As regular readers know, my wife and I were heartbroken when our beloved puppy, Elvis, passed away. Since that day there has been an emptyness in our house that we both felt but didn't talk about. However, thanks to what I'm sure was a little divine intervention, we are proud to introduce to you the newest member of the family, Brody. It is said that all dogs go to heaven and I truly believe that now. When we put in to adopt Brody we were told that another family had already contacted them and were going to meet him over last weekend. However, when the time came they could not keep the appointment. Obviously a sign of heavenly help, with I'm sure quite a bit of assistance from "the King." Thank you for sending him our way, buddy. We miss you and love you.
Everyone, this is Brody. Brody, this is everyone!
JUSTICE IS BLIND...AND PRETTY DAMN ARROGANT
Imagine you're sitting on death row, scheduled to die in just a few hours. Suddenly your attorney tells you he has found something that could prove your innocence and he's heading to the courthouse to file the necessary paperwork. However, instead of a stay of execution they kill you. Such was the case of Michael Richard. This week the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Judge Sharon Keller, goes on trial, charged with five counts of judicial misconduct, including denying a condemned man his rights. Seems the judge refused to extend the court clerk's office hours on the aforementioned day despite Mr. Richard's pleading. Her response? "We close at 5." My response? Enjoy your time in hell!
IT'S ALSO A DAMN JOKE
By now I'm sure you've heard that the Scottish government has released Abdel Baset Ali Megrahi, who was convicted in 2000 for masterminding the bombin of Flight 103 over Lockerbee, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people, most of them Americans. Apparently the murdering terrorist has cancer and is terminally ill so he was released on "compassionate grounds." What a joke! Megrahi was sentenced to LIFE IN PRISON (with a minimum 27 years to be served before any chance of parole). Attention you kilt wearing morons in the Scottish government: LIFE IN PRISON MEANS YOU STAY THERE UNTIL YOU DIE! Can you imagine the backlash our government would have gotten if we'd let James Earl Ray out of prison because he had a failing liver? Or Jack Ruby because he had terminal cancer? To quote the Wicked Witch in the "Wizard of Oz," What a world!
Tickets go on sale September 27 for what is now being advertised as a "Two Week Only" engagement of the Michael Jackson film, "THIS IS IT!" The film opens a month later, on October 28. No need to rush to the box office. As someone who spent two plus decades in the movie business, this thing will run much longer then two weeks.
I had hoped to have an interview with Sheri Moon Zombie this week in anticipation of "Halloween II." However, when I tried to confirm when I could see the film (Maybe it's just me but I like to see a film before I interview someone about it...makes me a little more credible, don't you think) I received the following message, "We are not screening the film for critics or promotionally. Not unlike some other blockbusters this summer, we are holding the suspense for opening." Translation: "Since "G.I. Joe" made a few bucks and it sucks ass, we're going to hope for the same." The funny thing is, I really enjoyed the first film (3 stars) so I may have had something good to say about this one as well. Apparently I'm not as powerful, or easily swayed, as Harry Knowles and his group over at Ain't It Cool News, though I do consider one of his writers to be a good friend. But not to worry fellow Fanboys...I plan to pay my money and take my chances and review the damn thing anyway!
You've got to hand it to comic book store owner Dave Luebke. Upset that Archie Comics has apparently ended the Betty/Veronica battle, Luebke sold his issue of Archie Comics Number One at auction for $38,837. According to the cover of Archie number 600, Archie proposes to Veronica on bended knee in what is to be the first of a six part series that shows the gang from Riverdale in the future. Luebke, who maintains that "Betty is it. Not Veronica." sold his comic in protest. However, Archie Comics editor in chief Victor Gorelick cautions Luebke and faithful readers to stick with the story. "Read though it and you'll see what happens." Gorelick added, "it could be worse....in earlier discussions we had Archie proposing to Jughead, only to be murdered by Big Ethel."
MY FAVORITE FILMS, PART II. THE YEAR WAS 75/77...
Dog Day Afternoon / Heroes|
Starring: Al Pacino and John Cazale / Henry Winkler and Sally Field
Directed by: Sidney Lumet / Jeremy Kagan
DOG DAY AFTERNOON
FIRST SEEN: HBO, My house.
FAVORITE SCENE: The climax at the airport.
FAVORITE LINE: "ATTACA!" (isn't it everyones?)
1976 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (Frank Pierson)
1976 Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Pacino), Supporting Actor (Chris Sarandon) and Film Editing
1976 BAFTA Award for Best Actor (Pacino) and Best Film Editing
1976 BAFTA Award nominations for Best Film, Director, Screenplay and Soundtrack
1976 Director's Guild of America Award nomination for Best Director.
1976 Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Picture/Drama, Director, Actor/Drama (Pacino), Supporting Actor (John Cazale and Charles Durning), Best Acting Debtut in a Motion Picture/Male (Chris Sarandon) and Best Screenplay
1976 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (Pacino)
1976 Writer's Guild of America Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen
Though I didn't see "Dog Day Afternoon" until many years after it premiered in theatres the film is very important in the many directions my life has taken. The reason: this was the film I DIDN'T get to see, due to my age, that led me to see "JAWS." The date is September 21, 1975. Having just turned 15 the week before my dad asks me what I want to do for my birthday. Intrigued by the television commericals I tell him I'd like to go see "Dog Day Afternoon." He agrees. However, on the day we plan to go something comes up and he can't go with me. However, he does drop me off at the University Cinemas where the film is playing. When I get to the box office I am told that the film is rated "R" and I am too young to attend by myself. Dejected, I turn away only to hear the cashier aske me through her little microphone, "Have you seen JAWS yet?" History. But that's another story for another time.
