The Ethyl Alcohol Indecency Entertainment Index

FORCES - The Humorous

We couldn't quite believe the inanity of the American Lung Association's youth movie ratings. After we pulled ourselves off the floor, not quite sure whether we'd been laughing or crying, we started wondering what it would be like if a panel of similar "experts" were to look at alcohol in the movies. We convened an imaginary taskforce of hygienically-minded movie critics and sent them into movieland to come up with ...

By Anne MacDiarmid

A word about our ratings

No "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" ratings here. Our panel decided that the "thumb thing" was a blunt way to indicate disapproval, not nearly '90s enough. Sort of the movie reviewer's equivalent of spanking. Besides, it's associated with a couple of well-known TV film critics who sometimes like films with bad role models. Instead, we advocate a more constructive and non-judgemental way to educate film-makers to "do the right thing", to use Mr. Clinton's favourite phrase. We therefore assign a "Time Out" designation to the morally reprehensible movies and a "Cookie Break" kudos to those which depict life as it ought to be lived. After all, we're just here to be helpful. Relax with some unbuttered popcorn and enjoy our take on the all-time best and worst movies...

Time Out

Days of Wine and Roses
The title says it all. The significance of linking an alcoholic beverage with the rose, a universal symbol of love, beauty, and sexuality, is self-evident. We know that adolescents are sponges for messages dealing with love and sex. Who was the cynical, socially irresponsible loser who dreamed up this subliminal garbage" Theme by Henry Mancini has become a classic -- sad to see such a talented composer prostituting his gifts!

The Lost Weekend
Alcohol pornography thinly disguised as some kind of "social relevance" earns "time out" for this one. Maybe the filmmakers meant to construct a cautionary tale to educate the audience about alcoholism, but we think tightly-produced 60-second "lifestyle" spots are far more effective. Gotta be suspicious when the protagonist is a drunk -- and gets our sustained attention for the duration of the film!

Bar ownership and the barfly lifestyle is "cool" thanks to the Humphrey Bogart character. His uttering of the famous toast "here's looking at you, kid," has probably resulted in more collateral social damage over the decades than any other line in movie history. This film was produced in the post-prohibition era, so neither the alcohol nor film industries can claim "innocence" about the health effects of alcohol. How many millions have died"

Star Wars
The famous "bar scene" ruins the whole movie with its glamorization of drinking. The idea that high-tech societies on other planets would indulge is preposterously unlikely -- and definitely sends the wrong message to youth.

The People vs. Larry Flynt
The anti-tobacco film patrol gives this one a "Thumbs Up" because the Flynt character waves smoke away from his face in one scene. We say: this character sells moonshine as a child and runs a bar as an adult. "Time Out", big time!

Cookie Break

Dead Man Walking
Cookie kudos! The protagonist was drunk when he committed his vicious crimes. Nothing seen to be imbibed by the nun who counsels him. No scenes promoting "social drinking." No pardon from the governor. The message here is clear, and commendable. Alcohol=criminality=death. Excellent work!

Blood and Wine
Jack Nicholson stars as an adulterous wine dealer turned jewel thief. If you can't show people in decent occupations to start with, at least make 'em thieves and adulterers.

Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie
Don't know what the early-childhood-exposure-to-cartoon-violence people are saying about this one, but we saw Good versus Evil clash on the magical island of Muiranthias with no break for cocktail time. That's enough for us.

Tractors on Parade
A rarely seen 1955 foreign documentary, produced in the former Soviet Union. At a time when vodka consumption was epidemic in that country, the makers of this movie declined to show any alcohol use whatsoever -- even in the scene of workers relaxing after a hard day on the job. Noteworthy for its documentation of the link between high productivity, human happiness and a healthy lifestyle. Here's one that deserves to be dug out of the archives and resurrected in big screen back-and-white glory!

And now we present...

The Will Hays Code Award
for All-time Best Director!

Named for the activist lawyer who put an end to all sorts of things in the movies. Lace lingerie, the improper depiction of drinking, May West's off-colour jokes, and overly-glamorous bad guys were out when Hays was in. His film production code, though gradually eroded, ruled the editing rooms of Hollywoodfor decades.

The winners are ...

Leni Riefenstahl!

Leni could always be counted on to celebrate the body beautiful, and neither rain nor snow nor the rise of any particular regime could keep her from her appointed task! A pioneering woman of the cinema, she appreciated healthy human specimens irrespective of race or culture.She didn't allow herself to be distracted by whatever might be happening in the outside world, and her films don't celebrate alcohol. That's the ticket! A shame about all that Nazi stuff.

Walt Disney!

Did Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Annette Funicello need liquor to be cool or attract the boys" Not when Walt was alive.

The Merchant of Death Award for Worst Director

Our picks for top all-time celluloid shills for the alcohol industry ....

Federico Fellini

Drinking, drinking, drinking -- that's all they ever seem to do in the so-called classics directed by this supposed genius of the cinematic world. We're not suckered in by the moral relativists who say that Fellini reflected his era, or "cultural" arguments that he simply reflected European customs ofconsumption. Couldn't he have emigrated, and found a better cultural model to immortalize" As to the notion that there was something "artistic" about his strange, dreamy vision of the world -- well, we suspect the man was simply drunk.

Busby Berkeley

King of the jazz age musicals, Berkeley went in for movies with drinking, dancing and music, ad nauseam. His concoctions were a socially destructive defiance of the spirit and intention of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Have a look at the big number that closes his musical 42nd Street. A drunken homicide unfolds before us, while Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler just keep on tap-dancing! A testament to the need for government regulation to emphasize healthy norms not only in real life -- but in the entertainment industry, too. Let's learn a lesson from history.


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