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NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
Our next meeting will be held on Saturday October 29th at 5:30 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities. If you get stuck call 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll talk you in.
This night has been two years in the making. Film historian Greg Mank is returning to give a talk on old Hollywood actor Laird Cregar and will show the film HANGOVER SQUARE. For those who recall Mr. Mank’s talk in 2003, this is sure to be a Halloween treat.
The October meeting pot luck tradition continues. It’s always a night of surprising dishes and good food. The sign up list is below. If cooking is not your forte, consider bringing in sodas or helping set-up or clean-up. Regina is keeping the list, so if you have an update or want to add yourself to a category, email her at RVALLER107@HOTMAIL.COM or see her at the next meeting.
• ??? – Doritos & onion/garlic
• Skip – Chicken Wings
• Joe Plempel – green salad and other salad
• Lisa and Mike Schilling
• Regina - ?
• Dave Willard – Vegetable Dish
• Sam Diblasi – Casserole?
• Donna – Chili
• Charlie – Hot Dog Extravaganza
• Betsy – Meatballs in Crockpot
• Norman – some random yummy thing
• Andrew – cake
• Lisa and Mike Schilling – brownies
• John Ward
• Rick Arnold
• Tom & Justin Proveaux
• John Ward
SPECIAL NOTICE FOR ICS MOVIE FANS
Inspired by the dark and seamy streets of turn-of-the-century London, 'London After Dark' is curated by the Charles Theatre's John Standiford and runs in conjunction with the BMA's fall exhibition, Monet's London: Artists' Reflections on the Thames, opening October 2.
These rarely shown classic reels will be screened in the BMA's Auditorium on October 7, 14, 21 & 28 at 8 p.m. Admission is $7 per film and $20 for a series pass (Free for BMA Members). For tickets, call the BMA Box Office at 410-396-6001.
"There are a lot of 19th century references to the Thames and London as being filthy and corrupt," said John Standiford, co-owner of the Charles Theatre and curator of the film series. "These four directors seem to share this sentiment, and in these films a dark and mysterious London becomes a character in itself."
October 7 Night and the City (film noir, 1950)
This film noir masterpiece is one of director Jules Dassin's crowning achievements. Two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) aches for a life of ease and plenty. Tailed by a history of go-nowhere schemes, he stumbles upon a chance of a lifetime in the form of legendary wrestler Gregorius the Great (Stanislaus Zbyszko). But there is no easy money in this underworld of shifting alliances, bottomless graft, and pummeled flesh--and Fabian soon learns the horrible price of his ambition. This dark and moody drama by a blacklisted American director was shot on the streets of London.
October 14 Peeping Tom (thriller, 1960)
Although this ahead-of-its-time shocker nearly ended the career of British director Michael Powell upon its release, Martin Scorsese hailed the film as a masterpiece and rescued it from obscurity a decade later. It has since developed a cult reputation and remains the definitive film about the voyeuristic nature of cinema and its effects on the human psyche. Subjected to bizarre experiments by his scientist-father as a boy, Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) works as a focus-puller for a London movie studio and murders women using a camera to film their dying expressions of terror.
October 21 The Servant (drama, 1963)*
The first of directorJoseph Losey's collaborations with playwright Harold Pinter, this tightly woven psychological thriller was nominated for eight British Academy Awards, and won three. Flamboyant playboy Tony (James Fox) hires Barrett (Dirk Bogarde), a seductive and insidious manservant, to take control of his newly established household. The servant gradually takes over the life of his master. Rarely screened in the United States, the print of this film is being specially shipped from England.
October 28 Frenzy (thriller, 1972)*
Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy is a masterpiece crime thriller from the end of this career. While London is being terrorized by "the necktie murderer," down-on-his-luck Richard Blaney (Jon Finch) is suspected of being the killer. He goes on the run, determined to prove his innocence.
*Recommended for ages 17 & older.
SURFACE GETS A FULL SEASON
NBC has picked up a full season of NBC's SF drama Surface, which has been improving in the ratings on Monday nights, Variety reported.
Surface's ratings among adults 18-49 have grown 17 percent between its Sept. 26 debut and its most recent airing on Oct. 10. NBC is still determining the exact episodic order for Surface, plotting its season around the Winter Olympics, which will force several weeks of pre-emptions, the trade paper reported.
To date, the show has averaged a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 10 million viewers.
Josh and Jonas Pate created and executive-produce Surface, which stars Lake Bell as Laura Daughtery, an oceanographer who discovers a mysterious deep-ocean creature, with Ian Anthony Dale and Rade Sherebedgia as government officials who are trying to keep the discovery a secret.
DOOHAN BEAMS UP FOR THE LAST TIME
Star Trek star James Doohan's cremated remains will be launched into space in accord with his last wishes, the Reuters news service reported.
Commercial space flight operator Space Services Inc. will launch the late actor's remains into space aboard its Explorers Flight on Dec. 6, a company spokeswoman told the news service.
Doohan, who played the U.S.S. Enterprise's chief engineer Montgomery Scott on the original Trek series and subsequent films, will be among more than 120 others whose remains will be aboard the flight, including those of an unidentified astronaut and Mareta West, the astrogeologist who determined the site for the first spacecraft landing on the moon.
