Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

We (do) get letters…

When I initiated a Reader Feedback page, I made a conscious decision not to respond directly online to the writers. I figured that, if people were kind enough to take the time to read my web page and then to take even more time to respond to it with their own keystrokes, then the least I could do was to show my gratitude by giving them the last word.

I suppose I could insert a reply after each message, acknowledging my errors, when spotlighted, but I figure that the reader’s correction can usually stand for itself and, when appropriate, I go back and fix the original mistake or at least provide a link to the correction. If I provided a response to each email or specifically to messages that corrected my comments (as many publications do), it would be too tempting to justify myself and have the last word for myself. But I don’t do that. Still, I sometimes get nagging feelings of guilt for not explicitly and publicly acknowledging my errors or at least acknowledging your communications.

So, I’m going to take this opportunity to make a clean breast of things. Here are all of my apologies, clarifications and rebuttals, all in one go.

  • Yes, I know that not literally everyone in Finland worked on The Unknown Soldier. But I know you meant it as a joke, just as you knew that I meant it as a joke. As for the music, as I recall (very vaguely at this point), we figured out that you were talking about an earlier version and I had seen a remake.

  • Yes, I was wrong. Elaine Cassidy wasn’t in the original stage version of Disco Pigs. As you said, Eileen Walsh and Orla Fitzgerald preceded her in the role.

  • Yes, I was an idiot. Of course, the Ents did not appear in the The Lord of the Rings books until The Two Towers, the same as in the movies. What can I say? I was on drugs.

  • Technically, I was correct in saying that Dogma 95 was a European film movement, but yes I could and should have been more specific and termed it a Danish movement. (Although the director of the Irish film The Honeymooners, perhaps jokingly, called his movie a Dogma film as well.) I’m not sure I agree with you that Dogma 95 is “one of the 5 big courants in film history,” but I have an open mind.

  • Why have I not seen The Magdalene Sisters? Mainly because the Cork Film Festival would not sell me a ticket to it because I waited too long. Same situation for Song for a Raggy Boy. I have had plenty of chances to see it since, but I haven’t been able to make myself watch it in lieu of some other choice. I get enough Catholic guilt in my everyday life. I’m sure I would be a better person if I saw it, and I probably will someday. But it may take years for me to be in the right mood. In the meantime, I did see the RTÉ miniseries Falling for a Dancer, which had a similar theme. Does that count?

  • Yes, I have written about the Dublin International Film Festival. Check the commentary archives page.

  • Yes, it was a bit misleading of me to include The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on a list of movies filmed in Kern County. I was technically correct in that some small amount of filming was done in Kern, but you were right to point out that the vast amount of filming was done in Mexico.

  • Yes, as a matter of fact, I do believe that “Matt Damon is at risk of being stereotyped as a shy, unassuming, slightly schizo, fade into the background character actor.”

  • Janet Reno a sex symbol? Get help now!

  • Yes, you are right. John O’Brien, the author of the novel Leaving Las Vegas, committed suicide. It was admittedly a cheap shot on my part to write that the film adaptation was “based on a novel by John O’Brien who, as it happens, drank himself to death.” I do that sometimes. I play fast and loose with the facts to get a laugh or to make a point or both. No one but O’Brien and/or God knows exactly why O’Brien killed himself, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the drinking played some kind of role. But, no, what I wrote is not defensible in any meaningful sense. Thanks for reading it anyway.

  • To all of you who have sent me email asking to exchange links with your pages, dealing with everything from beverages to real estate investing to corporate comedians to home-based medical testing kits: please work on improving your search algorithms. Or better yet, find another line of work.

  • To all of you who have written me to tell me how to pronounce “Cannes”: yeah, I got it. It’s “can,” like beer can.

  • And, finally, to all of you who have written in response to my October 25, 2001, commentary on my repulsion at the movies shown on the Lifetime channel… Firstly, thanks to all the men who have responded. I can’t believe how many guys have written to say how I expressed exactly what they had been feeling in their own hearts for some time. Apparently, I touched a nerve. This is the first and probably only time in my life that I have had the sense of catching a popular opinion wave. Usually, I am swimming against the tide. Somehow I gave voice to feelings that a lot of other men were having. It amazes me that I have continued to get reactions to that piece until as recently as last week. Obviously, that commentary has taken on a life of its own and is getting forwarded around the internet. Now, I am more than a bit dismayed that the one small bit of immortality I may achieve, quite inadvertently, may be as (of all things) the Bobby Riggs of internet film criticism. Personally, I have always seen myself more as the Phil Donahue of internet film criticism. But there you have it. We can’t always foresee how these things will work out. Secondly, to those who have written me asking me to do something about the programming on the Lifetime channel: you have the wrong email address. You need to find out what Lifetime’s email address and write them. And, thirdly, to those who like the Lifetime movies and have written me to defend them: more power to you. I didn’t ask Lifetime to stop showing the movies. I didn’t ask for Lifetime to be removed from cable/satellite lineups. All I was saying is that I personally do not like those movies. Even before you wrote, I took your advice and changed the channel. I only saw those movies because I was visiting my mother. Since I won’t be visiting her anymore and since Lifetime does not broadcast in Ireland, I will probably never see the Lifetime channel again. I won’t miss it, but if you enjoy it, I am glad that it is there for you.

    There. I feel much better. One last note, to whoever wrote me saying that a mutual friend wanted to set me up on a blind date: that didn’t work out. But my “mutual friend” should have known in advance that it wouldn’t work out, since I am very happily married. Sheesh, I’m starting to think that maybe I can’t believe every piece of email that lands in my inbox!

    * * *

    Every guy above a certain age, who has the name Scott, has had to deal with the fact that at various times in his life someone whom he has just met will grin and say, “Beam me up, Scotty!” It’s just something that goes with having the name. I’m sure some Scotts even affect a Scottish burr and reply gamely, “Aye, cap’n!” I generally don’t do that myself, but I’ve never totally minded sharing a name with a sci-fi pop culture icon.

    As you undoubtedly know by now, the actor who played Chief Engineer Scott has left us. British Columbia-born James Doohan was in a number of films and TV shows besides the Star Trek ones, but we don’t remember any of those. He is yet another case of an actor completely and totally identified with a single character that is part of our popular culture forever. There is something mythic about the ever-reliable Scotty, who would, on one hand, scream that the ship’s engine “canna take any more!” and then, on the other, in the heat of an emergency of galactic proportions, use a few paper clips and a spanner and somehow make those engines hit a warp speed never before achieved.

    For several years, Doohan was kind of a neighbor of mine, since we were both lived in Redmond, Washington. I never ran into him, however, but then he probably didn’t get out much in his last years, since he was fighting Alzheimer’s disease. While he will be forever known for “Beam me up, Scotty,” I am more impressed with the quote attributed to him in his obituary in the UK’s Telegraph: “If I had Alzheimer’s, I think I’d remember.” Actually, somebody correct me, but I don’t think that anyone in any of the various Star Trek series ever actually said “Beam me up.” They always used terms like “One to transport” or “Energize!” not “beam up.” But that’s part of pop culture iconography: being remembered for a phrase (like “Play it again, Sam”) that wasn’t actually said.

    With the passing of DeForest Kelley and now of Doohan, the original Star Trek is fading into video/celluloid history. Years after we scoffed that the original cast Star Trek movies had gone on too long, we would now give anything to have more of them. Farewell and Godspeed, Mr. Scott.

    -S.L., 21 July 2005

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