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David Hines [userpic]

the best MacGyverisms by people who are not named MacGyver

December 11th, 2009 (07:30 pm)
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I recently watched A BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, which is a pretty nifty movie. It falls into a class of films that I don't think has ever been described as a genre: "a guy comes to town and finds a mystery." THE THIRD MAN is another classic example. The nice thing about the genre is that it's not as limiting as (say) the DIE HARD imitators; DIE HARD is a perfect movie, but UNDER SIEGE and PASSENGER 57 and all these other flicks don't depart very much from the DIE HARD formula. Whereas in "a guy comes to town and finds a mystery," the nature of the mystery and the town's reaction to his investigating it can vary considerably.

One thing that was really interesting about the movie is a bit that comes out of nowhere, but is absolute genius: in a climactic scene, Spencer Tracy does a glorious MacGyver bit to save his bacon. It put me in mind of Geoffrey Household's novel ROGUE MALE, which is not a famous blockbuster movie for reasons that escape me (it's been filmed twice, once by Fritz Lang and once for TV with Peter O'Toole; have to look for those). ROGUE MALE is about a prominent Englishman on a hunting trip who, on a whim, just to see if it can be done, tries to aim his rifle at a dictator who is not explicitly stated to be Adolf Hitler. (Household tips his hand very little; he does everything he can to make you think it could just as easily be Stalin.) Caught by the secret police, he is tortured and dumped in an attempt to make his death look accidental, because they don't want an international incident, and the hero is prominent enough that Questions Would Be Asked. But the hero survives and goes on the run, with the bad guys chasing him. It is, I think, the greatest fugitive thriller of all time; the tension never lets up. And there is one part where the hero, in a tight spot, does a completely amazing and horrifyingly brilliant MacGyverism that I wouldn't dream of spoiling for you but will make you go, "Fuck yeah!"

Got me thinking: what are some other works with great MacGyverisms? Not MacGyver's own, I mean.


Posted by: PROBE UNIVERSE (liviapenn)
Posted at: December 12th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)

In Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper the protagonist is a mafia hit man who went to med school after they put him in the witness protection program. There's a ton of Gross Medical Things and Things About Hospitals You'd Have Preferred Not To Know, it's that kind of book. Anyway the bad guys find him and after a lot of shenanigans they beat him up and throw him in the freezer where they keep all the stuff in a hospital that needs to be cold, and after he's been softened up for a while his nemesis is going to come and shoot him. So he doesn't have a weapon, there's nothing he can possibly use as a weapon, so he actually breaks his own leg in such a way that there's a broken length of bone sticking out, PULLS OUT THE BONE, and stabs the guy with it. And the funniest part is that there's a footnote in, like, the first five pages that tells the reader that you don't actually need your shin bone to be able to walk; it's redundant. So I was telling my roommate, it's like, IF YOU HAVE A SHIN BONE ON THE MANTEL IN THE FIRST ACT YOU HAVE TO STAB SOMEONE WITH IT IN THE THIRD. I guess.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: December 12th, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)


Posted by: A large duck (burger_eater)
Posted at: December 12th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)

Have you ever seen SURVIVING THE GAME? Ice-T is a homeless guy brought to a remote location so a bunch of hunters can go after him.

And rather than having him win by shooting the hunters, he does anything BUT.

Fun movie.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: December 12th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)

Aw, man, it's been ages since I've caught that one! Nothing like a good "Most Dangerous Game" haircut.

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