Mutt and Jeff Make Good

Good evening, striders. (You’re damn right we’re all striders. Hey, we got this far together, right?)

So in the spirit of maintaining – even lengthening – our collective stride, let’s put on that final kick.
(OK, I probably deserve to be tooled on some for all my running-related analogies, largely because I tend to resemble a suitcase with legs as I travel across the landscape, but it’s hard to deny that the sight of the “finish line,” both literally and figuratively, does lift us all.)

That said, when I first checked on the precise time of the 2023 Winter Solstice last month, I learned that though 21 December is typically the traditional solstice day, I noticed that this year’s is very late in the day – nearly 11pm, in fact.

In part selfishly (no laughing – just love the time I get to spend with all of you) and also in the spirit of grasping for that finish line together, I thought we could celebrate that first full day on the other side of things as our final countdown day together. So come the wee hours of Friday 22 December (at least in the Eastern Time Zone, while those in other time zones adjust accordingly), that will be the end for us.

Wait…let’s try that last part again.

In terms of this being the end, let’s harken back to the late, great Freddie Jones in a classic Cold War thriller Firefox (1982). In that film, renown character actor F. Jones in the role of Kenneth Aubrey, a British Secret Service spymaster, addresses an Airforce pilot named Mitchell Gant (Clint Eastwood) whose task it is to steal a Russian war plane.

When all of the preparation has been completed, and Major Gant is about to embark on his dangerous mission, Aubrey says the following: “Well, Mr. Gant, this is the end for us…Or shall I say, ‘the beginning.”

Typical of me, I suppose, remembering such a random moment, but that line did stay with me all these years. And for our purposes, it’s not only emblematic of what we’ve done together and what we will soon celebrate together, but hopefully it’s an acceptable segue into our penultimate countdown day.

And since we seem to have had pretty good luck reviewing some films throughout our time together, let’s look at one more.

My Bodyguard (1980)

New kid Clifford Peach (Chris Makepeace), the son of a downtown-Chicago hotel manager (Martin Mull), is on day one at his new school. Suffice it to say, it hasn’t gone too well.

Shy and scared and very unimposing physically, Clifford quickly becomes the target of the school’s intimidators. Led by the fast-talking Melvin Moody (Matt Dillon), a small group of teen roughs insist that Clifford needs a bodyguard, when in fact, they plan to extort money from him in exchange for sparing him any beatings.

Outnumbered 4-1, Clifford has no choice but to comply. That is until he gets an idea.

Enter Ricky Linderman (Adam Baldwin), a hulking and mysterious fellow student who Clifford employs to protect him from Moody’s crew.

Later, at a local hangout, when Clifford douses his (soon-to-be-former) assailants with a fusillade of ketchup and mustard spray bottles, he is chased out into an alley, where the feared Linderman is already waiting.

The newly crowned “bodyguard” uses his largess to scare off Moody and company, and an unlikely friendship between Clifford and Ricky is formed.

This Mutt and Jeff  duo makes it easy for us to cheer for them. After all, the smart, but unsure new guy and the feared, but misunderstood tough dude, are often among the staples of adolescent drama. Additionally, and as the story moves along, a secret that Ricky has been harboring finally comes to light.

Throw in cameo appearances from Oscar winners Ruth Gordon (Rosemary’s Baby) and John Houseman (The Paper Chase) plus the screen debuts of Chicago natives Joan Cussack (Shelley) and Jennifer Beals (in the role of Clifford’s friend, though uncredited), you’ve got an entertaining story. Yeah, let’s call it part Rocky (1976), part The Mighty (1998).

Be sure to check it out!

Now let’s call it a night, people.

Pretty soon we’re ‘gonna have some celebrating to do!!


@Copyright 2023 by John L. Fischer

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