Friday, July 22, 2011

An Analysis of The Paranoia Flick, or: You're Not Paranoid if They Really ARE Out to Get You! - By Team Bartilucci

"You gentlemen aren’t really trying to kill my son, are you?”
Jessie Royce Landis, unconvinced that thugs Adam Williams and Robert Ellenstein want to do just that to Cary Grant in North by Northwest (1959)
The spy film typically features a suave, sophisticated man about town who shoots at suave evil men about town over, say, a vital document that both parties are after. A horror film pits some everyday nebbish against some slimy, slithery fiend from Hell that nobody understands, but that everyone can at least see. But when you merge these two concepts, pitting the everyday nebbish against the suave men about town over something that only the suave guys know about and the nebbish doesn’t even know he or she has, you have the beginnings of one of Team Bartilucci’s favorite types of films: The Paranoia Flick.

Foul Play: I'll be watching you! (And vice-versa!)
The basic idea of The Paranoia Flick is simple. Place a total nobody into a situation involving spies, secret codes, beautiful members of the (traditionally) opposite sex, and almost certain death, and watch them collapse. In these films, the most important factor is the actors in the assorted roles. The target must be somebody you can believe is scared. Clint Eastwood, for example, would never succeed as a paranoia target! Even at his age, you’d be sure Clint would come through it all, cool as an October breeze. But some vulnerable yet likable sort like, say, Goldie Hawn, who was wonderful in Foul Play (1978), works perfectly in such a role. In fact, the late Colin Higgins, writer/director of Foul Play and writer of Silver Streak (1976), had a gift for paranoid comedy-thrillers with a Hitchcockian flair.

It doesn’t matter why the star of the film is being chased hither and yon, either. Cary Grant asked Alfred Hitchcock why his character was being chased all over the map in North by Northwest. Hitchcock (and consequently, Leo G. Carroll as the spymaster known as The Professor) answered, “Oh, I don’t know. Government secrets, perhaps?” Hitchcock, of course, gave us movie fans the term “MacGuffin” for the plot device that gets the story and the characters moving. Our favorite use of this was in, of all things, a G.I. Joe episode, in which both Joe and COBRA were in heated battle over a weapon known as “The MacGuffin Device.”

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. used the idea of the innocent person asked to assist with spy activities on a regular basis, said person usually being a lovely young woman who either worked for the bad guy, or used to go out with him, or some other vague connection they could exploit. While the guest star knew the situation she was getting into , there were still lots of opportunities for them to become convinced that everyone was a Thrush operative except, of course, for the ones who were.

Paranoia Flicks are generally comedies; if the plot is not being played for laughs, it ends up being more of a thriller like the aforementioned North by Northwest (NxNW), or the pretty solid early Will Smith film Enemy of the State, but the basic pieces of the puzzle are usually there. All Paranoia Flicks, be they comedy or thriller, must have certain essential scenes in order to make the Paranoia Cut:

The Drop Scene.  This is when the main character receives the MacGuffin, often literally dropped into their hands, and pretty much everyone on the planet notices except our unsuspecting protagonist.

In the case of a film like
NxNW, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) doesn't get an object; he's simply mistaken for someone else, the mythical George Kaplan. In the 1947 classic The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (TSLoWM), Rosalind van Hoorn (Virginia Mayo) slips the book of stolen Dutch treasures into poor schlub Walter Mitty's (Danny Kaye) coat while he's busy dithering. In The Man with One Red Shoe, the oft-forgotten 1985 American remake of the 1972 French comedy classic The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe, Tom Hanks is himself the drop! He's identified as the contact who's carrying incriminating evidence by Edward Herrmann, but no such information exists he's really just an unsuspecting decoy to give the other group of spies someone to chase and follow.

Gotcha! - Smoke gets in your eyes, spies get in your strudel..
The Misdirected MacGuffin.  Often, our protagonist thinks he knows what the MacGuffin is, and he ends up guarding some worthless object with his life, leaving the real MacGuffin at the villains’ mercy.

