Wise: Hello, Werth.
Wise: I know. It’s turned New York into a winter wonderland.
Werth: Or a wonderslush depending on your street corner. I was worried about you. I knew you had gone to the farm for the weekend, but didn’t know if you could make it back.
Wise: Luckily, I left just before the snow started, otherwise I would have been stuck out there until the mule team came by on the sledge.
Werth: I do hope John Proctor and Goody Smith brought their snowblower.
Wise: As it was, I got to watch the start of the storm from the train. It was really beautiful to see the landscape gradually fill up with snow. It reminded me of how great it is when movies use snow in interesting ways.
Werth: Like in Scarface?
Wise: Actually I was thinking about Murder on The Orient Express. Based on the mystery novel by Agatha Christie, it’s a classic turn on the locked room formula. All the characters are trapped on a snowbound train, a murder is committed in the middle of the night, and Christie favorite Hercule Poirot must solve the mystery.
Wise: It’s also a classic of 70’s cinema with the cast packed with Hollywood luminaries from all over the map. Albert Finney plays Poirot, Richard Widmark is the paranoid American businessman who winds up dead, Sean Connery is delightfully blustery, and Ingrid Bergman plays against type as a stuttering milquetoast.
Werth: That train is jam-packed with stars!
Werth: It must be hard to create story action when everyone’s stuck on a train.
Werth: So did the butler do it?
Wise: I have to admit, the ending is not such a surprise, especially given the calibre of the actors present, but the conclusion makes a particularly satisfying end. What’s your favorite snowbound classic?
Wise: Ooh! That IS snowy.
Werth: From its opening shot of a small bird followed by a car emerging from a raging snowstorm, Fargo uses the heavy snow of a Middle-North winter to do more than just tell us they’re in Minnesota. The snow becomes an active participant in the film’s design. Fargo is what you might call a Film Blanc.
Wise: Is that a Belgian candy?
Wise: I think what’s interesting about Fargo is how it seems so comfortable being a dark thriller, and a comedy at the same time.
Werth: Is that your attempt at a Minnesota accent?
Wise: Uh yeah?
Werth: And on that comically thrilling note, I’m going to go outside and try to find a snowbound trains full of old movie stars.
Wise: Would you settle for a subway car full of old hobos?
Werth: As long as one of them is Belgian.