Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Eight pick.
I remember when I heard Possession on the radio the first time. I was driving home from work and I was immediately in love. The music was stunning, her voice was stunning and I was captivated. Who is she, I thought to myself (I had no idea that Sarah McLachlan had two previous albums). I found the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy CD as fast as I could. It is a fantastic album. There is not a bad song on it.
When Surfacing came out in July 1997, I snatched it, too. It was released to coincide with the Lilith Fair. Though Fumbling Towards Ecstasy remains my favorite of her albums, Witness is my favorite single. The sixth track, it was never released as a single, has no chart information what-so-ever and it remains in the shadow of Building A Mystery, Sweet Surrender, Adia and, in particular, Angel. The album is one of two that reached #2 on the Billboard 200. It was the #1 album on Billboard’s Canadian Albums chart on August 2, 1997 and on Canada’s RPM Top Albums/CDs chart on July 28, 1997.
As an odd bit of trivia, this album is mentioned in the Starr Report, Ken Starr‘s investigation of the Monica Lewinsky Scandal, as was Altoid Mints, the movie Titanic, Billie Holliday, Elvis, Spinach Dip, Starbucks and Leaves of Grass. Monica apparently liked track #5.
This song speaks to me on so many levels. It’s a beautiful piece with beautiful lyrics… ~Vic
Make me a witness
Take me out
Out of darkness
Out of doubt
I won’t weigh you down
With good intention
Won’t make fire out of clay
Or other inventions
Will we burn in heaven
Like we do down here
Will the change come
While we’re waiting
Everyone is waiting
And, when we’re done
As we carried the weight
And died for the cause
Is misery made beautiful
Right before our eyes
Will mercy be revealed
Or blind us where we stand
Lilith Fair @ 20 (Billboard Article/Gil Kaufman/07-05-2017)
Sarah McLachlan Named In Starr Report (MTV News/09-16-1998)
Starr Report Unearths New Bedfellows (The Hartford Courant/Rock Critic Roger Catlin/09-17-1998)
The Pop Life: Musical Damage In Starr Report (The New York Times/Neil Strauss/09-24-1998/Web Archive)
No Official Video
Live From Mirrorball
Sarah Discussing The Surfacing CD
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Seven pick.
Pat Benatar exploded on the music scene in the Summer/Fall of 1979 with her debut album In The Heat of the Night. I was in 8th grade and the first song I remember hearing on the radio from the album was Heartbreaker. I went to my hometown’s only mall and headed into a store called Stereo Village. I wanted this song and, when I asked for it, the guy trying to help me automatically thought I was talking about Led Zepplin. When I mentioned Pat Benatar’s song, he didn’t know what I was talking about. He told me to sing some of the music for him…so, my 13 year old self obliged, right there in the middle of the store, “in front of God and everybody” (Southern colloquialism). He still didn’t know the song but, said “Nice voice!” I never did get that 45 and a few months later, rolling into the new decade, We Live For Love was released in February and, I liked it even better than Heartbreaker. Crimes of Passion, her sophomore album, came out the following August and the hits kept coming. You Better Run (The Young Rascals cover) became the second video broadcast on the debut of MTV, behind Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles (a 45 I managed to get my hands on). I was a devoted fan at that point without owning a single song or album. By the time of my 16th birthday, a young man I was dating presented me with the Crimes of Passion album. I was overjoyed.
I nearly got to see her perform during the 1986 Seven the Hard Way tour. It started in January 1986 and stopped, abruptly, in April. She was a mom by then and family pressures caused cancellations. Greensboro Coliseum lost out. I did get to see her for the Can’t Stop Rockin’ tour in 1995 in Raleigh. Prior to those two, my mother considered me too young to see the earlier concerts. 😭
Gravity’s Rainbow was her ninth, and the last studio album to be in the Billboard 200 chart in the top 100s, peaking at #85 on June 19, 1993 and making it to #44 in Canada for one week on July 31, 1993. Named after the Thomas Pynchon novel, it was also the last album released on Chrysalis Records. It was not one of her better albums, statistically speaking but, it yielded three singles, two of which, I love. My favorite album of hers is, of course, the tour that got cancelled in 1986. That being said, after all these years of her music catalog, Somebody’s Baby is my favorite single, released July 5, 1993 (my second favorite single is Le Bel Age). She and Spyder James had already geared down quite a bit, releasing the blues-themed True Love in 1991, to much less fanfare than Wide Awake in Dreamland from 1988. True Love was her first album that did not rate with RIAA.
I am a fan of Benatar like Hans & Max are of the Beatles. I love this one because of the lyrics, the mood, the blend of the music and her stunning voice, though, in this piece, it is not quite as “up there” as when she sings Invincible (she has a four octave range). I am normally indifferent to most lyrics, choosing to immerse myself in musical arrangements and wonderful voices but, the writing speaks to my heart and I confess that, the first time I heard this, it brought me to tears. ~Vic
BenatarGiraldo (Official Website)
Gravity’s Rainbow (RockWired/Brian Lush/06-12-2018)
Pat Benatar (Hip Online/01-05-2008)
Pat Benatar: Gravity’s Rainbow (Rolling Stone/Andrea Odintz/2003/Web Archive)
Richmond: Benatar’s Rise to Fame (Richmond Times-Dispatch/Nicole Kappatos/04-11-2017/Web Archive)
Live On Leno
Regis & Kathie Lee Show (Stripped Down Short Version)
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Six pick.
