Frank's Faves: Movie apologies


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"It's sad, so sad. Why can't we talk it over? Oh, it seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word." — Elton John and Bernie Taupin

I owe someone an apology. I think.

Yes, fellow husbands, this is one of those times when it best behooves me to concede wrongdoing, however unintentional or just plain unconscious, and express regret. Because the offense I gave in last week's Faves was to my wife. Apparently.

I'm not sure how, but clearly, that's not important. What is important, as I understand it, is that I set it right with an apology in this very same space in which I went wrong exactly one week ago, so here goes:

I'm sorry I paid tribute to the late Luke Perry with a list of my favorite movies starring former cast members of "Beverly Hills, 90210."

It's not that she thinks he didn't deserve it. Au contraire, she thinks he deserved a lot better.

But I explained that in the column, I argued. Mr. Perry didn't make enough movies that I've seen to list even five favorites. In fact, I'd originally thought of devoting a similar list in Katherine Helmond's honor: my five favorite movies starring former cast members of "Soap." But Ms. Helmond made more than enough movies for me to cull out faves, so she got her own list.

Doesn't matter, I was told. In that case, I should have combined my favorite movies featuring either of the two late stars into one list of faves.

So, folks, my apologies to any and all who may have been offended at this gross slight of one or both of these fine, recently departed acting icons. And my apologies to one or both of them as well — posthumously, of course.

And while I'm at it, perhaps I also owe an apology to another critic of this column whose rather unspecific but pretty withering criticism that was posted as a comment to one of my own posts on social media late last week I inadvertently deleted unacknowledged.

I really didn't mean to. My post did not post immediately when I first posted it, so I re-posted it and wound up with two identical posts. Well, nearly identical. The first one drew an unfriendly response from a friend of a friend of a friend, unrelated to the post I'd been responding to, or even the topic of online conversation, and expressed his considered opinion that Frank's Faves are "lame."

To quote his summation as nearly as I remember it before accidentally deleting it: "Pullleeease."

Actually, I would have loved to press this not-quite-admirer for a bit more specificity on the nature and extent of this alleged lameness, but when I saw that my first post had repeated, I instinctively deleted the first one — and regrettably, that constructive bit of criticism with it. Sorry. Mea culpa.

But to demonstrate the sincerity of my regret, allow me to atone in the best way I know how — with a list of my favorite movie apologies — in hopes that it sufficiently conveys the depths of my contrition, or, at the very least, tilts no one else's lame-o-meter into the red, as I offer here:


— "Love Story" (1970). Tragically, this alleged tearjerker is not remembered for its doomed title romance between Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. It's remembered for a haunting musical theme and that God-awful line, spoken twice in the film, once by her, once by him: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Give me a break! If that were true, I wouldn't be having to write this column! In fact, anyone who's ever been in any kind of long-term relationship knows that the reverse is true: Love means constantly having to say you're sorry. Unless you're a totally sociopathic jerk.

— "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968). HAL 2000, the Urbana-born computer who goes serenely insane and tries to snuff the human space crew in his charge, apologizes quite calmly and politely while refusing to open the pod-bay door for astronaut Dave Bowman and let him back inside the spaceship: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." Definitely the coldest apology on this list, but one of the most famous.

— "Cast Away" (2000). Tom Hanks tearfully apologizes to a volleyball. Named Wilson. Because, despite the fact that it has been his only companion for the past four years that he has been marooned on an island, he has to let it go in order to keep his raft and stay alive long enough to be rescued. Sounds corny, but it's actually a pretty powerful scene. Poor Wilson deserved an Oscar.

— "Fear" (1996). Mark Wahlberg's non-apology to Reese Witherspoon includes his insistence that the severe beating he gave to another boy he saw her with "came from a good place." It's a chilling example of the classic abuser's apology: "I'm very sorry for what happened ... but I can't be sorry that I love you." And the scariest part? She buys it.

— "The Blair Witch Project" (1999). Heather Donahue spends her fearful final breaths on film in a now-iconic, often-parodied final monologue, filmed way too up-close with a flashlight shining up her nose, apologizing to everyone for everything that's happened. As more than one wiseguy critic has pointed out, she should have been apologizing instead for the herky-jerkiness of the hand-held cinematography that left viewers like me more motion-sick than terrified.

— "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988). John Cleese apologizes "unreservedly," and quite straight-faced and sincerely as well, while being dangled upside-down out a fifth- or sixth-story window by Kevin Kline. What's he apologizing for? I think it's for calling the guy holding his ankles crazy. Of all the nerve.

— "Sorry, Wrong Number" (1948). Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster star in this doubly special movie apology — it's both this thriller's title and its bone-chilling final line.

— "Elf" (2003). In what is almost certainly a movie first, Will Ferrell as the title Santa's helper leaves his heartfelt apology to his human dad (James Caan) on an Etch-a-Sketch: "I'm sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR."

— "Juno" (2007). In another movie first for apologies, Ellen Page as the title teen says she's sorry to Michael Cera with a mailbox full of his "faves" — orange Tic Tacs. Simply irresistible — because nothing heals a wounded heart like a box full of faves!

— "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975). In this madcap British comedy that even included a tongue-in-cheek apology or two in its opening credits, John Cleese as "the brave but dangerous" Sir Lancelot apologizes profusely after enthusiastically hacking his way through a wedding party in the mistaken belief that he is rescuing a damsel in distress. When he finds the object of his rescue is actually a reluctant, effeminate groom (Terry Jones), and the bloodied wedding party is waiting for another go at him outside, he has a lot more to apologize for. "Sorry, sorry, everyone ... "

Copy Editor/Entertainment Editor

Frank Pieper is a copy editor and entertainment editor at The News-Gazette, and the author of Frank's Faves and Frank's Weekend Faves. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@frp308).