My Favorite Super Bowl Commercial 2019

Well, there were slim pickings in this year’s Super Bowl commercial race. Mercedes Benz featured The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Stella Artois gave us the return of The Dude, and that Bud Light/Game of Thrones mash-up was pretty cool. But the ad that had everyone at the Super Bowl I attended roaring with laughter was this one starring Craig Robinson:

Yeah I know, it’s sophomoric, but also funny as hell!!

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OOPS, BRADY DID IT AGAIN! NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WIN SUPER BOWL LIII!

It wasn’t pretty. Defense dominated the game, but a late scoring drive by Tom Brady led to a Sony Michel touchdown, and the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. It was the Pats’ sixth Super Bowl victory, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most championships in the Super Bowl era. Say what you want about it, but this native New Englander remembers when they flat-out sucked, making all this winning soooo much sweeter!

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 03: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Neither team could get anything going on offense, as the Rams’ #2 ranked defense and the Pats’ #4 ranked defense hit hard. Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 42 yard field goal in the second quarter to put New England up 3-0 at halftime. Following a kinda crappy Maroon 5 halftime show (just my opinion!), Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein hit a 53 yarder to tie the game in the third. But the 41-year-young Brady showed us why he’s the GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time) by executing a ten minute scoring drive in the fourth quarter, capped by rookie running back Michel bulling his way into the end zone for the game’s only touchdown. A 29 yard field goal by Gostkowski put the icing on the cake, and New England’s crusty 66-year-old coach Bill Belichick got to savor another Super Bowl success.

Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman

Pint-sized powerhouse wide receiver Julian Edelman was named game MVP for his 141 yards on 10 catches – eight of which went for first downs. Comparer that to the Rams total 198 passing yards AS A TEAM, and you can see why Edelman’s MVP is a no-brainer! Congrats to the New England Patriots – now football season is officially over, which means only one thing. Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to Spring Training in just nine short days!

LET’S GO RED SOX!!

 

FROM THE GRIDIRON TO THE SCREEN

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! As you all may know, many former football players have made the transition from the Gridiron to the Silver Screen. In honor of tonight’s Big Game, I’ve assembled a All-Pro gallery of posters starring ex-jocks turned actors:

Jim Brown, running back, Cleveland Browns (1957-65)
Brian Bosworth, linebacker, Seattle Seahawks (1987-89)
Bernie Casey, halfback/flanker, San Francisco 49ers (1961-66), Los Angeles Rams (1967-68)
Fred Dryer, defensive end, New York Giants (1969-71), LA Rams (1972-81)
Rosey Grier, defensive tackle, NY Giants (1955-62), LA Rams (1963-66)
Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets (1965-76), LA Rams (1977)
O.J. Simpson, running back, Buffalo Bills (1969-77), SF 49ers (1978-79)
Bubba Smith, defensive end, Baltimore Colts (1967-72), Oakland Raiders (1973-74), Houston Oilers (1975-76)
Woody Strode, offensive end, Los Angeles Rams, (1946)
Carl Weathers, linebacker, Oakland Raiders (1970-71)
Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, defensive back, Pittsburgh Steelers (1960), Oakland Raiders (1961-64), Kansas City Chiefs (1965-67)

And then, there’s this guy… 

…who’s now wide awake and ready to win another championship!

LET’S GO PATRIOTS!!

 

 

Rage in the Cage: CAGED (Warner Brothers 1950)

“In this cage, you get tough or you get killed” – Kitty Stark (played by Betty Garde) in CAGED

 

The Grandmother of all “Women in Prison” films, CAGED still packs a wallop, nearly seventy years after it’s release. This stark, brutal look at life inside a women’s penitentiary was pretty bold for its time, with its savage sadism and heavy lesbian overtones, and matches up well with BRUTE FORCE as an example of film noir prison flicks. Everything about this film clicks, from its taut direction by John Cromwell to the use of sound to create mood by Stanley Jones, plus a powerhouse mostly female cast led by Eleanor Parker .