Moving into 1986… My first introduction to R.E.M. wasn’t the radio or MTV. It was an odd video channel on Cablevision in the early 80s in my NC hometown (my mom only had basic cable…no MTV). I’ve talked at great length with Max (Powerpop Blogger) about this obscure video channel. I remember two VJs, one named “Dr. John” (not the musician) that wore blue scrubs and one named “Carrot Top” (not the comedian), that, of course, was a red-headed dude. I have no idea where this channel broadcast from but, it was a seriously stripped down operation. It was just rotating VJs, sitting at a desk, talking into a camera…and playing music videos. The first video I recall seeing was Radio Free Europe, the Murmur version, not the Hib-Tone single (I later found out). I was immediately hooked but, totally missed who the band was. (Interestingly, the Hib-Tone version was recorded at Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, NC and the Murmur version was recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC.) Fast forward to the end of my senior year of high school and I see some of So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) on MTV. I had no idea that this was the same band. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when Driver 8 came out (another one I like), that a buddy of mine told me who R.E.M. was…a college band out of the University of Georgia (Bulldogs). Every piece of music of theirs that I was lucky enough to catch, I loved. Finally, in 1987, The One I Love broke thru to #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and they seemed to be everywhere. Their highest charting hit was Losing My Religion, getting to #4 in 1991. Out of their entire catalog, which is gi-hugic, Fall On Me wound up being my favorite, with my introductory piece, Radio Free Europe, coming in second. I wish I had seen them live.
Bit of odd trivia…five strange degrees of separation. R.E.M. had a manager by the name of Jefferson Holt. He was with them until 1996 when they got rid of him for sexual harassment. Jefferson Holt is from Chapel Hill and his mother is named Bertha “B” Holt. She was an NC State Rep. from 1975 to 1994, representing my home county (and another one). She was quite the pioneer, advocating for the ERA and married rape victims (which is ironic as hell considering her son’s behavior). My paternal grandmother was in Democratic politics in the 60s, 70s & 80s, running for local office, herself (and on first-names basis with several governors). She campaigned heavily for her favorites and “Bee” Holt was one of them. I met Bee Holt several times as a kid and remember all of her “Bee” 🐝 paraphernalia all over my grandmother’s house.
I guess this makes me closer to R.E.M. than Kevin Bacon! 😉 😊 ~Vic
Released 0n August 11, 1986, it was the third track from the album Lifes Rich Pageant. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #96 the weekend of October 4, peaking at #94 on October 11 before finally disappearing from the chart on October 25. It did better on the Album Rock Tracks, making it to #5 for one week on September 6.
“Of the genuinely new songs, Peter Buck’s basic music track for Fall On Me dated back to July of 1985, when Stipe had written a lyric about acid rain [but], the song had been virtually re-written, melody and lyrics, by the time it came to be recorded. Stipe, who declared in 1991 that “…this may be my favourite song in the R.E.M. catalogue…”, has described the final version as “…pretty much a song about oppression.” Trainspotters might like to know that the counter-melody used in the second verse is actually the song’s original tune.
Johnny Black (2004)
Reveal: The Story of R.E.M.
His Favorite Song
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Five pick.
Pulling myself out of 1978, I am moving into the 1980s. ~Vic
John Mellencamp‘s Scarecrow album was released on August 5, 1985, 25 days prior to my 19th birthday and six weeks before I started my sophomore year of college. God, what an album. This was Mellencamp’s version of Born In The USA (I own both albums). Roots rock/Heartland rock was the music in the background of my graduation from high school and subsequent foray into college. Minutes To Memories was not an official release from the album but, it managed to make it to #14 on the Top Rock Tracks for one week as a non-single album track. It spoke volumes to me…
“You are young and you are the future
So, suck it up, tough it out
Be the best you can.”
Written by Mellencamp and his childhoon friend George M. Green, it is the #4 track on the album and Mimi Mapes sang backing vocals. Scarecrow made it to #2 on the Billboard 200 chart the week of November 16, 1985 (coming underneath Born In The USA, twice) and stayed for a couple of weeks, stuck behind the Miami Vice Soundtrack.
“I wrote a song called [You’ve Got To] Stand For Something,” [Mellencamp] explains, “but, I never did say what you should stand for…except your own truth. That song was supposed to be funny, too and, I hope people got that. But, I think that’s the key to the whole LP…suggesting that each person come to grips with their own individual truth […] and try to like themselves a little bit more. Find out what you as a person are […] and don’t let the world drag you down. People should have respect for and believe in themselves.”
A deeply felt sense of responsibility and an equally motivating need to atone for past missteps seem to define Scarecrow. On the midtempo Minutes to Memories, Mellencamp tells the story of a young boy riding home to Indiana after a trip to the South. In the next seat on the bus is a seventy-seven-year-old retired steelworker lecturing the child on how to live, backing his advice with experience. “My family and friends are the best things I’ve known,” he instructs, and the child, a budding rebel, chuckles to himself at how out of touch the old dog is.
