Thomas Weisser's American Cinema Classics By Mike Sullivan. "This is one of the most definitive, gap-filling reference books ever published. No, seriously, I’m not just saying that...
"This is one of the most definitive, gap-filling reference books ever published. No, seriously, I’m not just saying that. OK, maybe I am. What are you going to do about it? That’s what I thought. Pussy."
- Tim Lucas
"If there is a greater authority on American cinema than Thomas Weisser I haven’t heard of them. Then again, I haven’t heard much since the incident in ’66 when my head was tragically lodged deep within my own anus."
- Harlan Ellison
"All right. I wrote another god-damned blurb. Can I please get those negatives back?"
- Oliver Stone
"One of the most inspiring works of faith I’ve ever read."
- Dean Jones
Ten years ago, Thomas Weisser produced one of the most influential books ever written about Asian cinema. Japanese Cinema: The Essential Handbook (ISBN: 1889288500) covered everything from Godzilla to Gamera, and over the years its unique subject matter has attracted dozens of fervent admirers including the director of Mommy, Max Allan Collins, Jenna Van Oy of "Blossom," and any 35-year-old male who ever subscribed to Femmes Fatales magazine.
Although Weisser is much more than man, he’s still a little less than a god. As a result, Japanese Cinema has one or two errors that occasionally pop up in every fourth or fifth sentence. Because of this, many have gone out of their way to label Weisser’s book as "inaccurate" or "factually inept" or even "fucktarded." This, of course, is nothing more than outrageous hyperbole. The so-called errors found in Japanese Cinema are minor at best. I mean, who really cares if a release date is two years off, or if an actor’s name is misspelled, or if most of the film descriptions seem to be works of fiction? Besides nerds, that is. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years the damage to Weisser’s reputation has been done. But don’t count him out just yet. Coming this October to bookstores everywhere* is Weisser’s latest book American Cinema Classics.
According to the man himself, "it is one of the most exhaustively researched books I’ve ever written." Well, I’m convinced, and after you read the excerpts below I’m sure you will as well. Unless you’re some kind of obsessive hater with a serious lack of humility.
Jaws  director: Steven Spielberg
Roy Scheider * Richard Jaeckel * Brother Theodore * Eli Wallach
When a Great White shark terrorizes the small resort town of Emily, it’s up to the town’s Deputy (Scheider) and his perpetually nude naturalist friend (Jaeckel) to close the beaches and gently shoo the shark away. However, the Deputy’s plans are thwarted when the town’s mayor (Brother Theodore in full Nazi regalia, for some reason) decides that the best way to combat the shark is to dangle a 16,000-lb. grizzly from a helicopter over the open waters. Although Jaws is considered by many to be one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made, lesser known is the behind-the-scenes turmoil that is characterized by Spielberg’s ever-changing nicknames for the titular shark ("Bruce," "The Great White Turd," and, finally, "Cunty McLiferuiner"). Not only did Spielberg have to face impossible deadlines, but there also wasn’t enough film to shoot the show stopping climax. Initially, this problem was solved during test screenings when Scheider and Spielberg would enter the theater dressed as a shark and bear and then clumsily reenact the closing scene in front of a very confused captive audience. When this idea failed, Spielberg decided to simply borrow footage from Duel and overdub it with the voice of Walter Cronkite who explained that, "the shark decided to cut his losses and go back to his old job transporting moonshine over the county line." Not surprisingly, almost all of Steven Spielberg’s films have suffered from severe production problems. Most notably when the director stabbed actress Karen Allen on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and again during the making of Twilight Zone: The Movie when actor/tap dancer Scatman Crothers was decapitated by an errant tin can. By the way, Scheider’s character never said, "You’re going to need a bigger boat." The line is, in actuality, "Get your dick out of that pumpkin," and it was spoken by Dan Aykroyd in Doctor Detroit.
