84 posts categorized "Classic movies"

19 August 2014

Please say they're kidding

China300r
(Courtesy: rixbury.com)

I've seen a lot of strange things going on in the semi-dark of movie theaters over the years.

There's been no shortage of smuggled-in food, of course.  Nothing dilutes a gripping drama more than whiff's of store-bought chicken livers and gravy when Meryl Streep is bringing tears to our eyes.  And who among us hasn't had to lift up their feet to dodge a soft drink bottle careening down slope to eventually crash at the front of the theater?

I could go on and on, but there's breaking big screen news that must be shared.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that movie houses in China are testing a system that allows movie-goers not only to text during the movie but -- are you ready? -- the text messages actually show up on the movie screen right along with the feature.

"The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimics that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films, with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.

"In a censored environment like China, precautions are taken to remove sensitive or forbidden words," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

The ultimate selfie?  Maybe.  I just know it's one more reason you'll probably never see me taking in a movie in China.

Farewell to the great Robin Williams

Robin285l
(Courtesy: chicagoreader.com)

"No words."

That's all Billy Crystal, Robin Williams' good friend and fellow acclaimed comic performer, could Tweet Monday, Aug. 11 as word of Williams death, an "apparent suicide" according to news reports, spread with the same raging fire that propelled a comic genius -- yes, a genius -- to world stardom and, apparently, unbearable depths of depression.

I have words, a few at least, to say or, more correctly, to expel from my deeply saddened state.  Perhaps they might, if only a little, ease some of the kick-in-the-gut sting felt by Williams' survivors, which includes family and friends, of course, but also anyone, including this scribe, who smiles when he or she hears the bellowed phrase "Good m-o-r-n-i-n-g Vietnam!" or conjures up the image of Mrs. Doubtfire (Williams in drag) setting her breasts on fire in the kitchen.

I knew Robin Williams about as well as any road warrior film critic who, over three decades or so, sat down with the almost always manic comic tsunami for short spurts at a time to discuss his latest movie.

Often, the interviews would be what's known in the industry as "round-table" interviews.   Five, six or seven film critics or entertainment reporters sit around a round table in a hotel suite usually in Los Angeles or New York.  The "talent" enters the room and takes the empty chair at the table and chats up the movie for 30 to 40 minutes; responding to mostly softball questions.

On one occasion, which looking back might have been one of Williams' tough days in his continuing battle against substance abuse and/or depression, the master rapid-fire comedian was, let's just say, melancholy.

In a situation where press members around a table often have to verbally joust to get their question in, moments of silence were creeping in between questions to Williams.  I found myself sitting right next to Williams that day.  He was fighting the good fight to keep the banter coming, which obviously most of my fellow journalists expected.  But Robin Williams just wasn't feeling it that day.

"Carpe Diem.  Seize the day, boys," Williams said as college professor John Keating in his Oscar-nominated performance in Dead Poets Society in 1989. 

So I did.  I asked Williams where his rapid-fire comic one-liners come from and how they ignite.

"I don't really know," he said quietly.  "It's almost like my head opens up and my brain is an antenna.  Signals from outer-space fill my brain.  I just let them out."

And let them out, he did.  Brilliantly, in fact, for a lot of years.

Laughing on the outside/crying on the inside.  That classic description of a clown is too trite and too simple to explain the high highs, the low lows and the inner turmoil that Williams must have been channeling, along with his ongoing battle with horned demons of alcohol and substance abuse.

Some words:  You left us, Robin, for reasons we may never know but you, obviously, knew all too well.  Many of us, including your peers like Billy Crystal and Steve Martin, are stunned and speechless.  All I can say is that you left a very deep imprint on this place you have recently departed. 

R.I.P.:  Rockin' Robin.  Perhaps the marquee at the Hollywood Laugh Factory summed it up best for all of us Monday night.

Marquee400
(Courtesy: foxnews.com)

06 August 2014

Who we gonna call ... ladies?

Ghostbusters320r
(Courtesy: hollywoodreporter.com)

Could Sony be about ready to pull the trigger on a Ghostbusters sequel with women out front as characters made famous by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, who died earlier this year?

According to a Hollywood Reporter article, "Sony wants to launch a female-led reboot of Ghostbusters from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig."

