Nina, go to India to attend Sue Ellen Mischke's (played by another Desperate Housewife alum) wedding. The betrayal is in referral to Sue Ellen finding out that Elaine once slept with the groom and the wedding is off. (Who cares? It was a long time ago, before she even met him). Also, George is dating Nina, a friend of Jerry's who he asked Jerry to set him up with. He likes that Jerry has never slept with her and the reason for that is because there's never been an awkward pause in the conversation for him to make a move. To me, this doesn't make any sense. You think if two people got along so well, it would be easier for them to ignite that spark. But according to Jerry, he needs an awkward pause. He says that if Elaine ever left their group, then he would bring in Nina to be her replacement. However, he and Nina are chatting a few scenes later and there's an awkward pause and they end up sleeping together. Elaine finds out when she goes to Jerry's apartment and sees Nina leaving. Jerry pleads for her not to tell George and she says "I"ll put it in the vault" and Jerry says, "No good...too many people knows the combination!" and mimes drinking. George also knows that Elaine opens up when she's had too much to drink and when she seems weird when he mentions that Nina should go to India with them, he offers her a drink and she spills that Jerry and Nina slept together. All of this betrayal is revealed at the wedding. The show literally only has about five minutes of them in India. I love the "ending" (or rather the beginning) of the episode is "ten years ago" and has Jerry moving into his apartment and Kramer comes by to introduce himself and Jerry invites him over for pizza and Jerry tells him, "What's mine is yours." I'm sure he regrets saying that now since Kramer is such a moocher!

5. The Maestro (Season 7, Episode 3)



This episode is our first introduction to one of my favorite ancillary Seinfeld characters, lawyer Jackie Chiles who is clearly modeled after Johnnie Cochran. This episode aired in the fall of 1995 so this is primetime OJ Trial. In the previous episode, Kramer was going to the movies with Jerry, but had ordered a "caffe latte" (did people call it that back in 1995?), but he had to hide it in his pants because the staff at the movie theaters don't like patrons sneaking in outside food. Well, he ends up spilling the coffee and burning himself and that's when he finds out about Jackie Chiles who tells him he has a case against Java World. Kramer tells him he snuck in the coffee because he didn't want to buy the theaters' coffee and asks if that will be a problem and Chiles replies, "Yes, it will be a problem for THEM. This is a clear violation of your rights as a consumer. It's an infringement on your constitutional rights. It's outrageous, egregious, preposterous." Jackie also asks if there was a top on the lid and when Kramer tells him there was, he asks if Kramer put the top on or did they and Kramer says the coffee people did. He then asks his secretary to get him a caffe latte at Java World with a top so he can "run some tests on that top." He's actually asking some pretty valid questions about the ordeal. Obviously Kramer has no case because he was the one who put the coffee in his pants and snuck it in! Who does that with a HOT beverage?

Instead of going to court, Java World wants to settle and Kramer is excited because this means he's going to be a rich man. But things go bad when Kramer cures the huge burn on his stomach when he uses an herbal Chinese balm that the titular character gives him and now he's worried he won't get any money. Jackie is furious with him, wanting to know why he used the balm. But, lucky for them, Java World just wants to settle this before it gets in the papers and starts giving them bad publicity. In a scene we see of them before Kramer and Jackie meet with them, they decide to give Kramer $50,000 and free coffee for life at all their store. When they tell this deal to Kramer, they only get out "free coffee at any of our stores" when he blurts out, "I'll take it!" Jackie is furious, wanting to know what else was going to be offered. Now as much as $50,000 would be great to have, I honestly would be THRILLED to have free coffee for the rest of my life at either Starbucks or Scooters; I don't care, take your pick. I would save so much money. I don't want to reveal how much money I spend on coffee a month because, well, it's probably way too much! There's a funny scene where Kramer is talking really fast to Jerry because he's just had a few of his free cafe lattes.

Other story lines include George getting a chair for the security guard at the store Susan's (you remember Susan, she's George's fiance from season 7 who died from licking toxic envelopes because George was cheap when it came to choosing their wedding invitations!) uncle's store. He gets the guard a rocking chair so he doesn't have to stand all day, but the joke is the guard falls asleep while sitting in the chair and the store is robbed.

