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Topics - Holden Pike

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Eastwood News / Stars Fell on Henrietta finally available on DVD
« on: August 29, 2010, 01:29:26 AM »
One of the few unreleased Eastwood projects has made it to R1 DVD, as part of the Warners Archive Collection. Click HERE for the page at the WB Shop.

If you haven't come across these Warner Archives discs yet, they are print-on-demand DVD-Rs. Some of them may have the trailer as the only extra (Henrietta does not), but otherwise they are truly bare bones affairs. They don't even have menus with chapters, just a play and stop option. There are natural "chapter" breaks every ten minutes allowing you to go forward or backward. However, some are remastered and all are 16X9 enhanced.

The Malpaso project The Stars Fell on Henrietta is a nice little movie, very underseen. Now you can have it in your collection without the benefit of VHS or LaserDisc.

Eastwood News / Patrick McGoohan, R.I.P.
« on: January 14, 2009, 03:40:16 PM »

Actor Patrick McGoohan, who played the warden in the Eastwood-starring Escape from Alcatraz directed by Don Siegel, has died. He was eighty-years-old. He will always be most famous for starring in the enduring cult hit TV show "The Prisoner", but he had a long, successful career.

Off-Topic Discussion / Paul Newman, R.I.P.
« on: September 27, 2008, 07:06:21 AM »
Story HERE.

Paul Newman was a great actor who loved the craft, an iconic movie star who never took that position too seriously, a humanitarian and political activist who put his money and time where his heart and passion were, and simply one of the coolest and most beautiful humans to ever walk the planet. There will never be another Paul Newman, which is a testament to his singularity but also a damn shame because this world could use about a billion more of him. His health had been rapidly deteriorating for months so this news isn't a total surprise, but it's still a shock to my psyche because I was hoping against hope that he'd live to be three hundred. Of course one of the great things about cinema is that he will continue to live forever as Lukas Jackson, Eddie Felson, Hud Bannon, Brick Pollitt, Lew Harper, Robert "Butch Cassidy" Parker, Henry Gondorff, Frank Galvin, Sidney J. Mussburger and every other performance he leaves behind. But his legacy is much bigger than that, and just as indelible.


Off-Topic Discussion / Don LaFontaine, movie trailer voiceover guy, dies
« on: September 02, 2008, 12:35:55 PM »
Don LaFontaine, who with his deep voice worked for years narrating many theatrical movie trailers and commercials, died yesterday.

Don LaFontaine, voice of movie trailers, dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don LaFontaine, the man who popularized the now loved-catch phrase, "in a world where..." and lent his voice to thousands of movie trailers, has died. He was sixty-eight. LaFontaine died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications in the treatment of an ongoing illness, said Vanessa Gilbert, his agent.

LaFontaine made more than 5,000 trailers in his 33-year career while working for the top studios and television networks.

In a rare on-screen appearance in 2006, he parodied himself on a series of national television commercials for a car insurance company where he played himself telling a customer, "In a world where both of our cars were totally under water..."

In an interview last year, LaFontaine explained the strategy behind the phrase.

"We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," he said of his viewers. "That's very easily done by saying, 'In a world where...violence rules,' 'In a world are slaves and women are the conquerors.' You very rapidly set the scene."

LaFontaine insisted he never cared that no one knew his name or his face, though everyone knew his voice.

LaFontaine went on to work in the promo industry in the early 1960s. As an audio engineer, he produced radio spots for movies with producer Floyd Peterson.

When an announcer didn't show up for a recording session in 1965, LaFontaine voiced his first narration, a promo for the film, "Gunfighters of Casa Grande." The client, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, liked his performance.

LaFontaine remained active until recently, averaging seven to ten voiceover sessions a day. He worked from a home studio his wife nicknamed "The Hole," where his fax machine delivered scripts.

LaFontaine is survived by his wife, the singer and actress Nita Whitaker, and three daughters.

His funeral arrangements were pending.

And HERE is the link to his GEICO television commercial via YouTube, where we finally get to see the face that goes along with the voice.

HERE is Don in action doing what he does best, for the trailer of David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980). "At first, you will want to turn away from him..." But as they say, THOUSANDS of 'em.

In a world without Don LaFontaine, those left behind say,
'Rest in Peace'. . . .

Off-Topic Discussion / Roy Scheider, R.I.P.
« on: February 11, 2008, 02:17:15 AM »
Actor Roy Scheider has died at the age of seventy-five after a battle with cancer. Link to the New York Times story HERE.

I loved Roy on screen. I just watched The Seven-Ups about a week ago for the umpteenth time.

Starting with the violent pimp in Klute (1971 - Pakula), then the partner in The French Connection (1972 - Friedkin) - netting Roy a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards, just as good starring in its Hackman-less unofficial sequel The Seven-Ups (1973 - Philip D'Antoni), to the underseen The Outside Man (1972 - Jacques Deray), and a little cult flick probably nobody ever heard of called Jaws (1975), Roy Scheider was incredibly successful in the first half of the 1970s. And he stayed pretty damn hot with Marathon Man (1976 - Schlesinger), Billy Friedkin's halfway decent but panned reworking of Wages of Fear called Sorcerer (1977), begrudgingly signing on for only the first sequel in Jaws 2 (1978) - which still managed to do healthy boxoffice despite the massive fall-off in quality, Jonathan Demme's solid Hitchcock ode Last Embrace (1979) and capping it off with Bob Fosse's thinly-veiled nightmare-stylized autobiography All That Jazz (1979) which even earned him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor (the year Marathon Man co-star Hoffman finally won for Kramer vs. Kramer). By just about any standard, that was a monster decade for an actor.

