Category: Trivia

Joe Dator’s Rediscovering “Columbo”


Over the last year I’ve posted about my wife’s and my renewed interest and love for Columbo starring Peter Falk.  Because the series is so popular it appears on several networks daily which makes recording episodes easy. My wife and I have been working our way through every episode.  Joe Dator is doing the same thing.

Joe Dator is an accomplished cartoonist whose work can regularly be found in The New Yorker, often be found in Mad Magazine and Esquire and believe it or not, at his personal website.  Joe was a winner of The National Cartoonists Society’s 2018 Silver Reuben Award.

I tell you all of this as a way of introduction into Joe Dator’s Rediscovering “Columbo” in 2020.  The cartoon strip first appeared in The New Yorker last October, but can be seen in full at Joe’s website.  I agree with everything Joe says about the joys of watching Columbo.  The one thing I would add is that while Columbo’s first name is never spoken it does appear to eagle-eyed viewers when Columbo shares his ID in a few episodes.

Happy New Year and a Look Back at 2020!

2021 is almost here.  2020 has been quite a year… and not all in a good way.  I thought before I wish you a Happy New Year (and go in to watch the official dropping of the ball to signify 2021 is indeed here) I’d take a brief look back at 2020.

When the 202o started, I was excited.  I was scheduled to retire after nearly 36 years as an educator.  I had a great career as a teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal.  I served as a soccer, football and basketball coach.  I was fortunate to work at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  I worked as an administrator on the construction of two new schools (the AP of one and the Principal of the other).  I had decided that my last day with students at the end of the 2020 school year would be my last day of work.  I thought it would be cool to have my last day with students be my last working day.  Unfortunately that was not to be.

Because of the COVID pandemic we went to virtual school after Spring Break.  Students and teachers worked from home for the remainder of the school year.  My AP and I continued to work from school and home (splitting the week so one of us was always at school).  I retired at the end of May.  My wife and I had talked of having a big retirement party (she had retired in December).  We would invite family and friends for an evening of fun.  Thanks to COVID, that idea was shelved.

My plan after retirement was to travel with my wife (short trips around the country).  I also planned to attend several comic conventions with my best bud, John Beatty.  Yep, The pandemic put an end to both.

Since the start of the pandemic my wife and I have stayed at home except for take out meals when not eating at home and our only travelling was the two miles to my oldest son’s house to visit him, his wife and our grandson.  Since the pandemic started I’ve known more than a few people who contacted the disease.  Some had to be hospitalized and two died.  I’ll be so glad to get the vaccine and for things to get back to “normal”.

Being home so much gave me the opportunity to watch a lot of movies.  I normally see about 200 a year (mostly streaming).  This year I saw 453.  Yep, over two times as many.  I also read more novels.  I usually average about 20 – 25 a year.  This year I read 34.  I would have saw more movies and read more books except I was laid up with my medical emergency in September/October.

As you’re probably aware, I had to go to the emergency room in September.  Ultimately, I had surgery and they discovered my gallbladder had ruptured and gangrene set in.  I was in the hospital for six days and the doc said had they not operated when they did I probably would have died.  Talk about an eye-opener!

As we head in to 2021, I look forward to getting the COVID vaccine.  I probably won’t be able to get mine until the 3rd or 4th wave.  I’ll be thankful whenever it becomes available.  I hope things will begin to return to normal in the summer.  Maybe my wife and I will be able to do a few trips.  Who knows, maybe John and I will have a convention or two to attend.

The StalloneZone turns 25 in 2021!  Hard to believe.  I plan to do more with the site and work on ways to interact with fans more.  I also hope to start doing video reviews on this site, as well as livestream sessions with creators and fans (here and at the SZ).  We have an active forum and I’d love to interact on livestream with those folks and others — we could have some lively discussions!

I hope that 2020 has had some highlights for each of you.  I want to thank you for visiting my site (and the StalloneZone) and appreciate the e-mail and comments you leave me.

