Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week, a trio of film classics starring the great Gregory Peck.
I have always thought – hoped – that Gregory Peck took his Hollywood name after looking up while standing on the Beverly Hills street corner of Gregory Way and Peck Drive. I feel that a lot of inspiration has come from street intersections which have a good ring to them when spoken out loud. Hollywood and Vine, Pico and Sepulveda, 3rd and Fairfax. Of course, it is hard to imagine a celebrity by the name of Hollywood Vine or Pico Sepulveda or 3rd Fairfax. In Peck’s case, that is not the case. He was born in San Diego as Eldred Gregory Peck, and he simply lost the nerdy first name for show business.
Yellow Sky is a 1948 western directed by William A. Wellman, starring Peck, Richard Widmark and Anne Baxter. Yes, Peck alone would make us watch, but the deal is sweetened considerably with the addition of Widmark and Baxter. If only Harry Morgan would appear… Oh, there he is, playing a guy named Half-Pint.
A group of bank robbers on the run through the desert run out of water. That’s a tough break, because then you have nothing for your scotch. They come upon a ghost town – well actually a town of population two – and decide to recharge themselves there. A woman is involved, and a gold strike, so things get crazy like they do when money and sex are involved.
That’s a genuine desert you see there, by the way, which is possibly why you get thirsty watching Yellow Sky. Some of the filming happened at the Death Valley National Monument. Spoiler alert: At the end, the bad guys give the money back to the bank. *cocks head* “Huh?” The tellers must have been confused, since they get very few bands of outlaws making deposits.
For Yellow Sky, how about a yellow wine? The French call it Vin Jaune in Jura, where it is made somewhat like sherry and tastes like it, too. Benoit Badoz is the tenth generation of his family to make wine, and he makes the Vin Jaune as prescribed, from the Savignin grape.
The 1976 horror flick, The Omen, Peck hides the death of his newborn son from his wife by secretly adopting another child. Hey, they all look alike at that age, anyway. However, they aren’t all the Antichrist. You win some, you lose some. Just don’t let that nanny from Hell get him a dog.
The kid – Damien, in case you haven’t heard – wields a lot of power behind that cute little smile. In most homes, Rottweilers would be considered a threat to a small child, not a minion. The Omen features some truly horrifying death scenes. You won’t un-see the impaling or the decapitation anytime soon.
Speaking of that nanny from Hell, two breweries had a beer named Mrs. Baylock, but they are sadly out of production. I hate it when a good wine-and-movie pairing goes away! So, let’s go back to France for a pairing with The Omen. Domaine Saint Damien produces a blood-red Gigondas wine from old vines. Don’t let your Rottweiler anywhere near the bottle. Or your nanny.
Moby Dick, in 1956, cast Peck as the officer with a one-track mind, Captain Ahab. John Huston directed and co-wrote the script with Ray Bradbury.
Ahab’s obsessive search for the elusive white whale is a character study like no other. Everyone has their own obsessions, to one point or another. The only thing I have in my life that compares to Ahab’s fixation is my futile search for the original version of the 45 rpm record “Nyquil Blues,” by Alvin Crow and his Pleasant Valley Boys. That’s my white whale. Ye damned record!
Newport Vineyards had a blended wine known as White Whale, but the label has been dropped from the menu. Too bad, that would have tied up this pairing with a bow. Gray Whale Gin? Off-color, but at least you can get it. Let’s go for a beer, from Massachusetts’ Moby Dick Brewing Company. I like the Ishm-Ale, but you can pick anything you like.