Burt Reynolds is a man of many sides. The good-time Southern boy. The gritty action hero. The charming romantic rogue. But how many of you know Burt the Troubadour?

Yes. Burt Reynolds, like so many screen stars of the 1970s, released an album. Some of this genre were natural extensions of a star’s pre-existing talent (see John Travolta), and some were evidence that a whole lot of cocaine had been introduced to the decision-making process (see Chevy Chase).

Burt’s was special. As in most of his work, Burt both recognized his limitations (he can’t much sing) and proceeded to ignore them in the most charming way possible (on-pitchishly rambling his way through some gently orchestrated ruminations on the Nature of Burt).

Just sitting down and listening to it takes you back to an age when the beer was cooler, the summers were kinder, and the denim caressed a man’s legs like a sun shower.

Enjoy. It’s what Burt would want.

Join me and Neil O’Fortune this Friday, 6/13, for an all-star burlesque tribute to the great man himself: BURTLESQUE. Tickets can be found here.

The video quality above is absolutely dreadful, but it’s the words and the intonation that stick for me.

Boogie Nights is indisputably one of Burt Reynolds’ career highlights, and this scene is emblematic of why he was so right and so poignant in it. In this scene Burt is yesterday’s man, just as he was in 1997. Not one person could have anticipated that by the end of that year, a man who had become a walking punchline with a dead career would deliver a performance like Jack Horner.

Reynolds lends an old-world charm to Jack, a character most actors would treat as a joke. Perhaps only a man who’d seen his own once-invincible legend dragged through the muck, laughed at and left for dead by the press would be able to see Jack Horner for what he really was: a Don Quixote for a dying age of film. Burt, bless him, saw “70s porn director with delusions of artistic grandeur” as an opportunity to display pathos, warmth and unassailable dignity. He never laughs at Jack, no matter what, and if we do it’s all with fondness.

Reynolds made a lot of dumb movies back in the day, but he was an artist first and foremost. One of the things he did with his unimaginable wealth was put up a dinner theater in Florida where he and his friends could play the classics. He has taught acting. And though he may have given a handful of performances one could forgivingly call “relaxed” (or perhaps less charitably “lazy”), in his prime there was no one who showed up and worked harder to charm and entertain.

Jack Horner is the perfect role for Burt because he’s the romantic extension of all Burt was at his best: a man who never took the easy way to do the simple things right.

And thank goodness for that.

Join me and Neil O’Fortune this Friday, 6/13, for an all-star burlesque tribute to the great man himself: BURTLESQUE. Tickets can be found here.

There are many reasons to love Smokey and the Bandit. Here is a list of them:

1. The car stunts are berserk and plentiful.

2. Burt Reynolds has enough star presence to devour Hollywood entire.

3. Sally Field turns truculence into a seductive artform.

4. Jackie Gleason does a slow burn like an all-day barbeque slathered in sauce.

5. Jerry Reed. Just…Jerry Reed.

6. The soundtrack owns all. So Jerry Reed again.

7. There’s a curious angle to the film’s success; it did no business on the coasts, and yet it was second only to Star Wars at the box office in 1977. The natural reason for this is that a cowboy hat sporting, speed limit breaking anti-hero just plays to more wish fulfillments in flyover country than it does in the metropolitan centers. But watch the film again and it becomes clear that Burt isn’t your usual redneck. Indeed, it is Gleason who voices most of the film’s insensitive sentiments about minorities and the counter-culture. And while he’s a figure of fun, the film clearly despises him. Burt, though? Burt’s just happy to be driving fast and cracking wise, and one of the film’s great turns is when a black funeral procession decides to help out with Bandit’s run and stick it to a hateful racist son-of-a-bitch in one stroke (in fact, the Bandit and the film named for him have absolutely no scorn for the black lawman who might have apprehended Bandit). Because Burt’s not a rebel in the Confederate sense, but rather in the sense of all who bristle under abused authority. He stands for every underdog. Indeed, his perfect match is a tough, argumentative woman forced into unwanted matrimony. She forces herself into his passenger seat and thus is the perfect romance formed: two people who hate being told what to do by assholes. Do they bicker? Are they polar opposites? Of course. It’s like a Southern-fried Tracy and Hepburn picture. But Burt doesn’t try and change her. He loves her in total, thoroughly alien musical theater background and all. For a film often referred to as a redneck picture, and for the era in which it was made, it’s surprisingly progressive. It has a fundamental good cheer that contradicts the gun-toting flag-flying yahoos who champion it. Bandit may not mean to be, but he’s basically a damn hippie.

