Movies

TV Tuesday: November 26, 1979

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Beggarman, Thief Image
Image Credit: imdb.com

Forty years ago, today, Part I of the mini-series Beggarman, Thief aired on NBC. Based on the novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw, it was the sequel to the novel and mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man that aired from February through March 1976 on ABC. An additional sequel, Rich Man, Poor Man Book II aired from September 1976 to March 1977, also on ABC but, was not based on the actual sequel novel.

Directed by Lawrence Doheny, it starred (in credit order) Jean Simmons, Glenn Ford, Lynn Redgrave, Tovah Feldshuh and Andrew Stevens.

From IMDB:

This sequel to “Rich Man, Poor Man” is set in the ’60s and focuses on wannabe Hollywood filmmaker Gretchen, black-sheep Army officer Billy and, Billy’s cousin Wesley, who’s tracking his father’s killer in France.

From TCM:

The two-part, four-hour sequel to Irwin Shaw’s “Rich Man, Poor Man” and the vastly successful mini-series made from it (and the subsequent, less-successful short-lived series, “Rich Man, Poor Man Book II,” during the 1976-77 season). Moviemaker Gretchen Jordache, the sister not seen in either of the predecessors, strives to pull the family together after the murder of brother Tom (in the mini-series) and the disappearance of brother Rudy (in the later series), by first re-establishing contact with her soldier son and, then, patching things up with her sister-in-law, Kate, Tom’s widow.

Casey Kasem’s Network Promo Advertisement

Casey Kasem’s Intro to Part II

Flick Friday: November 15, 1956

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Love Me Tender Image
Image Credit: imdb.com

I usually do movie posts in five year increments but, this one kinda fell in my lap. Sixty-three years ago, today, Elvis Presley made his acting debut in the film Love Me Tender. Directed by Robert D. Webb, it was originally titled The Reno Brothers and was based on a story written by Maurice Geraghty. When Presley’s single Love Me Tender passed one million copies, a first for a single, the title to the film was changed. This was the only movie in which Presley played an historical figure and the only movie in which he did not receive top billing.

With Robert Buckner as screenwriter and produced by David Wiesbart, it starred Richard Egan, Debra Paget, Elvis, Robert Middleton, William Campbell, Neville Brand and Mildred Dunnock.

Elvis plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno Brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate army. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend Cathy has married Clint. The family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. Vance is involved in a train robbery, while a Confederate soldier, of Federal Government money. There is a conflict of interest, when Vance tries to return the money, against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates.

[Source]

Trivia Bits:
♦ Originally, this movie had no singing in it. Songs were added to cash in on Elvis Presley’s stardom.
Priscilla Presley reportedly copied Debra Paget’s unique hairstyle from this film to attract Elvis in 1959.
♦ According to Penny Stallings‘ “Flesh and Fantasy”, Presley developed a crush on co-star Debra Paget, which went unreciprocated because she was seeing Howard Hughes at the time.
♦ When the film played in theaters, Elvis Presley’s fans were screaming so loud that audiences couldn’t hear any of his lines.

Trailer


 

The Actual Movie

TV Tuesday: November 5, 1989

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Cross of Fire Image
Image Credit: vidimovie.com

Thirty years ago, today, Part I of the mini-series Cross of Fire aired on NBC. Based on the kidnapping, rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer, it starred John Heard, Mel Harris, David Morse, George Dzundza and Lloyd Bridges. Directed by Paul Wendkos and written by Robert Crais, it was filmed in Kansas, though the historical events occurred in Indiana.

John Heard plays the part of D. C. Stephenson, the Grand Dragon of the Indiana Branch of KKK.

The two-part TV movie Cross of Fire is set in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan was at the height of its political power in Indiana. Part One, originally telecast November 5, 1989, details the resurgence of the Klan (which had been created during the Reconstruction era) under the leadership of David “Steve” Stephenson […]. Cloaking himself in the twin veils of patriotism and morality, Stephenson rails against such “deviates” as blacks, Jews and Catholics, gaining political clout and financial kickbacks as his “invisible empire” grows. Part Two […], telecast November 6, traces the fall of Stephenson…not because his followers have wised up but, because of a 1925 rape and murder charge.

[From Allmovie]

Madge Oberholtzer’s Dying Declaration [Warning: graphic descriptions]
Stephenson’s Murder Conviction
Aftermath and Fallout

♠ The scandal reached the governor. He was indicted and tried but, the conclusion was a hung jury. He wasn’t retried due to the statute of limitations but, left office disgraced with his political career destroyed.

Primetime Emmy Award

Flick Friday: October 18, 1949

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The Heiress Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

I couldn’t come up with any movie releases for today but, seventy years ago, on this date (as best as I can tell), the The Heiress was the most popular film at the box office. Directed, and produced, by William Wyler, it premiered in New York on October 6 and in Los Angeles on October 20. Based on the 1947 play of the same name by American playwrights Ruth and Augustus Goetz, it starred Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins and Vanessa Brown.

The Heiress Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

Summary:

Catherine Sloper is a shy and backwards young woman who lives with her father, Dr. Austin Sloper, in 1849 New York. By all accounts, Catherine’s mother was a beautiful and graceful creature with the charm of queens. Catherine never knew her mother since she died while in childbirth but, her father often reminds her of all the things her mother was and that she is not. Catherine inherited a great deal of money after her mother passed and will inherit twice as much more at the passing of her father. So, when a poor but handsome and well-bred man, Morris Townsend, begins to court Catherine, her father becomes suspicious that he must be after her money. After all, Catherine is plain and boring. What could she possibly offer to this young man other than her money? When she refuses to give up her new beau, her father threatens to disinherit her. Will her father eventually convince her to give him up and wait for a suitable husband? Will Catherine and Morris elope and, live on the money left to her by her mother? Or, could it be that Catherine finally finds all the grace and charm of her mother only to use it against the men in her life?

[Source]

Trivia Bits:
♦ Montgomery Clift was so unhappy with his performance, he walked out of the Premiere.
♦ Cary Grant was interested in playing Morris Townsend but, William Wyler turned him down.
♦ Montgomery Clift took some piano lessons for the scene where he sings “Plaisir d’Amour” to Olivia de Havilland.
♦ William Wyler wanted Erroll Flynn for the role of Morris Townsend.
♦ This movie was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1996.

