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Author Topic: Steak & Potatoes vs Spaghetti  (Read 27927 times)
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« on: December 08, 2002, 09:17:04 PM »

This thread is from the old board and was started by Agent.  Matt is entrusting me to bring it back to life.  I imagine it'll only take a few days, so please refrain from making any new posts until it's all done.  

And thus begins new life for "Steak & Potatoes vs Spaghetti" a lively debate about which is better: Clint's American westerns or the original Spaghetti westerns.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2002, 09:17:38 PM by Doug » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2002, 09:22:25 PM »

Originally posted by Agent 11-09-2002 05:05 PM  


Okay, I was going to post this in the Eastwood Film Survivor thread, but didn't want to get it too off topic. The debate between the 3 Spaghetti's (p 18) and Clint's other films is what prompted me to post this. Yee-haw!  

Okay, don't get me wrong, the 3 spaghettis (is there a plural term for spaghetti?) Clint made are OKAY, but don't compare to his American made westerns if you ask me (including Joe Kidd). Sergio's direction is artistic, but doesn't hold a candle to Eastwood's, in my opinion. Even Clint's first directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, showcases some fine Monterey jazz and made popular Roberta Flack's song (Matt!!), but let's focus on his westerns. However, I will take any remaining films listed to date (p 19) in the other thread over the 3 spaghetti's.

Hang em High, High Plains Drifter, Joe Kidd, Josey Wales, Unforgiven, etc., when it comes to westerns, put to shame Leone's surrealistic fantasy-like epics (again, only my opinion). Much more authentic and rough, as they should be. I feel Sergio's work is a cross between Walt Disney and Sam Peckinpah, so to speak, just too "spectacular" and animated for me to take too seriously. But again, if you're into that, that's fine. Leone boasted his civil war battle (in The Good, Bad & the Ugly) was the most authentic put on film (even more than American films).I don't agree. To me it looks like a bunch of Italians in Civil War garb having a big fireworks show. Even The Beguiled's (made a few years later) opening credits seem to make the Civil War more real and alive to me than all the hoopla in GBU.

Sorry, but I'll take Eastwood's American westerns any day over Leone's. Call me insane, crazy, whatever, but I stand by that. Go ahead...start throwing the tomatoes, eggs, or shoot me. I can take it!

[ 11-09-2002, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: AgentPinch ]

--------------------
Flint: "That eagle, why did he attack me?"
Galaxy man: "He's been trained to recognize and attack Americans."
Flint: "An anti-American eagle. How diabolical!"
-Our Man Flint
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2002, 09:24:37 PM »

Originally posted by KC 11-09-2002 05:30 PM      


Agent-in-a-Pinch, I'll call you ... right!  

At least regarding Eastwood's self-directed Westerns. I don't think any of Leone's can hold a candle to them. I enjoy the spaghettis a lot ... but only so long as I'm in the mood to be amused by their over-the-top serio-comic "operaticality," to coin a word. One reason why I've never cared for Leone's sole non-Eastwood Western, Once upon a Time in the West (aside from Eastwood's absence, of course), is because once in a while ... just every now and again ... I get the sneaking suspicion Leone actually intended us to take all that nonsense seriously!  

KC
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2002, 09:26:16 PM »

Originally posted by Agent 11-09-2002 06:29 PM      


Well KC, I salute you for standing up for what you believe in, even if we may very well be in the minority!

Any more brave souls out there?

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Galaxy man: "He's been trained to recognize and attack Americans."
Flint: "An anti-American eagle. How diabolical!"
-Our Man Flint
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2002, 09:31:48 PM »

Originally posted by Matt 11-09-2002 09:41 PM      

Quote
:
Originally posted by AgentPinch:
Okay, don't get me wrong, the 3 spaghettis (is there a plural term for spaghetti?) Clint made are OKAY, but don't compare to his American made westerns if you ask me (including Joe Kidd). Sergio's direction is artistic, but doesn't hold a candle to Eastwood's, in my opinion. Even Clint's first directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, showcases some fine Monterey jazz and made popular Roberta Flack's song (Matt!!), but let's focus on his westerns.

In the Survivor thread we weren't comparing the Leone-directed westerns to the Eastwood-directed westerns, which would definitely offer stronger competition than Play Misty for Me. I have problems with two of the scenes in Misty... the "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" scene, which I found to be overly long and b-o-r-i-n-g; and the following scene with the Monterey Jazz Festival footage, which was okay the first time I watched it, but I didn't find worth watching more than once. In fact, Play Misty for Me is one of the few Eastwood films that I have to hit the "forward" button on, because seeing those scenes one time was really enough.


