The Devil You Say
Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week, the devil made us do it.
The Devils is a 1971 British film taken from actual events of the 17th century – ripped from the headlines of a French gazette, if you will.
Urbain Grandier was a Catholic priest accused of calling up evil spirits to possess a group of nuns. This may seem far-fetched by today’s standards, but I have friends who went to Catholic school and they think it’s pretty much on the nose for the nuns who served as their teachers.
Spoiler alert here – Grandier was tried for witchcraft, found guilty and burned at the stake. But these days people think he was railroaded by Cardinal Richelieu. A French cardinal as the bad guy? Hey, it worked for Alexandre Dumas.
If you think that a movie which puts violence and sex in a religious setting sounds like a job for Ken Russell, award yourself ten bonus points and skip right to the wine pairing. Russell wrote the screenplay and directed the film.
San Antonio Winery was the only Los Angeles wine producer to survive the thirteen year torment we now call Prohibition. They did it by grabbing a loophole by the lapels and making sacramental wine for churches. They have a much broader appeal today and still base their operation on Lamar Street, just across the tracks from the L.A. River.
We shall now remain in 1971 for another British scary story. The Blood on Satan’s Claw has 18th century England as its setting. A farmer digs up a skull with fur on it and, well, you know how teenagers get when something like that happens. All of a sudden it’s devil this and fur that. They can’t wait to get over to the abandoned church and call up some furry evil.
Townsfolk start growing claws – furry claws, of course – until it starts to look like a bad night at Red Lobster. Some deaths occur throughout the tale, as you might expect, and the farmer – remember him? – finds his leg has grown fur. It’s a regular epidemic. Sure hope someone with a sword gets involved, and fast.
This pairing gets a little too deep into devil imagery for my comfort level, but here goes. The Wine of Satan – Vinnum dei Satanas – is a Greek Syrah sold by an outfit that likes heavy metal music at least as much as they like wine, probably more. A bottle will run 30 euros, and it’s almost as much to have it shipped from Greece.
Satan Met a Lady was a 1936 adaptation of The Maltese Falcon, sandwiched five years apart between the two other versions of the Dashiell Hammett detective yarn. This one had no Sam Spade, no falcon, nothing from Malta and a different title. It did have Bette Davis, however, and you’ll have to guess whether she’s the devil or the lady.
Davis hated the film, telling Mr. Warner in no uncertain terms that she would not appear in it. After a few days without pay, though, she returned to the soundstage and resumed working. You know, mortgage payments on a mansion were high in Los Angeles even back then. The critics of the day mainly figured that the cast should be put into a witness protection program.
The Velvet Devil Merlot comes from Washington’s Charles Smith Wines. The velvet is smooth, but the pitchfork is gonna leave a mark. Despite the rather cheesy label, the wine is actually pretty good.