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PCR #299. (Vol. 6, No. 50) This edition is for the week of December 12--18, 2005.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang. A short one this week so let's get started. Shall we begin?

The History of Miami International Airport -- Part One
 by Will Moriaty
"King Kong"
 by Mike Smith
Rocky Balboa
 by Mark Terry
Thanks To All....King Kong News of Sorts....Alternate Covers Are Going APE....Monkey Around With The X-Men
 by Brandon Jones
 by John Lewis
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Richard Pryor....It's Awards Time....Jaws: The Story, Part 47
 by Mike Smith
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It was with sincere sadness that I learned of the passing of Richard Pryor this past Friday. Mr. Pryor died at the age of 65 from a heart attack. Born Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III in Peoria, Illinois, he was raised by his paternal grandmother, a local madam. At the age of 20 he began appearing in local nightclubs and made his first television appearance in 1964 on the show, "On Broadway Tonight." His popularity grew with each successive appearance and in 1968 he released his first album. In 1972, following small roles in a few films, he drew critical praise as Piano Man in the Billie Holliday bio, "Lady Sings the Blues." In 1974 he released "That Nigger's Crazy," which would win the comedy recording Grammy. The next year he released "Is It Something I Said?" which hit #12 on the charts. He also hosted "Saturday Night Live," appearing with Chevy Chase in one of the series' greatest sketches. As an applicant for a janitorial position, Pryor is given a series of word association exercises by Chase. After the obligatory dog/cat exchange, Chase says "black." Pryor replies "White." Soon the exchanges get racial, with Chase rattling off words like "Jungle Bunny" and "Spear Chucker" and Pryor responding with "Ofay" and "Honky." When Chase uses the word "nigger," Pryor tells him, "Dead Honky!"

In 1976 he first paired with Gene Wilder in the film, "Silver Streak." The two had a natural chemistry that served them for more then a decade. In 1986 Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, though it was many years before the ravages of the disease began to take their toll. In 1998 he received the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Pryor was more then a comedian. He was a fine actor as well. My favorite Pryor films: SILVER STREAK: As petty thief Grover, he helps Gene Wilder get back on the title train to reunite with Jill Clayburgh. Though Wilder wants to steal a simple Chevy, Pryor insists on a Porsche: "Chevy's are jerk offs," he says. "Porsche is pure pussy!"
WHICH WAY IS UP: A hilarious comedy, co written by Carl Gottlieb, that gave Pryor not one, not two, but three great roles. As a man dealing with a bad job, sexless marriage and a oversexed father, Pryor's comic timing is impeccable. I had the opportunity to interview director Luis Valdez and his brother, Daniel, when they were promoting "La Bamba." Both of them, who also appeared in "Which Way Is Up," had nothing but good things to say about their experience with Pryor.
BLUE COLLAR: In a rare dramatic turn, Pryor co starred with Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto as three autoworkers who conspire to rob their crooked Union.
RICHARD PRYOR: LIVE IN CONCERT: Eddie Murphy had "Raw." Even "Dice" Clay did a concert film. But this 78 minute look inside the mind of a comic genius is still, in my opinion, the best of it's kind - EVER.
STIR CRAZY: The second pairing of Pryor with Wilder, this time as men framed for bank robbery and sent to prison, was one of the biggest hits of 1980.
SOME KIND OF HERO: As Vietnam Vet and former Prisoner of War Eddie Keller, Pryor gave a performance that drew serious Oscar consideration.
JO JO DANCER YOUR LIFE IS CALLING: An almost biographical account of a black comic growing up, Pryor's directorial debut gave him a chance to come clean on everything in his past, including his horrific free base accident.
HARLEM NIGHTS: Eddie Murphy wrote the part of Sugar Ray for his idol and Pryor gives an almost graceful performance. Like in real life, Ray passes down the mantle to his protege', Quick, like Pryor did to Murphy.

Pryor was also the best part of some not-so-great films, including "The Toy" and "Superman III."

Yes, as the year comes to an end, the year end awards for the films of 2005 have started to be announced. Right now the front runner appears to be Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," which has picked up several critics awards as Best Picture. As I write this, I have 18 screeners next to my computer, telling me that I've got about two weeks to watch them before the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, of which I am a member, holds their awards voting. "Hustle and Flow," "Brokeback Mountain," "Corpse Bride," "Match Point" and "Pride and Prejudice" are the ones most mentioned in awards talk and I can't wait to start watching!

Speaking of awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group that awards the Golden Globes, announced their nominees this week. Among the nominees for best film, comedy or musical, is "Walk the Line." Huh? Sure, there's a little singing on screen, but I really don't consider Walk the Line" a musical. And last year's nomination of "Ray" in the same category was mind boggling. Sure, Ray Charles played piano, but he also was stricken blind, had a brother die and went through a horrible heroin addiction. Sounds pretty DRAMATIC, wouldn't you say? The Globes have done this in the past as well, with serious films like "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "The Idolmaker" receiving best picture nods in the music/comedy category. I was very surprised to see that, while director Steven Spielberg was nominated, the film "Munich" was not in the mix of nominees (I've already seen this film and it is excellent - see my review next week). And why wasn't "RENT" nominated? I mean, this was an actual musical, complete with singing and dancing! Pretty weird if you ask me.

While digging through my boxes of photos, I came across these shots of my son, Phillip, Matt and I visiting Universal Studios Florida. The object of the trip was for us to FINALLY see the mechanical shark ride/display. Like Chevy Chase in "Vacation," we got there early and sprinted to the front gate. After a mad rush to "Amity," we were crushed to discover that the shark was not working that day. Very sad. But some fun pics. Enjoy!

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2005 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 ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.