Why I Now Appreciate ‘When Harry Met Sally’

When people start to rattle off the great romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally tends to be mentioned a little too often. Even the title feels overexposed. I remember seeing it as a young teenager, but at the time, it didn’t make much of an impression. I’m sad that it took Carrie Fisher’s untimely death for me to re-examine this film, but I am glad I watched it again.

If you have been living under a rock and have never seen When Harry Met Sally, the film follows Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan), two college graduates who road trip to New York to begin their post-collegiate lives. During the ride, they bond and bicker and ultimately leave each other behind. However, their story isn’t over. They keep randomly running into one another at different stages of their lives. Does this mean their destined to be together? I mean it’s a romantic comedy…so what do you think?

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I agree. Sheldon’s not a very sexy name. 

Here are just a few reasons I now appreciate When Harry Met Sally:

Hello, the Cast!

Billy Crystal is not your standard leading man, at least not by today’s standards. However, fitting with my blog, he does fit the mold of a William Powell or a Humphrey Bogart. He’s not a model. He’s a real person. And he’s HILARIOUS. Seriously, he knocks all the one liners out of the park! Is he believable as a 20 year-old college student at the beginning? Of course not, but who cares about that?

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One of the most AWKWARD gifs you will ever see

Meg Ryan was just twenty-eight when she made this film and although she had made films before this and starred in the long-running soap As the World Turns, the role of Sally Albright was very much her breakout performance, the film that made her into the A-list actress she became. She shines brightly – she’s cute, she’s funny, she’s relatable (except for the fact that she’s drop dead gorgeous)!

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She doesn’t look that sorry…just saying!

And then, of course, there is Carrie Fisher, aka Goddess Divine. Although she only has a supporting role in this film, she leaves an indelible mark. In her early thirties at the time, Fisher’s snappy retorts and natural comic timing are a snapshot of her enormous talent!

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#REALTALK

The Ridiculously Witty, Touching, HILARIOUS Script

This is what I was most surprised with during my re-watch. The film was written by the great, late Nora Ephron. Though the film’s concept was conceived by director Rob Reiner, Ephron’s personality was all over the script. It was composed of Reiner’s relationship history and Ephron’s and actually has a Before Sunrise-type vibe. It’s all talking, or as my mother would say, “talky, talky, shit, shit, shit.”

The film tries to answer the question: Can men and women be friends without sex becoming a factor? I’ve had several conversations with various people on the subject. Younger people, my peers, tend to say that men and women can absolutely be friends while older people have told me the opposite. Is it age? Experience? That, I cannot say. But, the film does a good job of showing the complexity in maintaining a non-romantic relationship with someone you’re attracted to.

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I want to slip this one into normal convos.

The film is also about how opposites attract. I think the conversation is especially relevant in the age of dating apps and the like. We all swipe through with a list of things we want for our potential partner: non smoker, nerdy, not a douchebag, perhaps a certain height or attractiveness level, where they went to school, what their job is…the list goes on. But, in actuality, in getting to know a person, you’re never going to find someone who fits that list one-hundred percent. Sally is type-A, Harry is go with the flow. Harry is a pessimist, Sally is an optimist. It seems that their attraction is built from their ability to argue with each other in a healthy way.

I love that when these characters do eventually see that they should be together, you understand why. My biggest pet peeve in romantic comedies is when the characters are given no reason to like each other beyond, “We’re both extremely attractive people. We should get together!”

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A wig makes you look twenty years younger. It’s been medically proven. 

The Direction

The prolific Rob Reiner directed this romantic gem. If you’re unfamiliar, he’s also behind such classics as Stand By Me, This Is Spinal Tap, and The Princess Bride. Again, the list GOES ON. The idea for this film came from Reiner’s own life. He had just gotten divorced and was trying to jump back into the dating world. Once he met with Ephron, they came up with the “he said, she said” dynamic and the script was born.

First and foremost, When Harry Met Sally is a funny movie. You can’t watch it and not crack up. However, its brilliance comes in the more serious moments where Reiner and Ephron tapped into something real and genuine.

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#HAIRGOALS, amiright?

The Big-O Scene

If you know close to nothing about this film, chances are this is the one thing you’ve heard about. Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in Katz’s deli is hands down the most famous scene in the film. The scene was a true collaboration with Meg suggesting she actually fake it as opposed to just talk about it and with Billy suggesting a customer say directly after, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Both worked and Reiner gave the line to his mother, Estelle Reiner, who was visiting set that day.

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In a real restaurant, wouldn’t she be thrown out? 
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The most over-quoted line in film history

The Old-School Soundtrack

Reiner wanted a classic soundtrack, kinda Frank Sinatra standards-type stuff. Harry Connick Jr. was in his early twenties. Somehow Reiner heard him and hired him to re-vamp some old school standards. In that way, it was a bridge between the past and the modern. While I still love Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire’s renditions more, I enjoy the music, especially Harry’s rendition of the Gershwin classic that Astaire and Rogers popularized, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”

It’s witty, relevant and truly touching!

I’ll be honest. I watched this on NYE, partially to honor Carrie Fisher, partially because the film ends on New Years Eve. I realized this film is more than its hyped up reputation. There’s a reason it’s revered – it’s because it’s great! Even though its last scene is a bit cheesy, you can’t help but eat it up.

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#NEWYEARSGOALS

In regards to Carrie Fisher, I was deeply saddened by her untimely death. Although this film is but a blip in her career, a sheer sliver of her full talent, it makes me happy to know she lives on through this film and others that she either acted in or wrote.

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RIP Carrie Fisher.

Vintage trailer below:

 

When Harry Met Sally Gifs property of Columbia Pictures.

Star Wars gif property of Disney.

 

 

 

Why Gillian Armstrong’s ‘Little Women’ Adaptation Reigns Supreme

As a child of the 90’s, there are certain biases I have. When I was in elementary school, I became obsessed with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. As such, I watched every adaptation of the book, of which there have been many, seven to be exact. The earliest was made in 1933 and the latest was made in 1994.

Gillian Armstrong’s Little Women was always my favorite. Why, you may well ask? Well, for a number of reasons. Winona Ryder (nuff said). Christian Bale before he was Christian Bale. Claire Danes. Kirsten Dunst. It’s just the greatest, nostalgia and feminism all wrapped up in one big 90’s package.

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The eternal question: Are you a Marmee or an Amy?

If you’re not familiar, Little Women follows the March family: Jo March, the headstrong writer (Winona Ryder), Meg March, the quiet beauty (Trini Alvarado), Beth March, the awkward, sweet one (Claire Danes) and Amy March, the precocious, slightly vapid one (Kirsten Dunst). It’s the story of their coming of age in the time after the Civil War. Be aware: coming of age drama ensues.