Based on a true story, "Dog Day Afternoon" was another in a string of true, gritty pictures from director Sidney Lumet. Coming straight off production of "The Godfather Part II," Al Pacino was exhausted. Of course, method actor that he is, he used that to shape his character. The cast is made up of a crew of talented stage actors, including Cazale, Durning and James Broderick (Matthew's pop). Cazale obviously knew a good script when he read one. The actor, who died of cancer at the age of 43, only appeared in five feature films in his career: "The Godfather," "The Godfather Part II," "The Conversation," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "The Deer Hunter" (six if you count flashback scenes from "The Godfather Part III"). All five of those films (or six if we're sticking with "GF3") were nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, winning three of them. Largely improvised, the story portrayed varies somewhat from the truth. Where in the film the bank is practically bereft of cash, in real life the robbery netted over $200 thousand. However, things soon went wrong and the circumstaces and situations shown in the film are fairly accurate. Of course, the big reveal in the film is when it turns out that Pacino's Sonny is only robbing the bank to get money for his lover to have a sex change operation. In real life, the robber used the money he got in exchange for his story to pay for said operation. Ain't love grand? One more JAWS note: as the film begins there are three would be robbers but one bolts before anything happens. That actor is Andy Springer, who would go on to co- star in "Jaws II" a few years later.
Pacino continues to be one of the most respected actors of his generation. Beloved by his peers, he FINALLY won an Oscar in his eighth try, Best Actor for "Scent of a Woman." Cazale's career was all too short, but he too was revered by his fellow actors. The story goes that, when the producers of "The Deer Hunter" refused to hire him because of his illness (the insurance company that covered the film would not insure him) the entire cast, from Robert DeNiro down, threatened to quit the picture. Sidney Lumet, almost 35 years later, is still one of the greatest directors working in Hollywood at age 85. He was heralded by critics everywhere, including this one, for his work on his most recent feature, 2007s "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead." Nominated four times for a directing Academy Award, he has never won, which is one of those Martin Scorsese like slaps in the face. He did receive an honoray Oscar in 2005.
Next week I'll be going back four decades to highlight a film that I've always enjoyed and still watch whenever I get the chance, "Yours, Mine and Ours" starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.
FIRST SEEN: Twin Bays 4 Cinema, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE SCENE: Jack snaps after being harrassed in a bar
FAVORITE LINE: after being told by his friend that she was against and protested the war in Vietnam Jack calmly replies, "And I fought it."
1978 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor/Drama (Winkler)
It must be hard on an actor to suddenly go from practically un-employed to the biggest star on the planet. Though it happens occasionally in films, it is usually the actor on television that breaks out, sometimes for the good...sometimes not. And this has happened since the invention of television. Not as much in the 1950s, when television shows were filled with theatre trained actors. Even the early 60s featured actors like Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, William Shatner and others in small roles, but it took them years to attain the superstar celebrity they eventually gained. To me the turning point was the television series "Peyton Place," which made instant movie stars out of Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal. Clint Eastwood. John Travolta. Tom Selleck. All were popular television performers who had relatively successful film careers. But in the mid-70s there was nobody hotter then the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler.
Originally cast as a supporting character on the television show, "Happy Days," after one season Winkler was getting star money and second billing. He had somehow struck a nerve with America and we loved him. So when the time came to make a movie with him as the star he had his choice of projects,from starring opposite Susan Dey in "First Love" to the role of Danny Zuko in "Grease." Ironically, Winkler's biggest role before "Happy Days" was in the film "The Lords of Flatbush," in which he, Sylvester Stallone and Perry King portrayed guys in black leather jackets. Winkler felt that the combination of all three projects would forever lead him to be typecast. So instead he chose the role of Jack Dunne, a mentally troubled Vietnam veteran in "Heroes."
The film was one of the first to deal with the after effects of the war on the soldiers that returned, battling not only the inner demons conjured up by their experiences, but the negativity of their own countrymen, who long ago had decided the war was wrong. Jack is on a cross country trek to meet up with the other members of his unit, among them Ken (Harrison Ford) who made a pact to open a worm farm (for fishing) when they returned home. Along the way he meets Carol (Field)who has decided to take a short "vacation" right before her wedding. Yes, it does sound a lot like Field's role in "Smokey and the Bandit," which was released six months earlier. Too bad she was too old when they made "The Runaway Bride." Of course, things never go as planned and when Jack finally tracks Ken down, he learns that the world has changed for everyone, and that some dreams never come true.
I think what makes this film special to me is that you can see the talent that was always there in the three leads, even though the film was almost a throwaway when it opened, with the studio trying to capitalize as much on the fact that "Star Wars'" Han Solo was in the film as much as Winkler. That Winkler was nominated for a Golden Globe (he would also get a comedy nod a few years later for "Night Shift")is a testament to his ability to shake off the Fonz (he did win two Globes for his work on "Happy Days," as well as three Emmy nominations). He has gone on to a successful producing and directing career as well as making regular appearances on both television and film. Field went on to win (2) Oscars for Best Actress and Ford, who earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for "Witness" went on to become, box office wise, the biggest movie star in the world. Ever. Director Kagen went on to do both good films ("The Big Fix," "The Chosen") and bad ("The Sting II" - note to Universal: though funny guys in their own right, neither Jackie Gleason nor Mac Davis will EVER be Newman and Redford). He still works steadily in television.
Well, that's all for now. Sorry again for the lateness. The men's league team I play on is in the second round of the playoffs (deciding game tonight actually) so keep your fingers crossed. 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.