Smokey and the Bandit is a movie that loves you if your idea of a good time is a romantic walk through the woods, a whiplash laugh or a cold beer on a hot day.

It is the perfect summer movie. It is the essence of Reynolds. It is a full-on Burtsterpiece.

Join me and Neil O’Fortune this Friday, 6/13, for an all-star burlesque tribute to the great man himself: BURTLESQUE. Tickets can be found here

I found myself on the verge of tears for the entire opening section of Maleficent, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. But it hit me at around the point where I realized, flaws or not, that it was going to be some kind of classic.

“Oh my fucking god,” I thought, “I’m fighting tears because this is all so HAPPY and I know it’s going to be ruined.”

The moment that finally crushed me is a piece of screen tragedy that stands alongside the death of Bambi’s mother and the shooting of Old Yeller in the Scarring Kids for Life Hall of Fame. For the first chunk of the film we are watching the early years of the title character, a winged, horned fairy whose daily routine mostly involves flying, smiling and communing with nature. She meets a boy, Stefan. They grow close. And then the film begins to reveal a point of view about gender relations that marks it as something close to revolutionary.

Stefan disappears into the world of men, a world of steel and greed and violence. When he is told that whoever slays Maleficent (who has become a fearsome-but-kind defender of the magical/natural realm) will become king, he seizes the opportunity. He goes to see her. Their chemistry remains strong. She is persuaded to trust him again. He slips her a sleeping potion. She goes under. And he cuts off her wings with a serrated chain.

I mean…holy SHIT.

But that’s not even the moment. It’s when she wakes up.

As she rouses, eyes bleary, she senses something is wrong. And when she realizes that she now has two scabbed stumps where the instruments of her transcendence used to be, Maleficent wails. In agony. For a good long while. She struggles to her feet. She staggers through the forest with the weak unease of someone who’s gotten up from surgery too soon. As she walks, her environment begins to grow gnarled and dark. She has been violated, and the universe around her has gone into mourning.

Angelina Jolie’s performance in this scene would be an Oscar clip in a universe that took movies like this seriously. It left me trembling. Jolie plays every note that she is asked to play, in fact, with devastating honesty and style. From an innocent fairy to a warrior to a devastated survivor to a villain to a mother, there is nothing she doesn’t nail. It’s amazing work.

But holy fucking shit: this is a Disney movie where the inciting incident is a symbolic act of rape.

Maleficent could not have arrived at a more crucial cultural moment. Following the UCSB shooting and subsequent widespread conversation about the violence and harassment women have to deal with just by virtue of being women, here is a film about how the entitlement of men inevitably leads to destruction and ruin. The only men in the film register as monsters (the paranoid Stefan), ineffectual non-entities (Sleeping Beauty[here Aurora]’s aspiring prince) or extensions of the will of Maleficent (her sidekick is a shape-shifter over whom she holds ultimate power). The fairy godmothers are handmaidens of the patriarchy, carrying out Stefan’s schemes and hoping that playing nice with the oppressor will ultimately benefit everyone.

As in life, it does not.

The film finds its happy ending not with the Prince sweeping in to save the day, but with Maleficent giving life to Aurora (an intuitive and lovely Elle Fanning) and finding that together they can render the world of men redundant. This is, on a basic level, as close to a feminist revolution as summer blockbusters get.

The thing is, Maleficent is not a great film. Though a handful of images attain a mythic resonance, the visuals are by and large carelessly framed and assembled CGI hash. Pace-wise, it’s all over the map, sometimes skipping past seemingly important details and sometimes lingering on sequences that could have taken half as long or just been snipped altogether. With the exception of Jolie and Fanning, the actors seem a bit at sea. The screenplay seems like the worst kind of studio “teamwork,” designed to touch all bases while never conclusively settling on one.

In fact, I’m not especially certain that the director, Robert Stromberg, GETS the issues he’s playing with.

But none of that matters. None of it matters because Angelina Jolie drives the film with such a monumental performance, because the hurts that form the root of the story are communicated with such searing honesty, because it’s saying something DESPERATELY true. Namely, that to be a woman in the world of men is to live a life of exploitation, degradation and constant potential violence.

