Monday, September 19, 2011
"Apt Pupil" 1998
I have mentioned that I am a huge Stephen King fan. One of his greatest villains rode a ten speed bike. This story appears with three other novellas that inspired “Stand By Me” and “The Shawshank Redemption”. It is underrated in my opinion. The story is extremely creepy because it is easy to imagine it really happening. A young boy is obsessed with the Holocaust and discovers one of the great criminals of the Nazi party is living in his town.
Before long he is blackmailing the old man for his eye witness accounts of the atrocities of war.
Brad Renfro is delightfully creepy as Todd Bowden. He is another actor that left us too soon. He has a good little resume of movies, including “The Client”. It would have been nice to see what he would have grown into. They had tried to make this movie some years earlier with Ricky Schroder, who I still visualize when I read the story. But Renfro is good. But kind of like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”, you kind of know he’s going to go crazy.
Ian McKellan is great as Kurt Dussander/Arthur Denker. He carries himself like a tired old man. But you see his eyes light up when he is finally able to share his secrets. He comes to life and his strength comes back.
Kurt Dussander: Boy, be careful. You play with fire.
I love the moment when he turns the tables on Todd. There has been trouble at school and when Dussander intervenes it shakes Todd.
Kurt Dussander: But you didn't. Didn't you like the way we put Mr. French on? I saved you from being suspended.
Todd Bowden: Well don't forget, I could walk right in there any time and pick up that phone!
Kurt Dussander: And do what? Do you really think that I would just stand by and let you turn me in without dragging you under with me? You American's self confidence is so bloated that you have forgotten the reality of the situation. 90,000 people died in that camp. To the whole world, I am a monster... and you have known about me. Go ahead, call the police. But just remember this: when I am caught, when those reporters stick their microphones in my face, it will be your name I will repeat over and over again. "Todd Bowden... Todd Bowden. Todd Bowden, yes that was his name. For months, almost a year, he wanted to know everything. That was how he put it... yes... everything."
Todd Bowden: You're crazy. They'll never believe you.
Kurt Dussander: It doesn't matter. And besides, lying to judges and reporters isn't as easy as you think. You have to be brilliant! Can you do that? I know I can. And in any case, do you know what such a scandal can do? It never goes away. Not for you, and not for your parents.
Todd Bowden: You can't do this.
Kurt Dussander: Boy the time for discussion is over. This is how it is: you are going to work. No more stories, no more ordering me around. You are going to spend weekends and all your vacations studying.
My favorite viewing of this movie was with a bunch of other Stephen King fans. I had a preview copy and a room full of other King geeks. It was a terrible copy, at one point you could see the boom mike over the scenes. We started out trashing the movie but ended up being transfixed.
Of course you have to look past how they changed the ending and the fact that Ross Geller is Todd’s teacher. It isn’t a movie I can watch a lot, but the acting is top notch.