We meet Bernie Tiede (1958- ), a chubby undertaker, who takes pride in his work. He's a Gospel-singing tenor. In a series of interviews with townspeople, mixed with flashbacks, we follow Bernie: he arrives in Carthage, Texas (pop. 7,000), where old ladies adore him; he befriends a wealthy, mean-spirited widow named Marjorie Nugent; they become companions in both daily routines and expensive vacations. Among those interviewed, only her stockbroker and Danny Buck, the local district attorney, are unsympathetic toward the sunny, sometimes saccharine Bernie. Marjorie changes from sour and alone to happy with Bernie; then she gets possessive. What will sweet Bernie do? Written by
Richard Linklater: Appears as one of the 5 deadbeat dads in the 'hand on a hardbody' competition. He's the one wearing a red shirt who attempts to run when the police arrive. In the newspaper article, his picture is the last one on the top row, farthest to the right. See more »
The choir is singing out of the United Methodist Hymnal with Bernie singing, "Blessed Assurance". The hymn number is #369, which is not correctly numbered on the list of hymns in the background. See more »
I'm very honored to introduce our guest lecturer today. He graduated from here about 15 years ago. He's gone on to a fabulous career. I can't think of a single person who's more qualified or more adept at the final procedures you've been studying lately. Now you've learned the science. Now's your chance to learn the art. Students, Mr. Bernie Tiede...
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During the main credits, there are more commentary clips of the 'townspeople'. The last clip is of James Baker singing the song he wrote about the events. See more »
Last Friday a theater full of cinemaphiles (in what one old codger in the film calls "the People's Republic of Austin") LOVED it! It was Jack Black's best performance in the most demanding role he's ever attempted. Shirley MacLain was brilliant in developing a complex character in what was almost a non-speaking role. Supporting players, the funeral director, the broker, the sheriff, were first rate - but the major character in the film is the Greek Chorus, dubbed "The Gossips" by director Linklater, comprised of a score of actors and local townspeople who narrate the reenactment of real events in a docudrama, combining interviews that have the look and feel of modern Reality TV with techniques that were used in the earliest silent films, like the use of title cards to indicate the passage of time and the shifting focus of the story. A brilliant job by Linklater in creating a noir comedy like "What's the Trouble With Harry?" while sustaining a clear trace of the human tragedy and sadness that underlies the story. WARNING: Don't miss the opening! It's a grabber!
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