What is a best boy
Forgive me for not introducing
myself. My name is John Shea and
I am the film editor for the Daily.
Not too long ago, a friend of
mine praised me for how much I
knew about film. I gushed and said,
"Naaaaw..." It's always nice to have
one's ego gently stroked, and I
appreciated the gesture.
Later that night, my friend and I
went to see a movie. As the film
was ending and the credits were
rolling up the screen, something
caught my friend's eye.
"What's a 'best boy'?" he asked
Now, we all have at least one
area of expertise, one area in which
we pride ourselves at having
superior knowledge. There is
nothing more discouraging than
someone coming along and
popping your bubble. Like, if you
thought you really knew your stuff
on dinosaurs, and I came along and
asked, "What did the Iguanodon
species most like to eat?" you'd be
pretty upset not to know it was
broadleaf saplings, wouldn't you?
Of course you would. It's
I hate to admit I don't know
something about film, and
whenever confronted by a film buff
A multi-faceted entertainer talks about
racism, Hollywood, and stereotypes
Ossie Davis is an actor, writer, director, producer, social activist, and
community leader. He left Howard University in 1938, after his junior
year, to go to New York, where he became a successful-Broadway actor.
In 1953, his first play 'The Big Deal' was produced off-Broadway. His
next play, 'Purlie Victorious,' which showed the different ways Blacks
respond to poverty and oppression, was a controversial hit, with Davis
playing the title role. In 1948, he met his wife Ruby Dee when they
worked together on Broadway. They went on to star together in 1959 in
'A Raisin In The Sun', and, in recent years, they have hosted a PBS tele-
vision series. They are active on the lecture circuit giving dramatic read-
ings and presentations. Davis spoke with WEEKEND Editor Alan Paul
following a campus performance to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s
Daily: Do you see your art as a means to a higher end or just an expres-
sion of yourself and where you are at the time?
Davis: I would say that my art is an extension of myself and who I hap-
pen to be at the moment. My art is essentially that of the stereotype but
it's carrying out a responsibility that I feel incumbent to me by the means
most suitable to me and my talents. But if I couldn't speak, if I didn't
have the voice, I think I would find some other way to do exactly what
I'm doing now because it's an extension of me.
D: One thing Amiri Baraka said which really stuck with me was that
when he gained some fame, he realized he had an obligation to not be just
4 another famous asshole. Have you felt that heavily?
O.D.: Not heavily. I couldn't. See, in my case there was never the dan-
ger of being as famous an asshole as Amiri might be because he's a man
of immense talent. But, the challenge to remain meaningful, as against
fulfilling someone else's burden - your agent's or public relation per-
son's - is one I admire in him and I also practice it myself the best I
D: Robert Townshend's film Hollywood Shuffle was about the difficulty
for a Black actor to find meaningful roles. As a successful actor on stage,
screen, and TV, have you been frustrated by the lack of quality roles
available to you as a Black actor?
O.D.: No, no. I learned early on, if I was going to let this shit frustrate
me, I'd be dead...No! I did exactly what Townshend did; I laughed at it. It
never was so threatening or so evil that it stopped me from making a liv-
ing or having a human attitude about the whole thing. I know about jobs
I lost, sometimes because I was Black, sometimes because on the politi-
cal spectrum I was red or whatever. I know about all of those things but I
was always able to put them in perspective. I learned a long time ago that
if I was going to wait on Hollywood to tell me why I was here.,..No! I
went Amiri'sway. Whoever I am, I am and I enjoy the hell out of it.
See INTERVIEW, Page 9
who asks me something about a
film I don't know, I am reluctant to
say, "I dunno." Instead, I cock my
head at a 45 degree angle and say
authoritatively, "Outstan ding
cinematography." I sound smart, I
impress other people, I feel good
about myself. It's great.
Yet there I was, facing someone
who hours earlier had called me "a
walking encyclopedia of movie
trivia," asking me something I
hadn't the slightest about. My mind
was racing as I tried to come up
with a witty, intelligent answer.
God, I thought to myself. Some
film editor you are. You don't even
know one of the most fundamental
aspects of film - a simple,
technical term. I went home that
night feeling bad, and the next
morning I woke up with an
uncharacteristic thirst for
knowledge. A fire burned within
me. I was going to find out what a
best boy was by the end of the day.
I figured I would start by calling.
the offices of Orion Pictures in Los
Angeles. They make these pictures,
don't they? Surely someone there
could help me out.