Quote
Originally posted by AgentPinch:
Hang em High, High Plains Drifter, Joe Kidd, Josey Wales, Unforgiven, etc., when it comes to westerns, put to shame Leone's surrealistic fantasy-like epics (again, only my opinion). Much more authentic and rough, as they should be. I feel Sergio's work is a cross between Walt Disney and Sam Peckinpah, so to speak, just too "spectacular" and animated for me to take too seriously.

Sorry, but I can't go with this. If you're looking for realism or believability, you won't really find much of it in High Plains Drifter or Pale Rider; and Hang 'em High, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Joe Kidd have a few scenes that just wouldn't really happen. For just about every "spectacular" scene that I can think of in the spaghetti's, I can think of an equally spectacular scene in the American westerns. Take, for example, Ramon wiping out all those soldiers with a Gatling gun in Fistful of Dollars; Josey does the same in The Outlaw Josey Wales. Are Manco, Col. Mortimer and Ramon's shooting skills, as shown in the scenes where Ramon shoots a heart onto the suit of armor and where Manco and Col. Mortimer shoot each other's hats off their heads and through the air, any less believable than when Stranger shot the heads off the dummies on the wagon that no one else in town, even with all those guns, could hit once? Is it any harder to swallow that Blondie could shoot in half the rope of Tuco's noose in GBU than the way Hogan took care of the potential rapists in Two Mules for Sister Sara? He just casually ambled up to that dynamite and bit off the wick. Or Preacher's "Nothing like a good piece of hickory" scene. Or when Josey took out those four men in the "Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?" scene before any of them could shoot at him. Or even when Munny took out Little Bill and all of his deputies at Greely's before even one of them could get a shot off at him.

How "authentic" is it to have an entire town where not one child lives? Look no further than Lago. But how could an entire town be corrupt and deserving of annihilation if there were children living there? Then there would have to be some good, wouldn't there? Not very realistic, not very authentic, but it's a great film, isn't it? You have to suspend reality some when you're watching these films. But they're fun. They're great cinema. Sure, the spaghetti's aren't dripping with authenticity, you don't have to believe they're realistic when you watch them... but Leone draws you in and makes you want to be taken to that surreal fantasy world. It's partly his directorial style, partly the script, partly the music or atmosphere of the film, partly the incredible performances ... but they're a whole experience that's entertaining and thrilling... and fun! And the more you watch them, the more enjoyable they are.

I went to see Adam Sandler's Punch-Drunk Love tonight. The critics are amazed that Sandler, of all actors, could actually be in a "watchable" film. You know what? I had a LOT more fun watching his Mr. Deeds a few months ago that they mercilessly ripped to pieces. In fact, I've watched that on DVD about five times since I've gotten it. It's not brilliant, it's not artistic, it's not even believable... but it's FUN and it's GREAT and it makes you FEEL GOOD. AMEN TO THAT! That's why I love the spaghetti's. For all the same reasons... (except, that I also think they're brilliant and artistic). They're fun, they're great, they make you feel good and you can watch them again and again and again and again....

I'll loosely quote from Mr. Deeds... "If the sixth-grade versions of ourselves could see us now, they'd kick our asses all over the place." I guess when you grow up, you find yourself looking for artistic merit and meaning in everything if it's going to be worthwhile. But when you're a kid, it's enough just to be entertained and to be transported for a few hours to a special place and time. Sergio did that better than anyone. And I love the ride his films give me.

Is Leone a better director than Eastwood? Is Eastwood a better director than Leone? They're different. They're both incredible. And I love all of their works.

[ 11-10-2002, 09:09 PM: Message edited by: Matt ]
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2002, 09:33:59 PM »

Originally posted by Sundayjack 11-09-2002 10:25 PM      


That was a good post, Matt.

Reminded me of something one of my college roommates once said: "There's no shame in turning on the television at 2:00 AM and getting caught up in 'Clash of the Titans' with Harry Hamlin." (loosely quoted)

I, for one, favor the spaghettis, but I can't explain exactly why. And, it certainly doesn't mean I don't love the rest of them.

I could watch The Good, The Bad and The Ugly a thousand times and never get bored. The next day, I'll watch Unforgiven and forget that Clint ever made any other western.

For me, I guess it just depends on what day it is.
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2002, 09:35:33 PM »

Originally posted by Matt 11-10-2002 07:02 AM      


Yup, Sundayjack, I feel exactly the same. After watching Unforgiven or The Outlaw Josey Wales, I've often felt that I've just seen the best western ever made. The Leone's will seem almost a distant memory. But then... just slap one of those spaghetti's in the DVD player and they take you right back into that world again. While watching the last minutes of GBU again just a week or two ago, I realized that I had probably just seen the best western ever made.

