This is the central gathering spot for all things Larry Ratliff and Movie Memories. The latest blog could be about your favorite celebrity, something funny or important on Larry’s mind or all of the above.
Belle (Emma Watson) and the Beast (Dan Stevens) trip the candlelight fantastic. (Courtesy: www.digitalspy.com)
We probably shouldn't scold the Disney Studio or its bean counters too severely for rolling out a live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, the Mouse House's animated golden oldie that swept up a boffo $425 million worldwide in 1991.
Disney has been raiding its own vault of animated treasures for years; Alice in Wonderland (2010), Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016) with Dumbo and Mulan on the way next year. That, folks, is why they call it show business with the emphasis clearly on the second word.
Robert De Niro as "The Comedian" (Courtesy: imdb.com)
Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman or Julie Kavner haven't called lately.
But if they did, or do (Come on, what would it hurt?), I would ask them all the same question: "What the heck were you thinking when you signed on the dotted line to play a stand-up comedian in a movie?
Bonnie Ratliff, my mother, was quiet and reserved unless wronged or riled. She was also an excellent, creative cook who could sling a mean hash and make a plain cake so special I can still taste it quite a few years after we lost her.
We never called her Mom, and I'm not sure why. That being said, Mother made too many sacrifices for me to count as my older brother and I spent our formative years in the noisy, engine-revving, windows rattling shadows of an aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Three major things Mother did for me, though, changed my life and greatly influenced who I am, what I am today. No, make that four. There's the whole birth thing, you know.
The ones that moved you so much that you didn't just suggest to friends and family that they go see them, but the ones so good you actually gathered up a carload and took them to the movie house yourself just to see the look on their faces when something that can only be described as magical unfolded on screen.
Andy Griffith as "Lonesome" Rhodes in "A Face in the Crowd." (Courtesy: www.washtimes.com)
So what does a film critic, humorist, public speaker and author who likes to kid around a bit know about presidential politics?
Not much, really, and what I do know I prefer to keep to myself. It's not that I'm that private. I'm also not the dumbest dangling chad in the pile of discarded ballots. I'm in business here and just don't choose to alienate half of my potential speaking audience by hopping up on a personal political soapbox.
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in "Bonnie and Clyde." (Courtesy: google.com)
I was honored to speak to a group in Dallas last week about movies shot in and around Dallas.
I always come away from The Movie Memories presentation "Lights, Camera, Dallas!" with the music from Bonnie and Clyde bouncing around in my head. Arthur Penn's 1967 action-crime thriller showcased Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the notorious outlaw duo that terrorized North Texas and surrounding states in the early 1930s.
The temperature was pushing triple digits as I drove across town around noon, weaving in and out of traffic, heading for the local movie art house.
It was hot enough to fry an egg on a shrinking block of melting ice, but I didn't care. I had one thing on my mind:
We go back a long way, those unfortunately colored morsels of caramel covered in light-brown chocolate. I grabbed a box of Duds on my way into the darkened abyss of a Harlingen, Texas movie theater to review my first film as a professional critic in 1980.
The Casa Blanca, opening today (June 9), is the latest sparkling jewel in the impressive San Antonio-based Santikos Entertainment group.
On those days or evenings when you just can't decide if you want to catch a movie on a state-of-the-art laser projected digital screen or go bowling, now you can do both. Or either, or both and have dinner at the Café, or have dinner while enjoying a movie in one of four Bistro theaters, or ... well, you get the idea.
And I bet the popcorn was rubbery and cold that first night in Camden, N.J. back on June 6, 1933.
That's when Richard Hollingshead Jr., an auto parts salesman, invented the drive-in movie by putting a projector on the hood of a car and parking it in front of two bedsheets tied together and strung up in the yard.
Nancy Reagan, who passed away Sunday (March 6), met her beloved Ronald Reagan in 1949.
The Reagans pose for a publicity still for "Hellcats of the Navy." (Courtesy: Columbia Pictures)
The future 40th president of the United States was serving in another office in the late '40s. Reagan, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, agreed to have dinner with actress Nancy Davis. Davis noticed that her name, which, according to reports turned out to be another Nancy Davis, had popped up in the infamous Communist witch hunt.
Attention all website owners and bloggers: When your spouse tells you it's way past time to change the post on your website, it's way past time to change the post on your website.
Suellen is right, but I do have an excuse. Does that help? OK, didn't think so.
The fact is that LarryRatliff.com, home of everything Movie Memories, is undergoing a major overhaul, and we've been planning and building something we think is eye-popping special.
It's a little premature to give too much away, so let's just say that very soon you will be looking at a state-of-the-art Movie Memories and Larry Ratliff website home that, hopefully, will take your breath away (But only temporarily, we hope; safety first).
But wait, there's more!
We are also excited about being very close to announcing that Larry will be digging out his old TV makeup kit for a new movie critic position on a nationally syndicated television show.
As they say on TV, stay tuned.
And as they also say, we'll be right back: Bigger and better than ever.
I'm Larry Ratliff, and I approved this message (right after I wrote it).
The first time a cinematographer truly rocked my cinematic soul was November 1977.
Steven Spielberg's wonder-filled sci-fi adventure Close Encounters of the Third Kind transfixed many of us to the screen with possibilities that we are not alone in the vastness of space. John Williams' five-tone symphonic magnificence brought much to the party, of course, as did director Spielberg.
It wasn't until that afternoon at the movies in 1977, however, that I fully appreciated the contribution a gifted cinematographer adds to the movie magic. I can still remember my insides rattling with the ferocity of those vibrating mailboxes that Richard Dreyfuss, portraying a soon-to-be-befuddled lineman for the county, was experiencing with a mixture of wide-eyed fear and curiosity.
Those unforgettable images in Close Encounters came from the creativity of master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who died January 1 at 85, according to published reports.
The Hungary native hop-scotched in and around San Antonio to shoot Spielberg's breakout film, The Sugarland Express, in 1974. My Zsigmond favorites, in addition to Close Encounters, include The Deer Hunter (1978), Deliverance (1972) and, especially, The Rose, showcasing Bette Midler channeling Janis Joplin in 1979.
According to Zsigmond's obit posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, the master behind the camera, who took home home his only Academy Award for Close Encounters "was taught in the European style of cinematography with particular appreciation for light gradations and color tone.
"Zsigmond’s work was noted for its use of natural light and often subdued palette, as visible in such films as McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971). To attain this look, he utilized a photographic technique known as 'flashing,' exposing the negative to a small amount of light before lensing. The procedure would ultimately mute the colors," the Hollywood Reporter post stated.
Let me just add this. Vilos Zsigmond shot film, baby, when shooting film -- celluloid, not that digital stuff we see today -- was not only cool, but truly magical.
Rest in peace, Vilmos, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of movie fans around the world will not soon forget your spellbinding contributions to our movie memories.