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PCR #321. (Vol. 7, No. 20) This edition is for the week of May 15--21, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! With vacation, summer baseball and a secret project (more next week) happening simultaneously, it's another short one this week. Shall we begin??

New Format For PCR
Woops! back to the Drawing Board  by Nolan B. Canova
"The Da Vinci Code"  by Mike Smith
2006 Summer Movie Preview
What's Ahead for 2006  by Mike Smith
Guest Editorial
Crisis In Infinite Comics: The Man Who Hated Laughter  by Ed Tucker
It's Just A Movie....What A Great Privilege....Passing On...My Favorite Films -- Part 20: "Star Wars"  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2006
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Some quick religious background: I was raised Catholic and attended church and Catholic school regularly until I was 8 or not. When my father remarried, his new wife was Jewish. To maintain harmony with her parents, who were devoutly Orthodox, he converted to Judaism and I began attending public school and Hebrew school on Saturdays! Pretty confusing, I know. Scott Gilbert used to refer to me as "Cathewish!" Not that it's important, but I chose to follow the Catholic faith, though probably not as well as I should. I mention this because of all of the fuss being made over "The Da Vinci Code." Today there was a full page ad in USA Today telling people how to get in good with Jesus by not seeing the film. WHAT?! Do you really think that when you get to the Pearly Gates the angel in charge is going to say, "whoa, not so fast pal! I see you saw "The Da Vinci Code." Enjoy your time in hell!" Then he grabs the handle and the floor drops out from under you, sending you straight to hell. Films are here to entertain you. Great films do that and more. They make you think. And that's what "The Da Vinci Code" does. Think about it.

This afternoon I received a phone call from my friend, Donna, who lives on Martha's Vineyard. As I was away from my cell phone, she left a message, ending it with, "hold on, someone wants to say hello." That someone was Academy Award winning actress Patricia Neal, a long time friend (of Donnas, not mine). It is truly an honor to have someone I've admired for so long take the time out to say hello. Thank you both!

Lou Carrol, the Texas-based salesman for Milton Bradley who presented then Vice President Richard Nixon with a spotted cocker spaniel puppy, died at the age of 83. The dog, named Checkers by Nixon's daughter, was part of a landmark speech Nixon gave in 1952 when he defended himself against charges of having accepted $18,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Denying the accusations, Nixon admitted that the only gift he had accepted was the family dog. Nixon's words are now forever remembered as the "Checkers Speech." Johnnie Wilder, Jr, lead singer of the band Heatwave, died this past Saturday at the age of 56. The band, which Wilder started with his brother, Keith, is best known for the smooth love song, "Always and Forever."

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Cushing and Alec Guiness
Directed by: George Lucas

FIRST SEEN: Tampa Bay Center, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE LINE: "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!"
FAVORITE SCENE: The final assault on the Death Star

  • Academy Awards for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Film Editing,
  • Original Score (John Williams) and Sound. Nominations for Best Picture, Director (George Lucas),
  • Original Screenplay (Lucas), Supporting Actor (Alec Guiness). Also awarded a Special Oscar for Sound Effects (Ben Burtt).
  • BAFTA Award for Best Musical Score (John Williams). Nominations for Costumes, Editing, Production Design/Art Direction and Best Film.
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (John Williams). Nominations for Best Picture (Drama), Director and Supporting Actor (Alec Guiness).
  • Grammy Award for Best Musical Score Written for Movies or Television (John Williams)
  • Directors Guild of America nomination for Best Director
  • Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen

    Ah, "Star Wars." Today the film, and it's sequels (and prequels) is loved all over the world. Yet, 30 years ago, the studio releasing it literally had to beg for theatres to play it. As someone that worked in theatres at the time of it's release, I can tell you the impact this film had on my friends and, later, me. I say later because I didn't see it until it had passed "Jaws" as the all time money maker (at the time). I didn't want my $2.00 to put it over the top, so I basically boycotted it. Of course, when I finally saw it, I was mesmerized like everyone else. From the opening shot in space to the final scene in the grand hall, the film was everything people went to the movies for. Originally imagined as a nine part serial called "The Star Wars," George Lucas pitched the fourth chapter to 20th Century Fox head Alan Ladd, Jr. Coming immediately after his success with "American Graffiti," Fox was eager to work with Lucas and gave him the green light. Lucas chose the fourth chapter (thanks to the success of the film, it assured that others would be made, so "Star Wars" is now known as "Episode IV: A New Hope") as it was the only chapter that had a beginning and an end. This way, if the film failed, there would be no loose ends at the end of the movie. Though Ladd had faith in the film, theatre owners were reluctant to tie up their screens with what they considered a kiddie film. Fox went so far as to promise what they thought was going to be their big summer picture, "The Other Side of Midnight," to theatres that agreed to play "Star Wars." Of course, after the film opened, the theatres didn't want to give "Star Wars" up! In fact, a week after opening at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the film was pulled for William Friedkin's "Sorcerer." A week later, "Star Wars" was back.

    "Star Wars" success spawned a whole new era in filmmaking. It's influences were felt in everything from marketing and merchandising to television. In fact, when "Battlestar Galactica" aired, Fox tried to sue John Dykstra, who had won an Oscar for "Star Wars'" visual effects, because they felt he was infringing on his own work with "Battlestar." Driven by success, Lucas followed up "Star Wars" with Episode's V and VI, "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." In 1997, he released all three films with new and upgraded special effects. While the majority of the changes were well received, Lucas caused a furor when Greedo, who is killed in the cantina by Han Solo, appeared to fire his blaster first, implying that is the reason Solo shot him. Later on, when the film is released on DVD, Greedo and Solo fire at the same time. In 1999 Lucas returned to the world far, far away with Episode I, quickly followed by Episodes II and III. While not accepted well by some fans, the films went on to gross almost a billion dollars and ensure that the "Star Wars" galaxy would continue to thrive.

    Next week I go back in time to discuss one of the most popular films of all time, "Gone With The Wind".

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

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.