"I'm just saying. If you kill him, those future Oscars will have to go to someone ..."
In real life, though, Boss Tweed was a powerful 19th-Century kingmaker who redefined the meaning of the word "corruption." It's estimated that the combined worth of the bribes his political machine took in exchange for New York city contracts was in the billions of dollars in today's money. It's just a shame that none of that brazenness made it into the movie ... though it was hinted at.
We get a very brief background scene of Tweed talking to reporters and telling them that "What our great city needs is a new courthouse. Now I propose it should be a modest, economical structure." That's where the movie showed us a glimpse of the real Tweed, and also gave the history buffs in the audience a good laugh.
"Hahahaha! 'Great city' ... classic."
The building Tweed talked about was the New York County Courthouse which broke ground in 1861. By the time it was finished, 20 years later, it ended up costing nearly $180 million, or twice as much as the United States paid for the entire state of Alaska. Tweed paid out millions to laborers for only a few days worth of work while keeping most of the cash for himself, and had a company that he invested in supply the marble for the construction. One time, when a city committee demanded an explanation as to why the work on the building was so slow and costly, Tweed had his print shop publish the report, and charged the city $100,000 for it.
THAT's the character we could have gotten, which actually makes me think that bringing attention to it via a stealth joke was kind of a dick move. Yeah, it probably made a few people laugh, but it also reminded them that they could have been watching a shameless hybrid of Frank Underwood and Tony Soprano, instead of Bridget Jones' dad in a stupid hat.
Sideways Is Way Funnier If You're A Wine Connoisseur
Fox Searchlight Pictures
I'm not sophisticated when it comes to food. More than once, I've eaten fried Spam straight from the pan using two old pencils as chopsticks because I didn't feel like doing the dishes. So I'm not in any position to criticize people for the foodstuff they put in their mouths. That being said, anyone who stopped drinking Merlot after seeing Sideways is a moron.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
"Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how better I am than you."
It's true that in the movie, Paul Giamatti trash talks Merlot in favor of Pinot Noir, and we are nothing if not easily influenced by popular entertainment. The thing is that Miles, Giamatti's character, only really said: "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking Merlot!" That's it. That's the only time he ever mentions the wine, without going into the specifics of why he hates it, not even a "My mother was bludgeoned to death with a bottle of Merlot." He actually spends more time disparaging Cabernet Franc wine, calling it "flabby" and "overripe," and saying how he never expects greatness from it.
And those two remarks weren't put in the movie because the producers had been paid off by Big Wank, the parent industry of Big Wine Snobbery. They were there to make wine experts giggle when Miles says that his most prized possession is a bottle of a 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc, which is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Thus proving that two wrongs sometimes do make a right.
There might be a metaphor in there somewhere seeing as Merlot was allegedly meant to be the favorite wine of Miles' ex-wife, so him drinking the Cheval Blanc at the end from a paper cup could symbolize him finally getting over her. But I think that we should look at the scene for what it really is: a classic example of irony-based humor, like showing Kanye West being able to read.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com.
For more from Cezary, check out 5 Filthy Jokes You (And the Censors) Missed in Famous Movies and 5 Brilliant Moments You Probably Missed in Famous Movies .
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