Wanna Rumble?


I usually go out of my way to avoid ruffling the feathers of my fellow film fanatics but there are plenty of things that get me riled up on a monthly basis. Sometimes a girl’s just got to let off a little steam so excuse me while I borrow a page from my fellow Morlock Richard H. Smith and draw your attention to a few things that have got me seeing red lately. Wanna rumble? Here’s how you can really get my goat!


Tell me that you don’t find the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello funny. Just make sure you tell me from a safe distance.


Mention that the only Maximilian Schell movie you’ve seen is THE BLACK HOLE (1979).


Tell me again how much you liked BLUE JASMINE (2013) but haven’t gotten around to seeing A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951) yet.


Tell me how you prefer Pierce Brosnan in the role of Thomas Crown and I’ll sock it to ya, Steve McQueen style!


Insist that Federico Fellini’s early films are better than the films he made in the 1960s and when I’m done laughing I’ll start swinging!


While you’re tossing dates around, try telling me that the best Bette Davis’ performances can be found in the movies she made before 1951.


Deny that Peter Lorre is sexy. I dare ya. I double dare ya!


Create a list of “Greatest Horror Movies” and don’t include a single Hammer production.


Tell me how much you’ve enjoyed Maggie Smith in the last four seasons of DOWNTON ABBEY but you haven’t had time to watch any of her movies.


Call Stanley Kubrick an “overrated” director.


While you’re at it, try explaining why you think GRAVITY (2013) is a better film than 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968).


Remind me how much you love JACKIE BROWN (1997) but haven’t bothered to watch FOXY BROWN (1974).


Tell me how you think Alain Delon is a terrible actor whose only saving grace is his pretty face.


Admit that you agree with film critic Richard Schickel who called RYAN’S DAUGHTER (1970) a “piece of sh–” at its premiere.


Tell me again how “women aren’t funny.” And while you’re telling me I’ll introduce you to someone named Katharine Hepburn and her large furry friend who hasn’t eaten for a few days.

43 Responses Wanna Rumble?
Posted By david hartzog : February 6, 2014 7:59 pm

Can’t find much here to complain about, except Kubrick. His early films are better than the later ones, and 2001 was pretty lame, style more than substance.

Posted By Karen : February 6, 2014 8:38 pm

This is a great list – although I think I’d better start bobbing and weaving if I come around you. I love pre-1951 Bette, I’ve never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey (or Gravity, if that spares me), and I think the only Maximilian Schell movie I’ve seen is Judgment at Nuremberg. **ducking**

Posted By Ben Martin : February 6, 2014 8:48 pm

Wow Kimberley – Well done – How could I not respond when you lead with a great shot of Tura Satana from Faster Pussycat Kill Kill. (I wonder if I disagreed with you if I would wind up like the poor sap on the ground. :) I’d love to comment on all of the thoughts above, but a few rise to the top: Who besides Jerry Lewis thinks women aren’t funny? Heavens – Margaret Rutherford, Edna Mae Oliver and Louise Fazenda are three of my favorite funny people of EITHER gender.
Several films show a very sensuous Peter Lorre. (Not Five Weeks in a Balloon but…) Glad you mentioned it!
Ryan’s Daughter and Barry Lyndon are staggeringly good films – both of which you touch on above.
Maggie Smith – Not only brilliant movie career but sexy as all get out. Steve McQueen YES! Fellini, Davis, Schell, Grier, Hammer – Love this blog.

Posted By robbushblog : February 6, 2014 8:56 pm

I’m afraid that you would end up hitting me a couple of times. I won’t share with you what might cause me such physical damage.

Posted By Susan Doll : February 6, 2014 9:10 pm

I totally have your back on Abbott and Costello!!!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 6, 2014 9:20 pm

Thanks for the comments. This is all in fun but it felt good to let off some steam. The list is based on actual things I’ve heard plenty of people say or do. In other words, I’ve seen & heard it all before but I’m more prone to laugh at anyone who disagrees with my list instead of breaking their back, Tura style.

Posted By AL : February 6, 2014 9:46 pm

WOW! way-to-go Kimberly! Outstanding post! BTW: The magnificent Maggie Smith will always be (to me) the magnificent character she created on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: “Grendolsphire Beougruff”

Posted By swac44 : February 6, 2014 9:49 pm

Love that pic of Maggie in Young Cassidy, she’s very fetching in that film, I’m glad TCM aired it recently so I could finally enjoy it (and I love that there’s a poster for The Plough & the Stars behind her, I actually got to see it performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin a couple of decades ago). I’ve got Travels With My Aunt on the DVR, but I still haven’t seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, must correct that.

