news tv news tv news the glass teat tv news tv news tv news
HENSON HELMS A TALK-FREE NIGHTMARE
Brian Henson—who directed the "Battleground"
episode of TNT's upcoming limited anthology series Nightmares & Dreamscapes:
From the Stories of Stephen King—said that one of his biggest challenges
was creating an hour's worth of television with virtually no dialogue.
"I got a call from producer Bill Haber, who said, 'I'm in a horrible situation.
I have the most wonderful script, but it's impossible to shoot, but would
you read it anyway?'" Henson recalled. "Even though I thought it was going
to be impossible to make, I was still very intrigued about doing it."
Based on a short story by King, "Battleground" centers
on professional hit man Jason Renshaw (William Hurt), who successfully
murders the chief executive of a major toy company only to face a life-and-death
battle of his own when a box of toy soldiers suddenly comes to life.
Henson worked closely with writer Richard Christian Matheson
to create a story that could be told without dialogue, a bold step for
any made-for-television project. "When I first talked to Richard about
it, his first draft had some dialogue," Henson said. "But once Renshaw
was in his apartment, there was no reason for dialogue. So he came up with
the idea that it would be cool to do the whole thing with no dialogue.
Now, note that the general broadcasters' attitude is that
every TV production needs to play like radio. You have to assume that your
audience is cooking dinner while they're watching your show, so they need
to hear every story point coming out of somebody's mouth, and I was really
impressed that TNT was daring enough to say, 'No, this will be cool!'"
Henson added: "'Battleground' is based on a nine-page
short story, and the adaptation is this wonderfully intimate piece, where
you're almost trapped inside the head of this kind of psychotic character,
as we're watching everything he does over this one-day period of time.
Richard and I ended up probably rewriting everything that happens in that
movie two or three times to figure out how to do it all."
Sharp-eyed viewers may notice a few subtle references
to the 1970s TV movie Trilogy of Terror, written by Matheson's father,
award-winning novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson. But Henson insisted
he wasn't trying to imitate the work of director Dan Curtis in that piece.
"I'm a big fan of Trilogy of Terror, but what I was trying to do was a
more '80s style of directing, with static cameras and clean compositions,
where the movements of the lead actor are very dominating in frame, because
there isn't a lot else going on. It's clean, almost sterile sometimes,
in its visual presentation in order to put more emphasis on the character
GOODBYE TO WB
The WB network plans to sign off on Sept.
17 by airing pilots of some of its biggest hits, including Buffy
the Vampire Slayer, Felicity and Dawson's Creek. It also plans to air promos
from its 11-year history and clips of some of the actors who have
appeared on its
shows over the years. The farewell for a network is "unprecedented."
EMMY NODS TO LOST AND GALACTICA
ABC's Lost garnered six nominations
and SCI FI Channel's original series Battlestar Galactica earned three
for the 58th annual prime-time Emmy Awards, which were announced July 6
in Los Angeles. The awards, covering the period from June 1, 2005, through
May 31, 2006, will be televised on NBC on Aug. 27 from the Los Angeles
Shrine Auditorium and will be hosted by Conan O'Brien. Lost and Galactica
received the most nominations among science fiction and fantasy programming,
which otherwise fared poorly in the nominations, receiving nods mostly
for technical achievements.
Galactica earned nods in technical categories, including
best visual effects, costumes and sound mixing.
Lost was recognized for guest actor (Henry Ian Cusick
as Desmond), writing (Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for "The 23rd Psalm")
and directing (Jack Bender for "Live Together, Die Alone"), as well as
for visual effects, editing and sound mixing.
Stargate Atlantis got a nod for music composition. The
SCI FI Channel original movie Mammoth also received a nomination, for outstanding
Other genre series that received nominations included
Alias, Smallville, Supernatural and The Ten Commandments.
AGYEMAN CONFIRMED FOR WHO
British actress Freema Agyeman will take over from Billie
Piper as the sidekick to David Tennant's Doctor Who in the upcoming third
season. Rumors had circulated earlier that the 27-year-old former Crossroads
actress would replace Piper, who leaves the show at the conclusion of the
current second season, which winds up in England on July 8.
Agyeman will play Martha Jones in the third season (called
a "series" in England), which begins production in three weeks for broadcast
in the United Kingdom next year.
Agyeman appeared in last week's second-season penultimate
episode "Army of Ghosts," but as a different character who meets a cruel
fate at the hands of the Cybermen.
GOYER: BLADE BITES DEEPER
David S. Goyer, co-creator and executive producer of Spike
TV's upcoming Blade: The Series, said that the television series will bite
deeper into the franchise's mythology than the three Blade movies that
Goyer also wrote. "It's a serialized show, so we're having the opportunity
to tell a single story over the course of 13 episodes," he said in an interview.
"So we're getting to kind of delve much more into the whole kind of inner
workings of the vampire world. We're treating them sort of like the ultimate
crime family. ... [Like The Sopranos] with blood-drinking, I guess."
Writer and supervising producer Dan Truly
explained that the show will open up the character of the half-vampire
warrior, played by Kirk "Sticky" Jones. "There's a kind of tension between
keeping Blade the hero of the show, but also opening up his character dramatically,
to understand who he is, where he comes from," Truly said. "TV does character
stories much better. There's only so much action you can do on a TV budget
and a TV schedule, but the key is to keep all the elements of Blade and
just to open up the stories more so we understand who he is and understand
more of a more complicated kind of political vampire world."
