PCR's past banners
Now in our tenth calendar year!

PCR #473 (Vol. 10, No. 16). This edition is for the week of April 13--19, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Work and baseball will keep me busy this weekend but I promise I'll be around. Shall we begin?

"State of Play"  by Mike Smith
Cheech & Chong: Still Smoking After All These Years  by ED Tucker
Harry Kalas, 73, R.i.p. .... Here Comes The King! .... I Have A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is More Cowbell! .... Bruce Allen Has A New Job .... The Heat Is On .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
Guess Who? .... Cinderella Story .... Then He Kissed Me .... Still No Ringo .... Give 'til It Hurts .... Back To Work .... Outta Here! .... Last Week .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2009
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR

Did you hear about the three time Emmy winning actor and comedian who went on a racial rampage? If you're thinking Michael Richards, think again. This week the answer is Brad Garrett, who had a little "fun" with a middle eastern fan recently. Encouraging the unnamed man to "wear a turban" he replied to the gentleman's question with "In English." And they let this guy play Jackie Gleason?

Sometimes real life imitates reel life. This week, while playing in a tournament in Tampa, "Caddyshack" star Bill Murray hooked a drive so far that he struck a woman standing in her yard across the street. No word on whether or not anyone yelled "Noonan" during his backswing.

Just one of the popular songs Phil Spector may update if he's ever released from prison. Spector, found guilty this week of the murder of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" actress Lana Clarkson, could receive life in prison when he's sentenced on May 29th. Other songs from the Spector library that could apply: "Be My Baby," "To Know Him Is To Love Him" and "(Today I Met)The Boy I'm Gonna Marry."

This week George Harrison received his own star on Hollywoods' Walk of Fame. There to unveil the honor: wife Olivia, son Dhani, bandmate Paul McCartney and Otis and Charlie T. Wilburry, Jr. (Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty). Harrison became the third Beatle (McCartney and John Lennon) to have a solo star dedicated to him. I can't believe a few fans of "Caveman" haven't gotten together and ponied up to get Ringo one.

I will give President Obama credit for one thing: he puts his wallet where his mouth is. This past year the Obamas donated over $172,000.00 to charity. In contrast, Vice President Biden and his wife donated a whopping $1885.00, with $550.00 of that being an estimated amount for thrift store donations. What a humanitarian!

Liam Neeson has been cast as Zeus, king of the gods, in the upcoming remake of "Clash of the Titans," which will co-star his "Schindler's List" cast mate Ralph Fiennes.

Quite a few deaths this week:

Harry Kalas, long time radio voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and narrator of weekly highlights for NFL films for more then 30 years, died this week from heart disease. He was 73. Kalas died in the broadcast booth, preparing for the Phillies game against the Washington D.C. Nationals.

Mark Fidrych, 1976 American League Rookie of the Year known to fans as "The Bird," also died this week after having an accident on his Massachusetts farm. He was 54. Fidrych took the game by storm with his varied antics which included grooming the mound and talking to the baseball between innings. He earned his nickname because of his resemblance to "Sesame Street" star Big Bird.

Very sad to hear about the passing of adult film actress Marilyn Chambers, who died this week at the age of 57. No cause of death was given. Leaving her hometown of Providence, R.I., Chambers pursued a legit acting career and even garnered a small part as Robert Klein's girlfriend in "The Owl and the Pussycat," Her next two projects combined to make her infamous. Intrigued by her fresh faced innocence, the makers of Ivory Snow featured her on the front of their product, holding a baby and claiming "99 and 44/100 Pure." Shortly after the product hit the shelves, a new film featuring Chambers appeared, the Mitchell Brothers' production of "Behind the Green Door," at the time, along with "Deep Throat," the most infamous adult film of all time. In 1980 I had the unique opportunity of meeting Ms. Chambers when I was dragged against my will by some friends of mine to see the film "Insatiable" at the Dove Theatre in Kansas City. Ms. Chambers greeted patrons in the lobby, fully nude and even posed for Polaroids with fans. I'd reprint the one she took with me, but unfortunately this is a family publication!

