Monday, December 17, 2007


Calling Neel Mehta

In a recent post about rock music, Neel displays a rock band poster for "Citizen Dick." Sly movie afficianado that he is, Neel doesn't even mention that Citizen Dick was the name of the fictional band headed by the Matt Dillon character in Cameron Crowe's Singles. Has some real band stolen the name?

Here's a movie trivia question for the master (Neel). Last year's well-regarded mockumentary about public school teachers, Chalk, was made by a production company called "Virgil Films," which sports a modest logo against a back backdrop with an evocative soundtrack: "plock-plock... pffft.... plock-plock .... pffft."

Okay, Neel, re-rent the movie if you have to. To what film is "Virgil Films" alluding? Hint: it's one of my all-time faves.

ANSWER (12/24/07): The Great Escape. The lead character, played by Steve McQueen, was named "Virgil Hilts," and the sound was that of playing solitaire catch by bouncing a baseball off the concrete walls and floor of the "cooler" -- the solitary confinement cell in the prison camp. McQueen/Hilt's repeated stints in the cooler and the baseball-bouncing were a leitmotif in the film.

Calling me, or calling me out?

I'm pleased you got the reference. That Citizen Dick poster (image taken from Rock Portland) actually comes direct from the 1992 film Singles; I certainly hope there's not some real band using the name.

Two neat tidbits about that poster that make it way ahead of its time:

1. Sweetwater is listed as an opening act. Cameron Crowe later uses this name for the band at the center of his 2000 film Almost Famous.

2. In Singles, there's a brief scene where someone puts up a poster exactly like this, and there's a very percussive opening riff playing in the background. It's from "Spoonman" by Soundgarden, which wasn't released until 1994.

As for your question, I've never seen Chalk (and the local library systems don't carry it), so I'll have to look around some, or ask a friend with Netflix to be generous.

Is the allusion from the movie itself, or just the animated logo?
1) I was already primed to catch that allusion because just two days ago I heard Paul Westerberg's "Dyslexic Heart" while dining at P.F.Changs.

2) When I saw "Sweetwater" on the poster, my first thought was "Almost Famous," though in fact that band was called "Stillwater." (Maybe it was "Sweetwater" in the original script or some obscure director's cut version?)

3) The allusion is only in the Virgil Films logo on the DVD (not on their logo on the Chalk trailer on the movie website).
Ah. "Sweetwater" was my mistake, confirmed online by the identical mistakes of several others. Not remembering that movie, I should've checked more closely.

"On the DVD"? As in on the DVD cover, or on screen if I watch the DVD?
Just because "Spoonman" wasn't released until '94 doesn't mean that Soundgarden didn't have a version of it available (and weren't some of the band members in Singles? Or was it just Pearl Jam?)

It wouldn't suprise me if a band was using Citizen Dick as a name. Here in New Jersey, there is/was a popular cover band called "Big Richard" and of course, there is the now nationally-popular "Fallout Boy", named after the Simpson's comic book sidekick of "Radioactive Man"
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