Doohan died in July at age 85. To mark the flight, Doohan's family will hold a service for fans on a 60-acre site near Vandenberg Air Force Base north of Los Angeles the day of the launch to pay tribute to him.
Doohan's cremated remains will be packed into a special tube that is ejected from the rocket and expected to orbit Earth for about 50 to 200 years before plunging into the planet's atmosphere and burning up.
Fans can post tributes to Doohan at the Space Services Web site. Those messages will be digitized, packed with Doohan and blasted into space.
LOST STAR & WIFE ROBBED
Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer on ABC's hit series Lost, and his wife were robbed at gunpoint in their Honolulu home, the Reuters news service reported. A spokeswoman for Holloway confirmed that he and his wife had been robbed but declined to comment further.
"My family and I are fine and appreciate everyone's concerns and good thoughts," Holloway said in a statement. "We are very grateful for the help of the Honolulu police department and the support of the local community."
Honolulu police declined to identify Holloway, but said that a couple living at his property was awakened at 4:10 a.m. local time on Oct. 12 by a man wearing a gray-and-black shirt and baseball cap holding a handgun.
Local KHON-TV reported that the robber took cash and the keys to a Mercedes Benz later found in the area.
Holloway, 36, is one of the stars of the top-rated Lost, about survivors of a plane crash trying to survive on a mysterious, uncharted Pacific island. The show is shooting its second season on the Hawaiin island of Oahu.
WHISPERER GETS PICKED UP
CBS has ordered full 22-episode seasons of its new hit supernatural series Ghost Whisperer while commissioning three new scripts for its SF show Threshold, waiting to see some more ratings data before ordering more episodes, Variety reported.
Ghost Whisperer, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, has done solid numbers since premiering last month, the trade paper reported. Early promise for Whisperer is particularly encouraging as CBS executives look to broaden the network's comedy and drama brands.
WHO EARNS TV AWARD NOMINATIONS
The new Doctor Who series has received three nominations for the National Television Awards in the U.K., the BBC news service reported. Stars Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper were nominated for best actor and actress, while the series will compete in the category of most popular drama.
The winners will be decided by a public vote and announced at a ceremony on Oct. 25. Veteran news anchor Sir Trevor McDonald will host the awards show, to be held at London's Royal Albert Hall.
VAUGIER PREVIEWS PAINKILLER JANE
Emmanuelle Vaugier, who stars in the SCI FI Channel's upcoming two-hour pilot Painkiller Jane, told SCI FI Wire that she viewed her character, Jane Browning, and her alter ego, Painkiller Jane, as variations on the same character. The pilot, based on the Event Comics series, will premiere Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Painkiller Jane centers on the title heroine, a young Marine officer who gains rapid self-healing powers after being exposed to a biochemical weapon. "They're slightly different, yet the same," Vaugier (Smallville) said in an interview. "Jane doesn't become a different person, necessarily, but things happen in her life that change her perspective on life in general, on who she is, and she starts to question a lot of things. So in her transformation into Painkiller Jane, she becomes a little more hardened and a little more skeptical of the world around her. I didn't treat them as two entirely different characters, but there definitely is a shift that happens."
Vaugier added that she hopes Painkiller Jane will become a weekly series on SCI FI, as she's eager to see how the character might develop. "The possibilities are really never-ending," she said. "I think it'd be something fun to do as a series. It would be physically challenging and, I hope, challenging as an actress as well, depending on what they have me do and where the storyline goes. But it's definitely something I'd love to see, and I'd love to see where the arc of the character would lead us."
movienews movienews Silver Screen movienews movienews
HALO FILM DEAL SEALED
Fox and Universal have closed their deal to make a movie based on Microsoft's hit video game HALO, with plans to release it in 2007. Universal will oversee the production and is handling domestic distribution, while Fox will take foreign distribution. 28 DAYS LATER writer Alex Garland was paid $1 million by Microsoft to write a script that met its approval. He'll now do a rewrite with studio notes, after which Universal will go out to directors. Microsoft is guaranteed extensive consultation on the project, but won't have approval over any elements. Several employees at Bungie, the Microsoft-owned development studio that created Halo, will serve as Microsoft's creative consultants.
SEVIGNY TACKLES ZODIAC
Chloe Sevigny, who got her start as a troubled teen in KIDS and took on Patrick Bateman in AMERICAN PSYCHO, will now face the Zodiac killer in Paramount Pictures ZODIAC. Being directed by David Fincher (SE7EN, FIGHT CLUB), the film stars Gary Oldman, Anthony Edwards, Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. ZODIAC is a thriller detailing the obsessive efforts of three people who sought to bring the famed Zodiac killer to justice and the toll it took on their personal lives.
SPIELBERG TAKES ON OTHER WORLDS
WAR OF THE WORLDS director Steven Spielberg will take over the producer role from Stephen Sommers for Paramount sci-fi remake WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. Sommers, who had signed on to write, direct and produce earlier this year, will instead direct and produce 20th Century Fox's A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. No decision has been made yet on whether Spielberg -- currently shooting MUNICH for a December release -- will direct WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE.
In the 1951 original WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, scientists discover that another planet is veering dangerously close to Earth, and they make plans for a small group of humans to leave the planet before the inevitable deadly collision.
