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Ricochet Movie Fight Club: Question 20
Two-time champion, Brian Watt, learned exactly how hard it is to win three in a row. Teaching that lesson (with a little help from a blind Audrey Hepburn) was J D Fitzpatrick, who earned the right to ask: What movie has the best duel? All movies should be pre-CGI. For this question, a duel is defined as a single moment of combat between two characters, with a clear resolution. Duels can be short or long, but they should display unity of time, place, and action, meaning that the contest is restricted to a particular moment in the film, not drawn out over its course.
- Post your answer as a comment. Make it clear that this is your official answer, one per member.
- Defend your answer in the comments and fight it out with other Ricochet member answers for the rest of the week.
- Whoever gets the most likes on their official answer comment (and only that comment) by Friday night wins the fight.
- The winner gets the honor of posting the next question on Saturday.
- In the case of a tie, the member who posted the question will decide the winner.
- Only movies will qualify (no TV shows) however films that air on television (BBC films, a stand-alone mini-series) will qualify.
- Your answer can be as off-the-wall or controversial as you’d like. It will be up to you to defend it and win people to your side.
- Fight it out.
Movie Fight Club Questions by Week:
- What is the best film portrayal of a book character? Winner: Charlotte with 18 likes for Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.
- What is the best motion picture comedy of the 21st century? Winner: split decision. In an exemplary display of genuine sportsmanship, Randy Webster conceded the fight to Marjorie Reynolds’ pick Team America: World Police.
- What film provides the most evocative use of location? Winner: Taras with 21 likes for Lawrence of Arabia. Wasn’t even close.
- What is the best film that utilizes or is inspired by a work of William Shakespeare? Winner: Dr. Bastiat with five likes for The Lion King, a film inspired by Hamlet.
- Which movie has the best surprise ending, or unexpected plot twist? Winner: Repmodad with 18 likes for The Sixth Sense.
- What pre-1970s black-and-white movie would be most enjoyed by a modern 18- to 25-year-old audience? Winner: E J Hill with 9 likes for a Casablanca. (He didn’t exactly designate it his official answer, and most of the likes may have been for the modern Casablanca trailer rather than for it as an answer to the question, but nobody seemed to dispute it on those grounds, so that’s how the cookie crumbles.)
- What movie did you go to based on the trailer, only to have felt cheated? (i.e., the trailer was 10x better than the movie?) Winner: Back to back wins by E J Hill with 9 likes for Something to Talk About.
- Name the worst movie portrayal of your profession (where applicable.) Winner: LC with 8 likes for Denise Richards’ Dr. Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough.
- What is the worst movie that claims to be based or inspired by a true story? Winner: Tex929rr with 16 likes for the, “…terrible acting, and countless deviations from history,” in Pearl Harbor.
- What is your favorite little known movie? Winner: A last-minute rally for Tremors made the difference as Songwriter took the week 10 win!
- What is the best movie that you never want to watch again? Winner:
HitlerCharlotte with 15 likes for Schindler’s List. Sorry, Richard Oshea but Jesus won the real fight.
Week 11.5 Exhibition Match (as a make-up of sorts, since Songwriter didn’t get the week 11 question submitted in time) Name the best movie theme song ever? No winner declared but I’m pretty sure it was I.M. Fine with “Moon River.”
- Name the best animated feature-length movie of all time. Winner: I.M. Fine with 10 likes for Pinocchio, and justice for I.M. Fine prevailed.
- What is the worst acting performance in an otherwise good film? Winner: In one of the most brutal fights we’ve seen yet Repmodad fended off a furious 12th-round onslaught by Gary McVey to give Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves the win with 20 likes.
- What is the quintessential American movie? Winner: Miffed White Male pulled off the comeback with 20 likes for The Right Stuff. There was a two-way tie at 19 for second place as well.
- What’s the most entertaining movie set during WWII? Winner: Arahant clearly won with Casablanca’s walloping 30 likes despite the withering onslaught by Sisyphus on the final day.
- What is the best movie love story? Winner: Songwriter with 20 likes for The Princess Bride with 20 likes. Up managed to make a strong showing and Dr. Bastiat is still conducting recounts trying to “find” some uncounted votes.
- What’s the best’ buddy’ movie? Winner: Brian Watt wins with 12 likes for The Man Who Would be King.
- What is the worst movie (not a made-for-TV movie) ever made? Brian Watt joins E.J. Hill as the only other back-to-back winner with 16 likes for Barbarella. Brian will get another crack at it by choosing the week 19 question. Can he make it three?
- What is the most frightening non-bloody film you’ve ever seen? The winner: J D Fitzpatrick with Wait Until Dark, starring the lovely Audrey Hepburn getting terrorized over a doll, sort of.
OK, we’re a few days in, and I want to make the case for my movie, which is currently losing big to the “obvious” choice of The Princess Bride.
First reason to choose TGTBATU: The puzzle. Who will shoot whom? If they go Blondie –> Angel –> Tuco –> Blondie or the reverse of that cycle, all lose. A little thinking makes the puzzle clear: both Blondie and Tuco should shoot Angel. After all, Blondie should be immune since he alone knows the location of the gold. But will Tuco reason it out properly, or will he panic and shoot Blondie, recognizing him as the more dangerous gunman? This puzzle of three independent wills already elevates this scene above the simplistic one-on-one contests that we see in most duels.
