Law and its many connections -- law and literature, love, lollipops, & fun, law and everything else under the sun
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Announcement. We've finally gotten around to launching our new webzine/blawg: BurtLaw's The Daily Judge:
It is not an online newspaper and is not affiliated with or intended to be mistaken for any existing or previously-existing newspaper or journal. Rather, it is a so-called "blawg," a law-related personal "web log" or "blog," one with a subjective, idiosyncratic, and eccentric sociological and social-psychological slant that focuses not on the latest judicial decisions of supposed great importance but on a) the institution of judge in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, b) the judicial office and role, c) judicial personalities, d) the great common law tradition of judging as practiced here and throughout the world, e) judges as judges, f) judges as ordinary people with the usual mix of virtues and flaws, etc. We link to newspapers and other sources in order to alert the reader to ideas, articles, stories, speeches, law books, literary works and other things about "judges" that have interested us and that may interest the reader.
We don't promote our blawgs, but readers of this blog and of our affiliated political opinion blog, BurtonHanson.Com, may be interested in it. We don't think there is another blawg quite like it.
Music Man, The (1962) If you don't like this all-American movie musical, based on Meredith Wilson's Broadway musical of the same name, you're probably a commie. Robert Preston reprises his stage role as Professor Harold Hill, and Shirley Jones plays the role of everyone's favorite prudish librarian, Marian, whom Hill sweet-talks and kisses (that's all we see, folks, because that's all that happens, at least until they get legal). Ron Howard plays her lisping younger brother, who goes bananas at the idea of playing in Hill's "River City Boys' Band." Filmed partly on location in Mason City, Iowa, where my maternal grandfather's brother, Henry Herfindahl (the father of Orris Herfindahl, who created the Herfindahl Index), in fact directed the local band.
My Cousin Vinnie (1992) Vinnie Gambini, played by Joe Pesci, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants lawyer who goes to Alabama with his girl friend, played by Marisa Tomei, to try to save a relative from being convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Tomei, who won an Oscar for her efforts, helps Vinnie figure out there's such a thing as pre-trial discovery. The guy who plays the folksy Alabama prosecutor reminds me of my Harvard Law School pal from Alabama, Howard P. Walthall, Sr., now teaching law at Cumberland Law School in Birmingham and living in a house in which Hugo Black once resided.
Mystic Pizza (1988) This is one of those great coming-of-age movies I seem to watch about once a year. The title refers to a pizzeria in a Portugese-American fishing town and summer resort, Mystic, CT, where three townie girl friends are working the summer after high school. One of them, Lili Taylor, who has no plans to leave town but hopes to take over the pizzeria, leaves her boy friend at the altar because, although she loves him, she fears she wants to marry him just so she can have guilt-free church-approved sex. Julia Roberts, in her best role, in my opinion, sets her sights on a rich law school dropout whose parents own a big summer house there. Her Yale-bound sister, played by Annabeth Gish, becomes infatuated with a young architect, a Yale grad, whose child she helps him care for while his wife is in Europe on business. One movie, three romances, each different.
Next Stop, Wonderland (1998) Will two people who are "meant for each other" meet, or will they just miss meeting?
No Looking Back (1998) Third movie and my least favorite in director-actor-writer Edward Burns' trilogy. In this one, Burns plays a "taker" in romance, who returns to town to try reclaim the girl friend he dumped a few years earlier, Lauren Holly, who is living with a buddy of his, Jon Bon Jovi. Will Holly fall for his line and take Burns up on his offer to leave town with her? Or will she stick with Bon Jovi? Or...?
One Fine Day (1996) This is a rather contrived romantic comedy -- contrived to let chicks see full-time newspaper columnist/part-time dad George Clooney and harried career-driven super-mom Michelle Pfeiffer meet and fall in love all on a single fine day. But they're good enough to make the movie worth seeing . Song: "For the First Time," best song nominee.
One on One (1977) Brainy Annette O'Toole contemptuously tutors rebellious freshman college basketball player Robby Benson, who she thinks is just another jock, but Robby proves her wrong and she not only succumbs to his boyish charms but helps him contend with, and eventually one-up, abusive coach who exploits his recruits. Melanie Griffith also has a role but I can't recall what it is -- some sort of flake, presumably.
