' ' Cinema Romantico: Film Fanaticism: Marine Drive In San Francisco

Friday, August 12, 2011

Film Fanaticism: Marine Drive In San Francisco

Ten years ago this month I was in California. It was the time between my relocation from dreaded Arizona back home to Iowa but first I meandered solo through the Golden State with just my Tempo and everything I owned. It was glorious! L.A. and The Rose Bowl to San Luis Opisbo to Big Sur to Monterey to Half Moon Bay to San Fran and north to the Redwoods and down and over to Yosemite.........sigh. What a week. Of course, when I was in San Francisco I made time to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge but, more importantly, I made time to walk along Marine Drive with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Why, you ask?

On Christmas Day 1986 my parents decided our family was attending a showing of "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." Please make no mistake, I'm no Trekkie. I have got the order of "Star Trek" films confused before on this blog (possibly because I haven't seen them all) and been lambasted. I had no idea when watching J.J. Abrams' reboot whether or not he was being faithful to what had come before and, frankly, didn't care. My favorite moments in "Star Trek" history are all the cheesiest ones possible from the original TV series. The more nuts and bolts it is, the more scientific, the less it interests me. And that's why I think on that particular December 25th I responded to "The Voyage Home" so ecstatically. There was time travel, sure, but that was just a crutch to get the "Star Trek" gang to the present day and cut loose.

Oh, it's corny humor. My God, is it corny. It's as corny as a Eugene Levy hosted bar mitzvah mixed with Garrison Keillor's monologue about all the Lutheran ministers on the pontoon boat. But you need corny humor now and again. You can't survive solely on dry, acidic humor. That'll tear your stomach in two.

My favorite portion of the whole "Star Trek" universe (the little that I've seen of it, anyway) is the moment after our noble heroes Kirk and Spock have been jettisoned from the whale institute in Sausalito, CA where Spock has gone swimming with a couple humpbacks, much to the chagrin of their fiery tour guide Gillian (Catherine Hicks). The duo strolls down Marine Drive, the breathtaking vista of the Golden Gate Bridge behind them, squabbling when Gillian pulls up in her pickup truck and offers them a lift. What follows is not so much Roddenberry as it is the Marx Brothers. And it's why when I was in San Francisco I found myself sauntering down Marine Drive, toward the city, replaying the scene in my addled mind......

KIRK: "There she is, from the Institute. If we play our cards right, we may be able to find out when those whales are leaving."
SPOCK: "How will playing cards help?"
GILLIAN: "Well, if it isn't Robin Hood and Friar Tuck. Where're you fellas heading?"
KIRK: "Back to San Francisco."
GILLIAN: "Came all the way down here to jump in and swim with the kiddies, huh?"
KIRK: "There's very little point in my trying to explain."

GILLIAN: "Yeah, I'll buy that. What about him?"
KIRK: "Him? He's harmless. Back in the sixties he was part of the Free Speech movement at Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS."
GILLIAN: "LDS? ...Come on then, let me give you a lift. I have a notorious weakness for hard luck cases, that's why I work with whales."
KIRK: "We don't want to be any trouble."
GILLIAN: "You've already been that. C'mon."

-Kirk and Spock climb in the truck. Gillian resumes driving.

KIRK: "Well, thank you very much."
GILLIAN: "Don't mention it. And don't try anything either. I've got a tire iron right where I can get at it." (to Spock) "So, you were at Berkeley?"
SPOCK: "I was not."

(Author's Note: That's my favorite part in the whole thing. "You were at Berkeley?" - "I was not." Cracks.Me.Up.)

KIRK:" Memory problems, too."
GILLIAN: "What about you? Where are you from?"
KIRK: "Iowa."
GILLIAN: "Oh, a landlubber. Come on, what the hell were you guys really trying to do back there? It wasn't some kinda macho thing, was it? Because if that's all, I'll be real disappointed. I really hate that macho stuff."
KIRK: "Can I ask you a question?"
GILLIAN: "Go ahead."
KIRK: "What's going to happen when you release the whales?"

GILLIAN: "They're gonna have to take their chances."
KIRK: "What does that mean, exactly? Take their chances?"
GILLIAN: "It means they'll be at risk from whale hunters...same as the rest of the humpbacks. What did you mean when you said all that stuff back at the Institute about extinction?"
SPOCK: "I meant-"
KIRK: "He meant what you said on the tour, that if things keep going the way they are, humpbacks will disappear forever."
GILLIAN: "That's not what he said, farm boy. 'Admiral, if we were to assume those whales are ours to do with as we please, we would be as guilty as those who caused'-past tense-'their extinction.' I have a photographic memory. I see words."
SPOCK (to KIRK): "Are you sure it isn't time for a colorful metaphor?"
GILLIAN: "You're not one of those guys from the military, are you? Trying to teach whales to retrieve torpedoes, or some dipshit stuff like that?"
KIRK: "No, ma'am. No dipshit."
GILLIAN: "Well, good, that's one thing I'd of let you off right here."
SPOCK: "Gracie is pregnant."

-Gillian brings the truck screaming to halt.

GILLIAN: "All right. Who are you? And don't jerk me around any more. I want to know how you know that."
KIRK: "We can't tell you that. ...Please, let me finish. I can tell you that we're not in the military and that we intend no harm towards the whales. In fact, we may be able to help you in ways that, frankly, you couldn't possibly imagine."
GILLIAN: "Or believe, I'll bet."
KIRK: "Very likely. You're not exactly catching us at our best."
SPOCK: "That much is certain."
KIRK: "I have got a hunch we'd all be a lot happier discussing this over dinner. What do you say?"
GILLIAN: "You guys like Italian?"
SPOCK: "No."
KIRK: "Yes."
SPOCK: "No."
KIRK: "Yes. I love Italian. And so do you."
SPOCK: "Yes."


Derek Armstrong said...

I've seen every Star Trek movie and CAN recite them in order, and I still hope I speak on behalf of other Trek fans out there in proclaiming this to be the second best Trek movie (behind Wrath of Khan, of course).

Great scene.

Nick Prigge said...

It's always nice to hear that this particular entry into the series is so fondly remembered. I enjoyed "Kahn" too, and "Undiscovered Country", though it's been years since I've seen it.