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 Four pick.
Film: The Breakfast Club
“So, Ahab, can I have all my doobage?”
“Chicks cannot hold dey smoke, dat’s what it is.”
“Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062 (fictional town). […] You see us as you want to see us… […] You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. […] That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”
This is my graduating class…the class of 1984 (despite the age of some of the actors). Released February 15, 1985, I was in my freshman year of college and it was a bittersweet revisit. I knew these characters…every single one of them. My high school even had a library that resembled that set. This movie was made with only a one million budget but, brought in $51 million and, in 2016, was selected for preservation with the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. There is no CGI or special effects. There are no sweeping views of beautiful locations. There are no “shoot-em-up-bang-bang” sequences. There is some action with the cast running through the hallways, dancing while high and Judd Nelson (John Bender/The Criminal) falling through the ceiling tiles. This is, primarily, a study of human nature, parental influence, peer influence, subtle & overt abuse and the struggle to understand. It’s heartbreaking, it’s hilarious and it is so Generation X. ~Vic
Written, produced and directed by John Hughes, it also stars Emilio Estevez (Andrew Clark/The Athlete), Molly Ringwald (Claire Standish/The Princess), Ally Sheedy (Allison Reynolds/The Basket Case), Paul Gleason (Asst. Principal Richard Vernon) and John Kapelos (Carl Reed/The Janitor).
♦ The scene in which all characters sit in a circle on the floor in the library and tell stories about why they were in detention was not scripted. Writer and director John Hughes told them all to ad-lib.
♦ There is a deleted scene of Claire and Allison in the bathroom that didn’t show up until the Blu-Ray edition was released.
♦ Sixteen year old Hall hit a growth spurt during shooting and outgrew 24 year old Nelson, prompting Nelson to joke about writing letters to geneticists.
♦ Bender’s joke about the blonde, the poodle and the six foot salami has no punchline as it was never in the script.
♦ Nelson was nearly fired for method-acting harassment.
♦ Hall’s mother & sister play themselves in the movie.
♦ Keith Forsey wrote the lyrics to Don’t You (Forget About Me) and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music was approached to sing it. Billy Idol was also approached and recorded his own version, later. An offer to Chrissie Hynde lead to her, then, husband Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.
♦ Nelson improvised the part at the closing of the film where Bender raises his fist in defiance. Everyone loved it and it has also become an iconic symbol of the 1980s as well as cinema history.
Twenty-five years ago, today, the television series The Wright Verdicts debuted on CBS. Created and executive-produced by Dick Wolf, it starred Tom Conti, Margaret Colin and Aida Turturro as the main cast (Variety also lists John Glover but, IMDB does not.). Notable guest stars were Candy Clark, Peter Facinelli, Allison Janney and Leslie Mann.
There were only six episodes that aired between March 31 and June 11 with a seventh episode intended for a May slot, never airing. It’s first episode was on a Friday, the second episode aired the following Wednesday, the third episode went back to Friday, the following week and the fourth episode showed up on a Sunday, the next week. The last two aired episodes were on Sundays in June. [No wonder it failed. ~Vic]
Legal drama with Charles Wright, an Englishman, working as a lawyer in New York City. Sandy Hamar is an ex-NYPD detective who serves as the mandatory private eye and Lydia is the super efficient secretary.
The Wright Verdicts is mature in the best sense. [I]t’s smart, has no false innocence and has the right amount of fun. Criminal lawyer Charles Wright (Tom Conti) will win juries over like clockwork and the series should likewise charm viewers. The character’s chief skill is blarney or, as his investigator puts it, shucking and jiving. Charles is bumbling and self-deprecating one minute, erudite and mischievous the next. Conti brings off Wright’s sense of humor and his status as a ladies’ man. The dynamic between Conti and his two female employees […] needs some work. [T]here’s so much flirtation that the relationships in this office triangle seem headed in only one direction.
The hour has a surplus of spectacular aerial shots of Manhattan.
With crimes revolving around designer drugs and cellular phones, the show poses itself as a Perry Mason for the ’90s. It’s about as conventional and formulaic as that old warhorse. The parlor-game plotting is more than passable but, the writing is undistinguished. Only Conti’s malty voice and trilling accent are enough to elevate the program’s mark a little.
Executive producer Dick Wolf has cannily combined two genres…Murder, She Wrote’s warm coziness and his own Law & Order’s cold, complex cases…and come up with a lukewarm show that’s nonetheless pretty irresistible.
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One hundred, ten years ago, the silent, black & white short film The Roman was released. Directed by Francis Boggs and written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, it starred Hobart Bosworth, Betty Harte, Robert Z. Leonard and Tom Santschi. It was filmed at the studios of the Selig Polyscope Company.
The Moving Picture World (January-June 1910 Archive):
Perhaps the most attractive feature of this picture is the reproduction of early Roman costumes and Roman surroundings. It is a story of political intrigue, with all the contests and disagreeable features, connected therewith in the ancient city. But, the reproduction of manners and customs and, the historically correct scenery and settings, add immensely to the interest and, insure attention when, perhaps, the mere political story would scarcely be considered. The greatest service the motion picture can do is in the direction of educating the people, and a film like this, which faithfully illustrates long past and, perhaps, partially forgotten life, is of vast importance and, deserves a cordial reception. The Selig players have brought enthusiasm to their work and, have put much ability and life into the interpretation of this play.
This film may have been based on the 1835 novel Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes, by Edward Bulgar-Lytton [sic]. An advertisement in the [February] 19, 1910, Film Index billed Bosworth above the title, “Hobart Bosworth in The Roman,” and labeled the movie “Film De Art of the Classics,” declaring: “Its teachings are based upon the scriptures and traditions of the early history of the eternal city.” The advertisement also suggested that theater owners book The Roman as a “Special Lenten Picture.”
A young woman [orders] her girl slave to deposit in the waters of the Tiber a child which she has cause to be rid of. The infant is found by one of the aristocracy and adopted. In later years she is betrothed but, just before the wedding, the ruler of the land claims the young woman, on the ground that she was born in slavery. By military force, she is torn from the arms of her foster father and taken to the ruling house where she is held captive for only a few hours, as the father and young lover, have aroused a popular rebellion which overthrows the ruler, end[ing] in his death and the defeat of his defenders. (Variety February 19, 1910)
One Trivia Bit:
♦ Per [Hobart] Bosworth, first picture made at Selig’s (Studio at 1845 Allesandro Street, now Glendale Blvd.) in the Edendale (now Silver Lake) plant of Los Angeles.
[There was not much written about this film and no video clip(s). The image, above, doesn’t seem to jive with the TCM synopsis. But, that is all I could find.
Addendum: I continued to dig and found the, above, write-ups via the Internet Archive database and AFI. Turner Classic Movies synopsis was WAY off. ~Vic]
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.
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.
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.
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]