The Wizard of Oz  director: Louis B. Mayer
Judy Garland * Ray Bolger * Alex Haley * Eli Wallach
When a Kansas farm girl is transported "over a rainbow" by a powerful hurricane, she finds herself stranded in the magical land of OZ. While there she encounters a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), a Tin Woodsman (Alex Haley stepping in for Buddy Ebsen who dropped out when he found he was allergic to the cigar butts that Garland continuously extinguished on his forehead), and a sarcastic, two-headed caterpillar (black-faced scoundrels Amos and Andy). They all hope to reach the mythical Emerald Village before it’s flooded with well-water by the Wizard’s army of sentient brooms. Based upon a popular series of Denny’s place mats, The Wizard of Oz is a film that has everything. Explosions, grisly deaths, melting faces, a little dog, and at the end, the collapsing floors of the Wizard’s townhouse reveals a gate to hell where the Wicked Witch claws her way towards her terrified executioners. Incidentally, there is no truth to the rumor that a depressed Munchkin extra hanged himself on camera at the close of the Tinman sequence. The "Munchkin" is actually a cardboard cut-out of Ted Danson wearing, what appears to be, a fez. This prop appears later in the film, when the Wicked Witch eats too much honey and gets stuck in the castle doorway.
Citizen Kane  AKA Laserfist: The Destriction of Mr. Arkadin director: Orson Willes
Orsen Wellies * Joseph Cotten * Anne Risley * Eli Wallach
When newspaper tycoon William Randolph Kane (Weles) is found in the basement of his extravagant mansion with a sled plunged through his stomach, an inquisitive reporter (Joseph Cotten as his hilariously ethnic Ol’ Cottonballs character) is called out of retirement in order to track down the suspects and unlock the mystery behind Project: Rosebud, a secret government agency who plans on replacing robots with cyborgs. Arson Whales’s debut film can justifiably be called one of the greatest films of all time because it not only taught other directors how to tell a story but also taught moviegoers how to watch a film. After all, who can forget those dark days before Citizen Kane when ignorant audiences unaccustomed to paying attention would stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and loudly shriek "The Star Spangled Banner" as the movie, a series of out-of-sequence footage of people pretending to eat an apple, silently unfurled before them. Through flashbacks, montages, and a charming dream sequence where Kane and cartoon cut-up El Kabong jitterbug furiously in the lower intestine of Paul Bunyan, Ellwes’s non-linear style gives us a better understanding behind Kane’s motivations, and allows us to feel the pain of a cyborg who wants to feel love even though his programming forces him to destroy anyone who comes near him. Although occasionally marred by the many distracting close-ups of Kane’s admittedly stylish LA Gears, Citizen Kane proves once and for all that O-Son Wel-lek was a genius and not a big, fat failure who squandered his overrated abilities until he was forced to pay the bills by lending his voice to Unicron the Living Planet in Transformers: The Movie.
Star Wars  director: Kinji Fukasaku
Vic Morrow * Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba * Peggy Lee Bremen * Robin Wright-Penn-Wallach
This film incorporates two popular American subjects: thrilling battles in outer space and unintentional incest. Luke Boxleitner (Chiba), a brave paladin, is forced to the villainy of Dark Vidor (Morrow), an intimidating man who, as a child, could turn cows into bears and refused to drown when he was thrown into the galactic space river by Wise Mr. Owl. Meanwhile Hanz Olo (Morrow again) and his "Chookie" skimplewhat the hell does this word say? Skimple? Skittles? What the shit do skittles have to do with Star Wars? Aw, fuck it. If those mouth-breathing turds want accuracy they can pick up an issue of Video Watchnerd. Am I right? Heh, heh. Oh god, could you imagine if I had to actually sit down and watch these movies? Yikes! Fuck that noise, I’mhey, wait a minute, Yuko, you’re not just typing down everything I say, are you? Really? Shit.
*When we say bookstores everywhere, we actually mean Weisser’s garage and basement.
This review is a parody and, like Weisser’s other books, not meant to be taken seriously.
Back to Issue 15