"King Kong" Kute

My first reaction to the trailer for Peter Jackson's "King Kong" was the movie is a loving remake of the original film. The imagery evokes my specific memories of the 1933 version and the novel. Of course, I would've cast Shirley MacLaine as Kong, but that's just me.

I shared this assessment with my friend and noted film historian Frank Thompson, who replied with deep cinematic insight.

I must say it looks pretty darn cool. And it's splitting hairs, but better than Shirley Maclaine, I think Jessica Lange as Kong would have had more symmetry. And I keep hoping that Chuck Heston will be lured out of dementia to call Kong a damn dirty ape.

To which I replied:

Might I quote you on my crappy blog? It would brighten the lonely days of maybe seven shut-ins, three with drool cups. It would be the humanitarian thing for you to do.

And there's the fact I, otherwise, have nothing to publish.

To which he replied:


I hereby grant you permission to quote me every time you ever want to for the rest of either of our lives. And if your readers are that desperate for entertainment that they would want to hear from me, let me urge them to seek some ultimate meaning in life, such as I recently found in Paris Hilton's burger commercial.


They're ahead of you. Did I mention drool cups?


Dark Victory

Twenty-four years of marriage. Actual conversation:

Donna: There's a new lotion you put on in the morning and at night to simulate tanning. If you rub it into your skin after bathing and before bed, you'll build up and deepen the color each time. In a few days, you'll be tanned and look good.

Mike: Will I become Miss Congeniality 3?

Donna: Probably not.


Herbie and Her

The Walt Disney Company has been reworking its old successes with persistent regularity. In fact, young actress Lindsay Lohan owes the core of her popularity to "The Parent Trap" (1998), wherein she replaced Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills, plus "Freaky Friday" (2003), subbing for Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris. Currently in theatres, "Herbie: Fully Loaded," a retread of "The Love Bug" (1968), has Lindsay channeling Dean Jones.

The latest Herbie film may be the end of Disney's Lohan era, as press reports of her becoming a public relations nightmare have been plastered in the media. Not quite 19, Lindsay's unflattering bleached blonde hair and increasingly haggard appearance are cause to wonder if she's making poor life choices and/or prepping to star in "The Brett Butler Story."

I hate to see talent spin out of control, but she's at a career crossroads. L. Lo only has to look at her parts to see how replaceable she is.

"Herbie: Fully Loaded" returns the magical Volkswagen Beetle to his heroic luminance and slapstick racing hijinks, alongside Michael Keaton and Matt Dillon, who must be resurrecting Buddy Hackett and David Tomlinson, or, maybe, they're Michele Lee and Joe Flynn. Does it matter?

Nope. We go to see Herbie, nutty #53 -- and, as always, he's playing himself.

The Herbie Filmography:

  • "The Love Bug" (1968)
  • "Herbie Rides Again" (1974)
  • "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" (1977)
  • "Herbie Goes Bananas" (1980)
  • "The Love Bug Goes Condoms" (1983)
  • "Herbie Gets His Grease Gun" (1986)
  • "Beetle Juice: Herbie Gets Gassed" (1991)
  • "Batmobile and Herbie" (1995)
  • "Herbie Brockovich" (2000)
  • "The Lord of the Bearing Rings: The Fellowship of the Rods and Pistons" (2001)
  • "Herbie Pitstopper and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2003)
  • "Alien VW Predator" (2004)
  • "Herbie: Fully Lohan" (2005)
  • "Queer Eye for the Straight Shift" (2006)
  • "The Da Vinci Code II: The Louvre Bug" (2007)
  • Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

    I, Despot

    From an Associated Press report, concerning prisoner Saddam Hussein:

    ...Details of the deposed Iraqi leader's life in U.S. military custody appear in the July issue of GQ magazine, based on interviews with five Pennsylvania National Guard members who went to Iraq in 2003 and were assigned to Saddam's guard detail...

    The article said Saddam preferred Raisin Bran Crunch for breakfast, telling [guard] O'Shea, "No Froot Loops." ... For a time, his favorite snack was Cheetos, and when that ran out, Saddam would "get grumpy," the story said.

    I am bewildered to receive this information. I don't know what to make of the details. Here's why:

    1. My favorite snack food: Cheetos.

    2. My preferred breakfast cereal: Raisin Bran Crunch.

    3. I've shunned Froot Loops by name since 1963.

    Disturbing information, very disturbing indeed. I must go seek comfort with my kitties, Uday and Qusay....

    Mike Durrett: CONFIDENTIAL

    Once Upon a Sign in the South

    In May, at a drive-in screening of Sergio Leone's epic "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" (1966), we were treated to the trailer for one of his follow-up spaghetti westerns, "Duck, You Sucker."

    Throughout the coming attractions preview, the announcer plugged the virtues of the Rod Steiger and James Coburn adventure, repeating the film's title, "Duck, You Sucker," numerous times. When the advertisement concluded, the onscreen title card contained no mention of "Duck, You Sucker." Instead, "A Fistful of Dynamite," an alternate name used to market the film in the United States, was projected. The studio had spared no expense to match the audio to the visual.

    There would be another alternate title.

    In 1972, the picture opened in Atlanta. It was indeed called "Duck, You Sucker" and it played at the Lenox Square Theatre in the city's prestigious and busiest shopping mall. The Lenox was a twin cinema in those days with a signage style identical to this 1974 photograph of the giant marquee, which hung low over the sidewalk.

    Between 1980 and 1985, I was a staff projectionist in this theatre. The anecdote I'm about to share is true. I recall hearing the tale while working on the premises and, recently, from two unimpeachable sources who were employed in the venue in '72.

    During the western's run, the Lenox marquee's bold display read "DUCK YOU SUCKER" on one side -- and the other: "FIDDLER ON THE ROOF."

    Well, that is, until a vandal swapped the first letter of each title.

    "A Fistful of Dynamite" photo copyright 2005 Mike Durrett. Lenox Square Theatre photo copyright 1974, 2000 Stan Malone.
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