STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And it's time to return to our occasional chats about DVDs worth renting. This morning we've brought in two film critics who proved that YouTube is not just for teenagers. They call themselves the Reel Geezers. That's spelled R-E-E-L Geezers. These two oftentimes have very different opinions about the movies that they review including the recent hit Tropic Thunder.
Ms. MARCIA NASATIR (Hollywood Agent, Producer): The satire did not play for me because all I could think about was that movie of Preston Surges, "Sullivan's Travels."
Mr. LORENZO SEMPLE (Scriptwriter): I didn't think of it once. Anybody who goes thinking they're seeing a meaningful movie; you'll be disappointed and surprised because it's a wild comedy.
INSKEEP: Decades before they opined on movies, the Reel Geezers helped to make them. Marcia Nasatir was a longtime Hollywood agent and also produced movies like "The Big Chill." Lorenzo Semple Jr. has written many scripts, including Batman the TV show, and Sydney Pollack's "Six Days of the Condor." This morning they're going to share with us some of their all-time favorites, recommendations to rent. Welcome to you both.
Mr. SEMPLE: Thank you.
Ms. NASATIR: Except three days.
INSKEEP: Three days - did I say six days?
Ms. NASATIR: Lorenzo.
Mr. SEMPLE: The book is called Six Days.
Ms. NASATIR: Yeah.
INSKEEP: But that was too many for the…
Mr. SEMPLE: Couldn't fill six days.
INSKEEP: OK. "Three Days of the Condor," Six Days in the novel. Let's get to your list of movies, which for some reason doesn't include Three Days of the Condor, but "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is on the list. What puts that on your list?
Ms. NASATIR: First place is Jimmy Cagney who was also public enemy number one and a tough guy and he was a fabulous dancer. He was a chorus boy on Broadway.
INSKEEP: And here he's playing George M. Cohan.
Ms. NASATIR: Cohan who was a writer, dancer, performer and it's a very patriotic movie because it took place in 1944 and seemed a very appropriate movie for this time.
Mr. JAMES CAGNEY: (As George M. Cohan) Anything about a Yankee that's a phony?
Unidentified Character: Little Johnny Jones, a jockey from the U.S.A.
MR. CAGNEY: (As George M. Cohan) Will ride the pony Yankee Doodle English Derby day.
INSKEEP: I've got to tell you, thinking of World War II era movies; something like "Casablanca" has obviously lasted. Some of the others seem a lot more dated. I guess this one is one that lasts in your opinion.
Ms. NASATIR: Well, it lasts for me because it makes you cry at the end. Lorenzo hates for me to say this, I think movies tell you how to behave, tell you what to do and can change people's ways of being.
INSKEEP: Lorenzo Semple Jr., why do you hate for her to say that?
Mr. SEMPLE: I'm a strong believer with what Auden, the poet, said. He said poetry makes nothing happen. That's one of his most famous lines. I do not think that any movie has ever influenced anybody overtly. Now if you set out to make a political movie, I think it has no effect.
INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about a political movie or what could be seen as a political movie in some ways that made your list, Lorenzo Semple Jr. - "A Clockwork Orange."
Mr. SEMPLE: Yes. It's a movie about a very violent English gang in a dystopian world of the near future, which could be about now. It was written almost 40 years ago. And there's an interesting reflection on the current Batman movie, "The Dark Knight." Because Heath Ledger's role of the Joker, he just wants to create chaos for its own sake. "While in A Clockwork Orange," Alex and his friends want to hurt people for its own sake.
Mr. MALCOLM MCDOWELL: (As Alex) This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.
Mr. SEMPLE: The movie was treated sort of with horror when it came out. They gave an X rating which was a kiss of death in the theater where nobody could go to it under 21.
Ms. NASATIR: And it won the Oscar. And is that correct or not correct?
Mr. SEMPLE: No, it's not correct. But who cares?