Out of Africa (1985) If you enjoyed the movie, you'll love the books on which it is based, including Isak Dinesen's (Karen Blixen's) Out of Africa and a collection of her letters from Africa called Letters from Africa -- 1914-1936. Robert Redford plays Blixen's lover and soulmate, Denys Finch-Hatten, who dies in a plane crash in the Ngong Hills. Meryl Streep, still at the top of the heap of actresses, plays Blixen. I like the soundtrack of the pleasant score, which is by John Barry, a very romantic composer who also wrote the score for Somewhere in Time and Dances With Wolves, among other movies. Useful Dinesen weblinks include: chronology of her life, interview with her biographer, brief biography of Denys Finch Hatton, list of books by Dinesen, Out of Africa movie links, discussion of the award-winning soundtrack, text of poems recited in movie, links to movie Babette's Feast (based on a Dinesen story), Babette's Feast recipes, and list of other links.
Oxford Blues (1984) Rob Lowe as a young American studying at Oxford, where he overcomes ridicule by his snooty British collegemates and wins gal. Guess which gal he wins -- American Ally Sheedy or Brit Amanda Pays. Which one would you want to win?
Paper Chase, The (1973) Circa 1970, a first year Harvard Law School student from Minnesota named Hart falls in love with the more mature, wordly, cynical and mysterious Susan, who turns out to be the daughter of the brilliant and icily-endearing Professor Kingsfield, pre-eminent expert on contracts law. The Harvard Law School depicted is the somewhat harsh Darwinian "Survival of the Fittest" one I attended in the mid-'60's, when it was indisputably #1, not the kinder but more wishy-washy one of today, which arguably ranks below ones such as Stanford and Michigan and the University of Chicago. Movie is based on the 1971 novel of the same name by John Jay Osborn, Jr., who was just a class or two behind me, and reportedly created Kingsfield as a composite of several of the star professors of the day. Osborn's real professional hero, who influenced his own decision to teach contracts in law school, was his contracts professor, the legal philosopher, Lon Fuller, famed for his "Case of the Speluncean Explorers." The movie stars Timothy Bottoms as Hart, Lindsay Wagner in her best screen performance as Susan, and John Houseman in his Academy Award-winning role as Kingsfield, a role he later reprised in the excellent TV series based on the novel and movie, a series my kids watched with me and enjoyed when they were quite young. In a nonspeaking part (only his legs show) in one of the scenes filmed in Cambridge depicting students entering and departing Langdell Hall, is the irrepressible Rich Krantz, law clerk to Justice C. Donald Peterson, Minnesota Supreme Court, 1974-75. Classroom scenes were filmed in Canada in a replica of one of the Langdell classrooms built on a sound stage.
Postman, The (Il Postino) (1994) Terrific movie about the romantic life-enhancing power of poetry -- the real stuff, not the dainty stuff that the average person thinks of when he hears the word "poetry." The great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, played by Philippe Noiret, is in exile on a picturesque Italian island because of his leftist political views. The poor postman on his bicycle, played by Massimo Troisi, attaches himself to Neruda, who helps him use poetry to successfully woe the female object of his affections, a busty raven-haired barmaid named Beatrice (as in Dante's Beatrice), played by Maria Grazia Cucinotta. If you rent the movie, rent the version with subtitles, so you can listen to the poems in their original language, as they are meant to be heard, bearing in mind that in poetry the sound is as important as (in many cases is) the sense. Then buy the CD (I got my copy at Half-Price Books) of the delightful soundtrack music, which is supplemented by some incredible readings of the English translations of the poems by Sting, Miranda Richardson, Wesley Snipes, Julia Roberts, Ralph Fiennes, Ethan Hawke, Rufus Seavell, Glenn Close, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, William Defoe, Madonna and Vincent Perez.
