Monday, May 05, 2014


Well, Megan Abbott is getting ready to hightail it back to New York City, from whence she came. During her brief time here as writer-in-residence, there have been several "movie nights," not all of them chronicled by your humble chronicler - indeed, not all of them attended by him. The first featured Hal Needham's HOOPER, starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. For our very last "movie night" we decided to do something different: Hal Needham's SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. "I'm trying to see whose pants are tighter," Megan remarked of our two leads. When Jerry Reed's character said, "I got to get some go-go juice and put some groceries down my neck," it reminded me of something Dean Moriarty might say, leading me to a brief and instantly concluded reflection on the relationship between beatnik and CB radio culture. Ace brought over Coors beer (an important factor in the plot, as I am sure you recall) and "diablo sandwiches," one of which Jackie Gleason orders at a pivotal point in the movie. Now, according to Ace, no one knows what a diablo sandwich really is. Ace has scoured the "internet" and found it to be full of lies, grandiose claims, and errors on the subject. He even telephoned the original restaurant from the movie - the "Old Hickory House" (as Dr. Theresa recalled last night, she used to go there for biscuits and gravy with her dad) - and confirmed that they had never sold anything called a "diablo sandwich." Ace therefore reconstructed the diablo sandwich through a careful study of the frames in which Jackie Gleason terrifyingly devours his "diablo sandwich." There is a picture that Megan took of Dr. Theresa and Ace and Bill and me standing in her kitchen over the fixings for our diablo sandwiches but I can't use it here... it is too depressing, emphasizing as it does Megan's absence from the frame (there's another one of Ace and Megan toasting with cans of Coors, but that hasn't hit my inbox yet). So instead I will find a photo of Hank Worden, whom I noticed in a SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT cameo for the first time last night. Cameo! It was a blip. Less than two seconds, I'd guess. I want to say it was a tribute to a certain scene in RED RIVER, substituting horn-blasting semis for rearing horses, though I don't know whether I'm making up that scene in my head, and now that I think of it, I don't know that Hank Worden was in RED RIVER. I do know that he was in everything from THE SEARCHERS to TWIN PEAKS (which is why he is talking to David Lynch in that photo). Interestingly (?) - how I abuse that word! - his appearance in TWIN PEAKS combines his dialogue from THE SEARCHERS with the thumbs-up gesture he flashes in SMOKEY IN THE BANDIT (doesn't he?). I have given you so much to think about.