Academy Awards & Nominations
Other Awards & Nominations

Movie Trailer

 

Piano Scene

TV Tuesday: October 15, 1979

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The Flame Is Love Image One
Photo Credit: amazon.com

Forty years ago, today, the television film The Flame Is Love aired on NBC. Based on the Barbara Cartland novel of the same name, it starred Linda Purl, Shane Briant, Timothy Dalton, Richard Johnson and Joan Greenwood. Directed and co-produced by Michael O’Herlihy, it was written by Hindi Brooks (teleplay) and filmed in Ireland.

Synopsis from The Movie Database:

This sudsy made-for-TV melodrama is based on a Barbara Cartland novel and follows the romantic exploits of an American heiress who sets sail for exciting Paris at the turn-of-the-century. She is traveling there to meet her fiance but, ends up falling in love with a French journalist.

Synopsis from the actual novel:

Reluctant to accept her arranged marriage to an English Duke she has never met, beautiful, young, American oil heiress, Emmeline Nevada Holtz, nicknamed “Vada” after the state, travels to Paris to buy her trousseau before meeting her husband-to-be. When her travelling companion, Nancy Sparling, has an accident and hurts her leg, Vada assumes her name to avoid unwelcome attention. [She] travels on with just her elderly maid, determined to make the most of her last chance to explore Bohemian Paris and, the wonders of the city that she had heard and read so much about. At her hotel she finds a handsome intruder in her suite, not a thief as she at first thinks but, a journalist looking to interview the famous heiress Emmeline. Smitten by this charismatic Frenchman and his talk of poetry, Vada finds herself agreeing to go with him to the Soleil d’Or, wellspring of the Symbolist movement. Soon, they are deeply and uncontrollably in love, a love that is surely doomed by her deception, her betrothal to the Duke and, now, a terrifying ordeal at a Satanist Black Mass on the dark side of the City of Light.

Timothy Dalton’s character Marquis de Guaita is based on Stanislas de Guaita, the founder of Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Cross (Rosicrucians).

The Complete Movie

Flick Friday: September 20, 1944

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Frenchmans Creek Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Seventy-five years ago, today, the adventure film Frenchman’s Creek was released (or New York opening). Directed by Mitchell Leisen, it was based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. Starring Joan Fontaine (sister of Olivia de Havilland), Arturo de Córdova, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Cecil Kellaway, it was produced by Buddy DeSylva (co-founder of Capitol Records) with Talbot Jennings (The Sons of Katie Elder) crafting the screenplay. The musical score included Claude DeBussy‘s Clair de Lune.

From IMDB:

An English lady bored with London society brings her [two] children to their country home. Her servant William is also working for a French pirate who holds up with his ship and crew off the coast. They soon meet and she embarks on an adventure with the pirates!

Frenchmans Creek Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

From Wikipedia:

As a beautiful, learned lady of means, Dona St. Columb had it all…and a loveless marriage. After years of being royally subjected to mistreatment, she retreats with her most prized possessions, her two children, to a secluded manor overlooking Britain’s Atlantic shoreline. [She] is enthralled with the tall tales of a scoundrel of a pirate, who has been plundering nearby coastal villages. Full of adventure and fueled by years of neglect, she sets forth to seek him out and, it is not long before she finds him…

TCM’s Full Synopsis

Tagline:
“A Lady of Fire and Ice…A Rogue of Steel and Gallantry”

Trivia Bits:
♦ The only film featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in which they do not play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
♦ To make Arturo de Córdova appear taller than Joan Fontaine, he had to wear lifts in his shoes, causing him to teeter when he walked.

Academy Award for Best Art Direction

Unfortunately, there aren’t any video clips of this movie. There are clips of the 1998 remake. ~Vic

Movie Monday: September 2, 1939

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Dick Tracy Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Eighty years ago, today, the crimemystery Dick Tracy’s G-Men was released. A serial film with fifteen chapters, it was co-directed by John English and William Witney and, is over four and a half hours long in total. Produced by Robert Beche, it starred Ralph Byrd, Irving Pichel, Ted Pearson, Phyllis Isley (also known as Jennifer Jones) and Walter Miller (his last film). Based on Chester Gould‘s Dick Tracy comic strip, this serial had Tracy working for the FBI. As a sequel to the original serial, Gould’s contract barred him from production and payment. It was re-released on September 19, 1955.

From IMDB:

A mad doctor named Zanoff uses a drug to bring himself back from the dead after his execution in prison. Dick Tracy sets out to capture Zanoff before he can put his criminal gang back together again.

Dick Tracy Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

From Wikipedia:

International spy, Zarnoff, in the employ of “The Three Powers” (presumably a fictionalized reference to the Axis) is captured by Dick Tracy at the start of the serial, [then] tried and sentenced to death. However, through the use of a rare drug embedded by his agents in[to] the evening newspaper, he escapes from the gas chamber. His men pick up his “corpse” by ambushing the hearse and, administering another counter-drug. He continues his espionage plans, while taking the opportunity of revenge on Tracy.

From historian William Cline:

[Dick Tracy serials were] “unexcelled in the action field” [and] “in any listing of serials released after 1930, the four Dick Tracy adventures from Republic must stand out as classics of the suspense detective thrillers and the models for many others to follow.”

Dick Tracy Depot (Watch all 15 chapters)

Chapter One

Movie Monday: July 15, 1934

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Fifteen Wives Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Eighty-five years ago, today, the crime-drama mystery Fifteen Wives was released. Directed by Frank Strayer and produced by Maury Cohen, it starred Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Raymond Hatton, Noel Francis, John Wray, Margaret Dumont, Ralf Harolde, Oscar Apfel, Robert Frazer, Harry Bradley and Lew Kelly.

In a New York hotel, the body of Steven Humbolt is discovered and Chief Inspector Decker Dawes is called to investigate. After a brief inspection of Humbolt’s belongings, Dawes and Sergeant Meed determine that Humbolt had fifteen wives, three of whom…Sybilla Crum, a well-known reformer, wealthy Carol Arnold, and Ruby Cotton…live in New York. Dawes first questions the still devoted Sybilla, then quizzes Jason Getty, a florist who had sent Humbolt a funeral wreath hours before his death was discovered. While Meed checks out Getty’s lead that the wreath was ordered in Philadelphia, Dawes interrogates Carol Arnold. Carol tells Dawes that Humbolt had robbed, and deserted her, after three weeks of marriage and, that, a year later, she had received a letter from South America informing her of his demise. Just after Carol had married wealthy Gregory Arnold, Humbolt contacted her with blackmail demands but, according to Carol, she never saw him before his murder. Although Dawes doubts Carol’s story, he leaves her to talk to a chemist about a broken glass globe that was found near Humbolt’s body.