Easing into the final verse, Mellencamp hushes his band. In a voice just above a whisper, he suddenly shifts the tale from third to first person. He’s the kid on the Greyhound and, his inability to comprehend, let alone act on, the wisdom he was given then, still haunts him… “Now that I’m older I can see he was right.” [T]hen Mellencamp reveals that he’s telling this story to his own son. He knows he’s being silently scoffed at as surely as his travel companion was two decades earlier. Still, he accepts it and the band rocks out.
There is no official video of this song but, the below is one guy’s idea.
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Four pick.
I nearly abandoned the rest of the 1970s for the 1980s until Quinn’s pick. Listening, again, to Tears for Fears reminded me of how much I love a saxophone in rock music. I think I might stay in 1978 for a little while. It was a good year, musically…for me, anyway. I can remember buying this 45 at a Woolworths in my hometown’s only mall. I also remember playing it on my little suitcase record player. I was eleven at the time. There’s not much that Gerry Rafferty put out that I didn’t like. ~Vic
A Scotsman (I am from Clan MacPherson), Rafferty’s first band was The Humblebums (founded in 1965), joining comic Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey in 1969. Harvey departed shortly afterwards and, in 1971, Rafferty recorded his first solo album when he and Connolly parted company. In 1972, he joined with Joe Egan to form Stealers Wheel, their biggest hit being Stuck In The Middle With You from their first, self-titled album. After disbanding in 1975, legal issues over Stealers Wheel prevented him from releasing new material for three years.
Baker Street, the second track from the album City To City, was released February 3, 1978 or, possibly, January 20, 1978, depending and entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of April 22, 1978. It made it to #2 the week of June 24, 1978 and stayed there, stuck behind Andy Gibb‘s Shadow Dancing, for six weeks (as a side note, my paternal aunt gave me the Shadow Dancing 8-track album for my twelfth birthday and it was shoved into a brand new stereo system from my parents):
“…Baker Street was a smash and it allegedly took some serious chart chicanery to keep it out of the #1 spot. [It] stalled out at #2 right as […] Gibb’s Shadow Dancing was in the midst of its seven-week run at #1. According to legend, the chart tabulators at Billboard had actually figured out that Baker Street had finally ascended to the #1 spot in one of those [seven] weeks and they’d called the new chart into the producers at Casey Kasem’s radio show, America’s Top 40 [sic]. But, because of a last-minute correction, Kasem had to re-record the end of that week’s show, putting Shadow Dancing back on top.
According to rumor, Bill Wardlow, Billboard chart director, made the call to keep Shadow Dancing at #1. Wardlow had supposedly gone to dinner with Andy Gibb’s managers and he’d mentioned that Baker Street had knocked Shadow Dancing out of the #1 spot. Gibb had been scheduled to perform at a Billboard-sponsored show in New York and his label threatened to pull him from the bill if Billboard didn’t keep Shadow Dancing on top…so that’s why Baker Street never got to #1. This is all pure speculation and hearsay but, it’s a good story. Record labels have been doing everything in their power to game the Billboard charts ever since those charts began and it certainly seems possible that Baker Street could’ve been a casualty of all that.
“While doing a bit of research the other day, I found myself poking around the edition of Billboard dated February 17, 1973 (PDF), as one does.
Here’s some of what’s inside:
Willis “Bill” Wardlow has been named associate publisher of Billboard. Over the next several years, Wardlow would be responsible for occasionally jiggering the Billboard charts to reward or punish record labels and to do favors for industry friends. As we learned a few years ago, his manipulations led to Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” spending only 12 hours at #1.”
40 Years Later: Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street ~ The Most Controversial No. 2 Song Ever? (DJ Rob Blog/04-17-2018)
Baker Street: The Mystery of Rock’s Greatest Sax Riff (The Atlantic/Adam Chandler/12-17-2015)
Scott Paton: Billboard Insider Comment (The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ Website/AT40 From The Inside/09-16-2013)
Smoking The Bible
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Three pick.
I can’t recall the first time I heard Driver’s Seat but, the song entered Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart on July 21, 1979. I was twelve and I was immediately hooked. It was released in 1978 but, took a while to gain any traction. It managed to get to #15 for a couple of weeks, sandwiched between Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor) by Robert Palmer and Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez. It was the first track from Sniff ‘n’ The Tears debut album Fickle Heart and was the band’s only hit despite fifteen albums, spanning 1978 to 2020.
The history of this British rock band is a little sketchy. Colin Larkin, the British Editor-in-Chief of The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, stated in the 1997 edition that they “had been gigging in England as early as 1974” but, an Athens Calling interview in 2018 reflects 1972. A Jason Ankeny, writing for All Music, stated that lead singer/songwriter Paul Roberts dissolved the band after not being able to get a record deal. Drummer Luigi Salvoni talked Roberts into re-forming the band with Mick Dyche, Loz Netto, Chris Birkin and Alan Fealdman. Ankeny has the actual musician line-up all wrong in comparison to the official website. There is also no mention of Noel McCalla as backing vocals for the time period. The name of the band apparently came from their manager, as Roberts had hay fever and sniffed a lot.
The band is still active as of 2001 as a quartet, with Roberts & Salvoni still working together. ~Vic
Top of the Pops 1979 (Proper Line-Up)
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Two pick.
