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The Big Sleazy

February 24, 2007

This week we closed out the 40’s with 1949’s winner All the King’s Men, a story of a politician, a somewhat thinly disguised Huey Long, former governor of Louisiana, a couple of days before Fat Tuesday. Good timing! Huey Long or not, this film is a really good look at a corrupted politician. And a great performance by Broderick Crawford, who did a nice one-two punch with this film and then a nice comedic turn as Harry in Born Yesterday. I was really shocked when a remake of All the King’s Men was made. This is the only Oscar winning film to have ever been remade. And there is just no reason for it. This movie tells the story quite well. I sort of subscribe to Roger Ebert’s philosophy of: “Why remake a good film; why not remake a bad one and try to make it better?” I just realized that a few years ago there was a dismal remake of Born Yesterday (and by dismal I mean Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson. Ptui.) Note to producers who want to remake classic films: steer clear of Broderick Crawford movies. Apparently they don’t make for good remakes.

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All the King’s Men was Mercedes McCambridge’s debut. And she won a best supporting Oscar for her role. She is a wonderful actress, with a very interesting career. Did you know she was Linda Blair’s potty-mouthed satanic voice in The Exorcist?

For dinner we went Louisiana and had Ham Jambalaya (made with leftovers from Hamlet’s Danish Viking Ham)

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3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-ounce can ready-cut tomatoes
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup long-grain white rice

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic; sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with their juices, ham, wine, thyme, basil, paprika and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil. Gradually stir in rice. Cover pot. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until rice is tender and most liquids are absorbed, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

This is such a versatile recipe. I added grilled chicken breast meat to it. Shrimp would work wonderfully, too. We tried looking for Voodoo beer, couldn’t find it. But we ended up with a little Fat Tire. Appropriate.

So now were on to the 1950’s best pictures. Some really great ones and a couple of really bad ones, Charlton Heston, shame on you. The Clown movie is imminent: I’m scared.

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