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Movie Answer Man (11/05/1995)

Q. There's been a lot of discussion about the success of "Seven." One thing really sang out to me. The picture was written not by a committee but by a single writer, and one who obviously had some education. This is in sharp and dire contrast to the usual run of bang-bang movies in which musclemen with oiled pectorals blow hoods away with dialogue on the order of, " **** you, *******." I grew up on films written by real authors, including Hecht and MacArthur, and, like most novelists, I cringe at the "Hollywood-Speak" of so-called screen "writers." The writer of "Seven" deserves an Oscar nomination. (John Jakes, Hilton Head Island, S.C.)

A. I agree that Andrew Kevin Walker's screenplay was original and literate. And I think much of the success of "Get Shorty" is because Elmore Leonard's original dialog was retained wherever possible. (Because you are a famous writer, I would like to assure readers that the asterisks are mine; you quoted the bad guys accurately.)

Q. We had a dinner party tonight and the topic of dating came up as one of our teenage daughters is in "love." One of us said that she was "Pittatated." Another said, No! she is in fact "Twitapated." I said, You're both wrong because she is "Pitapated!" All of this because of the Disney movie, "Bambi," where the skunk was telling Bambi about love. What is the correct word? Rick Johnston 71352,1176

A. The skunk says "Twitter-pated." My thanks for this info to Richard Kinkead of Lantana, Fla., via the CompuServe Showbiz Forum. He obviously has way too much time on his hands.

Q. I haven't seen "Copycat" yet, but just by seeing the ads I am now OFFICIALLY sick and tired of the Killer As Performance Artist movie cliche. "Silence of the Lambs" was great. But all of the KAPA movies since then have made me want to see an old-fashioned movie where the killer just shoots anyone who is available--for drugs, money, whatever. Hollywood, just give me detectives who get their quarry because of dogged collection of evidence, not a split-second flash of insight which causes them to realize that the crime scenes form a connect-the-dots picture of Bert Parks...and therefore the killer must live on or near the mole on Bert's left cheek! (Andy Ihnatko, Westwood, Mass.)

A. Yeah, I know what you mean. "Showgirls" alone had about a million too many cheeks for me.

Q. In your 10/8 Answer Man you said "I've never heard of a studio deliberately putting scenes in a preview that aren't in the film." According to Premiere magazine, the makers of "Patriot Games" shot two versions of the scene where James Earl Jones comes out to Harrison Ford's house to tell him that Sean Bean's character had escaped from prison. One was used in the preview (Jones says "There's never been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, blah, blah," and Ford replies, "But I killed his brother"). The other, used in the film, was a bit less melodramatic. The director, Philip Noyce, acknowledged that a version was shot specifically for the trailer. (Paul McElligott, Lake Forest, Calif.)

A. This is depressing news. I already knew there were movie critics who supplied their quotes directly to the previews without putting them in a review first. Now you tell me the previews themselves don't always come from the movies. What we're developing here is a parallel art form, with parallel critics to review it.

Q. Those wacky boys at Disney are at it again! Apparently the infamous Tower of Tumescence on the cover of "The Little Mermaid" video wasn't enough to satisfy their phallocentric obsessions-- now they've desecrated an Archbishop! Take a close look at the scene where Ursula is about to marry Prince Eric--it'll soon become obvious just how excited the clergyman is. (Chuck Mathias, Steilacoom, Wash.)

A. This and other recent rumors about hidden sexual content in Disney movies have been sweeping the country. They were brilliantly tracked down to their sources in a article by Lisa Bannon in the Oct. 24 Wall Street Journal. In one case, the Christian magazine Media Guide printed a retraction of its report (that Aladdin whispers: "All good teenagers take off their clothes") after subjecting the suspicious phrase to digital analysis in a recording studio and finding that it actually sounded more like "Scat, good tiger, take off and go." Many of those spreading the rumors could not find the references for themselves, but passed them on because they made a good story. I am sad that the rumors are being spread by those who, in the name of family values, are destroying childhood innocence by encouraging kids and their parents to look for non-existent filth. These days, my guess is that a Disney artist caught sneaking anything unauthorized into a movie is likely to be turned over to Captain Hook and fed to the crocodiles.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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