A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM is an action-comedy script from Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant that was most recently rewritten by Scott Frank. It revolves around a hapless museum guard at a natural history exhibit who unwittingly triggers an ancient jinx that animates the long-deceased critters and brings chaos to the city.
ROSE TO DIRECT FOR NEW LINE’S AMUSEMENT
CANDYMAN director Bernard Rose will direct AMUSEMENT, an upcoming project for New Line. Jake Wade Wall’s script centers on three women who relate stories of being terrorized by a psychopath with a childhood grudge against them. The movie is set to roll in early 2006. Wall also wrote the upcoming WHEN A STRANGER CALLS remake.
Bernard Rose already has SNUFF-MOVIE, previously titled MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, in the can; that one is about a horror-film director (Jeroen Krabbe) who recreates a series of real-life murders on film. No word yet on a release for that feature.
MIDNIGHT MIXES VAMPS WITH WEST
Mary Lambert has signed on to helm the vampire western HIGH MIDNIGHT for Treasure Entertainment. The story, by first-time writer Denis Faye, centers on a broken-down sheriff who is forced to team up with an obsessed Victorian vampire hunter in order to stop an evil, undead force from consuming a frontier town in 1892 New Mexico. Mark Heidelberger at Treasure has been developing the project for several years and will produce. The budget will be about $5 million.
SOMMERS ENTERS MUSEUM
Stephen Sommers has signed on to direct the family fantasy film NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM for 20th Century Fox. The film, which is loosely based on Milan Trenc's children's book The Night at the Museum, centers on a goodhearted but bumbling security guard at the Museum of Natural History who accidentally trips an ancient curse that causes the animals and insects on display to come to life, wreaking havoc. The script was penned by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (HERBIE: FULLY LOADED), with revisions by Scott Frank (MINORITY REPORT).
SHYAMALAN'S LADY IN THE WATER STARTS FILMING
Production has commenced on LADY IN THE WATER by Academy Award nominated writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (THE SIXTH SENSE), starring Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS), Bryce Dallas Howard (THE VILLAGE) and an ensemble cast featuring Freddy Rodriguez, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban, Sarita Choudhury, Mary Beth Hurt and newcomer Cindy Cheung, for Warner Bros. Pictures.
In LADY IN THE WATER, a story originally conceived by Shyamalan for his children, a modest building manager named Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) rescues a mysterious young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) from danger and discovers she is actually a narf, a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the treacherous journey from our world back to hers. Cleveland and his fellow tenants start to realize that they are also characters in this bedtime story. As Cleveland falls deeper and deeper in love with the woman, he works together with the tenants to protect his new fragile friend from the deadly creatures that reside in this fable and are determined to prevent her from returning home.
SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR WRAPS
Production recently wrapped on SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR, a new genre anthology with an urban hiphop spin. The screenplay comes courtesy of 2001 MANIACS co-writers Tim Sullivan and Chris Kobin, as well as Jacob Hair and Jonathan McHugh, the latter of whom originated the project.
HOOD OF HORROR, directed by Stacy Title (THE LAST SUPPER), follows in the tradition of TALES FROM THE CRYPT and TALES FROM THE HOOD, highlighting dark and grisly stories with surprise twists at the end. The movie’s offbeat cast includes Ernie Hudson (THE CROW), STAR WARS vet Billy Dee Williams, Jason Alexander (SEINFELD), Lin Shaye (2001 MANIACS) and DEVIL’S REJECTS bounty hunters Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page; Snoop Dogg, who previously starred in the title role of 2001’s BONES, stars in HOOD as its diabolical MC.
“This is our homage to EC Comics, but with a ghetto twist,” Sullivan said; he produced HOOD along with many others. Vincent Guastini, who tackled the movie’s FX duties, describes HOOD as “an ambitious project that has all kinds of creatures, zombies and wild makeup effects.”
When Snoop Dogg was first approached with the idea for HOOD, the rapper was excited about the film’s franchise potential. “Who better to run the HOOD OF HORROR than Snoop?” says Shore, whose company Social Capital financed the picture. “There is no one else of his caliber who could have possibly pulled this off as convincingly.” As expected, the film’s soundtrack will boast a number of major, as well as up-and-coming, rap producers and performers.
SLADE GETS 30 DAYS OF NIGHT
David Slade is directing Columbia Pictures' adaptation of Steve Niles' comic-book series 30 DAYS OF NIGHT for Ghost House Pictures. Ghost House is a genre label founded by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and jointly owned by Mandate Pictures. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is set in Barrow, Alaska, a town where, in the middle of every winter, the sun sets and does not rise again for more than 30 days. When an evil force of vampires terrifies the town's residents, all hopes are pinned on the local sheriffs, a husband-and-wife team, who must choose between saving themselves and helping the town survive the siege, which will last until daylight returns. No screenwriter has yet been hired.
Raimi and Tapert are producing, with Grant Curtis overseeing the project for Ghost House. Slade directed this year's Sundance Film Festival movie HARD CANDY, which will be released by Lions Gate later in the year. Ghost House recently wrapped RISE, directed by Sebastian Gutierrez and starring Lucy Liu. The company is producing an as-yet-untitled horror film to be directed by Danny and Oxide Pang (THE EYE).