It's a shame the '80s weren't as kind to him, with Blue Thunder (1983) being the best of the bunch. The unnecessary sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) and 52 Pick-Up (1986) are all OK for what they are, and Roy always does his best. But most of the rest of what he did in the decade was anywhere from forgettable to dreadful (Still of the Night, Night Game, Listen to Me, Cohen & Tate), and none of them made a dent at the boxoffice (other than Blue Thunder, which did respectable business but became a true hit on video).

He never made a real smooth transition into older supporting character actor in the industry's eyes in the '90s. Though I think he's fantastic in The Russia House (1990 - Fred Schepisi), Naked Lunch (1991 - Cronenberg) and Romeo is Bleeding (1993 - Peter Medak), he has been used sparingly since then. I understand why he took that silly Spielberg-produced "SeaQuest DSV" TV show, but it was pretty cheesy Sci-Fi stuff. Now you'll see him pop up in dreck like The Punisher every once in a while. The small supporting role of the callous H.M.O. executive in The Rainmaker (1997) was his last good part in a movie that wasn't an embarrassment, and that was over a decade ago. But I kept waiting for that one part that was going to bring him back to some kind of prominence. The last really good acting job I saw from him was an episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" from the end of the 2006-2007 season. It was called "Endgame" and Roy played a serial killer on Death Row who has one final psychological game to run on Vincent D'Onofrio's Detective Goren involving his past and his mother (Rita Moreno). He was effectively creepy and sadistic as the aged killer with only a few days left to live.

Sad to see him go. He was way frickin' cool back in the day, and I remained a fan even after the quality of the movies declined.

[size=8]R.I.P., ROY[/SIZE]

Eastwood News / Bridges of Madison County Deluxe Edition R1 DVD
« on: February 03, 2008, 04:51:18 PM »

Other than finally being a widescreen transfer I don't know what extra features may be on the disc, but at least it'll replace the old R1 edition. It's due out May 6th, 2008 and will retail for $19.98.

Off-Topic Discussion / I ♥ Lizabeth Scott, Great Siren of Noir
« on: December 04, 2007, 07:50:56 PM »
I am a huge, slobbering fan of actress Lizabeth Scott.

She had a relatively brief and some might even argue minor film career in the 1940s and '50s, but to me she'll always remain one of my favorite movie stars and is, I think, the quintessential classic Noir dame.


A strikingly beautiful blonde with a husky voice, she was a model and stage understudy when she was discovered by producer Hal Wallis after he left Warner Brothers to become an independent producer, with his pictures distributed mostly through Paramount. After co-starring in a small drama with Robert Cummings, You Came Along (1945) directed by John Farrow and co-scripted by Ayn Rand of all people, she made her mark in her second film, a supporting role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946 - Lewis Milestone), a Noirish melodrama starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin (also notable as Kirk Douglas' debut). That led to her real big break. After Rita Hayworth had to back out of Dead Reckoning (1947) because her then-husband Orson Welles wanted her for The Lady from Shanghai, Lizabeth was given the lead opposite Humphrey Bogart. It's a post-War Noirish mystery, and a good one. Lizabeth is sexy and commanding on the screen, and her character is the sympathetic love interest. She more than holds her own with Bogie on screen. Her next was an oddly Technicolor Noir, Desert Fury (1947) with Burt Lancaster and Mary Astor. But again Lizabeth is basically a good girl mixed up in a bad circumstance. In I Walk Alone (1948) she's paired with Burt Lancaster again as well as Kirk Douglas (the first time Kirk and Burt worked together). Now she's stepping a bit closer to the classic Femme Fatale archetype, though not there yet. That year she was also in the underrated Pitfall (1948 - André De Toth) where she plays a sort of unwitting Femme Fatale as the unforgettable object of desire to both married man Dick Powell as well as a sleazy P.I. played by Raymond Burr, who basically blackmails her into a sexual affair. But even then, Lizabeth's character wasn't intentionally luring these men, they were just drawn to her. It's her next movie, Too Late for Tears (1949 - Byron Haskin), where she assumes the mantle of Queen of Noir. Here she plays a woman capable of anything to get what she wants, which happens to be a case full of sixty-grand in cash. Her natural beauty is turned for selfish evil, and it's delicious to watch.

Lizabeth would appear in movies other than those classified as Noir throughout the 1950s, including the Victor Mature melodrama Easy Living, the Martin & Lewis flick Scared Stiff, the Westerns Silver Lode and Red Mountain, and Elvis Presley's second movie Loving You. But while she was good in all of these, it was the dark crime pictures where she was absolutely perfect: Dark City (1950), The Racket (1951), The Company She Keeps (1951), Two of a Kind (1951) and Stolen Face (1952). She didn't appear in the best-known Noirs, but they are some of the best in terms of quality and her performances are iconic and sexy. With her husky voice and blonde hair she has sometimes been labeled a poor man's Lauren Bacall (co-starring with Bogart in Dead Reckoning helped with that perception), but while movies such as Double Indemnity, Out of the Past and The Postman Always Rings Twice are rightfully heralded as classics, nobody, not Stanwyck, not Lana Turner, not Veronica Lake or Rita Hayworth or Ava Gardner or anybody was ever any better than Lizabeth Scott in the genre.

Through all of her success, Lizabeth never became an A-list star. After gossip in the Hollywood tabloids implied she was a lesbian, in 1955 she sued Confidential Magazine for $2.5-million in libel damages. The suit was eventually thrown out on a technicality and Scott dropped the matter. But she chose to essentially retire after that incident, appearing on episodic television now and then and made one final screen appearance in Mike Hodges & Michael Caine's odd Get Carter follow-up, Pulp (1972) at the age of fifty, but nothing since then. Lizabeth never married and has never said whether or not the '50s rumors about her sexuality were true, and it doesn't matter in the slightest. She's still with us, turned eighty-five this year, but generally hasn't done much in the way of public appearances the past forty years. Anytime I want to curl up with her, I just pop Dead Reckoning or Too Late for Tears into the DVD player.

