Cinema| October 10, 2021
Morgan Davy, a mutual friend, told me that Anthony Strand had an uncanny ability of recollecting the exact running time for every movie he had ever seen before she introduced them. He has seen many movies.
Strand was born in 1984 under the sign “Amadeus,” “This Is Spinal Tap,”And “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”He currently resides in Roseville, Minnesota with Rosalynn and their children. He is a school Librarian in Farmington, Minnesota where he hosts morning announcements.
Greg Carlson: My mom took me to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”What was your first theatrical screening?
Anthony Strand: The first movie I saw in the theatre was also a Disney Reissue. I saw “The Jungle Book”1988. Twenty-one years following the film’s original release. That was the Disney thing that they used to do every seven year. So I joined the tail end.
GC: Some memories may be more important than a complete understanding of the film when you first see it. The experience of getting popcorn or in the lobby of a theatre can leave a lasting impression, just as much as any fear of Evil Queen disguised as an old woman or fascination with the Magic Mirror.
AS: My brother gave me the VHS from “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.” It’s not a good movie, but I was 8 years old when it came out. It was so much fun to watch again and again. I hadn’t looked at it in probably 25 years and the only thing that was familiar was the big John Goodman musical number by Thomas Dolby and James Horner.
There’s a scene in the movie where a little girl wishes for a Thanksgiving hat. I remember as a kid believing that the Thanksgiving hat was real.
GC: What was your childhood like?
AS: I was born in Hatton (North Dakota). Hatton Pharmacy was a video store. It later became a small general shop. It was huge for me. Sutin Sorowat, the owner, was our neighbor across an alleyway. He would talk to us about the movies on his shelves. Both stuff I had seen and things I hadn’t seen.
Sutin had the Columbia House Collector’s Edition VHS volumes of “All in the Family.”When I was 12 and 13, I rented every tape from Sutin. That show was one of my favorites to watch.
GC: Cinephiles often have an intellectual curiosity that is matched by a voracious appetite to consume content. And, especially, things that were made before your birth.
AS: I was always interested in old sitcoms. When I was in sixth grade, I kept tabbed folders that allowed me to record information such as the network, number of episodes, and the year the series aired.
GC: How did you find that information?
AS: These are two of my most treasured possessions “Total Television”Alex McNeil “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present”Earle Marsh and Tim Brooks. I read them from cover to cover, and I gave each movie a star. After those two books I soon acquired an edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.
GC: My mentor Ted Larson would circle street dates and make it an event once the Maltin book had been updated every year. I would often accompany him to the bookshop, where he would purchase three or four copies for his school office, one for Weld Hall’s projection booth and one for his home. I started to buy the new edition each year and would also mark the films I had seen.
AS: I believe the last Maltin that I purchased was 2002, when it was my senior year of high school. I was particularly interested in that one and decided to go through it, making a list of movies I wanted to see. I grabbed a little notebook and started to copy over titles. I got to G, but I had to stop.
GC: Was the star rating your top-see list?
AS: Yes. But I did take some of them with salt.
GC: Maltin dares to give “Taxi Driver”Only 2 stars
AS: So funny! “Taxi Driver”This is the Maltin guide’s one review that always comes up. It is so ingrained in me that he describes the film this way. “ugly and unredeeming.”
GC: It is still a masterpiece. But you were more into humor.
AS: The Marx Brothers were the real gateway to my interest in classic films.
GC: How did they find you?
AS: Every week, I watched The Three Stooges with my father and my brothers. Sixth grader, I wore my Three Stooges shirt on the first day of school. It was carefully chosen. “This is who I am.”1996 is the year.
My grandma got me a hardcover about the Marx Brothers to celebrate Christmas. I had never seen them and had never had any experience with them. I thought, “I don’t know what this is, but I will look into it.”It was a slim and hardcover book called “Marx Brothers”By Kate Stables. I must have read it many times. It includes a picture from “Duck Soup”The cover features the four brothers wearing military uniforms.
I had not yet seen any Marx Brothers films but I thought it was worth it. “This sounds great! I need to see this stuff.”Also, “wrong”The book turned out to exactly be the right book. I checked “Duck Soup”I discovered it at the Grand Forks Public Library. It was wonderful. It is still my favorite movie.