Marvel Has New Name, Slate
Marvel, the home of Spider-Man and X-Men, has a new name and 10 new movies in development. With its $525 million debt facility from Merrill Lynch closed, the company is changing its name from Marvel Enterprises to Marvel Entertainment, reflecting its new business producing and financing movies internally without a studio partner. Along with the Merrill Lynch deal, Marvel struck a deal with Paramount to market and distribute its films for a fee, similar to Lucasfilm's arrangement with Fox.
Marvel has identified 10 new characters and groups it will develop as potential feature franchises to produce itself: Captain America, the Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak and Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi.
The deal with Merrill allows Marvel to produce films with budgets between $50 million and $165 million. If the first films are successful, Marvel will be able to replenish the facility to produce new movies in development or sequels to hits. The company is hoping to release its first movie by the summer of 2008. The company said that it expects to produce the first film – the superhero character for it has not been selected, although it's expected to be Captain America – in 2008.
YOUNG HANNIBAL READY TO ROLL
Producers Dino and Martha De Laurentiis (among several others) are preparing to shoot BEHIND THE MASK: YOUNG HANNIBAL beginning October 10 in Prague. Peter Webber (THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING) will direct from Thomas Harris’ script based on the author’s Behind the Mask novel, to be published by Bantam Dell this fall. Twenty-year-old French actor Gaspard Ulliel (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) has been picked to play the junior Lecter, who escapes from an orphanage and is taken in by Lady Murasaki (Chinese star Gong Li), whom he uses as part of a revenge plot. Also in the cast are Rhys Ifans (ENDURING LOVE), Richard Brake (BATMAN BEGINS) and Kevin McKidd (DOG SOLDIERS). The Weinstein Company has U.S. distribution rights and plans to open the film in summer 2006.
LAWRENCE TAKES ON LEGEND
Warner Brothers has set Francis Lawrence (CONSTANTINE) to direct I AM LEGEND, fast-tracking the long-gestating adaptation of the Richard Matheson sci-fi novel. Mark Protosevich (THE CELL) wrote the script.
Lawrence takes on one of the more ambitious films in Warner's repertoire. I AM LEGEND is a big project that has been at the studio for nearly a decade. At one time, it had Ridley Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached, and another incarnation had Michael Bay and Will Smith set.
Set in Los Angeles after a biological war, the film centers on the sole healthy survivor, a man who finds himself in a battle against nocturnal mutants. The script will undergo a rewrite under the supervision of Lawrence and the producers, who eye a 2006 start date. Matheson's post-apocalyptic tale has been filmed twice before. Vincent Price starred in 1964's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, and Charlton Heston starred in THE OMEGA MAN.
UNIVERSAL TURNING THE SCREW
Henry James' classic creepy tale The Turn of the Screw is being adapted for the big screen by Universal Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment. Universal has acquired THE TURNING, a pitch that Chad and Carey Hayes (HOUSE OF WAX) will write.
The Hayes brothers have come up with a contemporary take on the story of a caretaker hired to look after two orphaned children at their family's isolated estate. Upon the caretaker's arrival, the young woman finds that the children are not quite what they seem, and that she might be losing them to malevolent spirits with a secret tie to their past. The story was first published in serialized form in 1898 in Collier's Weekly and has been hailed by literary critics as one of the ghost story genre's finest tales.
Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year: the costumes, the
candy, but especially the movies!
The days of trick or treating may have passed us by, but on the 31st of October we can certainly rely on our friends, Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man to ensure all the ghostly fun. Tim Burton has always been the master of Halloween delight.
While he may not be responsible for the horror films of yesterday, he is the world's most influential creator of the modern gothic genre. He has continued to dazzle and surprise us over the last two decades. Now Tim is back in theaters with a claymation tale of love, marriage, and death: the newly released Corpse Bride.
Featuring a thoughtful collaboration between Tim Burton and co-director Mike Johnson, Corpse Bride tells the story of Victor Van Dort, (Johnny Depp) and his arranged marriage to Victoria Everglot, daughter of the town's most prominent couple, (Emily Watson). It is the hope of Victoria's parents that, by marrying Victor, she will restore the lost family fortune, but things don't go 'according to plan'. After enduring torturous bullying from the world's scariest priest at the wedding rehearsal, Victor flees the church and soon finds himself in a dark forest. There, he stumbles into an underworld of trouble, when he accidentally offers his wedding ring to a corpse bride, (Helena Bonham Carter).
This film is both original and surprising, blending the morbid imagination of Tim Burton with the appeal of a Broadway musical. Composer Danny Elfman's lyrics were quite intoxicating and catchy, something rarely seen in a Burton film. The voices, like the music, were exceptional, which should come as no surprise as the actors who supplied them are the best in the business.
It's no question why Tim Burton continues to pick Johnny Depp as his right hand man. He has the unbelievable ability to make the best films better and the bad ones acceptable. He's the envy of the Hollywood community: a genre unto himself. Victor Van Dort should've been a challenge for him. A sophisticated gentleman with a love for music, Victor is a character of supreme normality, free of all the eccentricity that seems so common in Johnny's movies. But Johnny shines in this role, perhaps taking his career to new heights.
Emily Watson, as Victoria Everglot, and Helena Bonham Carter, as the corpse bride, (aka 'Emily') did a wonderful job of completing this ghoulish love triangle. While they are two different women living in conflicting worlds, it's easy to see why Victor is drawn to them. Victoria represents the path of safety. She's a woman of culture and beauty. With her, Victor holds a life of tradition and comfort that would secure his legacy. Emily, on the other hand, is exciting.