Eastwood News / "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project"
« on: December 02, 2007, 10:48:03 PM »

Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project

Tonight HBO debuted John Landis' new documentary, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. It chronicles Rickles' life and career, including interviews with admirers and co-stars, though naturally with more focus on his famous "insult comic" nightclub act than his achievements as a thespian. Since an eighteen-year-old Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London) first met Rickles while working as a lowly assistant on Kelly's Heroes in Yugoslavia, Clint is interviewed for the documentary. He appears a few times, though like most of the interviewees usually very briefly. Who knows, when an eventual DVD is released perhaps we'll get more Eastwood  footage as supplemental material? Anyway, a neat little story he tells is...

EASTWOOD: He used to always say in his act, he'd say, "What do I look like, Larry Dickman from Des Moines?" or something like that. And I always thought, 'Larry Dickman', I said, 'that's a Hell of a name', and I've registered in hundreds of hotels across the country as "Larry Dickman" ever since then.

Shortly afterward they show the clip from The Enforcer with Callahan walking into the low-rent bordello in his Giants baseball cap and announcing, "My name is Larry Dickman." A couple clips of Kelly's Heroes are used in Mr. Warmth, and another co-star from that film, Harry Dean Stanton, is also one of the interview subjects. Others interviewed include Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Carl Reiner, Bob Newhart, Richard Lewis, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Sidney Poitier, Debbie Reynolds, Steve Lawrence, Roger Corman, Tom & Dick Smothers, John Lasseter and many others.

Clint ain't in it much, but if you're a Don Rickles fan it's a must-see. The centerpiece of the movie is really the footage of Rickles doing his act to a packed room in Vegas earlier this year.

Off-Topic Discussion / Michelangelo Antonioni, R.I.P.
« on: July 31, 2007, 06:07:04 AM »

"I am not a theoretician of the cinema. If you ask me what directing is, the
first answer that comes into my head is: I don't know. The second: All my
opinions on the subject are in my films."

- Michelangelo Antonioni

Link to the Times of London obituary HERE.

Off-Topic Discussion / Adam Sandler to re-make CITIZEN KANE
« on: April 01, 2007, 09:41:43 AM »
Associated Press, 4-1-07

Box office megastar Adam Sandler is going to star in and direct a remake of Orson Welles' classic Citizen Kane. "Kane and Caddyshack were my two favorite movies growing up. I've already made a bunch that show the Caddyshack influence, so now I feel like I'm ready for the heavy stuff", said Sandler.

Sandler's films have made over a billion dollars in worldwide box office, though most of that has come from his comedies, including The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy. However, in recent years he has made dramatic turns in Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish and the currently playing Reign Over Me where his portrayal of a depressed 9/11 widower has won him rave reviews.

When asked if any major casting decisions had been made for his Kane, Sandler revealed that former co-star Drew Barrymore will be playing Emily, Kane’s wife. As for the crucial role of  Jedediah Leland, played by Joseph Cotton in the original, "Philip Seymour Hoffman [co-star in Punch-Drunk Love] has been lobbying me pretty hard and he’s a great actor and all, but a couple years ago when I first had the idea to do the remake I promised it to [Rob] Schneider." Fellow ex-"Saturday Night Live" castmember Schneider, who has appeared in most of Sandler’s movies (if only in cameo roles), also co-adapted the screenplay with Adam. "Since day one I’ve been reassuring him that ‘You can do it!’", said Schneider, echoing his catchphrase from Sandler's filmography.

1941's Citizen Kane is one of the most heralded films in cinema history, topping the AFI's list of best American films ever made and universally cited as a masterwork. Director Peter Bogdanovich, friend and biographer of the late Orson Welles, voiced reservations about Sandler's project. "Well, it's the Holiest of Holys, really. I wouldn’t want to see anybody try and tackle that material," he said in a phone interview. "As for Adam Sandler…look what he already did to Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town." Sandler produced and starred in a 2002 remake of that film, simplified to Mr. Deeds, and infused with his own brand of comedy. "I think this will be a Kane in name only," mused Bogdanovich. "I'm afraid he'll become Charles Foster Moron under Sandler." When told about the casting of Barrymore and Schneider, Mr. Bogdanovich could be heard weeping before hanging up the phone and abruptly ending the interview.

"I’m sure people are gonna have their doubts," admitted Sandler, "But I’m confident that when they see it on the screen critics and audiences will be blown away." Filming is set to begin this November.

Oh my God.

Off-Topic Discussion / Portland International Film Festival 2007
« on: March 06, 2007, 07:09:38 AM »
One of the many benefits of living in Portland, Oregon is that every February the Northwest Film Center puts together a terrific film festival. This year's PIFF had over one hundred and fifteen features and shorts screened over seventeen days from Feb. 9th to Feb. 25th. Last fest I was able to get to thirty-four features and eighteen of the short films. Unfortunately this year I was monstrously busy with work and unable to go as much as I wanted - there were a couple nights in there I didn't go at all! But I still managed to see twenty movies (though sadly none of the shorts programs). I'm still monstrously busy, but I'm going to give at least a brief impression of each that I saw.

Das Leben der Anderen - The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany)

This was the opening night of the Festival, and it was also the best film I saw. Set in 1984 East Berlin, this look at a stoic and efficient Stasi officer who doesn't question The State or his role and methods in it but slowly and shockingly awakens to feel love, art and oppression through the latest subjects he is following was brilliantly done. It's Kafka and Orwell via Coppola's The Conversation, and though a fictional story that you may have to take a few leaps of faith with it is perfectly rooted in the details of the GDR of that time period and benefits from three great performances by Martina Gedeck and Sebastian Koch as the artists/lovers and Ulrich Mühe as the Stasi man on the other end of the listening devices. I like what it has to say about art, about basic freedoms, about the pettiness of bureaucracy, about the power of and limits of love and how sometimes in a corrupt and evil system even trying to do right only ends up in pain and tragedy. I found it literate, smart and compelling, and for a first feature from writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck it's an amazingly polished and accomplished work. Definitely one of the very best movies I've seen in the past year or so.

