Everyone knows Quentin Tarantino is an ultimate movie connoisseur. He loves all types of films and has seen more than most folks.
Any idea what his favorite movie of 1979 is? (Ok, since you’ve seen the photo above, you’ve probably figured it out. But were you surprised?) Here’s what QT had to say about Rocky II…
“Now, this was my favorite movie of the year in 1979. I like Rocky II even more than Rocky. Stallone, his follow-ups didn’t do well and the press made a big, big deal about that, about how F.I.S.T. flopped. And Paradise Alley was a flop. The press machine that had made him the Cinderella boy was now rolling over on him, and they go, ‘Oh well, he can only play a stupid boxer. And that’s all he can do and he’s completely flopped out and he’s a real loud mouth in his press interviews.’ And so then he comes out with Rocky II and now he’s directed Rocky II. So Rocky II kind of has to work or he is Sylvester come lightly. And it’s a smash. It’s a terrific movie. It actually betters on a lot of the aspects of Rocky and he is… beyond charming in the film. To see him play the Rocky character again, it actually reminded you why you like Rocky so much in the first place. The first Rocky movie is more of a character study. This is more of a personality…expansion, but it works completely as a personality expansion. It’s just he kind of has the audience in the palm of his hand. I was so happy for him, that he pulled it off and the movie meant a lot to me and it was, again, it was inspirational and you’re always trying to get in shape after you see the movie because you got caught up in the montage.”
Jonathan Maberry has a new one coming out. As you can see from the cover above it’s called Ink.
Tattoo-artist Patty Cakes has her dead daughter’s face tattooed on the back of her hand. Day by day it begins to fade, taking with it all of Patty’s memories of her daughter. All she’s left with the certain knowledge she has forgotten her lost child. The awareness of that loss is tearing her apart.
Monk Addison is a private investigator whose skin is covered with the tattooed faces of murder victims. He is a predator who hunts for killers, and the ghosts of all of those dead people haunt his life. Some of those faces have begun to fade, too, destroying the very souls of the dead.
All through the town of Pine Deep people are having their most precious memories stolen. The monster seems to target the lonely, the disenfranchised, the people who need memories to anchor them to this world.
Something is out there. Something cruel and evil is feeding on the memories, erasing them from the hearts and minds of people like Patty and Monk and others.
Ink is the story of a few lonely, damaged people hunting for a memory thief. When all you have are memories, there is no greater horror than forgetting.
Screenplay: Joe Russo (based on the graphic novel Ciudad by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Fernando Leon Gonzalez, Eric Skillman)
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Rudhraksh Jaiswal and David Harbour.
The Pitch: “Let’s turn the Ciudad graphic novel into a movie!”
The Overview: Beware of Spoilers…
Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) is part of a mercenary team hired to rescue a drug lord’s kidnapped son. To complete the extraction the team must journey into Dhaka, a city ruled by the rival drug lord who kidnapped his rival’s son. All is going well until the team is betrayed and Rake finds himself alone with the boy trying to get to the extraction site. To get there he will have to fight the corrupt cops, the drug lord’s soldiers and street gangs looking to earn the reward offered up by drug lord.
The premise of Extraction is a classic action picture trope. Yet, Extraction puts twists on aspects of the movie that could have easily been cliches. Rake has a death-wish but the cause of his troubles provides reason to succeed in this mission at any cost. The person who betrayed the mission does it for an unusual reason. The location of the movie is one seldom (never?) seen and provides fresh opportunities for action scenes and those action scenes are equal to those that you’d find in John Wick movies.
Extraction left me impressed, thinking about the characters, story and ending well after the final credits. I can’t wait to watch it again!
When I was a little kid for most of the country The Jackie Gleason Show was must-see tv. As I got a little older I discovered, in reruns, The Honeymooners. Then in high school Jackie hit big again with his classic role as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit.
Gleason was also great dramatic actor (see The Hustler and Requiem for a Heavyweight if you don’t believe me) but comedy was where Gleason spent the majority of his career. Gleason was a true talent making it big on stage, television, radio and movies.
If you don’t know much about the man known as The Great One, check out 18 Fascinating Facts about Jackie Gleason presented by the fine folks at MeTV. Here are three of my favorite facts and my thoughts on each…
When you see him pat his stomach on The Honeymooners, it’s because he forgot a line. Well, perhaps it wasn’t 100% photographic. The sitcom was filmed live, so there were no do-overs.
(If you’ve never seen The Honeymooners you owe it to yourself to check it out. Classic comedy! – Craig)
His debut album still holds the record for most consecutive weeks in the Billboard top ten — a whopping 153. Gleason was a massive music star. In a way, he was a forerunner of ambient pioneer Brian Eno, in that he wished to craft records of what he called “musical wallpaper.” His easy listening instruments, especially Lonesome Echo, remain cult favorites. His first album, 1952’s Music for Lovers Only, spent a mind-boggling three years near the top ten. To put that in perspective, Thriller only managed 78.
