Ribbon of Memes

It's been over a century and a quarter since the first moving picture was committed to celluloid - the "ribbon of dreams", as Orson Welles mellifluously intoned.

And so, welcome, one and all, to Ribbon of Memes, a new podcast in which Roger Bell_West and Nick Marsh supply grateful listeners hot takes about films considered masterpieces by critics or filmgoers in general.

The rules: we choose one "masterpiece" from every year from the earliest days of cinema to our dreadful modern dystopia. Do we agree these films are classics? Are we entertained? Did we even understand what the film was trying to say? The questions are endless!*

We start in 1973 (for reasons explained in the first podcast) and progress vaguely chronologically (unless we think of another film that makes an interesting comparison to the one we have just seen, or are otherwise distracted by shiny new things).

Yes, that's right, we decided that what the world really needed was two more uninformed middle-aged white guys telling the world about media largely produced by similar people. Find out whether we were right or not herein!

*Actually, no, that's most of them.

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North by Northwest (1959) 02 September 2023

Nick and Roger watch the first James Bond film, or at least the one that gave them most of their ideas: North by Northwest (1959).


Tags: action drama

  1. Posted by J Michael Cule at 03:07pm on 02 September 2023

    Michael's Quotation Corner:

    Hitchcock is supposed to have said: "I never said actors were cattle. I said they should be treated like cattle.

    Also "North by Northwest" is a twisted quote from Hamlet:

    "I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." Act 2 Scene 2. He is warning off Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at that moment. (In their own play Rosencrantz remarks that the Prince is 'at the mercy of the elements'.) A hawk is a type of woodworking instrument.

    I can't believe Hitchcock didn't know that: I can believe he made up another story so that Americans wouldn't be confused.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 03:51pm on 02 September 2023

    "North-north-west" is an actual direction, though: 30/32 of a circle, 337½° clockwise from north. North by northwest is a different thing that doesn't exist.

    (Also a hernshaw, which is another way that phrase shows up, is a form of heronsew, a juvenile heron.)

  3. Posted by Nick at 04:41pm on 02 September 2023

    Hitchcock always denied the Shakespeare connection, and I have to admit that would be surprisingly high-minded for a film that is all fluff with little substance. That’s not a criticism of the film, it’s by design, and that’s why I have a lot of sympathy with the stated ‘This is a meaningless title without hidden depths’ reason for it.

  4. Posted by J Michael Cule at 12:28pm on 03 September 2023

    But the Shakespeare is apposite.

    Hamlet at that moment is pretending (?or is he?) to be mad and his serious observations about the situation at court are taken for ramblings. ("If this be madness yet there's method in it.")

    The central character here is taken for mad because the villains around him try to make him look that way. He is also surrounded by people with secret aims and utter ruthelessness which makes him look even saner.

    Yeah, Shakespeare is doing his best to be ambiguous in that line and the people who wrote the plays down were not exactly working from carefully edited and curated sources.

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