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ISSUE 05 / NOVEMBER 2013

TOUGH LADIES

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / SEPTEMBER 2013

CONTENTS
From The Desk Of The Patriarchy THE MOVIES The Mad Women Of NINE TO FIVE THE LADY EVE and Barbara Stanwyck Make Poverty Seductive The Time Sissy Spacek Recorded A Song About Naked John Lennon Scout Finchs Father Knows Best In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD The True Story Of The True Story Inspired By The True Story Of FARGO The Strength Of Two Women In GONE WITH THE WIND How Leonards Jackie Burke Became Tarantinos JACKIE BROWN

Editor-in-Chief
Devin Faraci

Managing Editor
Meredith Borders

Associate Publisher
Henri Mazza

Art Director/Graphic Designer


Joseph A. Ziemba

Copy Editor
George Bragdon

Contributing Writers
Inkoo Kang, R.J. LaForce, Greg MacLennan, Phil Nobile, Jr., Sarah Pitre, Katey Rich, Tommy Swenson

Public Relations Inquiries


Brandy Fons | brandy@fonspr.com All content 2013 Alamo Drafthouse | drafthouse.com | badassdigest.com
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From The Desk Of The Patriarchy


DEVIN FARACI Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at badassdigest.com

I dont want to celebrate tough women. Dont get me wrong -- I love tough women, and I love movies featuring totally ass-kicking women. But in a better world there would be so many of them, especially in the movies, that we would take them for granted. Were not quite yet there, but were on our way. This month Jennifer Lawrence is showing that strong, take-charge, action heroines are alive, well and quite capable of dominating the box office. Of course tough women dont just pick up guns, like ALIENS Ripley, one of the great action heroes -gender be damned! -- of the 20th century. They take over the workplace, as Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin do in NINE TO FIVE, which this month we compare to the nuanced gender battles of MAD MEN. They make poverty look damn good, as Barbara Stanwyck does in THE LADY EVE. They dont even have to be grown-ups, as Scout proves in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Some day in the future were just going to take awesome women in film for granted. Were not going to have to worry about the Bechdel test or the casual, insidious misogyny that is layered into even the best movies. But until then, were going to celebrate the women who do it their own way and who, sometimes, kick some ass as they do it. You can boldly go beyond the pages of BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. by visiting our Tumblr at birthmoviesdeath.com. Theres always more great content waiting for you at BadassDigest.com as well. And you can always download a copy at scribd.com/ birthmoviesdeath.

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Screening In November At The Alamo Drafthouse


Inspired by the upcoming release of THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, the Alamo Drafthouse programming team presents a month of screenings on the theme of Tough Ladies. For tickets, showtimes, formats, and a full list of titles, visit drafthouse.com.
GIRLIE NIGHT: NINE TO FIVE Dir. Colin Higgins, 1980, PG, 110 min
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Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen. Pour myself a cup of ambition... Theres no denying that Dolly Partons hit song, 9 to 5, is catchy as hell. And when it comes to karaoke, its always a good move. But beneath that infectious chorus lies a battle cry, and the real power of the track lies not in the upbeat rhythm but in its working girl call to arms. The same could be said for the songs inspiration, the 1980 film of the same title. Its uproariously funny and immensely satisfying, but what makes this movie a true masterpiece is its feminist exploration of females in the workplace. The story centers on three women forced to deal with levels of sexual harassment and discrimination that may, by todays standards, seem exaggerated, yet were sadly typical for that time. Their boss (played with villainous gusto by Dabney Coleman) might seem hyperbolic in his chauvinism, but his behavior isnt far from the norm of the period. The coup of NINE TO FIVE is its reliance on reality to deliver the punchline. This humor of this film strikes a major chord in its authentic portrayal of crappy jobs and terrible bosses, not to mention the universal fantasy of killing said bosses. Weve all dreamed of climbing the ladder to something bigger and better, especially for that sweet, sweet moment when we can tell our superior to take this job and shove it. Its incredibly cathartic to watch a trio of women give life to our secret hopes, especially when theyre played by such badass Hollywood actresses. Although the script is fantastic, this movie wouldnt be nearly as dynamic without the combined talent of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Individually, each woman is a powerhouse in her own right. But like a comedic Voltron, they come together to form an unstoppable weapon of mass hilarity,
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capable of dropping sass bombs and shooting out razor-sharp quips. Their performances in this film are positively jubilant, and I challenge anyone to watch this movie without raising her or his fist in solidarity at least once. At Girlie Night, we love to celebrate females in film, and we hope youll join us in honoring three brave women determined to achieve professional equality, even if it means kidnapping their own boss. So if youre on the same boat with a lot of your friends, waiting for the day your ship will come in, just put down the rat poison and head over to the Alamo for an evening of non-stop laughs and girl power. (Sarah Pitre) ALIENS Dir. James Cameron, 1986, R, 137 min
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This time, its war. Fifty-seven years after her ordeal with an extraterrestrial creature, Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team during hypersleep, only to discover to her horror that human settlements have popped up on the alien planet of LV-426. Ripley agrees to return to the planet to help a group of cocksure, tough-as-nails space Marines investigate the sudden breakdown of communications from LV-426. The whole crew (with MAD ABOUT YOUs Paul Reiser in tow) land on the planet...AND THEN SHIT GETS REAL. James Cameron picked up where Ridley Scott left off and turned the action up to eleven. Its not easy to follow up one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, and everyone involved seemed hesitant to pull the trigger... except for James Cameron. Refusing to write about anyone else but Ripley, Cameron crafted the perfect story to lure Sigourney Weaver back to the iconic role, and the rest is history. Horror fans love ALIEN, while action fans prefer ALIENS. But one thing they can all agree on is that

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they are both enduring masterpieces of cinema. You will see aliens come out of the walls and Bill Paxton scream THATS IT! GAME OVER MAN! GAME OVER... in this big-budgeted, swiftly paced action sequel that oozes with thrills and a feminist subtext.

