Category Archive 'Hollywood'
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.

20 Oct 2017

Mark Steyn on “Good Will Hunting”

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As Harvey Weinstein’s career circles the drain, Mark Steyn amuses us with a celebratory trashing of Weinstein’s cinematic masterpiece: “Good Will Hunting” (1997).

[I]n Good Will Hunting, the eponymous Will, a genius, demonstrates said genius by memorizing a book simply by turning the pages and regurgitating a lot of information at extremely fast speed. This is a very Hollywood idea of genius: there isn’t a studio exec in town who wouldn’t love a kid in the outer office who could read an entire novel over lunch and then pitch it in eight seconds. …

The writers of Good Will Hunting are, in fact, actors — Matt Damon, who back in 1998 was best known for The Rainmaker, and Ben Affleck, who’d turned in a very dreary performance in the boy-meets-lesbian romance Chasing Amy. That said, they had their own peculiar genius: The script is said to have started out as an action thriller about a race against time to avert mass destruction. Then, at Rob Reiner’s suggestion, the boys converted it into an all-talk-and-no-action touchy-feely cockle-warmer about male bonding. The final version trembles on the brink of a dysfunction-of- the-week TV movie but never quite dives in, thanks mainly to Gus Van Sant’s direction and two oral-sex jokes.

Will, played by Matt, is now a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, loitering with his mop and pail by the blackboard and anonymously solving the most complicated mathematical theorems, like:

    Σ = (y-¿) x zzz*/7 (@§ç) [$$$$]
    a ¶

    (I quote from memory)

Actually, that one isn’t too difficult, as it represents the precise formula for late Nineties Weinstein Oscar bait, where zzz = upscale Brit source material, ¿ = Gwyneth Paltrow’s breasts and § =the differential between a film directed by Quentin Tarantino and a film with a cameo by Quentin Tarantino. The line represents the line that sensitive artistic executives know not to cross, and the a=actress and ¶=Harvey’s head peeking out from the bathroom door.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Good Will Hunting’s trump card is Mr Damon, who struts through the film with the cockiness of a good-looking serial killer. He’s not very plausible as a genius, but then he’s not very plausible as a janitor either, so it all evens out. What he has is a breezy intensity and the same kind of bantam rooster quality as the young Cagney, albeit gussied up and airbrushed, as was the Nineties’ wont. With the exception of his three minutes singing “Scottie Doesn’t Know” in Eurotrip, this remains his greatest screen performance.

As for Will himself, he’s merely the umpteenth variation on Forrest Gump — this time an asshole savant: for all his facility with physics and history, he’d rather drink beer, beat guys to a bloody pulp and say ‘f**k’ a lot. The film is unusually strong in these scenes. It doesn’t sentimentalize the lads as poets in the raw, held back only by the iniquities of class: Chuckie (Affleck) and Will’s other pals from Southie — South Boston — are shown as amiable yobs, perfectly content within their shrunken horizons. The loathing that the college maintenance staff feel for the professors is also well done, and there’s a sharp scene where Will and a Harvard boy spar over Minnie Driver:

    “You just paid $150,000 for an education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the library.”

    “True, but at the end of it I’ll have a degree and you’ll be serving my kids fries in the drive-thru on the way to our ski vacation.”

(Two decades on, a 150-grand degree is no obstacle to a rewarding career at the drive-thru window.)

The forces of higher education are represented by Stellen Skarsgard as an MIT professor looking for his ticket to the top. It would have been interesting to see the film explore his character’s relationship with Will: both are men who, in opposite ways, are frustrated by the size of their brains. Instead, Skarsgard is there essentially to introduce Will to a shrink pal of his. The shrink is played by Robin Williams. Even worse, it’s Robin Williams in that beard he keeps in the drawer and only brings out for serious roles.

The beard is working overtime here: Williams’ character is a Vietnam vet, child-abuse survivor, recent widower and community college loser, due to the fact that his career stalled while his late wife spent 18 of their 20 years together on her death bed. In Deconstructing Harry, the Woody Allen film released around the same time, Williams had a small role as an actor who goes out of focus – literally: whenever the camera tries to film him, he’s all fuzzy and blurred. On the evidence of Good Will Hunting, it was something of a recurring problem for Williams: his eyes are permanently fuzzy and blurry, as if he’s on the brink of tears. Apparently, Mister Blurry’s participation was Harvey Weinstein’s sole demand before he would agree to make the film. That’s a shame, because he’s at odds with an otherwise strong cast. Self-pity is a difficult quality to sell: There’s a neediness in Williams’ performance here, which is what ties his serious roles to the manic comedy. All performers have that to one degree or another, but the trick of acting is to conceal it.

RTWT

13 Oct 2017

The Weinstein Scandal

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Harvey Weinstein and Emma Watson as they leave a BAFTA dinner in London in 2011.


On the Weinstein affair, and for those who think he is the exception …

“You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.”

— Fred Allen

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