Fifteen Wives Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

The chemist reveals that the globe, a Helmholtz Resonator, contained a lethal dose of hydrocynanic acid gas that was released when the glass was broken. Once Dawes determines that the globe came from Philadelphia, he demonstrates how a radio performer known as The Electric Voice, whose fiancée is Ruby Cotton, could have broken the globe during a broadcast. Dawes arrests The Voice and Ruby but, returns to question Carol, who he discovers is hiding a child she had by Humbolt. Then, Dawes receives a message from Sybilla about a clue she unearthed at Humbolt’s funeral. While at Sybilla’s home, Dawes discovers that florist Getty is impersonating the reformer and that he is wearing a pair of gloves similar to a pair Humbolt was wearing in his coffin. Suspicious, Dawes orders Humbolt’s coffin exhumed, which causes Getty, who needed the gloves to hide his amputated fingers, to panic. [He] confesses that he killed Sybilla and had used The Electric Voice’s broadcast to kill Humbolt out of revenge for stealing his wife in Australia. After thwarting Getty’s escape attempt, Dawes telephones Carol, who is divorcing [Gregory] Arnold and proposes that they leave for Europe together.

[Source]

Disclamer:
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia state that this film was released July 15, 1934. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) state that it was released June 1, 1934. I have no way of verifying either. I also can’t find any video clips. ~Vic

Movie Monday: July 8, 1929

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Thunder Film Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Ninety years ago, today, the melodramatic silent film Thunder was released. Written by Ann Price and Byron Morgan, it was directed by William Nigh. Considered a lost film, it starred Lon Chaney, Sr. (The Man of a Thousand Faces), Phyllis Haver, James Murray, Tom Keene, Frances Morris (Adventures of Superman (TV Series)/Sarah Kent) and Wally Albright. Though a silent movie, it did have sound effects and a musical score. Only half of the reel survived and this was Chaney’s last silent. [During filming], Chaney caught a cold during the snow scenes which, then, developed into walking pneumonia. Production was shut down for a time but, was eventually completed. Chaney’s illness, combined with his throat cancer, led to his death two months after the release of his last film, and only talkie, 1930’s The Unholy Three.

Thunder Film Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

Synopses:

Lon Chaney plays Grumpy Anderson, a railroad engineer with an obsession for running his train on time. His slavishness to promptness causes several tragedies which alienate him from his family. By the story’s end, the engineer restores their faith in him and validates his obsession by forcing his train through a flood to bring badly needed Red Cross supplies to the victims.

[Source]

“Grumpy” Anderson is an old railroad engineer that is obsessed with keeping his train on schedule, no matter the cost. His two sons are also railmen but, don’t share his single mindedness, which leads to one son’s death and a fight with the other on the first son’s funeral car. [This] leads to a crash and demotion of Grumpy to mechanic in the yards. His redemption comes during the Mississippi flood when he is, again, pressed into service to pilot a relief train along with his surviving son.

[Source]

Lon Chaney’s Site

Thunder (the book) from Creepy Classics

Movie Monday: July 1, 1924

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Being Respectable Image One
Lobby Card
Image Credits: wikipedia.org & Warner Brothers

Ninety-five years ago, today, the silent drama Being Respectable was released. Based on the novel of the same name written by Grace Flandrau, it was adapted by Dorothy Farnum. Directed by Phil Rosen, it starred Marie Prevost, Monte Blue, Louise Fazenda, Irene Rich, Theodore von Eltz, Frank Currier, Eulalie Jensen, Lila Leslie, Sidney Bracey and Charles French.

Being Respectable Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Synopses:

Wealthy young Charles Carpenter is pressured by his family to marry Suzanne, even though he is really in love with young “flapper” Valerie. He gives in to his family’s pressure, however and marries Suzanne, after which Valerie leaves town. Years later, after Charles and Suzanne have had a child, Valerie comes back to town and, Charles realizes he is still in love with her…and she with him. Complications ensue. [Source]

Through the scheming of his respectable, and wealthy family, Charles Carpenter is obliged to marry Suzanne, although he is in love with young flapper Valerie Winship. Years later, when Valerie is back in town, they renew the affair and, Carpenter plans to leave his wife and child for her. […] in the end, he yields to family duty and respectability. [Source]

New York Times Review [August 4, 1924]

I could not find any video clips of this movie. ~Vic

Movie Monday: June 24, 1919

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O'Day Image
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & Metro Pictures Corp.

There weren’t any movies released on today’s date. So, I will use yesterday’s date. One-hundred years, ago, yesterday, One-Thing-At-A-Time O’Day was released. Based on a short story by William Pelley, it was directed by John Ince with the adaptation written by George Baker. A lost, silent comedy film, it starred Bert Lytell, Joseph Kilgour, Eileen Percy, Stanton Heck, William Carroll and Bull Montana.

Synopsis:

A serious-minded boob named Stradivarious O’Day, because his music-loving mother says he “fiddles his time away”, acquires his nickname because of his motto of “one thing at a time and that done well.” Falling in love when he first sees circus bareback rider Prairie-Flower Marie, O’Day, living off his inheritance, follows the circus until the pestered manager gives him a job cleaning his Ford. With the help of a manual, O’Day learns to drive and secures employment with the circus as a chauffeur. After strong man Gorilla Lawson, who also loves Marie, beats him up, O’Day contacts his friend, boxer Roughneck M’Dool, to teach him to fight. Lawson, frightened by O’Day’s daily development, steals the circus receipts, and the Ford, on the day of their scheduled fight but, O’Day overtakes and whips him. After O’Day weds Marie, he unwittingly goes against his motto when he becomes the father of twins.

