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PCR #337. (Vol. 7, No. 36) This edition is for the week of September 4--10, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang. A short one this week, featuring the passing of a cultural icon. Shall we begin?

Labor Day Magic 2006  by William Moriaty
"Little Miss Sunshine"  by Mike Smith
Suggestion  by Mark Terry
Congratulations, Katherine!...VHS Grindhouse - "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde"  by Andy Lalino
Irony, Defined....Is The Head Dead Yet?...Is Her Name Pronounced Su Li?....My Favorite Films, Part 36: "Superman The Movie"  by Mike Smith
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Many years ago, Jim Fixx, who helped create the phenomena known as jogging with his best-selling book, dropped dead of a heart attack....while jogging. Dar Robinson, possibly the greatest movie stuntman ever (due respect, of course, to Yakima Canutt, though he never had to go out of a skyscraper window BACKWARDS) dying when his motorcycle went out from under him on the set of "Million Dollar Mystery." I thought of these deaths when I heard of the passing of Steve Irwin, best known as "The Crocodile Hunter." The son of animal naturalists, Irwin was raised surrounded by the animals at the reptile and Fauna Park his parents operated. After his Australian television show was picked up by the Animal Planet cable channel, he became the most famous resident from Down Under to invade America since Paul Hogan. His shows popularity grew so large that in 2002 a feature film, "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course." While filming a documentary last weekend, Irwin was stabbed by the barb of a stingray. The barb went between his ribs into his heart, killing him almost instantly. While I didn't watch his show very much, I loved his commercial for ESPN where, while touring the offices, he encounters the Florida State Alligator mascot, leaping on its back and trying to wrestle it into submission. Irwin leaves behind a wife and two children. Though the Australian government offered to provide a state funeral, it is believed Irwin will be buried quietly.

This question is asked by Don Henley in his song, "Dirty Laundry." I bring this up because of Nolan's question on the main page about whether the few seconds of video of Steve Irwin taken before his death should be shown. The world is a curious place. If it wasn't, people wouldn't slow down at auto accidents. I'm sure with this coming week commemorating the 5th anniversary of the attacks of September 11 that the airwaves will be filled once again with the images of planes and towers. You don't want to watch, but you can't look away. While on line this week, I viewed the last few minutes of the Columbine High School shootings, with the surveillance cameras synced to a 911 call by one of the shooting victims who died while on the phone. To hear the screams of the students and the almost maniacal giggling of the shooters sent a chill down my spine and gave me a new perspective into the terror the students must have felt. My assumption had always been that the killers just systematically walked silently through the school, shooting those they felt had wronged them. But the tapes catches them laughing to each other, as if it were all a game. To answer Nolan's question, no. We know how the man died. It will not give any insight into how he died. And yet I know two things: In this day and age, one day the footage will show up on line. And I will watch it.

Is it me or does Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' baby look Asian?

Starring: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margo Kidder and Ned Beatty
Directed by: Richard Donner

FIRST SEEN: Hillsboro Theatre, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE LINE: "We all have our little faults. Mine's in California!"
FAVORITE SCENE: Superman flies for the first time.

  • Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score (John Williams), Film Editing and Sound. Awarded a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects.
  • BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer (Reeve). Nominations for Best Cinematography, Production Design, Sound and Best Supporting Actor (Hackman)
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score
  • Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special
  • Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium

    As a teenage boy in the late 1970s, I have many great movie memories. "Superman" is one of them. Many of my friends were big comic book fans. I wasn't, but my anticipation to see the film was just as great. For months we had been bombarded with news on the film. Everything was reported, from Marlon Brando's salary (more then $3 million for 12 days work) to who would play the Man of Steel. Everyone from Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner to the dentist of producer Ilya Salkind's wife were tested. But it was soap opera actor Christopher Reeve, who played Ben Harper on "Love of Life," that got the part.

    "You will believe a man can fly!" That is what the poster promised. And they made good on that promise in spades. My favorite scene is a short one, but one that pops into my head often, especially when I'm looking for a stand out movie memory. I can remember our group (myself, Matt, Scott Gilbert, Rick Sousa) getting in line about two hours before the first show was scheduled to start. And when I say line, I mean line. Thankfully the theatre was big, because there were a good 150 already waiting for the box office to open when we arrived. I can still picture the auditorium and where we sat, open mouthed, as the story unfolded. After building the Fortress of Solitude, Clark Kent is taken on a journey by his Kryptonian father. As the image of a death mask fades, we are back at the fortress. In the middle of the ice is a solitary figure. Suddenly, it lifts off and heads towards the audience. As the image gets larger, we see that it is Superman. He banks to the left and then flies directly across the screen. INTERMISSION! As the lights came up, we sat in silence for a few moments. Then the auditorium was filled with the excited chatter of 600 people who had just witnessed movie history. Though the film didn't need an intermission (in fact, the other theatre playing the film, the Floriland, did not have one), it certainly sent the crowd out into the lobby buzzing. I can remember after the film our group heading to the Book Nook and torturing Tom Bowles about what we had seen by threatening to reveal plot information. A week after the film opened I went to work at the Floriland. Another usher and I would wear T-shirts with the Superman emblem on them under our white shirts. We would make sure that we checked the theatre a few moments before Clark Kent changes into Superman. We would walk up the aisle and, in sync with the film, we would pull open our shirts at the same time to reveal our "costume" underneath.

    Having successfully filmed "The Three Musketeers" and "The Four Musketeers" simultaneously, the producers decreed that they would do the same with Superman. Director Richard Donner filmed many scenes that were intended for "Superman II." However, he was replaced on the project by Richard Lester, and much of the footage had to be reshot. Footage featuring Marlon Brando that was shot by Donner appeared this summer in "Superman Returns." A DVD of Donner's version of "Superman II" is scheduled to be released at the end of the year.

    Next week I take a look at one of the greatest sports films ever made, also featuring Gene Hackman - "Hoosiers".

    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.