Two Mules, Hang 'em High, Joe Kidd and Pale Rider, as much as I love them, have never left me with that same... "this is the best western ever made" feeling when I'm done watching them.

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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2002, 09:36:54 PM »

Originally posted by AKA23 11-10-2002 04:46 PM      

Matt, how exactly can five films be the best western ever made? LOL  
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2002, 09:38:29 PM »

Originally posted by Matt 11-10-2002 05:02 PM      

That's sort of the point, AKA.
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2002, 09:40:15 PM »

Originally posted by bdc28 11-11-2002 05:44 AM      


I guess it is a matter of styles.

I couldnt disagree with anything Agent or Matt said (although I do lean a little towards Matt). Its just a matter of what you view "gritty and realistic" to be in your mind.

I love "Clint" movies, and the ones he directed. But I have always favored the man with no name. I always thought there was a certain flavor that was lost once Clint's characters had names. Mystery, at least in my opinion, is what made QUITE a bit of Clints character believable.

I couldnt get into the HANG EM HIGH and JOE KIDD type movies. Seeing Clint clean cut and shaven, with coordinated clothing on, took away from the subtleness of the character.

IMO, the man with no name could be anybody. He could step up and leave any household. His crafy style of thinking was more important to his lifestyle and survival than his brawn.

Let me use an example, one of Leone's more realistic ventures, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Now alot of assumptions are made about the characters that are not necessarily true. Nowhere in that movie is it established that all three characters are "dead eye" shots. As a matter of fact, "Angel eyes", Van Cleef's character, is NEVER established as a dead eye shot. He is RUTHLESS, but would prefer to have others do his dirty work (as in the case of having the large guy torture Tuco, and when he sent the gang of men out to go after Blondie and Tuco together). And it was pure genius that Blondie made him worry that he had two guns to worry about in the shoot out, rather than one, which meant that Blondie could be dead on, when it is unknown who Angel eyes was going to be aiming for. It also meant that Blondie could take his time in aiming.

Joe Kidd, for another example, didnt really do it for me. For one, John Saxon playing a mexican just knocked it down forty percent. Also, that technically, could have been a John Wayne movie. If you took Clint out, and put John in, it literally would have looked like a Duke movie. Could anyone NOT see Duke saying "Bob, next time Ill knock your damn head off"?

I favor the spaghettis because the dont belong to Leone, they belong to Clint. Clint made em, and when he left, they died. His American westerns (I am NOT including OUTLAW JOSEY WALES and UNFORGIVEN in this, they are beyond great movies) just didnt seem to belong to him. If Clint is shaven in his movie, than nine times out of ten, you could stick another western movie star in that role and they could play it.

Again, just my opinion.

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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2002, 09:41:56 PM »

Originally posted by Agent 11-11-2002 08:51 AM      


You've all brought up some very valid points, and I'd like to respond in more detail when I get more time.

But I think KC hit it on the dot when she mentioned something I've somewhat 'suspected' too -- that Leone intended us to take him seriously(!).....but I'll get into that later. Right now I'm having to deal with some death threats I received from the Mafia since starting this thread....

--------------------
Flint: "That eagle, why did he attack me?"
Galaxy man: "He's been trained to recognize and attack Americans."
Flint: "An anti-American eagle. How diabolical!"
-Our Man Flint


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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2002, 09:43:33 PM »

Originally posted by Christopher 11-11-2002 09:12 AM      

Matt, I really agreed with your first post in this thread, except for your comments about Play Misty For Me and Mr Deeds (for the most part, anyway)

The love scene in "Misty" is one of the best I've ever seen. It's such a beautiful shot. (this must be the sensitive, mushy side of me talking, but I really have always felt it was a great scene)

As far as the westerns go, I like them all. My least favorite out of them would be Joe Kidd but that doesn't mean I won't watch it again.

Funny this has come up, I was just talking about Eastwood westerns last night when I got with a few friends and we rented Mr. Deeds and watched that last night too.

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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2002, 09:45:14 PM »

Originally posted by bigdai 11-11-2002 12:01 PM      


Doesn't this all come down to stylistic choice as Matt referred to in his first post. Personally I love all the westerns. If I happen to hear the GBU theme, I think of the film as my favourite Eastwood film. However, if I see or hear a reference to another Eastwood western (particularly Josey) I think of that as my favourite. This thread reminds me of a discussion about 7/8 months ago when we were talking about the different approaches of Eastwood and Wayne towards the Western. On this occasion it is a difference in approach by Eastwood and Leone.