[Source]

Movie Monday: June 17, 1914

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The Brash Drummer Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

One-hundred, five years ago, today, The Brash Drummer and The Nectarine was released. A short, silent, black & white comedy, it was written and directed by George Ade, a popular American humorist for his time and a follower of Mark Twain. Starring Wallace Beery and Bevery Bayne, this piece was one of Ade’s Fables in Slang.

Summary:

Gabby Gus made the town regularly every month. He was a swell guy and thought he could cop most any Jane that he took a liking to. Clara Louise Willoughby, a farmer’s daughter with a pretty face and figure, took the salesman’s eye. He looked the old gent up in Dunn and Bradstreet and, discovered that the old boy was worth some coin. Then, he set his traps for the daughter. Dad, however, sent her away to boarding school and when she returned, she was the swellest peach in the orchard. They all fell for her. Gus hastened to her home where he discovered she was some lemon when it came to the country stuff and that she was a real ‘highfalutin’ society butterfly now. […] her aspirations were higher than a poor hick drummer. She made him feel awfully small. [Source]

I can’t find a video clip of this film but, I did find Ade’s Fables in Slang in audio book form. It has 26 stories and was published in 1899. [Disclaimer: It is nearly two hours long.] ~Vic

Movie Monday: June 10, 1909

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The Lonely Villa Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

One-hundred and ten years ago, today (exactly, believe it or not), the silent short crime-drama, The Lonely Villa, was released. A film directed by D. W. Griffith, it starred David Miles, Marion Leonard, Mary Pickford (in one of her very early roles), Gladys Egan and Adele DeGarde and, was based on the Andre de Lorde French play from 1901: Au Téléphone.

D. W. Griffith and Mary Pickford, along with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, founded United Artists on February 5, 1919, as a studio where actors could control their own interests instead of being beholden to commercial studios. It is now a subsidiary of MGM and Annapurna Pictures and, as of February 5, 2019 (its 100th anniversary), it was rebranded as United Artists Releasing.

From IMDB:

A gang of thieves lure a man out of his home so that they can rob it and, threaten his wife and children. The family barricade themselves in an interior room but, the criminals are well-equipped for breaking in. When the father finds out what is happening, he must race against time to get back home.

Trivia Bit
♦ During the shot of the father leaving the hotel, a dip can be seen in the road in the background. Today, that is currently the exit for the George Washington Bridge and the location of the hotel is now an apartment complex.

Tune Tuesday: June 4, 1984

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Footloose Image One
Photo Credit: rollingstone.com

Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R & B charts (plus Cash Box) was Let’s Hear For The Boy by Deniece Williams from the soundtrack of the movie Footloose. This was Williams second number one hit on the Billboard 100.

Composed by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, country singer Jana Kramer performed the song for the 2011 Footloose remake.

Deniece Williams Image Two
Image Credit: classic45s.com

From Songfacts [no citations]:

This was the second single from the Footloose soundtrack, following the “title track,” which was recorded by Kenny Loggins. In the film, the song was used in a scene where Kevin Bacon tries to teach Christopher Penn how to dance and Penn is having a hard time.

Once the song was written, Pitchford asked Deniece Williams and her producer George Duke to record the song. Kenny Loggins was onboard for the title track, which gave the project credibility and, Williams loved the song and the story idea for the film. She grew up in a small Indiana town with a religious environment similar to the one described in Footloose. When she saw the film, she thought the scene where they used her song was incredible. “If I had come to the film without the music in and they asked me what segment I wanted my song to be in, I would have chosen that segment.” said Williams.

Best Original Song Academy Award Nomination
Best Pop Vocal Performance (Single) Grammy Nomination
Best R & B Vocal Performance (Album) Grammy Nomination

Official Music Video

 

Footloose Movie Clip

Lyrics
[Verse 1]
My baby, he don’t talk sweet
He ain’t got much to say
But he loves me, loves me, loves me
I know that he loves me anyway
And maybe he don’t dress fine
But I don’t really mind
‘Cause every time he pulls me near
I just wanna cheer

[Chorus]
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s give the boy a hand
Let’s hear it for my baby
You know you gotta understand
Maybe he’s no Romeo
But he’s my loving one-man show
Whooa, whooa, whooa-oh
Let’s hear it for the boy

[Verse 2]
My baby may not be rich
He’s watching every dime
But he loves me, loves me, loves me
We always have a real good time
And maybe he sings off-key
But that’s all right by me, yeah
‘Cause what he does, he does so well
Makes me wanna yell

[Chorus]
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s give the boy a hand
Let’s hear it for my baby
You know you gotta understand
Maybe he’s no Romeo
But he’s my loving one-man show
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Let’s hear it for the boy

[Pre-Chorus]
‘Cause every time he pulls me near
I just wanna cheer

[Chorus]
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s give the boy a hand
Let’s hear it for my baby
You know you gotta understand
Maybe he’s no Romeo
But he’s my loving one-man show
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Let’s hear it for the boy

[Outro]
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for the boy
Let’s hear it for my man
Let’s hear it for my man

Movie Monday: 1904

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Butterfly Metamorphosis Image One
Image Credit: schlitzie.tumblr.com

One hundred, fifteen years ago, in June, the short, French film La métamorphose du papillon or, A Butterfly’s Metamorphosis was released. The two-minute silent was directed by Gaston Velle, produced by Pathé Frères and, one of the distribution companies for the US was Edison Manufacturing Company.

From Wikipedia:

Gaston Velle was a French silent film director, and pioneer of special effects, who was prominent in early French and Italian cinema during the first two decades of the 20th century. Gaston began his career as a travelling magician before putting his illusionist skills to work in cinema and, ultimately, creating more than fifty films between 1903 and 1911. He worked under Auguste and Louis Lumière before serving as the head of production for the Italian film studio Cines. […] he is best remembered for his work at Pathé where he was hired to produce trick films that might rival those of his contemporary, Georges Méliès […]. Velle also created some of the first Féerie films […]. [He] mysteriously retired from film production in 1913 and little is known about the last several decades of his life.

[Disclaimer: Very little is known about this film and the above Wikipedia information is presented without any citations.]

Movie Monday: 1899

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Cripple Creek Bar Image One
Black Maria Studio Still
Photo Credit: pinterest.com

One-hundred, twenty years ago, in May, Edison’s Black Maria Studio, considered to be the first movie studio in America, produced the short, non-actuality film Cripple Creek Bar-Room Scene.

