Wednesday, February 28, 2018
I haven't seen it for a year or two now, but it recently popped into my mind: Moonstruck, starring Nicolas Cage and Cher. I'm not sure what sparked it in my memory; perhaps writing in defense of the Romantic Comedy against a posturing interview with the dismissive actor Christian Bale, or maybe it was because of a Guardian series endeavoring to name the all time best Academy Award winners in the main categories, or possibly even just the imminent arrival of the Academy Awards themselves, but there it was, in my thoughts, Moonstruck. And I thought "Yes, here is the Romantic Comedy I would make my stand on."
And from there I just got carried away. Why not?
Not that it isn't true that Moonstruck is wall to wall brilliant, and packed with beautiful writing and performances, but I'd like to focus just on Nicolas Cage to get to the heart of it here. I do not say his performance has no rivals in cinematic history, but there are no performances by an actor I would take over this one, and certainly all its storied competitors are vastly more heralded. To make my claim I offer the reminder of this scene, for surely you need only the reminder, and have seen this lovely film many times:
Ronny (Nicolas Cage): Johnny came in here. He ordered bread from me. I said "Oh, okay, some bread" I put my hand in the slicer and my hand got caught cause I wasn't paying attention. The slicer chewed off my hand. And it's funny cause when my fiance' saw that I was maimed she left me for another man.
Loretta (Cher): That's the bad blood between you and Johnny?
Ronny : Yes, that's it.
Loretta: But, that's not Johnny's fault.
Ronny: I don't care! I ain't no freakin' monument to justice! I lost my hand, I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand, Johnny has his bride! You come in here and you want me to put away my heartbreak and forget?
Of course reading this in print is hardly the ideal way to make my point. What I ideally prefer, when making this case, and I have made this case a few times, is to actually perform the scene myself. Not that I'm particularly good at it, just, I love pointing at my hand and yelling:
I lost my hand!
I lost my hand!
That should be enough to convince anyone.