There’s a classic example in the delightful yet surprisingly underrated 1985 comedy-thriller Gotcha!  In East Berlin (long story), the lovely and mysterious Sasha Banacek (Linda Fiorentino) has handed a package to our innocent college-boy hero Jonathan Moore (Anthony Edwards) behind the Iron Curtain. Since Jonathan has been immersed in paranoia-inducing antics for a while at this point in the movie, when Sasha tells him the package contains strudel, Jonathan thinks it’s code for, oh, Secret Government Strudel, perhaps (“Strudel, riiiight, strudel….”).

Gene Wilder doesn't support his local sheriff!
The Explanation Sequence.  This is Team Bartilucci’s personal favorite amongst Paranoia Flick tropes! Heres where our hero must convince friends and/or loved ones that he’s in real danger, and not insane. Some of the best lines usually happen here, as the main character babbles a Cliffs Notes version of the script, with all the credible stuff left out, and a lot of iterations of “I’m not crazy!” put in.

Since it's the easiest scene to make funny, there are scads of examples of classic explanation sequences.
In NxNW, perplexed hero Roger Thornhill tries to convince the Glen Cove police that he really was forcibly plied with bourbon by henchman Leonard (Martin Landau) and nearly killed in what was supposed to look like a drunk-driving accident. In a great twist, we don't hear Roger explain the events, we hear his lawyer (played by Get Smart's "Chief" Edward Platt) explain it all to the judge with a look of weary resignation on his face.

TSLoWM, not only does Walter try in vain to convince everyone that The Boot’s henchmen are trying to kill him, but thanks to a Mickey Finn, he awakens to find one of the chief bad guys, Dr. Hugo Hollingshead (Boris Karloff), pulling a Gaslight routine on him, claiming he only imagined his dream girl Rosalind.

In Silver Streak (1976), Colin Higgins’ first great paranoid Hitchcockian comedy-thriller screenplay, our hero George Caldwell (Gene Wilder), who
s been traveling on the titular cross-country train, tries to explain the mysterious events and rising body count surrounding the MacGuffin to Sheriff Oliver Chauncey (Clifton James). In this case, the MacGuffin’s a book, The Rembrandt Letters, which contains startling revelations that would embarrass and disgrace the art-world bad guys if they don’t knock George off (and we don’t just mean the running gag about George constantly being knocked off the train). Naturally, our frazzled hero’s explanation is causing more confusion than enlightenment:  
Sheriff Chauncey: Is he with the feds?”
George Caldwell: “Who?”
Sheriff Chauncey: This guy Rembrandt.”
George Caldwell: Rembrandt is dead!”
Sheriff Chauncey: “Dead? That makes four. Listen, fella, are you sure you’re not making this up as you go along? I’m an officer of the law and I got a lot better things to do than listen to that kind of funnin’. [Buzzer sounds] That's my hotline. Now you take your time to get your facts straight, ’cause when I come back, I want your answers clear and to the point. Got that? And you can start with who shot Rembrandt!”
The False Alarm.  Here’s where the main character overreacts to every snap of a twig, and thinks each stray glance means a spy or some other no-goodnik is on his trail. It’s usually at these points in the films that all the innocent people get hurt and/or humiliated, making the poor main character look even crazier. In Gotcha!, Jonathan runs a driver off the road when he mistakes them for Russian thugs following him, and pulls over to phone the police, frantically saying, "I want to report a following!"
The Turnabout.  Near the end of The Paranoia Flick, our protagonist has had enough of this evil folderol and fiddle-dee-dee, and finally gathers up all his intestinal fortitude and takes charge of the situation. This usually ends the film in a funny and/or exciting, suspenseful way, getting our hero back in the good graces of his friends and loved ones.

