Warning: this post contains some spoilers about the movies Fargo and Raising Arizona. If you haven’t seen these movies yet, go rent them and then come back and continue reading after you’ve watched them. I’ll wait.
Some of you may know that I like to watch a movie now and then. Maybe two or three a week. If somewhere along the line a movie I’m watching gets a little slow, or if I’ve seen it before, or otherwise fails to command my complete attention, I’m likely to start flipping through IMDb for trivia and the like. Which is what I found myself doing while I was watching Fargo this evening.
I’m a fan of the Coen brothers, and count the underrated Miller’s Crossing as one of my all-time favourite movies. So most of what I read on the trivia page for Fargo was familiar to me. Though it never occurred to me in the past to make note of the last item, listed under “Spoilers” (spelling, punctuation and typography preserved):
SPOILER: A total of 7 people were killed (Wade Gustafson, Jean Lundegaard, Carl Showalter, the state trooper the 2 passers-by,and the toll patrol)
Well, wow. That sure is trivial. Even at the end of a long page of trivia, this observation stands out, its factual accuracy cast into sharp relief by its sheer insipidness. And that got me thinking, obviously the IMDb trivia bar is pretty low. I wonder if they’ve published the trivia that I submitted over the holidays yet. And then I checked. They have not.
Yes, this is me on a Friday night: internet movie geek, nursing a grudge against IMDb for not publishing my trivia submissions.
Go watch the 1972 thriller Sleuth, Starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Then watch the 1982 sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner. Notice any similarities? William Sanderson’s character appears to be living in a futuristic version of Olivier’s drawing room from Sleuth, complete with laughing animatronic toys and board games in mid-play. Though don’t believe Olivier when he says senat is a complicated game. It’s a precursor to backgammon, and pretty easy to pick up.
Now there’s some trivia for you. That’s clearly an homage. And considering how well-scrutinized Blade Runner has become over the 25 years since its original release, I was pretty pleased with myself for being the first to spot it. IMDb was ostensibly less impressed.
Had enough? I didn’t think so. Go watch the 1987 Coen brothers comedy Raising Arizona. Now watch the 2006 remake of the 1973 cult horror flick The Wicker Man. Uh, on second thought, don’t. Unless you really, really want to. But hey, Nicolas Cage stars in both of them. Fascinating, yes? No. I know. But it is a bit interesting that Nicolas Cage picks up a package of diapers off the street from a moving vehicle in the former, and then almost 20 years later reaches down yet again from a moving vehicle to pick up a child’s doll. Now we’re cooking with trivia, my friend – I think the only ones who noticed that connection were me and Nicolas Cage.
Now check out the screenplay credits for Sleuth and The Wicker Man. You’ll notice that the late Anthony Shaffer wrote both (I just blew your mind, didn’t I). Just to be clear, that’s not trivia, that’s coincidence. As is the fact that Sleuth is poised to join The Wicker Man as a remake, this time with Michael Caine in Olivier’s former role, and with the character of Milo Tindle being passed to Jude Law. Law has previously demonstrated his neo-Caine (nuevo-Caine? novo-Caine?) tendencies in a remake of Alfie in 2004, but we won’t be able to fully appraise his performance until someone decides to take a bullet for us and actually watch it.