Best Of Tucson®

Q&A with Charlie Scruggs

Charlie Scruggs is a professor of English at the UA and head of the International Arts Film Series. This fall, the series has a theme--"food," says Scruggs. "Food and culture, food and human depravity, food and sex."

What's the best movie of all time?

Well, when you say "best" movie, you're really saying, "What's your favorite movie?" I'm choosing Out of the Past, with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, directed by Jacques Tourneur and made in 1947. In my opinion, it's the best of all the film noirs, even better than Double Indemnity, though that's tighter.

What movie makes you think most of Tucson?

This is going to sound strange, but I saw Collateral, and what made me think of Tucson-not that it's like Tucson, though Tucson seems to want to imitate L.A.-was the scene where coyotes cross in the middle of the night. It reminded me of how close wilderness is to the city in this town. ... I'm out of town about 10 minutes; I see javelina, bob cats, deer, rattlesnakes, scorpions.

Who's your favorite movie personality?

I guess director Michael Mann, because I went to school with him. We were great pals at one time, and I'm still trying to get him to come talk at our film series. But that's, you know, on a personal note.

What's your favorite movie snack?

You know, I don't really eat food when I watch movies; I like to focus on the movies. But if I could sneak in a beer ...

Where's your favorite place in Tucson to catch a flick?

I have to say-because I like stadium seating-and this will sound pretty mainstream and commercial, but I like El Con 20.

Any embarrassing cinematic experiences in your life?

No, I can't think of any. Except seeing a bad movie--that embarrasses me. I always feel betrayed by bad movies.

Best hike?

David Yetman trail, in the Tucson Mountains.

Best architecture?

The stone houses near where I live. They were done by Margaret Spencer, the first woman architect in Arizona. She studied under Frank Lloyd Wright or a disciple of his, and you can really see it in her work. There should be more houses like that, that blend into the desert.

Best auto repair?

Precision Incorporated, a Honda repair shop on Grant Street.

Best casual dining?

Blue Willow, but they could improve their wines. Be sure to tell them that.

Best upscale dining?

Les Rendevous, though you have to be pretty well-heeled to go there.