Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Friday, March 17, 2017

McCARTHY AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE (Episode #172)

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TORTILLA  FLAT
directed by Victor Fleming; starring Spencer Tracy, John Garfield, Hedy Lamarr
1942
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INTERVIEWER: Welcome back to 'McCarthy At Hollywood And Vine'! We’re here again with Stephen T. McCarthy and discussing the Hollywood classics .In Glorious Black & White . Tell us, Stephen, what makes TORTILLA  FLAT, the 1942 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, one of your favorite films of all time?
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McCARTHY: Well, there’s a great deal of wine-drinking in it.
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INTERVIEWER: Ha!-Ha! Alright, but really now, why does Tortilla Flat rate so high with you?
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McCARTHY: Because in watching it –- or even just discussing it -– I get a kind of contact high. I mean, they drink AN AWFUL LOT of wine in this movie! But beyond that, it’s simply a wonderful production of a truly funny and heartwarming story. Also, one of the prime examples of how some of those marvelous character actors of yesteryear could sometimes steal a picture right out from under the stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
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INTERVIEWER: The stars in this case being Spencer Tracy and John Garfield?
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McCARTHY: Right. And Hedy Lamarr is the high candy. Excuse me -– EYE candy. Lamarr plays Dolores “Sweets” Ramirez, the Paisano girl who drives young, headstrong Danny insane with desire. The virile Danny is portrayed by Garfield. When he unexpectedly inherits two houses in Tortilla Flat, it sets off a whole chain reaction of events that soon threaten to dissolve his old friendships and undermine the sway that the cunning and manipulative Pilon -– played by Tracy –- holds over him. Soon, Pilon and “Sweets” are engaged in a power stwuggle –- uhm, STRUGGLE –- for influence with Danny, while his oddball collection of loafing friends shpend their days trying to devise new ways of acquiring more wine... short of working for a paycheck, that is. It’s fabulous fun!
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INTERVIEWER: Some viewers have expressed dissatisfaction with how the story deviates somewhat from Steinbeck’s book.
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McCARTHY: Sure, but what some people fail to realize is that novels and movies are two separate mediums and each has its own requirements -– a certain form that must be adhered to generally in order to successfully relate a story. A novel has plenty of time to unfold, but a movie has 90 to 120 minutes in which to tell its tale vishually. Uhm, visually. You don’t build a house like a boat and you don’t build a boat like a housh. House. A film demands a centwal conflict, and the third wheel “love twiangle” -– which occupies only a small segment of Steinbeck’s novel -– becomes the catalysht... catalysht... [hic!] ...becomes the thing that dwives the film. I think it was beautifully adapted to the big shcreen, retaining all of the charm and the overall tone of the novel. And in shome ways, the movie is even better than the book!
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INTERVIEWER: But in the book, Danny--
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McCARTHY: Yeah, Danny dies! How fun is that? And “Sweets” Ramirez is descwibed as “Not pretty. Her voice is swill... shrill. Her face is hard and sharp as a hatchet, and her figure ish lumpy.” Who wants to shee a lumpy woman? Huh? Tortilla Frat was directed by Victor Fleming. He diwec... he directed GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ, too; he knew what he wash doing! Steinbeck wrote: “What ish a Paisano? He is a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexshican and assorted Caucasian bloods. He speaks English with a Paisano accent, and Spanish wish a Paisano accent.” I don’t know what shortta accent Spensher Tracy was doing, but it’s loushy. But you get ushed to it after awhile.
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen, you mentioned the character actors.
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McCARTHY: They’re mahvelous! Shtupendous! They practically shteal the show! John Qualen as skinny Jos[hic!]... Jose Maria. And Akim Tamiroff as big, dumb Pablo. And Allen Jenkins ash Portagee Joe, who fallsh asleep everywhere. Sheldon Leonard as the jailer who breaks out of hish own jail. And eshpecially the great, great theshpian, Frank Morgan -– he was the wizard in THE WI[hic!]ZARD OF OZ. He playsh Pirate, the old man with a long beard who lovesh hish dogs. Hish dogs are “good boys.” There’s Enrique, and Paja[hic!]rito, and Fluff -– he’s a pug. And Senor Alec Thompson, whosh a kind of an Airedale. And Rudolph –- he ish “an American dog.” And Portagee Joe stealsh the money, but they get it back and dwink wine, an’ the dogs go to church, an’ Pilon cuts shquids, an’ Danny buysh a vacuum cleaner, an’ they shing bawdy [hic!] shongs about Arabella Gross an’ Missush Morallush when they dwink wine. An’ Shaint Franshish of Ashishi ish in the twees, an’--
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DIRECTOR: CUT! CUT! Look, somebody get some hot coffee into him, QUICK! Meanwhile, we’ll get our establishing shot taken care of and do some pickup shots, and maybe by then Stephen will be sober enough to complete the interview. ... Why, oh WHY?! And to think that I could be directing MTV videos for Rock stars. Tons of money, scantily dressed women, and all the Dom Perignon I can drink! Instead, like an idiot, I take THIS gig and my career goes tortilla flat.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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9 comments:

  1. Al Bondigas here. We drank a lot of wine while watching this movie. "We are going to have wine".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA!
      Yeah, this is one of the funniest movies ever made, and I can't even imagine watching it without drinking some wine along with the main characters.

      Ha!-Ha!
      "We are going to have wine!!
      I think when that line was excitedly blurted out, it was the ONLY time in the movie where any of the characters actually ran. Hell, they barely even sauntered when surrounded by fire.

      What a GREAT movie!!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      Check out my new blog @
      (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

      Delete
    2. We did a fair amount of running too. After putting the movie on pause, of course.

      Delete
    3. Well, it sho do have ta go somewhere!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      Check out my new blog @
      (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

      Delete
    4. I meant to the store for MORE WINE!!!

      Delete
  2. I haven't seen this movie, but of course, now I want to. Didn't read the book either, so no cause for disappointment. ☺ Cheers! *raising my glass of wine to you*
    Debbie @ The Doglady's Den

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the vino toast, DEBBIE!
      It's a wonderful movie and I can't imagine ANYONE not liking it.

      And you with your love of dogs, well, that makes this one an absolute "must-see"!

      ~ Stephen
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  3. That's HEDLEY... HEDLEY Lamarr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA!
      Sheboyganboy Six, this was the PERFECT PLACE for that 'Blazing Saddles' quote. Nicely played, Brother!
      :o)

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete

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