I would be more interested to hear about everyones views on the seriousness of Leone. I must admit it is something that I had never considered. I have always taken him with a pinch of salt, as I have Clint.

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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2002, 09:47:29 PM »

Originally posted by Matt 11-11-2002 06:22 PM      


Hmmm... did Leone want us to take his films seriously? Well, if he did, then I'm glad ... otherwise they may have had a different feel to them. And they're perfect the way they are.

There are a few moments in GBU that I find understatingly tender and which stir my compassion for the characters and makes the film all that much more appealing. I don't know if those moments are what some here are critical of when they say that they think Leone wanted us to take his films seriously, but I hope not; they're some of my favorite scenes. Like when Tuco tells Blondie how his brother is always happy to see him and has a bowl of soup ready for him when he's in town, and how Blondie knows differently but offers him his cigar to enjoy after his "meal"; when the soldiers play as Tuco is being beaten nearly to death and the camera fixes on one of the musicians with a tear in his eye after he's ordered to continue playing... crying because he knows what's going on and that he has to have a part in it; and the scene where a soldier lies dying and Blondie offers him his cigar and his coat to warm him, such a simple gesture, but so appreciated by the man to receive kindness in his last moments. The bridge sequences are probably expendable, but I happen to like them too, and I appreciate how Leone tells a story through one person who's involved in the action rather than just showing battle scenes and dying soldiers.

I don't, personally, feel that any of the three Leone-directed Eastwood westerns are meant to be more than well-rounded entertainment, but I would guess that any good director takes his OWN work seriously, or else I wouldn't expect much in the way of quality. So, let Leone take his films as seriously as he may want to ... in the end his intensity and effort helped give birth to a legend.
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2002, 09:49:27 PM »

Originally posted by Doug 11-11-2002 09:21 PM      


Everybody's had valid points. Personally, what I've loved about his westerns is the combination of over-the-top hero with an underlining compassion and humor. I love all his westerns...umm, well, maybe love for Joe Kidd is a strong word. It was okay. Clint's style is different than Leone's, but he used many of the same myths in his movies that he himself helped create in those films.

bdc28, you forgot High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider. Esp. the former, now nobody but Clint could have played that role as he did. Remember that was the one the Duke himself wrote to Clint about to say he didn't like it. High praise indeed!
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2002, 10:04:52 PM »

Originally posted by Agent 11-12-2002 09:09 AM      

ahh--now that I'm at work I have a chance to say a little more--  

Great points brought up and I definitely can't argue with them, especially Matt's and bdc's. As you said Matt, enjoying the film's the key thing, and if Leone takes the viewer on a fun ride for 2-3 hours to a western plane full of surprises and goodies, that's what it's all about. I'm not saying Leone's films are bad -- far from it. I'm comparing them to Clint's American-made westerns. The 'director' subject came to mind since Misty (Clint's first directed film), was brought up earlier. Anyways….

As far as "authenticity," I probably should've been more clear what I meant by that. I wasn't really referring to how historically accurate or the validity/possibility of something happening (gunning down 20 guys single-handedly, etc.), but rather the "feel" or atmosphere of the pictures. Yes, Lago in HPD is definitely the mythic town, as is that whole film, as was meant to be. But the gritty, raw "feel" of the whole scenario(s) in that film as well as in Clint's other American westerns just brings you back to that era. Granted, Hang em High and Joe Kidd are more like a couple of 2-hour-long episodes of Gunsmoke, and perhaps Kidd was better suited for someone like Bronson - maybe? First time my wife (who's Spanish speaking) watched Kidd, and John Saxon appears with his fake Mexican accent, she bust out laughing, and I had to chuckle along with her. However, I like Eastwood's and Duvall's interaction in that film. But I admit maybe Eastwood was miscast in it.

Going back to the "feel" of the old west, Leone's depictions don't do it for me. Maybe it's the overdubbing that ruins it (no fault of Leone's), or the sets, I don't know. I think part of it is Leone's camera technique, or presentation of his characters. Those camera close-ups 3 inches away from the actors' faces get very annoying to me after awhile -- I can't imagine what it would've been like sitting in the 3rd row of a movie house with a 30-ft high close up of some bandit's face every few minutes with his eyes darting from side to side with Ennio's music blaring away. Morricone's arrangements are definitely colorful and catchy. But even after awhile the bombardment of emotional, continuous music gets quite distracting. But that was their style. So, I guess that's what I was trying to express as far as "authenticity"--the realism or feel of the old west.

