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Great Poetry Scenes

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Roses are red, violets are blue. Great poetry scenes? Here are a few.

BULL DURHAM (1988)

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Adding to the richness and fun of this bawdy baseball classic are some nice flourishes of poetry. My favorite is when Susan Sarandon tosses a William Blake line from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” at Kevin Costner and he replies, “William Blake?!” Beautiful.

MAGIC TOWN (1947)

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At the time, this satire about a pollster who found a town with perfect demographics was considered somewhat edgy. Today it’s decidedly on the hokey side. But there’s one scene that I love, where Jimmy Stewart and Jane Wyman are flirting with each other and give an impromptu, dual poetry recitation.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)

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Kirsten Dunst is a side character in this terrific movie about memories, love and pain, but she gets a nice poetry moment thanks to Alexander Pope’s “Elisa to Abelard.”

MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)

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In the excellent Clint Eastwood film “Million Dollar Baby,” old Clint uses lines from “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” by W.B. Yeats, to convey a deep well of love and a sense of comfort to his tragic young boxing protegee, Hilary Swank.

THE OUTSIDERS (1983)

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Actor C. Thomas Howell, as Ponyboy, does right by Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Totally appropriate for a bittersweet story of youth and the yearning to find your place in the world.

HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986)

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Painful and perfect use of poetry here, as married man Michael Caine attempts to woo his sister-in-law, Barbara Hershey, with the e.e. cummings poem, “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond.”

EL DORADO (1966)

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Yes, even westerns can have poetry. James Caan made fine use of Edgar Allan Poe’s “El Dorado” in this one. Of course, John Wayne thought he was nuts.

BACK TO SCHOOL (1986)

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I doubt very much that Dylan Thomas, when he wrote “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” envisioned a day when it would be recited by comedian Rodney Dangerfield in the slob comedy, “Back to School.” Having said that, Rodney rocks.

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

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Like the rest of his performance in “Apocalypse Now,” Marlon Brando’s reading of “The Hollow Men,” by T.S. Eliot, is haunting, ominous and captivating.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)

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The liberating, soul-nourishing nature of poetry is part of the theme of “Dead Poets Society.” Robin Williams is an English teacher at a rigid Vermont boarding school who shows his students that poetry and literature help you see the world from a different perspective. If you read poetry while standing on your desk – Whitman’s “Oh Captain! My Captain,” for instance – it’s even better.

THE GATHERING (1977)

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Ed Asner belts out a fine rendition of “Christmas Day in the Workhouse,” in this old TV movie about a dying father trying to bring his family back together for one last holiday.

SKYFALL (2012)

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Here we have poetry being used to add gravitas to the proceedings. Judy Dench, in “Skyfall,” deals with some government bureaucrats in a hearing by reciting part of Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” It didn’t help her situation, let me say.

SOPHIE’S CHOICE (1982)

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At the end of the almost unbearably sad “Sophie’s Choice,” Stingo lets some words from Emily Dickinson try to make sense of the world’s senselessness. That sort of grace is a much appreciated counterpoint to the sudden, harsh choice that haunts the story.

JIMMY STEWART ON “THE TONIGHT SHOW” (1981)

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One night on Johnny Carson’s old “Tonight Show,” Jimmy Stewart pulled out a couple of pieces of paper and read a poem he’d composed about his late, beloved dog, Beau. It was sweet, incredibly corny and amazingly moving.

FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL (1994)

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Best Fireworks on Film & TV

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Hollywood fireworks can’t match the spectacle of a live show in the night sky – but that doesn’t stop movie and TV folks from trying. They use fireworks to illustrate everything from patriotism and protest to love and longing. See for yourself.

LOVE AMERICAN STYLE

I have fond memories of watching this anthology TV series from 1969-74, which was perfect for its era and featured everyone from Flip Wilson to Julie Newmar. Particularly memorable was its intro, which had some groovy fireworks.

MANHATTAN

Woody Allen’s use of fireworks – black and white fireworks, no less – and the music of George Gershwin is nothing short of brilliant. In the opening of his 1979 ode to the Big Apple, Woody shows us a wide shot of fireworks over the city skyline to suggest the excitement and majesty of New York.

LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Old Gandalf (Ian McKellen) was sort of the Grucci Brothers of Middle Earth. Here, in the 2001 movie adaptation of the book, Gandalf’s pyrotechnics are peerless.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Ba-Boom! Film fireworks have never been sexier than in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

V FOR VENDETTA

Fireworks stand for liberty in “V For Vendetta,” a 2005 movie about freedom fighters trying to overturn a fictitious, totalitarian regime. The explosions might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but the fireworks are amazing.

RETURN OF THE JEDI

There’s only one thing to do after you’ve defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and you find yourself on a planet full of teddy bears: set off some kickass fireworks. This is how George Lucas did it back in 1983.

MARY POPPINS

In one of the most magical sequences in 1964’s “Mary Poppins,” a fusillade of fireworks chase a group of dancing chimney sweeps off the rooftops of London. Despite one of the goofier British accents in film history, Dick Van Dyke is still too cool for words.

THE GATHERING

What are fireworks doing in this 1977 TV Christmas movie? Well, they’re a sign that you have to live for today. Ed Asner plays a cold, distant father who brings his family together for one last holiday before he meets his maker.

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY

“The Boy Who Could Fly,” from 1986, is not a terribly well-known movie. Among other things, it is the story of a new kid in town who befriends an autistic boy. One of film’s most beautiful scenes is a dreamlike flight with fireworks.

AVALON

Best fireworks scene ever. 1990’s “Avalon” has a lot to say about families and about America, but here it’s simply about one immigrant’s first Fourth of July in Baltimore.

 

 

 

To all those seeing fireworks in the next week, enjoy!