Though her body is cold and her heart isn't beating, she is full of life. Her world is strange and totally unpredictable. It's only natural for Victor to reject her advances, but there's a part of him that is intrigued, and who wouldn't be?
Notable figures making up the supporting cast include Richard E. Grant as the scheming Barkis Bittern and Christopher Lee was Pastor Galswells. Leave it to Lee to turn a man of the cloth into an intimidating lunatic.
It was brilliant: an interesting counterpart to Grant's greedy, underhanded villain. Barkis Bittern is a charming, presumably handsome charmer out for money and prestige. Edward E. Grant's strong voice quality is perfect for this suspicious yet appealing character. Additional players include a list of Burton alumni such as Albert Finney, Deep Roy, and Michael Gough.
Corpse Bride features the animation and talent that made Nightmare Before Christmas so memorable and is a ghoulishly good time. While perhaps not as exciting as Nightmare overall, it's still classic Burton and definitely captures the Halloween spirit.
Richard E. Cunha, a cinematographer and the director of
low-budget movies in the late 1950s that have achieved cult status among
horror and sci-fi film aficionados, has died. He was 83.
Cunha, who was born in Honolulu, served as an Army Air Force cameraman during World War II. He had a decade of industrial films, commercials and television work behind him when he moved into low-budget feature filmmaking in 1957.
Cunha directed only a handful of films, with his four best known ones released in 1958-59: GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN, SHE DEMONS, MISSILE TO THE MOON and FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER. He also directed GIRL IN ROOM 13 and DOG EAT DOG.
Aimed at the drive-in and neighborhood movie-house market, they were made on shoestring budgets of $65,000 or less with six-day shooting schedules. "They were fairly crudely made, but Cunha, for a low-budget guy, had a bit of a flair for this stuff and some of them were actually scary in some spots", fantasy and science fiction movie expert Tom Weaver said.
Constance Moore, the glamorous singer-actress who co-starred
in a string of World War II-era movie musicals, has died. Moore was a band
vocalist on a Dallas radio show before being discovered by a Universal
Studios talent scout. She arrived in Hollywood as a teenager in 1937 and
subsequently appeared in comedies, dramas, westerns and musicals.
But she may be best remembered for playing the daughter of W.C. Fields' Larson E. Whipsnade in the classic 1939 comedy YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN and Wilma Deering in BUCK ROGERS, the 1939 science-fiction serial based on the popular comic strip.
Some of her other films include THE CRIME OF DR. HALLET, CHARLIE McCARTHY, DETECTIVE, DELIGHTFULLY DANGEROUS, IN OLD SACRAMENTO, I WANTED WINGS, SHOW BUSINESS, HIT PARADE OF 1947 and PLANET OUTLAWS.
She was 84.
John Bromfield, the handsome actor best known as a contemporary
Western lawman in the 1950s television series THE SHERIFF OF COCHISE and
U.S. MARSHAL, has died at age 83.
On camera a mere dozen years, the actor hit his peak as lawman Frank Morgan from 1956 to 1960. For the first two years, Morgan was THE SHERIFF OF COCHISE County, Ariz.; in 1958, the character was promoted to U.S. marshal, with the series title reflecting his new rank.
Born Farron Bromfield in South Bend, Ind., in 1922, he became a football star and a boxing champion in college and served in the Navy. He worked as a commercial fisherman off Santa Monica and started acting in summer stock at the La Jolla Playhouse. His athletic physique and photogenic face inevitably prodded him toward Hollywood.
His first films were harpoon and sorry, wrong number in 1948 and others included rope of sand, the cimarron kid, flat top, the black dakotas and hot cars. His genre appearances were in revenge of the creature and curucu, beast of the amazon.
Hey, you came back! That’s a relief. I thought there
might be a chance you’d toss the next edition of the ICSFiles because you
simply wouldn’t care to see what other films I could possibly call forth
for my 100 Greatest Movies Ever Made list. It stands to reason that
I could risk losing a few readers (and friends) for picking a cheesy comedy
But I digress.
This month, I’m cataloging movies 75 through 51. There are a few surprises. And I imagine when you get to the end, you’ll think to yourself, EGAD!! What could he possibly consider as the 50 greatest movies ever made? You’ll have to wait another month or two to find out. Is it truly possible that he could think of 67 movies better than GONE WITH THE WIND? Oh, it’s possible. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty easy. And if I have to think about it some more, I’ll probably drop GWTW even lower. How could he actually rank a little comedy like PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES ahead of a great epic like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA?
Well, the answer to that question is…a little tricky. I’ve identified my Top 100, true enough. But ranking them is another story. It wasn’t too difficult to trim the bottom 25, but culling the next 25 from the herd was a little tougher. And I think the next two months will be even tougher yet, although my top 2 movies are pretty well set in my mind.
75. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
I think this was the first great buddy movie. Paul Newman was already a star, but it was BUTCH CASSIDY that put Robert Redford on the map. It was a western with a brain and a sharp wit…unlike any that had been made before. William Goldman’s screenplay was pure magic, and the chemistry between the two stars was perfect. But it was Goldman, working with director George Roy Hill, who crafted the perfect ending to what could have been a tragic-but-true audience downer.
74. AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
I came to this movie about a year later than everyone else, at an old, run-down movie house in Knoxville, Tennessee. By the time I saw it, it had received all sorts of nominations and acclaim. For once, the hype was justified. Many genre fans cite THX-1138 as George Lucas’ breakthrough film, but I think GRAFFITI was what put him on the A-list. A night in the life of a group of California high schoolers in the early ‘60s, fueled by one of the most dead-on soundtracks ever gathered. And the jumping off point for so many careers: Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Charles Martin Smith, the post-Opie Ron Howard, even Suzanne Somers.
73. GOODFELLAS (1990)
For my money, this is the best movie Martin Scorsese has ever made. I know that a lot of folks have made strong cases for RAGING BULL and TAXI DRIVER, but a veteran Scorsese was at the top of his game here. GOODFELLAS ranks just below THE GODFATHER as one of the best mob movies ever, but what really sold me on this film was Scorsese’s use of the camera. There are several bravura sequences that are practically electric in the way they move, like Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco’s entrance into the Copacabana nightclub. It’s a long, unbroken tracking shot that follows them from the street outside, through several doors, down steps, around corners, past tables to the very front of the club floor, right in front of the singer’s microphone. Beautiful. Then there’s the cast, a roll call of Scorsese favorites: De Niro, Pesci, Sorvino, Liotta, Bracco, even Samuel L.Jackson in an early role.
72. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
I had a vague memory of my father taking me to see this when I was four. Four!!
All I remembered was the motorcycle accident that opened the movie. I rediscovered LAWRENCE many years later, at the Senator Theater, and I was blown away by the vistas – one magnificent panorama after another. David Lean was not a fast director; he took his time and allowed his pictures to develop gradually. Peter O’Toole’s starmaking turn as T.E. Lawrence was the movie’s anchor; charismatic and mysterious, nothing like it had been seen before. And what a wonderful musical score!
71. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece of Cold War satire, and my choice for his best movie ever. (Club members know how I feel about 2001.) It is stark, almost unforgiving in its depiction of superpowers run by idiots. Peter Sellers deserved an Oscar for pulling off an incredible triple play of roles: the ineffectual President Muffley, the helpless Colonel Sheldrake, and the psychotic Dr. Strangelove, who can’t seem to stop his right arm from giving a “Sieg heil!” salute every now and then. Then there’s George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson, who never met a nuclear strike he didn’t like. A product of its time, but its themes are timeless. The buffet table of pastries in the “War Room” is clearly visible at times; I wonder what Kubrick’s original “pie fight” ending would have looked like.
70. THE LONGEST YARD (1974)
Here’s another one that’s not likely to make many other Top 100 lists, but I’ve always loved the way this film celebrates the its us-against-them “brotherhood” idea. Plus, it’s one of the best sports movies ever. Burt Reynolds is perfect as the ex-NFL quarterback who leads a team of prison convicts in a grudge game against the guards. Director Robert Aldrich, who’s done more than his share of “guy movies,” had a keen eye for filling the roles in the movie; there isn’t a single false note in the cast.
69. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998)
Spielberg’s second appearance on my list: a brutally violent look at the D-Day invasion of June, 1944, as seen through the eyes of a veteran squad of soldiers, led by Tom Hanks as Capt. Miller, a former high school teacher turned efficient killer in wartime – a tragic figure indeed. Hanks’ squadron is assigned the task of reaching Matt Damon’s Private Ryan, a young soldier deep behind enemy lines, and bringing him out before he can share the fate of his older brothers, all recently killed. The cemetery scene that bookends the film’s main action begins a little mysteriously – Who is that old man, anyway? – but the ultimate resolution is very fitting.
68. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
I think this film’s stature has been widely overrated through the years, but there’s no denying its scope, its beautiful cinematography, and its excellent cast, especially Olivia De Havilland as the long-suffering Melanie. As a product of its time period, it succeeds admirably, since it outshines most of the films that were coming out of the studios back then. (I said most – 1939 will return to my list twice more.) Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh are good together as the star-crossed lovers, although Leigh’s fiddle-dee-dee persona becomes a tad wearisome after a while. Justifiably praised for its widescreen spectacle, especially the burning of Atlanta.
67. OLIVER! (1968)
I have never been a big fan of movie musicals – only one other film on my list has an assortment of songs, although I’ve never considered that particular film a straight musical (guess which one) – so it comes as something of a shock that this movie is my all-time favorite musical. I remember having more fun the first time I saw GREASE, and I marveled over the footwork of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. But there has always been something about OLIVER! that knocked me out. It was the first musical I saw as a kid that I really, really liked. (I had already seen Julie Andrews in a couple of films that didn’t exactly thrill me.) I loved the cast, notably Ron Moody as Fagin, Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes, and Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger. The set design was astounding; it amazed me to think that so much of it was filmed on studio lots. And the songs were the kind that an audience would hum walking out of the theater.
66. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)
Lots of folks would pick the original over the sequel, and I guess they could make a case for it. But I loved this movie for its ability to expand on the themes only hinted at in the first film, thanks to a tight budget: future science run amok, the possibility of a nuclear winter, and very little hope. The action set pieces were astounding, the CGI was groundbreaking, and Schwarzenegger perfected his iconic role. For my money, this was James Cameron’s second-best movie. Third best would be the one with the boat.
65. THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
Later on, you’ll see me lump a few films together as one. I couldn’t do it with the GODFATHER trilogy, because that would force me to acknowledge THE GODFATHER PART III as something more than it is: a weak third act. Instead, I’ll highlight the first two films separately, starting with PART II, which performs the miracle of extending and deepening the Corleone crime saga by tracing it back to its roots. I enjoyed the flashback sequences as much as the late ‘50s plot, and Francis Ford Coppola did a great job entwining the different threads of the storyline. The flashbacks made a star of Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone, and Al Pacino cemented his leading man status as Michael Corleone, who outmatched his father for the chill in his soul. A great cast: Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Lee Strasberg, and Michael V. Gazzo.
64. UNFORGIVEN (1992)
Clint Eastwood did not write an epitaph for the movie western with UNFORGIVEN – it just seemed that way. Since then there have been a few more effective entries in the genre: TOMBSTONE and OPEN RANGE, to name two. But I think Eastwood was simply making his own final statement on the western, by showcasing an ancient gunfighter at the end of his career. Reduced to being a pig farmer, Eastwood’s William Munny jumps at the chance to collect a bounty on two men who cut up a prostitute. He drags buddy Morgan Freeman along, and they run up against Gene Hackman’s sadistic-but-sly town sheriff. The movie is incredibly low-key, considering its subject, but the effect is impressive; the characters draw you in, and the story keeps you there.
63. PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987)
John Hughes movies were a product of the big-hair ‘80s, and many of his movies, featuring “brat packers” in one combination or another, haven’t dated well. But PTAA is not like those other films. It steps away from Hughes’ usual youth stable to topline Steve Martin and John Candy as two business travelers thrown together on the road. The story has a timeless quality to it that hasn’t really dated at all in the 18 years since I first watched it. Things still go wrong when folks travel, and a lot of those elements are depicted in PTAA with great humor, not to mention a surprising amount of warmth. This was the best thing I ever saw John Candy do. It’s a shame he died when he did.
62. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976)
The movie opens with the sound of gunshots. It is only when the camera comes into focus that you realize the gunshots are actually typewriter keys hitting paper, amplified to jarring effect. Fitting, too, since the reporting of two newspaper reporters, as played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, effectively shot down a presidency. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN is one of those rare films (APOLLO 13 would be another) that crafts nail-biting suspense from real-life events. We might know how it turns out, but that doesn’t stop us from appreciating the shadowy camerawork, the crisp editing, and the tightly controlled performances from a deep, deep cast. An outstanding movie, and one that I hope receives the deluxe DVD treatment someday.
61. EIGHT MEN OUT (1988)
I’ve talked about this movie before in other columns, but it bears repeating: it’s a great film. John Sayles, one of the most interesting of American indie directors, created a minor miracle in EIGHT MEN OUT. He gives the story of the “Black Sox” scandal of 1919 a kind of storybook Americana quality, yet still manages to make the game of baseball look incredibly realistic. In the process, he delivers a heartbreaking film, most notably in a quiet, final scene. There are no big stars here, just lots of great character actors, like David Strathairn, John Cusack, and John Mahoney. The best baseball movie ever made.
60. GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
Critics have heaped huge amounts of praise on Bill Murray in the past few years for becoming a more mature, yet whimsical actor, but I say Murray was doing good work years before. Here’s the perfect example: a fantasy about a Pittsburgh weatherman sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (I can spell it ‘cause I’ve been there, folks) to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration, who is then fated (or cursed) to live the same day over and over again, seemingly forever. Murray mines familiar comic territory in the early scenes of the film, but as the story progresses and Murray realizes he isn’t going anywhere, his character begins to reflect on his life. It’s a finely tuned performance, probably Murray’s best.
59. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984)
I’ve seen his westerns, but this is my Sergio Leone movie. I rate it slightly ahead of GOODFELLAS because of its operatic scope; Leone does things in this movie that only Coppola could hope to match. I must clarify that I’m talking about the uncut version of the film that was released on DVD two years ago. The version released to theaters in 1984 was effectively taken from Leone by nervous studio execs and horribly edited. The remastered DVD returns Leone’s original vision to the screen; huge, gaping holes in the plot have been admirably filled. The film traces the friendships of four Jewish kids from New York’s Lower East Side (most notably Robert De Niro and James Woods), from the early days of the 20th century, through prohibition, and several decades beyond, when one of them returns to settle a score. Most of the story is told in flashbacks and flash forwards, and requires some focus on the part of the viewer. But I guarantee rich rewards.
58. TOOTSIE (1982)
To those who feel that Dustin Hoffman can’t do comedy…well, all I can say is, you haven’t seen TOOTSIE. This is one of the funniest, smartest movies ever set in the world of the theater, and it contains one rich performance after another, with Hoffman at the center as Michael Dorsey, an unemployed actor in New York who goes to extreme lengths to get a job on a daytime soap. You’ve also got Jessica Lange as the soap star Hoffman falls for, Dabney Coleman channeling the sexist pig from 9 to 5, an uncredited Bill Murray as Hoffman’s bemused roommate, Teri Garr as Hoffman’s neurotic acting pal, and Charles Durning as Lange’s father. But I think my favorite supporting player was director Sydney Pollack as Hoffman’s put-upon agent. The scene where Hoffman meets Pollack in the Russian Tea Room is a classic.