I grew up around lots of music. My dad had his tastes, my mom had hers and I got some exposure to my grandparents music, too. There was plenty of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Gene Pitney, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, The Ventures, The Beach Boys, instrumental music (think Hugo Montenegro or Paul Mauriat), funny stuff like Ben Colder/Sheb Wooley, Ray Stevens or David Seville (my dad’s stuff), The Four Seasons, Motown, soul music, beach music (my mom’s stuff), big band music (my paternal grandparents) and, bluegrass, country and Latin/jazz (maternal grandparents). One song, in particular, that reminds me of my dad the most is Cathy’s Clown. When I was a kid, my dad liked to just get in the car, drive around and listen to the radio. It was, literally, No Particular Place To Go. When I became an adult, we’d still get in the car and cruise. He and I would sing Cathy’s Clown, together, with me taking Phil’s harmony. I still own my dad’s original 45. ~Vic
Written by Don, it was recorded in March and released in April 1960. It was recorded live, in a single take, with both brothers sharing a microphone. Floyd Cramer was on piano, Floyd Chance on bass and Buddy Harman on drums. An odd song, it has a chorus and bridges but, no verses. It was their first single for Warner Bros. It spent five weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, one week on the Billboard’s R&B chart and seven weeks at #1 on UK’s Singles chart. It was their biggest selling single and their last #1 after Wake Up Little Susie and All I Have to Do Is Dream.
The song is ranked at #150 Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and it was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. Covers have been done by Reba McEntire and Neil Sedaka (1983) with McEntire’s version reaching #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and Canada’s RPM Country Tracks chart in 1989. There is even a Jan and Dean version on Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings (2017).
“We owe those guys everything. They started it all.” ~Bob Dylan
Additional Reading & References:
The Everly Brothers: That Sibling Sound (BBC News/2014)
Cathy’s Clown ~ The Everly Brothers (Library of Congress/PDF)
Recording Cathy’s Clown (Steve Hoffman Music Forum)
Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show 1960
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round One pick. I will be posting these per decade.
Having grown up on the East Coast/Mid-Atlantic, one thing my state is known for is shagging (for the Brits, no, that is not what it means). While my grandparents did the Jitterbug as youths, my parents shagged (a descendant of the Jitterbug), as did my classmates and I. This song, in particular, was my favorite to shag to, though I enjoyed many beach music songs. ~Vic
Released either in May (per Rolling Stone Magazine) or April 24, 1959 (per Wikipedia), it was written by Benjamin Nelson (Ben E. King), Lover Patterson and George Treadwell. Produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the song hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B chart (July) and, #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (August).
This is the second version of The Drifters under Treadwell’s management, crafted from the Five Crowns: Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas, Doc Green and Elsbeary Hobbs with James “Poppa” Clark being rejected for alcohol issues. With this line-up, There Goes My Baby was their first single and King’s debut as lead singer. It was unusual for its time, being the first commercial R&B/Soul recording with strings, arranged by Stan Applebaum, and a Brazilian Baiãon groove. Phil Spector studied the production style under Leiber & Stoller.
Ben E. King and The Drifters (The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation/Inducted 2000)
John Gilliland’s Pop Chronicles (The Drifters & Ritchie Valens/Track 2/University of North Texas Digital Library)
There Goes My Baby (The Art of Rock Music Listening Guide/University of Albany/PDF)
Things You Didn’t Know About The Drifters (Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp/Joe Mirrione/April 10, 2020)
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Twelve and final pick. Thanks for the invitation, Hans!
This has been my worst category as I love science fiction anything. I have struggled over these past six months trying to pick just one. My choice would change, daily. I finally settled on one that is part of my teen years and became a cultural cult classic. I still have the sticker that I got when I went to see this at the theater in 1982. Like The Breakfast Club, this movie means something to me. Released the summer before my junior year, this movie got me interested in computers and graphics. There is also the memory of a scene I saw in the original release at the theater, that disappeared in subsequent showings on HBO, TV and the VHS tapes, and made me crazy:
The 20th Anniversary DVD edition includes a deleted love scene: Tron and Yori go to her apartment, where she pushes a button on the wall. [T]he walls [disappear] and her uniform changes into a different costume. Also included are a partially completed “morning after” scene…(all dialog tracks for this short scene are lost).
All the data on the Internet states that the scene was removed from the final cut. I beg to differ. I distinctly remember seeing them go to her “apartment.” That being said, what I remember from the scene is a little different from the “official deleted scene” (she glowed, her hair was blowing around and her helmet floated off her head). I think a shortened version of that scene was released to theaters and when the movie was released to HBO & VHS tapes, they wiped all of it out. This is a very clear memory. The prologue to the movie, when released to theaters, was also removed. The “original” opening monologue (that I’ve never heard) was restored in the 20th Anniversary DVD. ~Vic
Directed by Steve Lisberger, the screenplay was written by Charles S. Haas & Lisberger, adapted from the original story by Bonnie MacBird (whom is married to DARPA-connected computer scientist Alan Kay). Produced by Donald Kushner, it starred Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor and Peter Jurasik and, was released July 9.