Rear Window (1954) My pick for the best movie I've ever seen. And, in case you didn't catch on when you saw it, it's all about romance and love, each apartment into which James Stewart peers being peopled by individual(s) experiencing romantic love or hate or anticipation or loss. James Stewart, Grace Kelly (at her absolute loveliest), Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr.
Rebel Without A Cause (1955) If you grew up in the '50's, you know that this is one of the three movies in which James Dean starred, each memorable in its own way, before his untimely death in an auto accident on September 30, 1955, shortly after he completed filming Giant. Dean plays a troubled teen whose parents just don't understand him. His love interest is Natalie Wood, in one of her best performances. Sal Mineo plays the emotionally-starved teen who latches onto Dean and Wood as substitute parents. Dennis Hopper and Nick Adams play hoodlum teens. Jim Backus plays Dean's hen-pecked father, who at movie's end, when it's almost too late, finally takes charge, telling his yammering wife to shut up. Get it now? -- it's bad moms and weak dads who cause delinquency.
Roxanne (1987) Steve Martin's sweet updated recreation of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac is set in an idyllic town in Washington State. "Cyrano" in this version is a fireman played by Martin himself. The woman of his heart, whom he woes vicariously by giving the right words to a handsome but dumb oaf, is Daryl Hannah. One can see in this movie why John-John Kennedy liked her. Too bad Jackie-O didn't want John-John to marry her; if he had married her, he'd probably still be alive.
Rushmore (1999) "Rushmore Academy" is the name of a private prep school. Jason Schwartzman plays a brainy tenth-grader who is obsessed with a primary school teacher, played by Olivia Williams. Enter rich alumnus Bill Murray, who also falls for, and has to compete with Schwartzman for, Williams' affection. A minor war -- one practical "joke" after another -- develops between the two guys.
Santa Fe (1997) This movie, which has a nice atmosphere and some effective low-key performances, apparently was never released theatrically, but I caught it on TV one weekend afternoon recently. Gary Cole returns to New Age Santa Fe after spending several months recovering from injuries sustained saving his wife and daughter from a Wyoming end-of-the-world cult. To his disgust, he finds that his wife and daughter have become devotees of a self-help guru (Lolita Davidovich), and his wife has become enamored of a New Age medical practitioner. His daughter fixes him up on a blind date with the guru. Although he likes her, and vice-versa, he can't help lumping all New Agers together. He's mistaken in doing this, because she's somethin' special. He goes a bit crazy, which turns her off, but she eventually sees his craziness is nothing but the temporary insanity of a noble man in love.
Say Anything (1989) I guess I'm a sucker for coming-of-age romance movies. In this one, Ione Skye, the class brain, falls for one of the class misfits, John Cusack. Her over-controlling dad, who has raised her, is played by John Mahoney, the dad on Frasier. Daddie doesn't like boy friend. But it turns out daddie is a crook and boy friend has his virtues. Joan Cusack, John's sis, is also in the flick. This is one of the movies I own and watch, it seems, about once every year or two.
She's the One (1996) Second of the three movies in the trilogy written, directed and acted in by Edward Burns. As did the low-budget first one, The Brothers McMullan, this one follows the romantic ups and downs of three close but very different brothers and their father, played by John Mahoney, who at one point admits he doesn't believe in God but adds that "that doesn't mean I stopped being a good Catholic." One of the brothers is married to Jennifer Aniston but is carrying on an affair with Cameron Diaz, ex-girl friend of Burns. Burns, a cabbie, hooks up with Maxine Bahns in a whirlwind romance that falters temporarily.
Shop Around the Corner (1940) Without a doubt, this is one of the best romance films ever made. It's based on the play Parfumerie by Nikolaus Lazlo, and is only the best of a number of pretty good plays-movies based on the play's plot. Others include: the movie musical, In the Good Old Summertime, with Judy Garland; the Broadway musical, She Loves Me; and the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie, You've Got Mail. The movie is set in a shop in Budapest in which the ultimate lovers, Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart, are employed alongside Frank Morgan, a devious guy who is romancing the boss' wife on the sly. Sullavan and Stewart carry on an anonymous epistolary romance without realizing that each is the other's pen pal. Eventually the boss discovers Morgan's perfidy and Sullavan and Stewart realize it's each other they love. Directed by the legendary Ernst Lubitsch.