For example, after Walter Mitty finally finds and rescues his beloved Rosalind, he grows a backbone and starts using the tricks he picked up as a reader and editor of racy pulp magazines against his assailants, wiring doorknobs for electricity and setting up rope snares. Eventually he stands up to his family and so-called friends, and tells them off with a great bit of bravado
that even wows Walter’s fat-headed, credit-nabbing boss (Thurston Hall), to the tune of promoting Walter to Associate Editor:
“Now you’re all going to listen to me. For years I’ve been listening to you, and you nearly put me in a straitjacket! Your small minds are musclebound with suspicion. That's because the only exercise you ever get is jumping to conclusions. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, every one of you!”
As an example of a film that hits every note perfectly, let's look at Dorian's personal favorite, Foul Play (1978), both written and directed by Colin Higgins, which, as good as it is, still beats the Higgins-penned Silver Streak to the title by 27 lengths.

Goldie Hawn plays lovable heroine Gloria Mundy (one of our favorite character names). Gloria lives in San Francisco (the film gives a nice tip of the hat to both Vertigo and Bullitt), but it’s no treat; she’s trying to adjust to her new life as a divorcee. Her friends suggest that she “take some chances.” So Gloria picks up a stranded but attractive motorist (Bruce Solomon of TV’s Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Lanigan’s Rabbi), and wouldn’t you know the cute motorist-in-need, Bob “Scotty” Scott, is an undercover police detective on a case? Scotty turns on the charm and makes a date with Gloria for that night at the local revival theater. He surreptitiously slips a roll of film into his half-empty pack of cigarettes (The Drop), then asks the unsuspecting Gloria to hold onto his cigarette pack until their date, claiming it’ll help him cut back on his smoking. Alas, the bad guys get Scotty first; he staggers into the dark theater wet and bleeding, spending his last moments trying to distract Gloria from the film noir onscreen, his last words being “Beware of the dwarf.” By the time Gloria realizes what’s happening and rushes to the manager (Team B. fave Chuck McCann) for help, Scotty’s corpse has vanished, and the paranoia has taken a ringside seat.

Soon Gloria’s being terrorized by a man with a scar (Don Calfa) and one Whitey Jackson (William Frankfather), an albino in a white suit. These evil jaspers work for a hit man known as “The Dwarf.” In the following excerpts, the bad guys had broken into Gloria’s apartment, looking for that cigarette pack. None of them realize its hiding in plain sight, having fallen out of Scarface’s hand during the attack at Gloria’s charming apartment. They’re also unaware that the film in that cigarette pack contains evidence about an assassination taking place that week! Alas, Gloria fainted after seeing Scarface shockingly killed by Whitey's flying dagger (loss of consciousness is a time-honored recurring theme in Paranoia Flicks), so by the time she comes to and finds her apartment tidied up and corpse-free, she has a hard time getting through The Explanation Sequence of her nerve-shattering experience to police detectives Lt. Tony Carlson (Chevy Chase in his first leading-man role) and Inspector “Fergie” Ferguson (Brian Dennehy):
Gloria: “The dead body! It’s gone! It vanished!”
Tony: “Well, maybe it was embarrassed. Come on in here. I think you’d better sit down.”
Gloria: “But you don’t understand. The body has disappeared.”

Fergie: “Whose body was it?”
Gloria: “I don’t know. A man with a scar. He tried to murder me, but I stabbed him with the needles.”
Fergie: “Oh, narcotics, huh?”
Gloria: “No, knitting….I’ve got it! It must have been the albino…He’s the one who killed the man with the scar.”

Fergie: “I thought you killed the man with the scar.”
Gloria: “I did. Except he killed him after I killed him. See, I didn’t really kill him, I just stabbed him with the needles, right after he heard the cuckoo.” (Cuckoo clock cuckoos on schedule.)
Fergie: “Why did he wanna kill you?”
Gloria: “I’m not sure, but I think it was because of the cigarettes.”

Tony: “He wanted a cigarette?”
Gloria: “No, he wanted the whole pack!”
Fergie: “Kind of greedy.”
Gloria gets a visit from Innocent Dwarf J.J. MacKuen (Billy Barty) after she's been assaulted a couple of times, and has a hilarious False Alarm all over him, giving Barty a chance to do the physical comedy he so excelled at. While they never actually find the MacGuffin in the film, it remains Misdirected in that they think the pack of cigarettes itself is what they're after, not the film canister within.