Randy Cain, founding member of the Delfonics, died this week at the age of 63. The group had such popular hits as "La La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind, This Time."

I let my template's failure to retain my work ruin some thoughts about my films of the week. To summarize, "Cop Land" proved Sly Stallone could act and "Good Will Hunting" proved Ben Affleck and Matt Damon could write! And now on to...


Marathon Man
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier and Roy Scheider
Directed by: John Schlesinger

FIRST SEEN: Tampa Bay Center Theatre, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE SCENE: Meeting the dentist.
FAVORITE LINE: "Is it safe?"


1977 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Olivier)

1977 BAFTA nomination for Best Actor (Hoffman - nomination also recognized for his work in "All the President's Men) and Best Film Editing.

1977 Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor (Olivier)

1977 Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture (Drama), Director, Supporting Actress (Marthe' Keller) and Screenplay.

1977 Writer's Guild nomination for Best Screenplay Based on Another Medium.

A great script, based on a well received novel. A top rate cast and a reknowned director. Nine times out of ten, all of the best intentions go wrong in Hollywood. But number 10...look out!

The story of two brothers and the trouble one gets into because of the other, the film is based on the novel by Willliam Goldman, Oscar winning author of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Hoffman is Babe Levy, a young man attending Columbia University for a history degree. The boys' father had been a noted historian who had committed suicide many years ago after being falsely accused of un-American leanings. Babe hopes through his studies to write a paper that will clear his father's name. Older brother Doc (Scheider) is not the man Babe thinks he is. Babe believes he works for one of the major oil companies, which would explain his many overseas trips. In reality he is an agent for "the company," a CIA like government entity. The third figure in the puzzle is Olivier's Christian Szell, a former Nazi bad man who was once a dentist. He's like Joseph Mengele with a spit cup. Szell has been living in South America since the end of WWII, surviving by selling the hundreds of diamonds he stole from his "patients," which were couriered to him by his brother. When his brother is killed in an auto accident, Szell must travel to America to retrieve his jewels. But before he heads to the bank he needs to know....is it safe?

A first rate thriller in every sense, I was obviously looking forward to "Marathon Man" because it was the first film Roy Scheider did after "Jaws." The first time Scheider is introduced, his character doing impossible push ups in his European hotel room, unaware that he's about to battle an assassin in those close quarters. On the DVD of "Marathon Man" there is a featurette that was produced during filming. In it, producer Robert Evans refers to Scheider as "the Humphrey Bogart of the 70s," a comment that, thinking back on Roy's career, makes sense. Scheider was pigeonholed in roles as a cop for several years until he broke out with "Jaws." Bogart was often cast as a crook early in his career. I would think early critics would have been hard pressed to believe Scheider could pull off a role like Joe Gideon in "All that Jazz" the same as their 1930s contemporaries could imagine Bogie playing Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny."

The combination of Hoffman and Olivier is also interesting. Olivier is regarded by many, Hoffman included, as the greatest actor ever, able to step into any character and make him real. Hoffman was more a "method" actor...having to submerse himself in the character without a break. When the script called for Babe to be out of breath after a run (the character is also training to run a marathon, hence the title), rather then "act" out of breath, Hoffman would often run a half mile before the director called "action" so his breathing was "believable." Screenwriter Goldman, in his book "Adventures in the Screen Trade," relates a story about a scene in which Hoffman's character has been up 48 hours straight. On set, Olivier remarked to Hoffman that he looked terrible and Hoffman is said to have replied that, because the scene called him to have been awake for 48 hrs, he had not slept for two days, hoping to make the scene more believable. According to Goldman, Olivier replied, "Why not try acting? It's much easier."

"Marathon Man" openend to excellent reviews, strong box office and made a generation of movie goers afraid of ever going to the dentist again. It has a special place in my life as I film I saw with my father. When it was over I asked him what he thought of Scheider's performance. He replied, "Was he the guy who looks like a fish?"

Next week I'll try to explain the underrated appeal of Mr. Adrian Zmed when I take a look at "Grease 2."

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.