FUTURAMA HAS A FUTURE
Comedy Central has resurrected the former Fox animated
SF series Futurama, ordering 13 episodes to debut in 2008. The deal builds
on the cable network's acquisition of the 72-episode library last fall.
Discussions about a revival of the half-hour show began
in earnest earlier this year between Futurama producer 20th Century Fox
Television and series creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. A sticking
point, which has been resolved, had been bringing back the cast, who hadn't
worked on new episodes for the show since it left the air in August 2003.
Voice actors Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio
are on board for the new episodes, which will continue the story of Fry
(West), a pizza delivery boy who was accidentally frozen for 1,000 years
and who wakes up in the future.
SG-1's SHANKS TALKS ABOUT ROOMANCE
Michael Shanks, who plays Daniel Jackson in SCI FI Channel's
original series Stargate SG-1, said that the series will play down the
potential romance between his character and Claudia Black's Vala as the
series kicks off its 10th season this July.
Last season, former Farscape star Black played Vala
in half a dozen episodes, which came on the heels of an eighth-season guest
shot that introduced her wily thief character. In the upcoming season,
Black joins the cast as a regular, and Vala, who has been impregnated by
the villainous Ori, will give birth to a rapidly maturing child named Adria,
who will be played by several actresses, including ex-Firefly star Morena
"In order to justify Vala there in a regular capacity
this season, we've had to tone that down a little bit," Shanks said in
an interview, referring to the characters' sexual tension. "We're doing
a lot of balancing right now. We're trying to find the fun of it, and we're
trying to find the push-pull in a more practical, kind of friendship situation.
There's an episode where Daniel and Vala go out to dinner to talk about
her personal growth, so to speak, and there's all the innuendo and misconception
that can happen in that kind of situation."
Shanks added: "So there's a lot of fun in that.
What we're doing is trying to keep the joke alive without killing it. And
it's always fun when you work with somebody like Claudia, who's so good
at playing with you and playing off you and who just gives you so much
all the time. It's been a lot of fun doing that."
TREK’S ABRAMS EYES DAMON?
It was just a rumor, but a pretty solid one. It
was reported that Matt Damon is being eyed to play a young Capt. James
T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams' proposed 11th Star Trek movie.
Citing an anonymous source, it was reported that
Abrams (Mission: Impossible III) is so interested in Damon (The Bourne
Identity) that he's sought support from the original Kirk, William Shatner.
"Shatner gave his blessing," and apparently "J.J. got his approval."
Rumors are circulating that Abrams' Trek movie will be
a prequel to the original series, centering on Kirk and Spock's early days
at Starfleet. "J.J. wants Damon as Capt. Kirk," it was said. "He really
loves the idea."
For their part, Abrams and his Trek producing partner
Bryan Burk (who is also an executive producer on Abram's hit ABC series
Lost) have declined to comment on speculation about the movie's storyline,
saying only that any reports about its narrative have been released prematurely.
news movie news Silver Screen movie news movie news
ROWLINGS FINAL BOOK
It became clear Monday that the Harry Potter franchise
will end with the seventh film. Author J.K. Rowling said in a television
interview in the U.K. on Monday that she plans to kill off two of the regular
characters in her seventh book and that one of them may be Harry himself.
Rowling said that she could understand "the mentality
of an author who thinks, 'Well, I'm gonna kill them off because that means
there can be no non-author-written sequels. So it will end with me, and
after I'm dead and gone they won't be able to bring back the character.'"
Asked specifically whether Harry will die in the seventh book, Rowling
declined to respond, saying that she feared any remark she might make would
draw hate mail.
DRACULA YEAR ZERO RISES
Universal has acquired the spec script DRACULA YEAR
ZERO by newcomer writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and set it up with
Michael De Luca to produce via his De Luca Productions.
The story explores the origin of Dracula, weaving
vampire mythology with the true history of Prince Vlad the Impaler, depicting
Dracula as a flawed hero in a tragic love story set in a dark age of magic
Alissa Phillips of De Luca Productions, who brought
the project in, will serve as co-producer. Donna Langley, president of
production, and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum will oversee the project.
Universal was home to the original 1931 DRACULA,
starring Bela Lugosi and based on Bram Stoker's horror novel, published
Midnight Movies Entertainment will roll out on 1,500
screens with a 3-D update of the George A. Romero classic zombie movie
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD called NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3-D, in November.
SPIDEY 3’s HOWARD HINTS AT TRIANGLE
Bryce Dallas Howard, who takes on the role of Gwen Stacy
in Sam Raimi's upcoming SPIDER-MAN 3, said that her character adds a new
dynamic to Peter Parker's romantic life. "Gwen Stacy is a pretty famous
comic-book character," Howard said. "She was one of Peter Parker's first
loves. In this film, it's a love triangle between Mary Jane [Kirsten Dunst],
Peter Parker [Tobey Maguire] and herself. She's young and kind of sexy,
but I don't want to give away too much."
