Comments in Ebert's The Great Movies and Answer Man Column
"The great erotic moment in Vertigo is
the one where the man kisses the woman of his fantasy, while
the room whirls around him. There is a parallel scene in Notorious,
and it was famous at the time as 'the longest kiss in the history
of the movies.' It was not, however, a single kiss, as Tim Dirks
points out in his essay on the film (www.filmsite.org/noto.html).
The production code forbade a kiss lasting longer than three
seconds, and so Bergman and Grant alternate kissing with dialogue
and eyeplay, while never leaving one another's arms. The sequence
begins on a balcony overlooking Rio, encompasses a telephone
call and a discussion of the dinner menu, and ends with a parting
at the apartment door, taking three minutes in all. The three-second
rule led to a better scene; an actual 180-second kiss might look
(August 17, 1997)
"The critic Tim Dirks has pointed out the parallels between
their conflict and the standoff between Capt. Bligh and Fletcher
Christian in "Mutiny on the Bounty." And indeed, the
Borden Chase screenplay makes much of the older man's pride and
the younger one's need to prove himself."
(March 1, 1998)
with the Wind (1939):
"...Consider the early scene where they first lay eyes on
one another during the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Rhett "exchanges
a cool, challenging stare with Scarlett,'' observes the critic
Tim Dirks. "She notices him undressing her with his eyes:
'He looks as if--as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy.'
(June 21, 1998)
in Paradise (1932):
"Dialogue quoted from Tim Dirks' great films site at www.filmsite.org."
(October 11, 1998)
Answer Man Column:
To Have and Have Not (1944):
Question: "In the movie "To Have and Have Not", why does Lauren Bacall's character call Humphrey Bogart "Steve" when his character's name is Harry Morgan?"
Answer: "According to Tim Dirks (whose web site, www.filmsite.org, is a trove of information about classic movies), Bogart and Bacall call each other "Slim" and "Steve," which in real life were the pet names of the director, Howard Hawks, and his own wife."
(May 7, 2000)
"Note: Why the title? The critic Tim Dirks explains: "It
is claimed that Groucho provided the following recipe: 'Take
two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them
together. After one taste, you'll duck soup the rest of your
(July 9, 2000)
Answer Man Column:
Question: "There is an unfortunate typo in your Great Movie review of "Jaws," when you cite this dialogue: "I pulled a tooth the size of a shot glass out of the rectal of a boat out there, and it was the tooth of a Great White." I believe it was not a "rectal" but a "wrecked hull.""
Answer: "The North Pole is melting and this you're worried about? That's a mistake but not a typo. I thought I heard "rectal" and double-checked with Tim Dirks's invaluable Greatest Films of All Time site (www.filmsite.org). He also heard Richard Dreyfuss say "rectal." I asked Dirks for his response. He writes: "Here's the quoted line from the revised final draft screenplay, found on the web: 'I just pulled a shark tooth the size of a shot glass out of the hull of a wrecked boat out there.' In playing the laserdisc version myself, I heard 'the rectal of a boat.' Since the final screenplay version does use the words 'hull of a wrecked boat,' I'm assuming that Richard Dreyfuss just reversed the words. However, 'wrecked hull' sure sounds like 'rectal,' doesn't it, especially in Dreyfuss' rapid-fire mouth?"
(September 10, 2000)
Answer Man Column:
Singin' in the Rain (1952):
Question: "My aunt in Minneapolis, Dolores DeFore, has a question for you. She is a big fan of "Singin' in the Rain" and recently saw the re-released version at a local theater. But she was aghast to read in a local paper that Debbie Reynolds didn't do her own singing in the movie. If not, why not, since she has a great voice?"
Answer: "Debbie Reynolds has a great voice but was not a seasoned pro when, at 19, she got a lead in the greatest of all musicals. She had her work cut out for her with nonstop dancing lessons to keep up with the gifted hoofers Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. Some but not all of her songs in the movie were dubbed. According to Tim Dirks of the Greatest Films website (www.filmsite.org), her singing voice was dubbed by Betty Noyes in "Would You?" and "You Are My Lucky Star." And here's a twist. Remember the big scene at the end where Lina Lamont (Jean Hagan) has a speaking voice so raspy that Kathy Selden (Reynolds) stands behind the curtain and dubs it live? Dirks says: "Debbie's speaking voice as Kathy--when impersonating Lina Lamont's lines--was dubbed by Jean Hagen herself!""
