The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, April 5, 2019
It was Paul’s idea. He had been down to run a ‘Close Up’ session at the Community Film Club and, when we met him again at the ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ course run by the local WEA branch, he suggested a film quiz.
We agreed and, while he went off to compile his clips, we booked Marriot’s, hoping to attract enough people to cover the costs. In fact, it proved extremely popular and we had to deploy every available table to fit in the audience, who continued to pour in right up to the start.
Once the technical issues had been solved and I had tried a pint or two of the excellent Moon Gazer Ale from the bar downstairs we settled down to a great evening.
Amongst the questions was a round on food and drink in films where we had to identify the movie from a clip of the characters eating or drinking. Only a couple of them were specifically drinking scenes.
One was from the Shawshank Redemption, a film I have not seen, but one which regularly appears on the lists of the greatest films ever made.
The other was from Ice Cold in Alex where John Mills finally gets to drink his bottle of beer in the bar. Looking at it again, the product placement is really obvious, with the branding turned so that the viewer is in no doubt that the beer is Carlsberg.
The scene was apparently shot several weeks after the end of the main filming, and real beer was used, a slight problem as it took several takes to get right.
In the original novel, Rheingold beer is named, but the producers thought that a German sounding lager, even if it is American made, would not work.
I will let you decide as to whether Carlsberg really was worth waiting for as I contemplate what other clips could be used if Paul returns for another quiz in the autumn.
The first one that comes to mind is Albert Finney’s character Arthur Seaton winning a drinking match against a merchant seaman in the British Flag in the ‘new wave’ film, Saturday Night Sunday Morning. Set in Nottingham, the scene was actually filmed along the Culvert Lane in Battersea.
Another rebel in search of a drink was Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler in the Wild One, with the iconic scene of the bottle slammed onto the counter, foaming at the neck.
Perhaps it is the bar that will be the main attraction in the next quiz, rather than the drink. So, of all the gin joints in all the world, perhaps we should expect Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca to feature.
In some ways this resembles the cantina in Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine which featured in the Star Wars movies and was described as ‘a wretched hive of scum and villainy’. Rounding up the usual suspects might be a bit more difficult here.
Sometimes the drink itself is the focus. What would James Bond be without his Martini? Sober might be the answer.
According to research in the British Medical Journal, over the 88 days that are encompassed by the novels, James downs 1,150 units of alcohol, an average of 92 units per week, which is well in excess of the government guidelines, and perhaps calling into question his performance with and without his gun.
So, look out for announcements about the next film quiz and brush up on famous clips. I can’t promise that drink will be in there, but even if it is not on the screen, there will be some excellent ale on the bar downstairs.