"Hello. Orion Publicity. This is
Karen speaking, how may I help
"Karen, my name is John Shea.
I'm calling from the Michigan
Daily and I'm trying to find out
what a best boy is."
"Karen?" I ask over the phone.
"A best boy. You know, he's
always on the credits that come
over the screen at the end of every
"Uh, is there any way I can
maybe get a hold of a best boy?
Talk to him?"
You would have thought that
Karen had just been accosted by a
creature from outer space. I tried to
explain to her what I was doing,
but the explaination only confused
"Wait for one moment," she
I waited for several moments.
"I'm sorry, sir. I can't help
See SH EA, Page 9
This is one Trip'
By Lisa Pollak
The Couch Trip, directed b y
Michael Ritchie, is such a sorry at-
tempt to satirize the psychiatry pro-
fession that you'd almost have to be
crazy to like it.
Craziness, of course, "is t h e
heavy-handed motif of this so-called
comedy about a crazy person (Dan
Aykroyd) who becomes a psychia-
trist, two psychiatrists (Charles
Grodin and David Clennon) who go
crazy, one crazy guy (Walter
Matthau) who stays crazy, and -
something the director probably
thought he'd be crazy to do without
- one vacuous blonde pillar of san-
ity (Donna Dixon).
The method to this madness?
t Yes, folks, it's the old-role-reversal-
Hollywood staple. Since the plot
moves about as quickly as Dixon's
mind (the ushers should supply us
with straightjackets as we are
tempted to tear our hair out in
agony), the few humorous lines are
punctuated with blasts from irritat-
ing horn ensembles in order, I pre-
sume, to wake up the audience.
Let's be fair: any movie can be
an abysmal and boring disaster. But
The Couch Trip - and this is what
is so frustrating - starts with a
fantastic premise: to ridicule the
techniques of the couch talk profes-
sion ("I think the garbage can in
your dream represents your husband,
Mrs. Smith"), the recent deluge of
psychiatric self-help books and talk
shows, and our general misuse of
Crazily enough, the premise
never comes into practice. The cen-
tral comedic idea here - and The
Couch Trip's most disappointing
failure - is the imposter' s
(Aykroyd's) attempt to host the real
psychiatrist's phone-in talk show.
These scenes, which could have hit
the humor bullseye, end up resorting
to the Three's Company School of
Comedy: "fuck" in every third sen-
you'll definitely want t
tence and plenty of misinterpreted
Probably aware they had missed
their satirical mark, the makers of
this movie felt compelled (perhaps
that's called the we-wanna-hit-real-
bad-obsessive-compulsion) to add a
generous dose of poorly-written
morality to an already poorly-exe-
cuted movie. "Sometimes all that
truth-telling gets so icky," a scaggy-
looking Matthau moans to Dixon.
"Well, sometimes the truth is icky,"
she drawls. Believe me, the only
thing "icky" here is the movie.
All of which may leave the po-
tential viewer wondering how two
talents (Dixon and Grodin exempted)
like Matthau and Aykroyd ended up
in a film best described by the words
"yuck, yuck, yuck." Matthau, win-
ner of two Tonys and an Academy
Award, defines the meaning of "has-
been" as he stumbles his way
through The Couch Trip. He must
have been truly crazy to take this
At least there's a message in the
title: spare yourself a trip to the the-
ater and stay at home on your couch.
The Couch Trip is one journey you
definitely don't want to take. 0
Just when you thought it couldn't get
Dan Aykroyd literally ride off into th
OFF THE WALL
You are all so smart and have so
much potential, but get a fucking
It takes more than just long arms to
reach for the stars.
Learn or die!
The schooled are ruled and fooled.
Kiosk outside SEB
You look really stupid when you're
trying to stay awake.
BUT I'D LOOK EVEN M O R E
STUPID IF I WERE ASLEEP.
I agree either way.
How many Spartans does it take to
screw in a lightbulb?
TWO - AND THEY GET FOUR
CREDITS FOR IT.
-i re-ndFi1m-Center of the Midwest
o DS jkAEN
BY A CU01ii
OF AN V6, c
f zo$vbL To $900 'TW,
- ~ WffH AZ's REMTIt"S~
996, b o t
*Disoounts Not Valid D
ling Special Engage
Israel's Culture& Politics
as reflected in its
MON. JAN 25
Union of St
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WEEKEND/JANUARY 22, 1988
WEEKEND/JANUARY 22, 1988