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The Crying Game

A couple years back I broke my hand -- sadly, it did not occur when I was defending some oppressed person's honor, but in an incident involving burned pancakes and an ill-advised show of temper. For reasons owing to cheapness and fear of fancy book-learned doctors, I did not seek immediate medical attention, waiting until my hand began to swell up and throb like Fred Flintstone's toe does when he stubs it on some rock-based product. So it was off to the hospital for me, where I was treated, lectured on the foolishness of ill-advised shows of temper, and sent home to watch "The King and I."

That's where my wife found me later that day, sacked out on the couch with a giant cast on my arm, weeping profusely.

"Oh, my God! Is it the pain?" she asked, rushing to my side.

"The king! The king dies!" I sobbed.

"Well... yes. It is 'The King and I.'"

"He's dead!" I insisted.

"They pumped you full of pills, didn't they?" she asked.

And they had. But that's not why I was crying. I always cry whenever I watch "The King and I," loaded up on painkillers or no.

Because, you see, at the end of the movie, the King dies. It is very sad.

"The King and I" is one of a handful of movies in which it is acceptable for men to cry. "Field of Dreams," you can cry during, but only if you had a lousy, unresolved relationship with your old man. "Brian's Song" is an acceptable crying movie -- Brian Piccolo dies at the end. "Gallipoli," as well. Everyone but Mel Gibson dies at the end. Then, if I remember correctly, Mel Gibson blames everybody's death on the Jews. Though I could be mixing up my Mel Gibson movies.

Anyway, it's all very sad.

I bring this up, because it's Oscar season and Turner Classic Movies is airing a lot of Best Picture winners this weekend. Which is when one of the Vidiots, knowing my unquestioned authority on the subject, asked for a list of movies it would be all right for him to cry during. Professional courtesy forbids me from telling you it was Rywalt, who mists up during "Dora the Explorer" episodes and will run from the room bawling like a toddler if you look at him funny.

I look at Rywalt funny a lot.

Anyhow, I'm always happy to oblige with such a list, although I should point out that "The King and I" was nominated but did not receive the Best Picture award for 1957, losing out to "Around the World in 80 Days." I believe the word that linguists would use to describe this outcome is "dumbfounding." "Around the World in 80 Days" is not very sad. Phileas Fogg does not die at the end. Nor does Pasepartout. Though about 20 minutes into the movie's three-hour-eight-minute runtime, you'll naturally assume that the editor died at some point.

(Besides, even if "The King and I" did win Best Picture, Turner Classic Movies couldn't show it, since AMC owns the rights. Which means you have to watch the King die in pan-and-scan mode instead of letterbox... right after these commercial messages. And that's very sad in a whole different way.)

Wait a minute. Wasn't I supposed to provide a list of some sort? Oh, yeah.


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