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Movie Answer Man (12/30/2001)

Q. A reader from British Columbia wrote to you saying that the first reel of "The Man Who Wasn't There" was in color when he saw it and you answered: "A mistake so big that if it had been a postage stamp instead of a movie, collectors would be fighting for it." Looks like it's not so rare. When I saw it in Toronto, the first two reels were in color. I thought it was by design and wondered why no reviews mentioned that. (Serguei Oukladov, Toronto ON)

A. Parts of Canada apparently saw an unchecked print. Alun Evans of Seattle writes that the opening reel was in color in Vancouver when he saw it. Richard Carpenter of Toronto also reports on the black and white that wasn't there. USA films, which released the film in the U.S., declined to offer an official statement, but I learned off the record that a glitch occurred at the developing labs. Audiences in the United States did not see the defective reel because it was caught before being shown to the public. Unfortunately, in Canada the glitch wasn't caught. The film was released in Canada by Odeon Films, a division of Alliance Atlantis.

Q. In your review of "Heist," you say that the line, "Everyone needs money. That's why they call it money!", is one of the funniest lines that David Mamet has ever written. Why is it funny and how do you interpret it? I saw the film this weekend and heard the same line, yet I feel it just doesn't work. (Rory L. Aronsky, Pembroke Pines FL)

A. Ali Hirji of Edmonton agrees with you: "I personally do not understand what is so clever about this line, since it seems to have no meaning beyond its literal meaning." Why is it funny? As Louis Armstrong once said, "There are some folks that, if they don't know, you can't tell 'em."

Q. Amidst all the howling and gnashing of teeth over how unfair "Shallow Hal" is to overweight women, would a male actor as unslender as Jack Black EVER be cast as a serious love interest to Gwyneth Paltrow if she were playing a character like her model-thin self? (Ward Wilson, Chicago, IL)

A. No. Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway did a bed scene in "Don Juan Demarco," but its highlight was Brando demonstrating how he could throw popcorn kernels into the air and catch them in his mouth.

Q. A school district in North Dakota did not allow students to attend the premiere of "Harry Potter" in Fargo. They feel the portrayal of witchcraft would be in violation of the separation of church and state. I am very disappointed about the action being taken and I really feel for the kids. (Sarah Adams, Fargo, ND)

A. Since this was to be an official class trip, I can understand the principle involved, and hope the school district applies the same standards to public prayers at football games, etc.

Q. I admit, on most trips to the movies, I sneak in my food to avoid paying the prices at the concession stand. On one of my trips to an AMC theater, however, a friend of mine was halfway into eating a bag of chips as he entered the theater. He told the ticket usher that he was almost done with the chips and not to worry about it, but to our surprise, the employee said AMC allows customers to bring their own food. I did a double take when I heard this, but I'm left curious. Is this the policy of every AMC theater? Was this just the policy at the AMC theater I visited? Or was this just that employee's own policy? And if it is true that customers can bring their own food, how would AMC make any money? (Ben Christie, Whitby, ON)

A. Many AMC theaters do indeed have that policy, although they don't advertise it. There is a catch: Since theaters make most of their money at the concession stand (the studios get most of the admission price), if everyone brought their own food the theaters would go broke, or ticket prices would go to $20.

Q. The new movie "The Independent" is a spoof documentary about Morty Fineman, an exploitation filmmaker played by Jerry Stiller. At the end, the credits list hundreds of his titles--too fast to read them all. Where can I get the whole list? (Ronnie Barzell, Los Angeles)

A. "Morty Fineman" has his own web site at Among his 427 films: "Puberty County Line," "Thongmonster," "Ms. Kevorkian," "Don't Pick at It," "Saturday Night Fever Blister" and the Grounded Stewardesses series.

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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