Here are a few reasons you need to watch Little Women ASAP:

The Cast

As I’ve discussed before, Winona Ryder is my 90’s spirit animal. She really is such a powerhouse actress and she’s never given a bad performance. As Jo, Ryder really shines. She so easily fits into this world and this character. This was Ryder in her early 20’s prime. She made Reality Bites this same year.

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This was her giving eyes to a young Christian Bale…

Trini Alvarado is also great as Meg. The role of Meg is semi-similar to Jane in Pride and Prejudice. She’s sweet and a bit bland. But, she’s a contrast to the colorful main character. Trini hasn’t done much as of late, but I really enjoyed her in this.

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How gorgeous is she??

Like Ryder, I’m a MAJOR fan of Claire Danes. This film was made the same year she made the one, seminal season of the best teen show ever made (yes, I know. BIG STATEMENT), My So-Called Life. At the time, Claire was just fourteen years old. Funnily enough, she actually beat out Alicia Silverstone for the part of Beth. She also competed against Silverstone for the role of Angela in My So-Called Life.

Lovely and heartbreaking, she plays Beth with poise and vulnerability. I can’t not cry watching her in this.

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I’M NOT CRYING. YOU’RE CRYING. #RealTalk

Ah, and then there’s little Kirsten Dunst. Watching her in this really makes you remember how old you are. She was twelve years old during the filming of this and she’s absolutely wonderful. She’s precocious and sweet and has SO much personality.

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Look at those little ringlets!!

The Christian Bale of the Batman series is not my favorite. But, THIS Christian Bale I can get on board with. He was just twenty when he was in this and there was something very unpolished about him. He had a pronounced lisp in this film that’s just plain adorable.

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Just the HAIR. That is all.

In my research, I found that Olivia Hussey (aka Juliet) expressed interest in playing Marmee. Producers believed she looked too much like Trini Alvarado and so, Susan Sarandon ended up getting the part. And I have to say, all do respect to Olivia Hussey, but Sarandon was meant to play this part. She was everything the character needed to be. Feminist, sweet, tough…Sarandon!

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Aw, the March family…

Gabriel Byrne is also great as the Friedrich, the man who eventually steals Jo’s heart.

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SO CUTE, even though he’s like twenty years older than her…

Oh, and yes, that is Eric Stoltz from Some Kind of Wonderful playing Meg’s love interest, John Brooke.

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I think the beard is what gets me the most. It’s just….eh.

The Script

Robin Swicord penned the adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel and somehow, did so while giving the film a modern feel. It’s in the past and we feel that, but it’s also accessible, timeless. Swicord also wrote Matilda and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

What’s so wonderful about Alcott’s story is that she paints complex women. They are not one thing, they are many. And that’s specifically true with Jo who feels like a modern woman. The women are not there just for the “male” story. This is their story!

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#GirlPower

The Direction

Gillian Armstrong has mostly directed documentaries and I feel that some of her directorial choices mirror that. The film has a “fly on the wall” perspective at times. We feel like we’re apart of the March girl’s lives.

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Beth!!! 😦

Its themes are ON POINT. 

I learned so much from Little Women as a young girl. It deals with loss and love and friendship and independence. But, what I mostly took away was a line that Marmee says to Jo and Meg:

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Time erodes all such beauty. You tell ’em Marmee!

It’s the only adaptation helmed by an all-female creative team!

This film is from the female perspective. It’s adapted from a book by a woman by a woman. It’s directed by a woman. It’s produced by a woman. This doesn’t negate the value in previous adaptations, but there is something to be said about women telling stories about women. During the studio era, many “women’s films” were directed and written by men. Again, not saying that makes them bad, but it does make them different.

Women still have a hard time getting green-lit as directors.

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This film celebrates women in all aspects!

It’s inspiring, genuine and all kinds of nostalgic.

This is one of my favorite films to watch during the holiday season. It captures so much about growing up and has some wonderful performances. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a writer because of Jo March (lol, I know I’m not the only one).

If you’ve never seen it, put it on your list. A true modern classic.

 

Pictures and Gifs property of Columbia Pictures.

Girls Gif property of HBO.

‘A Little Romance’ aka ‘Before Sunrise’ for the Junior Set

I didn’t see Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy until I was well into college, so when I originally saw A Little Romance I didn’t see just how similar the films were. I was maybe around twelve or thirteen when I was introduced to this film. There is definitely a fantasy element, that preteen, wouldn’t-it-be-wonderful-if-this-happened-to-me kind of thing. But, there is also a realism, a maturity, a sensitivity to the way the film treats its young protagonists.

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Aren’t they adorable? 

If you’re not familiar, A Little Romance follows Lauren (Diane Lane), an young American girl living with her mother (Sally Kellerman) and stepfather (Richard Hill) in France. She meets young Daniel (Thelonious Bernard) on the film set of her mother’s current paramour and they establish an instant connection. When Lauren finds out her stepfather is going to be transferred back to the states, she decides to go on one last jaunt with Daniel to Venice with the help of an old, charming pickpocket, Julius (Laurence Olivier). As always with my reviews, drama ensues!

Here are just a few reasons you should put A Little Romance on your watchlist:

The Cast

Diane Lane made her feature film debut with this film. She was just fourteen years old. It’s amazing to see her as a young actress. Even then, she had a maturity and intelligence that made you want to listen to what she was saying. Her co-star, Laurence Olivier envisioned Lane as the next Grace Kelly.

Thelonious Bernard also made his debut with this film, but unlike Lane, he only went on to make one more film after. He retired from acting and became a dentist in France. It’s always fascinating to see a child actor who only gave one or two performances. Bernard certainly had something in this film. He was goofy and sweet and charming. You could see why Lauren falls for him.

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#HAIRGOALS, amiright?

Laurence Olivier was at the tail end of his career and during the making of this film, was recovering from pneumonia and thrombosis, but he insisted on doing his own stunts. It’s especially fun to see him as a bumbling, kind, criminal.

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The DRAMA starts here!

The Screenplay

The film was adapted from Claude Klotz’s novel, E=MC2 Mon Amour. Allan Burns, who adapted the novel, spent most of his writing career as a television writer, working on acclaimed shows like The Munsters and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

At the time this film was released, many criticized the film’s dialogue for being too sophisticated and cute, the underlying meaning being, thirteen year-olds don’t say this stuff. It doesn’t bother me. I think that their intelligence is the main reason they’re drawn to one another. Their friends don’t understand life on the same level as them.

