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PCR #479 (Vol. 10, No. 22). This edition is for the week of May 25--31, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! If you're reading this the Rant is delayed. See below.

"UP"  by Mike Smith
Saturday Morning Fever: CBS 1975  by ED Tucker
Book Review: Eternally Yours by S.L. Juers  by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
Bric-a-brac .... Buy Black & Check Your Twins .... Bs Football & Supergirl .... Chinese Gold Rush? .... No New Taxes .... Daddy's Boy .... Drop Rocks....sex Me! .... And I'm Biased?!?  by Brandon Jones
Sore As Hell .... Oh To Be 25 Again .... What's So Funny? .... This Is Pretty Funny? (the Joke, Not The Guy Being Dead) .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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After three 5 inning softball games and two 7 inning baseball games your humble scribe is feeling every bit his 48 years. And guess what...Corporate Challange continues tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 10. Wish my legs luck!

Those of you who always wanted to run off to Disney World can not do so and get paid for it. Applications are now being accepted for a couple to spend 67 days enjoying the sights of Orlando...on the city's dime. The local tourism bureau is sponsoring a "Orlando Makes Me Smile" campaign and are looking for two people to live in a downtown condo, collect $25,000 in cash, drive a cool rental car and have lots of fun, while providing the city fathers and their followers with a daily blog of that living, visiting every and all tourist sites in the city, from Disney World to Gatorland. If you think this is something you'd like to do, drop a line to: www.visitOrlando.com Entries must be submitted before June 30. Good luck!

The next time you get your drivers license renewed, don't be surprised if the lady at the DMV tells you NOT to say cheese. Recently, four states (Nevada, Indiana, Arkansas and Virginia)are allowing only "Neutral Facial Expressions" when taking photographs for their licenses. The reason given is that these states use facial recognition software at certain security checkpoints and the computer program can fail if the photos are too different in nature.

THIS IS PRETTY FUNNY? (the joke, not the guy being dead)
Wayne Allwine, Emmy award winning sound editor and, for more than 30 years, the voice of Mickey Mouse, died last week. He was 62. Allwine began voicing Mickey Mouse for the 1977-79 television show "The New Mickey Mouse Club," taking over for James MacDonald who took the job following the passing of Mickey's original voice, Walt Disney. At the same time he began working as a sound editor with 1979s "The Black Hole." Other films include "Trenchcoat," "Frankenweenie," "Alien Nation" and "Star Trek V." He won an Emmy in 1986 for his work on the "Amazing Stories" television series. Allwine leaves behind 5 children from two marriages. Ironically, his 2nd wife, Russi Taylor, provides the voice of Minnie Mouse. Which reminds me of a joke:

Mickey Mouse is suing Minnie Mouse in divorce court and the judge is pleading with him to reconsider. "Mr. Mouse," he begins, "you and your wife have been American institutions for over 50 years. Now suddenly you want to divorce her because she's a little crazy?" Mickey stands up and and addressess the judge, "Your honor, I didn't say she was a little crazy, I said she was fucking Goofy!"


The Omen
Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and David Warner
Directed by: Richard Donner

FIRST SEEN: University Cinema 6, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE SCENE: Jenning's decapitation
FAVORITE LINE: "Damien....it's all for you!"


1977 Academy Award for Best Original Score (Jerry Goldsmith)
1977 Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for "Ave Satani" written by Jerry Goldsmith

BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Billie Whitelaw)

1977 Golden Globe nomination for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture - Male (Harvey Stephens)

1977 Writer's Guild of America nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (David Seltzer - though, as far as I can tell, the screenplay was adapted from his novel and, technically, was not original. At least this is my belief. I have a copy of the book printed in Jan 1976 and the film wasn't released until late June of that year. Quite a long time to release a movie-tie in before the film opens)

Pretty damn scary. That is how I would sum up "The Omen." And though there was a few scenes of carnage, most of the horror, like "The Exorcist," is atmospheric.

