I went to Ag(s)it for coffee recently and an old movie that happened to be playing caught my attention. As soon as I saw Fred Astaire in his hotel room admiring his handiwork at crafting phony stock certificates (“Greater Anaheim Power and Light,” if I’m not mistaken), I recognized it as “Towering Inferno,” the 1974 all-star disaster flick that basically established the trend as an actual genre, 1972′s “The Poseidon Adventure” being the first marquee member of the club.
As there were no other customers at the time, I made a special request to actually listen to the English soundtrack (normally, unrelated music plays as Japanese subtitles scroll across the silent screen). Back when Home Box Office was new for most of us, I used to watch this movie quite often. So I wanted to see if the lines of the script came back (after how many years of not having seen it, I won’t say, but let’s just say I’m as old as the main actor, Paul Newman, was when he shot it). Sure enough, I found myself saying the words right along with the characters. I had to leave as Bobby Brady, inexplicably kidnapped, brainwashed and whisked to the skyscraper from his family of eight’s suburban bliss (go ask Alice), had just climbed down a dangling stair railing in pants redder than any flames in the movie.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s easy to poke fun at the 1970′s excess, and this film could never be accused of having artistic value, but I stopped being an independent film anti-snob snob a long time ago. Just enjoy the ride. There are lots of things to pick up, or much potential takeaway value as they now say. Not to mention the general timeliness for us in Japan of seeing a film, hokey as it is, about dealing with, after all, disaster. Steve McQueen’s no-nonsense character, and acting for that matter, with less than magnificent lines to work with, could be a good role model for dealing with a tough situation.
Changing the subject, except for the smoke that made Bobby cough so (not even that acting seemed very convincing), I recently had lunch at McDonald’s in Tajimi (I had a Chicken Filet-O set with appreciated small serving of fries as part of their new, cheaper lunch deals), and saw that from April 1st, it’s all non-smoking inside. Smokers can still puff in the open space between the main store and the family playland area.