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Beer milkshake!

In the comments to last night’s Marcia Ball post, kennycan says:

Actually, now that I looked it up, it turns out the first video Mike posted is actually a Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) written song.

I didn’t know that myself, but it seems likely enough. Point is, that put me in mind of a truly wonderful movie from 1982: Cannery Row, one of my personal all-timers. The movie tanked commercially and got at best a lukewarm critical reception—a combination offering the most condemnatory statement imaginable regarding the abysmal depths to which American taste and discernment in cinematic entertainment have plummeted.

The movie was a sort of cinematic mashup of two John Steinbeck tomes, Cannery Row and its sequel Sweet Thursday, with a stellar cast that included Nick Nolte, Debra Winger, Frank McRae, and M Emmett Walsh, among others. John Huston lent his dulcet, honey-voiced tones as narrator, and the soundtrack was muchly enlivened by the presence of…you guessed it…Dr John the Night Tripper.

Amusing coinkydink: the above music is a frenetic slice of boogie-woogie heaven titled Mac’s Boogie, composed and performed by…you guessed it…Mac Rebennack, a/k/a Dr John. In the film’s big party scene, Rebennack’s masterful piano work is cinematically portrayed by M Emmett Walsh’s character, whose name just happens to be…you guessed it…”Mac.” For reasons I won’t pretend to comprehend, nobody ever released a Cannery Row soundtrack album, despite the movie being liberally strewn with rich buttery musical goodness throughout. Mac’s Boogie is available elsewhere, thankfully.

Interesting trivia item:

Raquel Welch was originally cast as Suzy. She was fired after five days of filming. She allegedly took too long to get ready each day. Welch then sued the MGM studio for wrongful termination and in the mid-1980s won getting a multi-million dollar settlement. Turner Entertainment had to do the pay-out as by that time they were the owners of MGM.

Do please understand that I love me some Raquel, really I do. But I cannot for the life of me imagine her in the role of Suzy DeSoto. Winger was note-perfect for it, inhabiting the character as naturally her own skin. Whatever her appeal—admittedly, she has it in buckets—Raquel would have been just sinfully wrong.

Ah well, enough of all that. If you like smash-bang shoot-em-ups; interminible car chases and/or fight scenes; a surfeit of explosions; gangsta-rap glorification; blood ‘n’ gore galore; fart jokes and other juvenilia; zombies, monsters, and/or comic-book superheroes; or great big titties bouncing around in the open air, then I’m afraid Cannery Row is probably not going to be your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you lean more towards a fine story well-told; lovely cinematography; an excellent score; a light, breezy overall tone with some truly funny bits; and a knockout punch of a plot twist at the end that, trust me, you will NOT see coming—well, you can’t do much better than this overlooked, underrated gem of a movie.

If you see this movie and don’t care for it, don’t tell me. I wouldn’t want such a disgraceful revelation compelling me to adjust my estimation of anybody here; I’d prefer to just remain in the dark about your appalling lack of character, thanksveddymuch. Heck, Nolte’s facial expression in the scene referred to in my post title is worth the price of admission all by itself.

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