Posted By Qalice : February 6, 2014 10:47 pm

I got to see Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein at a Halloween showing a few years ago. The audience was filled with young people, and it rang with laughter. It was good to hear. But seriously, did anyone actually like Blue Jasmine?

Posted By Murphy’s Law : February 7, 2014 12:24 am

I would rather watch Bette Davis’ Scarlett O’Hara (Jezebel – 1938) than Vivien Leigh’s.

Posted By Marjorie Birch : February 7, 2014 12:31 am

Ryan’s Daughter — yes! Recently, I watched it for the first time, mainly as a “is it as bad as I’ve heard” impulse — and afterwards, I wondered “why was this movie so thoroughly trashed?”

Posted By Victoria : February 7, 2014 2:22 am

Thank you for your post. I think you are right on the mark. I have encountered individuals who reply with “Who is that?” when speaking of Davis or “Never heard of it” regarding Hammer films. What has happened to a basic knowledge of actors, films?

Posted By B Piper : February 7, 2014 2:24 am

I could pick a few nits (I literally could not stay awake during RYAN’S DAUGHTER) but I love that you illustrated your point about Bette Davis with possibly my favorite Davis movie.

Posted By Gene : February 7, 2014 3:04 am

Love this post! Not a single thing you mention that I don’t agree with – and I love Foxy Brown just as much as Jackie – pickle jar scene and all :) Pam Grier, Kubrick (and I LOVE Cuaron as well), Bette Davis, Alain Delon, Fellini (and Terence Stamp!), Peter Lorre, Steve McQueen (and Norm Jewison), Abbott and Costello, Katherine Hepburn (and Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Holiday), Hammer Studios, Streetcar (and Brando, Leigh, Kazan, and Kim Hunter), Maggie Smith in all her glorious stages as an actress, and Maximilian Schell (Judgement at Nuremberg, the Young Lions, The Castle, the Odessa File …), Ryan’s Daughter – Robert Mitchum – Sarah Miles – David Lean. How could anyone say they love film and not be amazed at all of this and so much more :)

Posted By gregferrara : February 7, 2014 3:32 am

I’ll go you one better: I don’t prefer Pierce Brosnan in anything.

Posted By Susannah : February 7, 2014 1:17 pm

I’ve got your back girl!

Posted By robbushblog : February 7, 2014 2:52 pm

I liked Blue Jasmine.

Posted By Michael Hoskin : February 7, 2014 3:20 pm

Gee, my favourite Bette Davis performance is in Marked Woman. Oh well, I’ll survive with one arm…

Posted By ratzkywatzky : February 7, 2014 6:57 pm

I think the problem with Abbott and Costello is that even their best movies have multiple dead spots, and people can’t separate the movies from their brilliance as comedians, as it’s pretty rare these days that anyone has seen even the “Who’s On First” routine presented as a stand-alone performance. The same thing applies to Martin & Lewis. Dead spots in movies, occasionally Martin is doing the nothing he does so well, and people judge them based on that, without seeing excerpts from their actual stand-up act.

Posted By Jenni : February 7, 2014 8:17 pm

Love Maggie Smith in The V.I.P.s as Miss Mead, Rod Taylor’s humble yet wise secretary. I also enjoy Abbott and Costello movies. Bette was great in The Nanny but my favorite performance is her turn in Now, Voyager. I’ll have to run and hide now as I’ve never seen any of Pam Grier’s roles, and I thought Ryan’s Daughter was boring and not a big Kubrick fan. :(

Posted By Emgee : February 7, 2014 8:47 pm

Can’t abide Abbott and Costello ; so do your worst! Their only saving grace is that Martin & Lewis are even worse.
Agree on the rest though, so maybe we can call a truce; if not the gloves are off!

Posted By kingrat : February 7, 2014 9:04 pm

Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Love your spirit, but:

1.I prefer Pierce Brosnan to Steve McQueen. As T. Crown, as fantasy boyfriend, whatever.
2.Fifties Fellini is movie heaven for me. Starting with the moment when Sandra Milo gets off the train in 8 1/2, 60s Fellini goes downhill.
3. I strongly prefer pre-1951 Bette, though she’s also good in Phone Call from a Stranger (1953). I think she’s pretty bad in Dead Ringer and beyond terrible in Where Love Has Gone.
4. I have probably been known to call Kubrick overrated, though only with regard to his post-60s work.

I’m headin’ for the hills!

Posted By Emgee : February 7, 2014 9:28 pm

Wait, it gets worse! Fellini’s films up until the mid-60′s are heartfelt and moving; after that mostly great looking but with little substance.

Well….you started it!

