7 items from 2015
Twilight Time brings Sam Fuller’s exotic 1955 color noir House of Bamboo to Blu-ray, a resplendently colorful film and the first major Us production to film in post-war Japan. While Fuller re-tooled Harry Kleiner’s script for the 1948 film The Street with No Name to meet his own offbeat needs, the film experienced a rather cool reception, garnering praise for Joseph MacDonald’s cinematography (and has since been hailed by sources as some of the best uses of widescreen photography in the history of cinema) but little else. Following on the heels of successful black and white titles like Hell and High Water (1954) and the acclaimed film noir Pickup on South Street (1953), it’s a harder title to classify, featuring Fuller’s usual signature of off-balance touches in a production that now seems ahead of its time (especially compared to something like 1964’s black and white provocation The Naked Kiss »
- Nicholas Bell
Close-Up is a column that spotlights films now playing on Mubi. To Be or Not to Be is playing on Mubi in the Us through August 28.In 2002, the American Film Institute selected To Be or Not to Be as one of the 50 funniest American movies of all time. In March of 1942, when the film was initially released, most critics weren't laughing. A movie lampooning Adolf Hitler may have been acceptable a few years prior (see, for example, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator , though even then Chaplin began to regret his decision after learning more of the Nazis' "homicidal insanity"). But by 1942, Pearl Harbor had been attacked, America had entered World War II, and, to make matters even more dour, the star of To Be or Not to Be, the radiant Carole Lombard, had died in a plane crash less than two months before the premiere. All told, those »
- Jeremy Carr
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
Detective Frank Drebin's outside his Los Angeles police precinct, squeezing off shots into the receding backside of his own car.
How this came to happen almost defies description. Having driven his Ford Crown Victoria into a couple of bins outside the building, Drebin stumbles out, seemingly oblivious to the airbags going off inside. One airbag knocks the car into drive and off the vehicle goes, almost running Drebin over as it rumbles downhill.
As an orchestrated bit of comedy cinema, it's the knockabout equivalent of the famous scene in The Untouchables, where Brian De Palma expertly wrings every drop of suspense from a pram thudding down a flight of stairs at a train station.
On the spur of the moment, Drebin comes to the conclusion that there's a criminal »
Teresa Wright and Matt Damon in 'The Rainmaker' Teresa Wright: From Marlon Brando to Matt Damon (See preceding post: "Teresa Wright vs. Samuel Goldwyn: Nasty Falling Out.") "I'd rather have luck than brains!" Teresa Wright was quoted as saying in the early 1950s. That's understandable, considering her post-Samuel Goldwyn choice of movie roles, some of which may have seemed promising on paper. Wright was Marlon Brando's first Hollywood leading lady, but that didn't help her to bounce back following the very public spat with her former boss. After all, The Men was released before Elia Kazan's film version of A Streetcar Named Desire turned Brando into a major international star. Chances are that good film offers were scarce. After Wright's brief 1950 comeback, for the third time in less than a decade she would be gone from the big screen for more than a year. »
- Andre Soares
While romcoms and black comedies may have more sophisticated plots, satires are the films that guarantee us the most laughs. Sometimes you want permission to laugh at movies rather than with them, and satires remind you that familiar movie conventions are strange and sometimes hilarious. We just noticed that one of our all-time favorite Mel Brooks movies has hit Netflix, so without further ado, let's celebrate this nutty genre. "Airplane!": Insanity at 20,000 Feet The bawdy sight gags and astounding one-liners of "Airplane!" run together in a nonstop medley, but I'd like to point out another highpoint of this disaster satire: You can't pick a single Mvp in the ensemble. Every actor is perfectly cast and perfectly effing weird. Robert Hays is stone-eyed and slyly ridiculous. Julie Hagerty is a wide-eyed cuckoo. Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Stephen Stucker, Barbara Billingsley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and even Maureen McGovern (as the singing nun, »
- Louis Virtel
Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett movies (See previous post: "The Charles Brackett Diaries: Billy Wilder and Hollywood in the '30s and '40s.") Below is a list of movies on which Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder worked together as screenwriters, including efforts for which they did not receive screen credit. The Wilder-Brackett screenwriting partnership lasted from 1938 to 1949. During that time, they shared two Academy Awards for their work on The Lost Weekend (1945) and, with D.M. Marshman Jr., Sunset Blvd. (1950). Billy Wilder would later join forces with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond in movies such as Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, and One, Two, Three. However well-received, Wilder's later films generally lacked the sophistication and subtlety found in his earlier work with Brackett. Charles Brackett, for his part, became associated with 20th Century-Fox, working as a producer-screenwriter. His Fox films, though frequently popular and at times applauded by critics, were decidedly made-to-order, »
- Andre Soares
7 items from 2015
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