Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week we pour up some wine pairings for a few films directed by William Friedkin.
The Night They Raided Minsky’s, from 1968, is listed as Friedkin’s fictional description of the 1925 invention of the striptease. Well, burly-kew may not have seen the footlights until that time frame, but I’ll bet that the striptease was actually invented shortly after they came up with clothing.
The burlesque shows staged by the Minsky brothers were roundly criticized by decent folk, while famous poets, pundits and publishers whiled away the hours of Prohibition with live nude girls – well, nearly nude – up on the stage. The Minskys were routinely raided by the cops, and the whole burlesque business was shut down in the mid-1930s amid public outcry whipped up by New York City’s Mayor LaGuardia. See, if he had been a nicer guy, he might have gotten a better airport named after him.
The critical reception to Minsky’s was pretty good and the film made money, although even those who liked it thought the plot was as flimsy as the dancers’ costumes. Friedkin reportedly felt he was in over his head during the production and asked to be fired. “Naaah, yer takin’ the blame fer this one.”
Australia’s Burlesque Wines come complete with a pair of legs on the label, outfitted with fishnet and heels. Their website has been pretty quiet for a few years, so I hope they haven’t been raided.
1977’s Sorcerer can be considered a forgotten classic. Why forgotten? The film came out in the same year as Star Wars; talk about a tough beat. Some say it’s a remake of 1953’s The Wages of Fear, although that “some” does not include Mr. Friedkin. He should know – he made the movie.
If it really is a forgotten classic, let me refresh your memory. Four desperate men are assigned to haul some nitroglycerin somewhere in South America. Do they have any special training for this? Of course not – if they did, it’s a documentary. If you are watching and wondering, “Hey, where da Sorcerer at?” have no fear. It’s the name of one of the nitro-hauling trucks.
I was sitting in the Frolic Room one afternoon when there was a bomb scare down the street. Some drunk wandered in and claimed the LAPD, knowing somehow of his extensive background in explosives, had asked him to defuse the thing. The regulars rolled their eyes at the thought of a cop saying, “Hey you – looks like you’ve had a few drinks – wanna come over here and cut this wire?” He claimed he didn’t have the time to help them out – it was beer thirty and he was late for his bottle. Anyway, desperate, untrained men handling explosives rarely end up in the positive.
I simply didn’t have the heart to pair a Bulgarian wine called Explosion with Sorcerer. I took a similar hard pass on any wine-related item which featured Mickey Mouse in a sorcerer’s hat, and I urge you to do the same. Família Geisse makes some of the top sparkling wines in that America from the southern hemisphere – in big, bad Brazil, in fact. If you’re feeling reckless, shake up a bottle and let it rip.
The French Connection made 1971 an enjoyable year for a lot of people, even if they did pick their feet in Poughkeepsie. Friedkin won an Academy Award for his direction, as did Gene Hackman for his acting. His Oscar should have been wearing a pork pie hat.
The actors who turned down the role of Popeye Doyle reads like a page from the book, 1960s Hollywood Tough Guys, if there were such a tome. It’s as if Hackman nodded off in the casting office while waiting, and when he awoke everyone else was gone.
If you want to talk about chase scenes – and who doesn’t? – the one in The French Connection has to be at the top of the list, right up there with those from Bullitt, Baby Driver and The Blues Brothers. Friedkin even tried to top his Connection chase nearly a decade later in To Live and Die in L.A. He came close, but the cigar still goes to Poughkeepsie.
French Connection Wines offers juice made by a real live French winemaker, but in the wine-drenched Texas Hill Country. There could be a movie in that setup, or at least an eight-episode streaming series. Their High Plains Petite Sirah sounds like it could also pair with a Clint Eastwood movie.