Posted By MDR : February 7, 2014 10:36 pm

With the exception of All About Eve (and possibly June Bride), the best of Bette Davis’ performances can be found in the movies she made before 1946 ;-)

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 7, 2014 10:45 pm

I appreciate all the comments! It’s great to see so many people jumping into the ring with me or against me even though you’re all so, so wrong! ;)But just to clarify a couple of things that folks seem to be confused about…

8 1/2 was made in 1963, it’s one of Fellini’s “60s Films.” As are La Dolce Vita (1960), Boccaccio ’70 (1962), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Histoires Extraordinaires aka Spirits of the Dead (1968) and Satyricon (1969). Six features that (in my mind) surpass anything he did before or after although I do really enjoy some of the films he made in the 50s as well as the 70s.

And I love Bette Davis’pre-1951 films as well but I get very, very tired of people telling me her career ended in the ’50s because (I feel) some of her best performances can be found in the movies she made late in her career such as THE NANNY (pictured above.)

Posted By Peter Denman : February 8, 2014 2:04 am

The only question I have is about your use of the word ‘rumble’, which means a fight between gangs. As near as I can tell, you didn’t have a gang when you wrote this, although you may have one now, made up of those who have rallied around you after reading your stuff.
Anyway, whether you have a gang or not, I’ll throw in some comments on some of yours. Abbot and Costello were good in their Frankenstein movie, but other than that they can’t make me laugh too often. I much prefer Laurel & Hardy. In my gang on this point is Lou Costello. About Laurel & Hardy, he said: “They were the funniest comedy team in the world.” (Quoted in a book about L & H by McCabe & Kilgore.)
I have never seen: “The Black Hole”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Ryan’s Daughter”, the recent version of Thomas Crown, anything with Alain Delon in it as far as I know, any Fellini other than “8 1/2″, “Foxy Brown” or “Jackie Brown”…
My favorite Bette Davis film is “The Little Foxes” directed by Wyler in the 40′s. The problem might be the question of whether the movies were any good or not, regardless of the quality of her performance.
So, since I have not even seen so many of the films you mentioned, and because agree with you on some of the other points, like about Maggie Smith (GREAT in “A Room With A View”) and cannot offer any comment about Peter Lorre along the lines you mentioned simply because I am a guy and thus feel unqualified and in fact incapable of having an opinion, I doubt if me and my gang can give you much of a rumble – unless you want to take on me and Lou – that’s the whole gang so far – about Laurel & Hardy. We’re ready for that one.

Posted By Gamera2000 : February 8, 2014 6:18 am

Couldn’t agree more with most of your points.

Loved Abbott and Costello as a kid and still find them funny, even when the films were not very good.

I have probably seen every Hammer horror movie ever made, as well as Kaiju films, thanks to my local UHF channel, which back in the 70′s had monster and horror movies every Friday and Saturday.

Kubrick is one of my directorial gods, and with 2001, Barry Lyndon, and Dr. Strangelove I am in movie heaven. (I like Gravity as both a film and a technical achievment, but it is not in shouting distance of 2001).

Prefer Felllini in the 60′s even though La Strada still breaks me up and I like his other 50′s movies.

Alain Delon was always an underrated actor, wether he was in a great film like The Leopard or Le Samouri, or in any of the terrific 60′s and 70′s crime films that he starred.

I always admired Maximillian Schell (who was a talented director), loved Maggie Smith and Katherine Hepburn, and saw all of Pam’s early 70′s films. No matter how bad or good they were she was worth watching.

Have not seen Pierce Brosnan’s Thomas Crown Affair, so I can’t make a fair comparison. However, I always thought Ryan’s Daughter suffered because it was released at a time when critical tastes were changing in movies, and the movie represented a kind of traditional big-budget type of film making. It was not one of Lean’s best movies but not a catsrophe, and in retrospect it looks better.

Enjoyed your comments and this chance to respond.

Posted By jbryant : February 9, 2014 3:13 am

No big disagreements on the ones that apply to me (haven’t seen Ryan’s Daughter, for instance). The closest would be the Fellini thing — to me, his entire 50s output up through 8 1/2 in 1963 is an unbroken string of greatness. Unfortunately, the only other film I’ve seen by him is Amarcord, which isn’t bad, because in general they just don’t sound as interesting to me. The critical consensus on them is pretty mixed to downright negative, with a few exceptions, but I’ve never felt compelled to seek them out.

Fun fact: My girlfriend used to live with a family that was related to Tura Satana (RIP), and I’ve seen the holiday videos to prove it. Almost surreal to see her as a middle-aged mom at a suburban Christmas party.