Howard said that she auditioned for the role in
the third installment in the comic-book franchise before she landed the
part last year. About working with director Raimi, she said: "In SM 3,
it was really fun, because I was a part of this group, and all together
we tell the story. Sam Raimi was there to guide us and inspire us and,
of all the choices we offered him, to take the choices that were best for
the story. It was a very empowering experience. It's a very, very dramatic
film. The conflict is very high, and stakes are very high in this story."
The Spider-Man sequel will be Howard's highest-profile
film to date, after making a mark in M. Night Shyamalan's THE VILLAGE and
starring in his upcoming thriller LADY IN THE WATER. When asked if she
is looking to be a movie star, the actress said, "I don't want for things
that you can't control. I want to be the best actor that I can be. I want
to be working in this business, so if that means being a movie star, fine.
To me, being a movie star and celebrity is very different from being an
ALBA AND THE EYE
Lionsgate is picking up the Cruise/Wagner-produced remake
of the Hong Kong supernatural horror movie THE EYE out of turnaround from
Paramount and is negotiating with Jessica Alba to star and French helmers
David Moreau and Xavier Palud to direct. The movie will shoot this winter.
THE EYE is a thriller about a cornea transplant recipient
who sees disturbing images in the mirror that send her on a quest to find
out what happened to the eye's previous owner. The original was made in
Hong Kong by Thai directing brothers Danny and Oxide Pang.
Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner persuaded Paramount to buy
the remake rights in 2002 and got close to making it there with Renee Zellweger.
When Zellweger dropped out, the project lost its momentum and the studio
put it into turnaround.
News of the Lionsgate pickup comes as Cruise/Wagner's
deal nears its expiration at Paramount, and speculation has the pair eyeing
Alba is in talks to make THE EYE her next picture after
the FANTASTIC FOUR sequel. Moreau and Palud, who last directed the French
thriller Ils, will make THE EYE their first U.S. picture.
SHREK THE THIRD PILES ON MORE NAMES
Looks like SHREK THE THIRD is shaping up to be more
of a Saturday Night Live reunion than anything else. Hey, and its okay
for SNL folks taking a chance on the big screen ... so long as they're
Joining the third installment's all-star (minor league,
not big league) cast are Maya Rudolph (Rapunzel), Amy Sedaris (Cinderella),
Amy Poehler (Snow White) and Cheri Oteri (Sleeping Beauty). Supposedly,
the women will form an "elite, ninja-like strike force of fairy tale princesses"
to help stop Prince Charming from storming the city of Far, Far Away and
seizing the throne.
Joining the ladies are Ian McShane as Captain Hook, John
Krasinski as Sir Lancelot and the always hilarious Eric Idle as Merlin
the Magician. Also returning once again to the hit franchise are Mike Myers,
Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas.
Oh, and how can we forget little Justin Timberlake, who will be voicing
Artie, a young King Arthur. SHREK THE THIRD hits theaters on May 18, 2007.
WANNA MAKE A DESCENT EARLY??
If you're even half a horror geek, then two things are
1. You seriously cannot wait to see Neil Marshall's THE DESCENTt.
2. You are taking the day off of work to go see the movie when it comes
Fair enough. But here's something you might not mind knowing:
If you live in a certain city, you can also see it with "extra bonus footage,"
which better NOT be something above and beyond what is already on the lovely,
lovely Region 2 DVD of THE DESCENT. Find that city online at www.descent.com.
THE DESCENT doesn't open until August 4th, but, thanks to Fangoria
and Lionsgate, extremely interested parties can check it out on July 26th.
With bonus footage.
by Jim Childs
Superman Returns 2006
One of most recognizable icons on this planet in this century
is the Superman symbol. Everyone knows it. On this point alone the
most current Superman franchise will raise millions. SUPERMAN RETURNS,
opened on June 28th with a running time of 2 hrs and 34 minutes.
Everyone should see this movie (at least once), some will see it more.
For the generation X’ers it will be a cool experience, for those
that have basked in the sunlight of “the Adventures of Superman” with George
Reeves in the 50’s and the now ‘classic’ Superman with Christopher Reeves
(no relation of course) in the 70’s, we may remain somewhat cool. We are
deciding if it will stand up to the past. As a fan of the tv shows
and the movies, I was looking forward to the new Return.
Now, I liked it a lot, don’t get me wrong, but unfortunately
I just didn’t feel the ‘wow’ factor that I felt when watching Christopher
Reeves. SUPERMAN RETURNS is visually stunning as at the beginning
you feel you are traveling thru outer space. This coupled with the
original John Williams music score and a recreation of the 70’s Superman
credits really gets you. As we get into the movie, the CGI is top
notch and there are some good character choices. Kevin Spacey as
Lex Luthor was a good choice and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane is very sweet.
Now lets talk about Superman. It seems, Brandon Routh as Clark
Kent/Superman has been turned into an eavesdropper with x-ray vision and
little or no humanity. He has lost the ‘innocent’ feel that Clark/Superman
has had in the past. Sure he saves the world…again, but why? Brandon
does have Christopher Reeves playing Clark down pat…its an odd feeling.
