138 posts categorized "Classic movies"

27 September 2016

The presidential debate: About 'Face'

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.

So why am I even writing this?

Continue reading "The presidential debate: About 'Face'" »

16 September 2016

Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?

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.

Continue reading "Blood, guts and, uh, bluegrass?" »

01 September 2016

Missing me some truly funny guys

Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein." (Courtesy: www4.pictures.zimbio.com)

Think about it for a second.

Someone points a finger at you and requests/hopes/demands that you be funny right now.

Not just a little funny, but world-class funny.

Gene Wilder, who we lost in the past few days, and Peter Boyle, gone 10 years in December, were two of the funniest humans of their generation.  If you think that's easy, try it.

Continue reading "Missing me some truly funny guys" »

10 August 2016

Mother of mercy, is this the end of Milk Duds?

(Courtesy: google.com)

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:

Milk Duds.

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.

Continue reading "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Milk Duds?" »

19 July 2016

Hail to and from the cinematic chiefs

(Courtesy: google.com)

As the 2016 presidential season heats up, or boils over as some have already suggested, I like to summon up my source of presidential history and, in many cases, harrumphing.

That would be the movies, my friends, our little semi-reality and/or escape from same known as fiction.

Or in the case of movies "based on true events," fiction.

Continue reading "Hail to and from the cinematic chiefs" »

01 July 2016

Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers

Yankee330rI make no apologies for star-spangled banter when it comes to Independence Day.

So, proudly fly the U.S. flag, thump an ice-cold watermelon, crank some homemade ice cream and get the family together, it's the Fourth of July weekend, time to celebrate this great country of ours.

Continue reading "Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers" »

09 June 2016

Is the Casa Blanca a movie theater or bowling alley?

Actually, it's both.

(Courtesy: Santikos Entertainment)

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.

Continue reading "Is the Casa Blanca a movie theater or bowling alley?" »

06 June 2016

Guess what turns 83 today? Happy Birthday drive-in movies!

(Courtesy: www.movies.com)

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.

Continue reading "Guess what turns 83 today? Happy Birthday drive-in movies!" »

13 May 2016

Cannes 2016: Woody, could he, did he?

Kristen Stewart, left, Woody Allen and Blake Lively draw quite a crowd at the Cannes Film Festival. (Courtesy: www.wsfa.com)

After more than 35 years sitting down with world-famous movie actors, you know, cinematic royalty, if you will, people often ask me if I am nervous or awed in their presence.

Absolutely not!  Except twice.

Continue reading "Cannes 2016: Woody, could he, did he?" »

02 May 2016

'Ghostbusters' 2016: Are you gonna call?

New "Ghostbusters" Melissa McCarthy, left, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones answer the call. (Courtesy: Columbia Pictures)

This might not be great news for Columbia Pictures, the gender-switched cast of the re-thunked Ghostbusters brand or, for that matter, movie lovers et al:

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "Ghostbusters is the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history."

Continue reading "'Ghostbusters' 2016: Are you gonna call?" »

28 March 2016

Screen Gems: All sweaty on the Western front

Gary Cooper goes it alone in "High Noon." (Courtesy: loopedblog.com)

Have you ever put out the call for a little help and nobody showed up; maybe for a move or some heavy lifting?

Imagine how Gary Cooper's stone-faced Marshal Will Kane felt in the classic 1952 Western High Noon?

Call it the other Kane mutiny in the history of classic movies.

Continue reading "Screen Gems: All sweaty on the Western front" »

21 March 2016

Screen Gems: I picked the wrong day to give up 'Airplane!'

(Courtesy: Paramount)

It's true, you never forget your first.

For me, that magic, memorable moment finally arrived July 2, 1980.

Continue reading "Screen Gems: I picked the wrong day to give up 'Airplane!'" »

07 March 2016

When Ronnie met Nancy

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.

Continue reading "When Ronnie met Nancy" »

27 February 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new us!

Reopening280rClick right on in, everyone.  No need to push or shove, there's plenty of room for everyone.

We are very proud of the newly redesigned, greatly improved LarryRatliff.com website, home of Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff and all that involves.

Continue reading "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new us!" »

18 February 2016

Under construction: Wait 'til you see the new us

New improved350lAttention 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).


04 January 2016

Close encounters of the Vilmos kind

Courtesy: est.hu

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.


24 November 2015

'Lost (in Space)' and found

Courtesy: CBS

From the Hey, We Haven't Brought This One Back And Called It Good Looking Yet Department:

It looks like your favorite video streaming service, Netflix, is about to roll the dice on a Lost In Space reboot.

According to stories posted on the Entertainment Weekly website (and other sources), Netflix is remaking the cult 1960s series that was set in "futuristic" 1997.

Call it Back to the Past Future or Wow, How High Can Gasoline Prices Go?

"Executive producer Kevin Burns confirmed to EW.  (The) legendary TV’s remake, which has yet to garner a straight-to-series order, is being written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold) and produced by Game of Thrones vet Neil Marshall, who’s in line to direct," the EW article states.

Burns, who has another project to dive into, is thrilled, of course.