Kevin Flynn is a software engineer and an ex-employee at ENCOM. He runs a video arcade and tries to hack into ENCOM’s mainframe, looking for proof that his video games were plagiarized. The Master Control Program stops him. Programmer Alan Bradley and engineer Dr. Lora Baines, his girlfriend, discover that they have lost access to their projects. When Alan questions Senior Exec. VP Ed Dillinger about the restriction, Dillinger states that extra security is needed to stop outside hacking. When Alan leaves, Dillinger asks the MCP about the issues and realizes that the MCP has become a power-hungry virtual intelligence. Dillinger is blackmailed into complying with the MCP’s wishes due to his theft of Flynn’s material. Alan, Lora & Flynn break into ENCOM and Flynn winds up digitized inside the mainframe when the MCP uses an experimental laser to dissect him. Flynn must navigate his way around a strange digital landscape where all the programs resemble the users that created them and find his way back out.
♦ [T]he Motion Picture Academy refused to nominate Tron for a special-effects award because, as director Steven Lisberger put it, “The Academy thought we cheated by using computers”.
♦ Originally MacBird envisioned Flynn more comedically, suggesting the then-30-year-old Robin Williams for the role.
♦ Bruce Boxleitner and Peter Jurasik would later work together on Babylon 5.
♦ Nine script revisions caused bitter credit disputes.
♦ Though it made $50 million from a $17 million budget and had $70 million in merchandise sales, it was considered a financial failure.
♦ The ENCOM laser bay was real. It was actually the target bay for the twenty-beam SHIVA solid-state laser facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
♦ The soundtrack was primarily composed by Wendy Carlos with two additional tracks provided by Journey after Supertramp had to leave the project.
Bruce & Cindy Discuss Deleted Scenes (Beyond The Marquee/12-24-2013)
Tron Then and Now (Digital Content Producer/Archive/07-07-2012)
Deleted Love Scene (Fandom Wiki)
Tron 30th Anniversary Screening Review (Nuke The Fridge/10-30-2012)
Tron’s 20th Anniversary (SFGate/01-09-2002)
End of line…
Opening Scene (Missing Prologue)
Officially Deleted Scene
Bruce Boxleitner & Cindy Morgan @ California Convention
(helmets coming off mentioned) 11-16-2013
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Eleven pick.
Film: Love Actually
All I have to say is, this is a great movie. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. ~Vic
Written and directed by Richard Curtis (with six producers in tow), this is a Christmas romance romp with an all-star ensemble cast, mostly comprised of Brits. There are ten separate stories, that become interwoven in places…with one exception. This was Curtis’s Directorial Debut.
The movie opens with Prime Minister David talking about the state of the world.
 Rock and Roll legend Billy Mack records a Christmas version of the song Love Is All Around (by The Troggs). He thinks it’s crap but, he promotes it, anyway. He spends Christmas with his manager Joe and, you can see him on various TV sets throughout the movie.
 Best man Mark (a very young Andrew Lincoln sans Colt Python) is in love with Peter’s soon-to-be wife, Juliet, though they both believe that Mark dislikes her. He declares his love with cue cards on Christmas Eve.
 Jamie discovers his girlfriend is having an affair with his brother. He meets Aurélia but, she doesn’t speak any English. He learns Portuguese to communicate his love for her.
 Harry & Karen are happily married and raising their children. Mia is Harry’s new secretary. He is drawn to her and nearly destroys his marriage over her.
 Karen’s brother is David, the Prime Minister. He finds himself attracted to staffer Natalie and having to deal with the U.S. President.
 Daniel, Karen’s friend, is still mourning the loss of his wife, Joanna. His step-son Sam is interested in an American classmate, also named Joanna. Sam shows his affection for Joanna at the airport (before she returns to the US). Daniel crosses paths with Carol and is interested.
 Sarah works for Harry and is in love with Karl. Karl is interested but, Sarah’s mentally ill brother Michael is an issue.
 Colin tells his friend Tony that he is traveling to America to try to woo some women there. He meets Stacey, Jeannie and Carol-Anne in Milwaukee and they invite him to stay with them. Roommate Harriet shows up, later.
 John (a young Martin Freeman…Arthur Dent/Bilbo Baggins) and Judy meet as nude stand-ins for a film that Tony is a production assistant for. Comfortable with each other simulating sex, they are shy with clothes on, later.
 Rufus is a jewelry salesman, wrapping Harry’s gift for Mia and, he assists Sam at the airport in getting to Joanna before her flight. He was, originally, to be a Christmas angel but, a script re-write removed that part of the story.
♦ Knowing about Billy Bob Thornton’s quite unusual fear of antique furniture, Hugh Grant would sometimes flash a piece of antique [furniture] (which is abundant in England) in front of Thornton just before the cameras rolled and watch him freak out in amusement (an issue that is part of the dialogue in Sling Blade).
♦ Simon Pegg was considered for the role of Rufus.
♦ For the role of her lovelorn character Karen, Emma Thompson has said that she drew on the immense heartbreak she experienced over former husband Kenneth Branagh’s affair with Helena Bonham Carter with whom he had co-starred, and directed, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). This extramarital affair ultimately led to their divorce in 1995.
♦ The airport greeting footage at the beginning and end of this movie is real. Writer/director Curtis had a team of cameramen film at Heathrow airport for a week and, whenever they saw something that would fit in, they asked the people involved for permission to use the footage.