At times he moves so robotically as Clark that you almost think it is Zombie
The plot of the SUPERMAN RETURNS has Superman having gone on
a 5 yr hiatus. When he comes back the world is a darker place, things
have changed. First of all, there is no laughing. Lex used to laugh,
Lois used to laugh, even Jimmy used to laugh. Now, it is dark. And I wonder
if he notices that his costume colors are a bit off. A bit dark.
People have moved onward. Lex is out of jail and rich again.
He got it the old fashioned way…marrying a rich woman (thank you Noel Neill)
and getting her to sign it all over to him. So Lex like. He
is back into some real estate with some kryptonite thrown in. Sounds
familiar. But no ‘Otisville’ to add some humor. Lois has a
child (just about five years old…wink, wink) and a long term love interest.
We find her very bitter at Superman for his leaving and disinterested in
the return of Clark Kent. The plot twist – the world is threatened and
billions will die.
Jimmy Olsen is just too sweet (grab my insulin) and Perry White
is so cynical you could grate cheese on the sound of his voice. Clark
is the topper, in one of the few times you see him as Clark, he has
a beer with Jimmy Olsen who looks so young he should have his ID checked
by the bartender…wait…the bartender is Jimmy Olsen. I mean the 50’s
Jimmy Olsen, actor Jack Larson. Nice touch there!
To summarize, the movie is a visual wonder. The CGI superb –
it gives you a real roller coaster ride. The shots of Superman flying
are wonderous. Fun even. Worth getting out to see it on the big screen.
Even after this review, I will be going out to see it once more on the
big screen. It is SUPERMAN after all. There were definitely
some scenes to make you sit up in your seat and cheer. The S on the
chest is nothing to chuckle at.
Do try to get there
early enough to see the trailer for “Hollywoodland”, it’s a movie coming
out about the mysterious cause of death of George Reeves. He is played
by a very subdued looking Ben Affleck, and believe me, this trailer had
a ‘wow’ factor.
Keep looking up at the stars, but don’t forget to pick up your
CINEMA COMING SOON
MUST SEE MOVIES FOR YOU!
July 21st My Super Ex-Girlfirend
Cast: Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Faris, Eddie Izzard
Premise: Everyone's had a painful parting of the ways with a romantic
partner. We pick up the pieces and move on. But for one New York guy, it's
not going to be so easy. When he breaks up with his girlfriend, he discovers
his ex is actually the reluctant superhero, G-Girl. A scorned woman, she
unleashes her super powers to humiliate and torment him.
July 21st Lady in the Water
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard
Premise: Directed by M Night Shyamalan, This is the story of
superintendent of an apartment complex in Philadelphia who discovers
nymph living in the building's swimming pool.
Aug 4th Descent
Cast: Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder
Premise: One year after a tragic accident, six girlfriends meet in
a remote part of
the Appalachians for their annual caving trip. Deep below the surface
earth, disaster strikes when a rock falls and blocks their route back
surface. But there is something else lurking under the earth
a race of
monstrous humanoid creatures that are adapted perfectly to life in
Aug 4th Jet Li's - Fearless
Cast:: Jet Li, Betty Sun, , Shido Nakamura, Collin Chou
Premise: nspired by the story of a real-life icon, an action-drama
during the late 19th century when China is shrouded under increasing
internal turmoil and the imminent threat of foreign invasion. The biopic
based on the life of Chinese Martial Arts Legend, Huo Yuanjia
(1869-1910)--the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation
Aug 6th Ghost Rider
Cast: Nicolas Cage (Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider), Eva Mendes, Sam Elliott,
Premise: his is the story of motorcycle stunt performer, Johnny
Blaze, who agrees to become the host of a "spirit of vengeance" in exchange
for the safety of his true love (Mendes), but the price he pays is
cursed with the avenging spirit that takes its form at night as a demon
a flaming skull on a motorcycle of hellfire Based on a comic
Aug 18th Snakes on a Plane
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Julianna
Premise: A ruthless assassin unleashes a crate full of lethal snakes
aboard a packed passenger jet over the Pacific Ocean in order to eliminate
witness in protective custody. The rookie pilot and frightened passengers
must band together to survive.
Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells
Robert Donner, a character actor who specialized in playing
eccentrics and oddball roles, has died. On Mork & Mindy, which aired
from 1978 to 1982, Donner played Exidor who led an invisible cult called
the Friends of Venus. He also had a long-running role as Yancy Tucker on
The Waltons. He appeared in such other television shows as rawhide, I spy,
the virginian, bonanza, kung fu, columbo, gunsmoke, matlock, mac gyver,
alien nation and dharma & greg. His films included rio bravo, the man
who shot liberty valance, el dorado, cool hand luke, vanishing point, chisum,
high plains drifter, rio lobo and santee.
He was a founding member of Harvey Lembeck's comedy-improv group, the
Crazy Quilt Comedy Company, which counted John Ritter, Penny Marshall and
Robin Williams among its alums. He was 75.
Tim Hildebrandt, who along with his twin brother Greg, drew some
of the most influential works of fantasy and science fiction art of the
later 20th Century, has died.
Born in 1939, Tim and Greg worked together and separately, with many
of their best known works, such as the original Star Wars Poster and the
series of 1970's Tolkien calendars, coming out of their joint efforts.
They have also produced advertising art, hundreds of children’s books,
and the covers of numerous fantasy and science fiction novels. Together
they have won the coveted Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators.