As you'll recall, last week The Lives of Others won the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Ever since I walked out of the theater I was hoping it would upset the favored Pan's Labyrinth. I liked that movie a lot, but I loved this one and was hoping against hope it would pull out the victory. It was my happiest surprise of the night! Those who watched the telecast will remember how good Florian's English was during his acceptance speech. We in the audience of the Film Festival were also amazed by it. I did get to shake his hand after the screening on the way to the opening night party, and I told him it was a beautiful film and wished him luck at the Oscars. I'm very happy that I didn't jinx him.


Gwoemul - The Host (Joon-ho Bong, South Korea)

Very entertaining flick that's sort of a South Korean take on Godzilla with a bit of Shaun of the Dead and Dr. Strangelove thrown into the mix as well. The film opens with a U.S. Officer (Scott Wilson) at a Seoul Army Base carelessly ordering his Korean subordinate to dump large quantities of toxic formaldehyde down the sink, which will flow into the Han River. Years later the story picks up at a small foodstand along the river where a family makes their business selling fried squid and candy to tourists and others. Unfortunately for them those chemicals have resulted in a hummer of a mutated beastie, a gigantic two-legged fish thingie that likes to eat people. It bursts out of the water and starts chowing down, including on the pre-teen little girl of the Park's, the family that owns the foodstand. They are devestated, but when they learn that she wasn't eaten outright but swallowed and then regurgitated into its nest somewhere in the sewer system, the entire family springs into action to rescue her. They are her Grandfather, her dimwitted if devoted father, his unemployed brother and their championship-level archer of a sister. The tone is cut with some great dark humor, and while never the focus there's some pointed satire throughout as well. The CGI effects on the monster are pretty damn good, and there is some good gore as well. Lots of fun.


Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, Australia)

I am a big fan of Ray Lawrence's Lantana (2001), which was labeled "Altmanesque" because it had more than three main characters and the plot was centered around one tragic event. While the Altman tag was correct in a general sense, it didn't really fit the tone and style of Lantana, which I thought was its own thing and wonderful. So I was looking forward to Lawrence's follow-up, Jindabyne, which is adapted from a Raymond Carver story "So Much Water So Close To Home". This time he seemed to be inviting the Altman comparison as Bob had adapted this piece as well as one of the storylines in Short Cuts (1993) - if you're familiar with that one it's the fishing trip that Fred Ward's character goes on. But Altman had successfully changed Carver's setting from the Pacific Northwest to southern California, so why not Australia?

Unlike Carver or Altman, Jindabyne starts out with how the body got there. A young woman is driving by herself across the beautiful emptiness of New South Wales, Australia. An older man in a truck watches her, then forces her off the road. We find a short time later that he has murdered her and put her in a remote section of a mountain river. Now we're introduced to the Kanes. Stewart (Gabriel Byrne) is a former rally car driver turned gas station owner and mechanic in a sleepy town. With his wife Claire (Laura Linney) and young son they seem like a perfect family. But there is a tension beneath the surface between husband and wife. The highlight of Stewart's year is when he closes up shop and he and three buddies trek to a special secluded spot in the mountains for a weekend of fishing. For Stewart it seems to be the closest thing to spirituality he has. They drive most of the day and hike the rest of it to their sportsman's oasis. When they get there Stewart spots the naked and bruised body of the young girl floating in the water. The men are horrified and curious, and they decide since it's almost dark they'll wait until the next day to go back and report it. But the next day comes, Stewart wakes up early and begins his communing with nature and they decide instead to tether her to shore with fishing line and stay to have their weekend as planned, intending to call the police when they 're done. This decision will cause problems for all the men, and especially the Kane family. The girl was of Aboriginal descent, and the community as well as the authorities have to wonder if the fact that she was female and of dark skin didn't contribute to the decision to fish over her dead body instead of reporting it as soon as possible.

Gabriel Byrne is good and rarely gets roles of substance anymore, so it's great to see him work here. And Laura Linney continues to show she's one of the best and most interesting actresses around. Sadly the movie doesn't really work. The serial killer aspect is tacked on and never really examined, and the racial elements seem a bit forced too much of the time. Where it works best is as a character piece in the subplot of the incident from the past with Laura Linney's character that has caused so much tension in their marriage, and that is something I would have liked to see the whole movie about rather than all the rest of it. After the brilliance of Lantana, this was definitely a let-down.


Off-Topic Discussion / Peter Boyle, R.I.P.
« on: December 13, 2006, 12:59:36 PM »
Actor Peter Boyle has died. He was 71. He had been suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease.

Best known now as the gruff father on the hit sitcom "Eeverybody Loves Raymond", he had a long and successful career on the stage and in movies starting in the late 1960s. While he will be remembered primarily as a great comic actor, his initial roles were far from funny. The movie that first thrust him in the spotlight was the small but critically beloved Joe (1970). Boyle stars as the title character, an alcoholic blue collar guy so full of hate and rage that it leads to him becoming a murderer of the hippies and racial minorities he blames for his and the country's problems. It's kind of Taxi Driver with Archie Bunker standing in for Travis Bickle. Boyle is great.

From that scary performance he switched gears to play the campaign manager for the attractive and highly packaged but vacant Bill McKay (Bob Redford) in The Candidate (1972), willing to do just about anything to see his man elected. He's also part of the ensemble with Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda and others in the Vietnam-era protest satire Steelyard Blues (1973) and Peter is in a couple of hesit pictures from that year as well in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) with Bob Mitchum and Slither (1973) with Jimmy Caan.