57. BULLITT (1968)
This is a great cop movie, a superb chase film, and the epitome of Steve McQueen “cool.” Tautly directed by Peter Yates, the film deservedly won an Oscar for its tight editing. McQueen plays Lt. Frank Bullitt as a loose cannon who nevertheless gets results; when a mob witness under his care is gunned down, McQueen goes about nailing those responsible. In retrospect, the plotline is pretty thin; the film is all about style, both onscreen and on McQueen. It works, big time.
56. STAND BY ME (1986)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a dyed-in-the-wool horror movie buff like myself would include at least one Stephen King adaptation on this list. (I’ve got two.) What is a surprise is that I would choose a film (actually, two – but more on that later) about as far away from King’s usual “haunts” as possible. It’s a simple coming-of-age story about four friends who go off on an overnight hike to find a dead body. That’s the premise, but there’s so much more. The friends are boys, played by solid child actors: River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell. Wheaton is Gordie, the main voice of the film. (Richard Dreyfuss plays Gordie as an adult in a neat little narrative bookend device.) He’s got some family baggage he has to deal with, and this hike is his chance. I can’t think of another movie that treated kids so naturally.
55. GOLDFINGER (1964)
Come on, I had to include a James Bond movie! This was the best of the Bonds, by far – one of the most enjoyable escapist entertainments to come out of the ‘60s. Sean Connery was at the height of his magnetism (and confidence) in GOLDFINGER, and it shows in every scene, from the opener (death by bathtub) to the climax at Fort Knox. It includes a great villain (Gert Frobe), a great Bond girl (Honor Blackman), one of the best henchmen ever (Harold Sakata), and a classic golf match between hero and villain – my favorite scene in the film.
54. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1979)
George Romero’s zombie classic stands alone at the top of what has become an increasingly crowded genre. His original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was a groundbreaker, but DAWN expands on NIGHT’S premise by taking on rampant consumerism. I loved the way Romero used the shopping mall as a microcosm of society’s strengths, ills, and pretty much its leftovers, too. The four humans barricaded inside the mall aren’t much to begin with – a couple of them have faults that turn out to be fairly tragic – and the other humans that show up later are worse. Romero seems to be saying, Here’s what we’ve become. And he says it with low-budget style, straight-ahead gore, and a wicked sense of humor.
53. JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963)
This was the film that inspired me to watch more. I was only five, and I was blown away by the wonder and the fantasy. The name Ray Harryhausen meant nothing to me at the time, but I have grown to love JASON so much over the years that, when I heard Harryhausen say it was his favorite movie, too, I grinned from ear to ear. JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS is the reason why I look forward to such diverse fantasy films as KING KONG and WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT. The fantasy creatures of JASON – Talos, the Hydra, the skeletons – had an innocence about them that latter-day CGI creations could only hope to imitate. And yes, while I know that Peter Jackson’s Kong will be primarily CGI, I know that the same minds that brought Gollum to life will be working just as hard to maintain that purity of innocence.
52. THE KILL BILL SAGA (2003-2004)
I’ve taken the liberty of lumping two separately released films together as one entry, but I think director Quentin Tarantino would forgive me, since one epic film was his original intention. KILL BILL represents a tribute to the films that inspired Tarantino when he was young – the grindhouse cinema of his teen years, filled with Hong Kong violence and Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. Not a single detail has been overlooked to recreate that experience, from the cheesy “Our Feature Presentation” opening to the final fadeout. Uma Thurman masterfully leads Tarantino’s revenge saga as the Bride, looking to get back at the former comrades who destroyed her wedding and left her for dead. Tarantino moves skillfully, almost effortlessly from sun-bleached desert to Japanese anime to black-and-white ultraviolence. It’s a nearly four-hour mindblower that feels like a 90-second roller-coaster rush.
51. TOY STORY (1995)
This is one of the two Disney cartoons that I would rank higher than SNOW WHITE, although technically, it’s clear who the real geniuses are: Pixar Studios. Disney was just lucky enough to release the thing. I had marveled over the dinosaurs of JURASSIC PARK two years before, but TOY STORY was the first all-computer-all-the-time film to get a general release, and I loved it. Correction – we loved it. It was the first movie we watched all the way through as a family, and my wife and I were just as captivated as our son. He loved the color, the imagery, and the action. I loved all of that, and more – because TOY STORY was a film with an incredible wit, one of the best screenplays of the decade. Every character was matched with the perfect voice, too: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, even Don Rickles as Mr. Potatohead and R. Lee Ermey as the commander of the Little Green Army Men. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
Which, once again, means this is the perfect opportunity to stop.
I’ll be back next month with nos. 50 through 26. But all I can guarantee
is that GONE WITH THE WIND and DAWN OF THE DEAD won’t be there. (I
always wanted to use those two titles in the same sentence.)
ICS CALENDER OF EVENTS
October 29th ICS meeting - Saturday at 5:30 P.M - Film historian Greg Mank is coming back to speak to us for a second year. Also there is the pot luck dinner and the all night Ironman movie festival.