In 1973, the Child Study Association chose their Giant Panda Book as a
Children’s Books of the Year. Tim also won the Award of Merit at the Society
of Illustrators’ annual show for the cover illustration of The Children
of Arabel in 1987.
Jim Baen, founder of a leading science-fiction publishing company
who early on understood the potential for marketing the printed word on
the Web, has died. He was 62.
Baen started his career in publishing in 1972 at Ace Books, known for
its science-fiction paperbacks. A year later he moved to Galaxy magazine
and rose from managing editor to editor in chief. In 1980, he became editorial
director of Tor Books. And when he launched his own company in 1984, Baen
expanded the business in then untypical ways, using the Internet as a main
Visitors to the website http://www.baen.com can connect to Baen's Bar,
a chat room where he made contact with several science-fiction writers
whose books he later published. He created Baen's Library, a link on his
website where readers could download books electronically, some of them
free. He also made new works available to paying website subscribers before
the books were sold in stores.
"Jim Baen was a truly legendary figure in the world of science fiction
and fantasy," Jack Romanos, president of Simon and Schuster, which distributes
Baen Books, said in a statement. "Jim and his authors exerted a wide-ranging
influence on the world of science fiction today."
Actress June Allyson, the perky blond with the husky voice who
was one of Hollywood's most beloved stars in the 1940s and 1950s, has died.
Born in the Bronx, N. Y. she rose from teenage chorus girl on Broadway
to contract player for MGM. She began in Hollywood as a dancer and singer
in short films. She later co-starred with Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart,
Van Johnson and Dick Powell in a series of wifely and other supportive
roles. Powell became her real-life husband in 1945; he died in 1963.
Petite at barely 5 foot 1 and weighing less than 100 pounds, she was
everybody's sweetheart. Her simple, blond pageboy, Peter Pan collars and
no-nonsense manner stamped her as the all-American girl next door, the
woman millions of GIs wanted to come home to. She was consistently voted
a top star by movie magazines and box office surveys.
Among her more well-known movies were her breakthrough film, Two Girls
and a Sailor, in which she co-starred with Johnson and Gloria DeHaven;
the 1949 remake of Little Women, playing the tomboy Jo; and three movies
with Stewart: The Stratton Story, The Glenn Miller Story and Strategic
Air Command. Others included dime a dance, best foot forward, her highness
and the bellboy, till clouds roll by, high barbaree, the three musketeers,
and they only kill their masters.
“She was a joy to know,” said actress Ann Rutherford, who met Allyson
at MGM in the 1940s, “She was a wonderful actress and just confronted her
life with vast enthusiasm”. She was 88.
Barnard Hughes, who won a Tony Award for his starring role on
Broadway as the cantankerous Irish father in Da and starred in the television
series Doc, Mr. Merlin and The Cavanaughs, has died. He was 90.
He began acting on stage in New York in 1934 and was in the Broadway
hits A Majority of One, Advise and Consent, Nobody Loves an Albatross,
the Richard Burton revival of Hamlet, How Now, Dow Jones, Abelard and Heloise,
The Good Doctor, Angels Fall and Prelude to a Kiss. He received an Emmy
Award in 1978 for a guest appearance on Lou Grant.
He appeared in such films as the young doctors, hamlet, midnight cowboy,
cold turkey, rage, the borrowers, the lost boys, doc hollywood and the
cradle will rock.
Red Buttons, the impish former burlesque comic who became an
early TV sensation and an Academy Award-winning character actor during
a career that spanned more than seven decades, has died.
A product of New York's Lower East Side, Buttons had already performed
in Minsky's Burlesque and in Broadway plays and musicals by the time he
became an overnight hit on television in 1952 with the launch of The Red
Buttons Show on CBS. The Academy of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences
named him Comedian of the Year in 1954. His role as the tragic Airman Joe
Kelly, who marries his Japanese sweetheart despite a military policy forbidding
interracial marriage in the 1957 film sayonara, earned him an Oscar and
a Golden Globe for best supporting actor.
Buttons appeared in more than 30 movies, including imitation general,
Hatari!, The Longest Day, Harlow, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, The Poseidon
Adventure, 18 Again! and It Could Happen to You as well as genre films
five weeks in a balloon, the poseidon adventure, pete’s dragon, c.h.o.m.p.s.
and the day the world ended. He was 87.
Vincent Sherman, who was one of the last surviving studio-era
contract directors, has died.
An actor-turned-screenwriter, Sherman began his directing career at
Warner Bros. in 1939 with the low-budget The Return of Dr. X, which is
memorable as Humphrey Bogart's sole foray into the horror genre.
Working on pictures assigned by the studio, Sherman quickly established
a reputation as a competent technician with a flair for melodrama. Among
his credits are All Through the Night also starring Bogart, The Hard Way
with Ida Lupino and Jack Carson, Mr. Skeffington starring Bette Davis and
Claude Rains, The New Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol Flynn, Goodbye,
My Fancy starring Joan Crawford, Lone Star with Clark Gable and Ava Gardner,
An Affair in Trinidad with Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford, Paul Newman
in The Young Philadelphians and Richard Burton in Ice Palace. He was 99.
THE LAST WARD . . .