(November 5, 2000)
Answer Man Column:
Key Largo (1948):
Question: "A friend tells me that in "Key Largo" (1948),
Edward G. Robinson makes a speech to Bogart that is timely right
now. Here's how he quotes it: "Let me tell you about Florida
politicians. I make them. I make them out of whole cloth just
like a tailor makes a suit. I get their name in the newspaper,
I get them some publicity and get them on the ballot. Then after
the election we count the votes, and if they don't turn out right,
we recount them and recount them again until they do." Is
this on the level?"
Answer: "Your friend's approximation, which has been forwarded widely
on the Web and was quoted Dec. 10 in the New York Times,
is a shameless rewrite tailored to fit the news. The words "Florida," "recount"
and "politician" do not appear in the correct quote.
Tim Dirks, whose Web site (www.filmsite.org) is an invaluable
repository of movie descriptions and dialogue, tells me that
Robinson (a gangster) is speaking to a roomful of characters
(including Bogart), while trying to intimidate and ridicule the
local deputy. Robinson says: "You hick! I'll be back pulling
strings to get guys elected mayor and governor before you ever
get a 10-buck raise. Yeah, how many of those guys in office owe
everything to me. I made them. Yeah, I made 'em, just like a-like
a tailor makes a suit of clothes. I take a nobody, see? Teach
him what to say. Get his name in the papers and pay for his campaign
expenses. Dish out a lotta groceries and coal. Get my boys to
bring the voters out. And then count the votes over and over
again till they added up right and he was elected. Yeah- then
what happens? Did he remember when the going got tough, when
the heat was on? No, he didn't wanna. All he wanted was to save
his own dirty neck. . . . Yeah, `Public Enemy,' he calls me.
Me, who gave him his `Public' all wrapped up with a fancy bow
(December 17, 2000)
Answer Man Column:
The Taming of the Shrew (1966):
Question: In your review of "Down to Earth," you make a reference to the old Hollywood joke about the credits in "The Taming of the Shrew" (1929), which supposedly read "screenplay by William Shakespeare, with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor." I've seen the recut 1966 version of the film, and there is no such credit. Is this pure myth, or are there variant prints floating around out there with this credit?
Answer: I've heard the story countless times, and double-checked the credit on the Internet. I'm sure you're right about the version you saw, but for an overall verdict I turned to Tim Dirks, whose www.filmsite.org is a trove of accurate info about movies. He tells me controversy rages: "The legend is debunked on the Internet Movie Database by James Moffat of Melbourne, Australia, who says the credit line is 'pure myth.' But The IMDb's listing for the film prints the credit information. Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide says, "This is the film with the infamous credit, 'By William Shakespeare, with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor.'" And Baz Luhrmann, director of "Romeo + Juliet," confirms the credit in an interview at www.middleenglish.org."
(March 25, 2001)
"...Although the role was offered to other actors who were
bigger stars (critic Tim Dirks lists Burt Lancaster, Rod Steiger,
Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum and John Wayne), it is unimaginable
(March 17, 2002)
"Quoted dialogue is from Tim Dirks' invaluable www.filmsite.org."
(May 12, 2002)
Answer Man Column:
Question: In the last Answer Man, you discussed Amanda Peet's chances of an Academy nomination for her small role in "Changing Lanes" by referring to Beatrice Straight's win for "Network." However, you neglected to mention Dame Judi Dench's win for Supporting Actress for "Shakespeare In Love," during which she was on screen for all of 7 or 8 minutes. At the time, this was considered the shortest amount of screen time for any Oscar winner. I'll have to rewatch "Network," but I think Dench wins.
Answer: Who had the shortest Oscar-wining performance? The AM turned to Tim Dirks, proprietor of the Greatest Films website (www.filmsite.org), which has comprehensive info on hundreds of great American movies. His reply:
"Beatrice Straight as Louise Schumacher in 'Network' (1976) appears in three scenes that equal about 7 1/2 minutes of total screen time, with eight speeches totaling 260 words. Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth in 'Shakespeare in Love' (1998) appears in four scenes that equal about 10 minutes of total screen time, with 14 speeches totalling 446 words. Verdict: The Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner with less screen time AND less dialogue is Beatrice Straight in 'Network'."
(June 16, 2002)
"Dialogue source: Tim Dirks' filmsite.org."