But BONNIE AND CLYDE isnt just important -being important would make it worth reading about, not worth seeing. Its also really great. Warren Beatty, one of the most charismatic humans to ever walk the Earth, is at peak charisma as the lovestruck outlaw. Faye Dunaway is so beautiful and so cool in this movie that her Bonnie Parker outfits smashed into the fashion world like a meteor. Their story is romantic and tragic, foolish and wonderful, just like all the best love stories. Even the ones with bullet holes. Theyre surrounded by a stunning array of character actors, like the brilliant Michael Pollard, the always underappreciated Estelle Parsons (who won an Oscar for her part) and Gene Hackman, who would be launched into the legend we know today playing Bonnies older brother. Sometimes darkly comic, sometimes absolutely thrilling, always completely beautiful, BONNIE AND CLYDE speaks as loudly to us today as it did to audiences in 1967. And that final shoot-out will still take your breath away as it mixes elegance and agony. (Devin Faraci) COAL MINERS DAUGHTER Dir. Michael Apted, 1980, PG, 125 min
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I done wrote me a song Betty Sue. Your mamas a dadgum songwriter now. Shots will be fired, and things will explode, so stay frosty, Marine, because the bitch is back! Greg MacLennan) BONNIE AND CLYDE Dir. Arthur Penn, 1967, R, 112 min
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Before the music, the big hair, the legend Loretta Lynn (Sissy Spacek) was just a regular ol Kentucky hillbilly and proud of it! COAL MINERS DAUGHTER, based off Lynns own autobiography, is an amazingly honest, warts-and-all story of one of country musics most heralded singer-songwriters. And Spacek makes Lynn one of the best examples of a strong woman in American film. Director Michael Apteds portrait of Lynn covers her life from her teenage years in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, helping raise her little brothers and sisters to her eventual rise to superstardom. In between we focus on, and are given a multi-faceted view into, her complicated marriage to Doolittle Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones), a courtship that moves her away from her bluegrass hometown and, in the process, quietly breaks the heart of her father (Levon Helm). Doolittle loves Loretta, but he is still a drunk and womanizer who cant fully appreciate his wife. However, his undeniable love for Loretta and his support to help her become a country singer,makes Loretta accept her deeply flawed husband. Moreso, its his initial push that moves Loretta from domestic housewife to national star.

Some movies are great. Some movies are cinemachanging. And some movies -- the best of the best -manage to do both. BONNIE AND CLYDE is one of those movies. Arthur Penns masterpiece broke new ground in both violence and sexuality in American film. Its balletic bloodbaths would forever change the way filmmakers shot action, and its up-front sexuality -- including an impotent Clyde Barrow who uses his gun as a second phallus -- jolted Hollywood awake to the sexual revolution happening all around them. BONNIE AND CLYDE would be ground zero for the glorious run of great 70s movies popularly known as The New Hollywood.
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THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred. Well, kind ofFARGO remains the best example of what makes a Coen brothers movie a Coen brothers movie. Its funny, dark and violent. It has a little murder, a little greed, and its a little crazy. Its a very Hitchcockian plot: a man, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), is having money troubles. In his desperate situation he hires a couple of low-level criminals (Coen regulars Steve Buscemi and Peter Stomare) to kidnap his wife. The goal is to get ransom paid from her wealthy father who hates Jerry. Of course things dont go quite as planned and a couple of unplanned killings have small town police chief, the pregnant Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), on their trail. Set against the cold backdrop of a snowy white Minnesota, the film captures a bleak, isolated aesthetic that makes its many moments of darkness work and its bits of comedy hit so hard. This tonal cocktail allows FARGO to work as both a drama and comedy, though the latter is how its usually labeled. Its easy to see why. The Minnesota nice accents (Yah, you betcha!) are hard to hear and not smile, even as people are being put in wood chippers and shot in the face. But you cant discount just how great the drama in FARGO works. As plots go this is among the best the Coens have ever put together, which is saying something. The tension builds beautifully from the bumbling Jerry to the wholeheartedly good Marge to the nihilism of the kidnappers. And its these archetypes that make the film soar. Marge is the epitome of strength and goodness. Shes tracking down murderers with a pregnant belly for Gods sake and never once asked for pity from her husband or coworkers. She is easily the most virtuous character in any Coen brothers film. On the other end of the spectrum are the kidnappers, who are petty, selfish and evil. In the middle is Jerry, a real schmuck who just wants the easy way out instead of dealing with his problems. Like most of the brothers films, FARGO is a tale of morality. And if you agree to look at it that way youll see an intelligently complex view of the primal nature and flaws of mankind. But on the other hand its also hysterical. And, dontcha know, it really happened. (R.J. LaForce) GILDA Dir. Charles Vidor, 1946, 110 min
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Unlike most biopics, COAL MINERS DAUGHTER works because of its lack of forced melodrama and big moments. Apted wisely makes the simplicity of his two leads juxtapose the massive success Loretta attains to make us understand the improbability of Lorettas journey. By the time she meets the great Patsy Cline (Beverly DAngelo) we share her awestruck expression at her lightning fast rise to the top. It doesnt hurt that Spacek delivers a career-defining, Academy Award-winning performance as the no nonsense, tough-as-nails Loretta and Jones is perfect in the underappreciated, complex role of Doolittle. But the main reason COAL MINERS DAUGHTER is such an emotional triumph is its authenticity, from its beautiful photography of the dead end, but gorgeous town of Butcher Hollow to Spacek and DAngelos doing all their own singing.. When most biopics are sugar-coated or overly dramatic, this one is neither. The film earns its emotional payoffs, both high and low, because its as honest and direct as Loretta herself. (R.J. LaForce) FARGO Dirs. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, 1996, R, 98 min.
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Rita Hayworths Gilda is the most fascinating of classic Hollywoods femme fatales. In the film she is the ultimate bad girl, drawing men into her web with the promise of sex and the reality of death. Hayworth gives the role of the jaded temptress everything shes got and in the process creates her own legend. Its a masterpiece of film noir and one of the most racy and sordid movies of its time. Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is a hardbitten American expatriate using loaded dice at a Buenos Aires casino. He gets jumped in an alley out back after the game and is about to be cleaned out when hes saved by Ballin Mundson (George Macready), owner of the casino, and given a job as Mundsons right hand man so he can repay his debts. The two quickly develop a close relationship, with a surprising gay subtext given the fact this movie was made in 1940s Hollywood under the repressive Production Code. It isnt until Mundson returns from a business trip with a sexy young bride that things go to hell. What Mundson doesnt know is that Johnny and his new bride Gilda were once lovers and things between them are still heated. Johnny acts like he hates her, but thats just the way you harbor your secret love in a movie like this. And Mundson is not only the possessive type, hes a powerful tyrant who also happens to be in league with some Nazis. The biggest pleasure of the movie comes from watching Gildas manipulation of both of these men who view her as a sex object. The most famous sequence in the movie is a timeless musical number where Hayworth vamps her way through a knockout nightclub performance of Put the Blame on Mame in a slinky black strapless dress. The clip is pretty iconic on its own, but when you see it in its full context it becomes even more compelling (and problematic). Gilda is getting revenge against her men by turning herself into an erotic spectacle. Its a gesture of defiance built out of her own vulnerability. She gets her kicks by taunting Johnny and acting like a loose woman by running after other men, but she only does it because she loves him so much! What with its setting in an exotic nightclub and a crooked casino, its plot about the sudden reappearance of a beautiful woman from the leading mans past, and its inclusion of a Nazi menace, its easy to compare GILDA to CASABLANCA, but this movie is like the twisted evil twin to the Bogart and Bergman classic. Loaded with escalating erotic tension and intense undercurrents of repression and hostility, GILDAs shadowy corners are so much deeper and darker than CASABLANCAs. Secrets fester and itch and an irrational streak of unbridled hysteria runs through the whole thing. And its all radiating out through Rita Hayworths breathtaking performance. Her style and mannerisms have been copied so many times
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thats easy to forget it all began with her. No one looked or acted this way on screen before Hayworth. Theres her famous introductory shot where she pops up into the frame, throws her hair back and purrs Hello boys. Theres the parade of astonishing gowns and glamorous fashions that she wears. Theres her brilliant, undyed red hair thats always lit from behind to make it really shine. Theres the way she uses that hair as a central tool of her performance, using it to project a whole range of feeling. Theres the breathy voice and batted eyelids that communicate everything the script isnt allowed to. And theres the iconic poster with the tagline that sums it all up. There NEVER was a woman like Gilda. (Tommy Swenson) THE LADY EVE Dir. Preston Sturges, 1941, 94 min
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The crown jewel in the career of mad comedic genius Preston Sturges, THE LADY EVE is truly one of the greatest romantic comedies ever to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. And seeing as the romantic comedy was essentially the raison detre of classic Hollywood, THE LADY EVE can be seen as the fullest, most perfect expression of everything which movies of that time aspired to. Genuinely romantic and impossibly funny, Sturges pulls off a breathless balancing act in which his leading lady lies,