Boyle had been making a name for himself in the industry very quickly in those few years, but he shot to stardom under heavy make-up in Mel Brooks' comedy masterpiece Young Frankenstein (1974).

Perfect script and a perfect cast of Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars and of course Peter as The Monster. There are about six-thousand laughs in the movie and classic scene after classic scene, but some of Boyle's highlights include the "zipperneck" love making scene with Kahn, the "Open this goddamn door" scene where Wilder reasons with the Monster and the "Puttin' on the Ritz" top hat and tails number in an effort to prove to the frightened town that he is a calm, controlable and sophisticated man about town. Boyle's attempts at softshoe tapping and especially his roaring 'Nuuttiiiiin onnnnnn naa Niiiiiiiiiiitz!' is absolutely hysterical. But my favorite moment, perhaps in the whole movie (which is saying a lot), is when The Monster has escaped and happens upon a kindly blind hermit played by Gene Hackman who proceeds to show him the hospitality of hot soup, fine wine and a good cigar. It's a perfect parody of the scene from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and the comic timing between Boyle and Hackman is impeccable.

I've probably seen Young Frankenstein about three-hundred times since the age of seven, and I hope to watch it about seven-hundred more before I die. It's comic perfection, thanks in no small part to Boyle's contribution.

Peter followed that triumph with the supporting role as Wizard in Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976). He's an older hack who sees DeNiro's Travis is having some difficulty with the job and the scuzzy side of the city (though he doesn't have any sense for how deep that difficulty is) and tries to give him some friendly advice. But Bickle is far beyond help at that point.

That same year Peter was one of the first guest hosts on the initial season of "Saturday Night Live". His episode originally aried on February 14th, 1976. Just recently released on R1 DVD, the show is finally availabe uncut and has such highlights as a very good rendition of "My Funny Valentine" showing off his seldom heard singing voice, Samurai Divorce Court as the presiding judge over John Belushi's sword-weilder, and the famous "Dueling Brandos" where Boyle and Belushi do battle with their Marlon Brando impressions to the tune "Dueling Banjos" from Deliverance.


Into the '80s Peter continued showing up in crucial supoporting roles in films, alternating between comedy and drama in movies such as F.I.S.T. (1978), Hardcore (1979), Where the Buffalo Roam (1980), Outland (1981), Hammett (1982), Yellowbeard (1983) and Johnny Dangerously (1984). The Dream Team (1989) is for my money his last great co-starring role in film, playing one of four escaped mental patients wandering around New York City. His former stock broker with a God complex has some great moments, especially testifying at a Harlem Church before disrobing and shocking the congregation. I also think he has the best line in the film when a doctor being held at his gunpoint tries to reason that 'Jesus Christ would never use a gun, Jack' to which he replies angrily "Stay out of my psychosis!". And his last really fine role in a drama may be as Duffy, the Macduff equivalent in the modernized gangster take on Shakespeare's Macbeth Men of Respect (1991) starring John Turturro.

He continued to work steadily in TV and film, though fewer and fewer of them were standout productions and his role was often very small. But he is part of the ensembles in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), Spike Lee's epic Malcolm X (1992), Tim Allen's boss in The Santa Clause (1994) and the comatose man's father in While You Were Sleeping (1995). He got a great arc as a recurring character on five episodes from the second season of "NYPD Blue" as Sipowicz's (Dennis Franz) Alcohol Anonymous sponsor who ultimately dies at the hands of his mentally challenged and abusive adult son. He won an Emmy for his guest starring role on a celebrated 1995 episode of "The X-Files" titled "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose".

Those '90s TV triumphs were a warm-up for "Everybody Loves Raymond" (1996-2005), where his portrayal of patriarch Frank Barrone netted him seven Emmy nominations during the show's nine seasons. Somehow he never won, losing three times to co-star Brad Garrett. But he was certainly a crucial ingredient to the show's continued success, and his character was my personal favorite.

R.I.P., Peter[/font]

Off-Topic Discussion / Robert Altman, R.I.P.
« on: November 21, 2006, 10:11:28 AM »
Director Robert Altman died today at age eighty-one. He's one of my all-time favorite filmmakers I'll have much more to say later, but for now I'll just link you to the story HERE.


Most celebrity deaths don't really hit me, but this one is going to knock me back a bit. Rest in Peace, Bob.

Off-Topic Discussion / Adrienne Shelly, R.I.P.
« on: November 08, 2006, 05:36:19 PM »

What an odd, sad tale.

On November 1st, actress and director Adrienne Shelly was found dead in her Brooklyn office. It was an apparent suicide as she was found hanging in the shower. But the police didn't close the case right away, and five days later the report came out that it was in fact a murder and an arrest had been made, including a confession.

She was busy editing a film at her office, which is in a Brooklyn apartment building. There is construction going on at the address, and apparently Shelly complained about the noise. I guess she complained to the wrong guy on the wrong day, because the ninteen-year-old construction worker who confessed to the crime says he hit her; so brutally that it killed her. He then took the body back upstairs to her office and staged the suicide.


I had always liked Adrienne on screen since she burst onto the independent scene in a couple of Hal Hartley's movies in the early 1990s: The Unbelievable Truth (1989) and Trust (1990). I really love her in both of those movies, especially Trust where she plays a weird pregnant teenageer who latches on to Martin Donovan's principled loner.

Unlike some of her contempraries such as Parker Posey, Catherine Keener and Lili Taylor, Shelly never really broke out from the small indie projects. But she did work steadily, including Sleep with Me (1994), The Road Killers (1994), Revolution #9 (2001) and this year's Factotum (2006) as well as a string of guest appearances on television series like NBC's "Law & Order" and HBO's "Oz". You can also see her as herself in Searching for Debra Winger (2002), actress Rosanna Arquette's documentary about how the film industry treats actresses as they age. She moved behind the camera to become a producer, writer and director as well, helming the independendt features Sudden Manhattan (1997) and I'll Take You There (1999). She was in the editing process on her latest, Waitress, starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines and Andy Griffith when she was murdered. No word yet in the wake of the tragedy on what will happen to that project.