♦ For her one-minute cameo, Claudia Schiffer received a reported £200,000 (roughly $300,000 U.S.).
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Nine pick.
Gore Vidal: […on Truman’s voice…] “To the lucky person who has never heard it, I can only say…imagine what a brussel sprout would sound like, if a brussel sprout could talk.”
This is the second movie on Truman Capote regarding his foray into the Clutter Family murders. Released August 31, 2006, at the Venice Film Festival and widely on October 13, 2006, this film stood in the shadow of Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s Capote and his Academy Award for Best Actor. Unlike its predecessor, this film, with its $13 million budget, lost money. That being said, despite Hoffman’s turn, Toby Jones is no slouch and his interpretation has its own unique depth. Jones was awarded the London Critics’ Circle Film Award for British Actor of the Year. I found this film to be fascinating and quite entertaining, with parts difficult to watch. Bubbly Sandra Bullock brings forth the subdued, Southern To Kill A Mockingbird novelist Harper Lee. Much of the storytelling is done in mock interviews with the actors, in character, talking about their interactions with Truman. I seem to have a thing for underdog/obscure movies. ~Vic
Written and directed by Douglas McGrath, the movie is based on George Plimpton’s book Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career (1997). Produced by John Wells & Christine Vachon, (a pre-James Bond) Daniel Craig is Perry Smith, Peter Bogdanovich is Bennett Cerf (Random House Publishing Co-Founder), Jeff Daniels is Alvin Dewey (Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent), Hope Davis is Slim Keith (ex-wife of Producer & Director Howard Hawks), Gwyneth Paltrow has a singing cameo as Kitty Dean (a Peggy Lee clone and possible reference to The Royal Family play), Isabella Rossellini is Marella Agnelli (Italian Princess and wife of the Chairman of Fiat Automobiles), Juliet Stevenson is Diana Vreeland (Editor-in-Chief of Vogue), Sigourney Weaver is Babe Paley (wife of CBS founder William Paley), Lee Pace is Richard Hickock, John Benjamin Hickey is Jack Dunphy (Capote’s partner) and Michael Panes is Gore Vidal (writer and Democrat party candidate).
“Why shouldn’t there be a fizzy, comedic take on the naughty adventures of the Park Avenue gadabout as he fashioned In Cold Blood […]? Why not a movie that concentrates on the contrast between the writer’s frivolous party-boy side and the brutal murders in Kansas, the exotic and colorful tropical specimen who becomes a fish-out-of water when he jumps from his luxurious high-rise swan pond into the Midwestern plains?
[A]fter In Cold Blood, [Capote] never published another major work. Out of career desperation as much as anything else, he sold out his friendships with these […] people, publishing gossipy stories about them in an Esquire excerpt from Answered Prayers in 1976 and was banished from their lives.
[T]he movie centers on the symbiotic relationship between Truman and Perry, pondering the extent of the seduction and, who seduced whom.
Toby Jones inhabits Truman as if he were to the character born, a livelier and more perversely ebullient man than Phillip Seymour Hoffman‘s version in Capote (2005).”
Truman On The Rocks
October 12, 2006
♦ Mark Walberg was to play Perry Smith, originally but, dropped out. Mark Ruffalo was next but, dropped out, as well.
♦ Sigourney Weaver portrays the wife of a CBS Executive and is the daughter of NBC Executive Pat Weaver.
♦ Michelle Pfeiffer was to play Slim Keith, originally.
The Story Behind A Non-Fiction Novel (George Plimpton/New York Times Archive/1997)
Warner Brothers Trailer
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Eight pick.
Film: The Final Countdown
Captain Yelland: […to his Native American Weather Officer…] “Ahhh, Black Cloud, you’ve been doing unauthorized rain dances again.”
Lasky: […as a Japanese pilot is holding Laurel at gunpoint…] “Why don’t you tell him what’s going on here, Commander? You’re an expert on what’s gonna happen tomorrow…”
Captain Yelland: “Go ahead, tell him.”
Commander Richard Owens: “26 November, six carriers left the Kuril Isles north of Japan. The carriers were the Akagi, Kaga, Shokaku, Zuikaku, Hiryu, Soryu. Tomorrow at dawn, these carriers will send 353 planes to attack Pearl Harbor.”
Senator Chapman: “How in the hell do you know all that?”
F-14 Pilot #1: “Mission aborted? But, we can see ’em!”
F-14 Pilot #2: “They’re gonna let the Japs do it, again.”
Directed by Don Taylor, it was produced by Peter Vincent Douglas and Lloyd Kaufman with Kirk Douglas executive producing without credit. The story, and screenplay, was written by the team of Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell, David Ambrose and Gerry Davis. The ensemble cast was Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, Charles Durning, Ron O’Neal, Victor Mohica, Soon-Tek Oh and James Coleman, with producers Lloyd Kaufman and Peter Douglas playing small parts.
It’s 1980 and Warren Lasky (Sheen) is a Systems Analyst from Tideman Industries, working with the Department of Defense as an efficiency expert. He is dispatched by his secretive employer to board the USS Nimitz before its departure from Naval Station Pearl Harbor for naval exercises in the Pacific. Tideman Industries designed and built the carrier. Not long at sea, a strange storm appears out of nowhere and the Nimitz can neither outrun nor maneuver away from it. Passing thru the storm, electronics and people, alike, are knocked out. Once the storm is gone and everything returns to normal, Captain Yelland (Douglas), his crew and his civilian passenger discover that they have been thrown backwards in time to 1941, just hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor. What now?
