9 items from 2015
“There’s no business like show business, like no business I know,” Ethel Merman belted in the 1954 film adaptation of Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun. The musical’s lead song is enthusiastic and upbeat, but there’s an undercurrent of sarcasm and tragedy, with a few lines sneaking in how fickle the business is, how actors sometimes get stuck with crappy roles in failing projects, and how they have to keep smiles painted on their faces no matter how bad things get. That whiff of discontent runs through virtually all movies about the performance industry, from live theater to music to filmmaking. Show business may make a handful of people rich, powerful, and renowned, but for every one who makes it to the top of the heap, there are hundreds of strivers who spend their lives climbing only to end up back at base camp. Still, all that »
- Tasha Robinson
Before there was Ovitz or Ari, there was Sue Mengers.
During the peak of her clout in the 1970s, the brash barrier-breaker helped popularize the idea of the Hollywood super-agent. The media lapped up her comic crudity (after the Manson family murdered actress Sharon Tate, she told a frightened Barbra Streisand, “Don’t worry, honey, they’re not killing stars, only featured players”), her legendary dinner parties attracted Tinseltown’s A-list, and “60 Minutes” came calling to do a lengthy interview that captured Mengers dishing and deal-making.
She was so larger than life that she inspired both fictional knockoffs, such as the fast-talking agent portrayed by Dyan Cannon in “The Last of Sheila” and hit Broadway plays like “I’ll Eat You Last,” which had Bette Midler offering a wicked send-up of the legendary tenpercenter. Yet biographer Brian Kellow, fresh off his acclaimed book “Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, »
- Brent Lang
Looks like we picked the wrong week to quit celebrating milestones.
Hard to believe it's been 35 years since "Airplane!" took flight (on July 2, 1980) and taught us all to speak jive, order the chicken instead of the fish, and avoid calling each other "Shirley." Three and a half decades later, the airline disaster parody remains one of the funniest films ever made, one that generations of viewers have watched over and over -- though probably never as an in-flight movie.
Still, as many times as you've seen it, there's much you may not know about how it was made. In honor of "Airplane!" turning 35, here are a few facts every fan must know about the comedy classic.
1. Strip away all the jokes, and "Airplane!" is essentially a remake of a little-known 1957 air disaster movie called "Zero Hour!" The writing/directing team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker lifted the plot, »
- Gary Susman
It's the most bizarre mating of two diverse talents since Ernest Borgnine thought it would a good idea to marry Ethel Merman, though hopefully this one will have a happier ending. Cult movie director Rob Zombie has announced that he will bring a Groucho Marx biography to the screen. The film will based on the memoir "Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's House" by Steve Stoliar, a fan who worked for the legendary actor and comedian as his personal secretary and archivist in the last years of his life. (Marx died in 1977 at age 86). Turns out the esteemed Mr. Zombie is a life long Groucho admirer. Who knew? We look forward to Zombie directing Dame Judi Dench in a biopic of Gracie Allen. For more click here »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
Is Mad Men going to end with one of its characters plunging out a window, literally becoming the falling man from the opening credits? Probably not, for the very simple reason that that would be a horrendous idea. (When Mad Men predicts the future, it does so with the subtlety of a brain surgeon; the falling-man idea is the equivalent of a sledgehammer hitting a nuclear bomb that's placed atop a boom box blasting "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" as sung by Ethel Merman.) But that hasn't stopped the show's fans from fixating on the image of the falling man as a key to Mad Men's final shot. Will it be Don committing suicide? Will it be Roger, who's afraid of heights? Will it be Harry fulfilling his original destiny? Gag me with a spoon — or better yet, hit me in the face with a Sno Ball. In the post-Lost era, it's »
- Nate Jones
This article contains a spoiler for the ending of Interstellar.
In case you missed it, the Oscars were this past weekend and Birdman was the big winner. The Academy’s choice to award Alejandro González Iñárritu's fever dream was a genuine shock, with Boyhood the running favourite for many months. Nonetheless, some things never change, and in that vein it's certainly a non-surprise the Academy also hardly noticed the most ambitious blockbuster of 2014: the Christopher Nolan space epic, Interstellar. Indeed, I use the phrase "non-surprise", because how could it be a winner when it was only nominated for the bare minimum of five Oscars in technical categories that are reserved as consolation prizes?
This is by all means par for the course with a film that has »
Chicago – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.
Play Rating: 3.5/5.0
The show takes awhile to get in gear. It’s a cabaret style of original and Merman-esque parody songs that has the thinnest of plots, and the introduction of “The Book of Mormon” characters at first seems like a slight rip-off. But the energy and song craft of the great cast brings it home, and the very talented team of Director David Zak and Book/Songwriter Leo Schwartz took care of the rest.
Aaron (Sam Button-Harrison), Jacob (Dan Gold) and Ethel (Libby Lane) in ‘The Book of Merman’
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Captain T. G. Culpeper Spencer Tracy J. Russell Finch Milton Berle Melville Crump Sid Caesar Benjy Benjamin Buddy Hackett Mrs. Marcus Ethel Merman Ding Bell Mickey Rooney Sylvester Marcus Dick Shawn Otto Meyer Phil Silvers J. Algernon Hawthorne Terry-Thomas Lennie Pike Jonathan Winters Monica Crump Edie Adams Emeline Finch Dorothy Provine Cabdriver Eddie “Rochester” Anderson Tyler Fitzgerald Jim Backus Man driving in the desert Jack Benny Union official Joe E. Brown Biplane pilot Ben Blue Police sergeant Alan Carney Detective Chick Chandler Mrs. Halliburton Barrie Chase Mayor Lloyd Corrigan Police chief William Demarest Sheriff of Crocket County Andy Devine Ginger Culpeper (voice) Selma Diamond Cabdriver Peter Falk Detective Normal Fell Colonel Wilberforce Paul Ford Deputy sheriff Stan Freberg Billie Sue Culpeper (voice) Louise Glenn Cabdriver Leo Gorcey Fire chief Sterling Holloway Mr. Dinckler Edward Everett Horton Irwin Marvin Kaplan Jimmy the Cook Buster Keaton Nervous motorist Don Knotts Airport »
- Sam Moffitt
9 items from 2015
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