An IMDB Summary:

A vignette of a bar-room/liquor-store in the West [with] no plot, per se. However, this short is usually regarded as the first “Western” in the sense that it depicts a western scene.

The film lasted one minute, had no action and the role of a barmaid was played by a man.

Summary From The Library of Congress:

Shows tap room of the “Miners Arms”, stout lady at the bar and three men playing stud horse. Old toper with a silk hat asleep by the stove. Rough miner enters, bar maid serves him with Red Eye Whiskey and he proceeds to clean out the place. Barmaid takes a hand with a siphon of vichy and, bounces the intruder with the help of the card players, who line up before the bar and take copious drinks on the house.

Cripple Creek Bar Image Two
An actual Cripple Creek, Colorado, bar.
Photo Credit: silentology.wordpress.com & pinterest.com

From Silentology:

So the film’s supposed to be set in one of the rough mining towns that were part of the Wild West. Also, it was definitely named “Cripple Creek” for a reason. Cripple Creek, Colorado, was a real-life ranch town that experienced a major gold rush in the late 19th century. In 1890, Robert Miller Womack struck gold and, six years later, the town had swelled from a mere 500 souls to well over 30,000 gold-fevered prospectors. All in all, something in the range of a half-billion dollars worth of gold would be extracted from the area.

The Black Maria was completed in early 1893 in West Orange, NJ and, when Edison built a new, rooftop movie studio in New York City, it ceased operation in January 1901. It was torn down in 1903.

Movie Monday: 1894

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Sandow The Strong Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Specific dates are a little hard to come by but, one-hundred, twenty-five years ago in May, Edison Studios produced three silent actuality films of German bodybuilder Eugen Sandow (born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller). It was directed by Scottish mutoscope inventor, photographer and Edison employee William K. L. Dickson.

From Wikipedia:

Florenz Ziegfeld wanted to display Sandow at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Ziegfeld found that the audience was more fascinated by Sandow’s bulging muscles than by the amount of weight he was lifting so, Ziegfeld had Sandow move in poses which he dubbed “muscle display performances”…and the legendary strongman added these displays in addition to performing his feats of strength with barbells. He added chain-around-the-chest breaking and other colorful displays to Sandow’s routine and Sandow quickly became Ziegfeld’s first star. The [Edison] film was of only part of his act and featured him flexing his muscles rather than performing any feats of physical strength.

Sandow
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & Benjamin Falk

From Film Threat:

Did you ever stop and say to yourself: “Hey, who was the very first movie star?” You never did? That’s funny, because I did. In researching the answer, I found myself going all the way back to the dawn of motion pictures, where a scantily clad muscleman flexing his biceps was the unlikely pioneer in the realm of celluloid stardom. The year was 1894 and the American motion picture industry consisted solely of Thomas Edison and his team of inventors. Edison had the technology in place but, he was missing one key element: the film contents. […] there was one man who had no problem filling that void. In between the expected presentations for feats of strength, there were posing sequences where Sandow arched and twisted his body in a manner that detailed the excesses of his musculature. Today, we call that bodybuilding, and no one thinks twice about it but, in the 1890s, it was a startling and exciting physical display. Reportedly, Sandow made a nice side business by accepting money from women who wanted to feel his mighty muscles! Sandow’s fame in the United States grew fairly quickly and he became a major headliner on the vaudeville circuit. Edison realized he could also cash in on Sandow’s fame and, in early 1894, he sent word to Ziegfeld about having Sandow appear in a kinetoscope film. Edison then handed Sandow over to William K.L. Dickson, who was in charge of the film production at Edison’s studio. Sandow stripped off his clothing, donned his tighty-whitey posing trunks and stood before the hand-cranked kinetoscope camera. And, to employ the ultimate cliché, history was made.

Movie Monday: 1889

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Leisurely Pedestrians Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org

I am going WAY back this time…back to the days of moving pictures and short films. Sticking with my five year increments, one-hundred & thirty years ago, William Friese-Greene, an English inventor, and professional photographer, shot a silent, actuality film in the Autumn of 1889. It was titled Leisurely Pedestrians, Open Topped Buses and Hansom Cabs with Trotting Horses.

From Wikipedia:

[…] shot by inventor and film pioneer William Friese-Greene on celluloid film using his ‘machine’ camera, the 20 feet of film […] was shot […] at Apsley Gate, Hyde Park, London. [It] was claimed to be the first motion picture [but] Louis Le Prince successfully shot on glass plate before 18 August 1887 and on paper negative in October 1888. It may, nonetheless, be the first moving picture film on celluloid and the first shot in London.

It is now considered a lost film with no known surviving prints and only one possible still image extant.

Leisurely Pedestrians Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org

An article in This Is Bristol UK from December 17, 2009, (via The Wayback Machine) has an interview with David Friese-Greene, the great-grandson. From the article:

My great-grandfather was an idealist and a brilliant inventor, with 71 patents to his name but, he was a dreadful businessman. He died without ever having made a penny out of his inventions. He married his first wife Helena Friese when he was just 19 and incorporated her surname with his, because he felt it sounded more impressive. Tragically, Helena died at the age of 21 […].

It was during the late 1880s, shortly after Helena’s death, that Friese-Greene first began to experiment with the idea of creating moving pictures. […] in 1890, he patented [a] new device, which he dubbed the chronophotographic camera. Unfortunately, he was so pleased with his creation that, he wrote to the great American inventor, Thomas Edison, telling him what he had come up with and, even, included plans and designs […]. William never heard back from the inventor of the electric light bulb, though, the following year, Edison patented his own version of a movie camera and went down in many history books as the inventor of cinema.

In fact, William died a pauper but, [was] still passionate about his most famous creation. He was at a cinema industry meeting in London, which had been called to discuss the poor state of the British film industry in 1921. He had got to his feet to speak about his vision of how film could be used to create educational documentaries when he fell down dead. It is said he had just 21 pence in his pockets when he died.

In 1951, the movie The Magic Box was released. Starring Robert Donat, it was a biographical piece about Friese-Greene’s life.

There is additional information on this WordPress blog: William Friese-Greene & Me

Movie Monday: April 29, 2014

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The Other Woman Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Five years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was The Other Woman, a comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney and Nicki Minaj. Released April 25, it was directed by Nick Cassavetes (the son of John Cassavetes & Gena Rowlands). Melissa Stack was hired to write a screenplay that was based on the 1996 movie The First Wives Club.