I bought the house shortly thereafter. “A Night at the Opera”And “A Day at the Races”Suncoast Motion Picture Company, VHS. What a world! One could walk into Columbia Mall, Grand Forks, North Dakota and buy groceries. “Horse Feathers”Take it home. Amazing!
GC: My grandpa got me hooked on Humphrey Bogart. Our goal was collect as many Bogart movies possible. My grandpa was an early adopter VHS and owned several decks. We would try dubbing copies of movies we rented through Videoland, as well as recording features from broadcast and television. I still cherish the tapes with my grandpa’s hand-written labels.
AS: That’s what I love. I bought the first seven Marx Brothers films, but I had already. “Room Service”Recorded from AMC. This was the Marx Brothers movie I taped from TV. My interest in the Marx Brothers was just the beginning. However, two other things happened at the same time. At 14 years old, I purchased my first DVD player with my paper route money. And the debut in June, 1998 of AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies on CBS. I decided to watch all 100 movies on AFI’s list. It took me awhile, but eventually I did it. I was able to see every one of them before I graduated high school.
GC: I need to know what the last one was.
AS: “Midnight Cowboy.”It was then that I decided to save every Best Picture winner. “Midnight Cowboy”Last, so I could finish both lists simultaneously.
GC: No matter how many TV shows or movies you’ve seen, the joy of completing titles can be gratifying.
AS: Even though it was clear that I saw “The Naked Gun”First, I loved. “Police Squad!”I rented the tapes from Videos Plus Pizza & Subs, Mayville, North Dakota. There was a description in one of the television books of a “seaman”. “Sledge Hammer!”It was claimed that it was in the vein “Police Squad!”I’d never seen it before. “Sledge Hammer!,”It aired on ABC for two seasons. When I first heard about the show’s existence, it was already long gone. I longed for it for years. “Sledge Hammer!”
The TV on DVD boom came about. I bought both seasons. “Sledge Hammer!”It was because I had spent so much time building it up in the back of my mind. I kept thinking. “What if these 41 episodes are like more “Police Squad!” shows?” And it is not quite that. It’s a more traditional satirical sitcom. But I enjoyed it.
GC: If a show does not meet your standards, will you abandon it?
AS: I do it now, but not so often then. The older I get, the less patience I have for so-called prestige television, which doesn’t appeal to me. There are exceptions. I watched all of “The Wire,”It is amazing.
GC: Making difficult viewing choices can be frustrating. I try to prioritize between new releases and classic cinema, while still making time for key re-watches. I just saw “The Two Mrs. Carrolls”It was my first year doing this, and it was wonderful.
AS: What’s the Bogart movie in which Bogart discovers that the cafe is a front to the Nazis.
GC “All Through the Night.”
AS: Please remind me, William Frawley is his best friend.
William Demarest, GC
AS: Yes! It was either a grandpa or an uncle. “My Three Sons.” “All Through the Night”It was the Bogart movie I saw the last time, and I wondered why no one talks about it. With a title like “All Through the Night,” you can understand why I couldn’t remember the name of the movie.
GC: I love when you discover a semi-forgotten gem and fall in LOVE with it. Then, you can recommend it to everyone. You begin to associate certain films with friends who have championed them. Every year on Ben Hanson’s birthday, I post the loop of Sam Neill saying, “The lies!”From “Possession.”
AS: I still associate Ben Hanson with “Legend,”Because he bought my DVD copy after I decided to let go. I know. “Legend” isn’t Ben’s favorite movie, but anytime it comes up I am reminded of him.
GC: One might think Ben’s favorite movie is “Airplane!,”But I believe it is. “Brazil.”
AS: Makes sense. The Criterion 3-disc Criterion Set of “Brazil”It was a staple in my high school. The television cut with the happy end is fascinating. The profanity has been removed. You know that. “Give me the keys, you fairy godmother”All kinds of stuff. And it’s 94 minutes long. As long as we’re talking about physical media, I appreciate the way the Criterion has an enthusiastic presentation of a cut that asks, “What if this movie was bad? Well, here it is, preserved in amber.”
GC: Bonus content should include more television cuts. I am still drooling over Criterion’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,”It also includes the television edit of film. This alone makes it well worth the price.
AS: “The Jerk”Another one that comes to mind is Stupid. Steve Martin’s dog is named Shithead, but in the TV version the dog is called Stupid.