Sliding Doors (1998) This romance plays with the theme of the plasticity of time and of the profound difference in one's life the slightest difference in one's choices might make. It is a clever movie, slickly directed, and stars Gwyneth Paltrow, of whom I am tiring rapidly.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) Yet another of the best of the coming-of-age romances I never tire of watching and re-watching. Minnesota's own Eric Stolz plays an artistically-talented hard-working high schooler who is somewhat obsessed with the cool and condescending Lea Thompson, who, unbeknownst to those in the upper-class clique she has joined, lives in relative poverty. Stolz blows his college money on a very imaginative big date that involves his long-time Tom-boy sidekick, played by Mary Stuart Masterson, serving as uniformed chauffer of a limo he borrows. Thompson falls for Stolz but Stolz realizes that right under his eyes was his soulmate, Masterson, who manages somehow to make her character both Tom-boyish and very feminine and appealing. Good soundtrack.
Somewhere in Time (1980) This is a super-romantic movie, one of my all-time favorites, an adaptation of Richard Matheson's time-travel novel, Bid Time Return (recently reissued bearing the title Somewhere in Time). As the film starts, Christopher Reeves is a 20-year-old playwright receiving plaudits at the production of a play in Chicago. An old woman, played by Jane Seymour, approaches, hands him an old gold pocket watch and says, "Come back to me." She then is seen being driven in the rain in a limousine back to her home on Mackinac Island, where she listens to a music box playing Rachmaninoff's "18th Variation, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." She dies that night. Eight years later, Reeves finds himself drawn to Mackinac Island, where he checks into the Grand Hotel. Sleepless that night, he walks in his pajamas to the Hall of History, off the lobby, where he is mesmerized by a photo of the great actress, Elise McKenna (Seymour) taken in 1912 when she starred in the play Wisdom of the Heart in the hotel's theater. Reeves does research on time travel and is able to "will" (or hallucinate or dream) his way back to the year 1912 at the Grand Hotel, where he meets and romances McKenna, who on seeing him says, "Is it you?" I saw the movie on the big screen in 1980 and loved it. It was a dud at the box office in America but was huge in parts of Asia (Hong Kong, for example, where it ran for 18 months) and it built a huge following in cable and video release. Its soundtrack is one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time. Recently, in 1998, a new recording was made of the score, by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by John Debney. It includes music from the movie that was not included on the original soundtrack.. I have both the original and the new one and like both equally. The movie was re-released theatrically in the fall of 2000, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the movie's release, and a wide screen DVD version was issued that also contains a documentary on the making of the movie and interviews with Reeves, Seymour and others. The movie has a huge and loyal fan club and a web site that is maintained by a woman who played an extra in the movie when it was filmed on Mackinac Island. The site is filled with interesting content, including, e.g., the text of Elise McKenna's extemporaneous on-stage soliloquy, directed to Reeves as he sits in the theater audience in 1912 watching her perform as Louisa in Wisdom of the Heart. [more] Want to fix your hair in an Elise McKenna "Somewhere in Time Updo"? Click here. Want to stay in the Grand Hotel's "Somewhere in Time Suite" or attend the annual three-day "Somewhere in Time Weekend," held at the end of October and attended not just by fans but people connected with the movie in some way? Then click here.
Song of Norway (1970) Musical about the life, love and music of Norway's greatest classical composer, Edvard Grieg, filmed in and around Bergen, from the vicinity of which many of my Norwegian ancestors hail.
South Pacific (1958) This is a pretty darn good movie version of the Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. It was daring in its day, with its inter-racial romance and that bold song, "You've got to be taught...to hate all the people your relatives hate...." Based on James A. Michener's delightful best-selling book of interwoven wartime stories, Tales of the South Pacific. I was working as an after-school and weekend deejay ("Rockin' Rand") at the local radio station ("KBMO, 1290 on your dial") and remember playing lots of promos taped by station manager, Bob Zellmer, when the movie came to the Demarce Theater.
