Five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was Captain America: Civil War. Directed by the Russo Brothers and produced by Kevin Feige, the all-star cast is extensive (and well known). If you are unaware of this blockbuster film, it took in $1.15 billion.
The basic plot is one that weaves thru much of the Marvel Comics (and DC Comics, as well) regarding mutant and superhero discrimination and the government wanting to register and track them. The idea was alluded to in the Uncanny X-Men issue #141, published in January of 1981 and the specific words “Mutant Control Act“ showed up in the Uncanny X-Men issue #181, published in May of 1984. It was featured prominently in the movie X-Men (2000).
In Civil War, the Sokovia Accords is a United Nations version of a registration act to monitor or control the superheroes. Tony Stark (Ironman) agrees with this registration out of remorse for Ultron and the destruction of Sokovia. Steve Rogers (Captain America) disagrees and wants no part of political intervention or any form of registration. Complicating matters, Rogers’ childhood friend Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) is responsible for the death of T’Challa’s (Black Panther) father and Stark’s parents. The Avengers split along ideological and loyalty lines. Unlike the comics, Captain America isn’t killed off but, he does walk away from the job. He returns during Infinity War & Endgame.
I find all of the above quite prophetic considering recent insane events taking place. Society, once again, finds itself being driven towards more discrimination, tracking/registration with vaccine passports (shall we return to gold stars on lapels and “your papers, please?”) and possible civil war? Please…wake up. ~Vic
♦ The film coincides with the 75th anniversary of Captain America, the 10th anniversary of the original Civil War comic book and Black Panther’s 50th anniversary.
♦ This is the live-action debut of T’Challa, the Black Panther, one of the first black superheroes in American comic books, which debuted in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966).
♦ By the end of the movie, The Avengers logo on Captain America’s arm is no longer there, representing the fact that The Avengers are no longer his.
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
Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.
Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.
The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.
♦ Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].
Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.
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.
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!
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…
“A Lady of Fire and Ice…A Rogue of Steel and Gallantry”
♦ 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.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any video clips of this movie. There are clips of the 1998 remake. ~Vic