Also, I think there’s a little bit of a 400 Blows-type feel to this film, especially Daniel’s home life. Before Sunrise was made nearly two decades after this film but it owes it a great debt. Like Sunrise, A Little Romance is almost entirely based around Lauren and Daniel’s relationship and their conversations.

It’s also similar in that both films end realistically. Daniel and Lauren’s love affair is pure. I believe they only kiss twice. Their connection is based on more than physical attraction and the film is instead commenting on what it’s like to fall in love at that age, while not demeaning it.

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Okay? Okay. 

The Direction

Director George Roy Hill is most famous for his films Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, both of which get a little cameo in A Little Romance. Daniel is obsessed with American film and regularly goes to the see movies, parroting what he hears.

The biggest thing I can say of the direction in this film is that there’s a sweetness to it. The film doesn’t claim to be treading new territory, but it tells its story in a quiet, charming way that delivers laughs and tears.

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GO DANIEL!!

The Score

Georges Delerue is most famous for scoring Platoon, Silkwood and The Conformist. However, the only Oscar he won was for his original score of A Little Romance. It’s very seventies, but also very classical and sweet just like the film itself.

It’s a sweet and pure tale of first love.

Is it a perfect film? No. But, it certainly deserves to be remembered if for no other reason than to see a young Diane Lane. The film takes its young protagonists and their problems seriously and because of that, it can’t help but tug on your heartstrings…unless you’re heartless or something. I can’t help you there!

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Just like Bogie and Bacall, huh?

Vintage trailer below:

Photos and Gifs property of Orion Pictures.

 

The Whimsical Magic of “The Purple Rose of Cairo”

So, this one may be a stretch in regards to my Halloween theme, but it is fantastical so I’m gonna go ahead and say it works. I first saw this movie back in my early teen years and initially, I wasn’t a big fan of it. I had already been introduced to Woody Allen by this point, but most of the films I had seen were his “early, funny ones.”

The Purple Rose of Cairo is something entirely different. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still very much a comedy, but it’s rooted in a real, emotional story. As I’ve gotten older, the film has grown on me more and more and I now consider it one of my favorite Woody Allen films.

If you’re unfamiliar, The Purple Rose of Cairo, made in 1985, follows Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a poor young woman in the depression. Her husband, Monk (Danny Aiello) is out of work. He has very little interest in finding any work or treating Cecilia with any sort of basic level of respect. The only joy in Cecilia’s life comes from her consistent trips to the movies. She has more interest in those fictional worlds than she does in her real one. One day, in the midst of watching a film she’s already watched multiple times, one of the characters notices and walks out of the screen. Thus, drama ensues!

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If only fictional characters could talk to us. Le sigh.

Here are just a few reasons you should add The Purple Rose of Cairo to your queue:

The Cast

Even though, of course, there’s been drama between the film’s leading lady and Woody Allen, I’d say this film is probably Mia Farrow’s best performance, certainly of the films she made with Allen. You automatically relate to Cecilia’s situation and understand why she loses herself in the movies. That’s partly due to great writing, but the credit should also be given to Farrow’s performance which is shiningly sincere and sweet.

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Kinda gives you Waitress/Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore Vibes, right?

The dual role of Gil Sheperd and Tom Baxter was a bit more difficult. Allen had originally cast Michael Keaton in the role. Keaton took a major pay cut to be in the film, but ten days into shooting, Keaton and Allen both agreed that something wasn’t working. Apparently, though Allen though Keaton was giving a strong performance, he felt that Keaton was just too modern for the audience suspend its disbelief.

The part was recast – Jeff Daniels took over. When I think of Daniels, my mind can’t NOT go to Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant HBO show The Newsroom. He will always be Will McAvoy to me. But, of course, at the time, Daniels had only two film credits to his name, Ragtime and a little film called Terms of Endearment. Watching the film, it’s difficult to imagine someone else in the role, especially Keaton. There’s a naivete that Daniels had that made Tom Baxter (the character in the movie she loves) completely lovable. He’s almost like a puppy, excited by everything and idealistic enough to think that if you love someone, every other problem can be fixed. Conversely, Daniels brought a completely different sensibility to Gil Sheperd (the actor who plays Tom Baxter). He’s pompous, confident, and he has a tough exterior. He looks out for himself over everyone else.

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It’d be really nice if Tom Baxter was real…

Danny Aiello is also notable as Cecilia’s awful husband. Now, it’s true, he’s a bit of a stereotype. However, he’s more there for comedic effect and as a contrast for the loveliness that is Tom Baxter. A brilliant character actor, Aiello is best known for his roles in The Godfather: Part II, Do the Right Thing, and Once Upon a Time in America. Even though he’s despicable, Aiello makes it so you can’t completely hate him.

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That look THOUGH…

Also, special mention: Gilmore Girls fans may not know much of Edward Herrmann’s roles outside of patriarch Richard Gilmore. He actually had an extensive film career and by the time this film was made, he had already had roles in The Great Gatsby, The Paper Chase and Reds. Of the film, Herrmann said, “…it was a great cast, all these very clever people, and we were having a hell of a good time acting ’30s (Herrmann, The AV Club Article).”

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I spy Richard Gilmore!

John Wood, the man next to Edward Herrmann above, is also very good. Recognize the name? He was also in WarGames, which I discussed a few weeks back.

Dianne Wiest is also hilarious. So many great character actors in this one!

The Script/Direction

Much can be said about Woody Allen as a person. There are people who I’m sure are probably annoyed that I would even discuss one of his films. But, I’m a firm believer in separating the artist from the person. And, as a writer, Woody Allen is one of the best!

This film is said to be one of his favorites of his own work. The fantastical nature never bothered me because I felt like the film was grounded in real emotions. And, as all of you know from reading my posts, I love the 1930’s. So, for me, it seems like a no brainer that I’d fall in love with it. After rewatching it this last time, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between this film and a film much later in Allen’s oeuvre, Midnight in Paris.

Both films are really about the difference between reality and fiction, between our idealistic notions and the hard cold facts. Whereas Midnight in Paris  was about how we idealize a time period, The Purple Rose of Cairo ponders the way we idealize the characters we see in movies. Every fangirl (and guy) out there understands this true dilemma. The characters we see in movie are just too amazing. How can real people live up to that?

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Literally my favorite line ever. Or at least…it’s pretty close!

Also, interesting to note that Allen had to fight to keep the film’s melancholy ending. “Orion executives asked Allen to change the painful conclusion, which punctured the escapist fantasy of the rest of the film, but Allen refused (Feaster, TCM Article).” I can’t imagine the film ending any other way.