IMDB Summary:

After discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly Whitten tries to get her ruined life back on track. But, when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB.

Quotes
From Justin Chang (Variety):

[…] an ungainly, often flat-footed yet weirdly compelling romantic dramedy about two gals who become unlikely best friends when they realize they’re being screwed (literally) by the same man. Like a watered-down “Diabolique” or a younger-skewing “First Wives Club,” this latest mainstream rebound from director Nick Cassavetes taps into the pleasures of sisterly solidarity and righteous revenge. Beneath the wobbly pratfalls and the scatological set pieces, there’s no denying the film’s mean-spirited kick, or its more-than-passing interest in what makes its women tick.

The Other Woman Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

From Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter):

A female solidarity adultery comedy that’s three parts embarrassing farce to one part genuinely comic discharge.

From Christy Lemire (Roger Ebert):

Trouble is, Cassavetes, working from a script by Melissa K. Stack, veers wildly between cautionary tale, revenge comedy, scatological raunchfest and female empowerment drama. In theory, the joy of watching this kind of movie comes from seeing such a smooth operator squirm as his schemes are revealed and destroyed. […] plot contrivances abound […], along with not one but, two instances of characters, um, graphically relieving themselves at inopportune moments. The joke isn’t funny the first time and this kind of gross-out strain of comedy clangs uncomfortably with the feel-good message […]. Any semblance of intelligent humor or insight into female aging that may have existed gets tossed out the window of Carly’s high-rise office by the end […]

[There are, literally, NO good trivia bits for this movie. ~Vic]

Awards & Nominations

Movie Monday: April 22, 2009

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17 Again Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Ten years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was 17 Again, a comedy starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho & Melora Hardin. Released April 17, it was directed by Burr Steers (Gore Vidal‘s nephew).

17 Again Image Two
Image Credit: itunes.apple.com

IMDB Summary:

At 17 Mike O’Donnell is on top of the world: he’s the star of his high school basketball team, is a shoo-in for a college scholarship, and is dating his soul-mate, Scarlet. But, at what’s supposed to be his big game where a college scout is checking him out, Scarlet reveals that she’s pregnant. Mike decides to leave the game and asks Scarlet to marry him, which she does. During their marriage, Mike can only whine about the life he lost because he married her so, she throws him out. When he also loses his job, he returns to the only place he’s happy at, his old high school. While looking at his high school photo, a janitor asks him if he wishes he could be 17 again and he says yes. One night while driving he sees the janitor on a bridge ready to jump and goes after him. When he returns to his friend Ned’s house, where he has been staying, he sees that he is 17 again. He decides to take this opportunity to get the life he lost.

Trivia Bits:
♦ Visual effects were not used when Zac Efron does the basketball tricks during the cafeteria scene. He really did accomplish them on his own.
♦ This is a remake of the 1986 Disney TV movie “Young Again” starring a very young Keanu Reeves in one of his earliest roles.
♦ In one scene, Mike wakes up and begins describing his “dream” of being in high school again only to find his daughter, Maggie, caring for him. This is an homage to the counterpart scene in Back to the Future (1985), in which Marty McFly wakes up and finds his teen-aged mother caring for him.

Awards & Nominations

Movie Monday: April 15, 2004

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The Passion of the Christ Image One
Image Credit: patheos.com

Fifteen years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was The Passion of the Christ, a biblical drama starring Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Gerini and Sergio Rubini. Directed by Mel Gibson, the screenplay was co-written by Gibson and Benedict Fitzgerald. Released February 25, it was based on The Passion of Jesus in the New Testament and Clemens Brentano‘s The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the first volume of his records (notes) from conversations regarding meditations by Anne Catherine Emmerich, a canoness, mystic, visionary and stigmatist. John Debney was composer and cinematographer was Caleb Deschanel (father of Emily & Zooey Deschanel).

IMDB Summary:

The Passion of the Christ focuses on the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life. The film begins in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus has gone to pray after sitting [at] the Last Supper. Jesus must resist the temptations of Satan. Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus is then arrested and taken within the city walls of Jerusalem where leaders of the Pharisees confront him with accusations of blasphemy and, his trial results in a condemnation to death.

The Passion of the Christ Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Quotes
From Roger Ebert:

If ever there was a film with the correct title, that film is Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” The movie is 126 minutes long and, I would guess that at least 100 of those minutes, maybe more, are concerned, specifically and graphically, with the details of the torture and death of Jesus. This is the most violent film I have ever seen.

What Gibson has provided for me, for the first time in my life, is a visceral idea of what the Passion consisted of. That his film is superficial in terms of the surrounding message — that we get only a few passing references to the teachings of Jesus — is, I suppose, not the point. This is not a sermon or a homily but, a visualization of the central event in the Christian religion. Take it or leave it.

David Ansen, a critic I respect, finds in Newsweek that Gibson has gone too far. “The relentless gore is self-defeating,” he writes. “Instead of being moved by Christ’s suffering or awed by his sacrifice, I felt abused by a filmmaker intent on punishing an audience, for who knows what sins.” This is a completely valid response to the film, and I quote Ansen because I suspect he speaks for many audience members, who will enter the theater in a devout or spiritual mood and emerge deeply disturbed. You must be prepared for whippings, flayings, beatings, the crunch of bones, the agony of screams, the cruelty of the sadistic centurions, the rivulets of blood that crisscross every inch of Jesus’ body. Some will leave before the end.

*David Edelstein with Slate Magazine
* Jami Bernard with New York Daily News

Trivia Bits
♦ On February 11, 2008, Benedict Fitzgerald filed a lawsuit against Mel Gibson and the production company Icon Productions, alleging the unfair deprivation of compensation and deception on the overall expense of the film production budget after the blockbuster box office success of the film The Passion of the Christ, including, but not limited to, “fraud, breach of contract & unjust enrichment” seeking unspecified damages.
Jim Caviezel experienced a shoulder separation when the 150lbs cross dropped on his shoulder. The scene is still in the movie.
♦ In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Jim Caviezel spoke about a few of the difficulties he experienced while filming. This included being accidentally whipped twice, which has left a 14-inch scar on his back. Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion, experienced hypothermia during the dead of winter in Italy.

