Remembering Ryan O’Neal

by Randy Fuller Dec 20, 2023

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 remember another star who has left our galaxy. We will also pair some wines with his movies.

In the early 1970s, the National Lampoon Radio Hour skewered Ryan O’Neal with a bit about showtimes for the fictitious “The Ryan O’Neal Story.” The Movie Phone voice rattled off the showtimes: “2:47, 2:49, 2:51, 2:53…” Of course, Mr. O’Neal was soon to add enough to his story to fill out a feature-length picture.

I will stay away from taking cheap shots while making wine pairing suggestions for the films of a man who struggled with addiction. It is always a tough spot for me, especially when the actor had so much else to offer the world.

O’Neal shot to stardom in 1970’s Love Story, and he was a bona fide movie star by the time 1973’s Paper Moon rolled around. As the song says, “It’s only a paper moon…but it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me.” That sentiment sits at the heart of the father-daughter buddy film. Tatum grabbed an Oscar for her portrayal of Addie, a feat which would elude her dad for the length of his career.

Director Peter Bogdanovich came up with the title for the movie, which was seen as a big improvement over the title of the novel from which the script was adapted, Addie Pray. Orson Welles reportedly liked the name so much that he advised Bogdanovich to release just the title, not the movie. That suggestion was said either in jest or after downing a couple of jugs of Paul Masson wine.

Paper Moon Vineyards is located near the shores of beautiful Lake Erie, in Vermilion, Ohio. Plan a visit there the next time you’re in Cleveland. They do a Riesling if you’re not in the mood for a North American grape variety. They also do mead and cider if you’re not in the mood for wine. Surely, I jest. If Ohio grapes, apples or honey don’t turn your crank, try a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir from Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon Winery.

Flash forward to 1987’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance for a look at over-description. It is billed these days as a crime mystery comedy-drama, which is a few too many moving parts for me. In the same way a clock-radio is usually a good clock or a good radio but not both, a movie title benefits from the fewest descriptors as to its style. For me, comedy-drama always conjures up the choice of inappropriate laughing or jokes that are not funny.

My wife feels that O’Neal had the good fortune to be catapulted to fame in a big hit movie, Love Story, but the misfortune to have been saddled with one of the worst lines in the history of movies, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” As we all know, love means constantly having to say you’re sorry. It is both literary and cinematic drivel, since the line was in the book and the movie. But O’Neal’s read of “Oh man, oh God” in Tough Guys will give that line a run for its money.

Washington winery Efesté produces Tough Guy wine, named for one of the younger family members who fought off leukemia. They intended for it to be a couple of barrels per vintage, but things, you know, got out of hand.

There was once a nice little restaurant on La Brea called What’s Up D.O.C., which is one of the better wine puns to make it onto the top of a building. I doubt that Peter Bogdanovich or Bugs Bunny had Denominazione di Origine Controllata in mind when they used the phrase, but here we go.

What’s Up Doc brightened movie screens in 1972 with O’Neal playing alongside Barbara Streisand. Bogdanovich went back to the O’Neal well for this screwball comedy which emulates the great comedy films of the 1930s and ‘40s. Aside from a sparkling script, co-written by Buck Henry, the film gives O’Neal the chance to say what he really thought about “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

D.O.C. in Italian wine is a classification which endeavors to combine the region of production with a guarantee of quality. I like the great wines in the Primitivo di Manduria D.O.C. I especially like Felline’s Sinfarosa. The label calls it a Zinfandel as well as a Primitivo because the vines grew from a cutting taken out of Ridge’s Geyserville vineyard.

Randy Fuller
NowAnd Zin Wine –
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x