And that's not all:

"Two days later, the studio said it is targeting 2017 for a woman superhero film set in the Spider-Man universe. Marvel Studios, whose Guardians of the Galaxy lured a 44 percent-female audience on opening weekend (the biggest share of any Marvel film) is said to be close to greenlighting a Black Widow pic for Scarlett Johansson. And The Expendables producer Avi Lerner said Aug. 4 he wants to shoot a female spin-off Expendabelles in 2015 (Sylvester Stallone says he wants Sigourney Weaver to star)," the article states.

Not only do I love the tentative spin-off title Expendabelles, I can see Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph as Ghostbusters.  What about you?

It's scandalous, I tell you!

Monroe300
(Marilyn Monroe image courtesy: deviantart.net)

"It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all."

That may have been true when French playwright Molière offered his opinion in the 17th century.
 
That, however, was before today's "reality" shows on TV, which more and more seem to involve "contestants" in some state of undress or out-and-out nude (either looking for a wild berry lunch or poking a dead animal with a stick).  A popular ABC network TV drama even slices right through the dramatic nuance and titles itself Scandal.
 
That's scandalous, right?  Well, probably, but what's going on on television these days has nothing on what has gone on in Hollywood -- at least partially behind the scenes -- for decades.
 
I don't often jump up on a soapbox in this space, but I have two things to say about driving scandalous material like a revved-up speedboat to get ratings or for quick profit:
 
No. 1:  How dare them, and harumph!
 
No. 2:  Don't miss "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals," just one of my new Movie Memories presentations available for booking starting now.
 
You may think the juicy exploits of fictional scandalous folks on TV and the latest almost-non outfit flaunted about by hiney-slinging young semi-singers are bad.  Well, you'd be right about that.  And by the way, don't sue me, Miley Cyrus.  Of course I wasn't referring to you.
 
"Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" dives right into real dirt; turning over some rocks and turning the spotlight on questions like:
 
Was Marilyn Monroe married to the mob?  Did screen goddess Lana Turner kill a guy?  What about silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle?  What really happened at a party in San Francisco where a young woman died?
 
And, perhaps you didn't know that the great Ingrid Bergman was once denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
 
We'll cover all of that and more in "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals."
 
And since it's hot, the newest Movie Memories presentation deserves a special hot offer.  So here it is:  The first 10 groups that book "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" between now and Aug. 15 will get a $25 discount. 
 
Hurry, though, you must book by Aug. 15 to take advantage of this special offer.  And please remember that this offer is limited to the first 10 bookingsSo call 214-364-7364 today!
 
By the way, check out our other new presentations, "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families," "Marlon Brando:  The Man Behind the Icon" and others, by clicking on the Presentations link here or above.

Sandra Bullock turns the big 5-0

Bullock300l
(Courtesy: www.yami-online.com)
The first time I met and interviewed Sandra Bullock she offered me a cookie.  And not just any cookie.
 
"Would you like a biscotti?" And she didn't say it like a prissy movie star who was too good for an Oreo or a Fig Newton, either.  Somehow when Bullock offered the twice-baked elongated Italian bread-like cookie, it was like she had just baked them in her own oven, which just happened to be in the house next door to mine.  And yours and everyone else in the U.S. of A.
 
Ms. Bullock, now an Oscar-winner for her tumbling, lost-in-space turn in Gravity last year, has had one of those birthdays with a zero in it.  In the old days -- say, oh, 10 years ago -- that might be it for a leading lady.
 
Meryl Streep, Bullock and others have shattered that glass ceiling to smithereens, though.  CNN.com recently posted a photo essay tribute to Bullock's hits and misses over her substantial career.  Click this link to take a visual trip through Bullock's hits and misses.
 
Oddly enough, though, the CNN folks left out Speed, the runaway 1994 hit that propelled America's cinematic sweetheart to fame.
 
If I remember correctly, my interview with Ms. Bullock for Speed is also where I enjoyed my first biscotti.

Trivial trivia, or games people play

Caesar300l
Rico (Edward G. Robinson) is gunning for trouble in "Little Caesar." (www.dailyfilmdose.com)
What better way to while away a little time, perhaps when the boss is away on one of those extended lunches, than with trivial pursuits, especially when they bring back classic movie memories.
 
