At the movies · Conversation recall · Memories

“I can’t believe you’re buying this”

Does anyone remember a 1987 film called “Black Widow”? It starred Debra Winger and Theresa Russell and was directed by Bob Rafelson, as you can see here on this IMDB page. There’s certainly one person who saw it back then and has no memory of it: my brother. We were discussing it earlier this month when my son and I were holidaying with him at his home in Spain.

Over the years our discussions about films have been very enjoyable, and have accentuated specific scenes and lines of dialogue from movies seen by either or both of us. They have also provided us with a number of catchphrases, including our absolute favourite, “A real Terminator wouldn’t do that”, which I wrote about here last year.

In the case of “Black Widow” my brother saw it before me, in the summer of 1987. He told me the plot, which that IMDB page summarizes as “a federal investigator tracks down a gold digging woman who moves from husband to husband, kills them and collects the inheritance”. He recounted the scene where Debra Winger (the federal investigator) is exaggerating, and then downright lying about, her troubled past to a gullible colleague. He is taken in by her stories, believes each new made-up revelation and asks her what happened next. In disbelief she says, well, that’s what my brother wanted to know. He had seen the film dubbed into Spanish and wanted to know what the line would have been in American English. When I watched the film some weeks later I was ready for the scene in question, enjoyed it all the more because of his description, and was happy to report that the phrase she uses is, “I can’t believe you’re buying this”.

My brother has no recollection of the line, the scene, or any part of the film and believes that he has never seen anything starring Debra Winger. I reminded him of the conversation, and recommended Debra Winger in “Terms of Endearment”, if only for the line her character says to her mother (played by Shirley Maclaine) while lying in a hospital bed and being treated for cancer. Shirley Maclaine’s character is wittering on about the minutiae of her life and Winger’s character says, resignedly, “I don’t give a shit mom, I’m sick”. It’s a line that I have quoted even more than “I can’t believe you’re buying this”. Of course it’s possible that my own memory is faulty and none of this really happened but I have added both Debra Winger movies to the Watch List on my movies-by-post rental service. Sometime soon I should be able to confirm that I have at least remembered the dialogue correctly. Conversation recall is another matter entirely.



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