GUILTY PLEASURES: Hank Phillippi Ryan

Talk about making lemonade. A recent bout with kind-o-like-the-flu resulted in a completely unplanned Hank-festival of guilty pleasure movies. Here’s how it happened. At the same time the deadline gods had made me incapable of thinking (let alone getting any farther in my current ms.), they provided a steady cable TV stream of my film favorites. (Many of which somehow were showing on the Golf Channel, which, before the recent medical unpleasantness, I never heard of.)

But for three solid days there were the very movies I had been considering for my GP. (If we’re talking about my favorite “good” movies, “films,” the list would be very different, of course.)

Day one, oh my gosh, look what’s on. THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. How great a movie is that! “I’m not a field agent, I just read books.”” says Robert Redford.

You know this book and movie, right? Redford is a professorial-looking everyman type who works in a brownstone CIA office reading books to see if there are clues or ideas in fiction. I mean, I can’t get over what a great idea that is, and actually believe it exists. Great lines: Redford says, all serious and noir–“I don’t remember yesterday. Today it rained.” “You think not telling a lie is the same as telling the truth.”

Then trying to convince Faye he’s a good guy, he demands “Have I raped you?” Faye looks skeptical. “The night is young,” she growls.

Of course as a reporter, I love the ending. (Will they print the truth? Ah…depends on how deep the conspiracy goes, doesn’t it?)

And in the complete metaphor for books to movies, you’ve got to remember the book (one of my all time faves) was called SIX Days of the Condor.

But wait. ADVISE AND CONSENT. I was riveted through hours of talking talking talking and it was still relevant, and clever, and thought-provoking. And then! THE CANDIDATE. Redford again, totally UNlikeable, with that amazing ending—“What do we do now?”

But wait. I take my pills, and there’s THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3. The real one, with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. And remember, how there are absolutely no surprises, not one, every moment of that movie you know exactly what’s gonna happen, and it does, and it’s still great? (Geshundheit.)

YOU’VE GOT MAIL. In which Tom is SO adorable, and Meg is SO adorable, and it’s all so adorable, so funny, so cute, so clever, and I laughed out loud until the stupid sell-out ending. But, whatever.

Click. I’m not kidding—The BOSTON STRANGLER. Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis. And the guilty part of that is that I think I’d never actually seen it. It’s really fascinating, very dated, in such a cool way. (And today some guy knocked at our front door, alleging he was sent to change the water meter and would I let him in! Not a chance, buddy. He’s lucky I didn’t call 911.)

But gang, I clicked to the TV guide, and there it was. Starting now. The piece de guilty pleasure. Say it with me. POINT BREAK.

You know it, word for word, right? Ex-football hero Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reaves, is an FBI guy who is sent by doofus but devoted agent Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey (!)) to infiltrate the surfing community where, they suspect, is the milieu of the gang of bank robbers called the Dead Presidents. (Irony, see? Plus they wear president’s masks. ) As a result, he meets the gorgeous, hot but hard-to-get Tyler (Lori Petty, whatever happened to her, the one person who isn’t given a ridiculous name) and the genius guru of the crowd, Bodhi, (“they call him Bodhisattva,” whispers an awestruck Tyler) and various ne’er do wells named things like Warchild. Oh, Bodhi is Patrick Swayze. I mean, I ask you.

It’s great. And the how-did-they-write-this stuff lines come non-stop.

Gary Busey: “How do you know?”
Johnny Utah: “I just have a feeling.”
Gary: “Last time you had a feeling, I had to kill a guy.”

Swayze: “This is not about us and the money; it’s about us against the system.”

Busey as Pappas, holding a gun on a surfer-suspect: “Speak into the microphone, squid brain.”

Johnny Utah (to angry SAC): “Caught my first tube this morning. Sir.” (Confession by Hank: I could not tell if this was supposed to be funny. I fear it wasn’t. Well, maybe it was.)

Two more things: Johnny Utah learns to surf brilliantly in about a day. I’m from Chicago, so I admit I have no idea. But you all? Can that possibly happen? And he parachutes out of a plane without learning how.

And the dénouement is SO impossible it just—I’m sorry, it’s just impossible. And after that happens, another impossible thing happens which the writers deal with by just ignoring it.

Oh, wait. After that, the big finish includes another impossible thing.

Still, gotta love it. I mean, how many times have YOU watched it?

Now I know if I just keep surfing, channels I mean, I’ll get to watch DAY OF THE JACKAL. Or BRING IT ON. SPEED. LEGALLY BLONDE. CLUELESS. WORKING GIRL. DESK SET. TIME BANDITS. Ah…my faves. Can I come back and visit again?

Hank Phillippi Ryan

From the editor:
Miz Hank (That still reads odd to me even after all these years) is the author of four novels featuring TV reporter Charlotte McNally and has won oodles of awards, including the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity. In addition to writing, she is also an investigative reporter for WHDH in Boston and is quite good at it, having snagged oodles (she must have one hell of a BIG trophy room) of awards that include over 20 EMMYS (Yes, those EMMYs!). If she happens to start hanging around your business, changes are that you are totally screwed. So whatever corners you are cutting, whatever doings you are wronging, why not just stop right now and make good? Hank is going to nail you and make you cry.

If you are not a shady person doing wrong, check out Miz Hank’s books and get to know Charlotte and co. For more on Hank, head on over to her website.