I’m not fucking with you when I say this: Maleficent is #YesAllWomen, The Movie.

My taste in cinema has a perverse streak. When the entire critical establishment dumps on a movie, I’m far more inclined to give it a fair trial. Sometimes you get a Freddy Got Fingered (which I love for its berserk, deeply felt comedy of hurt) and sometimes a Monkeybone (which, believe me, I tried).

Then sometimes you get a Heaven’s Gate.

I won’t recount the tortured history of the production in full (there’s a splendid documentary on the subject), but Heaven’s Gate is a film that shot for nearly a year, burned up over a million feet of film, went 400% over budget, sank Michael Cimino’s promising career, ended a decade of auteur-driven Hollywood film and capsized one of the greatest studios in history. When it was released, the critical jeers were venomous. It exists now as a cautionary tale.

Except I finally watched it, 34 years after its initial, calamitous release, and it turns out it’s a masterpiece. Not a fascinating curio, not a damaged, fitfully great work, but a masterpiece. It is as good an argument as any that film is a living art.

Just look at the imagery above. Look at it. Look at every ravishing, grainy, enormous molecule of it. Look at the size of the sky, the depth and breadth of the landscape, the divine rays of sunlight, how small the characters seem before nature. The canvas Cimino was working on remains humblingly enormous. This befits the subject matter of Heaven’s Gate, which turns out to be nothing more or less grandiose than the soul of America. Taking as its source a fictionalized account of the Johnson County War, it’s a tragedy about capitalism run amok, the dehumanization of the immigrant, and idealism ground into nothingness. In other words, Cimino is telling the story of America as one of failure.

In 1980, as Reagan took office, this was not a popular narrative.

There’s not much plot; Jim Averill (Kris Kristofferson) is a marshal in Johnson County, where he romances brothel madam Ella Watson (Isabelle Huppert) and watches over the European immigrants who make up the populace. When the region’s cattle barons decide that the best way to deal with cattle thieves is to murder every immigrant in the county (with the full backing of the US government), the nation Averill serves becomes his enemy. There are sideplots along the way (John Hurt as Kristofferson’s drunken, buffoonish classmate; Christopher Walken as an enforcer caught in a love triangle with Huppert) but really, the film is a series of impossibly brilliant setpieces illustrating theme.

The result is something like stepping into a time machine. I cannot recall the last time a film so comprehensively transported me into the past, and it would never be done now without computers. Thousands of extras litter scrupulously recreated townships. Locomotives roar across the plain. Legions of horses surge over hills. We can almost see the air, dense with dust and sand and time. There’s only one shot I could identify that contains an effect that was not achieved in camera and it’s jarring. Cimino’s sound design was lambasted initially, but the dialogue-obscuring natural clamor of it only made me sit forward. It brought me even further into a trance. It’s as close to the operatic mastery of late-period Kurosawa as any American director has ever managed. Sometimes Cimino even appears to be directing the clouds.

This immensity is leavened with moments of tiny grace: Huppert’s touching sexual abandon, Walken’s embarrassed pride in his shoddily-decorated love nest, Hurt dancing along the margins spouting poetry like Lear’s Fool.

Is it simplistic? Sure. The nigh-Marxist critique of capitalism is as blunt as it could possibly be. The love triangle is diagrammatic. The characters are not deep. But this is not about characters, it is about Us. It is about the hopeless struggle of ordinary people against the sway of history. And American history, Cimino tells us, is bought and paid for. Fuck with the money and you will not survive. This is most vividly illustrated in the film’s culminating sequence, the clash between the immigrants and the private militia assembled by the cattle barons. It’s probably the most ghastly scene of its kind, a Bosch-like descent into bloody hell. (I ought to warn you that the final act includes a rape scene of such awful realness that I could barely watch; however, it’s anything but gratuitous or exploitative)

Cimino frames his epic tale with a swooningly romantic eye, but he’s no fool. Even the America Kristofferson mourns was founded on suffering. There’s a bitter strand of irony in all this jaw-dropping beauty, and when we hit the film’s final scene, Cimino finally shows us his heart in full.

It’s irreparably broken.

