Years ago, when I first moved to Oakland, my spirit-brother Delicious McCune and I devised a weekly movie-viewing-thing which we called DUDES DONE WRONG. I have written about it many times. The idea is that there would be “chapters” of Dudes Done Wrong all over the world, and each week we would, at the same time, no matter the time zone, and no matter who was in attendance, even if it was just two or three people, come together in the quiet dark and bear witness. I don’t know that this ever happened outside of Oakland and, later, during my dismal year in Portland. No matter: Dudes Done Wrong was pure and beautiful. I miss it a lot.
What you might not know is that there exists a spreadsheet for it where we documented seven things about each movie, which we would fill out a few days before the next viewing. Generally McCune and I switched off each week. Other times, our good friend Kerwin would toss something into the ring. There were of course some duds between the two principal stewards of Dudes Done Wrong, being McCune and myself, but Kerwin’s movies were good 100% of the time. The guy just got it is what I’m saying. He was the George Harrison of Dudes Done Wrong: he got one song per album, and they were always good . . . maybe because he only had that one, which strengthened his resolve. That one movie had huge weight.
Anyway: the spreadsheet is a secret. I can’t rightly show it to just anyone, especially on this godforsaken public platform. It was a special time and place, and you had to be there to Know it and See it. But I will tell you a few things about it just the same, if only to document this holy ritual for future generations. For starters, there is a picture of Sir Michael Caine at the top, which I took early on in our Dudes Done Wronging. It is from a fine motion picture called THE IPCRESS FILE. To me, this image defines the whole thing.
And then of course there are “Rules”, which above all else we held sacred. Here they are:
- Viewings will be held every Thursday until the sun absolutely sets on time itself. They will start at 8 p.m. sharp with or without you. My soul is prepared. How’s yours?
- This spreadsheet is a reminder of films past, present, and films future. The record of “Films” can never be undone.
- This is a creative space in observance of mighty tragedy. It encompasses the only real truth.
Below this, there are seven columns. They are labeled thusly:
- Name of Film
- Principal Actor(s)
- How, specifically, is this particular dude done wrong?
- Prerequisite Viewing
- Date of Viewing
The “how” of course was the most interesting part to fill out, because we wrote them as a sort of back-of-the-VHS-box synopsis. Some of them are pretty good. Here are a few I like:
VALHALLA RISING: A pre-history pit fighter kills his keeper and flees, young boy in-tow, out into the rock-thrown mountain wilderness, only to take up with a band of Christian pioneers sailing for the new world. Instead of sailing to a new land with new beginnings they’ve sailed directly into the heart of hell.
AKIRA: A couple of childhood friends have an argument in the shelled-out post-apocalyptic ruins of Tokyo.
THIEF: There is one thing every single man on this planet will come to understand during the course of his life: no matter what heights he may eventually reach or the depths in which he may well be forced to plumb, you’ve got to be extraordinarily cautious about what you excel at. When a man finds himself in a fix it’s usually too late to understand the choices that gets him there, but for expert safe cracker, played by James Caan, trying to go straight after a career as a master thief is more difficult than performing brain surgery with a bazooka. And it’s just one more job before he can make that change, but the mob isn’t going to make his last heist any easier before he gets to retire.
SORCERER: A ragtag bunch of no-good, rat-jacking, horse-swindling, scum-chugging losers find themselves in South America, and forced into labor working as part of a oil drilling operation. The shit-cloud following this bunch a sperm turds, however, has a less than deep defecate brown lining. All these chum-guzzlers have to do is truck out a boatload of unstable dynamite through the jungle with two ancient trucks as their transport and they can go free.
SPARTAN: A dedicated veteran Green Beret officer is called from his post training possible cadets to find the missing daughter of an American senator before the news media does. The trail begins to twist when it is uncovered the girl has been sold outright into an international sex trade. In what could be the deadliest investigation this unflappable army officer has ever faced, he enlists the help of the very green berets who he helped train. The only question is: Will that be enough?
KILLING THEM SOFTLY: A gaggle of psychopathic small time crime-bingers, literally and figuratively, throw up all over the mafia’s poker game. Cogan, the guy with the greased up pompadour on the movie poster, is the janitor sent to clean it all up. But instead of a dopey mop, this would-be janitor is packing a “boom-stick”.
THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL: Some poor schmuck stumbles onto a series of secret Nazi meetings taking place in Paraguay where infamous Doctor Nazi, Joseph Mengele himself, is trying to resurrect the Third Reich. Fearing for his life, the poor dope makes a call to the only person who could care: Nazi-hunter,Ezra Leiberman. Maybe not the most obvious choice of people who should be contacted, but the President still doesn’t have a hotline for discoveries like this one. The threat is real. These Nazis got 2 B stopped. Ezra is just the dude for the job.
MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON: In 1857 the source of the Nile River was not known. In 1859, after a year long journey deep into the heart of Africa, two psychos, Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, find out what the world had been looking for, and, because of this, will hate each other for eternity.
SOMETHING WILD: Some tight-lipped, butt-puckered, tie-wearing honkey is ensconced off the street by a beautiful punk girl with an alternative lifestyle. Little did he know how much he sucked before sharing an afternoon with her in some cheap motel room. Even littler still does this gorgeous Faster Pussycat Kill Kill wannabe punk realize how bad she sucked too.
THE PROPOSITION: A lawman faces the Australian outback of the 1880s, a hell whose cruelty breeds heartless outlaws, and declares “I will civilize this land.” He presents to a captured member of the Burns Brothers gang a proposition: find and kill your older brother, or your younger brother will be hanged by the neck until dead. The sun glares down and flies cover everything. People die.
APOCALYPTO: Have you ever gone into the forest to seek a new beginning? If you haven’t it’s high time this Mesoamerican prehistory adventure forces you to understand how important new beginnings are.
KAGEMUSHA: A murdering thief on the verge of crucifixion is saved from certain death by the samurai warlord Shingen as Japan grows closer and closer to the precipice of total war. To fight this impending apocalypse on all fronts, this thief, because of his striking resemblance to his lord, is forced to become Shingen’s most applicable body-double, and by doing so stumbles upon the mechanism of this impending chaos, this impending age.
ROLLING THUNDER: Major Charles Rane spent seven years being done wrong in a POW camp in Vietnam. He didn’t like it much. Now he’s home, finds out some friendly sheriff decided his wife and kid could use a new man around the house. Well, that’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. But the couple thousand silver dollars he picked up at his homecoming celebration got local scumbags The Texan, Automatic Slim, T-Bird, and Melio all riled up and slobbering. They torture him and mess up his hand bad, try to make him give up the silver. Hell, go on and add a minute or two on top of seven years. It’s when the slobbering jerks put a bullet in his wife, his son, and his belly that Rane has been utterly done wrong. First step, live through the gunshot. Next step is either provide descriptions of the killers to the police and take a nap, or to sharpen his new prosthetic hook hand, saw off a double-barrel, and head toward Mexico for some scumbag hunting. Guess which.
Man! Yeah. Pretty good. I need to find a replacement for DUDES DONE WRONG, because lord knows we live in a world which is getting worse every day, and I recognize in my heart, as I always have, even before words and critical thought were born in my brain, that as a people we must observe mighty tragedy. We must honor the Dudes of the world, man and woman alike, who have been Done Wrong. This “theme”, if we must label is as such, encompasses the only real truth. Amen.