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Stanwyck plays Jean Harrington, a con woman who travels the world first class, along with her father and their valet, fleecing rich travelers in card games and grifts of all sort. While on board a luxury cruise ship, she sets her sights on Charles Pike (Fonda), amateur ophiologist and heir to a brewery fortune, who is travelling home after spending a year up the Amazon. She drops an apple on his head as he climbs the rope ladder to the ship, and is reprimanded by her father: Dont be vulgar, Jean. Let us be crooked, but never common. Keeping this in mind, she immediately sets out to take Pike for all hes worth. Jeans character is rooted in a clichd archetype -- the wandering con woman who lives by her wits and sexual wiles, cynical about love and sex until she is seduced into a new life by male innocence and inexperience. And while the film doesnt exactly subvert the trope, it complicates and heightens it, making it full and rich and outrageous. Jean is an intensified exaggeration and embodiment of power and allure. She delights in her strength, her control over Pike, and that delight, brought to life so perfectly by Stanwyck, gives THE LADY EVE much of its energy and fun. Though Henry Fonda delivers a flawless comedic performance, especially in an extended slapstick sequence filled with pratfall after pratfall, the film completely belongs to Stanwyck. Known primarily for her dramatic roles as tough working girls, selfsacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes, in THE LADY EVE she shines with all the style, sophistication and glamour in the world. More than any other star of classic Hollywood, Barbara Stanwycks magic was entirely in her films, not in her star persona or fan magazine spreads or the way people talked about her. Watching her perform makes you realize that there was a time when being smart and sexy onscreen werent mutually exclusive. The motivation for nearly every scene in the movie arises out of Jeans emotions and desires. You can see it all in her eyes: the amusement she gets from relentlessly humiliating the shy and awkward Pike, the interest and arousal she feels towards him in spite of herself. Its incredible how much genuine feeling Stanwyck finds in the comedy. When Jean is first seducing Pike, she does it with happy, open contempt. Even as she becomes caught up in her own seduction, it does little to lessen her malicious exuberance. Few characters in romantic comedies have more convincingly, impetuously desired someone like Jean does Pike, but the movie never lets us forget the gleefully destructive element of her character. I need him, she says, like the axe needs the turkey. And you need this movie. (Tommy Swenson)
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Tough Guy Cinema: TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY Dir. James Cameron, 1991, R, 137 min
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Come with me if you want to live. Its been more than 10 years since Sarah Connor narrowly escaped with her life from the T-800. After being informed by a soldier from the future that she is raising the inevitable savior of the computer-controlled apocalypse world, Sarah has devoted her life to bodybuilding and teaching her son how to be full-time awesome. But when youre the only person who knows the future, the rest of the world will think youre crazy. So while Sarah spends some time in the looney bin, her son, John, has been relegated to a life of foster care and teen rebellion until one day a new and improved Terminator, the T-1000, is sent back in time to find and destroy the boy who will be humanitys only hope for survival. But not if the reprogrammed, old-school AHNULD bot, T-800, has anything to say about it! Applying some of the same finesse that he put to good use in the ALIEN franchise, James Cameron grabbed the reins of his TERMINATOR sequel and created a grander, sweeping epic of a movie with faster action, glossier visuals, and more thrilling special-effects. Inside the casing of this battling robotic beast beats the heart of a real human being, which is why TERMINATOR 2 forever changed the face of action filmmaking and gave a whole generation of grown men a reason to cry. I know now why you cry. But its something I can never do. Thumbs up. (Greg MacLennan) TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Dir. Robert Mulligan, 1962, NR, 128 min.
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To call both Harper Lees book and the cinematic adaptation American classics in their respective mediums would be an understatement. While thats true, its more appropriate to place TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD as the most socially influential, relevant and important work of American art in the 1960s. Usually when it comes to novels of such astounding craft and acclaim a film version is almost guaranteed to disappoint. Its safe to say Robert Mulligans film is far from inferior to its source. Anchored by one of the all-time great performances in film history by Gregory Peck as the heroic, intelligent father Atticus Finch, Elmer Bernsteins beautiful score and Horton Footes flawless screenplay, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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is that rare film that captures the many emotions and nuances in a work as rich as Lees novel. While the film reaches deep to shed light on southern Americas dark truths, its also an amazingly entertaining, even enjoyable film to experience. Its not an easy feat to accomplish in book form and even harder to pull off on the big screen. The film takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, a place touched by rampant poverty and racism. Atticus Finch is the public defender and his two children, hardnosed tomboy Scout and her brother Jem, are exposed to these norms of the 1950s and 60s American south. Instead of trying to shelter his children, Atticus instead tries to diplomatically explain the situation, treating them more as adults. When he is appointed to defend a black man

