Five years ago today, I married my best friend. (Insert your obligatory awes here). Now, on to the topic at hand. For our wedding, we chose to include our nerdy / geeky side by incorporating two pivotal movies in our relationship. The first movie we ever watched and our first official date film. Yes, sometimes the two are not one and the same. Today, I share those films with you to finish our our Mad About March Double Feature series (previous topics, of course being Spring Break, St. Patrick's Day, and Spring). I present to you, the Lewis Duo's Double-Feature: Charade (1963) and The Big Lebowski (1998).
My husband and I had seen the film before, and viewed it many more times since, but the more important viewing occurred in Bryant Park. Of course, we were there with friends, but it was the day we made our relationship official - so our first date movie it shall always be. For our wedding, we had it projected and playing on silent. It was perfect. Plus, Charade is an amazing film.
The film starts off with Regina "Reggie" Lampert (Audrey Hepburn), on a skiing holiday where two things happen: she decides to divorce her husband Charles and she meets the dashing Peter Joshua (Cary Grant), two events that do not seem related. Charles never hears the news. When Reggie returns to Paris, her apartment is empty and her husband has been murdered. This sets up the twists, turns, and questions that continue throughout the rest of the film, even up until the end. Why did Charles only leave behind in his travel bag a letter addressed to Reggie, a ticket to Venezuela, and multiple passports? Who are the odd men who showed up at his funeral to verify that he was really dead?
Of course, CIA administrator Hamilton Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) seems to be a bit more in the know - Tex Panthollow (James Coburn), Herman Scobie (George Kennedy), and Leopold W. Gideon (Ned Glass) apparently were all part of a WWII operation with Charles, along with a fifth man Carson Dyle (who was shot when they stole the gold on its way to the French Resistance).
It is all about money. Who has it? Where is it? What will the three men do to get it - is Reggie in danger of turning up dead like Charles?
But wait - what happened to Peter Joshua? Don't worry. You get to see that handsome face again when Reggie moves into a hotel (not really safe or homey at her place anymore). This, of course, leads to more questions: Is he in league with the three oddballs? Who is Peter Joshua.... really ("Oh! Oh, I love you Adam, Alex, Peter, Brian, whatever your name is.")? Who is in danger at present, Reggie for the other men? Who can Reggie actually trust? And how can Reggie stress eat without gaining a single pound?!?
All, of course, is revealed at the end. No matter how many times you see this film, you will find yourself enchanted by Hepburn and Grant, smiling to the dialogue and everyone's perfectly wry deliveries, and on the edge of your seat with each twist and turn. Even if this was not our first date movie, this film would still have a permanent part of our lives. It is just that good.
The Big Lebowski
I know what you are probably doing right now - quoting your favorite lines. That is what The Big Lebowski does to all of us. It becomes ingrained in not just our brain but our DNA. The first time I met my husband back in undergrad, the topic of The Big Lebowski came up. The moment I uttered the word, "I haven't seen it.' - it was decided. We were going to watch that film immediately. We, of course, would not start dating until years later, with many more viewings of this film under our belt. Regardless, it was our beginning and continues to be part of our story today.
As you remember yesterday, we displayed our love of The Dude, "You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing" with soap: White Russians and severed toes (complete with green polish) novelty soap. That is how much this movie means to us - we had severed toe soap at our wedding.
A movie that starts because of mistaken identity: Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is not only a bit scuffed up by two of Jackie Treehorn's thugs (Mark Pellegrino and Philip Moon), one of them has to cross the line by urinating on his rug ("It really tied the room together). With the advice of his bowling friends, Donny (Steve Buscemi) and Walter (John Goodman), the Dude decides to ask the other Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston) to replace his rug, since it was Jeffrey's wife that owes Jackie Treehorn money after all. The other Lebowski is a mean-spirited millionaire confined to a wheelchair and not really up on the idea, but The Dude tells Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Lebowski's right handman, that "The old man said to take any rug in the house." Then we meet Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid) painting her toenails green.
Everything seems resolved, until the news arrives that Bunny has been kidnapped and Jeffrey Lebowski, along with Brandt, would like The Dude to help with the random drop-off of the money to the kidnappers. Oh - and meanwhile, more thugs break into The Dude's apartment to steal his new rug. Of course, there are complications with the drop-off, the Dude's Car gets stolen, Maude (Julianne Moore), Jeffery's Lebowski's daughter, has reclaimed the rug as it was not her father's to give away, the German nihilist (Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten Voges) show up with a dangerous marmot ("Nice marmot"), and that is just the half of it. There's "Larry's homework," interpretive dance, crazy dream-sequences, getting kicked out of Malibu, a love-story and, unfortunately, a moment of mourning.
Through the ups and downs and rollercoaster turns in the story, The Dude keeps his composure (for the most part) thanks to his trusty White Russians, his bowling league (even the presence of Jesus Quintana, played by John Turturro can not ruffle The Dude - "You said it, man. Nobody f---s with the Jesus."), and his zen-like state - that is reaffirmed by "The Stranger" Sam Elliott).
Honestly, who doesn't want The Dude to be part of their love story. After all, "The Dude Abides."