By John Ward
Two genres that rarely get discussed around the ol’ ICS campfire are
two of my favorites: comedies and westerns. No problem there
– our club was founded on the basis of a love for horror and sci-fi, after
all. But I remember when Betsy “Perry White” Childs enticed me three
years ago to write this column with the promise that I could talk about
anything I wanted, and dagnabit, this month I want to talk about funny
stuff. I’ll leave the westerns for another time.
What qualifies as a truly memorable movie comedy? My primary
criteria would have to be any movie that makes me laugh out loud and often
on first viewing, and still manages to make me laugh on repeat viewings.
It’s tough to laugh at any joke after you’ve heard the punchline once;
just imagine trying to laugh again and again over a roughly 90-minute span,
then try to laugh at a repeat performance, and you get the idea.
I think that any repeated chuckles would have to be humor born out of comfortable
familiarity, which is perfectly okay, too.
I can think of one very glaring example for the “repeat viewings”
criteria – the first time I saw PORKY’S. Here we had an example of
the wrong movie in the right place at the right time. I believe it
was the spring or summer of 1981, and this movie rolled into the local
cinema duplex without a whisper of fanfare. A bunch of us got together
after work one night to go to the movies – every one of us in our late
teens or early twenties. The only thing we had to go on was the poster,
a sneaky shot of a horndog eyeballing a naked female leg in the shower
– quality cinema at its finest. I think we were just hoping for some
gratuitous T n’ A. We weren’t prepared for the tidal wave of lowdown
sex humor that began with the opening shot – the hero of the movie saluting
his “Stiffie,” predating THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN by nearly 25 years.
Almost 90% of the humor in the film was associated with sex,
and the packed house laughed like crazy. It was one of those experiences
that kept building and building, feeding on itself – we were laughing at
moments that normally wouldn’t even draw a chuckle. I can honestly
say there were tears in my eyes from laughter. The high point had
to be the practical joke involving an angry pimp, lots of fake blood, and
a hooker named Cherry Forever (of course). When the pimp came crashing
through the door wielding the machete, I nearly fell out of my seat.
But here’s the thing – this was a one-time experience.
I watched the movie again, years later, on VHS, alone in my apartment,
and guess what?
Nothing. Not even a titter (no pun intended).
Certain movie experiences are born of the moment, and I am sure
that the packed house contributed to my enjoyment of PORKY’S. I wouldn’t
dream of watching it again, unless I was with at least 20 other people
who had never seen it. There are films that I believe cannot be enjoyed
as much as they could be in the presence of others; THE STING comes to
mind. So does RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Damned if PORKY’S doesn’t
belong on that list, too.
Comedies are like that. There is nothing like the riotous
jolt you get when you see a funny movie comedy for the first time with
an enthusiastic audience. That’s something you just can’t recreate
in a home theater. (Sorry, Mr. Wittig.) But it usually means
that repeated viewings, especially on video, will carry a slight twinge
of been-there disappointment. So it makes sense to me that the most
memorable movie comedies are those films able to sustain the humor on repeat
viewings, whether you’re alone, with a spouse, a couple of friends, or
in a crowd.
As preparation for this column, I went back to my personal list
of 100 all-time favorite films and pulled out the comedies. But there
was a hitch; a number of films defied easy categorization. These
films might look like comedies, but they weren’t exactly what one would
call gut-busters. There were laughs, to be sure, but in most of these
films there were also some hard truths, some sacrifices, even a tragedy
Take THE APARTMENT, for example – one of my all-time favorite
films, directed by the great Billy Wilder, who only the year before had
directed Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in SOME LIKE IT HOT, one of the
best-loved comedies ever made. Wilder and Lemmon were working together
again, along with a young, vibrant Shirley MacLaine. It was the perfect
recipe for a laughfest – except for the long scene midway through the film
when MacLaine tries to kill herself in Lemmon’s apartment with sleeping
pills, and Lemmon desperately tries to revive her. There was nothing
funny about that scene, and the last half of the film dealt with its aftermath.
Or how about DR. STRANGELOVE? In my book, this was Stanley
Kubrick’s crowning achievement, probably the darkest satire ever on film.
There were more than a few laughs, most of them coming from Peter Sellers’
trifecta of performances. But just how funny would a nuclear war
be, anyway? Kubrick had considered a monstrous pie fight in the “war
room” to end his picture, one final commentary on the insanity of the situation.
If you look closely, you can see the pastries lined up on the buffet table
in the background. He ultimately decided to go with the final shot
of the mushroom cloud, signaling Armageddon. Nothing funny about
So I decided to restrict myself to a discussion of the movies
that made me laugh from beginning to end. The true nature of comedy
has always dictated something of a happy ending, or at the very least,
the hero’s understanding of his mistakes. But as you’ll see in my
list of the 10 Biggest Gut-Busters Ever Made, the happy ending in a comedy
often borders on anarchy.
10. MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982)
If I could revise my Top 100, this is the first comedy I would
add. I’m kicking myself for not remembering it before, but it’s the
only one I don’t own in some video form. I keep hoping that someone
with a brain and a sense of humor will release it in a nice, extras-laden
DVD package one day. It’s a wonderfully warm, constantly funny memory
story of the early days of TV, based partly on the real-life appearance
of Errol Flynn on the old Sid Caesar show. Peter O’Toole is marvelous
as movie star Alan Swann, the Flynn clone, a drunkard who never met a drink
he didn’t like or a stewardess he couldn’t bed down. Swann comes
to New York to appear on the King Kyser Comedy Cavalcade, and Joe Bologna
was never better as Kyser, the Sid Caesar clone. Mark Linn-Baker
plays Benjy Stone, the show’s rookie writer and resident Swann fan, drafted
to keep Swann sober for the week of rehearsals. Linn-Baker and O’Toole
develop a nice friendship, and there’s a great scene where Benjy takes
Swann to Brooklyn for dinner with his Jewish family. Favorite moment:
O’Toole accidentally walks into the ladies’ room and is confronted by show
seamstress Selma Diamond (the first NIGHT COURT bailiff). When cranky
Selma insists that the room is for ladies only, O’Toole calmly unzips and
replies, “And so is this, mum, but every once in a while, I like to run
a little water through it.”
9. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)
This was what I meant when I was talking about anarchy.
I saw it twice when it was first released, right at the beginning of my
junior year of college, and the second viewing was far more enjoyable –
a packed house of rowdy college students. Believe it or not, this
movie was also based partly on real-life memories, specifically the college
days of National Lampoon writers Chris Miller and Doug Kenney, who had
cameos in the film as frat brothers. (Kenney played Stork, the mostly
silent nerd who has one giant line, a surprisingly Southern “What the hail
we s’posed to do, ya moron?”) As in PORKY’S, the humor here was of
the lowbrow sex variety, but done with much more wit and style (if that’s
possible). John Belushi, in his first starring role, reigned as Bluto,
the perpetual college student. He had the best line, after the Dean
has lowered the boom on the Delta House: “Seven years of college
down the drain! Might as well join the f$%&$ing Peace Corps!”
ANIMAL HOUSE was a gloriously rude look at a college scene long gone, brought
alive by a superb ensemble cast. Favorite moment: John Belushi’s
jaw dropping walk through the cafeteria line. Now that was something
you couldn’t fake with CGI.
8. PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987)
Anyone who has ever traveled around this country for any distance
has to appreciate the situational humor of PLANES. After making his
mark as the “Brat Pack” director of the ‘80s, John Hughes went in a totally
different direction here, putting ad exec Steve Martin through all kinds
of hell, when all the guy wants to do is get home for Thanksgiving.
John Candy is Martin’s good-hearted guide through the “inferno” – Martin
even hallucinates at one point that Candy is the devil himself, hurtling
pell-mell down the interstate. Granted, the film has an incredibly
sentimental ending, but before you reach the schmaltz, there are all kinds
of laughs. Favorite moment: Martin’s obscenity-laced tirade
at the car rental counter after being dumped halfway across the airport
parking lot without a rental. This one scene got the film its R rating,
although rental agent Edie McClurg, all sweetness and joy, manages to get
in the last zinger.
7. TOOTSIE (1982)
Sydney Pollack is not known for comedy, but the Oscar-winning
director of OUT OF AFRICA sure got it right this time, with Dustin Hoffman
giving one of the two or three greatest performances of his career as Michael
Dorsey, a self-centered New York stage actor who will do just about anything
to get a part – and proves it by going undercover as Dorothy Michaels,
the take-no-prisoners ball-buster on Southwest General, a fictitious daytime
soap. Hoffman is funny as Dorsey, bullying his agent (played by Pollack
himself) to get him a job. But he’s even better as Michaels, trying
to keep his job and stay sane with the uncredited help of his roommate,
played by Bill Murray. Murray has the best line when he catches Hoffman
in an unwanted clinch with the soap’s star; the guy leaves, and Murray
deadpans, “You slut.” Favorite moment: Hoffman reveals his
“new” persona to agent Pollack in the Russian Tea Room.
6. TOY STORY (1995)
This was the first jewel in the Pixar crown, and while computer
animation has improved tremendously over the past decade, it’s the characters
and the witty dialogue that keep TOY STORY at the top of the heap.
It’s possibly the finest assemblage of voiceovers ever: Tom Hanks as Woody
the Cowboy, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Don Rickles as Mr. Potatohead,
John Ratzenberger as Ham the Piggy Bank, even R. Lee Ermey as the leader
of the Green Army Men (who else?). Buzz is the new toy on the block
(or in the room, as it were) and he really shakes things up, to the point
that jealous Woody tries to get rid of him. There’s one funny line
after another, and lots of sight gags. Favorite moment: Buzz
is trapped in an arcade machine with dozens of little three-eyed Martian
figures; when he asks to see their leader, they all point heavenward: “The
5. SLAP SHOT (1977)
I’ve gone on record before as choosing SLAP SHOT as the
greatest sports movie ever made, but it has something that movies like
HOOSIERS and THE NATURAL don’t have: humor. Lots and lots of it.
SLAP SHOT could give movies like PORKY’S a run for their money on the old
raunch-o-meter. It’s about pro hockey, after all, and director George
Roy Hill went for gritty realism. He got it, with room to spare.