Please see this film, and on the biggest screen you can. The Criterion Blu-ray is one of the great recent acts of film restoration and preservation. Why contemporary critics chose to play along with a disastrous publicity narrative is a mystery, but one thing is for sure: Cimino will have the last laugh. The film that put him on the blacklist is here to stay, ready to be evaluated by a new generation of viewers. Maybe Heaven’s Gate was doomed to be a failure. Maybe that was the necessary first step in its journey. But be patient and attentive with it. I promise it’s worth it.

Tim Burton’s golden age began in 1985 with his feature debut, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and ran for 9 uninterrupted years and 6 films, culminating in his greatest artistic statement, Ed Wood. With the strange exception of that last one, there was one key collaborator without whom Burton’s best films might not feel so timeless, iconic and strange: Danny Elfman. His gorgeously odd scores provided a perfect backdrop for Burton’s bent fairy tales. Just as films carrying an obvious influence could be called “Burton-esque,” a score that loped and soared and swung just so could be called “Elfman-esque.”

My favorite of that era is a tough call. It might be the Weill-gone-Calypso stylings of Beetlejuice, but it might just as easily be the gothic chorales of Edward Scissorhands.

As Burton’s next era began, one that felt uncertainly motivated, patchy and wayward, Elfman’s scores began to recycle and cannibalize themselves to diminishing effect. Listen to his work for Sleepy Hollow and Planet of the Apes. Elfman himself was composing scores that could best be described as “Elfman-esque.” They got the job done and set the mood, but they didn’t make fans like me run out the door to buy the CD and play it til the stereo fizzled.

Artistic partnerships are forged in a very specific kind of heat. They can cool. There’s no shame in that. But a lot of fans have yearned for a return to that former feeling of breakneck invention, of freewheeling creativity. Elfman may, finally, have found an unlikely collaborator to push him into his next, most fruitful phase: documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. Listen to Elfman’s scores for the shattering documentaries Standard Operating Procedure and The Unknown Known. They cover, respectively, the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib and the political/military manipulations of Donald Rumsfeld. Elfman, tasked with soundtracking these very real horrors, creates the most inspired work of his last two decades. These scores are not the youthful hellzapoppin’ detonations that made Elfman famous. Rather, they are mature, deep-set, haunting. Catchy not because they have hooks (which they very much do) but because they worm in on an intuitive, unsettling level. They are beautiful laments, but also cautionary.

Morris wants to see a change in the Academy’s nomination process to allow Elfman a shot at the title with his score for The Unknown Known. He deserves it. That and Standard Operating Procedure are late-period masterworks from a talent an awful lot of fans had given up on.

It’s nice to be surprised.

This was my first published piece of writing, covering the 2005 New York Asian Film Festival. It appeared in Britain’s IMPACT magazine in the autumn of that year. When I received my copy of it, felt the thick pages and their finish, saw my name in print and my article’s description on the cover, I actually cried.

I didn’t expect anything when I emailed the magazine’s editor, but I was their only prospective New York correspondent. They more or less let me write about whatever I wanted. I wound up covering the NYAFF for several years, as well as the odd samurai film series or New York-specific cultural happening.

I have written and will write better, smarter words. But I could have a piece published in Vanity Fair and still not freak out as much as I did for that physical issue of IMPACT.

Tonight I emceed the first ever Nerdlesque Festival. It was a cavalcade of brilliance and good vibes. More a party than a show, almost.

And whenever I think of a great party, I think of “Deewangi Deewangi” from the great Om Shanti Om, a musical number that features half of Bollywood dropping in for a bit of a dance.

The first time I saw it, I didn’t know who all the actors were, but the sense of joy and shared bonhomie was infectious from the word go. And just TRY forgetting the chorus.

I wrote and delivered the following essay for Clay McLeod Chapman’s Fear-Mongers series at Dixon Place in 2010. It was a hell of a panel. I shared the stage with Chapman himself, Ashley C. Williams of The Human Centipede, writer Adam Lowenstein, and the great actor Denis O’Hare, who I basically fanboyed all over for the night. The clip above is to be watched when indicated in the text.

The Thing is a movie about a bunch of guys in an Antarctic science station who are menaced by a shape-shifting alien intent on eating them and assuming their appearance.  It’s also the single greatest horror movie ever made.  I just wanted to say that before I got into this, because there’s an AWFUL lot to unpack about this movie.

So.