The Cinematography

You may not know Gordon Willis by name, but you’ve certainly seen his work. In addition to the Godfather trilogy, he also shot All the President’s Men, Annie Hall, and The Paper Chase. In other words, he served as DP on more than a few classics. Oh, and did I mention he was nominated for some Oscars?

I love the color in this film, the dreariness makes you believe in the time period completely. Also, when Tom Baxter walks out of the screen…EPIC.

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AMAZINNNNG, amiright?

The Music

As with all Woody Allen movies, the music is incredible. The first scene of the film is Cecilia watching Astaire and Rogers. Literally warms your heart. No, really, it does!

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When we’re dancing cheek to cheek…

It’s fanciful, intriguing and makes you feel ALL THE FEELS…

To me, The Purple Rose of Cairo has a little bit of something for everyone. If you can suspend your disbelief, you’ll be taken on a magical adventure and find yourself both laughing AND crying along the way.

Woody Allen doesn’t attend any award ceremonies with the exception of the 2002 Oscars (he talked about NYC after 9/11). He’s written and directed almost fifty feature films. Some are fantastic and some are…not so fantastic. But, he keeps plugging away. Some hit the mark exactly and this film is certainly one of them.

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Anyone else wish movie theaters still looked like this?

Vintage trailer below:

Images and Gifs property of Orion Pictures

#FatherDaughterGoals: ‘Contact’

Re-watching a movie from your childhood is weird. Every moment is wrapped up in nostalgia. This is definitely the case for me with Robert Zemeckis’s 1997 film Contact. In my youth, I, of course, liked the film, but didn’t quite understand it. Honestly, I had a weird fear of any movie that dealt with space, so I think that definitely affected my opinion on it.

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Scary stuff, amiright? 

This was, like most films, something I was introduced to by my father. My dad had shown me episodes of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos prior to my first viewing of the film. I’ve seen the film so many times it’s difficult to remember what my initial responses were the first time I watched it. However, I do remember having a talk with my dad afterwards where he explained to me the science behind the film…wormholes and the theory of relativity. This film was such a special one to see as a child because it’s smart, thought-provoking and centered around a tough heroine (we still need to see more of those!).

For those not in the know, Contact follows Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), a scientist who, despite judgement from others in her field, decides to devote her life’s work to SETI, a real organization, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. She meets Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), a religious author, a “man of the cloth, without the cloth.” When she discovers a signal not in the neighborhood, Ellie gets swept along the what-if scenario of contacting intelligent life, with all the politics, the ethical questions, and the danger that comes with it.

Here are just a few reasons you need to watch or re-watch Contact ASAP:

The Cast

The casting is everything in this film. I can’t imagine this story without Jodie Foster at its helm. I’ve spoken about Jodie once before when I discussed Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which she made when she was just a child. When she was considering taking the lead in Contact, Jodie was in a different position. For one thing, she was an Oscar winner for her role in The Silence of the Lambs, probably the scariest film I’ve ever seen!

Jodie had also had her directorial debut a few years before, so I think it’s safe to say she had her pick of roles. Initially, she didn’t sign on to the film due to script issues. But, with Zemeckis’s passion and an extensive re-write, Foster came aboard. Jodie said of her role, “The idea of someone searching for some kind of purity, searching for something she can’t find, was something that was very close to myself. I process everything through my head first. I cope through my head (Foster, TCM Article).” IMHO, she brought intelligence, levity and earnestness to Ellie.

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Got her game face on…#TimeToMeetAliens

Matthew McConaughey got his major break in 1993 when he played Wooderson in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. He was just 28 in this film although he seems older. He’s not doing his standard “Alright, alright, alright…,” but he’s about one step away. He’s very charming and serves his purpose. You can see why Ellie is smitten.

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That smile though…

James Woods plays the villain of the story, if there is one. He’s smarmy and corporate and perfect in this part.

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James Woods yells A LOT.

John Hurt is terrifying as the Howard Hughes-esque billionaire S.R. Hadden. I used to hear him say this line in my nightmares.

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THOSE glasses might be the most terrifying part.

I have to say though, no one terrified me more than Jake Busey who played a terrorist named Joseph. My brother said he looks like Carrot Top. Regardless, every time I saw him in this film, my stomach dropped.

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TERRIFYING.

Oh, and Jena Malone is cute as Young Ellie. This was only her second film.

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This long shot is fantastic.

The Script

The film was, of course, based on the novel of the same name by Carl Sagan. Strangely though, it originated as a screen project with then-production executive Lynda Obst. When it looked as though there would be no film, Carl went and wrote the novel, only to have the studio then become interested in adapting it.

James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg penned the script, with help from Sagan and his wife. I’ve already discussed James V. Hart once before when I wrote about Tuck Everlasting, which he also wrote the script for. Ann Druyan, Sagan’s wife and collaborator said, “Carl’s and my dream was to write something that would be a fictional representation of what contact would be like. But it would also have the tension inherent between religion and science, which was an area of philosophical and intellectual interest that riveted both of us (Druyan, TCM Article).” Truly, this is what makes the film so fascinating. The relationship between Palmer and Ellie is really about the relationship between science and religion. It asked the question, ‘Can these two fiercely defensive sides find common ground?’

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Science and Religion are pretty good looking, no?

I also really loved the idealism of the film. There’s a line when Ellie is talking to Tom Skerrit’s character, Dr. Drumlin, another scientist. He tells her that the world isn’t fair. She responds, “Funny, I always thought the world is what we make it.”

The Score

This cannot be understated. Alan Silvestri, known for his scores for Back to The Future and Forest Gump, was the composer for Contact. To me, the score is inextricably linked to the film and its ideas. I just can’t separate them. It almost sounds like a lullaby.

The Direction

Robert Zemeckis had already established himself as a great sci-fi director when he made the Back to the Future films, but at this point, he was riding high from his Oscar winner from 1994, Forrest Gump. Another director was already attached to Contact, George Miller, but weeks before shooting, the studio decided to fire him. Zemeckis came on board with the understanding that he would be able to interject his own ideas into the script, including a new ending.

Zemeckis’s love for characters and humor are what make Contact really work. The relationships feel real and so, there’s weight to the events that take place. The only thing I would say is that I don’t agree with Zemeckis’s choice to use real reporters in the film. Larry King, Jay Leno, and even President Bill Clinton make appearances. While he was going for a sense of verisimilitude, those moments took me out of the film.

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Really important to grab that cracker jack compass right now…

The Cinematography

Don Burgess, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Forrest Gump, shot the film artistically and added a level of intensity. The scene where Ellie goes through the wormholes, you’ll literally be on the edge of your seat!