What an odd and awful end to her life. She had just turned forty this summer. Rest in peace, Adrienne.

Off-Topic Discussion / Cinematographer Sven Nykvist, R.I.P.
« on: September 20, 2006, 09:40:45 AM »
Quote from: Radio Sweden
Cinematographer Sven Nykvist Dead[/font]

Multi-Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sven Nykvist is dead at 83.

Sven Nykvist is best known for his Oscar-winning collaboration with legendary Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, but during his long career he also worked with many international film directors such as Louis Malle (Pretty Baby), Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness Of Being), Bob Fosse (Star 80), Nora Ephron (Sleepless In Seatle), Woody Allen (Another Woman, Crimes & Misdemeanors), Richard Attenborough (Chaplin) and fellow Swede Lasse Halstrom (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape).

Sven Nykvist won the Academy Award for cinematography for Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers (Viskingar och Rop, 1972) and Fanny and Alexander (1982).

Aside from his work as a cinematographer, Nykvist was also active as director, screenwriter and producer.

Sven Nykvist was born to missionary parents in southern Sweden in 1922. He studied photography at Stockholm's School of Photography and began his professional career at the Sellman Film Company in the late 1930s. In 1941, Nykvist began work as first cameraman at the Swedish Film Studios, Sandrews.

He began his collaboration with Ingmar Bergman, one of the most artistically successful in film history, in 1953 on the film Sawdust and Tinsle (Gycklarnas Afton).

Off-Topic Discussion / Werner Herzog appreciation thread
« on: August 16, 2006, 03:26:57 PM »

German director Werner Herzog has blazed a unique career in film. An incredibly independent filmmaker, he has worked with brilliance in feature narratives and documentaries. His films, fiction or not, are full of powerful and iconic images, and his relentlessness in getting what he wants on screen is legendary - almost to the point of infamy, though his reputation as being reckless is largely unfair.

His two best-known works probably remain Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982). Both were filmed on trecherous locations in South America, and both star the legendary nutball/thespian Klaus Kinski. Aguirre tells of a Conquistador traveling deeper and deeper into the jungle in search of riches, but as the expedition starts to go out of control Aguirre slips ever more quickly into madness and death comes for them all. Fitzcarraldo is about an enthusiastic Opera promoter who wishes to bring the beauty of that music to the natives far upriver. When they hit an impasse he becomes obsessed with the idea of pulling his large steamboat over a mountain. As great as the films both are, they are equally as known for the amazing behind-the-scenes tales of the productions. The latter is chronicled in Les Blank's great documentary Burden of Dreams (1982). And while it is an astounding exposé, it also cemented Herzog's reputation as an obsessed madman himself.

Werner had already earned that reputation with the most famous of his early documentaries, La Soufriére: Waiting for an Inevitable Catastrophe (1977). In that piece, Herzog and a skeleton crew of two cameramen traveled to the island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies. The large volcano on the island was predicted to erupt, but Herzog was fascinated by the news report of an old man who refused to evacuate with the rest of the population. When Herzog arrived, the city was a ghost town overrun by starving animals left behind. The last of the scientists left too, shortly after Herzog arrived, as their instruments told them the volcano would explode at any minute. Undeterred, Herzog and his crew traversed the peak and found the man, as well as two others who refused to leave. Ultimately the volcano did not erupt even though there was every seismic indication that it would happen.

Though staying on the volcano truly was risky and dangerous, Herzog claims his other films are very safe, despite the impression created by Burden of Dreams and the infamous legend of Klaus Kinski.

Herzog worked five times with Kinski, an actor most directors found unmanageable for even one entire film. In addition to Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo they also made Woyzeck (1979), Cobra Verde (1987) and a re-make of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1979). Years after the controversial actor's death, Herzog made an autobiographical documentary about their complex and turbulent collaboration called My Best Fiend (1999) revealing Kinski to be a madman and a saint, a lunatic and a genius, dangerous and gentle.

While Kinski is the best known of Herzog’s actors, he also made two remarkable films with the mysterious Bruno S. The first was Every Man for Himself and God Against All (1974), which was retitled The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser in the U.S. It is based on the famous 19th Century German mystery about a grown man who showed up in a town square one day, unable to speak, barely able to stand and baring a cryptic note. For reasons that remain unknown today, this man was raised in near total isolation in a makeshift dungeon and treated like an animal. The question and depiction of how a human being would develop if deprived of both humanity and the natural world is fascinating. Just as mysteriously he was murdered, leaving his tormenter and their motives forever unknown. Bruno S., the man Herzog cast as his Kaspar Hauser, believe it or not had a similar background, having been horribly abused as a small child which caused him to regress and lose his speech, then spending all of his formative years and much of his life in institutions for the insane and criminal prisons.

Herzog's second and so-far final film with Bruno is Stroszek (1977). This is a fictional film but follows a character with a backstory and temperament very much like Bruno S.'s. This time he plays Bruno Stroszek, recently released from prison where he has spent most of his life. He has no social skills and delights in playing music on the streets. He befriends a hooker and an older man who is very much like himself, and after brutal run-ins with a local pimp the three characters flee for the freedom of America. But will the Midwestern United States ultimately hold a better fate for these wayward souls?

In both films, Bruno S. is mesmerizing on screen, and in Stroszek especially Herzog mixes in many other non-actors, some of whom also have dark and odd histories similar to their characters. Werner's ability to get documentary-like naturalistic performances from amatures seamlessly melded into fictional narratives is quite a feat. Both Kasper Hauser and Stroszek are every bit equal the masterpieces of Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, though they are lesser known...if only because they don’t have Kinski in them.

