Film compilations of a different kind -- Would film anthologies about typing and sleeping be as captivating as those about singing and dancing?

By Tim Purtell
Updated November 25, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Hey — we love a catchy toe-tapper as much as the next person. But we can’t help wondering: Why keep churning out sequel after sequel of all-singing, all- dancing anthology movies when the Hollywood studios have vaults of equally fabulous footage that could make for many more interesting kinds of compilations? Such as:

That’s Mastication! Michael Douglas and Mickey Rourke could cohost a cinematic buffet of comic treats (Charlie Chaplin chewing on a shoe in The Gold Rush) and erotic morsels (Rourke and Kim Basinger chewing more than the fat in 9 1/2 Weeks, Albert Finney and Joyce Redman dining lasciviously in Tom Jones). For spice, there’s Douglas in Fatal Attraction, slobbering cream cheese on his nose while munching on a bagel. Plus the late Divine, chomping gustily on a ripe piece of dog doo, in Pink Flamingos.

That’s Sleeping! This nod to the land of Nod could star Kevin McCarthy speaking horizontally from his bedroom. An opening tribute to sleeping disorders would feature scenes from both 1919’s influential somnambulist nightmare Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and the narcoleptic drama My Own Private Idaho. Clips from all three versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers demonstrate that snoozing can be hazardous to your health. Ditto Rosemary’s Baby, in which a conked-out Mia Farrow is impregnated by the devil.

That’s Typing! But can they type? There’d be proof in this anthology hosted by Gore Vidal, who, interestingly, wrote some of his many novels in longhand. Orson Welles skillfully taps out Joseph Cotten’s unfinished review in Citizen Kane (those giant letters!). A dizzying montage shows John Turturro (Barton Fink), Rosalind Russell (His Girl Friday), Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend), and Greta Garbo in Ninotchka, dexterously banging away at their manuals. For chills, there’s Jack Nicholson’s all-work-and-no-play The Shining turn. And for laughs, Jerry Lewis does his famous air-typing sequence from Who’s Minding the Store?

That’s Telephoning! Hosted by Ray Milland’s third cousin once removed, this collection would connect immediately, showcasing Dial M for Murder‘s heart-pounding close-up of Milland’s finger dialing his home phone number. Barbara Stanwyck supplies pathos as a soon-to-be murder victim desperately calling for help in Sorry, Wrong Number. Griffin Dunne’s After Hours word processor symbolizes anxiety in the telecommunications age when his attempts to make a call are repeatedly thwarted by Catherine O’Hara.