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So beautiful…

The Film IS #FatherDaughterGoals

This really gets to the crux of this film for me. The relationship Ellie has with her father is sweet, based on him teaching her about astronomy. It’s a perfect film to watch with your dad. When you see the scene where Ellie meets the alien and they’ve taken the form of her father, you WILL BE CRYING.

Contact, to me, is about (as corny as it sounds) not being afraid to reach for the stars. The message the film sends is that we should stick to our convictions and keep asking questions. This movie doesn’t insult the intelligence of its audience. It wasn’t aimed towards four year-olds as many films are today.  There was real love put into making this film and you can tell.

Carl Sagan unfortunately didn’t live long enough to see the film released, but no doubt, Contact is a tribute to him.

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#RealTalk

Trailer Below. The film is available to stream on Netflix. If you’re looking for something to fill the sci-fi shaped hole Stranger Things left, try Contact. You won’t be disappointed.

 

All images and gifs are property of Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Re-examining ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

This past weekend, I watched Ron Howard’s wonderful new documentary about the Beatles during their touring years, Eight Days a Week. As a huge Beatles fan, I saw A Hard Day’s Night several times in my adolescence, never quite understanding all the things the film was, but enjoying it nonetheless.

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BEATLEMANIA…#ThoseGirlsAreCray

After watching the documentary, I felt like I had a little more context for the film. A Hard Day’s Night was made in 1964 and was meant to capitalize on the Beatlemania which was sweeping the world. Director Richard Lester was brought in to make a film which was a comedy, a documentary, and a musical film all in one.

When mentioning this film to other young people, I found that most people thought it was an actual documentary or they simply had never heard of it which is a MAJOR BUMMER cause this film is fantastic!

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Lennon being Lennon… 

So, without further adieu, here are just a few reasons you need to watch A Hard Day’s Night:

The Script

So, I know many of you out there might be like, “What script? There was a script.” Because of the naturalistic style of the film, many don’t realize that the film was almost one-hundred percent scripted. The only one who ad-libbed was John Lennon, who let’s face it, probably couldn’t help it.

Alun Owen penned the script after spending time with John, Paul, George and Ringo. He listened to the way they spoke and tried to put words in their mouths that would sound natural for them to say. He also used the script to satirize television, the press, and The Beatles’ own celebrity.

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Love me some 1960s insults. #SUCHADRAG

The Comedy

Really, to me, this is what makes the film more than just one long music video. Even though the film was fully scripted, it doesn’t feel like it. The camaraderie between the boys is effortless and hilarious. Their cheekiness is everything.

They picked great character actors for the smaller bit roles and it helped to make the film feel like it had a real narrative we were following. Paul’s grandfather (NOT REALLY HIS GRANDFATHER) is hilarious…and very CLEAN.

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THOSE GLASSES THOUGH. 
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The BEST joke. 

The Direction

Director Richard Lester’s only real experience before A Hard Day’s Night was in television. Two years ago, during the 50th anniversary’s BFI screening, Lester was interviewed by NME where he said,”The idea of the film came from the film department of United Artists at the beginning of 1964, and they said they’d only do it if it was cheap and in black and white and if we could get it done by July. They thought The Beatles were going to be a spent force by the end of the summer (Lester, NME Article).” Lester went on to direct The Beatles’ second film, Help! as well as Superman II and Superman III.

His direction brims with enthusiasm and energy, possibly due to the fact that he was not much older (Lester was just 32!) than The Beatles themselves. Oh, and the fans that you see in the film…they’re real. He just let them do whatever they wanted to do. So, of course, they went NUTS.

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Genuine NUTSO Beatles fans…

The Music

The music is EVERYTHING. You have to remember, this was before MTV or TRL (which honestly are references that are both kind of before my time). There was no such thing as music videos and I can imagine, being a young person during that time and seeing this film must have been like a dream come true, like a private concert for Beatles fans around the world. And the music is SOOOOO GOOD.

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You can’t buy love, man. If the Beatles say it, it must be true. #RealTalk

The Characters

This film’s strength very much rests on the wonderful character actors. Wilfrid Brambell was cast as Paul’s grandfather and his performance makes the film, IMHO. He had been in a popular BBC show called Steptoe and Son where he’d apparently been called a dirty old man, which is where the big joke came from, “He’s very clean.” Norman Rossington and John Junkin were also wonderful as the band’s fake managers. Comedian Anna Quayle (of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame) was also thrown in for good measure.

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Weirdos…

And of course, THE BEATLES!!

The Beatles’ fame and fandom was unlike anything or anyone up until that point. United Artists thought they were a passing fad. Little did they know that their influence on culture would stand the test of time, or at least the next fifty years. Their chemistry, both as musicians and friends, make A Hard Day’s Night a joy from start to finish. You should have a smile on your face throughout. Or…at least I did!

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#SWOON

Trailer below:

Gifs and Main Photo property of United Artists.

 

Why I now appreciate John Badham’s WarGames

I remember being terrified the first time I saw WarGames. Mind you, I’m pretty sure I was under the age of ten, but still, this light thriller gave me nightmares. Once I got a little older, I saw the film again and began to see it in a different light. I could finally appreciate the film, although I will say parts of it still make me feel uneasy.

Recently, I watched a special feature about the making of the film which turned everything I thought I knew on its head. I love hearing behind-the-scenes stories which make you feel awe that the film got finished, was successful, and was actually a good movie. WarGames is one such case of this.

But before we get to all that, here’s a little synopsis for those of you who are WarGames virgins. Made in 1983, the film follows David (Matthew Broderick), a teenager too smart for his own good. Obsessed with computers (which now look positively ANCIENT), he accidentally hacks into the military’s central computer and realizes the computer cannot tell the difference between game-playing and reality. There is, of course, a girl played by a young Ally Sheedy who goes on the roller coaster journey with David while also falling in love with him. Let’s just say…DRAMA ENSUES.

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The computers seriously look ANCIENT. #DidIMentionImAMillennial?

Here are just a few reasons you should check out WarGames:

The Cast

This is the type of film that relies heavily upon the charm of its actors. If its leads were boring and/or annoying, I think we would have more trouble buying into its fantastical story.

Matthew Broderick had only done one film before this, a Neil Simon comedy, Max Dugan Returns. Unable to come in for a callback for WarGames, he suggested that then-director, Martin Brest, watch his dailies from the film. At only twenty years old, he had a charisma that was undeniable. He was likable and effortlessly funny. He carried the film with his convincing technological know-how and charm.

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Look how young! #ALittleFerrisBuellerNo?