She gets a couple of Turnabout scenes in the film, one rather early in the proceedings as she takes out a comic-book-reading moron (*sigh* too long was comic-book-reading by an adult a shorthand for simple-mindedness. But I digress....) with the aid of some anti-rape gear provided by ubiquitous-at-the-time Marilyn Sokol. As Janet Maslin noted in her New York Times review of Foul Play, “…when a thug makes the mistake of catching Miss Hawn by surprise, she greets him with the most adorably indignant little shriek the movies have witnessed in years. Miss Hawn often looks frightened…but she even more often looks tremulously furious, and that’s her secret weapon…once (trouble) arrives, she’s never too out-to-lunch to lose her temper. And her anger, imbued with all the quivering, outraged self-righteousness Miss Hawn can muster, is enough to make the most hardened villain or moviegoer melt.”

Strangely enough, the greatest Paranoia Flick of all time is missing quite a few of the classic factors. We refer, of course, to writer/director Theodore J. Flicker's The President’s Analyst (1967), starring James Coburn, who had the coolest and scariest (in a good way) smile in show business. Coburn plays Dr. Sidney Schaefer, who’s appointed to be the titular role at the recommendation of his analyst Dr. Lee-Evans (Will Geer), after being thoroughly vetted by "CEA" agent Don Masters (Godfrey Cambridge). When Masters reveals his true identity, Sidney, used to having delusional patients before, asks for ID. Imagine his surprise when he gets it!

After a few sessions with the President, Sidney realizes that he is learning far too much in his position, and he starts worrying that all the world’s rival governments will try to kidnap him or even kill him for what he knows — and it turns out he’s right! At one point, when he realizes that even his lover, the sweet, gentle Nan (Joan Delaney), is a spy sent in to keep tabs on him (giving new meaning to the phrase "undercover agent"), Sidney flees Washington with the help of a typical suburban family (led by William "KITT" Daniels), only to find he’s being followed by every combination of the "Same Alphabet Soup" a la NxNW, up to and including the Canadian Secret Service.  As proof of the counterculture spin of the film, the only people in the entire film not out to capture or otherwise exploit Sidney is a busload of hippies he joins up with. Eventually he's captured and handed over to Kropotkin (the whamtaculous Severn Darden) who Sidney proceeds to psychoanalyze and turn to his cause.

The real enemy in the film comes from so far out in left field that it was playing in another stadium! If you’ve seen The President’s Analyst, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s one of the most devious paranoia flicks of all time. If you haven’t, it’s available on DVD, and through Netflix.
Got a favorite Paranoia Flick you’d like to praise to the skies, if you dare? Don’t be afraid — tell us about it before it’s too late!

A Paranoia Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!


  1. Well, while agreeing about THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST as being perhaps the cream of the crop in regards to paranoia films (aided by Coburn's strong performance . . . can't really think of anyone else who could've carried it off), I'd like to throw in two more candidates.

    First up is John Huston's THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. Here you have several desperate characters getting together for the purpose of gaining a fortune. They get it, and one would be forgiven for thinking "Happy Ending". But then the film gets fully into its stride as the "partners" begin falling out, each suspecting the other of wanting to horn in and take the entire boodle for himself. It's a study of character disintegration that shouldn't be missed.

    Entry #2 is John Carpenter's version of THE THING. Here, an isolated Antarctic research base is infiltrated by an alien creature. This would normally make the situation bad enough, but the alien possesses the ability to assume the form of others. Very shortly the men in the base don't know who is human and who is the vicious extraterrestrial bugbear. Carpenter's film work doesn't make finding out any easier for the audience, and several genuine surprises are handed out . . . all the way down to the final somber (and literally chilling) conclusion. Frankly, had I been at that station, I would've packed up some vienna sausages and all the hot coffee I could've carried, ignored the surrounding winter storm and quietly said "Adios Muchachos" before racing out into the wilderness as fast as my little basset hound legs would've carried me!