(July 21, 2002)
The Thin Man (1934):
"Dialogue above is quoted from Tim Dirks' invaluable filmsite.org."
(December 22, 2002)
Birth of a Nation (1915):
"In his consideration of the film at www.filmsite.org,
Tim Dirks specifies not only cross-cutting but no less than 16
ways in which Griffith was an innovator, ranging from his night
photography to his use of the iris shot and color tinting."
(April 13, 2003 and June 16, 2004)
"The first time we get a good look at the alien, as it bursts
from the chest of poor Kane (John Hurt). It is unmistakably phallic
in shape, and the critic Tim Dirks mentions its "open, dripping
(October 26, 2003)
Answer Man Column:
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936):
Question: I was given Frank Capra's "Mr. Deeds Goes To Town" on DVD. I eagerly put the disc in for viewing but was disappointed. There appear to be a number of scenes missing from the original: (1) an altercation during his society/opera gala, (2) the scheme between the lawyer, the nose-twitching Semple and his wife, and (3) possibly another scene leading up to Mr. Deeds giving away plots of land to folks willing to become self sufficient through farming. Am I crazy, or were these scenes lost in the years before many of these old gems were preserved?
Answer: "You may be a victim of
the Phantom Scene Phenomenon, in which we "remember" scenes
that are described, implied, or happen offscreen. It has
been so long since I saw "Mr. Deeds" that I turned
for a definitive opinion to Tim Dirks, whose awesome website
(www.filmsite.org) contains detailed descriptions
of 300 great American films, along with many other riches.
He writes: "There is always the possibility that the original theatrical release of 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town' contained some scenes that were edited out, or have since been lost. Secondly, the question raises the bigger question of people's memories after viewing a film. I find that when filmgoers try to recollect various scenes from films, their memories invariably play tricks on them, and they cannot recollect accurately. I believe that this person has falsely remembered what the 'original' film contained.
Regarding the three scenes in question: (1) This scene exists in my DVD copy. The 'altercation' is merely an off-screen action, however. There is no on-screen altercation in the screenplay, either. (2) This scene also exists in my DVD copy of the film, although it appears earlier in the film before the 'altercation' scene. (3) This is an unclear description, so I can't tell what scene(s) she is remembering. Amazon.com is currently selling a DVD version with a different cover. Whether it is different or not from my version is something I can't compare."
(January 9, 2005)
The Shining (1980):
"...But there is a deleted scene from "The Shining" (1980)
that casts Wendy's reliability in a curious light. Near the end
of the film, on a frigid night, Jack chases Danny into the labyrinth
on the hotel grounds. His son escapes, and Jack, already wounded
by a baseball bat, staggers, falls and is seen the next day,
dead, his face frozen into a ghastly grin. He is looking up at
us from under lowered brows, in an angle Kubrick uses again and
again in his work. Here is the deletion, reported by the critic
Tim Dirks: "A two-minute explanatory epilogue was cut shortly
after the film's premiere. It was a hospital scene with Wendy
talking to the hotel manager; she is told that searchers were
unable to locate her husband's body."..."
(June 18, 2006)
Answer Man Column:
The Godfather (1972):
Question: "I have a "Godfather" question that NO ONE can answer. In "The Godfather," just before Michael leaves to kill Sollozzo and police Capt. McCluskey, the family is in the Corleone home, trying to determine where Michael will have this meeting. There are six people in the room: Michael, Sonny, Tom, Clemenza, Tessio and an unidentified person wearing a brown suit. He has only seven seconds of screen time and no dialogue. Who is he? Only the top "family" members would be there as they discuss killing a police captain. Why would anyone outside of the elite group be there?"
Answer: "I am reminded of the great movie line, "And there was another man -- a third man." You list all the possible identities for the sixth man, and explain why it couldn't be any of them. I asked Tim Dirks, author-manager of filmsite.org, which supplies countless invaluable plot details, and he replies: "It looks like Phil Giordano is searching for some 'logical' answer. And he has already dismissed guesses that may be correct. I don't think there's going to be a definitive answer to his question, because of the way he has made assumptions about who the person must be.""
(August 16, 2007)
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982):
The action follows Deckard, a "blade runner" who is assigned to track down and kill six rebel replicants who have returned illegally from off-worlds to earth, and are thought to be in Los Angeles. (The movie never actually deals with more than five replicants, however, unless, as the critic Tim Dirks speculates, Deckard might be the sixth)..."
(November 3, 2007)