Posted By Heidi : February 9, 2014 5:00 pm

Agree with you on all counts! However, don’t hate me because I feel that Alain’s face is pretty nice to look at. Addicted to Abbott and Costello. I know the Who’s on First skit backwards and forwards-I have it on my mp3 player!

Posted By Doug : February 9, 2014 8:02 pm

Heidi, I found the best of A&C in “The Franchise Collection” which begins with their first film, “One Night In The Tropics”-I have the first three collections, 24 films, and am only missing the fourth set with six. That is a lot of “Hey Abbott!”.
My favorite so far is “Hold That Ghost” which I first saw as a kid.

Posted By Richard Brandt : February 9, 2014 8:13 pm

You cannot truly appreciate Abbott & Costello until you’ve familiarized yourself with the work of Wheeler & Woolsey.

Peter Lorre also happened to the best damn actor working in movies.

Great pointer to Alain Delon in PURPLE NOON…what a knockout punch he and that movie throw you, right in the first scene!

Posted By Ken Badt : February 10, 2014 8:05 pm

Personal tastes in classic film are, over time, changeable.

One day you’re watching something you never cared for, which just happens to be playing while TCM is on in the background, and you start to change the channel, but you don’t. And you sit down. And next thing you know, THE END pops up, and you’ve watched that movie all the way through. Then you’re searching to find out when it will play again, so you can catch it from the start, because now you like it.

Or maybe you’re just in a strange mood, or a rainy day has cancelled your ball game, or you’re wide awake at three in the morning, or you’re down with the flu and 102 degree fever dreams, or a movie you’ve been waiting for is replaced with something different, or whatever, and something clicks that never clicked before. And out of the blue, you’re intrigued by a film or an actor or a director or a genre, and it’s like a little door in your mind cracks open to something you’ve never even heard knocking before that moment. Or just as unexpectedly, something you’ve always loved leaves you cold, and you wonder what in the world you ever saw in it.

That’s why serendipity is one of my favorite words. In my case, AMC’s long ago Charlie Chan marathon changed me from a critic to an addict, Betty Hutton’s Shakespeare song brought her talent into focus for the first time, and my discovery of Budd Boetticher changed me from a Randolph Scott hater to a fan. Robert Altman used to come and go on my favorites list like the mailman, depending on his latest film. As Robert Osborne once noted, time passes and the films stay the same, but you’ve changed.

Reading the above list, I remember that (over six decades) I’ve gone back and forth on Katherine Hepburn two or three times. Likewise, Abbott and Costello, Hammer films and several French and Italian directors. At any one time, on any one of these choices, I could find myself in solid agreement or on a different side of the fence. I guess, I “evolve” a lot more than most, but I’ve probably had a lot more time to do so than most. Or maybe I just enjoy a good argument a little too much.

Still, I have to admit, if you must choose a list of subjects with which to draw the line, those listed here ain’t a bad place to start.

Posted By sailorbob : February 10, 2014 8:46 pm

I’m with you on most but will deserve a haymaker on these:

Only Alain Delon film seen – “Texas Across the River” with Dean Martin and Joey Bishop.

Kubrick is all about style over substance but dammit the guy could make a film that did not leave you indifferent.

Maximilian Schell – only films I saw were when he was a supporting actor,i.e, “Odessa File”, “A Bridge too Far”, Judgement at Nuremburg”, etc.

Nice post. Good to spar a few rounds!

Posted By Heidi : February 11, 2014 5:05 pm

Doug, my collection of Abbott and Costello is nothing near what yours is, I have two collections, but not sure of the name. One has 5 or 6 movies on it. I love Hold That Ghost. Well, can’t say I dislike any of them. I have heard of Wheeler and Woolsey, so will be hunting for that.

Posted By James : February 11, 2014 7:26 pm

I love Abbott and Costello. However… they made 35 films in 15 years, and repeated routines and premises often (even “Who’s On First” was used in two films). They occasionally tried some new ideas in their films (The Time of Their Lives is an interesting example), but to no lasting effect.
After Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, I think the formula starts to harden and the quality starts to drop (not dissimilar to Elvis’ movies after Viva Las Vegas). I don’t think they ever made a worthless movie, but I find it easier to enjoy their movies spaced out over a good amount of time.
It might be worth noting that the four A&C Franchise Collection sets are missing a few of their films. They did three loan-outs for MGM, two for Warner Brothers and a couple of others for independent production companies. I think all of the films are available on home video in different places, though
I’ve seen only one Wheeler and Woolsey movie, Mummy’s Boys, and it didn’t do much for me. But I’ve also read that it isn’t one of their better films. And, as Ken noted, your taste is as much where you are at the time you watch a movie, as the movie itself.

