Frank's Faves: Movies where people lose body parts


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"Just a flesh wound." — John Cleese as the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975)

It HAD been a pretty good week for Frank's Faves.

Last week's column didn't appear to offend any one unduly or make any glaring factual errors (judging by a general lack of negative feedback). And I came away with a bucket full of new, good suggestions for future faves.

Enough so that I'm not even using any of those ideas this week. I'm running with a suggestion I got a week earlier. Umm, at least I was. But more on that later. I was talking about reader suggestions for future faves.

Keep 'em coming, folks. Life is good.

Just don't hold your breath waiting for your idea to appear in print. You're likely to pass out. Not because I won't use it. I most likely will. Eventually.

But it might take a while — mainly because when someone else proposes a category of faves, it still remains for me to figure out exactly what my faves in that given category are. It's not as easy as it looks.

Let me offer an example. Possibly the oldest unused suggestion I have in my "Frank's Faves" folder will be 3 years old next Pearl Harbor Day. I won't identify the source of the suggestion since this person has provided me with lots of ideas that I have used over the years, but when I tell you what it was, you'll probably understand why it's taken me a while to convert this individual's clever category into a suitable column for a family newspaper.

The suggestion was inspired by what was then the 25th anniversary of director Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands": "Give us your five favorite movies in which people lose body parts."

As macabre as that sounds, you'd be surprised how easy it would be to come up with plenty of favorite films that fit that description. Except that, at the time of this suggestion, there was a local story in the news in which severed body parts were a pretty prominent part of the events, not to mention a horribly personal tragedy for the family of the victim. So a Faves list about dismemberment in the movies? Probably not a good idea.

Of course, that was then. Long, long before I sat down to write this week's column and was all set to use that long-filed-away faves request as an example to faves fans everywhere that for every faves list, there is a season, and that goes for reader-suggested faves as well, so not to get discouraged if you don't see your nomination in print right away; the time might just not be right yet; try, try again, etc., etc.

And then, just as I was about to turn, turn, turn to this week's topic, which, believe it or not, was actually proposed a week ago by the same contributor who gave me the "body parts" suggestion three years ago, this so-far-good week for Frank's Faves came to a crashing halt.

The recent suggestion that had seemed so good — favorite movie remakes — was so good that I did it already, two years ago. In fact, I'd finished this column, including the list itself, when it occurred to me that it seemed awfully familiar.

Which, of course, it was. I last gave you my favorite movie remakes on March 31, 2016.

In the meantime, that leaves me with just two sad and forlorn thoughts upon this occasion of having to rewrite an entire column from scratch, and on deadline. The first is that this also goes to show why your suggestions for possible faves lists may not produce the desired results — and that is because I may have already done those faves, and in those cases, when I remember better than I did this time, I try to tell the would-be contributor exactly when and how I've covered that ground before. Please don't take offense, either way. Great minds think alike, after all.

The second thought all of this leaves me with is that that previously pigeon-holed faves suggestion is suddenly looking a whole lot more plausible and — dare I say it — downright providential at this point.

So without further cutting up or, in my case, disrememberment, I give you — as requested — this suddenly absolutely time-appropriate full disclosure of:


— "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back" (1980). Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker disregards his Jedi masters' advice, blows off his unfinished training as a Jedi knight and tears off to take on Darth Vader and save his friends all on his own, totally unprepared. Of course, the price this headstrong young whippersnapper pays is getting his not-yet-Jedi tail kicked in a lightsaber duel, capped off by having his saber hand hacked off and then his psychological coconuts handed to him along with the knowledge of who his father is. Like the little green dude says: "Told you I did. Reckless is he. Now matters are worse."

— "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). In the climactic scene of this Oscar-winning finale to director Peter Jackson's adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy epic, Elijah Wood as Frodo the hobbit trudges to the finish line of his trilogy-long mission to destroy an evil ring of power, only to fall victim to the ring's insidious hold on his fraying sanity. Right at the precipice of the Crack of Doom where he is to throw the ring back into the volcanic fires that forged it, he hesitates, consumed with the ring's hold on his very soul. And at that moment, in a supreme act of literary irony, all of Middle-Earth, Frodo and his friends included, are saved by the vile, pitiful and totally homocidal sneak named Gollum, who leaps out of nowhere, bites off Frodo's ring finger and snatches the ring for himself, only to fall into the Crack of Doom with it while dancing for joy too close to the edge. See what endzone celebrations get you?

— "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975). Yeah, I know, this comedy classic has popped up in possibly a few too many of my faves lists as late, but that's only because it deserves it. Here, of course, it's because of the Black Knight, played by the incomparable John Cleese, who challenges King Arthur to a duel and then refuses to take his subsequent dismemberment lying down. Just a flesh wound, after all ...

— "The Fugitive" (1993). The one-armed man who killed Dr. Richard Kimble's wife and provided the motivation for his four-season manhunt in the TV series continued to dispel the myth that disabled equates to handicapped as he returned for the movie adaptation (played by Andreas Katsulas) and manages to give Harrison Ford all he could handle — right up until Ford leaves him handcuffed to a railing on an elevated train and finally goes after the guy who hired him.

— "Hook" (1991). This movie from director Steven Spielberg is most often remembered for Robin Williams' turn as the boy who never grew up (but then did) and Julia Roberts as his lovelorn gal pal Tinker Bell, but Dustin Hoffman is every bit as memorable as the despicable title pirate captain whom Peter Pan recalls as being "taller" and whose title-sharing prosthetic takes the place of the extremity he lost to an enormous crocodile which has since been stuffed and mounted on the deck of his ship. Of course, he loses a lot more than just a hand to that croc eventually, but who doesn't think he has that coming?

BONUS: My Favorite Movie In Which Someone Loses a Body Part That I've Yet to See

— "127 Hours" (2010). James Franco as an adventurous canyoneer makes a desperate sacrifice for the sake of survival after becoming trapped by a boulder. Of course, the amputation-by-tourniquet he must perform on himself to get free has already been spoiled for me (and now you, too; sorry), but the lesson he takes from the experience, I’m told, is probably more important to climbers, hikers and faves columnists everywhere: Going somewhere you may or may not have visited before? Leave a note. You never know ...

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).