An illustrative anecdote:

Before writing this little essay on John Carpenter's The Thing, I had to rewatch it, a task that I didn’t mind in the slightest.  I’ve seen it countless times, and I never turn down a chance to see it again.  I was joined by my slightly reluctant fiancee and our dog.  Much to her surprise, my fiancee admired the old-school craftsmanship of this most grisly of horror films, shrieked aloud on more than one occasion, and wound up a fan of a film she’d never have thought twice about seeing of her own accord.  Result.

Our dog?  Fucking traumatized.  He made it through the first act okay, but after a particularly ghastly setpiece in which the starbeast of the title mutates into a glisteningly disgusting appearance and proceeds to maim, massacre and digest some friendly dogs in a locked kennel, he turned to us with wide, trembling eyes and buried his face in my lap.  He stayed there for the remainder.

John Carpenter, I salute you.  You made a film that scares the shit out of dogs.

Why my parents even allowed it, I’m unsure, but when I was quite young, I had a fever and was given permission to make requests from the local video rental place.  The two I picked?  Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Thing, two films about nefarious aliens who look JUST LIKE YOU OR ME.  These flicks are unsettling at the best of times, but when you’re so feverish that everything seems like an out of control nightmare, they’re worse than fucking clowns.  As the fever overtakes you, you start to feel like you’ll never be in control of your body ever again.  It’s a delirium that taps into every person’s most awful fear: total loss of agency.  A loss of control that disfigures you and distorts the reality you thought you had a handle on.

At around the point that’s captured in the clip I’m about to show you, I was so convinced that all of this was in my mind, and so disoriented and distressed, that I proceeded to vomit uncontrollably.

So not only has John Carpenter frightened my dog, he made me throw up.  Again, sir, a tip of the hat.

So here’s what did it:

(WATCH THE CLIP HERE)

It’s hard for a horror film to surprise us.  Harder still to scare us.  Perhaps the hardest thing of all is to genuinely, almost invasively, show us the unknown.  Universal Pictures took a gamble giving a sizable budget to John Carpenter, coming off of the low-cost dream run of Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, and Escape from New York, for his remake of Howard Hawks’ seminal sci-fi chiller, The Thing From Another World.  Thinking they’d get a pretty scary movie, what they really got was a glimpse into something like genuine terror, packed with imagery that doesn’t inspire chills, but awe, astonishment, nausea and real fear.  The characters in The Thing often don’t run, gazing in sick wonder at the beast for whom they are little but protective meat sacks.  For the first time in a horror movie, it was RIGHT not to run.  You rooted for these men to survive, but you sort of didn’t want them to run because if YOU were there, you’d want a better look yourself.  This was something you just hadn’t seen before, and the moment that actor David Clennon says “You gotta be fucking kidding me,” it gets a laugh.  Every time.  It’s up there with “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”  A movie has to earn a line like that, and Carpenter does, because seriously, you’ve GOT to be fucking KIDDING me.

The question is, then, begged: what IS The Thing?

The Thing opened two weeks after E.T. in the summer of 1982, providing a pretty useful contrast and a study in why Spielberg is our pre-eminent popular filmmaker, while John Carpenter is, as they say, big in France.  The reviews for Spielberg’s opus were rapturous.  Carpenter made do with Roger Ebert, as staunch a defender of genre films as any, calling his film, “a geek show,” and Canby of the Times deeming it “instant junk.”  E.T., a great and timeless piece of work in its own right, shows us life from another world as something comfortingly human and familiar.  The magic and strangeness of E.T. is domestic, taking place in, and utilizing the signifiers of, suburbia.  The Thing would not eat your Reese’s Pieces.  It would use them as a trail to find you.  E.T., with his long neck and spindly arms, exists for the snuggling adoration of a child.  His eyes promise unconditional love.  The Thing’s eyes, when you can see them, present only a primal hostility and the promise that you’d look just terrific with your insides out.  The Thing not only shows us a life form that is unaccountable in real human terms, it jerks us violently out of the comfort of known surroundings and puts us in the Antarctic, a landscape that might as well be another planet.

The setting is key.

From its majestic opening shots of a wolf being chased, for mysterious reasons, through the tundra by armed men in a helicopter, The Thing announces itself not as a successor to Carpenter's previous works, not as a remake of the 1951 film, not even as an adaptation of “Who Goes There?,” the short story from which The Thing draws its premise.  No, The Thing is the first and only true Lovecraftian work in American film.  From the impossibly grotesque, pre-human physicality of the monster itself to the dark intimations of looming apocalypse, it is the closest cinematic relative to Lovecraft’s tundra-set horror, “At the Mountains of Madness.”