Some of Herzog's other career highlights include the surreal Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) with an all Little People cast that rivals and pre-dates any kind of weirdness David Lynch is capable of, the documentary The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner (1974) about a shy but talented ski jumper, Little Dieter Needs to Fly where a German-born American fighter pilot describes his ordeal as a prisoner in the Vietnam War and his miraculous escape and Lessons of Darkness (1992) where Herzog takes his cameras to the burning oil fields of Kuwait in the wake of the first Gulf War.

Last year Herzog achieved mainstream attention with his Grizzly Man (2005) where he assembled years and years of self-shot footage of Timothy Treadwell, an activist/nutball who felt a kinship with the bears in an Alaskan refuge, only to be mauled and killed by them after over a decade of cohabitation. Wheather or not you find Treadwell's actions insane and the conclusion inevitable, the portrait Werner paints is fascinating and fits in perfectly with the Herzogian themes of the beauty and oblivion of the natural world.

This year has seen a sadly limited release of a project called The Wild Blue Yonder (2006) which is an almost impossible-to-define mix of satire and stock footage, tied together by scenes of Brad Dourif as a depressed fellow from a race of incompetent intergalactic space aliens (see my review HERE). His next film is Rescue Dawn, which is a dramatic recreation of the events in Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Christain Bale stars as Dieter, and the cast also includes Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies as fellow P.O.W.’s.

Herzog is one of my very favorite filmmakers. If he's working in fiction, documentary or blending the two I'm always interested in seeing what he has put on the screen.

Off-Topic Discussion / Bruno Kirby, R.I.P.
« on: August 15, 2006, 09:11:49 PM »

Character actor Bruno Kirby, probably best remembered for his co-starring role in the surprise 1991 smash hit City Slickers, died yesterday after a short battle with lukemia. He passed away on Monday in Los Angeles. He was fifty-seven.

A New York City native, Kirby made his first mark in the industry in one of the greatest films ever made. He played the young Clemenza who introduces Robert DeNiro's Vito Corleone to a life of crime in The Godfather Part II (1974). Perhaps becase of a star-studded cast and that his role was almost entirely spoken in Italian, the success of the film did not immediately propel Bruno into more roles in film.

He did a bunch of guest starring work on series television throughout the rest of the '70s to pay the bills, but it wasn't until Albert Brooks cast him in his own Modern Romance (1981) that he had a visible part in a decent film again. That movie is a huge favorite of mine (see my thread devoted to Brooks' career HERE) and maybe crucially for Kirby it showed what a good comedian he is. He continued to work on series TV and in 1984 got his best role yet as the limo driver who doesn't understand the appeal of rock music, preferring Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., in the comedy masterpiece This is Spinal Tap (1984). He was able to improvise as well as the rest of the cast, though ultimately his best material wound up on the cutting room floor (though thankfully it is available on the DVDs in the extras). But again, for any director or casting agent paying attention, it had to be clear Kirby had real comedic acting chops.

After taking decent supporting roles in Alan Parker's period drama Birdy (1984) and Paul Verhoeven's cult Medieval action pic Felsh + Blood (1986) Bruno Kirby finally got his stand-up-and-notice-me role. First Barry Levinson him in a good role as one of the aluminum siding salsemen in his Baltimore picture Tin Men (1987), but it was his work as the humorless disc jockey juxtaposed to Robin Williams' manic Adrian Cronauer in Levinson's Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) that took his career to the next level. His Polka-loving character was so painfully unfunny it was hysterically brilliant on screen.

This led to Rob Reiner, Spinal Tap's director, casting him as Billy Crystal's jaded best male friend in the instant classic romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally.... (1989). It was Billy and Meg Ryan's movie, to be sure, but his chemistry with Crystal and with Carrie Fisher had him stealing a good number of scenes in that great flick.

Folloiwing that triumph, he was perfectly cast as a hustler working for a shadowy kingpin in Andrew Bergman's The Freshman (1990). Having played second banana to DeNiro's Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II, fifteen years later he was playing a comic second banana to the real thing as Marlon Brando marveously sent up his most iconic performance in this dark comedy with a heart. His chemistry with Brando and star Mathew Broderick was again just right, and Kirby gets a couple of the biggest laughs in the picture.

Bruno Kirby came the closest he was ever going to get to being a movie star with his next project: playing one of three men having a mid-life crisis on a cattle drive in City Slickers. Again it's really Billy Crystal's movie, that cute slimy little calf steals every scene its in and it was veteran character actor Jack Palance who won the Oscar, but Kirby is a key ingredient to the success of the movie. City Slickers was a surprise hit in the summer of '91, bringing in over a hundred million in the U.S.

Though some actors might have tried to turn that heat into co-starring roles in a quick couple movies whether they were good or not or maybe turned to being a regular on a television series, Kirby didn't go for any quick cash. He wouldn't even sign up for the City Slickers sequel a few years later. In his early forties now, he decided to wait for projects he liked and try and guide his career back toward dramas.

He played an abusive creep in The Basketball Diaries (1995) and a greedy gangster in Donnie Brasco (1997), but neither was the kind of hit City Slickers or When Harry Met Sally... were, and the offers slowed down.

Barry Levinson called him for a couple favors he was very happy to oblige. He had a small role as the Jason Patric character's father in the disappointing Sleepers (1996). Even better he did a one-shot guest duty on Levinson's Baltimore police procedural "Homicide: Life on the Street". In a 1995 episode titled "The Gas Man", Kirby plays a bitter ex-con just released to the streets who has vowed revenge on the Detective who put him away, Frank Pembleton (Emmy winner Andre Braugher). With his mopey brother-in-law in tow, played by Richard Edson (Stranger Than Paradise, Do the Right Thing, Eight Men Out), he exacts a plan that involves stealing the severed head from a crime scene to make the detective look bad. One of the best episodes of that great show's third season, Levinson gave him a great part that drew on his comedic skills as well as his darker abilities.