(Who’d a thunk it? – Craig)
He believed in aliens. Gleason studied the paranormal and UFOs. It is rumored that President Nixon shared secret information about UFOs with the Hollywood star.
(Gleason told people that then President Nixon actually showed him a captured alien ship and alien corpse! – Craig)
Bruce Lee is getting the Criterion Collection treatment and his fans are going to love it. The seven-disc Blu-ray box set will contain Lee’s greatest hits (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Enter the Dragon / Game of Death) and will be chock full of special features, including alternate versions of the films, interviews, documentaries and much more!
4K digital restorations of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death, and The Way of the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtracks
New 2K digital restoration of the rarely-seen 99-minute 1973 theatrical version of Enter the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtrack
2K digital restoration of the 102-minute “special-edition” version of Enter the Dragon
Alternate audio soundtracks for the films, including original English-dubbed tracks and a 5.1 surround soundtrack for the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon
Six audio commentaries: on The Big Boss by Bruce Lee expert Brandon Bentley; on The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death, and The Way of the Dragon by Hong Kong–film expert Mike Leeder; and on the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon by producer Paul Heller
High-definition presentation of Game of Death II, the 1981 sequel to Game of Death
Game of Death Redux, a new presentation of Lee’s original Game of Death footage, produced by Alan Canvan
New interviews on all five films with Lee biographer Matthew Polly
New interview with producer Andre Morgan about Golden Harvest, the company behind Hong Kong’s top martial-arts stars, including Lee
New program about English-language dubbing with voice performers Michael Kaye (the English-speaking voice of Lee’s Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury) and Vaughan Savidge
New interview with author Grady Hendrix about the “Bruceploitation” subgenre that followed Lee’s death, and a selection of Bruceploitation trailers
Blood and Steel, a 2004 documentary about the making of Enter the Dragon
Multiple programs and documentaries about Lee’s life and philosophies, including Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend (1973) and Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (1998)
Interviews with Linda Lee Cadwell, Lee’s widow, and many of Lee’s collaborators and admirers, including actors Jon T. Benn, Riki Hashimoto, Nora Miao, Robert Wall, Yuen Wah, and Simon Yam and directors Clarence Fok, Sammo Hung, and Wong Jing
New English subtitle translations and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Dolph Lundgren, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Willis were considered for the part of Cameron Poe.
(I thought Nicholas Cage was great in the role and it’s probably my favorite character he’s played. My top three from the actors listed who didn’t get the part would be: 1) Sly Stallone (No surprise there); 2. Jean-Claude Van Damme and 3) Kurt Russell. – Craig)
Gary Oldman was the first choice to play Cyrus. Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, James Gandolfini, Ed Harris, Rutger Hauer, William Hurt, Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Ron Perlman, Tim Robbins, Tom Sizemore, John Travolta, Peter Weller, and Bruce Willis were also considered… Willem Dafoe and Mickey Rourke also auditioned for the part of Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom.
(My top three of the actors not selected to play Cyrus the Virus would be 1) Mickey Rourke; 2) Ron Perlman and 3) Michael Madsen. – Craig)
The song “How Do I Live” was nominated for both an Oscar as Best Original Song and a Razzie as Worst Original Song. It did not win either award. it was originally performed by 14-year-old LeAnn Rimes.
(I like the song and find it interesting that it was nominated for both the highest honor (Oscar) and worst (Razzie). – Craig)
To this day it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would greenlight a TV comedy about a World War II prisoner of war camp. But that’s exactly what happened. Hogan’s Heroes ran for 168 episodes, premiering in September 1965 and airing the last original episode in April 1971. Hogan’s Heroes is the longest running American TV series inspired by World War II. Who would’ve thunk it?
The actors playing the four main German roles were Jewish. Klemperer (Klink), Banner (Schultz), Leon Askin (Burkhalter) and Howard Caine (Hochstetter) were Jewish, and all but the latter had fled the Nazis during WWII. Additionally, Robert Clary, who played the cooking French corporal, LeBeau, had been interned at a concentration camp. Klemperer stated at the time, “I am an actor. If I can play Richard III, I can play a Nazi.” The actor insisted that Hogan always won out over his captors.
(I remember at the time there was a bit of controversy from World War II vets, and some who had been in POW camps, as well as those who felt nothing about WW2 was funny. – Craig)
The set was blown up during the making of Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. What an ignominious fate. Hogan’s Heroes was filmed on Desilu Productions’ RKO Forty Acres backlot. In the making of the trashy 1974 exploitation film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, the set was destroyed for the final scene. Hogan’s producers were okay with it, as it saved the cost of having the set demolished.