Enough rambling.  Time to get ready for the ball drop.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

“Blade” Trivia

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects presents 32 Things We Learned from the ‘Blade‘ Commentary.  As always, before you click over, here are my three favorites and thoughts on each…

“I’ve found that American action films rely more on spectacle,” says Snipes, “but action films from other countries don’t do it that way.” He adds that international action is often embedded into “the emotional state and intent of the character.” (Snipes is right.  Too many of our movies these days rely on big special effects.  I prefer a movie that focuses on, as Snipes said, “the emotional state and intent of the character.” – Craig)

A deleted conversation from the script explained how Blade’s sword originally belonged to Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) who himself was part of a long line of vampire hunters. (It was smart to drop that.  The “long line of vampire hunters” bit is just too cliche. – Craig)

Norrington wanted Kristofferson for the role as he was “the cool grandfather, grungy type of fighting, jolly type of a guy.” Goyer actually wrote the character, though, with Samuel Fuller in mind.  (I’m not a big fan of Blade but loved Blade II.  With that said, Kristofferson was a great addition to the movie and one of the things I liked best about it. – Craig)

“Pulp Fiction” Trivia

Pulp Fiction is arguably Quentin Tarantino’s best film.  I’ve been thinking it’s about time for another viewing of it.  Paul Schrodt’s 12 Things to Look for While Watching Pulp Fiction makes me want to watch it even more.  Before you click over to Schrodt’s piece, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON’S FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE DOESN’T EXIST.  (I was surprised when I first learned that Tarantino basically made up Jackson’s biblical quote.  Jackson really sold it for that scene and I wonder how many people believe the quote is right from the bible. – Craig)

JACK RABBIT SLIM’S IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS. (I remember when there was talk of Jack Rabbit Slim’s being turned into a real chain of joints.  I was excited about the idea and thought it would work.  I know I would have patronized them.  Sadly the venture never became reality. – Craig)

NO ONE FULLY UNDERSTANDS PULP FICTION’S “GIMP” SEQUENCE.  (I vividly remember seeing this scene for the first time and just being blown away.  What the – ?  Did we cross over into another film?  Another dimension?  I’ve come to like the unexpected, unexplainable aspect of it.  Sometimes things happen that don’t make sense, that we couldn’t have predicted and that can have terrible consequences.  – Craig)

Source: Mental Floss.

Samuel L. Jackson Trivia!

Samuel L. Jackson is an actor that always makes a movie better.  Michele Debczak posted 10 Fascinating Facts About Samuel L. Jackson at Mental Floss.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites with my thoughts on each…

SAMUEL L. JACKSON WAS AN USHER AT MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.’S FUNERAL. (This surprised me because I didn’t think Jackson would have been old enough to be an usher at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral. – Craig)

SAMUEL L. JACKSON WAS A STAND-IN ON THE COSBY SHOW. (Oh, from such humble beginnings… – Craig)

SAMUEL L. JACKSON IS THE HIGHEST GROSSING ACTOR OF ALL TIME. (This also surprised me.  I would have guessed Tom Cruise, Stallone, Schwarzenegger or the Rock would have been ahead of SLJ. – Craig)

 

“Kolchak: The Night Stalker” Trivia

Let me take you back to the days when there was no cable tv, no streaming services and except for the rare local channel or two, your choices were CBS, NBC and ABC.  There were no DVRs, heck there weren’t even VHS machines yet. (And stay off my lawn!)

In those days a new tv movie that you really wanted to see was a big deal. You had to make sure you were home to watch it!  As a kid growing up in those times, Kolchak: The Night Stalker was one of those must-see tv movies.

The Night Stalker premiered in January 1972. I was 13 and fit the perfect demographic for a modern day vampire tale. I wasn’t the only one.  When the ratings came in, it turned out that most of the viewing audience that night was watching!  This led to another Kolchak tv movie and an on-going tv series.

And that brings us to Me-TV’s 11 Reasons ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker‘ is the Coolest, Creepiest Show on 1970s Television.  As always, before you click over, here are three of my favorite trivia items from the article and a thought on each.

There was an unmade third TV movie, ‘The Night Killers.’ (I really liked the first movie and can’t remember much about the second. I’d like to see both again. – Craig)

Horror and sci-fi legend Richard Matheson wrote the two TV movies… but was skeptical of the series.  (I wasn’t a fan of the tv series.  The monster of the week idea just didn’t work for me at the time.  I would have rather seen a series of Kolchak movies or story arcs that would involve a monster(s) for a longer period of time. – Craig)

Darren McGavin did a little bit of everything for the show. (According to the piece, McGavin assisted in every way possible to make the series work, but became frustrated and was excused from his contract early.  Seems like Matheson was right that the “monster of the week” idea just wouldn’t work. – Craig)

The All-Time Best Gangster Movies!