That's why we've come up with the Movie Memories Movie Quote Quiz.  Check out our Movie Memories Facebook page (www.facebook.com/moviememories) or Twitter page (@moviememories1) every weekday for a snapply little cinematic brain teaser.  They range from the rediculously easy like "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind to classic quotes that present a little more of a challenge.
 
On Tuesday (July 29), for instance, former Dallas Morning News film critic Philip Wuntch remembered that it was Edward G. Robinson as "Rico" Bandello who said, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1930).
 
So, when you can spare a minute, give our little Movie Quote Quiz a try.  It's fun.  You might know more than you think you know.  To be fair, though, we ask that you work from memory only, and don't peek at the answer.  And, perhaps most importantly, no wagering.  Good luck!

29 July 2014

Getting a handle on scandal

HollywoodScandal320r
Marilyn Monroe photo courtesy: www.murdermystery.com.au
"It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all."
 
That may have been true when French playwright Molière offered his opinion in the 17th century.
 
That, however, was before today's "reality" shows on TV, which more and more seem to involve "contestants" in some state of undress or out-and-out nude (either looking for a wild berry lunch or poking a dead animal with a stick).  A popular ABC network TV drama even slices right through the dramatic nuance and titles itself Scandal.
 
That's scandalous, right?  Well, probably, but what's going on on television these days has nothing on what has gone on in Hollywood -- at least partially behind the scenes -- for decades.
 
I don't often jump up on a soapbox in this space, but I have two things to say about driving scandalous material like a revved-up speedboat to get ratings or for quick profit:
 
No. 1:  How dare them, and harumph!
 
No. 2:  Don't miss "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals," just one of my new Movie Memories presentations available for booking starting now.
 
You may think the juicy exploits of fictional scandalous folks on TV and the latest almost-non outfit flaunted about by hiney-slinging young semi-singers are bad.  Well, you'd be right about that.  And by the way, don't sue me, Miley Cyrus.  Of course I wasn't referring to you.
 
"Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" dives right into real dirt; turning over some rocks and turning the spotlight on questions like:
 
Was Marilyn Monroe married to the mob?  Did screen goddess Lana Turner kill a guy?  What about silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle?  What really happened at a party in San Francisco where a young woman died?
 
And, perhaps you didn't know that the great Ingrid Bergman was once denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
 
We'll cover all of that and more in "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals."
 
And since it's hot, the newest Movie Memories presentation deserves a special hot offer.  So here it is:  The first 10 groups that book "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" between now and Aug. 15 will get a $25 discount. 
 
Hurry, though, you must book by Aug. 15 to take advantage of this special offer.  And please remember that this offer is limited to the first 10 bookingsSo call 214-364-7364 today!
 
By the way, check out our other new presentations, "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families," "Marlon Brando:  The Man Behind the Icon" and others, by clicking on the Presentations link here or above.
 

Sandra Bullock turns the big 5-0

 

Bullock300l
(Courtesy: www.yami-online.com)
The first time I met and interviewed Sandra Bullock she offered me a cookie.  And not just any cookie.
 
"Would you like a biscotti?" And she didn't say it like a prissy movie star who was too good for an Oreo or a Fig Newton, either.  Somehow when Bullock offered the twice-baked elongated Italian bread-like cookie, it was like she had just baked them in her own oven, which just happened to be in the house next door to mine.  And yours and everyone else in the U.S. of A.
 
Ms. Bullock, now an Oscar-winner for her tumbling, lost-in-space turn in Gravity last year, has had one of those birthdays with a zero in it.  In the old days -- say, oh, 10 years ago -- that might be it for a leading lady.
 
Meryl Streep, Bullock and others have shattered that glass ceiling to smithereens, though.  CNN.com recently posted a photo essay tribute to Bullock's hits and misses over her substantial career.  Click this link to take a visual trip through Bullock's hits and misses.
 
Oddly enough, though, the CNN folks left out Speed, the runaway 1994 hit that propelled America's cinematic sweetheart to fame.
 
If I remember correctly, my interview with Ms. Bullock for Speed is also where I enjoyed my first biscotti.
 

Trivial trivia, or games people play

 

Caesar300l
Rico (Edward G. Robinson) is gunning for trouble in "Little Caesar." (www.dailyfilmdose.com)
What better way to while away a little time, perhaps when the boss is away on one of those extended lunches, than with trivial pursuits, especially when they bring back classic movie memories.
 