Nominations, Awards & Other Accolades


 


 

Movie Monday: April 8, 1999

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The Matrix Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Twenty years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was The Matrix, a science-fiction action film starringKeanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster and Joe Pantoliano. Produced by Joel Silver, it was written and directed by The Wachowskis.

From Wikipedia:

[The movie] depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called the Matrix, created by thought-capable machines (artificial beings) to control humans while using their bodies as an energy source. Hacker and computer programmer, Neo, learns this truth and “is drawn into a rebellion against the machines”, which involves other people who have been freed from the Matrix.

The film is an example of the cyberpunk subgenre. The Wachowskis’ approach to action scenes drew upon their admiration for Japanese animation and martial arts films and, the film’s use of fight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema, influenced subsequent Hollywood action film productions. The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect known as “bullet time“, in which the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera’s viewpoint appears to move through the scene at normal speed. The film contains numerous allusions to philosophical and religious ideas, including existentialism, Marxism, feminism, Buddhism, nihilism and postmodernism.

The Matrix Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Quotes
From Roger Ebert:

“The Matrix” is a visually dazzling cyberadventure, full of kinetic excitement but, it retreats to formula just when it’s getting interesting. It’s kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality and ends with a shoot-out. We want a leap of the imagination, not one of those obligatory climaxes with automatic weapons fire.

I’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of these exercises in violence, which recycle the same tired ideas: Bad guys fire thousands of rounds but, are unable to hit the good guy. Then, it’s down to the final showdown between good and evil…a martial arts battle in which the good guy gets pounded until he’s almost dead, before he finds the inner will to fight back. Been there, seen that (although rarely done this well).

“The Matrix” did not bore me. It interested me so much, indeed, that I wanted to be challenged even more. I wanted it to follow its material to audacious conclusions, to arrive not simply at victory but, at revelation.

From Darren Aronofsky:

“I walked out of The Matrix with Jared and I was thinking, ‘What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?'” Aronofsky says. “The Wachowskis basically took all the great sci-fi ideas of the 20th century and rolled them into a delicious pop culture sandwich that everyone on the planet devoured. Suddenly Philip K. Dick‘s ideas no longer seemed that fresh. Cyberpunk? Done.”

From M. Night Shyamalan:

[…] Mr. Shyamalan is not much of a cinema historian. Among the directors he admires are Peter Weir, Cameron Crowe, Alfred Hitchcock and the Wachowski Brothers. “Whatever you think of ‘The Matrix,’ every shot is there because of the passion they have! You can see they argued it out!”

Trivia Bits:
♦ For the cell phone conversation scene between Neo and Morpheus in the MetaCortex office, Keanu Reeves actually climbed up the window without a stuntman, which was 34 floors up.
Will Smith was approached to play Neo but, turned down the offer in order to star in Wild Wild West (1999). He later admitted that, at the time, he was “not mature enough as an actor” and that, if given the role, he “would have messed it up”. He had no regrets, saying that “Keanu was brilliant as Neo.”
♦ In an online interview when the film was first released, the Wachowskis revealed that they’d both take the Blue Pill when given Neo’s choice.

Four Academy Awards & Others
More Awards & Nominations


 

Movie Monday: April 1, 1994

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Major League II Image One
Photo Credit: tmdb.org

Twenty-five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Major League II, a sports-comedy starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, James Gammon, Omar Epps, Alison Doody, David Keith, Bob Uecker, Jay Leno (as himself), Jesse Ventura (as himself), Randy Quaid (uncredited) and Rene Russo (uncredited). Released on March 30, it was a sequel to Major League (1989). David Ward directed both and most of the same cast remained. Omar Epps replaced Wesley Snipes in the role of Willie Mays Hayes.

IMDB Summary:

After winning the division the previous year, the Cleveland Indians return the following season with a new-found confidence. Their previously ragtag players are now stars. Roger Dorn has gone from player to owner, removing the unhealthy management and influence of Rachel Phelps. New players have been contracted and the team roster looks stronger than ever. What could possibly go wrong?

Major League II Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

Quote
From Peter Rainer (Los Angeles Times):

Except for the fact that it was a commercial hit, the 1989 baseball movie “Major League” was not the sort of film that cried out to be sequelized. But, a lot can happen in five years…for one thing, baseball movies seem to be hanging in there. So, here’s another go-round with the cloddy, come-from-behind Cleveland Indians sluggers who once again stumble in pursuit of the American League Eastern Division championship. Bob Uecker, as the Indians’ perpetually bedraggled play-by-play radio announcer, puts in another appearance, dressing down from his Liberace-like duds to a T-shirt as the Indians slide into the cellar. (His aghast expostulations are the film’s highlight.) We learn all sorts of homiletic life lessons about the value of sportsmanship and Being True to Yourself. Why do sports movies always have to devolve into civics lessons? To its credit, “Major League II” doesn’t go in for a lot of moony sentiment about America’s past-time but, it ends up tenderized anyway.

Trivia Bits:
♦ Opened the same weekend as D2:The Mighty Ducks, a sports comedy sequel which starred Charlie Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez.
♦ In the outfield during their second game there is a sign that says “Emilio’s Repo Depot“. Charlie Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez was in the movie Repo Man (1984).
♦ One of two films released in 1994 to feature the Chicago White Sox as the arch-rival team. The other was Angels In The Outfield.

Award
Worst Sequel (David S. Ward & James G. Robinson/1994 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)

Nomination
♠ The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For (David S. Ward & James G. Robinson/1994 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)

Movie Monday: March 25, 1989

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Fletch Lives Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com
Chevy Chase
Julianne Phillips
R. Lee Ermey

Thirty years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Fletch Lives, starring Chevy Chase, Hal Holbrook, Julianne Phillips, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Libertini, Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb, Cleavon Little, George Wyner, Patricia Kalember, Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Belzer, Phil Hartman and Noelle Beck. Released March 17, it was a sequel to Fletch (1985), a movie about an investigative reporter named Irwin Maurice “Fletch” Fletcher, a character created in 1974 by mystery writer Gregory McDonald. It was directed by Michael Ritchie with music by Harold Faltermeyer.

