Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One of those weird coincidences

Yesterday morning, I wrote my Sunday morning post over a cup of coffee, around 9:30 a.m. It was about winning a bunch of not-so-great movies in a poker game on Friday night, and I'd chosen Dracula: Dead and Loving It as the poster art to accompany the post. In other words, a movie in which Leslie Nielsen plays a vampire, a dead man who is loving life as a dead man.

Just a couple hours later, Leslie Nielsen was a dead man.

In fact, all I know is that one of Nielsen's relatives announced it on a Florida radio station at 5:30 p.m. local time. He could have been dying at any point in the hours preceding that, perhaps even as I was writing my post. He didn't die from a pair of sharp incisors to the neck, but from pneumonia. He was 84.

I'd like to think that the first event didn't have anything to do with the second.

But what a weird coincidence, right? Anyone who glanced at my blog last night would have thought a poster of one of Nielsen's lesser movies (I won't say "worst" because I haven't seen it yet, and because there would be many contenders for that dishonor) was what I'd chosen to eulogize him. They might have been confused by the title "Poker haul," but if they hadn't read any further, they would have assumed it was one of the many Nielsen remembrances that have been appearing on the film blogosphere. This piece being one of them, I guess.

Nope. Just a random decision to choose a 15-year-old movie in which Nielsen is dead -- probably the only movie where he's ever died or been dead, at least after Airplane! turned him into a full-time comedic actor -- as the art to accompany my post. I mean, it wasn't completely random -- the movie came up in the poker game, and that was really the random part, considering how soon he was going to die. But it was random for me to choose that poster out of the 11 movies I came home with that night. It was the first one that landed in the pot during poker, which is why I chose it, but I did think for a moment how American Pie Presents Band Camp or Killer Klowns from Out of Space would have been a more perfect example of the kitsch on display.

Well, it is indeed a sad morning, as Nielsen was one of our great deadpan comics. I'm not going to remember him in the form of listing his top five performances, because probably at least four of those were in Airplane! or Naked Gun movies. Actually, now that I look, he wasn't in Airplane II -- which could be one of the chief reasons we consider it inferior to the original. The truth is, Nielsen was a guy who appeared in a couple great parodies and then about 20 that ranged from mildly amusing to truly awful. He's considered one of our great comedic talents because he was so great in Airplane! and the original Naked Gun, not because he had a particularly brilliant comedy career in total. Most of the time, it was the scripts who let Nielsen down, not Nielsen who let us down.

So instead of writing some kind of cliched remembrance that you can read numerous other places, I'll instead commit to watching Dracula: Dead and Loving It as soon as I can. I'm sure it won't be great, but I'm sure it will make me smile a couple times.

After all, Leslie Nielsen was pretty damn good at making us smile.

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