Ally Sheedy was about the same age as Matthew and was completely green, having only been in one film before WarGames. She was playing the “girl next door.” I’m sure her natural and appealing performance in this played a part in getting her the The Breakfast Club a few years later.

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SASS #ThatEyeRoll

John Wood is also wonderful as Professor Falken. Apparently, the character was originally based on scientist Stephen Hawking. Barry Corbin and Dabney Coleman also have standout roles as McKittrick and General Berringer, respectively.

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Aw, John Wood…#WordsToLiveBy

The Script

This is really one of the most interesting pieces. The story was conceived and written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes. They were very involved in early development and did a lot of research. This script was their baby. When Martin Brest came on to direct, he decided to tonally go in a different direction and the writing team was essentially fired from the film.

A little while later, Martin Brest was fired from the film and John Badham was brought on to direct. The writers were then hired back and became apart of the process again. Their script, in addition to being fun and super entertaining, posed questions that were ahead of their time. Computers were not in wide use when the film was released and so, the idea of hacking, wasn’t as widespread and commonplace as it is today. When they were shopping the script around, apparently studio execs were confused by it.

The thing Lasker and Parkes understood so well was that the characters come first. So, even though there were these underlying science fiction themes and big questions that were being posed, the film was also accessible on a pure entertainment level.

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Great concept. #TheKidsAreAlwaysSmarter

The Direction

I was surprised to learn that the film originally was going to be directed by Martin Brest. Brest, in his own right, made some great films including The Scent of a Woman and Meet Joe Black. The studio, however, felt that the film Brest was making was not the film they wanted. They sought out someone new to direct even though they were a few weeks already into filming.

They decided to approach John Badham (brother to Mary Badham, aka Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird) who had already directed Saturday Night Fever and Dracula. He brought out the lighter side of the script, helping to develop the chemistry between Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick. According to Sheedy, she thinks the film Brest was trying to make had validity as well, but that it wasn’t going to be a popcorn flick the same way it turned out to be in Badham’s hands.

The movie was really a crowd pleaser and that’s because Badham knew the film needed balance. It had adventure, romance, and fun. He even had a writer come in to add a scene between David and Jennifer and I daresay, it’s one of the best scenes in the film.

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#RealTalk 

The Music

Music, for me, is a key reason to like any movie. WarGames is very much of the time period containing a lot of synthesizer and “techy” sounds. But, there’s one piece of music that this film is famous for. Arthur Rubinstein composed it and it’s called “Edge of the World.” Rubinstein, in the special feature included with the Blu-Ray, said that whenever he tells people he composed the film, they always bring up the harmonica. Although he gets kind of annoyed with it since he composed several other pieces of music for the film, this is what stuck and it’s for good reason. It is brilliant and gives you all the #feels.

The Romance

The film cannot be categorized as a romance as really it only has a few scenes that are really about that. However, I remember totally having a crush on Matthew Broderick after this film. He was adorkable long before Zooey Deschanel made that a thing. There is something about Jennifer and David’s relationship that just seems so sincere. Possibly because they were both so green, they seemed to have a natural and easy chemistry.

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Changing a girl’s grade is the secret way to her heart. #OBVI
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Almost seems like too personal a moment to watch…or is that just me? #BUELLER?

Because it’s smart, thought-provoking, and SO MUCH FUN. 

Hitchcock always said the audience comes first. Films should be life with all the boring parts cut out. This film was way ahead of its time. Technology was not a way of life the way it is now. The film actually inspired real changes in the world beyond my dad telling me he bought a computer because of it.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I love films that make you think and I believe it is possible to produce a film that is both entertaining and about something. The film has a message that is important and still relevant today. Badham summed it up quite nicely, saying, “…The more powerful and the more authority we delegate to computers, the more things we are abdicating. And that’s where it gets to be dangerous. Suddenly the roles are reversed and then, in a true Harold Pinter situation, we don’t know who’s the servant and who’s the master”(Badham, TCM Article).

More than anything, I came out of watching the film’s special feature admiring both the writers of this film and the film’s producer, Leonard Goldberg. It was through his bits that I understood that the real job of a producer is to have enough passion for a project to handle all the bumps that come with getting it made and this film had its bumps for sure.

All in all, it’s a very entertaining film that makes you laugh, cry, and cheer. And really, what else can you ask for?

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For the record, this is where you’re CHEERING…

Vintage trailer below:

 

 

The Charms and Flaws of ‘Tuck Everlasting’

One day in the 4th grade, while in my elementary school discovery club (which is really just a fancy word for day care), I found a worn out copy of Tuck Everlasting on their book shelf. At nine years old, I had already become a bit of a reader. But, Tuck Everlasting, written by Natalie Babbitt, was the book that me fall in love with reading.

For those not in the know, Tuck Everlasting, which takes place in the late 19th century (in the film the early 20th), follows Winifred (Winnie) Foster, a ten-year old girl who upon running away meets a family that is immortal. Her life is so rigid that she can’t help but fall in love with the slower way the Tucks live their lives. At its heart though, the book is about death and the fear we all have surrounding the idea.

In fact, Natalie Babbitt recently discussed what influenced her to write the novel, saying “One day she [her daughter] had trouble sleeping, woke up crying from a nap. And we looked into it together, as well as you can with a 4-year-old, and she was very scared with the idea of dying. And it seemed to me that that was the kind of thing you could be scared of for the rest of your life. And so I wanted to make sure that she would understand what it was more. And it seemed to me that I could write a story about how it’s something that everybody has to do and it’s not a bad thing” (Babbitt, NPR). To listen to her full interview, click here.

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The Original 1975 Cover

Since the book was just adapted into a Broadway musical, I thought this would be the perfect time to re-examine the film adaptation from 2002. The film meant a lot to me at the time. I was just about ten years old when the film was released. Looking bad on it, the film is not without flaws, but despite its imperfections, I still love it.

Here are just a few reasons Tuck Everlasting is worth a watch:

The Cast

Truly, this is one of the film’s greatest strengths. Alexis Bledel was still at the beginning of her years playing her most famous role: Rory Gilmore on the WB dramedy, Gilmore Girls. She was twenty-one when she stepped into the role of Winnie Foster. The late Edward Herrmann who played the patriarch of the Gilmore family said of Alexis: “[She’s] like Audrey Hepburn. The camera absolutely adores [her]. [She] can’t say anything wrong, [she] can’t do anything wrong. It’s a gift” (Herrmann, AV Club Interview).

She was perfect for the role because she had an intrinsic childlike innocence. Obviously, Winnie was ten in the book, but for the purposes of the film, they made her fifteen and added a love story.

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Those flower crown things are still modern, no?

