10 items from 2014
By Lee Pfeiffer
Mel Brooks' 1968 comedy classic The Producers was originally deemed unreleasable because of its tasteless content. It sat on a shelf for two years before finally seeing the light of day. When the movie hit theaters, critics praised it, Brooks won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and helped launch a major career for him in feature films. By 1974, tastelessness was not a barrier for Brooks' cinematic projects. Blazing Saddles, his insane send-up of the Western movie genre, came along at exactly the right time. Ten years earlier, the film would have been impossible to make. However, pop culture had matured light years between the mid-1960s and 1970s and so did audience's tolerance of envelope-pushing humor. Indeed, by the time Brooks brought this movie to the screen Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice had already shown the humorous side of swinging and Robert Altman's M*A*S »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
For the dog days of summer, what could be better than a movie with some canine teeth? And some claws. And a loud bark. And a nice wine for a dog day afternoon.
“The Howling” is a great 1980s werewolf film - there were a few of them back in the day. This one boasts Tfh head guru Joe Dante directing a screenplay by John Sayles- not to mention the likes of Patrick Macnee, Slim Pickens, John Carradine andKevin McCarthy onscreen. I’m in.
First of all, save your silver bullets. Do you know how much ordinary stuff can kill a dog? Wine is right up there - or any alcoholic beverage. But how about milk? That’s bad for Fido, too. Chocolate, also not so good for Rover. Nor are avocados, persimmons, eggs, fish, salt, sugar, yeast or macadamia nuts. It looks like the only thing dogs can safely eat are Bonz. »
- Randy Fuller
Warner Brothers must have both wanted to capitalize and mock the release of Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, as they’ve just created a slightly new special edition of Blazing Saddles for the film’s 40th anniversary. There was no way (and no offense to MacFarlane) that he could match or top Mel Brooks’ film, which is hard to call his masterpiece or even the best film he directed that year. But that’s only because in 1974 both it and Young Frankenstein were released. Which is the better movie boils down to preference. That said, I prefer Saddles. The film stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn in this Western send up, and my Blazing Saddles Blu-ray review follows after the jump. Starting with the title song, everything is on point in Blazing Saddles as Brooks treats the film like a feature length Looney Tunes cartoon. »
- Andre Dellamorte
I have a curious habit, maybe you have it too, if you are a real movie geek, film fan, cinema addict, what have you.
A certain number of movies that I have seen and loved with all my heart were losers at the box office or were mercilessly slammed by critics, usually both. This doesn’t happen all the time, mind you. I know a bad movie when I see one. But several times I have seen a movie on opening day and loved it so much I was sure it would be a big hit and be loved by critics and film goers, nope, not all the time.
Here then is my own personal and highly eccentric top ten list, with some honorable mentions, of movies that lost out, yet I love them still, many of them desperately, hysterically, madly do I love these films, well anyway… let me tell you about it. »
- Sam Moffitt
By Lee Pfeiffer
Seven years after his blockbuster success producing the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure, Irwin Allen revisited the same story for a sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure. The 1979 film represents all the reasons that sequels to most hit films are generally disdained. Yes, there was The Godfather trilogy to buck the trend, but there were also those God-awful sequels to Jaws. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure opens the morning after the capsizing of the cruise ship. Michael Caine is Mike Turner, the financially destitute captain of a small vessel who is facing bankruptcy after losing his cargo in the same violent storm that destroyed The Poseidon. On board his boat are his first mate Wilbur (Karl Malden) and Celeste Whitman (Sally Field), a perky but klutzy young drifter the men have befriended. They stumble upon the capsized wreck of the Poseidon and Turner immediately smells financial opportunity in the tragedy. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
So the phone rings, and I answer it, and it's Mel Brooks. That's an actual thing that happened. That's now something I can say. And even better, the 40 minute conversation that followed me answering the phone is one of my favorites in recent memory. How often do you get to talk to a comedy legend about one of the pinnacle moments of not only their career, but of film comedy in general? I was told I'd have about 15 minutes originally. Time was tight. And if you get offered 15 minutes to talk to Mel Brooks about "Blazing Saddles," you take it, right? We ended up having a really fun back and forth about that film, about films he's produced, about his partnership with Gene Wilder, and about the ways Hollywood failed the great Richard Pryor. The only reason we wrapped it up is because we had to, and it would have »
- Drew McWeeny
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
Own “Blazing Saddles” 40th Anniversary on Blu-ray 5/6!
Plot (courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Video): Blazing Saddles stars Cleavon Little as an unlikely sheriff in the town of Rock Ridge, Harvey Korman as the villain, Madeline Kahn as a Marlene Dietrich-style chanteuse, Gene Wilder as the wacko Waco Kid and Brooks himself as a dimwitted politico. Once the lunatic film gets started, logic is lost in a blizzard of gags, jokes, quips, puns and outrageous assaults upon good taste or any taste at all. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards– Supporting Actress for Kahn, Best Editing and Best Song.
Movie: Right now there is only one Western comedy worth talking about, and it is Blazing Saddles. Yes, this »
- Jeff Bayer
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Having finished Lolita, a subversive Hollywood piece even by noirish standards, Stanley Kubrick returned to war. Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb‘s scope was more encompassing than the private torture of Paths of Glory, looking forward to the threat of apocalyptic destruction instead of a reflective portrait of immediate world wars. Instead of matching and multiplying the grave tone inherent in his previous work and the source material, Red Alert by Peter George, Kubrick opted for a brand of blacker-than-pitch humor, claiming, “The only way to tell the story was as a black comedy or, better, a nightmare comedy, where the things you laugh at most are really the heart of the paradoxical postures »
- Zach Lewis
Blazing Saddles could be the most difficult movie to celebrate with a Scenes We Love feature. Not only is it a laugh-a-minute comedy with too many classic moments to narrow down from, but more importantly it is such a politically incorrect work that it’s hard to showcase excerpts that don’t play too offensively out of context of the whole picture. I realized this long ago while listening to shock jock radio and hearing many of the most hilarious quotes from the movie turned into uncomfortable soundbites. Yet this movie, which turned 40 years old this month, is a masterpiece of satire, slapstick and silliness. It’s one of the most important American comedies ever made, not to mention possibly the funniest in the last half century. Like another classic that recently celebrated an anniversary — Dr. Strangelove, which also features Slim Pickens — it played the nation’s fears and flaws for laughs. With »
- Christopher Campbell
The ultimate punchline to the nuclear satire of "Dr. Strangelove"? As absurd as Stanley Kubrick's imaginative black comedy about World War III seemed when it opened 50 years ago this week (on January 29, 1964), it all turned out to be true.
Everything in the movie that the Pentagon said couldn't happen in real life -- from Air Force officers launching nuclear strikes without Presidential approval, to the Ussr being ready to respond with an automated doomsday system of its own -- actually could have happened. The safeguards really were as flimsy as Kubrick and his screenwriters imagined them to be. (Which begs the question: How safe are we now from a nuclear apocalypse?)
That's just one reason -- albeit the most chilling one -- that Kubrick's 50-year-old comedy holds up shockingly well today. But there are many other reasons that the aftershocks of "Dr. Strangelove" continue to have an impact.
- Gary Susman
10 items from 2014
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