Thursday, December 26, 2002

William Sulik discusses his Christmastime movie viewing:
Last weekend, my kids and I all watched the greatest Christmas movie ever -- It's a Wonderful Life. I always revel in pointing out that's what mommy's job was -- shutting down S&L's (when she was with FSLIC). Yet, I haven't seen the second greatest Christmas movie ever -- Die Hard. I'm not sure when or if I'll be able to watch this -- of course the language complicates viewing...
I totally agree about It's a Wonderful Life, although I would put it among the greatest movies period, not just among "Christmas movies."

As for Die Hard, Sulik's mention of language brings to mind a broadcast version of Die Hard that I once saw. If you've ever seen the movie, you will recall the two-word line that Bruce Willis delivers at the climax of the movie as he drops the villain out of the skyscraper's window. "Yippy-ki-yay, m----- f------." Not the height of human eloquence, perhaps, but there it is.

Naturally, broadcast television won't allow that line to appear in its original state. And it's always interesting to see how the broadcast censors dub in replacement cuss words. A "f---ing" X becomes a "freaking X." "F--- you" becomes "Forget you," which is rather unimaginative (why not "flail you," or "flog you"?)

But "m----f----" presents a more challenging problem. Something has to replace the "m----" word as well. Which is why I wondered throughout this particular viewing of Die Hard how the broadcast censors were going to handle that line. It's not exactly a scene that can just be eliminated altogether.

And so the moment came. It was time for the climactic window-dropping scene. Then, in a voice obviously not Bruce Willis's, came the words: "Yippie-ki-yay Mister Falcon."

Mister Falcon? Mister Falcon?!?!? Anything would have been better than that. Why couldn't they have hired some screenwriter to take a thesaurus and come up with a better alternative? I can think of two, without hardly trying: "Murdering freak," or "mortal fool."


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