That's why we've come up with the Movie Memories Movie Quote Quiz.  Check out our Movie Memories Facebook page (www.facebook.com/moviememories) or Twitter page (@moviememories1) every weekday for a snapply little cinematic brain teaser.  They range from the rediculously easy like "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind to classic quotes that present a little more of a challenge.
 
On Tuesday (July 29), for instance, former Dallas Morning News film critic Philip Wuntch remembered that it was Edward G. Robinson as "Rico" Bandello who said, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1930).
 
So, when you can spare a minute, give our little Movie Quote Quiz a try.  It's fun.  You might know more than you think you know.  To be fair, though, we ask that you work from memory only, and don't peek at the answer.  And, perhaps most importantly, no wagering.  Good luck!

15 July 2014

Honoring our veterans every day

SaluteWarMovies300It should go without saying, but we don't need a holiday to salute our vets.

I was honored Monday afternoon to share what I consider great war movies with the residents of Edgemere Retirement Community in Dallas.

There were veterans and widows of veterans in the audience for my "Salute to the Great War Movies" presentation. It was just a Monday ... just a Monday to say thank you again to all those who have served their nation so bravely.

We covered 13 war movies from the silent World War I classic Wings to the Vietnam saga Apocalypse Now. One of the most popular, however, was Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.

Oh no, not 'Dumbo,' too!

Dumbo350r
(Walt Disney Productions)

That noise you may be hearing today might just be Walt Disney spinning in his cremation urn.

According to an article published on the Hollywood Reporter website, Disney has a live-action Dumbo reboot in the works.

I'm not sure how you feel about that, but from this aisle seat it's almost as bad as saying there's a remake of Casablanca in the works with Channing Tatum taking over the Humphrey Bogart role of Rick and Kim Kardashian as teary-eyed Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman.

"This is the latest classic animated title that Disney is turning into a live-action movie, and it’s a strategy that has paid off: Maleficent, the most recent example, is a re-imagining of the 1959 movie Sleeping Beauty and has grossed more than $630 million worldwide since its May 30 release. The granddaddy of them all is the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland, which has earned more than $1 billion," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

No word yet when the live-action Dumbo will debut.  I'm thinking the timing may have something to do with finding a lovable baby elephant with giant floppy ears that can fly and -- here's the tough part -- cry on demand.

09 July 2014

Oh no, not 'Dumbo' too!

Dumbo350r
(Walt Disney Productions)

That noise you may be hearing today might just be Walt Disney spinning in his cremation urn.

According to an article published on the Hollywood Reporter website, Disney has a live-action Dumbo reboot in the works.

I'm not sure how you feel about that, but from this aisle seat it's almost as bad as saying there's a remake of Casablanca in the works with Channing Tatum taking over the Humphrey Bogart role of Rick and Kim Kardashian as teary-eyed Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman.

"This is the latest classic animated title that Disney is turning into a live-action movie, and it’s a strategy that has paid off: Maleficent, the most recent example, is a re-imagining of the 1959 movie Sleeping Beauty and has grossed more than $630 million worldwide since its May 30 release. The granddaddy of them all is the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland, which has earned more than $1 billion," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

No word yet when the live-action Dumbo will debut.  I'm thinking the timing may have something to do with finding a lovable baby elephant with giant floppy ears that can fly and -- here's the tough part -- cry on demand.

'Tammy's' bad B.O.

Tammy320r
Melissa McCarthy's starring vehicle "Tammy" is hitting some box-office potholes. (Warner Bros.)

You think you've got problems?

Well, maybe you do, but you'll have to go some to beat the Hollywood pity party that some of the major movie studios have going on following the disappointing weekend B.O.; box-office that is.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, historic lows were reported over the long Fourth of July weekend.  Tammy, the R-rated lowbrow comedy teaming Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon, led the downer derby with a weekend gross of only $32.9 million, says the Hollywood Reporter article.

"Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year's $229.8 million haul and the lowest in 16 years. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year — a disadvantage — but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27," the article stated.

Oh boo hoo.  Here's an idea:  Make better movies.  Want more advice?  Come up with some fresh franchises and discontinue the embarrassing practice of extending and/or remaking worn out franchises like Spider-man, Batman, Transformers and the like.

The new Senior Voice is here!