  2. Michael, to start with, I'm delighted to see that you've been able to get Blogger (or whatever you're using now) to behave so you can more easily join our TotED conversations!

    Vinnie and I are glad you agree about THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST. Also, I very much liked your recommendations of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and John Carpenter's excellent THING remake! These particular Paranoia Flicks are much grittier, more hard-hitting films; indeed, they come pretty darn close to being film noirs, even considering THE THING's Arctic setting. Excellent observations, my friend!

  3. "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" with Robert Wagner. Unviewed for many years.
    "The Borgia Stick" Don Stroud and Inger Stevens.
    Perhaps one of my favorites: "Wrong is Right". Not just paranoia, but a chilling prediction of our current Mideast situation.
    "A Man Could Get Killed" while a mystery also featured several aspects of paranoia (from the moment James Garner's car blows up at the airport.
    "Marathon Man" That gave us the iconic line "Is it safe?"

  4. Shelley, thanks for your suggested additions to our Paranoia Flicks list! With the exception of MARATHON MAN, which we own and love (how'd that one miss our list? *D-OH!*), we haven't seen your other suggestions in ages, and we'll keep an eye out for them. I particularly enjoyed A MAN COULD GET KILLED, with that delightful cast of James Garner, Sandra Dee, Tony Franciosa, and scene-stealer Melina Mercouri. It was also the film that introduced then-toddler me to "Strangers in the Night"! :-)

  5. Another good one, Dorian. I was laughing out loud at the Rembrandt bit from SILVER STREAK. I have to see that again, for sure. What a funny movie. FOUL PLAY too is terrific. Though I'm not fond of Chevy Chase at all, I tolerate him for the wonderful Goldie.

    Confession time: I don't believe I've ever seen THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST - or else I saw it so long ago as makes no difference. Another one to line up at Netflix.

    I have a few titles to add to the mix:

    DIVA, one of my favorite films in all the known world is the perfect paranoia film. From the 'macguffin' - the tape recorded by the soon to be dead prostitute - dropped into the mailman's motorbike pack (unknown to him) to the tape he has himself made of the paranoid Diva's recital - the chase is on.

    Does CHARADE qualify? I think so. The 'macguffin' turns out to be those pesky stamps. In the meantime poor Audrey Hepburn is chased all over Paris by the conspirator/killers of her dead husband. And is Cary Grant chasing her or wooing her or both? What is a girl to do?

    MINISTRY OF FEAR has poor Ray Milland just out of the loony bin for the mercy killing of his wife (we're not quite sure if he actually did it or not) when he becomes innocently involved with a nest of Nazi spies in England. The macguffin this time is micro-film tucked inside a cake that Milland 'wins' at an afternoon garden fete.
    Before you know it, he is suspected of murder, on the run from Scotland Yard as well as the bad guys. LOVE this film!

    Great topic!

  6. Didn't Mel Brooks's acrophobic character in HIGH ANXIETY find that the hotel had switched his room from the lowest floor to the highest owing to a request phoned in by a "Mr. MacGuffin"?

  7. Yvette, I'm tickled pink -- thought not entirely surprised, since we both have great taste in movies :-) -- that you enjoy SILVER STREAK and FOUL PLAY (your feelings about Chevy Chase notwithstanding, but hey, Goldie makes it all worthwhile!) as much as Vinnie and I do! We already knew you loved DIVA, which is further proof of your great taste. I definitely think you'd enjoy THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, too. Thanks for reminding me about MINISTRY OF FEAR, too! I've still got it on my TiVo, waiting for me to watch it. I was going to try to read the novel first, but I think I may skip that step and just watch the film, since I enjoyed your own MINISTRY... blog post so much!

    I'm glad you love CHARADE as much as Vinnie and I do. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it back in January, if you're interested. If you are, read the comments, too; Vin has a funny anecdote among them! :-) Here's the link:

    As always, Yvette, these virtual chats with you are always a delight!

