Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The long and inevitable slide.
My memory is not what it used to be. In all fairness, it used to be pretty damn good. But it's been about twenty five years since I won about twenty five grand on Jeopardy! and the skills are definitely slipping. I can still remember stuff, but instead of things being easily and quickly accessed, I go through a much more laborious process.
Last night, I was talking to a guy at a bar about the movie Watchmen. He said he liked the actress who played the mom of the hot chick. He couldn't recall her name. For about a minute, I couldn't remember her name either, but I knew she was also in Spy Kids. I had to tell myself "Spy Kids starred Antonio... oh, what's his name, he's married to Melanie Griffith... Antonio Banderas and ... Carla Gugino!"
I was right, but I was slow.
Walking home from the bar, I set myself a task. Could I name ten actors from some famous trivia film? At random, I picked one of my old favorites, The Maltese Falcon. Of course, I picked the most famous version, the 1941 film directed by John Huston. It's actually the second remake of the Dashiell Hammett novel, and you might not know about the others because they pretty much suck.
Okay, ten actors. Let's do this.
If you can't name five off the top of your head, don't expect to win many trivia contests. The five people who are in the important scenes at the end when the black bird finally shows up are Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook, Jr.
Okay, that's the easy five, and I remembered them immediately.
The famous walk-on role is Walter Huston, the director's dad, as Captain Jacobi. He brings the Falcon to Sam Spade and dies. How did they dispose of the body? The movie isn't completely clear on this. In any case, that's six.
There's Miles Archer, Spade's partner who gets shot. I know the actor's name is like Jerome Kern, but it's not Jerome Kern.
Jerome Cowan. I couldn't get his name in the ten minute window. First sign of slippage.
There's the good cop/bad cop duo that question Spade early in the film. I'm sure the good cop is Ward Bond. But the bad cop... again, my brain knows his last name starts with Mc, but I get fixated on McFarlane.
It's Barton MacLane. Second sign of slippage.
Okay, who played Effie the secretary? My brain comes up with a full name, Lurlene Tuttle. It's a full name, but it's a wrong name. Lee Patrick played Effie. Same kind of actress, not the same actress.
I didn't get Gladys George, who plays Miles Archer's widow. I never remember her, the role is too forgettable. I also forgot one of those little trivia nuggets. William Hopper has a walk-on role as a reporter. He is better known for work he does nearly twenty years later as Paul Drake on Perry Mason.
Did you know he was Hedda Hopper's son? Think that helped his career?
Yes, hypothetical question asker, I knew that and it probably did help his career. I just didn't remember he was in The Maltese Falcon in the self-imposed ten minute time span.
So, if you want to know five actors from this famous film, I'm your guy. If you want to know ten, you'll be able to get on your cell phone and get to the movie's webpage on imdb.com long before I dredge the names up out of the dusty old attic inside my head.
So, Matty Boy, do you think the lack of skills have anything to do with you turning 55 today?
Thanks, hypothetical, you're right. It is my birthday.
I almost forgot.