Guy's Night Out

By Michael J. Legeros

The director's cut of DAS BOOT is playing in Chapel Hill and I work
in Cary, which isn't even halfway between Graceland East and the
Chelsea.  So, I opt to forgo my ritual Friday afternoon matinee--
not a difficult decision, given that the only choice is the poorly
reviewed SPRUNG-- and head in the general direction of that college
town.  Over three hours until an over three-hour movie and I don't
even get to go home.  It's going to be a long night.  With Megadeth
in the tape deck ("Hidden Treasures," a compilation of compilation
cuts and other B-sides), the first stop is Durham, to a mall, to a
department store, to buy jeans, which I don't, because I don't care
for the colors.  Instead, what catches my wallet's attention is a
row of weed whackers.  (Three months into home ownership and I'm
*still* buying stuff.)  I choose a low-end model:  17", 31 cc, one-
year warranty, extra spool of cutting cord, all for $99.99, plus a
gallon gas can and a teeny-tiny bottle of 2-cycle engine oil.  (The
enterprising salesperson attempts to sell me a six pack of said
substance *and* an extended warranty.  I roll up my right sleeve
and point to a tattooed right shoulder that reads "not.")

In the parking deck, later, an off-duty police officer watches in
passing as I struggle to get the gargantuan box into the Elvis-
mobile.  (Success on the second try, this time from the passenger
side.  Duh.)  Departing the deck, I happen upon an outdoor display
of city vehicles, including the nearly departed (it's 5 p.m.) Dur-
ham Fire Department Tactical Rescue Team.  I pause to talk and take
a last-minute tour of their equipment truck.  (The captain proudly
notes that all cribbing and shoring materials are handmade.)  We
leave together, with Engine 5 on my ass all the way up to the I-85
exchange.  (I secretly hope that they'll get a call, even though
they have electronic sirens, which are never as much fun as the
mechanical ones.)  The next stop is still up for grabs.  Do I have
enough time to make a Best Buy/Barnes and Noble run?  No, I decide,
and set my sights on downtown Chapel Hill and Franklin Street, my
favorite few blocks in all of the Triangle.

Changing tapes to a Judas Priest tribute-- the European version:
twenty-five artists on two volumes, dude-- I start my way south,
down 15-501, so I can admire the recent road construction and see
if they've opened the new exit ramp to the Martin Luther King Jr.
Parkway, where the Wynnsong lives.  (They haven't.)  Rush hour hits
on the other side of I-40.  I pass the time by playing heavy beats
on my car horn.  In another ten, I'm scouting parking meters in the
downtown proper.  (And only one pass is required!  Wohoo!)  I se-
cure a spot near the planetarium and, after claiming some quarters
from a corner coffee shop, I'm hoofing it to a hole-in-the-wall
pizza parlor, where I down a double dose of pepperoni, read a week-
ly newspaper that I've already read, and try to figure out just how
in the Hell this place makes any money with at least fifteen people
working behind the counter.

With an hour to go until show time, I take a hike, breezing over to
the main fire station (apparatus count:  two pumpers, one reserve),
and then to a used bookstore, where I acquire a collection of quo-
tations about the King ("just send me a million dollars, never mind
the script, and Elvis will do the picture," Colonel Tom Parker) and
a 1982 biography of Jerry Lee Lewis.  ("You've been married five
times now.  Do you know any more about women now then you did the
first time you got married?"  "Yeah.  Pu**y is pu**y.")  Back to
the car and, regrettably, without the time to stroll across campus
and admire the young ladies in ponytails and jogging shorts.  (This
being Franklin Street, I have to settle for orange hair and baggy
pants.)  I arrive at the Chelsea with twenty minutes to spare.  The
tiny theater doesn't smell too fresh.  ("Like the inside of a sub-
marine," notes a fellow whiffer.)  Through the walls, Randy Travis
is singing "King of the Road."  I ain't got no cigarettes, or even
a decent seat.  As soon as the show starts, sure enough, some big-
headed fool sits directly in front of me.

Expectedly, the director's cut of DAS BOOT (1981) is a long sit.
Yeah, it's remarkable.  Yeah, it's powerful.  Yeah, it's probably
the most [choose one: realistic/unglamorous/warts-and-all] war
movie ever made.  But with an hour of extra footage added to the
original 150-minute running time, this cut is just too damn long.
The expanded story of a U-boat that waits and waits and waits for
some action is more monotonous than I suspect was ever intended.
Nor did I care for the episodic nature of the narrative.  Granted,
this was originally a six-hour German mini-series, but one scene
transition is so abrupt that I thought we'd stumbled upon a dream
sequence!  Finally, there are the inferior exteriors.  While the
camera work *inside* of the sub is breathtakingly breathtaking, the
exterior, above-water shots are largely yawn-inducing.  Perhaps
writer/director Wolfgang Petersen (OUTBREAK, IN THE LINE OF FIRE)
could contact George Lucas, for a little help with those never-
quite-convincing blue-screen and miniature effects.  (Rated "R"/210

Grade: B

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Guy's Night Out



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