An Answered Prayer

Or: HOW I DIDN’T PUT MY FOOT IN MY MOUTH…

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You may remember the old saw: be careful what you wish for… you might just get it. I now present a true story illustrating exactly that.

The 1982 Larry Cohen film called Q tells the heartwarming story of a man and his monster. The man – a down on his luck type played by Michael Moriarty.

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The monster – a stop-motion rendering of the blood-thirsty Mesoamerican diety called Quetzalcoatl, now residing in an upper loft of Manhattan’s world famous Chrysler Building.
Honest.

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Confession: Over the years I have grown to like this film. A lot. But at first view, I missed the satirical elements and took it for just another blood-soaked exploitation film from the master of such schlock, Larry Cohen. I mean, it had all the signs of a pot-boiler, including appearances by David Carradine and Richard Roundtree. Yes, when I first saw it, I fit the pattern of a typical film snob. I saw it at a friend’s place (on the Upper West Side of Manhattan) – on Betamax no less – shortly after it hit home video. “Well,” I pronounced when it was over, “If god would just give me ten minutes with Michael Moriarty, I would grab him by his lapels and ask him why someone of his undeniable talent and ability appears in such crap movies.” At the time of this film’s release, Moriarity’s big success in Law and Order lay 8 years in the future. Actually, in Q he delivers a marvelously sly and wicked performance, but like I said, I approached it with the mindset of a snob and that clouded my judgment.

The next day, having some time on my hands, I took a walk over to Central Park and sat on a bench at the southern end of the duck pond, over near the Plaza Hotel. I always enjoy watching the ducks swimming around and seeing the enthusiastic little children running around tossing bread at them and making duck noises.

After a few minutes of serene contemplation, guy sat down on the bench beside me. He sat silently, also watching the ducks and the children. Then he addressed me, politely saying, “Excuse me, have you got the correct time?” I looked at my watch and turned to tell him the time when I saw he was… yes, you guessed it… Michael Moriarty.

Did I grab him by the lapels and chastise him as I swore I would, if only the universe saw fit to give me the chance? Yeah. Sure. That’s just what I did, and here’s how I did it: I meekly told him the time. He thanked me and arose from the bench to walk away. For my part, after he had gone, I silently screamed in my mind: “Oh, THANKS, god! THANKS! NOW you give me what I ask for! NOW? WHY all of a sudden NOW?”

Sometimes the universe does heed our desires and gives us exactly what we want and then leaves the rest to us, taking the phone off the hook and saying “You wanted it, you got it, now deal with it.”

To this day, I am glad I didn’t act as stupidly as I had boasted to the universe that I would. Especially since I really like this movie now. Writer/Director Larry Cohen lived to a ripe old age making many films, always as an independent doing exactly what he wanted the way he wanted to. He died recently, leaving behind a wonderful documentary about his long career (he started as a TV writer in his teens!). I highly recommend the film, And in a reference to the movie Q, note how the logo for the film shows Cohen… hanging from the Chrysler Building. The film I disdained has become a movie icon.

 

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