The titular character, "The Maestro" is the weakest part of the episode. It's some conductor friend of Kramer's that Elaine is dating. His real name is Bob Cobb, but he insists that everyone call him "The Maestro". There's this whole stupid storyline where he tells Jerry he's renting a house in Tuscany, but there are no other houses to rent, which is ridiculous. And just how rich is this maestro that he can rent a house in Tuscany...because that has to cost a fortune.

4. The Bizarro Jerry (Season 8, Episode 3)


The most memorable storyline of this episode is Elaine's, where she meets three new friends, three guys who share very similar physical traits to Jerry, George, and Kramer, but are their complete opposites, personality wise. They are the Bizarro Jerry, George, and Kramer. Elaine was dating Kevin (the Bizarro Jerry), in the previous episode but they decided to just be friends and he proves to be a better friend than Jerry is. Jerry forgets to pick up Elaine from White Plains and she tells him that Kevin is "reliable, considerate, he's like your exact opposite."It's so funny when Elaine walks into Jerry's apartment and she raises her arms and starts shaking her head and Jerry does the same thing, not having any idea why she's so angry. This is when Jerry tells Elaine that Kevin is "Bizarro Jerry". Elaine meets Kevin's friends, the short and balding and bespectacled Gene (Bizarro George) and the tall and doofy looking Feldman (Bizarro Kramer). We see Kevin's apartment, which is just like Jerry's, only everything is on the opposite side. Feldman knocks on the door and brings Kevin groceries he's bought him. There's even a Bizarro Newman named Vargus, also a postal worker, and of course he is great friends with Kevin.

We get this great scene towards the end of the episode where Elaine is on the sidewalk and coming from one side is Jerry, George, and Kramer, and coming from the other side are their Bizarro counterparts. Elaine decides to choose the latter and George asks if he can come with them, but she tells him they already have a George. However, she decide she likes her old friends better because all her new friends only read and Kevin doesn't like it when Elaine eats food out of his fridge. Plus they tell her she needs to leave when she does her famous "GET OUT!" push to Kevin and nearly hurts him.

3. The Puffy Shirt (Season 5, Episode 2)



It was really hard to choose my ten favorite episodes and rank them. To be honest, as much as I do love the episodes I chose as my #4-10, I could have easily chosen seven different episodes at another time, it would just depend on my mood. I also could have reshuffled the order depending on my mood. However, I really love the episodes I chose as my top three and these three episodes would always be in my top three of Seinfeld episodes.

Judging from the title of this episode, I know you already know which one it is. Jerry and Elaine go out to dinner with Kramer and his new girlfriend, Leslie, who is a low talker. (Fun fact: she is played by the same woman who played the teacher in The Wonder Years who Kevin had a crush on. At least you could hear her on that show!) She speaks so softly nobody can hear her, except for Kramer who is sitting right next to her, so I guess that is the trick! When Kramer uses the restroom, Leslie talks to Jerry and Elaine who are just nodding and smiling. Elaine tells her that Jerry is going to appear on The Today Show to promote a benefit for the Goodwill who clothe the homeless and the poor. Leslie, who we learn is an up and coming fashion designer, says something that of course Jerry and Elaine can't hear and they both nod and say "Sure, yeah, uh-huh."

Unbeknowst to Jerry, he has agreed to wear this awful puffy shirt when he appears on The Today Show that Leslie has designed that makes him look like a pirate, but when Jerry finds this out from Kramer, he whines, "But I don't wanna be a pirate!" It's hilarious when he sees the shirt and says, "THIS? I agreed to wear THIS?" Jerry is worried (and with good reason) he's going to look ridiculous wearing this on national TV and that it will look like he's mocking the Goodwill, especially since his aim is to help clothe the homeless. When Elaine sees Jerry in the dressing room wearing the shirt, she just starts cracking up and can't stop. She tells Jerry that he cannot wear this shirt because raising awareness for clothing homeless people, but Jerry tells her he has to because they've already put in more orders for this terrible shirt and they're making more as they speak. Leslie is depending on him wearing the shirt because she thinks if people will see it, they will get a lot of orders. (Is she really that delusional? She possibly can't think anybody would want to buy that shirt!) I'm on Elaine's side here - it's going to look really bad for the Goodwill if Jerry wears this shirt. Also, does it really count as a binding contact if you don't even know what you're agreeing to? Plus, Jerry never signed anything. But he appears on the show wearing the shirt and Bryan Gumbel gives him grief about it. Jerry, who is getting irritated with being made fun of, agrees with him and tells him he feels ridiuclous wearing it and that "it's the stupidest shirt he's ever seen." We hear Leslie SCREAM "You bastard!" from off screen and Bryan asks him if he heard that (how could you NOT hear that?) and Jerry replies, "THAT I heard!"

