Pairing wine with movies! See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies, and many more, at Trailers From Hell. This week’s trio of films takes its name from the 1949 movie, Train of Events, which tells various stories as a train hurtles toward an explosive end. Let’s get to watching and drinking before that happens to us.
1952’s The Narrow Margin is a film noir lover’s film noir. A “B” movie of its day, the story is tight enough to snap and the cast is a bunch of “who are these guys?” A dead mob boss no doubt spins in his grave as his widow takes a train from Chicago to Los Angeles to spill in front of a grand jury. If there is spousal abuse in the afterlife, she’ll probably get some.
The banter between the two cops assigned to pick up the widow at Union Station is classic film noir: “She’s the sixty-cent special. Cheap. Flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy.” That makes me want to get my Thanksgiving dinner at Carl’s Jr. The movie poster is noirish, too: “A fortune if they seal her lips!… A bullet if they fail!” There never seems to be enough exclamation points for a film noir one-sheet.
Margins Wine owner Megan Bell finds Central Coast vineyards that are “in the margins,” over-delivering yet under-appreciated. She started with a Carmel Valley Chenin Blanc, but her San Benito County Négrette might be better for a film noir.
Strangers on a Train is 1951 Hitchcock. The two strangers get to know each other quickly – over drinks, naturally, a hallmark of Hitchcock movies. Actually, the crazy man has a double while the famous tennis player orders coffee. During the train ride, a plan is hatched for the two men to exchange murders, each doing the other’s dirty work. Things proceed to spin out of control, figuratively and literally.
There is really a dearth of drinking in this movie, save for the dining car and a cocktail party. It’s as if Hitchcock was on the wagon while going through the list of famous writers to do his screenplay. Most of those scripts ended up in the trash, but Raymond Chandler’s name stayed on the picture, even though his contributions were said to be largely erased from the pages. What they would have given for just one bottle of White-Out. The script was adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s first novel, and whom better to check with about a talented psychopath with killing on his mind.
We can pair a wine with Strangers on a Train in much the same way the movie pairs two strangers of different backgrounds. Save Me, San Francisco Wine Company combines rock star (from the group Train, no less) Pat Monahan and winemaker James Foster. Their collaborative wines bear names based on songs and albums by Train. Bulletproof Picasso sounds like a Sauvignon Blanc over which two strangers could form a bond.
Boxcar Bertha was directed by Martin Scorsese in 1972 during producer Roger Corman’s lady gangster phase. It was Marty’s first time directing a Hollywood picture. He did a pretty good job of it, although Corman promoted it as dripping with sex. It isn’t, even though Playboy magazine did a spread on it upon its release. Bertha and her boyfriend rob trains for a living. The film puts that into perspective with a firm pro-union stance and an exploration of the plight of railroad workers. It would seem that being robbed between stops would be one of those plights.
Here is a suitable low-budget wine for a low-budget movie – Boxcar Pinot Noir. Apparently an Australian wine dealer has a few bottles left, at seven bucks a pop. If you want something a little nicer, try Red Car’s Box Car Pinot, from Sonoma County.