  8. Hey, Marc, great to see you poking your head out of the Fringefan to join the conversation here at TotED! :-) You are correct, sir: Mel Brooks's acrophobic psychiatrist character, Dr. Richard H(arpo) Thorndyke did find his lower-floor room changed to a high floor by "a Mr. MacGuffin." Have you ever read the HIGH ANXIETY novelization? It was quite a hoot! Suddenly I feel a song coming on: "High anxiety/Whenever you're near...." :-)

  9. Well, I will throw in two more..."Diabolique" (the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock did not direct) and "Three Days of the Condor."

    THE PRESIDENTS ANALYST is a film I have been wanting to see for years. I keep missing it when it has appeared on TV.

    NORTH BY NORTHWEST is one of the great Hitchcock films but paranoia runs deep in many of his films, consider the following: REBECCA, THE 39 STEPS, REAR WINDOW and SUSPICION for starters.


  10. John, I'm glad we agree about NORTH BY NORTHWEST; indeed, whose films brimmed with paranoia more than Hitchcock's? THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR and DIABOLIQUE are excellent choices, too; in particular, DIABOLIQUE has always chilled me to the bone with its twists and turns and great performances.

    Definitely keep an eye out for THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST; it's well worth it. Thanks for joining the chat, John, as always!

  11. Team B, you just keep outdoing yourselves. Your breakdown of the essential parts of a paranoia flick is just fantastic. Clever and intelligent literary critique that deserves some Bravos!

    You used one of my favorite words - nebbish! I may be Irish Catholic, but Jewish terms like that are better than anything the Irish ever came up with! I also really loved your description of the poor nebbish trying to explain things by giving the "Cliff Notes version" of the convoluted events. Great phrase! And how tickled I was to see the Man from Uncle included - I never missed an episode, and was madly in love with Ilya Kuryakin, as only a young girl can be!

    Your hilarious take on Danny Kaye's Walter Mitty reminded me of something I have been trying to remember without success. I loved his story songs, fast and funny. In one of his movies, he sings about something and the word "pestle", the pharmacy tool, is in it. It's a horribly brief clue, but does anybody know what I'm thinking of? Help!

    Your movie picks were right on, and I've seen some, but I was surprised at how many I have NOT seen. Like Yvette, I am going straight to the Netflix site after this! Hitchcock was of course the master of the paranoia flick. I should have looked this up before commenting, but didn't he do a movie about a woman on a train who spent time conversing with and older woman, only to have the older woman just disappear and nobody believes she ever existed? Darned if I can remember the name! It's been a while - does that ring any bells with you guys?

    I have some additions too. Just about every horror movie ever made has a character (usually a woman automatically labeled as hysterical...sigh) who knows that the house is haunted, but the men in her life, husband, cops, think she's crazy until it happens to them. That seems to be a horror movie staple!

    One of Kevin Costner's best, in which he looked absolutely gorgeous in a white navy uniform, was a great paranoia flick. I think it is called No Way Out, with Sean Young, and has an incredible twist at the end to boot.

    A favorite funny paranoia plot point I have always loved is in a comedy that never fails to make me laugh all through it - To Wong Foo, With Love, Julie Newmar (did I get that title right?) Anyway, the 3 drag queens are trying to drive across country to the big drag queen competition and get lost in redneck country. They are stopped by a pompous country cop. The cop tries to - umm - get fresh with Patrick Swayze's character, only to find out he's really a man. Swayze ends up decking the cop and knocking him out cold. The cop finally wakes up and finds only a high heeled shoe. He carries that shoe around and tries desperately to convince other cops and anyone else that he was attacked by a drag queen who should be hunted down, and always gets laughed at. His quest to be believed and find Swazey is like Ahab looking for the white whale. It's really funny. I can't remember the name of the actor who played the cop ... something Penn I think, Sean's brother? Man, I am really beginning to worry about my memory!! This whole comment is full of things I can't remember...