Paul Newman is great as Reggie Dunlop, the player-coach of the Charlestown
Chiefs, a woebegone minor league hockey team. When he sniffs out
the possibility that the team will fold, he figures his only shot to sell
tickets is to turn his players into goons. He starts by recruiting
the notorious Hanson Brothers, a trio of nerds who give new meaning to
the phrase “arrested development.” Favorite moment: the first
on-ice appearances of the Hansons, who proceed to lay waste to the entire
other team. They even manage to knock out the organist with a well-aimed
4. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
I can’t imagine anyone who likes both comedies and old Universal
monsterfests leaving this one off the list. Fresh off his western
satire BLAZING SADDLES and looking for another genre to lampoon, Brooks
hit upon the classic black-and-white monster movies of the ‘30s.
His cast is first-rate: Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein
(“That’s Fronkensteen”), Madeline Kahn as his fiancée, Peter Boyle
as the Monster, and a scene-stealing Marty Feldman as Igor the Hunchback.
Then there’s Cloris Leachman in full Gale Sondergaard mode, Teri Garr as
the lab assistant, and Kenneth Mars channeling Lionel Atwill as the Inspector.
There’s not a false note in the entire film. Good farcical satire
is incredibly difficult to pull off, but Brooks does it with ease.
Favorite moment: Many folks choose the famous “Puttin’ on the
Ritz” number, but I’ve always liked the scene with Boyle and Gene Hackman
as the blind, klutzy beggar. The look on Boyle’s face when Hackman
smashes his mug in the toast is priceless.
3. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)
While YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN stays completely within its milieu,
Mel Brooks’ earlier satire of westerns scores bonus points of hilarity
for daring to break the rules of movie storytelling. BLAZING SADDLES
is very nearly comic perfection, with Cleavon Little as Bart, the first
black sheriff of Rock Ridge, and Gene Wilder as his sidekick, the Waco
Kid. Harvey Korman plays their nemesid Hedley Lamarr, a scheming
politico aiming to score big bucks by driving a railroad through the town.
He had the best line: “Drive me off this picture.” BLAZING SADDLES
was so popular in our college dorm that we used to quote whole sections
of the screenplay around the dining hall table. Which wasn’t great
for picking up girls, I admit. Favorite moment: Can you say
baked beans? Favorite moment not involving flatulence: The big brawl
slops over into Dom DeLuise’s gay Busby Berkeley number on the neighboring
2. THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
Walter Matthau’s Oscar Madison gets my vote for the funniest
single performance in movie history. He’s just one half of Neil Simon’s
mismatched pair of roommates; the other is Jack Lemmon as Felix Ungar,
and the biggest change that Simon makes in transferring his Broadway smash
to the screen is by opening it up, giving Lemmon’s character much more
to do. Matthau’s Oscar is a lovable slob sportswriter whose idea
of a fun evening is to sit around the poker table with his buddies.
Lemmon’s Felix is a compulsive, hypochondriac neatfreak, the antithesis
of Oscar. Actually, you wonder how these guys were ever friends in
the first place. But after Matthau graciously allows Lemmon to stay
with him after his wife throws him out, all bets are off. Favorite
moment: the early scene around the poker table. Simon does
a masterful job of delineating character types with a few well-chosen lines
1. MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974)
Pure insanity, and the funniest movie ever made. It’s woefully
short, and it actually ends rather abruptly, but I suspect that’s the way
the Pythons, those zany Brits, wanted it. This is the Pythons’ take
on the King Arthur legend, and there’s so much here that the film almost
demands repeated viewings, just to pick up the jokes around the edges.
Each of the Pythons (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle,
Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam) plays a half dozen different roles, so
the movie winds up looking much more populated than it really is.
But that just adds to the sublime silliness of it all; this movie has many
“favorite moments.” The two I would pick first would be Arthur’s
bloody battle with the Black Knight, seemingly impervious to pain (“It’s
just a flesh wound. Come on back and fight, you pansy!”), and the
scene in which the knights attempt to cross the Bridge of Death.
Only Arthur manages to fool the bridgekeeper. Then there’s the Killer
Rabbit Scene, and the scene in which the effeminate Prince is accidentally
rescued after Galahad kills most of the castle population, and the scene
with Lancelot and the Ladies of Castle Anthrax, and…oh, what the hell.
By now, you’ve figured out that the whole movie is a favorite moment for
Sometime soon, I’m going to have to take a stab at westerns.
Somehow, I think that’s going to be a tougher sell with the ICS crowd.
Unless I count BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA, of course. Or maybe JESSE
JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER…
Nahhh. I’ve already done comedies.
CALENDER OF EVENTS
July 21st My Super Ex-Girlfirend
July 21st Lady in the Water
JULY 29th ICS MEETING
Aug 4th Descent
Aug 4th Jet Li's - Fearless
Aug 6th Ghost Rider
Aug 18th Snakes on a Plane
LOOK AHEAD – 2006 ICS SCHEDULE
August 26 (*) Is it ICS-Worthy? Part 2 – CANCELLED – New topic TBD!
September 30 Werewolf Howls at Midnight, films presented by Betsy Childs
October 28 (*) Greg Mank Returns -- Lionel Atwill and Murder at the
Halloween Potluck Dinner All-Nighter
November 25 Jackie Chan Part 2 presented by Andrew Kent
December 30 (*) Yankee Swap
Revenge Movies presented by Regina Vallerani