Todd Gilchrist at Mental Floss posted his choices for the 20 Best Gangster Movies of All Time.  I’ve seen 14 of the 20, so his list has added to my future viewing plans.

Of Gilchrist’s picks my top three would be:
1.  Godfather
2.  Godfather II
3.  Carlito’s Way

My first two slots were easy choices (although a case could be made to reverse their order).  The third slot was tougher and I also gave strong consideration to Bonnie and Clyde, The Untouchables, Goodfellas and Miller’s Crossing.  It has also made me want to give Eastern Promises another viewing.  The original Get Carter made Gilchrist’s list.  If it had been the Stallone version, it would have made mine.

Comparing the Rankings of All 8 “Rocky” Movies by /Film & Rotten Tomatoes & Zablo

Yesterday we compared Evan Saathoff’s (of /Film) rankings all of the Rocky/Creed movies to mine.  By coincidence, Rotten Tomatoes just posted their readers rankings of the Rocky/Creed movies.  I thought it’d be interesting to see how those matched up to Saathoff’s and mine.  So, let’s take a look.

Saathoff

Zablo

Rotten Tomatoes

8. Rocky IV

8. Rocky V

8. Rocky V

7. Rocky V

7. Rocky IV

7. Rocky IV

6. Creed II

6. Rocky II 

6. Rocky III

5. Rocky II

5. Creed II

5. Rocky II

4. Rocky III 

4. Creed

4. Rocky Balboa

3. Rocky Balboa

3. Rocky Balboa 

3. Creed II

2. Creed

2. Rocky III 

2. Rocky

1. Rocky

1. Rocky 

1. Creed

Movie Rankings in Agreement:
#8 for Rocky V by Zablo & Rotten Tomatoes
#7 for Rocky IV by Zablo & Rotten Tomatoes
#5 for Rocky II by Saathoff and Rotten Tomatoes
#3 for Rocky Balboa by Saathoff and Zablo
#1 for Rocky by Saathoff and Zablo

There was no movie that had complete consensus. This surprises me, since I thought that Rocky would come in at #1 on all three rankings.

Ranking & Thoughts on All 8 “Rocky” Movies!

Evan Saathoff at /Film ranked all of the Rocky/Creed movies in his post Butkus to Punchy: Ranking All 8 ‘Rocky’ Movies from Worst to Best.  Here is a comparison of his order with my rankings and thoughts about each.

Saathoff

Zablo

8. Rocky IV: “…is silly fun, a skeleton of a film held together through a series of montages. Candy is cool, but you shouldn’t make a meal of it.”

8. Rocky V: I totally agree that binging Rocky back to the street level was a good idea.  Fans hated Rocky has to lose everything to get him there, so it was a tough needle to thread.  I also think that Sly’s Rocky mannerisms go to over the top in spots. 

7. Rocky V: “…Bringing Rocky back to the street level is a good decision, though much of the film feels like a superfluous dry run for both Rocky Balboa and Creed (if you love those films, Rocky V is kind of a necessary beast).”

7. Rocky IV:  is very much a product of the 80s with the music and montages.  I’ve grown to appreciate Rocky IV even more because it sets up the return of Drago in Creed II and we get to see the results of Rocky’s win in IV from Drago’s perspective. 

6. Creed II:  …the film runs through a mild remake of Rocky II and leads to a good training montage.”

6. Rocky II Rocky II is a worthy follow-up to Rocky.  Sly in the director’s chair!

5. Rocky II: “…Rocky II is special for other reasons. It’s the last bit of “human” Rocky Balboa we’ll see for a while. 

5. Creed IISome fans were upset that an altercation between Rocky and Drago that was filmed didn’t make the final cut of the movie.  I may be in the minority, but I don’t think the scene was needed.

4. Rocky III: “…He’s transformed from a street-level thug to full-on Stallone megastardom. He’s still Rocky, but you have to use your imagination.
That would be fatal if not for Mr. T’s incredible Clubber Lang, the most underrated character in the series.”

