I don't think I've ever blogged this early in the morning...I hope my brain and fingers will cooperate. The coffee just finished brewing, so that will help.
This was moderately difficult for a Thursday puzzle, with [---] appearing as the clue four times. Some of the tougher answers had equally tough words crossing at a questionable letter...things that I expect of a Friday or Saturday. That said, there were an awful lot of gimmes...more later about both of those.
The theme wasn't revealed until the end of the down answers, but we had a clue at 6D: Fill in the __ (a hint to this puzzle's theme) (blank). I had already guessed (correctly, it turned out) one of the theme answers at that point. 55D: What each completed pair of theme answers in this puzzle is (film).
The paired theme answers are:
15A: Jose Cuervo, for one (Tequila) and 16A: --- (Sunrise). Tequila was a gimme, and I don't even drink it. At that point, the Eagle's song came into mind, and I filled in the blank.
34A: Prize (Treasure) and 35A: --- (Island). I didn't immediately guess the blank on this one, and a wrong down answer really threw me...38D: St. __ (common hospital name) was Luke's...I had Mary's.
41A: Brute (Animal) and 42A: --- (Crackers). Absolutely nothing came to mind for that blank.
63A: Of tremendous fervor (Blazing) and 64A: --- (Saddles). Blazing just couldn't come to me, even when I had the Z from 47D: Sauce (booze). Once Saddles appeared, I knew the answer. I didn't see the movie until twenty or more years after its release...it was disgustingly racist and we didn't even watch the whole thing. Were people really so insensitive in the seventies that they found that entertaining?
In addition to Tequila, other gimmes included 8A: 1958 sci-fi classic starring Steve McQueen (The Blob), 24A: Rice dish (pilaf), 27A: Place for a houseplant (sill)...although I don't have a single one on a sill, 39A: Supporters of the arts (patrons), 43A: Altoids holder (tin), 1D: Pivoting razor (Atra), 4D: So last year (out)...the clue made me laugh, 5D: Country singer with the 1997 triple platinum hit "How Do I Live" (Rimes), 12D: It may be on a property (lien), 13D: Bone: It. (osso), 21D: Flexible blade (epee)...so many ways to clue that one, 27D: Parade honoree, briefly (St. Pat)...only because it's appeared that way in the past, 28D: Tabriz native (Irani)...that appears quite often, always clued in slightly different ways, 45D: Risqué beachwear (thongs)...I was going to leave the visual to your imagination, but this one was too good...54D: Famous Mama (Cass) and 56D: Frozen drink brand (Icee).
The 18A: (Most monstrous) (ugliest) crosses were:
17A: Director Ivan (Reitman) and 3D: 1/64 of a checkerboard, maybe: Abbr. (SQIN)...read that as sq. in. and it will make sense. Since I don't know Ivan, he could have been Rentman, Restman, Reltman...and I was clueless on the cross. The additional cross at 19A: Taylor, Wilson or Harding (Ann) fouled up that answer even more.
20A: Rear-__ (ender). I had ended...and the cross at 8D was no help. "Oy, vey!" cause (tsuris). I don't get that one at all.
44A: Saint of dancers (Vitus), with 35D: Dry white (Soave). Not familiar with Vitus (guessed Titus when I had the rest of it), although Soave is beginning to sound slightly familiar this morning.
Things I didn't know but got from crosses include 47A: Letters before gimels (beths), 53A: Jazz's Peterson (Oscar), 58A: 1984 film with the tagline "It's 4 a.m., do you know where your car is?" (Repo Man), 25D: Classic camera (Leica)...I think I should have known that, and 59D: "O patria __" ("Aida" aria) (mia).
I also had a few problems in the southeast corner. 55A: It may be said while crossing the fingers (fib). I had lie, but 57D: Former first lady (Bess) fixed that. Also struggled with 61A: A deadly sin (avarice). That's not on the list that I memorized years ago.
I still can't make any sense of 52D: Boom (spar). Can anyone explain that?
Well, it's time to get ready for work. Barnabas is very [50A: Oh so] disappointed that I didn't sit with him in the big chair this morning.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.