Meanwhile, George gets discovered by a woman who works as a modeling agent and she tells him that he has the most exquisite hands and now he has found his calling as a hand model. He gets manicures and wears oven mitts to protect them. While at a photo shoot, George learns about a man named Ray McKigney who had "the most exquisite hands you've ever seen" and that "he had it all". George asked what happened to him and finds out that while Ray could have had any woman he wanted, none of them compared to his own hands which became his "one true love". (What? Eww, LOL). We get a great call back to the well known episode "The Contest" when the man telling George the story tells him that Ray was "not master of his domain". Apparently he used his hands for that so much that they became "locked in a deformed position and he was left with nothing but a claw." He couldn't even hold utensils and  he was dependent on other people to feed him. (What the huh? This is just getting ridiuclous, but it's hilarious!)

George is feeling pretty good about his new career. He got a nice paycheck for doing like two minutes of work and an attractive woman working on the photo shoot asks him out. George goes to the dressing room where Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and Leslie are after Jerry's appearance to tell Jerry how great his life is now. He then proceeds to make fun of Jerry's shirt and asks him who dressed him. Leslie, who is looking furious in the background, gets up and pushes George who trips and falls into a table with a hot iron and burns his hands thus ending his short-lived hand modeling career.

2. The Soup Nazi (Season 7, Episode 6)


This is probably the most famous episode of Seinfeld. Either this or The Contest, but I would say this one. There's a new place that sells the most delicious soup you've ever had, but the owner has very strict rules about how people place their orders and if they don't obey the rules, then it's "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" Hence the reason his nickname is The Soup Nazi. Jerry and George tell this to Elaine when she's about to visit the place for the first time, but she's not really paying attention. There seems to be a lot of rules for how to place an order...I would be too intimidated to go to a place like that because I would be worried I would get yelled at! When George places his order, he discovers he didn't get his bread, but when he speaks up, the Soup Nazi tells him it will cost him $2, even though the bread is supposed to be free. He marks the price up to $3 when George tells him this, then tells him "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" when George is incredulous about this and the woman working behind the cashier snatches back his bag. When George goes back the next day, he does everything right this time, but when he sucks up to the Soup Nazi, he tells George, "You're pushing your luck, little man."

During Elaine' first visit to the soup stand, she bangs her hands on top of the counter, she tells the Soup Nazi she doesn't like lima beans and makes a face, and tells him he looks like Al Pacino from Scent of a Woman and goes "HOO WAH! HOO WAH!" Pretty much everything she does angers the Soup Nazi and he bans her for a year. Elaine gets her revenge when Kramer gives her an armoire that the Soup Nazi (who Kramer has befriended) gave him after Kramer tells him the one he was watching for a friend (who happened to be Elaine) was stolen. While going through it, Elaine finds all the soup recipes and returns to the soup stand to tell the Soup Nazi that she's going to have the recipes printed.

Jerry must choose between the soup and his girlfriend of the week, Sheila, when they are caught kissing in line and the Soup Nazi is angry at this and tells them, "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" Jerry pretends not to know Sheila (even though he was just literally kissing her a few seconds ago!) When Elaine is surprised that Jerry chose soup over a woman, Jerry asks her if she's ever tasted the soup and she agrees that he made the right delicious. I also agree that he made the right decision because Sheila was super annoying. She and Jerry would baby talk to each other and call each other "Schmoopie" which seemed way out of character for Jerry. Jerry also points out that it will be easier to make up with Sheila than the Soup Nazi.

And, in case you were wondering what kind of soup you can order from the Soup Nazi, these are the soups he offers: Mulligatawny (an Indian soup, a favorite of Kramer's), crab bisque, turkey chili, jambalaya (Newman's favorite), black bean, chicken broccoli, clam bisque, split pea, French onion, mushroom barley, and tomato rice. What? No Broccoli cheese? Or chicken tortilla? Very disappointed that the Soup Nazi doesn't serve two of my favorite kinds of soups! We will learn that the Soup Nazi's name is Yev Kassem when he testifies at their trial in the last episode.