4. Creed:  Saathoff’s summary of Creed is perfectly stated.  I couldn’t agree more.

3. Rocky Balboa: “…In 2006, the idea of making an old man Rocky movie was a joke. Yet here comes Stallone, visibly aged and hurting from a long string of flops, delivering the second best film to wear the Rocky title.”

3. Rocky Balboa  Never under-estimate or doubt Sly Sallone.  Despite all odds, Sly brought back Rocky and showed that there was more to his story!

2. Creed: “…the greatest thing happened: a creative handoff to a young and hungry talent capable of seeing the character through new eyes. Ryan Coogler managed the impossible with 2015’s Creed, which simultaneously started a new franchise while offering a deeply respectful seventh entry to Stallone’s. Creed is very much a sequel to Rocky Balboa and yet yields Balboa to a main character who seems his opposite: cocky, smart and brash.”

2. Rocky III   Rocky is transformed from a street-level, journeyman fighter into a world champion celebrity and I loved it!

1. Rocky: “…No number of decades or sequels can dull the feeling of triumph Rocky delivers in its final moments. It’s one of those rare films that make you cry because you’re happy rather than upset.

1. Rocky  I’m simply going to go with Saathoff’s quote:  “No number of decades or sequels can dull the feeling of triumph Rocky delivers.”

Michael Mann’s “Collateral” Trivia!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 31 Things We Learned from Michael Mann’s ‘Collateral‘ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

One of the big reasons why he chose to make Collateral was the way Stuart Beattie’s script captures an entire story in a very short period of time. The whole movie is “like the third act of a traditional drama.” He likes how it doesn’t go backward to offer more detail into these characters’ lives, and instead we’re just catching them at this moment. (I like movies that movie in real time or that all the action takes place during a short, specific time frame.  Movies with those parameters seems to really move and probably because of necessity to get the story told. – Craig)

Vincent is being intentionally rude upon first entering Max’s cab, but it’s not because he’s a jerk — he’s testing Max to see if he’s a man with an aggressive streak. Had he been, Vincent would have quickly changed cabs. (And we just thought Vincent was rude.  It’s these little touches that make viewing a movie repeatedly fun. – Craig)

He and Cruise worked out where exactly Vincent came from, and while nearly none of it is mentioned in the film their collaborative backstory is pretty detailed. “If he was in a foster home for part of his childhood, and he was back in public school at age 11, that would have been sometime in the 70s. He would have been dressed very awkwardly. He would’ve probably been ostracized ’cause he’d have looked odd. We postulated an alcoholic, abusive father who was culturally very progressive, he was probably part of Ed Sadlowski’s Steelworkers Local, he was a Vietnam veteran, he had friends who were African-American on the South side of Chicago. The Checkerboard Lounge is thirty minutes away on the Calumet Skyway. The father was probably an aficionado of jazz. There was a great jazz scene on the South side of Chicago, but it’s almost as if the father blamed the son for what happened to the mother. The father never tutored the boy in jazz…” And so on. (Look at the attention to detail!  Funny thing is there are other actors who’d be like, let’s do the scene, I don’t need the background stuff.  – Craig)

“Wiseguy” Trivia!

If you’ve never seen the series Wiseguy, it’s worth searching out (at least for the first few story arcs).  Ken Wahl played an undercover cop, Jonathon Banks was Wahl’s supervisor and Jim Byrnes was his handler.  The series was one of the first to have story arcs going over several episodes with guest stars playing the criminals.  Wiseguy was one of the best shows on television at the time.

I bring this up because the fine folks at Me-TV present 10 Undercover Facts about Wiseguy.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorite of the facts and my thoughts on each…

Wahl suffered some serious injuries.  (Sadly, Wahl’s acting career was cut short due to injuries.  Wahl missed part of season two due to an injury to his Achilles tendon.  In 1992, he fell down steps and broke his neck!  After filming a 1996 Wiseguy reunion movie, Wahl retired due to constant pain. – Craig)

You can’t see every episode in reruns due to music (licensing). (There are several episodes where music played such an integral part of scenes that to lose the music lessen their impact.  The biggest casualty was the conclusion of the Sonny Steelgrave arc which used Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues. – Craig)

Wahl left the series early. (Wahl left after the third season and the series just wasn’t the same.  But we will always have those early story arcs.  Check them out! – Craig)

See Kurt Russell Accidentally Destroy 145 Year Old Guitar!