Second reason: cinematography. Leone gives the scene an epic feel by going with a wide pan showing all three fighters. But then in the second half, he gradually zooms in on the faces to the point where he is showing only the eyes. This shift from the wide expanse of the natural world to the windows of the soul creates a powerful intensity, bringing me the next reason …
Third reason: Acting. Each character has a distinct set of expressions. Angel is calculating, trying to figure out the motives of the other fighters. Blondie is calm—he has set enough of the stage to know that he has matters under control. Tuco seems to range between worried and frantic. Note also that subtle motion that Blondie gives at about 4:10 in my clip, where he nods at Tuco, giving Angel the impression that Blondie and Tuco are in cahoots to throw him off his game yet further. This is a scene that’s as much about character as it is about the contest.
Final reason: the music. I doubt that any duel scene in the history of cinema has a better match of music to subject matter. This is music that gives a cathedral quality to the scene, further heightening the significance of this already powerful moment. Such a quality appears in few scenes in cinema history, let alone duels.
To wrap up: if you are serious about cinema as an art form, meaning that it represents the world while simultaneously elevating it into the aesthetic realm, superior to the transitory whims, desires, and worries of human beings, reminding us of the existence of values beyond those we commonly align ourselves with, you have to choose this scene from The Good the Bad and the Ugly as the greatest duel in cinema history.
I actually struggled to find the appropriate word or words to describe it. For example, I wrote pure and correct, but thought that was too presumptuous. I think now that the right word is elegant, as in distilled or concentrated in its essence, devoid of the extraneous. :)
Final answer: The Andy Griffith Show, Season 1, Episode 9 The Duel
“I just so happens I learned a little French when I was over there in the war. Ready? Un! Dew! — Now what’s the matter?”
“We don’t understand French!”
Being serial television it is disqualified, but a fine contribution regardless.
Disqualified?! Just because they spoke French?
It’s a proper duel, too. Disqualified … just because the shotguns were unloaded. Preposterous.
The participants were unaware that the shotguns had been unloaded, so that is not at issue. The French is, of course, a more serious matter that no proper xenophobe would allow. I will leave any further explanation of the serial television issue to the proper authorities.
My new and final Official Answer: Love and Death, directed by and starring Woody Allen.
With all due respect to Andy Griffith and his fine contribution to the art of entertainment, it’s not a movie.
@philo sits back in his chair, puts his boots up on the table, tips his head back, and quietly puffs his cigar.
Which is why the boldness and commentary on the folly of gentlemanly dueling in Woody Allen’s duel scene in Love and Death (vote for Comment #248 above) is so vitally important and so perfectly addresses these essential human values…makes Sergio Leone look like an adolescent hack who makes cartoonish versions of reality by comparison. Just saying.
Yeah, but I’d give Ennio Morricone as much credit as Sergio Leone. And though The Trio is a fantastic piece of music, I would have to say that the entire score of the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is one of the greatest of all time. Especially haunting is The Story Of A Soldier.
It’s well known that Sergio Leoni‘s visual aesthetic was formed from watching Hollywood widescreen features on a small, square TV set that cut off half of the composition.
As a result, he came to the conclusion, which he was too stubborn to ever amend, that films should be shot in extreme close-up; e.g., giant eyeballs.
Sergio Leoni‘s Western films are interesting historically, as a Marxist view of the West, but should otherwise be set aside. After all, a synonym for Marxism is “laughably wrong”.
Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson about winning movie threads.
As they say, it’s better to be rich than right.
Marxism might apply to Once Upon a Time in the West, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen the dollars movies, but I’m not following the relevance to The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Help me out.
Yes, it is haunting. I think it’s impressive that Morricone could compose epic-sounding songs but also drop in a more sentimental song.
I think that Ecstasy of Gold might be my favorite, though.
The first time I saw that scene, I was sitting in front of the TV, working on my third (or fourth) glass of wine. When those grave markers started whizzing past, I was afraid to walk for awhile…
The American West, and by extension America itself, is a land of greed, corruption, and violence.
Bear in mind, these films were made during the Cold War. Leoni was not on our side.
I was 10 years old. I thought it was going to be a tough guy shoot-em up movie—”Clint Eastwood Week!” on Channel 13. Watching this scene I was thinking to myself, “Wait a minute—is this what people mean by art? Is that allowed in movies?”
Love the choice, @brianwatt
Speaking of duels while speaking French, there is always Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights….
I generally do not favor documentaries.
For the past five days @philo has been resting easy with 19 likes for his pick, The Princess Bride (comment# 15). But two-time champion @songwriter has called him out, and these worthy gentlemen have clashed swords on a grassy hill in an undisclosed location. Songwriter’s choice of the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (comment #23) is one stroke away from tying this match up with 18 likes. But don’t count out @ctlaw with 13 likes for Raiders of the Lost Ark (comment #4). Also, it may be the case that Philo has been using his left hand this whole time.
Two things: First – I think I may have just hit 19 to tie things up, and I’m stunned, frankly. Not that my submission isn’t worthy – it is. But I thought it was pre-decided that The Princess Bride and Casablanca would win all these fights.
Second – in case of a tie, I don’t have any useful skills like swordsmanship or gunfighting. Now if anybody wants to go song-to-song in a playoff, I might be willing. (Though it’d be my luck that @philo is an avatar for Billy Joel.)
In the case of a tie, @jdfitzpatrick chooses the winner.
Well at least there will be no swordplay. I wonder what JD’s favorite beer is?
Philo is at 20. Just sayin’.
Some words of wisdom for duelists and fight club members alike:
There is only one submission (#56) in which the duel is between two characters with the exact same DNA.