In 1953, John Huston and Humphrey Bogart "Beat the Devil."
In 1976, the Ramones "Beat on the Brat (with a Baseball Bat)."
Those are milestones in the history of the beat-down, to be sure.
But here at The Commercial Appeal, we don't just create art with a "beat." Each year, we let you, the reader, participate in the mayhem by taking part in our "Beat Beifuss at the Oscars" contest.
So, how do you beat Beifuss, without benefit of cudgel, bludgeon, blackjack, truncheon, sap, spontoon or shillelagh?
It's easy. (Or, I should say, it's easy to try.)
Today on Page M4 and online at gomemphis.com/beatbeifuss you'll find a "Beat Beifuss" ballot.
The ballot will remain online and run many times in the newspaper through Oscar week next month.
In addition, it can be found online every day at my blog, "The Bloodshot Eye," at thebloodshoteye.com.
On the ballot, you'll see the nominees in 10 major Academy Award categories (including, of course, the Best Picture contenders: "Milk," "Frost/Nixon," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"). Pick your favorites to win and send in your ballot by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20.
I'll announce my predictions in The Commercial Appeal on Feb. 22 before that night's 81st Academy Awards presentation in Los Angeles.
As we watch the Oscars on TV, we'll see how accurate we were.
Ten contest winners will be selected at random from among those who Beat Beifuss. Each of those 10 will receive 20 -- count 'em, 20 -- passes to the movies, courtesy of Malco Theatres.
Of course, 10 people might not beat me, in which case there could be fewer winners. Some 1,700 readers have Beat Beifuss since the contest began in 1997, but it's not always easy.
In 2006, I correctly predicted nine of the 10 Oscar winners, and only three of the 1,618 readers who entered the contest beat me.
Last year, I went 8-2, and 43 out of 1,203 contest entrants outguessed me.
On the other hand, in 1999, I picked only three winners. That year, we didn't even bother to count how many hundreds of readers humiliated me -- we just picked 10 winners out of the stacks of entries, as easily as the Cyclops plucked a hapless sailor from his lunchbox cage in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad."
This year looks tough. The nominations contain several surprises: native Memphian Courtney Hunt for Best Original Screenplay, for "Frozen River"; "The Reader" for Best Picture; no Bruce Springsteen (for "The Wrestler") for Best Song; no love for "The Dark Knight" or "Wall-E," except in the most predictable categories.
Tough categories make me less sure of my choices. So whether you've seen any of the nominated movies or not, your guesswork could be as good as mine. Why not find out, and try to "Beat Beifuss"?
-- John Beifuss: 529-2394