Category Archive 'Hollywood'
14 Jul 2019

Some Films Only Come Into Their Own on Television

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There is a small category of films which failed in theatrical release, but which, when played and replayed on television, found their audience and proved themselves to be authentic heart-warming and important films striking a chord with a very wide audience and proving watchable again and again and again.

Some clear examples would be The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski (1998), both now hugely admired classics.

Kathy Shaidle pays tribute in a review to yet another wonderful case of the same phenomenon, Galaxy Quest (1999).

In a just world, O.J. Simpson would currently be serving the 24th year of a double life sentence; Ronald Reagan would have been president during America’s bicentennial instead of Gerald Ford — and Galaxy Quest would’ve earned half-a-billion bucks at the box office when it came out in 1999.

But inept and indifferent studio marketing (plus competition from another “sci-fi” comedy, Ghostbusters) relegated Galaxy Quest to semi-cult status. Which is ironically appropriate, given its plot:

At a science fiction convention, fans await an appearance by the cast of Galaxy Quest, a hokey interstellar TV adventure series unceremoniously cancelled in the early 1980s. The show’s fatally typecast has-been “stars” (played by Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub and Daryl Mitchell) are reduced to reluctantly signing autographs at tacky gatherings like this one, when they’re not cutting ribbons (in full costume) at supermarket openings.

That is, until genuine aliens — who, in cargo cult fashion, have based their civilization on Galaxy Quest re-runs transmitted through space — touch down and beg “the crew of the NSEA-Protector” to help them defeat the villain bent on destroying their planet. The adorable Thermians innocently believe the program’s “crew” are fearless, intrepid space warriors and technological geniuses, not just washed-up actors in laughable uniforms. Their language has no word for “pretend”…

Lazily calling this movie “a Star Trek spoof” unfairly slots it alongside broad, coarse parodies like Blazing Saddles or the soulless Mars Attacks! In truth, Galaxy Quest is a tender, big hearted valentine — more My Favorite Year than Airplane.

That the film’s jokes and, more incredibly, its special effects, hold up so well twenty years later is a testament to the loving care with which Galaxy Quest was crafted. Obeying the first (yet often ignored) commandment of movie comedy, all the actors “play it straight.”

Genre veteran Sigourney Weaver of Alien fame never winks “Get it?”; neither does Alan Rickman, a classically-trained Shakespearean actor stuck wearing a rubber prosthetic forehead, portraying… a classically-trained Shakespearean actor stuck wearing a rubber prosthetic forehead:

While I’d have preferred the director’s original choice for the leading role — Kevin Kline — Tim Allen acquits himself surprisingly well as the pompous, Shatner-esque Jason Nesmith, a.k.a., Commander Taggart.

Cast as Thermian leader Mathesar, Yale Drama alumnus Enrico Colantoni conceived of his species’ quirky gait, rictus grin and off-key speech patterns during his winning audition, then led hour-long “alien school” on set each morning to ensure uniformity and, therefore, believability; of all the Thermians, Missi Pyle’s Laliari is so indelibly delightful that John Updike gave her a shout-out in his novella Rabbit Remembered.

Speaking of famous writers, David Mamet has called Galaxy Quest “a perfect film,” ranking it with The Godfather (and another of my other favorites, Dodsworth.)

But all that came later.

RTWT

27 Feb 2019

All Behind Jussie

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Metro.UK:

The entire cast and crew of The Big Bang Theory united for a portrait to demand justice for Empire star Jussie Smollett following his brutal attack. Sitting on the living room set of the show, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar stand with the crew, surrounding a sign that declared: ‘We support Jussie’. Kaley, who posted the photo, wrote in the caption: ‘On behalf of everyone here [at The Big Bang Theory] we #standwithjussie #jussiesmollett #wegotyourback’ A similar photo was reposted by Johnny Galecki, who also declared the sentiment.

And they knew that Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were wrongly shot. And they know that Climate Change is a threat to our very existence on the planet. They know an awful lot of complete bullshit.

23 Jan 2019

Peter Bogdanovich Interviews the Great John Ford

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23 Dec 2018

The Firearms Expertise of the Creative Class

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10 Aug 2018

Trump’s Star is Back, 30 Times!

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Gateway Pundit:

A group of anonymous right-wing street artists has multiplied President Donald Trump’s Walk of Fame star on Hollywood Blvd., following the destruction of his real one.

The group used 30 vinyl laminated Donald Trump stars to fill in blank squares along the path.

The artists, friends of infamous conservative street artist Sabo, work under the handle “The Faction.”

“Keep taking down the @realDonaldTrump star, and we will further spread Trump Derangement Syndrome by installing a never ending stream of stars,” the artist tweeted along with a video.

08 Jul 2018

Best Hard-Core Movie Quotes

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At Pajamas Media, John Hawkins chooses the “25 Most Bad-Ass Action Movie Quotes of All Time.” Ha!

Two Clint Eastwoods and only one John Wayne? You’ve got to be kidding me.

They missed what I’d say is the best of all, from “Hondo” (1953).

From IMDB “Hondo” trivia:

“Geraldine Page, a Broadway actress with very liberal political views, was horrified by the right-wing views of John Wayne, Ward Bond, James Arness, and [director] John Farrow. However she felt Wayne’s remarks were more reasonable than the views expressed by Bond and Farrow. “

27 Apr 2018

“Huddle” (1932)

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My wife Karen and I watched last night an old movie I had recorded earlier that day from TCM, set at Yale.