1. The Yada Yada (Season 8, Episode 19)



To this day, I still use "yada yada" in my everyday phrase. Seinfeld of course didn't invent it, but it certainly popularized it. I had remembered Elaine as being the one who starts doing it, but it's actually George's girlfriend, Marcy. Elaine does use "yada yada" later on in the episode, so that's probably what I'm thinking of. It's just really funny how Marcy uses "yada yada" to skip over crazy parts of her stories and just get to the point. For instance, she tells him, "So I'm on Third Avenue, minding my own business, and yada, yada, yada, I get a free massage and a facial." See, completely skips over the entire part of the story of HOW she got this free massage and facial. Georges uses her "succinct" method of telling stories to tell her about Susan: "We were engaged to be married, we bought the wedding invitations, and yada, yada, yada, I'm still single!" When Marcy asks him, "So what's she doing now?", George replies, "Yada."  Ahhahaha! He probably should've just changed "yada" to "nada"! However, he gets suspicious when Marcy tells him, "Speaking of exes, my old boyfriend came over last night, and yada, yada, yada, I'm really tired today." He believes Marcy has yada yada'd sex (even though he just yada yada's over his ex-fiance's death - hmm, I wonder which one is worse?) and relays this to Jerry and Elaine. Elaine says she's yada yada's sex and this is probably what I'm remembering. George tells Marcy he doesn't want her using "yada yada" anymore and asks her to tell him about the free facial. She tells him that she went to Bloomingdales where she stole a watch, then went to the salon where she got her massage and facial and skipped out on the bill. So, yeah, she yada yada'd over being a shoplifter. She wants to know the rest of George's story about being engaged, but he just gives her a look.

Elaine's storyline involves being a reference for her friend Beth, and her new husband, Arnie to adopt a child. We met Beth (played by a pre-Will & Grace Debra Messing) in an earlier episode where she was married to someone else. Jerry has a thing for Beth and wanted to grab her when she got divorced from her first husband, but it never happened. Elaine ruins any chance of Beth and Arnie adopting a child because she tells the interviewer that when she went to see Striptease with the couple, she was talking to Beth and Arnie leaned over her and said, "WOULD YOU SHUT UP?" I have no idea what Elaine is thinking telling this story! She tries to backpedal when she sees the look on the interviewer's face and says, "But they're GREAT people!' Elaine finds out that their adoption application was denied because "the adoption agency feels that Arnie has a violent temper." Beth tells her they're asking everyone who had an interview with him to see what they said. Elaine says, "I just told him what kind people you are and what a big movie buff Arnie is, and yada, yada, yada, that is it!" The second time Elaine uses the "yada yada", so no wonder I remember this as being her catchphrase. Beth calls it quits with her second husband and Jerry decides this is the time to make a move on her...which he does, but it doesn't last very long when Beth reveals herself to be a racist and anti-Semitic. Ouch. (Did she not know Jerry was Jewish?)

Jerry's storyline involves his dentist Tim Whatley (played by a pre-Malcolm in the Middle and pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston) converting to Judaism which angers Jerry because he believes Whatley is only converting for the jokes. When Jerry is getting a cavity filled, Whatley starts making some off-color jokes and when Jerry asks him if he should be making jokes like that, he replies, "Why not? I'm Jewish, remember?" He also says, "It's our sense of humor that sustained us as a people for 3,000 years." When Jerry corrects him, "5,000", he replies, "5,000, even better!" When Jerry confesses his feeling about Whatley to a priest, the priest asks him if this offends him as a Jew, Jerry tells him that it offends him as a comedian. It's funny when he goes to the confessional booth because he sits instead of kneels.

Kramer's storyline is the weakest. He and Mickey (his little person friend) pick up two girls at the Gap, but when they meet them for dinner, they're not sure which girl (who are both pretty similar) they're supposed to be dating. He and Mickey can't decide which girl they like and they fight over who gets who. Mickey ends up marrying one, but it turns out she really liked Kramer and the girl at the wedding who didn't marry Mickey was crying because she wanted to marry him. But despite the one weak storyline, lots of good things in here to keep you laughing.

I just know tomorrow that my top ten (except the top 3!) are all going to change...too many good episodes to choose from!