State of the Union (1948) This is my favorite political movie, and it's also about romance and family priorities, things so few politicians are good at. Tracy, Hepburn, Lansbury, Johnson, Menjou, Stone, Capra.
Sure Thing, The (1985) Another coming-of-age romance I've watched numerous times with enjoyment, this one a "road movie" pairing two college students, the slacker John Cusack and the wonk Daphne Zuniga, who don't get along at first as they find themselves heading west together for winter break, Cusack to "score" with west coast babes (a "sure thing," according to his pals who've invited him) and Zuniga to visit her prudish boy friend. A much younger Anthony Edwards is one of the party guys Cusack visits.
Swingers (1996) This is a classy small-budget movie about five guys who think they're "swingers" but in fact are not. A quite touching performance by Jon Favreau (who also wrote the script) as a guy who is terribly depressed as a result of breaking up with his girl friend of six years. Vince Vaughn is terrific as his suave friend. And Ron Livingston, Patrick Van Horn, and Heather Graham are all equally good.
Swing Time (1936) This is one of my two favorite Astaire-Rogers romantic movie musicals, the other being Top Hat. This one was directed by George Stevens and includes one of my favorite movie musical numbers, "Pick Yourself Up."
Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Tarzan and His Mate (1934) Believe it or not, these are both really good (and quite romantic) movies, with the greatest film Tarzan, Johnny Weismuller, and the greatest film Jane, the gorgeous and bright Maureen O'Sullivan. [more]
Tender Mercies (1983) Robert Duval, Tess Harper, and Ellen Barkin in the redemptive story of how a woman's love lifts a man up from the dregs of life.
Terms of Endearment (1983) Romance in the face of death. MacLaine, Nicholson and Winger at their best. Directed by James Brooks.
There's Something About Mary (or There's Something on Mary's Hair) (1998) Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller are both terrific in this hilarious romantic comedy.
Tin Cup (1996) Romance and competitive golf, a great combination. One of the best golf movies ever (along with Caddy Shack). Rene Russo, Kevin Costner.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Gregory Peck plays courageous lawyer/father in movie about the romance of law, when properly practiced. Based on Harper Lee's memorable book.
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The (or Parapluies de Cherbourg, Les) (1964) I saw this extraordinarily romantic film in the spring of 1966 with a beguiling future beauty queen (and future Ph.D.) from Wellesley College when I was a student at Harvard Law. The movie, in French with subtitles, which is how it should be seen, was restored and re-released theatrically a few years ago, as well as on video (and presumably DVD). It's a gorgeous movie about young love in Cherbourg, France, between Catherine Deneuve at her absolute loveliest (which is saying something), and a young man who is called to serve his country in the war in Algeria. All the dialogue is sung, to wonderful music by Michel Legrand. The LP soundtrack album, which I have, is so elegantly produced, with such lovely pictures from the movie, that one can understand why people who love CD's still hang onto their albums.
Voice of the Turtle ( a/k/a One for the Book) (1947) I really like this movie. Ronald Reagan plays a segeant on leave who finds himself stood up by the narcissistic and trivial Eve Arden. Eleanor Parker plays Eve Arden's shy friend, a woman who has been strung along by a Don Juan. She lets Ronnie spend the night on her couch, because the hotels are full. Nothing happens on the couch, and that's part of the charm of this movie. He takes her out to dinner at a nice restaurant. They see something special in each other that others don't see (well, millions of Americans later would see it in Ronnie). Love grows, quietly, believably. And "the voice of the turtle dove is heard in the land...."
When Harry Met Sally (1989) It's hard not to like this one. Billy Crystal's best movie, one of Meg Ryan's best. Carrie Fisher and Rob Reiner support, and Reiner directs. Reiner's real-life mother is the the restaurant customer in the famous scene (which I need not describe) who says, "I'll have whatever she had," or words to that effect.
Woman of the Year (1942) Hepburn, in a role that still is timely, plays career-obsessed woman who almost loses great guy, Tracy, as a result.
BurtLaw's Law and Romantic Flicks I - Law and Love I - Law and Love II - Law and Kissing - Love Poems