accused of rape, Scout and Jem get a first-hand look at the emotional toll their hometowns prejudice can cause. Part coming-of-age story, part courtroom drama, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD continues to be the defining film and book about racism in America during this time. Its beautiful, emotional and sensitive, but also frank and candid. The charming performances by youngsters Mary Badham (Scout) and Phillip Alford (Jem) and the stoic Peck balance the instances of unmitigated hate by those around them. Its this interplay that makes TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD so special. It captures the innocence and happy-go-lucky spirit of being a kid, the protective and loving nature of being a father, and how the evils of this world challenge all of it. (R.J. LaForce) 6

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The Mad Women Of NINE TO FIVE


PHIL NOBILE JR. Badass Digest Contributor @philnobilejr Read more at badassdigest.com

Theres an interesting phenomenon that occurs when one leafs through an old magazine: the content, concerning people and events long past, becomes arcane to the point of obfuscation. Put enough decades between that content and the reader, and we might need an appendix to even understand what a journalist is casually referencing to his intended audience. Its the nature of topical material, and the effect is compounded when trying to parse old pop culture pieces. But as the content devolves over time into white noise, the peripheral content -- the visuals, the formatting, the advertising -- is thrown into sharp relief. Such is also the case with some movies, and NINE TO FIVE is a prime example. The film is the logical spawn of the 1970s feminist movement and that same decades mainstream embrace of the anti-establishment, haves vs. have-nots sentiment. Where MEATBALLS and CADDYSHACK dealt in class warfare for laughs, NINE TO FIVE aims to map the battle of the sexes onto a dark office comedy. But what is no doubt intended as a heartfelt fist of defiance is often undercut by the prevalent and inescapable attitude toward women running through the film (and no doubt through the mainstream culture of 1980 on the whole). Where a show like MAD MEN aims to provide commentary on a specific era through pointed observations and sharp writing, NINE TO FIVE gives us a plethora of accidental insight into the period beyond -- and sometimes in conflict with -its intended thesis. While its heart is in the right place, the mixed messages of NINE TO FIVE start right at the beginning: a bouncy opening credits montage (its roots going back to the opening of METROPOLIS) portrays the modern working woman as the living, breathing engine of the city. Odd then, that the montage seems to feature so many women struggling with the very mechanics of a morning commute -- spilling coffee, running late, missing buses. This sequence of women commuting themselves to the brink culminates in the arrival of Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) at her first day on the job as a secretary at Consolidated Companies. Ostensibly our touchstone into this world, Judy is a newly divorced woman who initially seems completely helpless, to the point of having difficulty riding an elevator. Its all in the service of laughs (and casting feminist icon Jane Fonda against type was no doubt a heap of meta fun in 1980), but the way the film has Judy bumbling her way through answering phones, mishandling a copier and staring wounded and wideeyed through the first act is perhaps more telling of the eras attitude than the scripted stacked deck into which Fondas character wanders. Judys helplessness is thankfully balanced by her co-worker Violet (Lily Tomlin), an intelligent single
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mother worn down by having to train a succession of men who are promoted in front of her. Most notable in that roster is her boss, Franklin M Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman, in a career-defining performance). Hart is who MAD MENs Pete Campbell will no doubt be by 1980 -- a balding, lecherous, middle-aged jackass who delights in belittling the women in his employ. Perhaps the most belittled is Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton), the drab offices only flash of color and personality, whom Hart lets the office believe hes screwing. The script (by HAROLD AND MAUDE writer Colin Higgins) conspires to have each of these women hit their limit regarding Hart on the same day, and over a shared joint after work they fantasize about murdering their boss. But these are nice ladies, and this is a nice movie, so the imagined violence upon their boss -hog-tying, big game hunting, coffee poisoning -- is of the cartoon variety, and they laugh it off (though watch carefully and youll see that each fantasy does eventually manifest itself in the film; weed apparently makes them all psychic). Eventually, the women are moved to act -- not to murder, but to kidnap their boss as an act of self-preservation when a misunderstanding has them facing criminal charges. As the trio finds the strength to rise up against their bully of a boss, they set about overhauling the way he runs his office. The grey, drab female workforce blossoms under the ladies new policies (which, we see in a breezy montage, essentially amount to adding a womans touch), and the company enjoys a healthy spike in productivity, while Hart is literally (and not a little symbolically) chained to a bed, watching soap operas. Again, its a positive feminist message, but in 1980 it seems the only possible way for a woman to successfully run a business is to be motherly and nurturing. Baby steps! Theres a subtler feminist message at play in NINE TO FIVE, and, if deliberate, its way less broadly played than the rest of the films themes. Dabney Colemans Hart is the traditional villain, but out of the gate the womens biggest obstacle is each other. Violet is downright hostile to newcomer Judy at first, and the entire female workforce openly hates Doralee. Theyre all judging each other on surface appearances and gossip, keeping each other down in a way their boss never needs to. Once they get to know (and look out for) each other, theyre a united front against the mustachioed monster oppressing them. It took Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson almost six seasons to get to that point. 6