The story: Robert Thorn, the US Ambassador to Italy, and his wife, Katherine, are a very dashing political couple. The future is bright, even more so with Katherine due to give birth. At 6:00 am on the 6th day of June (the 6th month), a child is born but the mother dies during the birth. At the same time, Katherine Thorn loses her baby during childbirth. A priest approaches Robert and explains the situation. One child is dead, the other alive. Would the Ambassador accept the other child as his own. Reluctantly Thorn agrees, on the condition that Katherine never know. Years later, now representing the United States in Great Britain, things begin to go wrong. The child, named Damien, throws a tantrum when taken to church. His nanny, proclaiming her devotion to the boy, hangs herself at Damien's birthday party. And the creepy new nanny, Mrs. Blaylock, has an unusual attraction to a large Rottweiller. Who the devil is this kid? Ahhhhh....

I have many fond memories of "The Omen" because it was a film I saw with my dad, who would wait until I was a 15 year old ball of nerves staring wide eyed at the screen and then poke me in the ribs! Though the subject matter was kind of touchy and sure to draw the ire of some, the success of "The Exorcist" convinced 20th Century Fox to bankroll the story. Though Gregory Peck seemed the perfect choice to play Robert Thorn, he had to wait until other actors, including William Holden, Roy Scheider and Dick Van Dyke turned the part down. Holden had already accepted a role in "Network," but did play Robert Thorns' brother in the sequel, "Damian: Omen II." Scheider had lobbied long and hard for the role of Father Karras in "The Exorcist" and was stung when director William Friedken, who had directed Scheider to an Oscar nomination in "The French Connection" chose playwright Jason Miller for the role. After that experience Roy wanted nothing more to do with kids and the devil. Van Dyke would have been a great choice, especially considering his legacy in Hollywood as a great comedian. He was (and I guess still is since he's still with us) a very talented dramatic actor. If you get the chance, check out a film called "The Runner Stumbles," in which he plays an alcoholic priest who is suspected in the murder of a parish nun.

The film managed to draw on the popularity of "The Exorcist" and other films that followed. The fact that it had a top notch cast, including Lee Remick, Billie Whitelaw, David Warner and an uncredited Leo McKern as the man who provides a way to kill the son of Satan, certainly helped. This was director Donner's first feature, after having paid his dues in episodic television with work on shows as varied as "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "The Banana Splits." He certainly knew how to hook an audience. The scene showing the photographer Jennings being decapitated was edited with the intention that the audience would close their eyes during the moment of impact (a pane of glass slips meets David Warner's head). Donner timed it so that when the viewer opened their eyes the head would still be floating in mid air. Pretty cool shot. However, a good cast doesn't always ensure success, as the 2006 remake of "The Omen" proved. The film was followed up by two theatrical sequels and one produced for television.

Success followed many of the participants. Peck, already one of the most beloved stars in history, entered a period where he was cast against his more "nice guy" image, culminating in his portrayal of Dr. Josef Mengele' in "The Boys From Brazil." Remick continued to work until her death from cancer in 1991, earning six Emmy nominations after "The Omen." David Warner went on to do great work in films like "Time after Time" and "Time Bandits" as well as three "Star Trek" films in which he played a human, a Klingon and a Cardassian. He is probably best remembered as Billy Zane's henchman in "Titanic." With the exception of an appearance in a made for television film in 1980, little Damian himself, Harvey Stephens, retired from acting. He did make a cameo appearance as a reporter in the "Omen" remake. Incidentally, Stephens lost the Golden Globe award to the current Governor of California. The winner that year was Arnold Schwarzenegger for the film "Stay Hungry." Director Donner followed up his "Omen" success with "Superman the Movie." He also directed such favorites as "The Goonies" and the "Lethal Weapon" series.

Next week I'll take a look at one of the funniest films of the 1980s, Tim Burton's "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.