Song of the Day #4,548: ‘No Dames’ – Channing Tatum

Continuing my countdown of every Coen Brothers movie…

#14. Blood Simple (1984)
(down four spots from previous ranking)

What an incredible debut! Right out of the gate, you could tell these young newcomers had an innate gift for crafting indelible sequences, and an impeccable command of sound and images. Even on a tiny budget, the Coens proved they were natural-born filmmakers.

Blood Simple is a vicious film noir in which nobody trusts anybody enough to stop and figure out what’s really going on. Instead, they wriggle in a web of infidelity and murder with little hope of escape.

This film gives us our first glimpse of several tropes that would repeat throughout the brothers’ career. Opening narration, wide open spaces, heavy-set men screaming, inept criminals. The film doesn’t make room for any real laughs, but the playfulness of the camerawork hints at the Coens’ twisted sense of humor, as when the camera glides over a drunk passed out on a bartop, or zooms toward one character like an unleashed dog.

Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh are pitch perfect as two weaselly men competing to see who can sweat more, but the movie ultimately belongs to one Frances McDormand, making her big screen debut.

McDormand met Joel Coen at her audition for the movie, got the part, and married him the year it came out. She has since appeared in eight other Coen Brothers movies, in roles big and small, including one that won her a Best Actress Oscar.

#13. Hail, Caesar! (2016)
(up one spot from previous ranking)

I recently watched David Fincher’s Mank, and while I enjoyed its depiction of Old Hollywood well enough, my first thought after finishing it was “it’s no Hail, Caesar!

This delightful movie is both a love letter to and a satire of the Hollywood studio system. It’s a blast, even as it subtly explores some very big themes about religion, duty, and political philosophy.

Josh Brolin is brilliant as Eddie Mannix, the Head of Physical Production at Capitol Pictures. He spends his days corralling movie stars, getting the right stories in the trades, and making sure that — at whatever cost — the pictures keep getting made.

He is also weighing a job offer from Lockheed and wrestling with his Catholic soul in frequent confessionals, during one of which he hilariously owns up that he “struck a movie star in anger.”

George Clooney plays a big star — another of his Coen idiots — who is kidnapped by Communist writers in a ploy to extort money from the studio.

Mannix’s day brings him to the sets of several productions, giving the Coens the chance to lovingly recreate a musical, a Western, an aquatic acrobatic routine and a costume drama. Those scenes alone are worth the price of admission, especially when a fussy director (Ralph Fiennes) tries to coach an out-of-place hayseed (Alden Ehrenreich) through some sophisticated dialogue. Would that it were so simple, indeed.

Hail, Caesar! was critically well received but did not score well with audiences. Filmgoers who discovered the Coens after The Hudsucker Proxy might not have been prepared for this brand of screwball pastiche.

Their loss. This film is a treasure.

(Spoken intro)
[BARTENDER]
The Swingin’ Dinghy is closin’, folks. Time for me to clean up, time for you to clear out

[GIRLS]
See you in eight months!
Toodle-oo!

[BARTENDER]
Eight months?

[SAILOR 1]
Yeah, we’re shipping out in the morning

[SAILOR 2]
Golly, eight months without a dame!

[BURT]
Can you beat it?

[BARTENDER]
You’re gonna have to beat it

(Song)
[BURT]
We are headin’ out to sea
And however it will be
It ain’t gonna be the same
‘Cause no matter what we see
When we’re out there on the sea
We ain’t gonna see a dame

We’ll be searchin’ high and low
On the deck and down below
But it’s a cryin’ shame
Oh, we’ll see a lot of fish
But we’ll never clock a dish
We ain’t gonna see a dame

No dames!

[SAILOR 1]
We might see some octopuses

[BURT]
No dames!

[SAILOR 2]
Or a half a dozen clams

[BURT]
No dames!

[SAILOR 3]
We might even see a mermaid

[ALL]
But mermaids got no gams!

[SAILOR 4]
No gams!

(dance break)

[SAILORS]
Have we got a girl for you!
Out there on the sea
Here’s how it will be
I’m gonna dance with you, pal
You’re gonna dance with me
When we’re out there on the sea
We’ll be as happy as can be
Or so the captain claims

[BURT]
But we have to disagree
‘Cause the only guarantee
Is I’ll see a lot of you
And you’ll see a lot of me

[SAILORS]
And it’s absolutely certain
That we’ll see a lot of sea
But we ain’t gonna see no dames
No dames! We’re going to sea!
No dames! We’re going to sea!
No dames! We’re going to sea!
We ain’t gonna see no dames!

(spoken outro)
[SAILOR ENTERING BAR]
This place looks open!

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,548: ‘No Dames’ – Channing Tatum

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I appreciated “Blood Simple and liked parts of “Hail Caesar,” but didn’t really love either.

  2. Peg says:

    I guess I am a bigger fan of the lighter and funnier movies by them. I loved Hail Caesar but Blood Simple not so much.

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