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THE LADY EVE and Barbara Stanwyck Make Poverty Seductive


INKOO KANG LA WEEKLY and VILLAGE VOICE Film Critic @thinkovision Read more at badassdigest.com

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With rare exceptions like Katharine Hepburn and Lara Croft, tough broads dont come from mansions. With her dancers legs, outer-borough nose, and seen-it-all brow arch, Barbara Stanwyck never looked like she belonged in a Connecticut castle or a Californian manor. But that never stopped her from trying to get in through the front door, by hook -- as was usually the case -- or by crook -- as in THE LADY EVE (1941). Stanwycks best films -- STELLA DAVIS (1937), THE LADY EVE, BALL OF FIRE (1941) and DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) -- have crystallized her screen image as a tantalizing seductress from the wrong side of the tracks who always falls just short of a perfect pantomime of glamour and elegance. But no matter; her characters imperfect impersonations of debutante femininity never dissuaded them from continuing to raise themselves up by their glittery heel-straps. Its a narrative cribbed heavily from Stanwycks hardknock past. Born Ruby Stevens in Brooklyn, Stanwyck was essentially orphaned at the age of four. (A drunken stranger killed Stanwycks mother by pushing her out of a moving streetcar; two weeks after the funeral, her father ran away to Panama.) A middle-school dropout, Stanwyck supported herself from the age of 15, first as a dancer and a chorus girl, then as an actress. None of those were reputable professions (nor are they particularly so now), which explained the occasional prickliness and crabbiness in her voice. Her toughness came from real hardship and was alloyed by her sexual allure -- a combination that made the ever-persevering Stanwyck admirable, not snobby like Hepburn or mannish like Garbo. Striving -- and its pitfalls -- eventually became Stanwycks signature. The conservative melodrama STELLA DAVIS punished her for it: Stanwyck plays the lowborn wife of a high-society man who eventually gives up all claims to her daughter so the latter can fit in among the country-club set. Her femme fatale character in DOUBLE INDEMNITY doesnt just persuade Fred MacMurrays insurance salesman to murder her domineering husband -- shes determined to collect double the payout for his accidental death (hence the title). In BABY FACE (1933), her most notorious film, Stanwyck is the aptly named Lily Powers, a woman who sleeps her way from being her fathers teenage prostitute to the wife of a bank president -- but all her sexual might is domesticated at the film ends by marital devotion. Preston Sturges THE LADY EVE stands out in the actress filmography, then, for refusing to moralize her naked social ambition. Stanwyck plays a familiar role as Jean Harrington, a con artist who bewitches and bewilders her marks while her father (Charles Coburn) fleeces them dry at the poker table. Her latest target is
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Charles (Henry Ford), a wealthy and handsome goon who hasnt been around bathed women in over a year. In other words, hes a freebie for Jean -- only, while shes pretending to fall for him, she actually does so. Since this is a film from the forties, Charles proposes marriage right away. But the engagement ends as hurriedly as it arrived when his bulldog-like valet (William Demarest) discovers Jeans identity as a hustler. Thus begins THE LADY EVEs strange middle section, when Jean decides to take revenge: Ive got some unfinished business with him. I need him like the axe needs the turkey. She hatches a plan that has him falling in love with her all over again -- but this time, as Lady Eve Sidwich. (Hilariously, Stanwycks British accent is as phony as Madonnas). Charles and Eve get married, but she proves too much woman for him on their wedding night: the faux-noblewoman rattles off a list of her Don Juanita-esque conquests until Charles is so horrified he jumps out of their honeymoon train. THE LADY EVE ends in classic rom-com style with a reunion between Charles and Jean, but its a happilyever-after with a question mark. If the initial betrayal of trust -- her profession as a card shark -- was the relationships undoing, she cant possibly tell him about her moonlighting gig as Lady Eve. And if she doesnt confess her plan, the foundation of their marriage will be deceit. To the films great credit, it plays this ambiguity for guilty giggles: were supposed to laugh along with Jean and marvel at her clever schemes to marry the heir of her dreams. Taking the side of the gold-digger: thats a tall order. And yet Sturges makes the whole thing go down easy because Jean is so resourceful -- and the wealthy such vulgar twits. Stanwyck belonged to a generation when class was a legitimate reason to reject someone as a potential spouse. In fact, several of her films, including STELLA DAVIS and DOUBLE INDEMNITY, can be read as arguments against marriage between economic unequals. In THE LADY EVE, though, Stanwyck helped create one of films favorite tropes: the poor girl whose deprivation-borne wits are her greatest asset. Opportunist or not, Jeans seductive intelligence and sympathetic ambition make her an irresistible woman -- and, ultimately, a compelling argument for the previously unthinkable union between rich and poor. 6

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The Time Sissy Spacek Recorded A Song About Naked John Lennon
DEVIN FARACI Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at badassdigest.com