SeniorV220lThere's good news for those of us who have already passed 50 without slowing down or collecting $200.

The Senior Voice newspaper is in news racks all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Editor/publisher Carol Butler has put together a great July-August issue, which includes a terrific article on Fort Worth screenwriter James V. Hart.  (Here's the link.)

If you're curious about the movies I'm looking forward to during the next couple of months, check out my Getting Reel movie column on Page 12, or click this link.

Oh, and if you get a little confused and concerned when you get to the part where I'm really looking forward to Tammy starring Melissa McCarthy, shoot me an email (MovieMemories@verizon.net) and I'll be glad to explain how long-distance deadlines work.

Pedal pushers -- Tour de film

Breaking320r
Dennis Christopher in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.

08 July 2014

'Tammy's' bad B.O.

Tammy320r
Melissa McCarthy's starring vehicle "Tammy" is hitting some box-office potholes. (Warner Bros.)

You think you've got problems?

Well, maybe you do, but you'll have to go some to beat the Hollywood pity party that some of the major movie studios have going on following the disappointing weekend B.O.; box-office that is.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, historic lows were reported over the long Fourth of July weekend.  Tammy, the R-rated lowbrow comedy teaming Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon, led the downer derby with a weekend gross of only $32.9 million, says the Hollywood Reporter article.

"Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year's $229.8 million haul and the lowest in 16 years. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year — a disadvantage — but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27," the article stated.

Oh boo hoo.  Here's an idea:  Make better movies.  Want more advice?  Come up with some fresh franchises and discontinue the embarrassing practice of extending and/or remaking worn out franchises like Spider-man, Batman, Transformers and the like.

The new Senior Voice is here!

SeniorV220lThere's good news for those of us who have already passed 50 without slowing down or collecting $200.

The Senior Voice newspaper is in news racks all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Editor/publisher Carol Butler has put together a great July-August issue, which includes a terrific article on Fort Worth screenwriter James V. Hart.  (Here's the link.)

If you're curious about the movies I'm looking forward to during the next couple of months, check out my Getting Reel movie column on Page 12, or click this link.

Oh, and if you get a little confused and concerned when you get to the part where I'm really looking forward to Tammy starring Melissa McCarthy, shoot me an email (MovieMemories@verizon.net) and I'll be glad to explain how long-distance deadlines work.

Pedal pushers -- Tour de film

Breaking320r
Dennis Christopher in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.

07 July 2014

Pedal pushers -- Tour de movies

Breaking320r
Dave (Dennis Christopher) is not a champion Italian cyclist. He just plays one to get the girl in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.

04 July 2014

Going 4th (of July) -- Best movie

Yankee320
(Warner Bros.)

It's the Fourth of July.  Time to celebrate this great country's independence with fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers, a beverage, perhaps, and a cold watermelon. 

There may only be time for one movie on this busy day, though.  Born on the Fourth of July, Oliver Stone's gritty biopic of paralyzed Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic starring Tom Cruise, is a good choice if you want something historic, tough to watch and very well made.

There's also some real fun to be had watching Will Smith and Bill Pullman dispatch invading aliens in Independence Day.

My choice, however, is Yankee Doodle Dandy, the 1942 flag-waver starring the late, great James Cagney as song-and-dance man George M. Cohan.  Cagney took Academy Award Best Actor honors for his spirited effort, although he had to dance up the walls to do it.

Happy 4th of July!

Classic movie lines; a retort card

We've all heard the infamous classic movie lines a hundred, perhaps a thousand times:

Gonewind310l
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind." (MGM)

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." -- Clark Gable's Rhett Butler to Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939).

What we haven't heard, though, is a snappy comeback to those familiar lines entrenched in our subconscious.

Not until now, that is.

I've decided it's my civic duty, and perhaps my new life's work, to provide a comeback, a chance for the verbally one-upped to rattle off a clever, caustic or downright nasty topper of their own.

And in this fractured cinematic universe that came to me somewhere between the time I dozed off watching David Letterman's year long late-night victory lap before retirement and my first semi-steaming cup of Folgers this morning, the time line is as bent as my core premise.

So here goes: 

First up is Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942):

"Here's looking at you, kid."

"Get away from me, mister, or I'll call the cops on my iPad.  Mommy warned me about guys like you in trench coats.  And, once and for all, I'm not interested in the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  Oh, and something else, my name's not Louie!" -- 8-year-old walking to the school bus stop.