Posted By The Siren : February 15, 2014 8:40 pm

This was absolutely delightful, and you had my heart with the first entry. I find Abbott & Costello hilarious. Even now if someone brings up a certain watery landmark, or even Buffalo NY, I can barely restrain myself from yelling, “NIAGARA FALLS! Slooowly I turned…”

Amen to everything with the following emendations, offered not as a dispute but in the spirit of honesty:

I don’t find Kubrick overrated so much as I seem to love all the ones that er, well, the ones that aren’t 2001 or Dr. Strangelove. I think Lolita, for example, is terrific, Barry Lyndon and Paths of Glory are the best things he did, and The Killing not far behind. Also, am I allowed to say young Kubrick was one heck of a handsome man?

What if I haven’t gotten around to Jackie Brown, but love Foxy?

I was bored stiff by Ryan’s Daughter despite its beauty but I’ve been meaning to revisit for a good long while. May wait for a big-screen revival.

I know I made a bad impression some years back when I dissed Le Samourai, which I didn’t care for at all despite its impeccable beauty; but I think Delon is often wonderful. Rewatched Purple Noon recently and was entranced. I even liked that oft-denigrated ending.

Bette Davis gave some wonderful post-1951 performances: The Star, Dead Ringer, Baby Jane, Sweet Charlotte, and agree on The Nanny too. Any others you’re particularly fond of? Don’t think, for example, I ever got around to Where Love Has Gone.

Finally, anyone who is saying “women aren’t funny” in 2014 should be marched over to the zoo and fed to the yak.

Posted By G.L. Parker : February 15, 2014 9:10 pm

I will always treasure Maggie Smith’s performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Pierce Brosnan has some acting chops — The Matador–but few will ever have the charisma of Steve McQueen.
Abbott and Costello are great but Laurel and Hardy hold my heart.
There’s a slew of funny ladies – Katherine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, etc. No need for me to run from you on this one.
However, Foxy Brown and Jackie Brown? Jackie Brown is near perfect of its kind. Foxy Brown just isn’t memorable at all. (Now I feel self-preservation demands I must dash.)

Posted By Jean Fineran : February 15, 2014 9:16 pm

Can’t find anything wrong with your list. Seems as if we have the same tastes in movies. For that reason I will ask you this:
Last year TCM played a movie about a queen who was crowned as a child, dressed as a man when older and frequented taverns as an adult. For the life of me I can’t think of who played in it or even the title of the film. Anyone more knowledgeable than me, please write.

Posted By Muriel : February 16, 2014 5:33 am

Well… that last one. I don’t get the fuss over “Bringing Up Baby”. Most of the characters are too strident too often. I like Hepburn and Grant in Comedies. But Hepburn’s character in B up B is incredibly annoying, without any endearing quality to compensate. I would like nothing better than to see that leopard eat her.
Also Carole Lombard in “My Man Godfrey”. Very annoying girl. Now, Lombard in 20th Century: genius!

Posted By Doug : February 16, 2014 8:09 pm

To Muriel-I understand your ‘not getting the fuss’ over “Bringing Up Baby”-Hepburn is incredibly annoying, and most of the characters are caricatures. Here’s my take on it, and the reasons I love this film:
Hepburn’s character is instantly smitten on meeting Grant. She hides it at first by being dismissive (“YOUR ball, YOUR car…is there anything on this golfcourse that doesn’t belong to you?”)
but the next time she meets him she is hooked.
She decides she wants him, but he is getting married the next day, so logic would tell her that she can’t have him.
So…she comes straight at him with as much illogic as she can, purposefully keeping him close and away from his soon to be bride. If he want to go left, she will juke to the right.
Think about it-she is fighting for true love against another woman AND his best logical intentions. We WANT them to end up together. We want Grant to choose with his heart instead of his head.
As a guy, if a woman as gorgeous as Kate Hepburn or Carole Lombard were chasing me…I wouldn’t run very fast. And I would put up with annoying behavior if she had other, finer qualities such as a good inventive mind and a great personality. Those qualities remain long after the outer ‘beauty’ has passed.

Posted By swac44 : February 17, 2014 2:14 pm

Jean, might the film about a queen who dresses as a man be Queen Christina with Greta Garbo? It’s the only one that’s coming to mind at the moment.

Posted By Jean Fineran : February 17, 2014 10:14 pm

Queen Christina is indeed the movie we are looking for. Many thanks for your help. We can now order it from Amazon and add it to our collection.

Posted By Along these lines : April 14, 2014 2:42 am

Uh-oh, I’m leaving town, now.

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