(What a way to go! – Craig)
The show used the tagline If you liked World War II, you’ll love Hogan’s Heroes! The tagline was sarcastically suggested by comedian and author Stan Freberg in an interview with Bob Crane in The Sunday Times, on September 15, 1965. “Shall we say, ‘If you liked World War II…you’ll love Hogan’s Heroes?'” Freberg dryly asks. “No, let’s not say that, no,” Crane responds. Nevertheless, it became the tagline.
(I wonder if in this age of political correctness, would Hogan’s Heroes ever make it to production? – Craig)
That’s John Wayne, John Ford and Ward Bond. They’re considered three real-life tough guys.
Most folks know a bunch about John Wayne and to a lesser extent, director John Ford. If you’re like me, you know that Ward Bond appeared in dozens (and dozens) of movies and starred in the TV series Wagon Train. But that’s about it… until I read 13 fascinating facts about Ward Bond and Wagon Train at MeTV
You know the drill here are three of my favorite facts and my thoughts…
Bond appears in more films on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies than any other actor. Bond has perhaps the most enviable filmography of any actor, past or present. Just look at his credits. He acted in seven of the 100 Greatest American Films according to the AFI — It Happened One Night (1934), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Maltese Falcon (1941), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Searchers (1956).
(Wow! I had no idea Bond appeared in more of the 100 Greatest American Films than any other actor! THAT is an amazing fact and a testament to his abilities as an actor. – Craig)
John Wayne accidentally shot Ward Bond on a hunting trip. Even a gun wound could not break up the best friends. Ward left the shotgun to Wayne in his will.
(That’s how tough Ward Bond was – not even John Wayne shooting him could put him down! – Craig)
Bond appeared on ‘Wagon Train’ in crutches after injuring his leg. At the end of “The Clara Beauchamp Story,” Bond stands in a row of military men on a pair of crutches. It was no prop. The actor had suffered an injury in a car accident. The poor (but certainly tough) guy was also hit by a car on his way to John Wayne’s wedding, but he performed his best man duties on crutches.
(Ward Bond was one tough son of a buck! That dude was Marv from Sin City come to life. – Craig)
Mort Drucker, perhaps the world’s best and best known caricaturist has died at the age of 91. Odds are even if you don’t know Mr. Drucker’s name, you know his art. Starting in 1956 and for over fifty years after that Drucker’s art appeared in Mad Magazine’s wildly popular movie and tv satires.
Mr. Drucker’s work also appeared in comic books, movie posters and advertising. His distinctive style made his art recognizable often before you saw his signature. In 2014, Mort Drucker received the National Society of Cartoonists’ Medal of Honor for lifetime achievement.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mort Drucker’s family, friends and fans.
Here’s a Frazetta painting you don’t see often. Frazetta was commissioned to create a poster for Robert Rdriguez’s From Dusk Til Dawn. Sadly, according to Frazetta’s granddughter, his health prevented him from finishing it in time for it to be used to promote the film.
I’m a huge Frazetta fan. (Who isn’t?) I’m also a fan of Robert Rodriguez. (I guess you could say I ride with El Rey.) It’s cool that Rodriguez commissioned the poster and now owns it. I wonder the reason the creatures in Frazetta’s painting don’t match those in the film.
Speaking of Dusk Til Dawn, I think it is greatly underrated. I love the mashup of crime and horror. Hats off to Rodriguez, Tarantino and all involved.
Jodie Foster was originally cast as Helen Tasker, but was forced to turn the role down because she was signed on to star in Nell. Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Annette Bening, Joan Cusack, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Madonna, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone, Emma Thompson, Lea Thompson, Debra Winger, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Claudia Wells, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Sandra Bullock and Madeleine Stowe were also all considered for the role of Helen.
(Sometimes casting is perfect and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Look at the number of actresses considered and we can begin to realize sometimes it’s just luck to get the right person. – Craig)
Curtis said that in his contract Schwarzenegger gets top billing then the title then it would have said starring Jamie Lee Curtis but when Cameron finished editing the film and he saw that the film was really “a domestic epic, it’s a film about a marriage.” So Cameron called Schwarzenegger and asked him if it would be ok to put Jamie Lee Curtis’ name before the title, to which Schwarzenegger immediately agreed. In the world of show business, as Curtis said, “The credit is such a coveted, negotiable, commodity” that for Schwarzenegger to give her billing before the title “was a real mensch move on his part.”
(Don’t you love it when you hear a star not acting like a sterotypical star? – Craig)
The appearance and traits of Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) is based on Nick Fury. Like Fury, Trilby has an eyepatch, and the same mannerisms; as well as heading a peacekeeping organization.
(Interesting. So Cameron is a comic book fan? – Craig)