Thursday, April 05, 2007

You only write when you need money (or a celebrity dies)

5 April, 2007

I greet the day with more sad news. Director Bob Clark was killed yesterday by a drunk driver. Clark, while most famous for A CHRISTMAS STORY and PORKY'S, also directed the prototypical American Slasher film, BLACK CHRISTMAS (remade a few months back to no acclaim), as well as one of the two or three best titled horror films ever (CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS). He also directed RHINESTONE and BABY GENIUSES, but let's focus on the positive.*

Here's an excerpt:

'Christmas Story' Director Dies in Fiery Crash (AP)
LOS ANGELES (April 5) - Bob Clark, whose film "A Christmas Story" became a seasonal fixture for its bittersweet cataloguing of holiday dreams and disappointments, was killed with his son in a car crash. He was 67.

Clark and Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, were traveling on the Pacific Coast Highway in the Pacific Palisades when they were killed Wednesday, said Lyne Leavy, Clark's personal assistant. Their car was struck head-on by an SUV that a drunken driver steered into the wrong lane, police said.

"It's a tragic day for all of us who knew and loved Bob Clark," said Scott Schwartz, who played the flagpole-licking character Flick in "A Christmas Story" and kept in touch with Clark over the years. "Bob was a fun-lovin', jelly-roll kinda guy who will be sorely missed."

The driver of the other vehicle, Hector Velazquez-Nava, 24, of Los Angeles was arrested and booked for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol and gross vehicular manslaughter. "The initial investigation has concluded that Nava was driving without a license northbound in the southbound lanes while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage," said Lt. Paul Vernon, a police spokesman.


I never met the man, so I have nothing really personal to say. I could talk a bit about A CHRISTMAS STORY for the first time, and how my sister insists on turning it on every single X-mas during the Turner marathon, I suppose. I remember seeing the TV spots when I was a little boy and wanting to see it (who wouldn't want to see a movie where "Santa Claus kicked a kid in the face?"), but having to wait until my buddy Dennis had the movie (either copied from a rental, or taped off HBO). I laughed hardest...what was the part I laughed hardest at?...I guess it was when Ralphie lies that Flick taught him the f-word, and Ralphie's mother calls Flick's mother, and you hear her beating him over the phone.

Or I guess I could talk how I finally saw PORKY'S in college with my roommate John, but was tremendously disappointed after the years of talk and anticipation. PORKY'S was built up to be this gargantuan, hilarious, titilating gift to teenage boys everywhere, but maybe I was just too old to appreciate it. Or it may be that nothing could live up to that kind of expectation. Or it may be that by then my roommate and I had both met Peggy Ann Buckner, who truly was a gargantuan, hilarious, titilating gift to teenage boys everywhere. I don't know.

And I could talk about BLACK X-MAS and how it measures up to the remake. Or talk about how I never saw FROM THE HIP, even though our tiny village had a poster of it up in the general store and I pondered long and hard what "from the hip" means and who Judd Nelson was.

Instead, I'll just say that it's a shame to lose Clark, so I don't have much, drunk drivers suck, it's sad that he never had filmic success since my childhood, and it's beginning to get unsettling how many famous names I grew up with are passing away. Pretty soon I'll be one of those constantly humming grandmotherly types sitting in a stale-smelling room reading obituaries for fun.

Until then, I remain,

Rish "Sunshine" Outfield

*Like when I mention how great CSPWDT's title is, but neglect to mention how awful the film is.

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