IMDB Summary:

Fletch fans rejoice! The reckless I.M. Fletcher, investigative reporter, returns to the screen. This time, the chameleon-like reporter ventures to Belle Isle, a sprawling 80-acre Louisiana plantation which Fletch inherits from his aunt. Trouble begins when a lovely attorney mysteriously turns up dead, a neighborly lawyer warns him to leave town and a ravishing real estate agent comes calling with a persistent offer he may not be able to refuse. Fletch must unravel the reasons for the mad land scramble with his trademark bag of hilarious disguises.

Fletch Lives Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

Quotes
From Chris Willman:

[…] a movie with a hero whose every other line of dialogue is a snide wisecrack directed at a fool. In this meager sequel, as in its popular predecessor, Chevy Chase demolishes every easy target in sight with a quip of the tongue. Some of the lines are funny but, after a while, you just want to smack him. […] Chevy, who isn’t playing a character (least of all the character first created by novelist Gregory McDonald) so much as reprising his nonplussed, punchline-spouting “Weekend Update” anchor role. […] Ritchie lets sophomoric scatology predominate over satire at every turn and, […] the gags are more crass than corrosive. […] moviegoers might think twice about signing on as the film makers’ partners in put-down when they’re clearly also its targets. Beware: [the movie] may assume that all Southerners are dim bulbs but, it doesn’t think you’re so bright yourself.

From Roger Ebert:

[The movie] is one more dispirited slog through the rummage sale of movie clichés […] If you were writing a screenplay, would you think a movie involving […] pathetic clichés had the slightest chance of interesting anyone? Chase’s assignment is to bring an angle, an edge, to plot materials that are otherwise completely without interest. And it’s theoretically possible for that to happen […] But, Chase is wrong for this material because of the pose of detachment and indifference that he brings to so many roles. He seems to be visiting the plot as a benevolent but, indifferent outsider. […] sometimes he seems to be covering himself, playing detached so that nobody can blame him if the comedy doesn’t work. In this film he seems to have no emotions at all […] Chase is at arm’s length from the plot, making little asides and whimsical commentaries while his hapless supporting cast does what it can with underwritten roles. A mystery is concealed somewhere in the folds of the movie’s plot but, one that will not surprise anyone who has seen half a dozen other mysteries. The identity of the bad guy can be deduced by applying the Law of Character Economy, which states that the mystery villain is always the only character in the plot who seems otherwise unnecessary. It admittedly takes a little more thought than usual to apply the law in this case, since so many of the characters seem unnecessary.

Trivia Bits
♦ The original character from the novel was a Marine veteran.
♦ Though there were eight sequels, and prequels, written by Gregory McDonald that could have been used as the basis for the second “Fletch” movie at the time, Universal decided to write a completely new story.
♦ The last name of televangelist Jimmy Lee Farnsworth is the same as that of the widely acknowledged inventor of television, Philo T. Farnsworth.

Movie Monday: March 18, 1984

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Splash Image One
Image Credit: comingsoon.net
“She was the woman of his dreams… she had large dark eyes, a beautiful smile and a great pair of fins.”

Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Splash, starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman, Shecky Greene, Rance Howard, Cheryl Howard, Clint Howard and Bill Smitrovich. A Rom-Com fantasy, it was directed by Ron Howard, produced by Brian Grazer and, the story was developed by Grazer and Bruce Jay Friedman. The screenplay was written by Lowell Ganz and Marc ‘Babaloo’ Mandel with music by Lee Holdridge.

Splash Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

An IMDB Summary:

Alan [sic] Bauer nearly drowned as a child but, has memories of being saved by a young mermaid. He manages his family’s wholesale fruit and vegetable business and, continues his search to find true love. Along with his feelings, Allen must also contend with his womanizing older brother Freddie, who takes love less seriously than his brother. When he is jilted as an adult and loses his wallet in the surf, the young mermaid tries to return it. They are soul mates who have been meant for each other but, Madison fears how he will react when he finds out she is not human.

Quotes
From Brian Grazer:

“Tom came in wearing these 501 Levi’s and construction boots and a T-shirt. He wasn’t nervous at all – and here’s a guy who had never had a major movie. I thought, why is this guy so calm? But we read him and we liked him and we hired him right away.”

On Hannah’s abilities, Grazer states “[…] while we were testing Daryl [Hannah] in her tail underwater, we noticed how well she swam. Then we realized that she was as good, if not better, than her stunt doubles. Her endurance was actually better than theirs. We began wondering if Daryl couldn’t do all the scenes herself and she happily agreed, which certainly helped the movie’s credibility.

From Tom Hanks:

“They’re very, very funny guys (Candy & Levy). But my job in Splash was not to be particularly funny. That’s what Ron [Howard] kept drilling into me.”

Learning a valuable lesson from Howard, he recalls being unprepared…”It took longer to shoot than it should have, and when we were done with the scene, Ron said, “You know, you should have been a little more prepared.” He didn’t yell at me. He probably knew that if he had yelled, I’d be paste for the rest of the day. He just let me know in no uncertain terms that I was starring in this movie and with that comes huge responsibilities, and one of them is to be ready to go. I’ve never forgotten that.”

From Daryl Hannah:

[…] having to lie still for three hours every day for technicians to put her into the 35 lbs. rubber fin, she states “At lunch they’d yank me out on a crane and plop me on the deck. I couldn’t eat because I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I just lay there shivering with barnacles in my hair, soaking wet. And underwater it was difficult because I was not able to see since I couldn’t wear a mask. I had to trust the guys to get air to me. It was difficult and we worked long hours but, it seemed more like playing than work. It was real magical down there.”

Trivia Bits:
♦ This film was the first to be released by the new Touchstone Films.
According to the Biography Channel, Bill Murray and P.J. Soles (Stripes) were considered for the roles of Allen and Madison, but Murray turned it down.
♦ Daryl Hannah swam with the mermaid tail so fast that her safety team could not keep pace with her.
♦ A vegetarian, Hannah refused to eat real lobster for the restaurant scene. The crew scooped out the insides of real, cooked lobsters and filled them with a thick, tofu-like paste. Ron Howard said [she] cried after each take over the deaths of the lobsters for their shells.
♦ Tom Hanks had trouble with the water scenes, partly because he was a smoker.

The movie received twelve nominations including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. It won a National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) award for Best Screenplay and Daryl Hannah won the Saturn Award for Best Actress.


 

Love Came For Me Theme Song by Rita Coolidge