Jonathan Jackson, who’s now known as Avery Barkley on ABC’s Nashville was cast opposite Alexis as Jesse Tuck. He was about twenty and not very well-known. As Jesse, he’s charming and energetic. You can’t help but fall for him just as Winnie does.

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If there was a deer that close to me, I’d probably be screaming.

The real weight of the cast is in its strong supporting cast. William Hurt and Sissy Spacek play Angus and Mae Tuck with strength and sensitivity. They both, of course, had already had massively successful film careers. Thus, they took a back seat in this film and let the story shine.

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Love this scene…

Ben Kingsley played the villain of the tale, The Man in the Yellow Suit. I remember some of my first impressions after my first viewing of the film and one of them was pure terror of Ben Kingsley’s character. There’s a scene where he’s talking to a Priest in a graveyard that still sends a chill down my spine.

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TUCK EVERLASTING, Ben Kingsley, Victor Garber, Amy Irving, 2002, (c) Walt Disney

Additionally, Amy Irving and Victor Garber are wonderful as Winnie’s parents. Irving especially affected me when I first saw the film. When her own mother is dying and she climbs into bed with her, I can’t help but tear up.

The Story

The material is what makes this film worthwhile. While the film is a bit Disney-fied in retrospect, the story is told in a restrained, yet sensitive way. At the age I first read the book and saw the movie,  I had a lot of fear surrounding the idea of death. I remember having nightmares about it and while I’m still not comfortable with it (who is??), this story did comfort me and help me come to terms with the concept of death.

Obviously, the film, for commercial reasons, added a teenage love story. While I understand the filmmakers and studio’s thought process, that may be the major flaw of the film. The original story was not meant to be a teen romance. It was a small tale which posed the question: Does it pay to live forever if you’re not really living?

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#RealTalk

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been exposed to many more films and obviously, learned a lot about the history of film. When re-examining this film, I couldn’t help but think of Producer Irving Thalberg. He famously became the head of Universal at the age of twenty and was nicknamed “the boy wonder.” Irving was born with a heart condition and was told he would not live past the age of thirty. Thus, there was an urgency in his life. He knew he would not live a long time and was determined to make the most of it.

This is a theme that always fascinates me: how people react in knowing that their deaths are imminent. Some films that come to mind are Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach and Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, two films which I’m sure to cover sometime in the future.

The Romance

Even though this didn’t exist in the book really, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. It’s a bit saccharine, yes, but it’s also charming. I like romance. Sue me.

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Remember when he laughed at her thinking she might drown? #Jerk
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I would have been telling him to slow down…
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Overdramatic? A bit. #IStillLoveIt

 

The Score

Maybe it’s because music is so attached to our memories, but I can’t help but melt at Tuck Everlasting’s score composed by William Ross. It evokes a little Titanic magic, which makes sense, considering Ross was an arranger for the film.

It’s universal and thought-provoking.

So much of the time, children’s films condescend. They usually don’t dare to discuss real issues, although the recent Pixar film Inside Out did an excellent job in talking about depression.

Tuck Everlasting was not a bomb by any means, but it also wasn’t a big box office success. So, now, it seems the film has been relegated to almost obscurity. For all its flaws, it’s a film which attempts to explain death to children with sensitivity and charm. For me, it will always hold a nostalgia factor so I know I’m biased. However, even if this is not something you would usually watch, I urge you to give it a chance, if only to hear Natalie Babbitt’s beautiful words.

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Vintage trailer below:

P.S. – Here’s a song from the Broadway show which just closed on Broadway. For the purposes of the show, they went to the story’s roots and let Winnie be a ten year-old girl. Young Sarah Charles Lewis is pretty talented, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weight of ‘A Place in the Sun’

I didn’t always like A Place in the Sun. In fact, I pretty adamantly hated it. I still remember the first time I saw it. I turned to my dad after the film ended and said, “That’s it?” He nodded, “Yep, that’s it.” I was LIVID. What was the point?

I felt like the time I had put in to watching the film was a waste. I was young, maybe twelve or so. I think, at that point, I still believed that every story needed to have a happy ending. Since A Place in the Sun did not, I dismissed it. It wasn’t until a few years after that when I decided to watch the film again, that I realized everything I had been missing.

A Place in the Sun, made in 1951, follows George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), a poor young man who moves to the big city just looking for a job. His uncle gives him a job at his factory. There, George meets and starts a relationship with Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a quiet young woman who works at the factory. Feeling obligated, George’s uncle invites George to a party at his house. There, everything changes because he meets Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor), a gorgeous, young socialite. They quickly fall in love. Only problem is Alice becomes pregnant. Let’s just say DRAMA ENSUES.

Since TCM is honoring Montgomery Clift this month, I decided this would be a perfect time to discuss this film and my introduction to him as an actor. I’ve spoken about him on this blog before, when I discussed The Heiress. He made that film a few years earlier, in 1949.

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Just look at that boyish smile…

If you’ve never seen the film, here are just a few reasons A Place in the Sun still affects me:

The Cast

I don’t think there have ever been two parts more perfectly cast than George Eastman and Angela Vickers. Elizabeth Taylor was a child star, known for the Lassie films and National Velvet. She credited Clift with teaching her what acting was, for he, of course, was one of the first method actors. Their chemistry is palpable and really is the major reason the film works. Both of them seem so genuinely in love with each other. Taylor was in love with Clift, even though he was gay. Their friendship is legendary and Taylor was fierce about protecting Clift.

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That dress though…#FashionGoals

Shelley Winters had the unfortunate circumstance of being cast as Alice Tripp, aka the only thing that stands in the way of George and Angela’s great love. The audience feels contentious towards her which she doesn’t deserve. Funnily enough, I found in my research that she campaigned for the part and only got it when she agreed to play the part sans makeup with an unflattering hairstyle.

Looking back at it, Winters playing her part so well is a huge reason the film works. She’s not evil, but she certainly can manipulate and is fierce about staking her claim on George. She has a way of making her human, complex, more than one thing – the mark of a great performance!

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Isn’t this just heartbreaking? 

The Direction

I’ve already discussed a George Stevens movie already on this blog, although it was very different tonally. The More the Merrier was a light screwball comedy. As I discussed in that post, Stevens was changed after witnessing the horrors of World War 2. He didn’t see the point in making comedies anymore – he wanted to make films that meant something.

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George Stevens on set with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift

Stevens was meticulous and precise. He spent two years making A Place in the Sun. Years later, Shelley Winters recalled working with Stevens in her autobiography, saying, “He was the greatest director I’ve ever worked for. He made me understand that acting, especially film acting, is not emotion, but thinking. He had been a famous cameraman since the Keystone Kops days, and he showed me how the camera photographs your thoughts and sometimes your soul.” (Shelley Winters).