Loretta Lynn personally chose Sissy Spacek to play her in COAL MINERS DAUGHTER based only on a photo. The country singer didnt know the work of the Texas-born actress, work that included some of the most iconic films of the 70s like CARRIE and BADLANDS (and Im going to work in a shout out to the vastly underrated PRIME CUT here as well), and she certainly didnt know if the actress could sing. It turns out that not only could Spacek sing, she had a previous career as a singer/songwriter in the late 60s. The young girl, fresh-faced and strawberry-haired, got out of Texas not to be an actress but to be a singer. She moved to New York City, acoustic guitar slung over her shoulder, and began singing in Greenwich Villages coffeehouses. She also made money singing backup on commercial jingles, the kind of infectiously catchy songs that once permeated the airwaves. She billed herself as Rainbo, and she was ready to make the leap to the big time. In 1968 she got that chance and was able to record her first single. If it had been a hit all of movie history might have been rewritten. But instead of a hit, Rainbo released a single that sank. A single that made fun of John Lennon. In 1968 John Lennon shocked the world with the cover of his new album, UNFINISHED MUSIC NO.1: TWO VIRGINS. On it he stood next to his new wife Yoko Ono stark naked, both fully exposed. The back cover was the reverse angle, showing the pasty butts of John and Yoko. You have to put this in some context -1968 was only four years after a fresh-faced Lennon and the Beatles had conquered America while wearing suits on the Ed Sullivan Show. The world was scandalized. Rainbo sang about it in John, Youve Gone Too Far This Time, a song from the point of view of a teeny bopper who had been loyal to John Lennon all along:
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Everything you asked of me, I did, John From holding hands to living in a sunlight submarine And you were something special when you said, John, That you had more disciples than the man who was too green But this album cover was too much for Rainbo or maybe it awoke things in her she never imagined being awoken: Now I gaze in awe before that picture My mind retires to the place it was before you came I love the things you showed me up til now, John But since that picture, I dont think my love will be the same The music and arrangement is a play on the Beatles latter-era baroque pop sound, and the lyrics are full of thuddingly punny references to Beatle history. Its not a very good song, although in Spaceks defense she didnt actually write it. She does get a writing credit on the B-side of the single (or C. Spacek does, anyway), CMon Teach Me To Live. John, Youve Gone Too Far This Time was part of a legacy of Beatles-oriented novelty records, but it never cracked the charts. Rainbos label immediately dropped her and Sissy Spacek began hanging out at Andy Warhols Factory. She got an interest in acting, and eventually she ended up at the legendary Lee Strasbergs Actors Studio, where she made the connections that led to her first film role, a girl sold into sexual slavery in PRIME CUT. That led to her getting a part on THE WALTONS and from there her career blossomed, leading eventually to Loretta Lynn pointing at her picture. The woman once known as Rainbo, who couldnt get any radio play in 1968, won an Oscar in 1981 for a role where she did all her own singing. 6

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Scout Finchs Father Knows Best In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD


KATEY RICH Editor-in-Chief of CinemaBlend.com @kateyrich Read more at badassdigest.com

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I swear, Scout, you act more like a girl all of the time. Jem Finchs words are meant as an insult to his sister, and she takes it that way. For Scout, being a girl means wearing a scratchy white dress to the first day of school, learning not to fight on the playground, and minding her manners in front of elders. There are women in her life Scout could look up to, like the gentle neighbor Miss Atkinson or the dutiful housekeeper Calpurnia, but Scout doesnt seem to connect with them, or feel a need for a female role model at all. Instead, she has Atticus. Played like a firm handshake by Gregory Peck, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRDs Atticus Finch is the icon of cinematic fatherhood, a man who can shoot a rabid dog, stand up to a lynch mob, teach his daughter a lesson about compromise and barely pause to wipe his brow. Though Scout tells the story and her narration opens and closes the film, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is Atticuss movie, a star performance for the ages that allows the frustration, sorrow and anger of the Jim Crow South into the fringes of this child-sized story. But were also seeing Atticus through Scouts eyes, not just a justiceminded lawyer but an adored father, teaching and raising his daughter in a way thats incredibly rare to see onscreen. Father-daughter stories on film boil down to The Protector (a father rescuing/protecting his daughter from danger, i.e. TAKEN or WAR OF THE WORLDS) or The Trainer (a father -- or more commonly a father figure -- training a daughter for some challenge, i.e. KICK-ASS, MILLION DOLLAR BABY). If a fathers relationship with his daughter is complicated, its often because hes terrible, and many of cinemas most famous tough women -- Ripley, Katniss, Sarah Connor -- have no father figures at all. You cant blame them for wanting to get out from the shadow of men, of course -- far too many action heroes are driven by putting their daughters or other beloved females in peril, and when it comes time for women to do the saving for themselves, they shouldnt need Dad around to guide them. But Scout isnt an action heroine, or anything like what defines tough women on film -- shes a child, largely a passive participant in the main story of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and is rescued in the end by Boo Radley, a very different kind of father figure. Her strength, and the way she got it directly from Atticus, emerges in one single, pivotal scene, when she, Jem and Dill find Atticus keeping watch over Tom Robinsons cell overnight. When the lynch mob that Atticus anticipated arrives, its not he who quells them but Scout, singling out Mr. Cunningham by name and reminding him of the favor Atticus did for his family. Scout displays the manners Atticus has taught
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her, without any real understanding of the angry mob in front of her, and she uses them to save her fathers life. Jem, who understands the danger, doesnt speak, and neither does Atticus. Its a girl raised to have good Southern manners who has the power to defuse potential disaster. I dont know that I have much of value that belongs to me, Atticus tells Scout one night when putting her to bed, explaining how Jem will inherit his pocket watch while Scout will get the pearls and ring left by an absent, mysterious mother. In the Great Depression and a small town like Maycomb, even a lawyer like Atticus can be poor, and the main thing he can give his children is his own example of how best to be kind. Unlike the watch and the ring, he can give that to each of his children equally, briefly freeing Jem and Scout of the gender norms that will guide the rest of their lives. At the end of the film, after Boo Radley has emerged as her savior, Atticus stands Scout on a chair as she tells him why it would be wrong to reveal Boos heroism to the town, putting her at his eye level as she grasps the films trickiest lesson about how to treat others. Atticus wont teach Scout how to eventually be comfortable in her school dress or to cook Thanksgiving dinner -- that will probably be Calpurnias job. But by seeing her as an equal, to himself and her brother and Tom Robinson and Mr. Cunningham, Atticus gives Scout the strength and voice shell need in a world where being a girl is rarely easy. 6

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The True Story Of The True Story Inspired By The True Story Of FARGO
DEVIN FARACI Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at badassdigest.com

Theres a true story. Its the true story of a Japanese girl who came to North Dakota searching for the one million dollars she saw being hidden in the movie FARGO, which itself was labeled a true story. In this true story the girl, out of place and seemingly confused by the line between reality and fantasy, met her tragic end in the cold Fargo woods, still searching for that mythical one million dollars. Everybody knows that true story. It was picked up by the media in a big way in December of 2001. There was something darkly comic about it, something that wouldnt have been out of place in a Coen Brothers movie. And it turns out to have been just as true as FARGO itself. In FARGO Steve Buscemis kidnapper character, shot and bleeding, buries the ransom money from the crime that is currently going wrong. He digs a hole near a fence, planning to use it as a landmark for his eventual retrieval of the cash, but when hes done he realizes his mistake -- the fence, seemingly the only thing in a barren snowy landscape, is long and endless and each section is indistinguishable from each other. The money is as good as gone. Takako Kinishi left Tokyo and headed to North Dakota. She came to Bismarck, the state capitol, and began asking people -- in halting, broken English -- to look at a map she had created. Polite midwesterners brought the police, who interviewed the young girl. At first they didnt understand what she wanted, and then one of the cops -- who had seen FARGO -- said he believed she was looking for the lost money from the movie. The cops tried to convince her that the movie wasnt actually a true story, but the language barrier
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made it impossible. Eventually she left and there was nothing they could do to help her. Days later she was dead. Somehow the story made the media, and the angle was that this Japanese girl -- dressed in then-trendy Tokyo fashion that was completely inappropriate for North Dakotas winter -- had died on a quixotic quest to uncover the treasure. Everybody had their grim chuckle and moved on, and when Takako Kinishis suicide note showed up three weeks later in the mail at her parents home, nobody cared anymore. It turns out that Takako came to North Dakota for a man, a man who was in Bismarck. A man who had spurned her. And sad and lonely and having her world shattered, trapped in a sea of friendly, clueless midwesterners, Takako took her own life. All of the business about the money from FARGO seems to have been a misunderstanding caused by insurmountable language barriers. There never was a search for treasure; the last person who spoke to Takako alive gave her directions to a spot perfect for stargazing. The universe, it seems, was the last thing Takako wanted to see, not a briefcase containing a fortune. FARGO isnt a true story. The title card that makes the claim is just some good old-fashioned trolling from the Coens, playing with the cinematic conventions of true stories. How gullible are you, they gleefully asked. Gullible enough that even today, twelve years after her sad ending, there are still people who believe Takako Kinishi was searching for something that didnt exist. Maybe, like all of us, she was, but in a more profound way. 6

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The Strength Of Two Women In GONE WITH THE WIND


MEREDITH BORDERS Badass Digest Managing Editor @xymarla Read more at badassdigest.com

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Melanie Hamilton. Shes a pale-faced, mealy-mouthed ninny and I hate her. That, ladies and gentleman, is Scarlett OHara (Vivien Leigh), a woman never short on words. It seems shes the only person in the county not captured by the demure charm of Miss Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). That quiet grace that makes Melanie such a pinnacle of propriety? Thats not how Scarlett views it. She sees Melanie as a silly little fool who cant open her mouth except to say yes and no and raise a houseful of mealy-mouthed brats just like her. How could Scarlett understand Melanies discreet strength when she herself is such an unequivocal force? Scarlett speaks her mind and she gets her way, and no one will keep her from it. Melanie -- who has the very great nerve to be married to the man Scarlett wants -- is self-sacrificing, self-effacing. Shes a woman who nearly dies in labor because she refuses to call the doctor away from the soldiers hes tending, a woman who time and again puts the needs of others before her own. How could Scarlett see Melanie as a formidable woman when her strength is so different from Scarletts own? And yet, different as they are, Scarlett and Melanie are both indeed formidable. Despite Scarletts unwavering and scarcely concealed disdain for Melanie, Mellie appreciates Scarlett for her spirit, for the ways in which they are so unalike. Oh Scarlett, you have so much life. Ive always admired you so. I wish I could be more like you. And yet the distinctions that separate Melanie and Scarlett -- one modest and retiring, one a vibrant, selfish tumult of emotion -- separate them in the eyes of the society that surrounds them, as well. Mellies quiet strength is appropriate for a Southern belle, and she is lauded by everyone who knows her because of it. Only Melanie and Rhett (Clark Gable) approve of Scarletts brand of power. Her sisters, her neighbors and later her colleagues all scorn her for the ways that she uses her sex appeal to get ahead, how she refuses to remain in silent mourning for her various husbands, what a good head she has for business, how she always puts herself -- and her kin -- ahead of others to ensure that they not only survive the Civil War, but grow quite prosperous under Scarletts fearless leadership. Shes thought of as a harlot, a villain, a Lady Macbeth. The truth is that Scarlett is something far simpler: shes a survivor. Look at Scarletts speech on the barren grounds of Tara after she carries Melanie through labor singlehandedly and then delivers her and her child across a war-torn country through sheer, willful fury: As God as my witness... as God as my witness theyre not going to lick me. Im going to live through this and when
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its all over, Ill never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill, as God as my witness, Ill never be hungry again. And you know, she isnt. Nor her family, nor Melanies. She does lie, she does cheat, she does everything short of killing and stealing (unless you count her sisters beau) -- she takes up with carpetbaggers and she uses convict slave labor and makes a hundred decisions that are heartless, amoral and occasionally quite cruel -- but she saves her family, and she saves Melanie whom she believes she hates, and she saves Tara, her beautiful Tara. And no one, save Melanie and Rhett, can forgive her for it. No one can forgive her for becoming so overtly wealthy while so many are starving, for having the courage to be selfish and survive while so many are dying out of honor. Rhett loves her for it, because he sees himself in her (Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes and call them by their right names.) And as foolish as Scarlett believes Melanie is for not seeing that Scarlett is in love with her husband, the truth is that mealy-mouthed little Mellie is far shrewder than Scarlett in many ways. She sees more than Scarlett ever will -- she sees what Scarlett thinks is true, but she sees beyond it, to a larger truth. She knows that deep down Scarlett loves Melanie, and isnt truly in love with Ashley (Leslie Howard). She understands and embraces Scarletts strength, but it takes Melanies death for Scarlett to do the same for her friend. Melanie never would have survived the Civil War without Scarlett. She would have sacrificed herself to death in the first year if Scarletts peculiar selfishness hadnt extended to making sure those close to her survived at all costs as well as herself. She fed her, delivered her child, brought her through fire to safety -- all while believing she hated that goody-goody. But the truth is that in some ways, Scarlett never would have survived without Melanie, either. Although she was always too obtuse to know it until it was too late, Melanies goodness sustained Scarlett. Her love buoyed her. Her belief in Scarletts integrity despite all evidence to the contrary -- despite Scarlett actively pursuing Melanies husband -- helped Scarlett to actually show some integrity in the end. Scarlett would have lived through the Civil War no matter what. People like Scarlett will always live through adversity. But thanks to Melanie, she survived with her soul intact, and that is its own kind of strength. 6