Here’s a movie tidbit that I didn’t know until today.  During the scene in The Hateful Eight when Kurt Russell destroys a guitar, the instrument wasn’t a prop, but instead a $40,000.00, 145 year old museum piece!

The Hateful Eight saw Kurt Russell fill the boots of a weathered bounty hunter named John Ruth. While transporting a known murderer across the snow-topped mountains of Wyoming, a blizzard forces Ruth’s party to hunker down in a nearby lodge. In response to his bounty’s incessant singing, the bounty hunter eventually takes a six-string guitar and smashes it against a wooden beam. “Music time’s over,” Ruth growls. But Unbeknownst to Kurt Russell, the guitar was an irreplaceable 145-year-old museum piece, which the studio was borrowing from the Martin Guitar Museum. – James Fenner from Top 10 Blunders That Will Go Down In History – 2020 at Listverse.

Check out the scene below and watch as Jennifer Jason Leigh, in shock at Kurt’s actions, breaks character!  She obviously knew what Kurt Russell hadn’t been told!

The All-Time Best Comedies

Matthew Jackson at Mental Floss posted his choices for The 30 Best Comedy Movies of All Time.  I’m a big fan of lists, more for the discussion they create than any definitive ranking.  Jackson’s list is what resonates with him.  My list, or your list would be different.

I’ve seen 23 of Jackson’s 30 listed films.  My favorites from his top 30 are Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

Movies that didn’t make his list but would have made mine include…

  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Christmas Vacation
  • A Christmas Story
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
  • The Great Race

And that’s just off the top of my head.

“Columbo: Prescription Murder” Trivia

My wife and I are working our way through the Columbo series and really enjoying it. Columbo is experiencing a revival of sorts with the series running in several places and more social media posts about it.  I watched and enjoyed Columbo when it first aired, but it is all new to my wife.

Columbo first appeared in a tv movie in 1968.  It wasn’t until 3 years later that the series of Columbo tv movies started.  It then ran from 1971 – 1978; 1989 – 1995; 1997 – 1998, 2001; and 2003.

Getting back to the first Peter Falk Columbo: Prescription Murder, Me-TV takes a look at 7 Things You Never Noticed about the Columbo pilot, Prescription: Murder.  Here are my three favorite facts and thoughts about each…

  • Peter Falk does not appear until 30 minutes into the story.  (This is one of the things that made the Columbo series unique.  The star doesn’t appear until well into the movie and viewers know who the killer is.  What makes it fun is watching how Columbo figures it out. – Craig)
  • Lt. Columbo had more stylish footwear.  (At this point, Falk had not worked out all of Columbo’s unique traits – the crumpled, old raincoat, the scuffed shoes, his beat-up foreign car and more. – Craig)
  • This was not the first time Columbo had appeared on TV.  (Bert Freed first played Columbo in an episode of an anthology series.  Freed is probably best remembered from his role in Billy Jack or any of his dozens (and dozens) of guest appearances on popular tv shows from the 1950s through the 1980s.  – Craig)

The Best Boxing Movies of All-Time

Christina Newland at Paste Magazine took on the monumental task of ranking The 50 Best Boxing Movies of All Time.  Her list is a pretty good one, including several lesser known films (and some silent movies).  Before you click over, here are her top five compared to mine (using just her list) and then some overall comments.

Newland

Zablo

1. Body and Soul (1947) 1. Rocky (1976)
2. Raging Bull (1980) 2. The Set-up (1949)
3. Rocky (1976) 3. Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
4. Fat City (1962) 4. Raging Bull (1980)
5. The Set-up (1949) 5. Rocky Balboa (2006)

Most folks know of my appreciation of the Rocky series so I thought it only right that my best boxing movies using Newland’s list, start and end with Rocky movies.

Looking at Newland’s top five – Usually the top spot in boxing movie lists is held by either Rocky or Raging Bull, so I give her props for picking Body and Soul.  That’s a good film, but it wouldn’t make my top five.

All of my top five are films I can watch and re-watch.  Outside of the Stallone films, I’ve probably watched The Set-Up the most.  It is such a great movie, if you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend you give it a view.