The members of The Incomparable panel watch old movies selected by our old-movie sommelier, Philip Michaels, and then talk about them.

Men vs. Selves

Six episodes ago, Jason made Phil mad by suggesting that “Chariots of Fire” and “Amadeus” might not be worthy of their Academy Awards for Best Picture. This episode is Phil’s revenge, as we watch two acclaimed early-80s films and see how well they hold up. They’re both period pieces, but one is set to the electronic sounds of Vangelis and the other to the classical masterpieces of Mozart. Running in slow motion has never looked better, and there’s never been more braying laughter in a film!

Jason Snell with Monty Ashley, Philip Michaels and David J. Loehr


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Previous Episodes

Confiscate the Trumpeter’s Mute

Our Old Movie Club takes on two Billy Wilder comedies from 1939 and 1959, to see if they still hold up 81 and 61 years later. Erika Ensign’s selection is “Midnight,” starring Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche, and Philip Michaels counters with “Some Like It Hot,” starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe. Both films are about people pretending to be something they aren’t. And then the fun begins… hopefully!

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Philip Michaels, Tiff Arment and Steve Lutz


Intensely Interesting

Old Movie Club takes on two distinctly different Raymond Chandler adaptations: 1946’s “The Big Sleep” (with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe) and 1973’s “The Long Goodbye” (with Elliott Gould as Marlowe). Both of them have twisty plots that unravel, leaving dead bodies behind. Women throw themselves at Bogie! Elliott Gould needs to buy cat food! Film Boir will never be the same.

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Shelly Brisbin, Monty Ashley and Dr. Drang


He Likes Your Lemonade

Old Movie Club finally takes on the big one, David Lean’s 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia.” Sand! Endurance! Men! Camels! Violence! Anticolonialism mixed with racism! Omar Sharif redefines thirst in the desert! The real romance in the movie without romance! This is a movie that builds myths with one hand and undermines them with the other. This episode has no overture, but there will be a brief intermission.

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Erika Ensign, Dan Moren and Moisés Chiullan


Did the Shark Order Takeout?

For 4th of July week we’re going to the beach — Amity Island, to be precise. Old Movie Club takes on the original summer blockbuster, 1975’s “Jaws”, directed by some kid named Steven Spielberg. Two of our panelists have never seen it! But we all learn some important lessons about how much blood the human body contains, the ins and outs of tourism marketing, and how the most important part of the journey is the sharks we met along the way.

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Moisés Chiullan, Jean MacDonald, Dr. Drang, Don Melton and David J. Loehr


Why People Don’t Like Musicals

Our Old Movie Club visits two musicals—but they’re both unusual. From near the beginning of the sound era comes “Gold Diggers of 1933”, a Depression-era tale of showgirls and swells and misunderstandings with enormous Busby Berkeley production numbers. And from the early days of Beatlemania comes 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night”, intended (at least by its financiers) to be disposable boy-band fluff, but ended up being one of the most influential films of the 20th century.

Jason Snell and Philip Michaels with Quinn Rose, Dr. Drang, Steve Lutz and Monty Ashley


Marshmallow Traitors

Endlessly quoted, residing on every list of the best films of all time, you might think that “Casablanca”—released 75 years ago—is overrated and played out. Nope! It’s a fun film with romance, snappy ironic dialogue, and a stunning cast. And it’s also a fascinating historical document, given that it was written before Pearl Harbor and produced in the early days of America’s involvement in World War II, when the end of the war was anything but a foregone conclusion. We discuss the magical letters of transit, Captain Renault’s jocular amorality, Victor Laszlo the speechifying drip, Ilsa’s piercing stare, Major Strasser’s favorite cereal, Sam’s implausible piano handwork, the Ken Cinema in San Diego, and how the war was like a rap battle.

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Monty Ashley, Moisés Chiullan, Dan Moren and Dr. Drang


A Parrot Bit Me

Old Movie Club returns with two paranoid films set amid the intrigue of postwar Europe: 1949’s “The Third Man” and 1965’s “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.” The former features Orson Welles, a collection of suspicious characters in Vienna, and a whole lot of zither music. The latter features Richard Burton mixing insobriety with spycraft, and a very peculiar library. (This episode is presented in black and white.)

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Dr. Drang, Frank Wu, David J. Loehr and Monty Ashley


He’s Way Better Than Fonzie

A bunch of people born in the 1970s discuss two films from that decade about young people coming of age: 1973’s “American Graffiti” and 1979’s “Breaking Away.” The first is a film (set in 1962) featuring young people driving around a northern California town on the last night of summer before reality sets in; the second is about young people riding bikes (and swimming in a quarry) in Indiana. The first comes from the future director of “Star Wars”; the second comes from the future director of “Krull”. Both are full of faces you will recognize. And both have interesting things to say about being young and the prospect of growing up.

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, John Siracusa, Lisa Schmeiser and Steve Lutz


Likeable Jerkability

The epic film about the early days of the space race, 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” is on the launch pad this week. What does the film say about modern mythmaking? Can you have too much Chuck Yeager? Is this peak Dennis Quaid? Why do astronauts have to be test pilots instead of demolition-derby drivers? We’ll figure it out. Let’s light this candle!

Jason Snell with Philip Michaels, Andy Ihnatko, Dr. Drang, Stephen Hackett and Dan Moren


Show Some Respect for the Chimp

Old Movie Club returns with two classic films directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden: The darkly tragi-comic Hollywood story “Sunset Boulevard” and the dramati-comic World War II prisoner-of-war story “Stalag 17.” Monty pitches a “Sunset Boulevard” prequel featuring a butler and a chimp. We notice the similarities between “Stalag 17” and an enormous number of sitcoms and comedy films from the following 30 years.

Jason Snell with Erika Ensign, Philip Michaels, Steve Lutz, Shannon Sudderth, Andy Ihnatko, Dan Moren and Monty Ashley


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