It’s original premiere was in London on May 21, 1980, Japan on July 5 and the US on August 1. I didn’t get to see it at the theater but, caught it on HBO a year later. IMDb lists this as Action & Sci-Fi, which it is but, I think it fits in the Adventure/Thriller categories, too. As a contributor on IMDb, I’ve made a suggested update of the genre. Having been on board the USS Enterprise on December 7, 2001, I have a much greater appreciation for the making of this movie. It received mixed reviews and didn’t make a lot of money. Two months later, another time travel film was released…Somewhere In Time and The Philadelphia Experiment, four years later, is the reverse of this movie in time frames. ~Vic
♦ Peter Douglas is Kirk Douglas’ son with his second wife. This was his first film as producer and his only credited acting role.
♦ This was made with the full cooperation of the US Navy and 48 Nimitz crew members were credited.
♦ Filming took place on board ship at sea (exterior shots) with interior shots filmed in dry dock at Naval Station Norfolk. The USS Kitty Hawk was a stand-in, pulling into Pearl Harbor. Flight and water scenes were shot at Naval Air Station Key West.
♦ The production crew was allowed to film a real emergency landing and recovery of an aircraft that appeared in the film.
♦ The first setup to film an F-14 takeoff resulted in both camera and operator being pitched down the runway.
♦ The black and white Pearl Harbor attack footage was taken from Tora! Tora! Tora!
♦ WWII ace fighter pilot Archie Donahue was one of the Zero pilots. The Zeros were converted T-6 Texans, flying full throttle and the F-14s were flying at stall speeds so that both aircraft would be in the same shot.
♦ When filming wrapped, possibly early, the USS Nimitz was recalled to home base to participate in Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue the hostages held at the U.S. Embassy in Iran on April 24, 1980.
Archie Donahue: WWII Ace Pilot (HistoryNet/Jon Guttman/July 2007)
Filming of Final Countdown: You Want Us To Do What? (Pilots For Christ Forum/Administrator Don Gieseke/12-08-2016)
Commander Richard “Fox” Farrell: Lead F-14 Pilot (Dignity Memorial/03-31-2014)
Watch the movie for free: Daily Motion
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Seven pick.
Category: Crime/Film Noir
Film: Cop Land
Written and directed by James Mangold, it was executive produced by the Weinstein brothers (though their names have been removed from the Wikipedia article). Released August 6, 1997 in New York (premiere) and nationwide on August 15, it was an incredible ensemble cast of Sly Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Robert Patrick, Peter Berg, Janeane Garafalo, Edie Falco, Michael Rapoport, Annabella Sciorra, John Spencer, Cathy Moriarty, Noah Emmerich, Frank Vincent, Malik Yoba, Arthur Nascarella and, cameos of Deborah Harry & Geraldo Rivera.
Sylvester Stallone put on 40 pounds to play Nowheresville, N.J., sheriff Freddy Heflin in Cop Land […]. His town is run by Ray Donlan (Keitel) and the other New York cops who have settled there with their families. He wears blinders when it comes to their lawbreaking and mob dealings. Moe Tilden (De Niro), the internal-affairs officer out to get the goods on Cop Land, correctly pegs Freddy as “a man looking for something to do.” Keitel’s [Donlan] exudes dangerous energy. He cares for his own as long as they don’t cross him […]. Robert Patrick brings sly menace to Rucker […]. Ray Liotta […], as Gary Figgis, [is] a tainted cop who sides with Freddy.
Mangold […] has a rare talent for finding the human drama in ordinary lives.
Writer-director James Mangold […] wrangles an impressive cast […] and spins a compelling tale of cancerous corruption among a secretive group of New York’s finest who have settled in the fictional New Jersey burg of Garrison. [Stallone] indeed looks chunky and plays the sleepy, docile Sheriff […] with sluggishness to spare in a largely commendable performance as a half-deaf small-town dreamer. [He] is not given much in the way of memorable dialogue but, he makes the character work […]. [Having] yet to replace his LP of The River with a CD, [he] carries a torch for the local Jersey girl (Sciorra) he saved from drowning…the reason for his loss of hearing in one ear…[he] once longed to be a big-city cop but, had to settle for policing them.
Freddy gradually realizes that he doesn’t like how the town has turned out.
The Hollywood Reporter
August 11, 1997
I saw this at the theater when it came out and caught it, again, a few nights ago. I was born and raised in law enforcement and, worked in it, too (non-sworn). I’ve known good cops and I’ve known some really bad ones. I love a well written cop movie and this was an unusual one in that Stallone wasn’t playing a bad ass like Rambo, Cobra, Tango, John Spartan (though I do love that movie) or Ray Quick. This character was different…subdued. His scenes with Annabella Sciorra have Springsteen playing in the background which adds depth and texture to the mood. This is clearly a period piece as all the vehicles, hair cuts and clothing styles are, effectively, early 80s. The River came out in 1980 and music from the Director’s Cut, like Blue Oyster Cult‘s Burnin’ For You came out in 1981. This also manages to cover the Crime category via IMDb and the Film Noir category, simultaneously, via Historical Dictionary of Film Noir (2010). ~Vic
♦ There is a disclaimer at the end of the credits which states “This film is a work of fiction. It is currently illegal for New York City Police officers to live outside the state of New York.”