“'We’ve obviously been developing Lost in Space for a long time, and we’ve had a couple of false starts. Just speaking for myself, we really felt that we had learned a lot from not only what we did, but what other people did and did wrong.

"'The original series, which lasted three seasons and 83 episodes, is set in a futuristic 1997 and follows the Robinson family’s space exploration. After the villainous Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) sabotages the navigation system, they become helpless and, yes, lost,'" Burns told Entertainment Weekly.

Danger, Will Robinson.  I don't see a Star Wars like frenzy building for this Lost cause, which got a ho-hum big-screen do-over in 1998.


16 November 2015

'Author! Author!' What? What?

BookCover290Authors make all kinds of absurd claims about their books.  Frankly, that makes me sad.

Take my new book (Please!) Did I Write That Out Loud?, for instance.

I could claim that my new book bursting with entertaining essays about the raucous, roller coaster life of a veteran humorist, public speaker, film critic and stand-up comedian (that would be me) will lift your spirits.

It will, but I won't claim that.

Or, I could promise that you'll go behind the scenes and be amazed at what happened the day I sat down to interview Shirley MacLaine and she wasn't pleased with the lighting.

You will be amazed, but I'm not about to claim that, either.

All I'm going to promise is that if you buy Did I Write That Out Loud? you'll lose a few pounds.*

My new -- and first, I might add -- book covers topics such as why my family doctor broke up with me, what happens when pants begin to have minds of their own and news that the Cold War, a different Cold War, still rages.

I try to write from my heart and my funny bone, so even subjects such as a late-night encounter with paramedics, job loss and my father's late-life crisis are skewed with truth softened with humor.

Or as I like to put it, "We might as well laugh. It's only life."

About this time you're probably saying to yourself, "This is incredible!  Where can I get my hands on a book like this?"

Not to worry.  Just click this link to go to the Did I Write That Out Loud? page at the Amazon.com website.  You can be the proud owner of this hot, hot, hot collection of hilarious and heartfelt essays in paperback for the ridiculous price of only $8.95.

And that's for an exciting new book that's already on the best seller list.  Excuse me.  So sorry, I meant to say the "best cellar" list.

But wait, there's more.  Do you prefer to read books on a Kindle?  We've got you covered for under five bucks.  $4.99 to be exact.

So order away. Just in time for the holidays, Did I Write That Out Loud? is the perfect feel-good solution to the age-old question "What can I get for the person who has everything?"  Well, they don't have this surefire cure for the blues, the blahs and boredom.

You want it gift wrapped?  Amazon.com can handle that as well.

Oh, and one more thing.  About that claim that you can lose a few pounds reading Did I Write That Out Loud?:

* You will only lose pounds if you buy this book in Great Britain, British Overseas Territories, the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory, as well as Tristan de Cunha, where the British Pound is used as currency.

13 November 2015

Movie magic: A keystone cop-out

Jack Nicholson and "friend" in "As Good As It Gets"

Thanks to everyone over at Bonaventure Dallas for a memorable Movie Memories evening last night. 

Even though my projector opted to sit down on us a little and offer up only a slightly lopsided image (a keystone issue, according to the unhelpful "help" button), we soldiered on through memories of Hollywood's finest romantic films.

I love performing at the Bonaventure because the audience fills the room with enthusiasm and a willingness to ignore small distractions and get on with the show.

"Hollywood's Great Romantic Scenes" leans heavily on well-known classics like Gone With the Wind, On Golden Pond and West Side Story, of course.  One of the favorite moments for me, however, is the showcase of As Good As It Gets (1997), which resulted in Academy Awards for co-stars Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.

Thanks again, Bonaventure folks, It was a memorable Movie Memories evening.


03 November 2015

Keep (Jane) Austen weird?

(Courtesy: www.stylenoir.com)

Is there a movement afoot to, ahem, keep Jane Austen weird?

There must be because come February, the undead will meet the coyishly cool in late 18th century England in what promises to be a grisly little action-horror-romance ditty titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I suppose it was bound to come (way, way) down to this in a time and marketplace where no entertainment icon, cinematic or literary, is sacred anymore.

I mean, come on.  We've already witnessed the out-of-sync wackiness of Harrison Ford and Daniel "Beg-Me-To-Stay-On-As-James Bond" Craig lassoing space aliens in Cowboys & Aliens in 2011, Sherlock Holmes sniffing out leads in modern-day New York City on TV in Elementary and the Republican debates.

So maybe we shouldn't be surprised when Jane Austen-ish ladies go for the jugular with bared fangs and not just verbal jabs.  

I suppose if they still sip their afternoon tea with pinkies properly extended, we shouldn't raise too much of a fuss when they go all zombie and start ripping each other to shreds.

Although I guess we won't hear much dialogue about saving face.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is scheduled to open (or slither out from under the door) Feb. 5 at one of the fine cinematic emporiums near you.

Consider this a jot-it-down-moment or a warning, depending on where you stand on the issue of co-mingling the prim and proper work of one of the most esteemed authors of the late 18th and early 19th century with bloodthirsty zombies with what I'm guessing will be deplorable table manners.

"Mary, mind your manners!  I told you to keep your elbows off the dining table.  And that goes for the elbows on those arms you're gnawing on as well.  And must you moan so?"

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