"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." -- Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

"Don't bother, Cotton Cheeks.  Whatever offer you make me, Walmart will match it, right there at the register."  -- One of those smart, savvy, but slightly annoying coupon-clipping shoppers I seem to always get behind at the checkout counter.

"You talkin' to me?" -- Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976)

"I sure am, Grandpa.  And I have been for 10 minutes.  Wheel of Fortune is over and Grandma has gone in the kitchen, so turn down the TV and turn up your hearing aids so I can talk to you.  Geez, Grandpa, you never answer my texts. :("  -- Any grandchild in Anytown, USA

"The stuff that dreams are made of." -- Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941)

"No thank you.  We're tourists ... just looking around.  It's our first trip to Colorado."

"Wait a minute, wait a minute.  You ain't heard nothin' yet!" -- Al Jolson as Jakie Robinowitz in The Jazz Singer (1927)

"Yes I did, Grandpa.  We all did.  If you don't turn up your hearing aids, I'm only going to talk to you on Skype from now on." -- Any grandchild in Anytown, USA :(

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." -- Clark Gable's Rhett Butler to Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939).

"You think I care, mo#&#@)%&+@&$?"  -- Any of about a dozen interchangeable hip-hop rappers spitting out profanities while grabbing their junk.

"You don't understand!  I coulda had class.  I coulda been a contender.  I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."  -- Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954)

"Come on!  Hold that double chin up.  You're a Kardashian.  Be proud.  Don't you know you don't have to have talent to be famous.  A little plastic surgery will fix that chin, by the way."  -- Another Kardashian.

Want to join the fun?  Email us your famous movie line and caustic retort to MovieMemories@verizon.net and we'll keep the party going by adding your wittiness right here:

Make movie night a Movie Memorable night

Here's some Movie Memories news:  Announcing a new service!

Cabaret250r
Liza Minnelli belts out a tune in "Cabaret." (Warner Home Video)

Many clubs, groups and facilities have movie nights.  Now I'll host your event to make the movie evening special and, dare I say, memorable for your group.  And you and your group members still get to pick the movie.

Let's say you plan to screen Cabaret, the edgy 1972 musical that produced a Best Actress Academy Award for Liza Minnelli.

Instead of just saying something like, "Well, here's Cabaret," I will introduce the movie with background and behind-the-scene facts, including personal stories related to the film, to set the mood.

After the movie's over, I'll lead a short discussion of the film and stir some personal memories about the film from attendees in the audience.  And I'll give away prizes and make it a real movie night event.

Call 214-364-7364 to book and, once again, I'll see you at the movies.

11 June 2014

The Curtis Burch (Film) Society

Curtis Burch320
Director Fred Schepisi, left, and producer Curtis Burch on the "Words and Pictures" set in Vancouver. (Roadside Attractions)

So often, especially in this bottom-line-driven economy, the word “business” dominates the phrase movie business.

If Words and Pictures movie producer Curtis Burch has his way, that might be about to change.  At least a little.

Refreshing, isn't it?  After a quarter century doing things other people's way for some of Hollywood's biggest names, former Dallas resident Burch said something like "To heck with this.  There's got to be a better way."

Words and Pictures, the romantic comic-drama starring Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen now playing in many cities around the U.S. and opening wider on Friday (June 13), is the realization of Burch's dream to bring intelligent storytelling to mature movie audiences.

It's a fascinating tale of real-world budding romance for mature teachers at a prep school in Maine.  Also enchanting is the story of how Burch struggled to bring his movie his way to a theater near you.

I interviewed Burch for The Senior Voice newspaper.  Click here to read the article.

Oliver Stone takes on Edward Snowden project

I wasn't surprised to hear about a week ago that Oliver Stone, the gifted, but just a little goofy filmmaker who spun his version of the Vietnam War with Platoon, his slant on assassination politics with JFK, his version of a dethroned president with Nixon and then focused on President George W. Bush in W would shoot for the cinematic brass ring to bring his spin on the Edward Snowden whistle-blower story to the big screen.

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(Courtesy: indiewire.com)

What does blindside me a little, however, is the fact that Stone, whom I've interviewed several times since the Platoon days, has bought the rights to a novel penned by Snowden's Russian attorney to be used as part of Stone's upcoming movie.