Now it's clear Leone took his work seriously -- how could he not? That was his life. What I was wondering about is if he wanted to convince us, "that's the way it really was." As mentioned earlier, he boasted about his Civil War scenes being more historically accurate than anything else on film. Perhaps he thought the same with his whole depiction of the old west in general(?) I don't buy it, but I'll give him credit for trying. I just have a slight "problem" with someone from another land/culture telling us "this is how it really happened, Gringos." Don't think so.

Lastly, no doubt Clint's fame and career was boosted immensely because of Leone, and we're all grateful for that, let alone Eastwood himself. Although Clint was already a household name by that time (Rawhide), it's a rarity that someone breaks away from their TV role and makes it big on the silver screen, especially on Eastwood's level.

That brings up the question -- would Eastwood's legacy and career have been what it was (or is), if it weren't for Leone and the spaghetti westerns? We'll never really know for sure. But I have no question or doubt -- I believe definitely yes. I think Eastwood's drive, talent, and industry insight on it's own would've brought him to success -- with or without the help of Leone. Leone was just one avenue towards that destination. I think fate would've eventually matched him up with the right people, like Don Siegel, etc. I'll get some flack for this, but I think Eastwood made Leone, not the other way around. Sure Leone was already big in the business by then, but not nearly so until after the Spaghetti's were made, and I don't think they would be nearly as popular today if Eastwood wasn't in them. Just a few more 'Trinity-like' flicks collecting dust.

**Gives me an idea -- just out of curiosity, I think I'll post a poll based on that question.  

By the way, I agree with you Christopher -- the love scene in Misty is a work of art.  But why do you really like it?

--------------------
Flint: "That eagle, why did he attack me?"
Galaxy man: "He's been trained to recognize and attack Americans."
Flint: "An anti-American eagle. How diabolical!"
-Our Man Flint
« Last Edit: December 08, 2002, 10:53:35 PM by KC » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2002, 10:13:29 PM »

Originally posted by Christopher 11-12-2002 01:17 PM      

Quote
By the way, I agree with you Christopher -- the love scene in Misty is a work of art. But why do you really like it?

 It's a very tasteful shot. There's nothing gratuitous about it. No, really, I swear, that's the honest answer.  


Quote
I can't imagine what it would've been like sitting in the 3rd row of a movie house with a 30-ft high close up of some bandit's face every few minutes with his eyes darting from side to side with Ennio's music blaring away.

That sounds like that'd be really cool. I'd like to see those movies on the big screen.

In regards to Leone's westerns, I'll put it into the words of Alfred Hitchcock to describe them, they're just pure cinema. There are many moments without any dialogue, and you just see the story unfold through images. Storytelling through images (which, I believe, is what Hitch meant). Within the past week, I've watched A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More and their are so many great moments in those movies. There's a whole different feel to these movies than the ones Eastwood made (whether he directed or not), so it's hard to compare.

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"There will be no order, only chaos." - Pi
« Last Edit: December 08, 2002, 10:55:13 PM by KC » Logged

"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2002, 10:15:35 PM »


Originally posted by Agent 11-12-2002 01:31 PM

                   
This is an odd thought, but speaking of those mega-closeups --

Being those films were released in the 60s during the psychedelic era, I wonder how many tripped-out hippies staring at those huge faces in the theaters might have seriously freaked out? I wonder how many folks actually lost it because of that? Just a thought.  

I can see it now -- a whole handful of freaks screaming in the theater right before the final shootout in GBU....

[ 11-12-2002, 01:37 PM: Message edited by: AgentPinch ]

--------------------
Flint: "That eagle, why did he attack me?"
Galaxy man: "He's been trained to recognize and attack Americans."
Flint: "An anti-American eagle. How diabolical!"
-Our Man Flint
 
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"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
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« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2002, 10:19:07 PM »

Originally posted by G Gordon 11-12-2002 04:54 PM      


Quote
Mr AgentPinch says:
I just have a slight "problem" with someone from another land/culture telling us "this is how it really happened, Gringos" Don't think so.


Yes. No American director would ever do a thing like that!

--------------------
G Gordon

At night when you're asleep, into your tent I'll creep... Not 'alf!!
« Last Edit: December 08, 2002, 10:56:41 PM by KC » Logged

"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
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« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2002, 10:20:52 PM »

Originally posted by Agent 11-12-2002 05:07 PM      


No..........unless they were absolutely right!  

- kidding, of course

--------------------
Flint: "That eagle, why did he attack me?"
Galaxy man: "He's been trained to recognize and attack Americans."
Flint: "An anti-American eagle. How diabolical!"
-Our Man Flint
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"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
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