The 28-year-old Parker convincingly plays 19-year-old Marie Allen, given a one-to-fifteen year sentence for accessory to an armed robbery during which her husband was killed. The mousey Marie is indoctrinated, given a number (Prisoner #93850), and poked and prodded by staff, who discover Marie’s two months pregnant. Marie is given light duty by the prison-reform minded superintendent Ruth Barton, but sadistic old-school ward matron Evelyn Harper has other plans.

Marie’s first night inside the walls is a frightening experience for the youngster. She’s befriended by three tough street chicks led by Kitty Stark, boss of a shoplifting gang who wants to recruit the kid when she gets out of stir. When fellow inmate June is denied parole, it’s Marie who finds her hanging during the night, causing her to go into shock and give birth  prematurely. Her mom refuses to take the baby, then she’s denied parole, and a switch flips inside Marie’s head, turning her as hard as the veteran cons.

Tensions flare when Marie finds a kitten outside the prison laundry and takes it in, and a catfight over the cat between Marie and Harper escalates into a full-scale riot! Marie is given three days in solitary by Barton, but before serving the cruel Harper shaves her head. Kitty, who’s spent a month in solitary enduring beatings from Harper, gains justice of her own in a swift and vicious stabbing of the matron in the cafeteria, as Marie cheers her on, yelling, “Kill her, kill her”. Prison life has changed Marie, but not for the better, and the final scene has Barton resigned to the fact that she’s failed, and Marie will be back.

Parker was justly nominated for an Oscar for her performance, as she transforms from young innocent into hardened criminal during the course of the film. Also nominated was Hope Emerson as the sadistic Harper. Emerson’s 6’2″, 200+ pound frame make her an imposing physical presence, and she’s about as mean as a prison screw can get. Neither actress won – Judy Holliday picked up the statuette that year for BORN YESTERDAY, while Josephine Hutchinson won for HARVEY – but a case could certainly be made for them.

Agnes Moorehead’s  part of reform warden Ruth Barton also deserved Oscar consideration. Her battles with bureaucrats and the disrespectful Harper (who treats the inmates like pond scum and constantly refers to them as “ya tramps”) highlight the differences between rehabilitation and punishment, battles that are still going on today (and as someone who once worked inside the prison system, trust me on that). The film gives an impressive cast of women the chance to shine: Betty Garde is the hard-bitten Kitty, Lee Patrick her rival “Vice Queen” Elvira Powell, Jan Sterling the CP (that’s Common Prostitute) Smoochie, Ellen Corby a nutty husband killer, Gertrude W. Hoffman the wise old lifer Millie, Olive Deering the doomed June, and the tragic former star Gertrude Michael as the haughty Georgia. Other Familiar Faces behind the walls include Don Beddoe (as the political hack prison commissioner), Jane Darwell , Marlo Dwyer, Sandra Gould, Esther Howard , Sheila MacRae (billed as Sheila Stevens), Queenie Smith (as Marie’s mom), Amzie Strickland, Nita Talbot, and Ann Tyrell.

CAGED’s tougher-than-the-soles-on-a-streetwalker’s-feet screenplay is by Virginia Kellogg, who wrote the story with Bernard Schoenfeld (both were Oscar nominated). Kellogg, who wrote the stories for the tough films noir T-MEN and WHITE HEAT , was a former reporter who used her contacts to go undercover as an inmate in four different prisons to do research on the subject. The result was this knockout of a movie, as realistic a look at prison life as was possible for the time. The bleakness of doing a bid behind bars, the corruption that still goes on, and the dehumanization of people contributes to the high recidivism rate experienced even today. The women of CAGED are no saints, not by a long shot, but their treatment here offers no hope for redemption, just a revolving door for those tagged as social outcasts. It’s a film that is still relevant today, and a film noir you don’t want to miss.