A while back I posted an entry about the 1965 movie Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines. In that post, I mentioned another film that came out the same year called The Great Race. While I am entranced by the old planes in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying machines, The Great Race is really my favorite of the two. The film stars Tony Curtis as “The Great Leslie,” a stereotype 1910 pure as gold hero in white and Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, a stereotype 1910 pure villain in black and tells the story of their race around the world by automobile. Leslie and Professor Fate are not the only cars racing. The race starts with a much larger pack of automobiles;
In 1965, there were two racing comedies released both of them set during the first 10 years of 1900’s. The more popular of two was “The Great Race,” which was about an around the world automobile race; the second was Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines, about an air race between London and Paris in very early and flimsy aircraft. While I will admit there is something special about The Great Race and it certainly had more stars who were known in the United States, Those Magnificent Men and their flying Machines had something the other did not … History.
What do I mean by history? First of all, there is the light-hearted review of man’s attempts to fly featuring the comic skills of Red Skelton mixed with historic footage of some of the more outrageous of man’s attempts and failures to fly before the opening credits. You are not likely to see more historical film footage of man’s failed attempts to fly in another movie. But of even greater interest to someone like me is that every plane used in the film was a recreation of a historic airplane from the birth of aviation. In a few cases, they added some safety devices or a small change was made to better protect the pilots, but the planes did fly, or, at least, those that were supposed to fly did, and they were actually flown for the movie’s footage.
Not too long ago I was reminded of one of my favorite romantic movies, The American President. The film stars Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd and Annette Bening as Sydney Ellen Wade, a lobbyist for an ecological group. President Shepherd is something unusual in the U.S. Presidency, though not in movies, a single father. Shepherd is nearing the end of his first term, up for re-election and wondering if the real reason he was elected was due to a sympathy vote after his wife died of cancer during his campaign. Now, after a little over three years of widowhood, he spots Sydney at a meeting taking place at the White House and decides he would like to ask her out. The problem, obviously, is that he is the President of the United States. His life is a fish bowl and there is a dignity that goes with the office that makes it difficult to have close friends. His oldest and best friend now refuses to call him anything other than “Mr. President” even during their private games of pool. So just how does a President ask a woman out on a date? What happens when that date is successful and they find themselves strongly attracted to each other?
You may have seen the musical. You have most likely seen the movie starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah, and Nikki Blonsky, but have you see the movie that started it all? The original 1988 comedy Hairspray, directed and written by John Waters, featured Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad and Divine as Edna Turnblad. This movie has a grittier, earthier feel than either the musical or the 2007 movie. This is not too surprising as Hairspray was the first film by John Waters to receive less than an “R” rating. Prior to this film John Waters had been justly known in Hollywood as “The King of Bad Taste.” Hairspray was the first John Water’s films to even attempt to appeal to the general public.
It is likely that if I mentioned the name of Mike Nesmith most of us would think of the 1960’s band The Monkees. Some of us might think to recall him for his work with the First National Band, or some of his solo musical works. You might even remember him as one of the pioneers of the modern music video. It might come as a surprise to you that he was the executive producer of a film that the magazine Entertainment Weekly named #7 on its list of the “Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time.” The film is Repo Man starring Emilio Estevez as Otto, a street punk having a bad day, who is tricked by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) into becoming a repo man and brings him into the strange and dangerous world surrounding the repossession of automobiles.
I remember the first time I became aware of the movie Brazil. I was reading through “Variety” magazine in an effort to keep up with the films of the day when I suddenly came across a strange full-page advertisement. It didn’t say much. It was a full page sheet bordered in black with the question, “Dear Sid Sheinberg, when are you going to release my film Brazil? Terry Gilliam.” At the time, I had not heard of the film Brazil and did not know the controversy surrounding its release in the United States.
First Line: “I am, beyond a doubt, the last of the old-timers. My name is Jack Crabb. And I am the sole white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, uh, uh, popularly known as Custer's Last Stand.”
Even though Little Big Man is a comedy it was one of the first movie westerns to portray Native American’s in a positive light and our treatment of them as the horror it often was.
George C. Scott often manages to bring a believability to even the most unbelievable role. In the dark comedy They Might Be Giants, Scott plays Justin, a man believing himself to be the illustrious fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, who’s turned over to a psychologist, played by Joanne Woodward, for evaluation and treatment. She’s a young woman whose last name just happens to be Watson—a situation that doesn’t exactly help Justin’s delusions—and she’s soon drawn into his search for Moriarty, following “Holmes” hither and yon through Manhattan and into dangerous situations.
There are times when I just want to laugh. I don’t really care if the movie is a great movie. I don’t really care if the acting is great and I don’t care if the plot makes sense. I just want to laugh and enjoy wasting my time for a little while. Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N. staring Dick Van Dyke serves this purpose perfectly for me. The movie is housed in the Juvenile collection even though to really understand all of the jokes it is helpful to at least be familiar with Daniel Defoe’s story of Robinson Crusoe.
As one might guess from the title the film tells the story of a castaway on a deserted island. Lt. Crusoe is forced to abandon his navy jet when the engine fails.
Mister Roberts (1955), starring Henry Fonda, is based on the stage play by Frank Nugent. Fonda, who starred in the Broadway play, reprised his role as Lieutenant Douglas Roberts for this film, with an A-list of players supporting him. Jack Lemmon also stars as Ensign Pulver, a role which won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; James Cagney as Captain Morton and William Powell as "Doc" round out the cast. Sadly, the film also ended the longtime friendship and working relationship between Henry Fonda and director John Ford who, in a fit of anger, reportedly sucker punched Fonda in the mouth.