The Thing is also a Western.  In fact, most of John Carpenter's early movies are Westerns.  Assault on Precinct 13 is a Howard Hawks tribute act, a siege narrative pitting a handful of cowboys against a vast army of Indians.  Typical of Carpenter, the Indians get guns and look like they might win.  Halloween is very much about an outlaw who returns home to terrorize his family, confronted by an old gunslinger who failed to pacify him years ago and is determined to settle things.  Escape From New York resembles nothing so much as the dystopian action epic John Wayne never got to make.  Carpenter shoots The Thing in a spacious widescreen that plays like an old-fashioned frontier epic.  It’s another siege story, but this time the siege has been inverted.   The Indians aren’t wearing feathers and carrying tomahawks.  Any of us could be The Thing.  Guns are pointed out at potential intruders at the beginning of the film.  By the end, those guns have been turned against friends.

It’s also a GUY movie, packed to the gills with big, sweaty men spitting terse, monosyllabic man-bile at each other between shooting guns, drinking scotch and smoking weed.  Asses are kicked, threats are issued, and there is much dick-swinging.  There’s a LOT of man in this movie, from Keith David’s hyper-butch, oddly named Childs, to Wilford Brimley, YES, WILFORD BRIMLEY.  The leading man, however, is Kurt Russell, issuing all of his dialogue in a sub-verbal growl, wearing a beard and mop-top so intense that he looks like Bigfoot, if he let himself go a little.  He has an animal’s sense of panic, only widening his tight little eyes when his survival is under immediate threat.  It’s a magnificent piece of acting minimalism.

The sheer manliness of the film could lead to a certain speculation on the nature of the threat: The Thing is the only creature in the film capable of reproduction, and it sends a bunch of already tense, tightly wound men into a distrustful, homicidal frenzy.  These men are being menaced by what is essentially a huge, self-sustaining intergalactic vagina.  And do you know when most men faint dead away in the delivery room?  When the afterbirth comes pouring out.  Deal with THAT.

So it’s a Lovecraftian Horror Science Fiction Guy Western with woman issues.  Well played, Carpenter.

So why does it stick so hard?  Why haunt so much?

There’s a truly perverse sense of violation coursing through the film, made tangible by Carpenter's use of practical effects.  The Thing enters you and goes through several, agonizing stages of change before settling on the right one.  There's a reason that the metamorphosis is always accompanied by screams.  Bone and flesh and tendon are being twisted into impossible shapes.  The viscera turns your stomach, but the suffering gets under your skin.

There’s also the craft, which is considerable.  It’s hard to think of an American filmmaker so in love with and attentive to the actual DEPTH of a frame.  Carpenter's use of fore, mid and background is evocative of those mile-deep compositions Kurosawa conjured up in Seven Samurai.  Kurosawa used those multiple fields to show us majesty.  Carpenter uses it to instill in us a fear that any segment of the frame might be invaded at any time.  For a film derided at the time as a senseless, artless gore show, it’s painstakingly constructed.  While The Thing might give you violent stomach cramps, it will never give you a headache.

Finally, and most hauntingly, it does something horror movies are not supposed to do.  A magician friend of mine spoke of how closely related horror and magic are.  A true horror movie goes through the three stages of a magic trick: the conditions of the trick are set, there is a turn, and then all is restored.  Not here.  After the turn, things grow only more hopeless, more threatening, ending on the two survivors of the ordeal, without shelter or chance of rescue, two men who cannot be sure of the humanity of the other.  As the cold begins to set in, they stare at each other blankly.

And Russell utters the other great line of the film:  “Why don’t we just wait here for a little while…see what happens.”

And that’s it.

A brief entry this evening.

I am told that one cannot fully understand Indian film if one has never seen Mughal-e-Azam. I know for a fact that you cannot understand starpower if you have never gazed upon the face of Madhubala.

She was known as the Monroe of India. The comparison was apt in that her beauty and charm beguiled all, and that she died far too young.

When she emerges from under that veil in the song “Mohe Panghat Pe,” eyes as large and luminous as full moons, mouth out Mona Lisa-ing Mona Lisa, you will be as hypnotized as the Prince who eventually risks all for her.

You will fall in love.