When Actors Direct

by Randy Fuller Apr 23, 2022

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 three films show what can happen when actors direct.  There are wine pairings to go with them, in case any directors out there need a relaxer.

Sometimes a Great Notion was directed by Paul Newman in 1971, way before he started the socially conscious Newman’s Own Foundation, funded by lemonade, iced tea, salad dressing and hundreds of other products.  The film starred Newman, alongside the likes of Henry Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Lee Remick and Richard Jaeckel.  Newman got his name on the director’s chair almost by default, when it seemed nobody else wanted the honor.  Notion holds the distinction of being the first movie to be shown on Home Box Office after their 1972 launch, way back before the service was acronymized.

A family of Oregon loggers gets the (sometimes great) notion that logging didn’t present enough challenges, so they isolate themselves by refusing to support a strike.  This means they have to try and get their timber in the river all by themselves.  The whole town’s against them, and when dad tries to lend a hand, it winds up costing him his arm.  Fortunately, the middle finger of the hand still worked.

With Oregon as the backdrop, let’s pair some wine from that Pinot Noir-loving state with Sometimes a Great Notion.  You can take your pick from sixteen different winemakers at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, which was sold last year to – wait for it – a lumber family.

In a World… came from 2013.  Lake Bell wrote it, directed it and starred in it.

She plays a voiceover coach who aspires to be the voice of the movie trailers, like Don LaFontaine, who made famous the title line, “In a world….”  As it happens, her dad is the LaFontaine-esque “king of voiceovers,” and she competes against him to win a coveted gig.  He doesn’t take it well, but ends up being not so big an asshole as everyone thought he was.  For a guy on the fringes of show biz, that’s a huge win.

I’ll bet you thought I couldn’t come up with a voice-related wine.  Oh, ye of little faith.  Voices in Action sells Pro Voice Wine, a rosé which – besides hailing from New Mexico – is dedicated to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom the company points out used her voice to “speak for what is right.”

1974’s Catch My Soul is Othello set in a rock’n’roll desert.  It was directed by Patrick McGoohan, he of TV’s Secret Agent (Danger Man) and The Prisoner.  It’s only fair that he got to direct this retelling of the Shakespeare tale, since he had earlier starred in a version that was set in the London jazz scene.  Did you know that McGoohan reportedly turned down the role of James Bond, not once but twice?  His acting angel must have been looking down with a “Well, I tried” expression on his face.

Unfortunately, McGoohan’s stint behind the camera led to no more opportunities to direct feature films, though he later directed in television.  People pretty much hated Catch My Soul, except for the music from Richie Havens, Tony Joe White and Delaney Bramlett.  We may well bump into them again in a segment entitled, When Musicians Act.

From Napa Valley’s Dominus Estate comes the perfect wine pairing for an Othello remake – Othello.  It’s a blend of Bordeaux grapes which sells for around $65.  The soundtrack to Catch My Soul will cost you about $10 more.

Randy Fuller
NowAnd Zin Wine –
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