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How Leonards Jackie Burke Became Tarantinos JACKIE BROWN


MEREDITH BORDERS Badass Digest Managing Editor @xymarla Read more at badassdigest.com

Elmore Leonard passed away this summer after delivering dozens of great novels and hundreds of memorable characters. With 45 sharp, vivid mysteries and westerns in his canon, its hard to choose a favorite -- but I have no such difficulty naming my favorite adaptation of his work (though, yes, OUT OF SIGHT is a strong contender). JACKIE BROWN isnt just my favorite Elmore Leonard film -- its also my favorite Quentin Tarantino film. Its a precise character study of a woman (Pam Grier) who should, by any measure, be made desperate by her circumstances, but who instead never, not even for a moment, loses her cool. Griers performance is the centerpiece of this crisp, moody -- and surprisingly sweet -- crime thriller, though of course it also boasts brilliant turns by Samuel L. Jackson as crime boss Ordell, Bridget Fonda as his stoned surfer girl Melanie, Robert de Niro as his ex-con pal Louis, Michael Keaton as Jackies ATF connection Ray and, especially, the great Robert Forster as her
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bail bondsman, accomplice and gentleman caller, Max Cherry. But JACKIE BROWN is, well, its the story of Jackie Brown, and twenty seconds into the film, as we watch Jackie travel down an airport conveyor belt to Bobby Womacks Across 110th Street, poised and gorgeous and inscrutable, Jackies already a legend. And isnt Jackie Brown a badass handle for a legend? Well, the character -- a 44-year-old flight attendant busted for smuggling black-market gun money from Mexico and forced to devise an elaborate plan to keep her ass out of trouble -- wasnt always named Jackie Brown. In fact, Leonards RUM PUNCH protagonist wasnt brown at all -- she was a blonde named Jackie Burke. The differences pretty much end at the surface level, as both versions of the character are steely as a blade, fearless knockouts doing whatever it takes to survive after being dealt a whole decks worth of shitty hands and looking awfully fine as they do it.

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Tarantino renamed the character and the title of the book because Jackie Brown just sounds cooler, and he cast Pam Grier because shes Pam damn Grier. (In a special features interview about JACKIE BROWN, Grier says, When I walked in [to Tarantinos office to read for JACKIE BROWN], there were all my posters from twenty years ago, when I was a little piss and vinegar kid, and I said Did you put these up because I was coming over? and he said No, I was going to take them down because you were coming over.He has been a big fan, hes had posters in his office forever. Hes been collecting them. I didnt know I was a cult figure. He informed me.) But the change in skin color does add a level of crisis to Jackies situation, a middle-aged woman already forced to work for the crummiest airline in the skies and facing prison and poverty. When she sits down with Ray and Dargus (Michael Bowen) to discuss her options and Dargus sneers at her, Youre a 44-yearold black woman, the implication is clear. She can work with them, or her life is over. She makes sixteen thousand dollars a year and she already has a record. What choice does she have but to cooperate with these pricks who act like she should be weeping with gratitude that they havent thrown her in jail already? Well, Jackie makes herself a choice -- one outside of what the feds tell her to do and outside of what Ordell tells her to do. In fact, after Ordell tries to threaten her and she points a gun at his dick, he never tries to tell her what to do again. Its a scene that should be menacing, as Ordell turns off the lights and places his hands slowly around her throat, but Jackie never acts menaced. I dont even know how to picture a menaced Pam Grier. As Leonard said in a 1998 interview, Quentin needed a woman strong enough to stand up to Sam Jackson, and he thought of Pam Grier. You might wonder how Leonard felt seeing his creation transformed on the big screen, and the fact is he was thrilled with it. Leonard often said that JACKIE BROWN was his favorite adaptation of his own work -- not only that, but the best screenplay hed ever read. In an interview with Martin Amis published as an addendum to RUM PUNCH, Leonard said: Im not concerned with how closely [one of my books] is adapted. I just hope its a good movie. For example, Rum Punch to Jackie Brown. Quentin Tarantino, just before he started to shoot, said, Ive been afraid to call you for the last year. I said, Why? Because you changed the title of my book? And youre casting a black woman in the lead? And he said, Yeah. And I said, Youre a filmmaker. You can do whatever you want. I said, I think Pam Grier is a terrific idea. Go ahead. I was very pleased with the results, too.
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I love that, an author who doesnt care for slavish adaptations. He just wants a good movie. (I wish fans could be so wise.) And with JACKIE BROWN, he got one -- a great one, actually. Tarantino is often rightfully called a master of dialogue, but much of the best dialogue in JACKIE BROWN is lifted verbatim from RUM PUNCH, because even he cant improve on Leonards sly tongue. But I think Pam Grier actually did improve on his character. I first read RUM PUNCH before seeing JACKIE BROWN, and having reread it this year in anticipation of this piece, I realized that I cant imagine anyone but Pam Grier playing the character of Jackie Burke. I dont even read the name as Jackie Burke anymore. Elmore Leonard crafted a brilliant heroine, one with infinite self-possession, an assured sense of self-preservation and a mighty slick manner of speaking, but Pam Grier took that character and made her a legend. 6

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