Stevens won an Academy Award for his direction of the film, but lost out on Best Picture to An American in Paris.

The Score

Franz Waxman won an Academy Award for composing the score of A Place in the Sun and it was well deserved. It’s melancholy and full of jazzy emotion. Don’t believe me: just take a listen!

The Screenplay

The screenplay was written by Michael Wilson and Harry Brown, but was adapted from a novel called An American Tragedy which was written by Theodore Dreiser. Dreiser based his novel on a real trial from 1906. A young woman’s body was found in a lake, having been overturned by a boat. The man she was with stood trial for killing her, even though he insisted she committed suicide. He was executed by electric chair in 1908.

The novel had already been adapted for the screen once in 1931 when it was directed Josef von Sternberg. Apparently, Dreiser did not like how it was adapted. Wilson and Brown treated the story with delicacy. The film was revolutionary in that it dealt with complex human beings. The characters weren’t simply the good guy or the bad guy. They were shades of grey. This is especially true with Clift’s character. We go through everything with him and so, at the end, when he’s pleading for his life, we don’t know how to feel.

Michael Wilson and Harry Brown won the Academy Award that year for Best Screenplay.

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Awwww. 

The Legendary Friendship

Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift met on this film and became lifelong friends. They both give wonderful performances and obviously brought out the best in one another. A few years back, before Elizabeth Taylor passed away, TCM made a tribute video for Clift narrated by Taylor. It’s a great view into their relationship.

Critical Reception

Charlie Chaplin went to an advanced screening of the film in Hollywood and told director George Stevens that “This is the greatest movie ever made about America.” Only, now, looking back on it, do I understand what he meant. It certainly made an impression on me. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at The TCM Film Festival a few years back, just after Elizabeth Taylor passed away.

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I’m not crying. YOU’RE CRYING.

It’s a powerful film and one that takes maturity to appreciate. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish you could go back in time and steal all of Elizabeth Taylor’s outfits. I sure did.

Vintage trailer is below:

 

‘The Bad News Bears’ at 40

I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw The Bad News Bears. It was just one of those movies that was ingrained in my psyche. I do remember specifically wanting to emulate Amanda, Tatum O’Neal’s character. I even took her dialogue and made it into a monologue for any theater auditions I had cause I loved it THAT MUCH.

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An insult that I believed was the height of sophistication…

If you’re not familiar, The Bad News Bears, made in 1976, follows a little league baseball team managed by an unenthusiastic, alcoholic coach,  played by Walter Matthau. The team is made up of the “losers,” the ones no other team wanted. They are the ultimate underdogs.

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You know it’s a top team if they’re sponsored by “Chico’s Bail Bonds”

In April, the film celebrated its 40th anniversary. The NY Daily News wrote a great piece about the film in which the author spoke with prolific producer Stanley Jaffe, as well as actors Tatum O’Neal, Jackie Earle Haley, Charlie Matthau, Erin Blunt, and David Pollock. It was eye opening to hear the actors speak about the making of the film.

Here are a just a few reasons you should give the Bears a try!

THE CAST

The movie really only works with Walter Matthau. Matthau had already won an academy award and was well established; yet, he was the third choice to play Morris Buttermaker. In front of him were actors Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty. Both turned down the part and thus the part went to Matthau, who apparently took to the kids right away and knew how to have fun on set. His effortless humor and curmudgeon aura were perfect for Buttermaker, or as Amanda calls him, Boilermaker.

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SO MANY THINGS WRONG HERE.

Tatum O’Neal was fresh off her Academy Award win for Paper Moon which she made with her father, Ryan O’Neal and Director Peter Bogdonavich. She spoke in the article about her fear in making The Bad News Bears. What she loved most about the experience was working with Walter Matthau. I, of course, wanted to be Amanda. She was tough and feminine and so sophisticated! I mean, she got to sell star maps on the street BY HERSELF.

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The height of pre-teen sophistication…

Jackie Earle Haley, who I discussed in my post on Breaking Away, is also notable as Kelly Leak. He was only 14 when he made the film, but he seemed like the essence of cool. He was also the bad boy, but he had a good heart in the end. In the Daily News article, Haley said he still gets approached by fans because of his part. He also spoke about what it was like to be around Matthau…

“There were actually some times where he’d[Matthau] pop a can of Olympia beer open, like mid-day, and if I was sitting next to him, he’d go, ‘Here, you want a sip?'” says Haley, who was 14 when the movie was filmed. “Just like at the end of the movie. It was hilarious “(Jackie Earle Haley).

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The Coolest Kid in Town

THE DIALOGUE

Unlike many of today’s comedies, this film was fully scripted. Penned by Bill Lancaster, the son of famous actor Burt Lancaster, there were some wonderful zingers! Some of my favorite lines:

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Quite possibly the best retort for those   arrogant Yankees.
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ONE WORD: SIR.

THE THEMES

The film didn’t always end the way it does now. They actually filmed an alternate ending with a different outcome to their last game. Stanley Jaffe put it best when he said, “It’s not about winning. It’s about trying. One person wins. But everybody can try and that’s what this picture is to me – everybody trying (Jaffe).”

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TRUE WINNERS.

There’s also a great scene between Matthau and O’Neal where she’s basically trying to get him to hang out with her and he tells her essentially that if he wanted her company, he would’ve looked her up years ago. The scene is completely understated and that only makes it more powerful – that tear going down Buttermaker’s cheek always gets me.

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Aw, Buttermaker…

THE FILM CELEBRATES OUR DIFFERENCES

That’s what I think I related to the most as a kid. All of the players on the team had their own quirks that made them different. They were the underdogs and you couldn’t help rooting for them. This is still a lesson that needs to be taught, especially to young people.

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Maybe they shouldn’t of been drinking though…haha

RANDOM TIDBITS

Doesn’t Charlie Matthau look EXACTLY like his father now??

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Charlie Matthau photographed at little league fields in Palisades Park. Charlie played for the A’s in the film. Portraits of actors in the film The Bad News Bears. This year is the 40th Anniversary, the movie came out in 1976. Palisades Park, CA. March 22, 2016. (Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)

One of the other supporting actors, who played Ogilvie, was also known for his roles in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Woody Allen’s Love and Death. He has since stopped acting, but if you know those other films, you know he was talented!

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The film was a major critical and box office success and it’s one of my personal favorites. It certainly shaped who I was as a young person. Now, as an adult, I think I love it even more – the messages, the characters, the humor! If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat – and I swear, you don’t even have to like baseball!

Vintage trailer below: