More often than we might think, the most memorable movie lines are not remembered correctly. The films that resonate with us usually encompass a moment, phrase or theme that endures well after the lights come up. Some of these moments have transcended the movie world and firmly engrained themselves in everyday life. Who hasn’t uttered the timeless expression, “There’s no place like home?” Try looking into a mirror without asking yourself, “You talking to me?”
These lines, and many others, have taken on a life of their own beyond the context in which we first heard them. History of Cool had the good fortunate of speaking with long-time producer Brian Frankish. Among his many accomplishments includes working on the film, Field of Dreams. Frankish recalled the majestic moment when Ray Kinsella’s persistent beliefs allowed for the rare opportunity to reconcile with his father. The quote that set him on his spiritual journey stacks up with the best of them: “If you build it, they will come.” We then realized this wasn’t the line at all. The correct wording turned out to be, “If you build it, he will come.” The “He” of course refers to Ray’s dad, the man who served as a metaphor for the regrets we carry throughout our lives.
If the wrong words can so easily roll off of our tongues, what else have we gotten wrong? The answer is a lot.
It’s not limited to entertainment. Here is Listverse's Famous Historic Misquotes.
But perhaps the question is not what, but why?
Imagine the children’s game, telephone. A group of kids sit in a circle, whispering a phrase to one another. Usually, once the words arrive at the last person, they come out differently than originated. Hence, history, is one big game of telephone. Words get passed down from generation to generation, often distorted from the initial phrasing.
Is this a bad thing? Not really. We remember things in a certain way for a reason. A line from a movie or a lyric from a song can mean something completely different to one person than it does to another. People hear what they want. And if someone can find some sort of comfort or personal revelation once the words reach their ears, the art has done its job.
Greg Dorn is a freelance writer and a member of the History of Cool team. He lives in Chicago. He is also a contributing Writer at Chicago Tribune Media Group. Follow him on twitter:@GregoryDorn
We’ve all heard it before: “The movie was good, but the book was better.” In many cases, this phrase comes from the mouth of a pretentious antagonist: someone who would go on to describe how said movie “spoiled” the book’s integrity.
But if a treasured piece of literature gained integrity in the first place, can anything -including a bad movie - really do it damage?
by Greg Dorn
What is cool? Who is cool? These questions will no-doubt yield an array of different answers, thoughts, feelings and emotions. In fact, the very interpretation of these quandaries can often guide the conversation. When History of Cool sat down with L.A. Weekly founder Jay Levin, cool to him meant friend and activist Abbie Hoffman.
Although vocal up until his death in 1989, Hoffman is perhaps best known as a member of “The Chicago 8” (later renamed “The Chicago 7”), a group of protestors arrested and tried for conspiracy and inciting to riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The opposition for U.S. involvement in Vietnam had reached a boiling point by ’68. Hoffman set his sights on the Chicago convention, as the Democratic-led White House embodied the establishment responsible for the war.
LA Weekly founder Jay Levin came to the History of Cool studios to discuss what he thought was cool. He talked about Radical Sanity and answered our Three Question Interview. The video was published today on our YouTube channel.
When asked what Levin thought was cool, he mentioned his friend Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989). Hoffman, a political and social activist who co-founded the Youth International Party (“Yippies”), was one of the Chicago Seven convicted of inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Hoffman’s conviction was later overturned.
If Milton Berle served as Mr. Television and Jack Benny embodied comedic timing, Sid Caesar was the resident goofball. Welcome to the golden age of television, when talk shows, variety hours and sitcoms still ruled the airwaves.
Caesar first set out to become a jazz musician, choosing the saxophone as his axe. His commanding officer in the army witnessed him cracking up his troops, and the rest is history. Perhaps not as celebrated as other TV stars, Sid Caesar set the standard for organized insanity. His first writing team for the groundbreaking Your Show of Shows can be described as the “Dream Team” of comedy: Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Mel Tolkin and Neil Simon. Although short lived, Your Show made way to Caesar’s Hour, championed by an unknown, neurotic funnyman, Woody Allen. As the variety hour concept became more prevalent and crowded, Caesar’s star diminished.
by Greg Dorn
February 9, 2014 marks 50 years since The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show to an estimated 73 million viewers.
A mere ten weeks earlier, the nation went into mourning after an assassin’s bullet killed our beloved President. John F. Kennedy stands as the closest thing this country has ever had to royalty. His youthful essence and charismatic charm infused a sense of hope and optimism for a better tomorrow. After the untimely passing, the idiom known as the “60s” began to take shape. The mysterious murder fueled a distrust in our government that still exists today. A mostly unknown war gained significant steam in Southeast Asia. People started to see children and young adults as their own entity, rather than just a pathway to adulthood. Although in its infant stages, rock and roll had already began to shake the foundation of what music could be. The so called “jungle music” created a divide between kids and their parents. The world was on the brink of a cultural and political revolution. And The Beatles arrived at the exact right place, at the exact right time.
These odd-looking lads from Liverpool not only embodied the ready-to-explode youth culture, they became a voice for their cause. Teenagers were tired of hearing records from The Singing Nun or Andy Williams. They needed something fun, exciting, dangerous and different. The Beatles were a breath of fresh air, and exactly what we were looking for.
Their strange hair, quirky accents and unprecedented sound were intoxicating. Immediately put in front of the world’s stage, they handled it with class, wit and charm. The Beatles were a welcomed sign of change, and the kids ate it up.
This is why, 50 years later, The Beatles continue to mesmerize the masses. Their story has reached mythical heights, with Decca Records infamously stating, “guitar groups are on the way out.” They were no doubt kicking themselves when a then-record 73 million people watched The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (roughly 38% of the U.S. populations).
From the first words out of Paul McCartney’s mouth, “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you,” America knew they had found something special. This was largely in part due to older folks perceiving them as longhaired, inappropriate hooligans. What more would make a kid find something cool than if their mom or dad hated it? Much like a superhero needs a villain, The Beatles needed the naysayers.
It didn’t hurt that The Beatles had a very strategic and intentional branding plan. As each member’s name ran across the screen, kids instantly chose their “favorite Beatle.” Names like the cute one (Paul) or the quite one (George) became common phrases at school. If you didn’t have an answer to “who’s your favorite Beatle,” hip and cool you were not.
Now, we find ourselves in the year 2014, and The Beatles remain as relevant as ever. Perhaps it’s simply because they created the greatest body of work ever assembled from a rock and roll band. Maybe we still speak of them as cultural visionaries; a group who changed the world, and in turn, changed them. Needless to say The Beatles’ story continues into the 21st Century because they offered something, whether it was a song or a feeling, that we desperately needed in a confusing and turbulent time. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.
Greg Dorn is a freelance writer and a member of the History of Cool team. He lives in Chicago. He is also a contributing Writer at Chicago Tribune Media Group. Follow him on twitter: @GregoryDorn
Great comedians often push the boundaries of language and ask their audience to reexamine taboos. It’s a rare skill to have the ability to take unutterable words, and somehow make these words funny. George Carlin’s famous routine, “Seven words you can’t say on television,” is a classic example of this skill; while on the other hand, Michael Richards effectively ruined his career as Kramer for repeating a racial slur over and over again on stage.
So that got me thinking: When is it cool to use such emotional and sensitive curse words in comedy? When is it not?
Two weeks ago, I left Los Angeles to hike into the Grand Canyon and camp next to the Colorado River. It was my first time in Northern Arizona, and I wanted to discover what was so cool about hiking 26 miles, staring up at a bunch of rocks and devouring food that only people lost in space would resort to eating. But in the end, after lugging a 30-pound backpack around, I finally understood. So here is the breakdown: “10 Cool Things About Hiking the Grand Canyon.”