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While Votes Are Counted, Discover What Movie Characters Count

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Vote counts are stressing out a lot of people, including critic Bob Mondello, who says he's distracting himself from election-related counting with cinematic counting.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Hans Gruber didn't have to raise his voice to be scary in "Die Hard." All he had to do was count.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIE HARD")

ALAN RICKMAN: (As Hans Gruber) I'm going to count to three. There will not be a four.

MONDELLO: He was a man of his word. Movie villains often are. So our movie heroes, say, Deadpool calculating his odds as he faces a whole lot of bad guys.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DEADPOOL")

RYAN REYNOLDS: (As Deadpool) I only have 12 bullets, so you're going to have to share. Let's count them down.

MONDELLO: This counting bullets thing comes up more often than you might expect - in whodunnits, especially - though, as "Clue" established, characters can overthink.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CLUE")

TIM CURRY: (As Wadsworth) There was one shot at Mr. Boddy in the study, two for the chandelier, two at the lounge door and one for the singing telegram.

LESLEY ANN WARREN: (As Miss Scarlet) That's not six.

CURRY: (As Wadsworth) One plus two plus two plus one.

WARREN: (As Miss Scarlet) Uh-uh. There was only one shot that got the chandelier. That's one plus two plus one plus one.

CURRY: (As Wadsworth) Even if you are right, that would be one plus one plus two plus one, not one but two plus one plus one.

WARREN: (As Miss Scarlet) OK, fine. One plus two plus one - shut up.

MONDELLO: When people are counting in movies, they're either adding things up or building suspense. Either way, there probably isn't a lot going on on screen. But then there doesn't have to be if there's, say, a bomb with a digital clock ticking down to zero, or in the case of the Russian sub in "The Hunt For Red October," a torpedo coming that gets counted down and then up to - well, hard to say to what exactly, but Sean Connery gets it right.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Torpedo impact now 15 seconds.

SEAN CONNERY: (As Marko Ramius) Sound collision.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Sound collision.

MONDELLO: People count in movies for all kinds of less consequential reasons - to keep the band in musicals like "Chicago"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHICAGO")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Five, six, seven, eight.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONDELLO: ...To make sure everyone's lined up for a field trip in "Home Alone," to launch rockets in lots of movies. Films count cards in Vegas, seconds in prize fights, and sometimes filmmakers find a plot-driven reason to count - in "Rain Man," for instance, to give Tom Cruise a peek at these special talents of his autistic brother played by Dustin Hoffman. A waitress has dropped a box of toothpicks, and Hoffman, barely glancing at the floor, sees a pattern.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RAIN MAN")

DUSTIN HOFFMAN: (As Raymond Babbitt) Eighty-two, 82, 82.

TOM CRUISE: (As Charlie Babbitt) Eighty-two what, Ray?

HOFFMAN: (As Raymond Babbitt) Toothpicks.

CRUISE: (As Charlie Babbitt) There's a lot more than 82 toothpicks, Ray.

HOFFMAN: (As Raymond Babbitt) Two-hundred forty-six total.

CRUISE: (As Charlie Babbitt) Change.

MONDELLO: Cruise and the waitress look at the box cover.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RAIN MAN")

CRUISE: (As Charlie Babbitt) How many toothpicks are in there?

BONNIE HUNT: (As Sally Dibbs) Two-fifty.

CRUISE: (As Charlie Babbitt) Pretty close. Come on. Let's go, Ray.

HOFFMAN: (As Raymond Babbitt) Two-hundred forty-six.

HUNT: (As Sally Dibbs) There's four left in the box.

MONDELLO: Hoffman took home an Oscar for that role. And J.K. Simmons got one years later playing a tyrannical music teacher in "Whiplash," where the most memorable scene was about counting beats mixed with slaps.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHIPLASH")

JK SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Why do you suppose I just hurled a chair at your head, Neiman?

MILES TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) I don't know.

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Sure you do.

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) The tempo?

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Were you rushing, or were you dragging?

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) I don't know.

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Start counting.

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) Five, six...

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) In four, dammit. Look at me.

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Now, was I rushing, or was I dragging?

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) I don't know.

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Count again.

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) Rushing or dragging?

TELLER: (As Andrew Neiman) Rushing.

SIMMONS: (As Fletcher) So you do know the difference.

MONDELLO: OK, I've gone down a dark hole looking for distraction. Rest assured, there's plenty of comic counting, from "Monty Python's Holy Grail" hand grenade sequence...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL")

ERIC IDLE: (As Brother Maynard) First shalt thou take out the holy pin. Then shalt thou count to three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two...

MONDELLO: ...To Roger Rabbit's haunting love poem that did not win over Jessica Rabbit.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT")

CHARLES FLEISCHER: (As Roger Rabbit) How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand...

MONDELLO: There is no accounting for taste. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE I LOVE YOU")

RONEE BLAKELY AND HENRY GIBSON: (Singing) One, I love you. Two, I'm thinking of you. Three, I'll never let you go. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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