3/23/14: The Shawshank Redemption


I used to work for Great Expectations Insurance. When I found out my job was being offshored, I decided to begin collecting my pension. The HR Manager – I call her Mariah Heep – said, “‘Paulie, your files say you’ve worked here 28 years. Do you feel you’re prepared for retirement?’. ‘Ya know, I don’t have any idea what that means. Do you mean am I ready to rejoin society? To me, it’s just a made up word. A bureaucrat’s word! So women like you can wear pantyhose to work. What you really want to know is if I’m I satisfied with my career? There’s not a day I regret. I know you think I should. I could have been a conformist like my boss over there.’ – I call him Adam Defarge – ‘and risen through the ranks. When I started, I was a young man who wanted a decent job so that I could afford to raise my family. That kid’s long gone & this middle-aged man is all that’s left. But I’ll still work. Retired!!” I wasn’t even tired in the first place.’ “The whole thing blew by in the blink of an eye.” “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile!” And watch some classics. “I won’t miss them cubicles though. Cubicles are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s called being financial institutionalized.”

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Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption stars Morgan Freeman as narrator Red, a murderer in Shawshank Prison who can get anything for the other inmates…for a price. Darabont also adapted the screenplay from Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Tim Robbins plays Andy, who meets & hits it off with Red as soon as he gets to Shawshank. Andy’s an educated banker in for 2 life sentences for the premeditated murder of his wife & her lover – a charge he vehemently denies. Red finds it curious that Andy wants a rock hammer since it’d take “600 years to” use it to tunnel through the wall. He also wants Red to get him a Rita Hayworth poster after they watch Gilda with some of the inmates one night. Andy’s boyish looks, charm & intelligence earn him many inmate & guard friends; and a few evil enemies. James Whitmore is fantastic as Brooks, who has a crow named Jake. In the novella, a different inmate has a pet bird – a pigeon not a crow. Perhaps the change is Darabont’s homage to Frank Capra, whose trademark raven, Jimmy, appeared in at least a dozen of his films.

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Shawshank was, to me, the 2nd best film in ’94 – to Forrest Gump. It received 7 Oscar nominations & no wins at the 67th Academy Awards: Losing 4 to Gump – Best Picture, Actor (Hanks over Freeman), Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing; 12 time Oscar Nominee, Thomas Newman’s Score (his father Alfred was the composer for Grapes of Wrath) lost to Hans Zimmer for The Lion King; Cinematography went to Legends of the Fall; and there’s the painful Sound of the loss of that Oscar to Speed. And moving along as quickly as the bus will carry us…“Let’s talk, you & I. Let’s talk about Stephen King!”. I’m not a big fan, mainly because his next 1000 page novel is about a phone number he found on a matchbook some girl gave him at a bar. But his stories make great movies. There have been 43 features made from his books & short stories, many great: The original Carrie, Children of the Corn, Stand By Me, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, and The Green Mile; Kubrick’s brilliant The Shining, which, amazingly, King hates; and today’s Classic. So watch the trailer below to whet your appetite for Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption, then add it to your Netflix DVD Queue. 4 Stars!

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