GC: What content do you share as a parent with young children?
AS: My daughter Iris, six, and my son Miles, three are the same age. We watch a lot old. “Sesame Street.”Iris is a big fan of Merrie Melodies, Looney Tunes, and Looney Tunes. Iris is currently working with me to order every Best Animated Short. We haven’t gotten to all of them and are up to 1960 or so.
It has been great to watch her discover new things. She already knew Tom & Jerry. They had too many wins — seven wins to just one Bugs Bunny. This ratio should be reversed. But she didn’t know Mister Magoo. She was not interested in it. My kids were mad about the Yugoslav cartoon. “Surogat,”This is what English calls it. “Ersatz”Or “The Substitute.”It was viewed three times in succession.
GC: What is your story? “Eliminators”? It is something I have never seen.
AS: It’s from Charles Band’s legendary Full Moon Features. One of the greatest schlock VHS houses during the 1990s. They produced tons horror and sci-fi direct-to video. I am not a huge horror guy once you get past Hammer, but my brothers and I loved Full Moon’s sci-fi offerings. There’s something about them, you know?
The director of “Eliminators”Peter Manoogian is a man. He made a lot more movies than he could possibly comprehend, but they are still enjoyable to watch. We laugh at the irony of his lines, but we have seen all these movies many times. “Eliminators.” “Arena.” “Seedpeople.”
In “Eliminators,”A scientist creates John T. Mandroid, a cyborg. Mandroid seeks revenge for the death of his father — that’s the premise. The whole thing takes place in an Amazon-esque jungle location. And here’s how I sum it up: When John T. Mandroid is about to set off on his mission, he turns to Denise Crosby and says, “I’ll need my mobile unit.”John T. Mandroid, now in his mobile unit — his body connected to a set caterpillar treads.
These movies may have been found at the store when you were a kid. You buy a tape, and you watch it many times. That’s part of what was special about physical media before Netflix. You already have the item and you can play it over and over again because there aren’t many options.
GC: Tell me about your podcast.
AS: Ryan Roe, my partner and I cohost “Movin’ Right Along: A Muppet Movie Podcast.”Our podcast shamelessly copies the basic format of “Star Wars Minute.”We watch and discuss two minutes each Muppet movie. We’ve been at it for a little over three yearsAnd have made it through three films: “The Muppet Movie,” “The Great Muppet Caper,” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”Each episode lasts about a half-hour.
We’ve had some great guests. Brian Jay Jones, Author of “Jim Henson: The Biography.”Michael Frith is the former Executive Vice President and Creative Director of Jim Henson Company. This is the man who designed Uncle Deadly, Fozzie and many other things.
Frith also designed Muppet Babies. “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”He was a liaison with the later Muppet Babies cartoon. His appearance on the show was to concentrate on the Muppet Babies.
We’ve had several Henson puppeteers on the show, including Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, who plays Abby Cadabby, and longtime performer Andy Hayward. Pop culture writers are also welcome. Will Harris, Noel Murray and Erik Adams. “The A.V. Club.”
GC: Which Muppet is your favorite?
AS: Ernie. Always. This guy is an intellectual curiosity about the world that he sings many songs. “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon.” “I Wonder.” “Imagine That.” Ernie’s inner life is thoughtful and introspective. But Ernie’s outer life sees him playing savage tricks on his roommate, like stealing his nose. That is something I can relate too.
GC: Well, I’m a total Bert. Even though I was not watching, I was able recognize it. “Sesame Street”In the 1970s. I was raised and married Ernie. It has worked so far.
AS: This is great! A: Great!
AS: At the height of DVDs I would go out to buy any movie I liked. I was especially impressed by the bonus features on many DVDs. That is something that I think about often. I feel so nostalgic for the days when you could walk into Best Buy, which sells mostly Bluetooth speakers and refrigerators, and find the Warner Bros. Pictures Gangsters Collection Vol. 1. It contained six movies. “The Petrified Forest,” “The Public Enemy,” “Little Caesar,” “Angels with Dirty Faces,” “The Roaring Twenties”And “White Heat.”The set contained zero clunkers. And all of them had audio commentaries, documentaries, Maltin introductions, cartoons from the feature’s release year, live action short subjects, trailers, and newsreels.
Well, I didn’t know then how good I had it.