Ms. NASATIR: But Lorenzo, isn't it - no, I guess you're right. OK.
Mr. SEMPLE: But Stanley Kubrick, who made the movie, cut about a minute of it and got an R rating. But still it appalled people at that time.
INSKEEP: And now it's available on DVD.
Mr. SEMPLE: In the original X-rated version.
INSKEEP: And Marcia Nasatir, one film from your list here is also described as satirical but a very different-flavored movie, "Hail the Conquering Hero."
Ms. NASATIR: It's really my favorite Sturges movie.
INSKEEP: Preston Sturges.
Ms. NASATIR: Preston Sturges, yes. It's a story of a young man in a small town whose father had been killed in World War I. This movie was made in 1944. And he joins the Marines to be a hero like his father and he has asthma and he has to go back to his town, a disgraced American young man. And he meets six Marines who've just come from Guadalcanal. They take him back to the town because they say that he was really with them and he was a hero. And it's a movie I also cry at because one of the Marines doesn't want him to tell the truth.
Mr. WILLIAM DEMAREST: (As Sergeant) You're home, you're mother's happy. Did you see that look in her eyes? Your girl still loves you and the town gave you a nice little reception.
Mr. EDDIE BRACKEN: (As Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith) I'll say they did.
Mr. DEMAREST: (As Sergeant) Boy, I wish I was in your shoes.
Mr. BRACKEN: (As Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith) Boy, I wish you were, too. Look I didn't want to sound ungrateful. I know you did it for the best and I thank you for your (unintelligible).
Mr. DEMAREST: (As Sergeant) I tell you it'll all blow over. Everything is perfect, except for a couple of details.
Mr. BRACKEN: (As Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith) They hang people for a couple of details.
INSKEEP: Lorenzo Semple Jr. did it make you cry?
Mr. SEMPLE: No, it didn't. Somebody has said about me, who knows me quite well, that I have a sensibility of a 15-year-old girl.
INSKEEP: And that means you don't cry at movies?
Mr. SEMPLE: Well, I do cry but only at happy endings, at old Italians with a flower wagon in New York City.
INSKEEP: Did the movie "Sweet Smell of Success," which made your list, influence you in any way?
Mr. SEMPLE: It was a great thing about the glamour of New York life in a very tough way. The story is very simple. Burt Lancaster plays a really dreadful gossip columnist in New York based very closely on Walter Winchell.
Mr. BURT LANCASTER: (As J.J. Hunsecker) What, some cheap, gruesome gags?
Mr. TONY CURTIS: (As Sidney Falco) You print them, don't you?
Mr. LANCASTER: (As J.J. Hunsecker) Yes, with your clients' names attached. That's the only reason the poor slobs pay you, to see their names in my column all over the world! Now I make it out you're doing me a favor!
Mr. CURTIS: (As Sidney Falco I didn't say that, J.J.
Mr. LANCASTER: (As J.J. Hunsecker) The day that I can't get along without press agents' handouts, I'll close up shop and move to Alaska lock, stock and barrel.
Mr. SEMPLE: After the movie was made, it was a flop.
Ms. NASATIR: Then why have they stuck in our heads all these years?
Mr. SEMPLE: Marcia, you know that the bottom line is what counts in Hollywood. When I say it's a failure, people didn't go see it and it didn't encourage the studios to make more movies of that kind. Young kids today, they've never heard of these movies.
Ms. NASATIR: Well, maybe we'll teach them to go see them.
Mr. SEMPLE: That's - oh sure.
Ms. NASATIR: Listen, they're going to kick this out, Lorenzo. We'll spend the whole day telling them about movies.
INSKEEP: Folks, this has been wonderful.
Mr. SEMPLE: Great fun.
INSKEEP: It's really lovely.
Mr. SEMPLE: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Hold on, hold. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I'll say this. Marcia Nasatir and Lorenzo Semple Jr. call themselves The Reel Geezers and you can find more of their DVD choices at npr.org.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.