IMDB describes the plot:

Tony, the son of Italian immigrants, works in a smoky steel mill in Gary, Indiana. He wins a company scholarship which will enable him to attend Yale college. Over the four years of his college career he learns about football, love, and class prejudice.

I can add more. Tony Amato’s (Ramon Navarro) four-year scholarship to Yale amounts to $2000 ($500 a year for tuition, room and board)!

Tony arrives at Yale (we see lots of real images of the Yale campus), and starts rooming in Fayerweather Hall, part of the long-gone Berkeley Oval that was torn down in the early 1930s.

Rooms in Fayerweather Hall were a lot bigger than in Yale residence halls in my day, and –even for Freshman Italians on scholarship– they were two-person, three-room suites! The evil Yale Administration later turned all of those into four person, three-room suites: more money to spend on hiring additional bureaucrats and funding Identity Studies Departments.

Life at Yale circa 1932 was not all rosy, however. Conniving upperclassmen arrived rapidly to meet gullible freshmen and to sell them all the furniture that came as part of the room. The audience twigs to what is going on when, after upperclassman 1 has already collected for a bureau, bed, mattress, and carpet, along comes upperclassman 2 trying to sell the same bureau.

You would think that Tony would have more problems, as a working-class Catholic of immigrant background, and an Italian to boot, fitting in. He does have a pretty thick (Mexican) accent, which he never really loses. But his suit is just fine. The only problem he has is his slightly Italianate hat. It is a bit too Chico Marx, and when it is negatively remarked upon, Tony discards it and goes bare-headed, but that, too, is a faux pas for a Yale freshman. Before long, the problem is resolved. Tony gets a perfectly suitable fedora, just like those worn by everybody else.

Surprisingly, Tony has no academic difficulties at all. We see little of him in class, but –as the football coach assures him– “You’ll learn more here outside the classroom!”

Even more surprisingly, Tony has no financial problems. He can keep up with his rich classmmates without difficulty. He dresses the same. He is never seen laboring at any student job. He hangs out at Mory’s and intends to join DKE, just like all the millionaires.

The only financial issue is the romantic one: he falls in love with a young heiress, but her father in a private talk persuades Tony that it would be wrong for him to let her marry someone like himself, lacking the means to keep her in her accustomed life style. Tony gallantly gives her up, but the young lovers –of course– do get back together in the end, complete with the rich dad’s approval.

Tony does have social problems. He is too arrogant and pushy and insensitive to others. He is bull-headed and, despite a promising start, messes up at football. His teammates and contemporaries at Yale write him off. He does not receive membership in Deke, and his best friend and roommate nobly declines his own bid out of solidarity with Tony.

The best scene, I thought, came when the angry Tony starts trying to fist fight his football coach in the coach’s office. The older coach has some defensive skills and a good punch, and he knocks Tony down. Tony barely resists the temptation to (unsportingly) pick up a blunt object and try evening the odds, and the two men wind up reconciled and friends again, laughing, admiring each other’s shiners, and the coach tending to Tony’s facial wounds.

The fateful Harvard game nears. Tony is unfortunately unwell. He covertly consults a doctor off-campus. It is appendicitis! The doc wants to hospitalize the young man and operate immediately, but Tony escapes and goes to play in the Big Game.

Predictably, Tony is visibly unwell. He performs poorly and gets benched. But as the fourth quarter’s end draws near, with the game still tied 0-0, Tony begs to go back in, and scores a touchdown. He then fails again and Harvard ties in the final moments of the game.

After the game, at the post-game banquet, students are speaking ill of Tony’s performance, but Tony’s roommate indignantly breaks his vow of silence and tells them Tony is lying near death in the hospital with a ruptured appendix. Now, they know.

In the final scene, we see Tony’s class marching into Woolsey Hall in graduation robes. The girl charges up and kisses Tony, while her father and his classmates applaud.

Real Yale students performed as extras for $5 a day (big money in 1932). The film incorporates lots of absolutely delightful real scenes of the Yale campus and New Haven. And you get to hear a ton of Yale songs, including the now-I-think-forgotten:

“Oh! More work for the undertaker,
‘Nother little job for the casket maker
In the local cemetary they are
Very very busy with a brand new grave:
No hope for Harvard, No hope for Harvard!”

And:

And a number of fraternity songs not heard in many years.

05 Mar 2018

An Oscar Tribute to Those We Lost

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14 Jan 2018

John Ford

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John Ford was a Rear Admiral in the US Navy Reserve.

“I didn’t show up at the ceremony to collect any of my first three Oscars. Once I went fishing, another time there was a war on, and on another occasion, I remember, I was suddenly taken drunk.” – John Ford

17 Dec 2017

They Don’t Make Men Like They Used To

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NME

Gary Oldman has revealed that he gave himself “serious nicotine poisoning” after smoking nearly $20,000 (£14,800) worth of cigars during filming of his new Winston Churchill biopic film. …

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Oldman revealed that he made himself ill after smoking 400 cigars over the course of a 48-day shoot.

“I got serious nicotine poisoning,” he said. “You’d have a cigar that was three-quarters smoked and you’d light it up, and then over the course of a couple of takes, it would go down, and then the prop man would replenish me with a new cigar — we were doing that for 10 or 12 takes a scene.”

Director Wright, however, said that the price was worth paying, adding: “It’s Winston Churchill. You can’t have Winston Churchill without a cigar.”

RTWT

12 Dec 2017

Tom Mix, 1880-1940

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Wikipedia entry

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09 Nov 2017

Best Line of the Day

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Guardian story.

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