Jeff Smith 6 p.m., July 6
Son of Fare Thee Well: David Elliott
Dave and I can (and have) argue taste and opinion until they unearth the missing reels from Greed. What he sees in red-baiting Orson Welles or clothes hanger Audrey Hepburn I'll never know.
There isn't a finer writer of film criticism currently plying their trade. The loss of Dave's critical voice hit me harder than being stung by a hammer. It was a pleasure, if only for a brief time, to work as his second-stringer. Were it not for Dave, I never would have seen The Smurfs or Act of Valor. Thanks?
We go way back, almost 40 years. What brought us together in the first place? The law of opposites attract. Dave is tactful, sensitive, refined, and always the smartest one in the room. I'm not. In the silent era we would have made a great comedy team with my raging bull playing opposite his more cerebral Burl in a China Shop.
If you want to have fun, next time you see Dave at the Chicken Pie Shop, ask him to name all the president's dogs. He'll rattle them off in chronological order. I tell you, the man is a genius!
A favorite David Elliott story: We first met when I was a sophomore in college and Dave was teaching a class called "Neglected Films." Normally fearless in the face of all cinema, I cannot get through a Satyajit Ray film. I'd rather watch them fling poo in Jackass than The Apu Trilogy.
I tacked a "Better Off Left" onto the class title the day Dave screened one of Ray's film. Destined to a torturous day by the movies, a friend and I bolted after five minutes and ran across the street to the posh McClurg Court Theatre to catch a late-afternoon showing of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.
The McClurg Court was a ritzier version of the old Cinema 21 complete with dynamic stereo separation, a wrap-around screen, and perfect sight-lines. We had the palace to ourselves and by way of punishment for paying hookey, the entire film was projected out of frame. Mike Shadow and C. Ling deserved equal billing alongside Matthau and Burns.
As fate would have it, the film let out around the same time Dave's class broke and we were spotted exiting the theatre. The next week Dave delivered his version of a stern dressing down. Ray has always been a missing rivet in our cinematic bond. I have since revisited The Sunshine Boys, but have yet to step in Apu.
Fortunately for me, Dave's reviews (and hourly updates on his daily ablutions) are never more than a phone call away. Dave is the kid on the block your parents would encourage you to befriend, the only soul alive capable of telling me I'm full of crap and making it sound like a compliment. When it comes to picking lifelong friends, I have exceptional taste.
At the risk of going soft on you, the only time you're likely to catch me using the word "Saint" is in reference to Eva Marie or Roger Moore. You, David Elliott, are a Saint.
I vote we replace the recently dismantled kissing eyesore opposite the Midway with a statue of Dave. Hey, why not position it closer to the waterfront tribute to Bob Hope? Wouldn't 'at be sumpin' listening to those two bronze cats debate the virtues of The Iron Petticoat or Call Me Bwana?
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