Kirby continued to work into the new millineum, though it was almsot exclusively very small truly independent projects with little to no distribution. He had a fun turn as a successful Hollywood producer Phil Rubenstein on an episode of HBO's "Entourage" this season (episode title "Gus & Dolls"). Sadly that cameo guest shot will be his last screen appearance.

R.I.P., Bruno[/font]

Off-Topic Discussion / Barnard Hughes, R.I.P.
« on: July 16, 2006, 08:53:50 AM »
Longtime character actor Barnard Hughes died this past week.

Hughes was a familiar face in television and movies since the 1950s. He'd been a professional stage actor since the 1930s, starting in New York's Shakespeare Fellowship Repertory Company. He won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards as Best Actor for his work in Da in the late '70s. He played dozens of roles in his legendary theatre career.

He appeared on all sorts of television in the '50s and '60s, including a regular six-year stint on the daytime soap "The Guiding Light". Later in his TV career he won an Emmy as a guest star on the dramatic series "Lou Grant". He starred in the short lived "Mr. Merlin" in the 1981 season.

His first major impact on the big screen was in Midnight Cowboy (1969) as a conflicted masochistic John who gives Voight's Joe Buck a St. Christopher's medal and the bus fare for Florida. The best role of his film career came a few years later in Paddy Chayefsky's The Hospital (1971) as a murderous doctor who can't stand the insanity of the system anymore.

Barnard didn't get too many more plum roles in movies, though he worked constantly (in all three mediums). He was in projects as diverse as Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God (1977), Tron (1982), The Lost Boys (1987), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) and Cradle Will Rock (1999) in films, "Route 66", "All in the Family", "Hawaii Five-O", "The Bob Newhart Show", "The Love Boat", "Blossom" and "Homicide: Life on the Street" on television and Hamlet, Advise & Consent, Uncle Vanya, The Iceman Cometh and Prelude to a Kiss on the Broadway stage. He did it all.

Barnard Hughes died on July 11th after a brief illness, five days short of his 91st birthday.

R.I.P., Barnard[/font]

General Discussion / 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
« on: March 20, 2006, 11:06:08 AM »

In the most recent second edition of the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die there are four Eastwood-directed films and two he stars in that make the list...

The Good, the Bad & The Ugly
Dirty Harry
High Plains Drifter
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Million Dollar Baby

Six out of a thousand and one doesn't seem like a lot, and I would definitely have more Eastwood films on my own personal list, but considering they are looking at a hundred and two years of movies it's a respectible showing.

Off-Topic Discussion / Dana Reeve, R.I.P.
« on: March 07, 2006, 11:10:00 AM »
Dana Reeve dies at 44 of lung cancer[/font]
Widow of actor Christopher Reeve fought for paralysis cure[/font]

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Dana Reeve, who won worldwide admiration for her devotion to her Superman husband, Christopher Reeve, through his decade of near-total paralysis, has died of lung cancer at the age of forty-four.

Reeve, a singer-actress who gave up some of her own career to be one of the nation's best-known caregivers, died late Monday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, said Kathy Lewis, president of the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

Reeve had succeeded her husband as chair of the foundation, which funded research into spinal-cord paralysis cures. She announced in August that, while she wasn’t a smoker, she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Lewis visited Reeve in the hospital Friday and said Reeve was "tired but with her typical sense of humor and smile, always trying to make other people feel good, her characteristic personality."

"She was a woman with an incredible heart who really put herself out there to help people with disabilities and especially those who are caregivers — something she knew a lot about," Lewis said.

Reeves' "grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us," Lewis added in a statement.

Four months ago, at a fundraising gala for the foundation, Reeve looked healthy in a long, formal gown and said she was responding well to treatment and her tumor was shrinking.

"I’m beating the odds and defying every statistic the doctors can throw at me," Reeve said then. "My prognosis looks better all the time." Asked how she kept her spirits up, Reeve said she "had a great model. I was married to a man who never gave up," she said.

She was still looking well on January 13, when she sang Carole King’s "Now and Forever" at Madison Square Garden during the retirement ceremony for Mark Messier's New York Rangers jersey.

Christopher Reeve, star of Hollywood's Superman movies, became an activist for spinal cord research after a horse-riding accident paralyzed him in 1995. He died October 10, 2004.

Dana Reeve was a constant companion and supporter of her husband during his long ordeal and his work for a cure for spinal cord injuries.

The couple had a 13-year-old son, Will, and Dana Reeve had two grown stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.

Reeve, who lived in Pound Ridge, had appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and regional stages and on the TV shows "Law & Order", "Oz", and "All My Children".

She was performing in the Broadway-bound play "Brooklyn Boy" in California when she had to rush home to reach her husband’s bedside before he died. She gave up the role for the New York run.

A month after she was widowed, before her own diagnosis, she told The Associated Press, "I definitely will be getting back to acting... I am an actress and I do have to make a living."

Reeve also was on the board of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, where she met Christopher Reeve doing summer theater, and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

A year ago, she won a Mother of the Year award from the American Cancer Society. A society vice president, Dr. Michael Thun, said Reeve "has shown strength and courage in the face of tremendous adversity." Doctors say one in five women diagnosed with the disease never lit a cigarette.

In addition to her son and step-children, she is survived by her father, Dr. Charles Morosini, and sisters Deborah Morosini and Adrienne Morosini Heilman.

No funeral plans were announced. The family said donations could be made in Dana Reeve's memory to the Christopher Reeve Foundation in Short Hills, N.J.

© 2006 The Associated Press

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