    Before I bore you to death with a comment as long as War and Peace, I want you to feel free to tell me if my picks are dumb and you don't agree - that's the least I can do for you after panning some TV shows you liked! LOL! Seriously, guys, this was just a tour de force piece of writing, (as is all your writing, Dorian - more about that in another message), and you ought to put it up for nomination for a CiMBA award. Excellent!

  12. Becky, my friend, you don't give yourself nearly enough credit for your good memory and fine taste in movies! Thanks a million for your kudos for Vinnie and me on our little Paranoia Flick blog post!

    You don't have to be Jewish to use the term "nebbish," my fellow Gal of Irish-Catholic Descent! Of course, it helps if you grew up in New York City :-). But hey, aren't we all nebbishes under the skin to one degree or another? :-) The Nebbish is a universal figure we can all identify with, by golly!

    That Hitchcock film you're thinking of is THE LADY VANISHES, one of his very best! Heck, I'm surprised that Vinnie and I didn't think of it ourselves. With so many great Paranoia Flicks out there, it's hard to keep track of them all. That's why it's great that you and so many of our fellow bloggers have pitched in with your excellent suggestions for other Paranoia Flicks!

    As fellow Danny Kaye fans, we're glad to enlighten you on that "pestle" bit: it's actually not one of Kaye's story-songs, but a spoken comedy routine from THE COURT JESTER with Kaye, Glynis Johns, and Mildred Natwick (one of Team B.'s favorite character actresses) all trying to figure out which cup is "the vessel with the pestle" and which one has "the brew that is true." And don't get us started about "the chalice from the palace" and "the flagon with the dragon"! We still split our sides laughing at that bit.

    Glad to hear you're a fan of NO WAY OUT, too! Both my mom and I loved that one. The film (and the Kenneth Fearing novel) that it was based on, THE BIG CLOCK, was no slouch in the paranoia department, either! :-) What a great twist ending, and wasn't Sean Young gorgeous back then?

    Becky, I'll admit I've never actually seen TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR (see, you were closer than you thought!), but your description of that scene with Chris Penn is hilarious, especially your reference to Captain Ahab! (Yes, I knew Penn was in it even though I haven't seen it. The IMDb is indispensable! :-))

    You're a sweetie to suggest we submit our Paranoia Post to the CiMBA Awards -- but are we allowed to vote for ourselves? Having only been in the CMBA since August 2010, Team B. is wet behind the ears! For that matter, are we only allowed to vote for only one blog post? Yikes, with so many terrific bloggers (that means you, too :-)), how can we possibly choose? But I guess that's a subject for another time! Thanks again for your kind words; you're a sugar bowl with two handles (yes, that's a good thing :-))!

  13. THE COURT JESTER -- oh thank you! You don't know how good that feels..oh I hope Netflix Streaming has it! That was so hilarious!

    I'll just answer you here about the awards. There might be others to see it with the same question. You nominate yourself from your own blog. You enter your own nominations of your own posts for whatever award may apply. You could conceivably nominate a different post for every category! Then everybody votes on all the nominees. You can vote for yourself if you want to -- nobody will know, except me, since you just told me! LOL!

  14. Becky, thanks for explaining how the CiMBA Awards nominations work, and you're most welcome for the info on THE COURT JESTER! It's nice to know the CiMBAs actually encourage us to nominate ourselves, unlike other competitions! :-) On behalf of all of us newbies, when do we hopefuls start submitting nominations? Do we need to buy gowns and prepare for Joan Rivers to ask us who we're wearing? :-)

  15. Dorian, since you can nominate posts done between 9/1/10 and 8/31/11, nominations will begin sometime early fall. Everybody will notified that nominations are open and it will begin!

    BTW, I found the vessel with the pestle scene on Youtube. I had forgotten it was a spoken comedy routine, and how funny it was! Gave me a great laugh!!!

  16. Becky, thanks for the skinny on the CiMBA nominations. Sounds like fun, no matter who wins!

    Glad to hear you found the "vessel with the pestle" bit from THE COURT JESTER; YouTube is one of life's little boons to humankind. :-) For the record, Danny Kaye rules! It's time for a Danny Kaye revival or something! :-)