♦ Arthur J. Nascarella was a real-life NYPD officer.
♦ Debbie Harry acted in the movie but, was edited out in the final cut. She explained on a live television special that although she was cut, she still got paid.
♦ In the scene in which Ray Liotta confronts Robert Patrick in the bar, the dart that Liotta shoves up Patrick’s left nostril was made out of rubber.
♦ Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise and John Travolta were considered for Sheriff Freddy Heflin.
The Making of an Urban Western
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Six pick.
Film: El Dorado
Mississippi: “[…] My name is Alan Bourdillion Traherne.”
Cole: “Lord Almighty…”
Sheriff Harrah: “Who is he?”
Cole: “Tell him your name, Mississippi.”
Mississippi: [sigh] “Alan Bourdillion Traherne.”
Sheriff Harrah: “Well, no wonder he carries a knife.”
Mississippi: “Always make you mad, don’t I?”
Produced and directed by Howard Hawks, the film is a loose adaption of The Stars in Their Courses, a 1960 novel by Harry Brown. The screenplay was written by Leigh Brackett and starred John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, Michele Carey, R. G. Armstrong, Ed Asner, Christopher George and Johnny Crawford. Jim Davis (Jock Ewing) and John Mitchum have small parts. It was released December 17, 1966, in Japan, oddly and didn’t make it to US theaters until June 7, 1967.
Cole Thornton (Wayne) is a gunslinger for hire and land owner Bart Jason (Asner) has offered him a job. J. P. Harrah (Mitchum) is a Sheriff and an old friend of Cole’s. When Harrah informs Cole of Jason’s intention to use him to push the MacDonald family off of their land for water rights, Cole refuses the job. After shooting the youngest MacDonald son, unintentionally, during a volley of gunfire, Cole is wounded by the MacDonald daughter (Carey), in return, after he brings the deceased boy back home. Cole suffers intermittent paralysis on his right side throughout the rest of the movie. With the help of a gambler (Caan) he crosses paths with and the Sheriff’s deputy (Hunnicutt), Cole straightens out the drunken Sheriff, tangles with another gunslinger (George), derails Jason’s takeover and just might stop his previous ways for his lady, Maudie (Holt).
Mississippi repeats parts of the Edgar Allen Poe poem (except the second stanza) during the film, aggravating Cole somewhat (Caan had trouble with the word “boldly”, slurring it to sound like either “bowlie” or “bodie”). He’s also terrible with a gun and couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn (but, I love that hat!). Cole gets him a shotgun and later regrets it as he has scatter shot in his leg at the end of the movie.
This is my favorite John Wayne movie even though it is an ensemble cast. A close second is The Quiet Man where Wayne played another “Thornton” character. ~Vic
♦ Archival footage of this movie was used in The Shootist as some backstory for Wayne’s character J.B. Books.
♦ The artwork in the opening credits was painted by Olaf Wieghorst, the Swedish gunsmith.
♦ At the end of the movie, both Cole & Harrah are on crutches under the wrong arm.
♦ The bathtub scene was Mitchum’s idea.
♦ Mitchum’s brother was a bartender named Elmer. He called him by his real name by accident.
♦ Wayne and Asner did not get along.
Caan on Wayne
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Five pick.
Film: The Ninth Gate
A French/Spanish Roman Polanksi vehicle (director & producer), he co-wrote the screenplay with John Brownjohn and Enrique Urbizu. Loosely based on the 1993 book El Club Dumas, a Spanish language novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte Gutiérrez, the Polanski/Brownjohn script removed a sub-plot, changed the two main characters’ names and altered the finale. Filmed in France, Portugal and Spain, it stars Johnny Depp (Corso), Frank Langella (Balkan), Lena Olin, Barbara Jefford and, Emmanuelle Seigner (mysterious woman & Polanski’s wife). Actor Allen Garfield suffered a stroke prior to filming and Polanski incorporated Garfield’s paralysis as part of the character. Released August 25, 1999, in Belgium, France and Spain (premiere), and November 1999 at the Stockholm International Film Festival, it wasn’t released, widely, in the US until March 10, 2000.
I would have to describe the movie like this…:
“[It] is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…”
October 1, 1939
Dean Corso is a bit of a sleazy rare book dealer from New York with questionable ethics. Boris Balkan, a wealthy collector, hires Corso to determine if a book he owns (the book to the left/above) is authentic. The author, supposedly, wrote the book with help from the Devil and only three copies of the book are known to exist after the author was burned at the stake during the Inquisition, along with his works. Corso must find the other two to complete his investigation. Balkan believes that the owner of the book would have the power to summon said Devil. As the skeptical Corso travels and searches, he is followed by a mysterious woman. He eventually becomes obsessed with his task and desires the complete truth. The movie twists and turns to it’s bizarre ending. Depp is a strange cat but, he makes really interesting movies. Visually, Polanski intended for Corso to resemble Philip Marlowe. ~Vic