Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Movie Night

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Monday March 31st, 2014 – Kenosha, WI

   Every once in a while at least a little time off is necessary to charge up the batteries. I’ve been one busy little bumble bee, and hadn’t had a night just to goof off in a long time. Tonight was it, and purpose was well served. It was a relaxing night in the tree house with friends, food and fun.

   My director friend Mark Gumbinger has a fantastic man cave in his basement, and I can’t think of a better place to watch sports, movies and just hang out with buddies. He has a TV with one of the biggest screens I have ever seen, full cable and a sound system that rivals any movie theatre.

   He also has a world class collection of guy stuff like Three Stooges videos, cartoons, and a lot of obscure movies that he likes because he’s a director. The people he invites are usually eclectic entertainment types, and likely to appreciate what’s on the bill. I always enjoy being a part of it.

   Tonight’s guest roster included Lou Rugani from AM 1050 WLIP, and one of the biggest fans of film that I know. He knows a lot of interesting trivia, and it’s always an education to hear him throw in little known facts about little known films. I always learn something every time I attend.

  Mark is a terrific party host, and there is always an ample supply of freshly popped popcorn and other snacks and ice cold beverages. It’s just a fun time to relax with people that appreciate good entertainment and interesting company, and I’m always flattered to be included on the invite list.

   Before the main attraction, we’re usually treated to some opening entertainment to get us in the mood. Tonight it was some vintage Johnny Carson from before his Tonight Show days, and what a treat that was. He appeared on Jack Benny’s show, and was the host of “Who Do You Trust?”

   We also watched a couple of episodes of “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. Mark likes to pop things in with no particular rhyme or reason other than they’re interesting, and these were tremendous examples. Both Johnny and Groucho were loaded with natural talent and wit, and we were all impressed at how well the content held up. We’re still laughing long after they’re gone.

   The main attraction tonight was the 1981 movie “Thief” starring James Caan. That has always been one of my favorite movies, and I saw it when it came out. It’s rather dark, but James Caan is absolutely riveting in his role, and I never get tired of watching it. I’ve probably seen it twenty times, and a lot of comedians happen to like that movie too. I know several, and we quote lines.

   James Caan plays an intense bad ass, and those are always the most colorful characters to quote from. Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” is one, as is just about anyone from “Goodfellas”. Caan has some classic lines in this role, and I’ve quoted them – even on stage – for many years.

   I don’t know where Mark found it, but this version happened to be the director’s cut. I’d never seen that version before, and it was fun to see it in a different form. There were some scenes I’d not seen, and some lines that were left out. Lou hadn’t seen it at all, so it was fun to observe how he reacted. We could have gone to a theatre and seen a new film, but this was so much more fun.

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