"The announcement of the deal with attorney Anatoly Kucherena came a week after Stone and long-time producing partner Moritz Borman acquired rights to The Snowden Files, The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, written by journalist Luke Harding," according to Dave McNary's story posted on the Variety website.

Time of the Octopus, to be published later this year, tells the fictional story of an American whistle-blower who spends three weeks in limbo in the transit area of the Moscow airport and occupies his time there talking to a Russian lawyer about his life and what motivated him to expose a massive American surveillance program," the Variety article states.

Say what you will about Mr. Stone, a double directing Academy Award winner (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July), but the guy isn't shy about stirring the controversy pot.

Make movie night a Movie Memorable evening

Here's some Movie Memories news:  Announcing a new service!

Cabaret250r
Liza Minnelli belts out a tune in "Cabaret." (Warner Home Video)

Many clubs, groups and facilities have movie nights.  Now I'll host your event to make the movie evening special and, dare I say, memorable for your group.  And you and your group members still get to pick the movie.

Let's say you plan to screen Cabaret, the edgy 1972 musical that produced a Best Actress Academy Award for Liza Minnelli.

Instead of just saying something like, "Well, here's Cabaret," I will introduce the movie with background and behind-the-scene facts, including personal stories related to the film, to set the mood.

After the movie's over, I'll lead a short discussion of the film and stir some personal memories about the film from attendees in the audience.  And I'll give away prizes and make it a real movie night event.

Call 214-364-7364 to book and, once again, I'll see you at the movies.

20 May 2014

Tommy Lee Jones' Cannes-do attitude

Homesman325lWhen I attended the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera in May of 2005, Tommy Lee Jones drew an extended, robust standing ovation after his film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, screened.

I didn't make it back to the South of France this year to share the experience of the world's most famous film fest, but Jones did.  And this time, according to an article by Gregg Kilday posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, Jones got his standing ovation shortly after basking in the press glow as he climbed the seemingly endless steps of the world's most glamorous red carpet and entered the Palais des Festivals to screen his new Western, The Homesman.

Starring Jones, who also directs and co-wrote the script, The Homesman co-stars a couple of double Academy Award Best Actress winners, Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby) and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Sophie's Choice), as well as Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender's Game), and James Spader (The Blacklist on TV).

According to Kilday, Jones has "turned in an original take on the traditional Western." Jones fans can look forward to the veteran San Antonio-based actor giving The Homesman a feminist spin, since Swank portrays a God-fearing spinster determined to transport three mentally disturbed frontier women (one played by Streep's daughter Grace Gummer) to a better place back East (Iowa in this case).

Jones takes on the role of claim jumper George Briggs, who's rescued from under a hangman's tree with a noose around his neck and sitting ever so tenderly on a skittish horse by Swank's Mary Bee Cuddy.  Briggs begs for his life, so Mary Bee sets him free on the condition that he'll help transport the trio of deeply troubled women to a better place.

As of this date The Homesman has no U.S. release date, or even a Stateside distributor, for that matter.  Watch this space, though, and I'll report when we can file into a theater for Jones' latest effort in front of and -- for only the second time -- behind the camera of what is shaping up to be a major motion picture.

Make movie night a Movie Memories Movie Night

Here's some Movie Memories news:  Announcing a new service -- and it's on sale!

Cabaret250rMany clubs, groups and facilities have movie nights.  Now I'll host your event to make the movie evening special and, dare I say, memorable for your group.  And you and your group members still get to pick the movie.

Let's say you plan to screen Cabaret, the edgy 1972 musical that produced a Best Actress Academy Award for Liza Minnelli.  Instead of just saying something like, "Well, here's Cabaret," I will introduce the movie with background and behind-the-scene facts, including personal stories related to the film, to set the mood.  After the movie's over, I'll lead a short discussion of the film and stir some personal memories about the film from attendees in the audience.  And I'll give away prizes and make it a real movie night event.

And, best yet, there's a special introductory offer.

The first 10 groups that book a Movie Memories Movie Night between now and June 20 will get a $25 discount.  Please don't delay.  This offer is limited.  We've only blocked out 10 of these discounted Movie Memories Movie Nights on our calendar.

Call 214-364-7364 to book and, once again, I'll see you at the movies.