Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Employee Picks Shelf Guest Post - Sean Wicks ""

Friday, November 22, 2013

Employee Picks Shelf Guest Post - Sean Wicks

Sean is a good friend of mine and he runs the Cinema-Scope blog ( which is very much a sister blog to my own (we often do series in conjunction with each other). An all-around social media lover, he's very active on twitter (, tumblr ( facebook (, and letterboxd ( I recommend following him anywhere you can! 
Like Rupert, I also worked in video stores for almost a full decade.  My first job in High School was at one – and that was on purpose as I specifically singled one out and campaigned to work there.   That store was JUMBO VIDEO, a Canadian chain that was known for being open 24 hours and providing free popcorn to guests as they browsed (which was annoying for us clerks in that we not only had to make it, but clean up the piles of it on the floor and in the racks after).  That store was the flagship in a chain that spread out across Canada, but I believe like all the other chains has since folded (that particular branch is gone at least).  
I followed this up with CINEMA ONE, a mall-based video sales-only store (think SUNCOAST MOTION PICTURE COMPANY, only Canadian) which I think is somehow still open – miraculously.  
In college I worked at DAVE’S VIDEO in Studio City, a Laserdisc only (and later DVD) sales and rental outlet that was well known and frequented by celebrities and other entertainment personalities.  It was considered “competition” to a similar store that Rupert worked at, but his store was on the Westside and we were in the valley so lots of distance between the two.  Dave’s closed early in the 2000s.
Like Rupert, I also enjoyed the moment when we as the staff got to highlight our “staff picks”.  In 1989, I annoyed my Jumbo co-workers by taking over the entire shelf when I convinced the manager to highlight all the movies that had sequels coming out that summer (there were a lot).  They got over it.
I usually took the opportunity to highlight titles that people weren’t instantly drawn too.  I worked the midnight shift at Jumbo on the weekends while I was in school, and used to play my picks over the store screens and generally, customers ended up renting them out.  
So when Rupert asked me to provide him with an “Employee Picks” contribution, I jumped at the chance to go back in time to my high school days when Netflix – let alone the Internet – wasconsidered science fiction.
INNERSPACE (1987; Joe Dante)
This is a movie I watch time and time again and it never gets old.  I have a ritual where I view this at least once a year, usually during the summer.  It’s directed by a favorite of mine, Joe Dante, and scored by his frequent collaborator Jerry Goldsmith, and is a score I adore.  
suspect that the majority of people that read this (if not all) areaware of this movie, but the plot anyway is that cocky test pilot Dennis Quaid is miniaturized and injected into Martin Shortwho with help from the always sexy Meg Ryan must find a way to get Quaid out of him before he re-expands, and keep the technology out of the hands of bad guy Kevin McCarthy.  The scenes with “The Cowboy” played by Dante regular RobertPicardo (THE HOWLING and the holographic doctor from STAR TREK: VOYAGER) are easily my favorite.  The movie is just a delight from start to finish.
MEN IN WAR (1957; Anthony Mann)
Somehow my list became war movie heavy – not intentional – and this is the first of 3 that I have chosen.  I didn’t realize this until after I compiled my picks, but whatever.
MEN IN WAR has a strong psychological element to it as Robert Ryan’s platoon (in the Korean War) find themselves trapped behind enemy lines and must make their way to a hill where supposedly re-enforcements await.  They are joined by a Sergeant played by Aldo Ray, who is escorting a colonel who is in a catatonic state of shock.  Ryan and Ray hate each other, but must work together to stay alive.   The catatonic colonel who spends almost the entire movie staring straight ahead with a gaping expression will stick with you long after the end credits roll.  It was one of the first movies that I remember where the soldiers are actually suffering from battle fatigue rather than being bold, heroic types like the cinema liked to portray to rally the citizens around the war effort.  I later became a fan of Anthony Mann’s work – especially his James Stewart westerns – but this is easily my favorite of his movies.  It was also the first movie I ever saw at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood after the American Cinematheque took it over.  I had found the VHS in a Zellers bargain bin when I was in elementary school, and that tape fell apart after repeat viewings.  It is so good though.
The movie is also notable in its silence.  The score is very sparse(composed brilliantly by Elmer Bernstein), and it gives the movie an appropriately eerie and tense tone.
WHERE EAGLES DARE (1968; Brian G. Hutton)
One of the most exciting adventure movies I have ever seen.  Set in World War II, Richard Burton and a group of Commandos (which includes Clint Eastwood) are sent into Nazi Germany to rescue an American General who is being held prisoner in a fortified castle.  The movie suddenly takes several unexpected twists and turns which are almost mind-blowing when the true plot starts unravel.  I dare not give any of the intricate details away as this is a movie that must be experienced first hand.
A smart movie that is anchored by two fantastic leads.  I went in excited about Eastwood, and came out with an appreciation for Richard Burton who I think blows Clint out of the water in this.  After viewing, I went on a Richard Burton watching spree and discovered some new favorites like CLEOPATRA and NIGHT OF THE IGUANA.
A rousing main theme and the energetic score was composed by Ron Goodwin.
36 HOURS (1965; George Seaton)
Ok so not only is it a war-heavy list, but also the second where an American soldier is captured and a second title featuring a psychological element.
[SPOILER ALERT] In this case the soldier is a major played by James Garner who wakes up in what appears to be an Allied medical facility.  He feels though that something is off and his instincts prove him right when he discovers that it is all a German deception to get information on the D-Day invasion out of him.   Rod Taylor plays the Nazi trying to brainwash him and Eva Marie Saint is on hand as well.  It’s a truly great and underrated movie that plays to Garner’s strengths.  I’ve always been a big fan of James Garner, and when I had the chance to work on SPACE COWBOYS as a development executive, I was thrilled when I got the chance to meet him.  Sadly I didn’t get enough time to bring up this movie which I definitely would have.
Oh and it features a great score by Dmitri Tiomkin.  Always have to mention the score.

Sean's shelf.

1 comment:

Robert M. Lindsey said...

These are indeed some great picks! I've added Men in War to my queue. Anthony Man and Robert Ryan!