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March's RMC was FINGERS, a James Toback film starring Harvey Keitel. I've had this movie forever, and that's how long it would have stayed on the shelf. But thanks to Random Movie Club...

I have a love/hate relationship with James Toback. He used to walk around Manhattan telling girls he was a director (no lie) and he will put them in a movie (possible lie), to bed them. Many fell victim to this ploy, including someone I knew who was staying with me. But I got a little satisfaction when I got to say, "Lemme guess. Was his name James Toback?"

Note of Real Life Vs. Irony: Toback wrote and directed THE PICK-UP ARTIST.

Toback wrote HARVARD MAN, coming out later this year, starring Joey Lauren Adams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Eric Stoltz. But his best film, in my opinion, is his first, THE GAMBLER, starring James Caan.

In FINGERS, Harvey plays a lost and sometimes clueless loner (popular 70s theme); an aspiring concert pianist trying to find his way to Carnegie Hall ("Practice!"), while balancing his side job of being a muscle for his dad's small time shakedown and loan operation. Dad was played by Michael Gazzo (dead - 1995), who played Frankie Pantagelli (you know, the guy with the scratchy voice) in THE GODFATHER: PART II. Filling out the cast: Tisa Farrow, Ed Marinaro, and Danny Aiello.

Made post-MEAN STREETS, FINGERS manages to capture that meandering, relaxed, yet gritty bleakness of the era. Everything is gray, and you can visually taste the winter. Other than that, there's not a whole lot to this film. It's a good character piece, but not much else. Thumbs up? Thumbsdown? More like "thumbs in the middle”. And that's not a silly Jeffery Lyons-like pun on the movie title.

The Preshow Entertainment was the 50s cartoon, COLONEL BLEEP. I remember these cartoons, and I don't know how. They must have rerun them. Supposedly, they were the first color cartoons on TV. They are pretty much narrated (no dialog), and the animation makes SOUTH PARK look like Pixar. And the stories are stupid. And the characters, which include Bleep's sidekicks Scratch (a caveman) and Squeek (a wooden puppet), and the evil Dr. Destructo were really out there. But...without cartoons like this, THE POWERPUFF GIRLS may not be around, to spoof or pay homage to. Plus, it's TV History, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that.

"I should have strangled you in your crib." -Ben (Michael V. Gazzo) to his son, Frankie (Harvey Keitel). FINGERS, 1978.

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