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Today in Soap Opera History (March 30)

1970: A World Apart and The Best of Everything premiered on ABC.

Another World spinoff Somerset premiered on NBC.

Dark Shadows' Maggie found a mysterious note."All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut."

Anne Brontë in "Agnes Grey"

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1970: Daytime soap opera A World Apart premiered on ABC. The show was created by Katherine L. Phillips, Irna Phillips' daughter, and combined Irna's own life story with examples of the generation gap. Susan Sarandon
See full article at We Love Soaps »

Today in Soap Opera History (March 29)

1962: Search for Tomorrow's Marge was upset when adoption

plans fell through. 1982: Sft made its NBC debut.

1982: The first daytime episode of Capitol aired on CBS.

2004: All My Children's Kendall told Bianca her baby was dead."All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut."

Anne Brontë in "Agnes Grey"

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1962: On Search for Tomorrow, Marge Bergman (Melba Rae) reeled from Monica's (Barbara Baxley) decision to not give Jimmy up for adoption. She
See full article at We Love Soaps »

Today in Soap Opera History (February 4)

1966: Guiding Light's Mike Bauer crossed over to Another World.

1980: Gl's Roger dressed as a clown to kidnap his daughter.

2004: AMC's Greenlee ripped off Kendall's dress in court.

2005: Y&R's Jack threw a chair through the Jabot window."Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results."

― Machiavelli

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1966: The Guiding Light's Mike Bauer (Gary Pillar) debuted
See full article at We Love Soaps »

Running on Empty

These fugitives on the run aren’t innocent young lovers. Still wanted for anti-war violence from years before, an ex-radical couple struggles to remain free just as their children become old enough to think for themselves. Screenwriter Naomi Foner and director Sidney Lumet’s fascinating movie is a sympathetic look at an untenable lifestyle.

Running on Empty

Blu-ray

Warner Archive Collection

1988 / Color / 1:85 enhanced widescreen / 116 min. / Street Date June 27, 2017 / available through the WBshop / 21.99

Starring: Christine Lahti, River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch, Jonas Abry, Martha Plimpton, Ed Crowley, L.M. Kit Carson, Steven Hill, Augusta Dabney, David Margulies, Lynne Thigpen, Bobo Lewis, Daniel Dassin.

Cinematography: Gerry Fisher

Film Editor: Andrew Mondshein

Original Music: Tony Mottola

Written by Naomi Foner

Produced by Griffin Dunne, Amy Robinson

Directed by Sidney Lumet

1988 suddenly seems much farther in the past than it did just a few months ago. The small town high school in Running on Empty has a dedicated, classically trained music teacher on the payroll. He earns enough to afford a rather nice house. The public school system is not being undermined, with all the wealthy students going to new kinds of exclusive, alternative schools siphoning off public money. We all have our own ideas about what ‘making America great again’ means, I suppose.

It doesn’t happen any more, but we used to read about ex- radicals from the Vietnam War days surfacing to turn themselves in. Not that many were directly involved in violent acts, but some had lived for decades under assumed identities, while their wanted photos were posted down at the Post Office. Some of them tried to raise families.

“We are all outlaws in the eyes of America.

Everything they say we are, we are.

. . . And we are very proud of ourselves.”

— The Jefferson Airplane

Naomi Foner’s Running on Empty is basically a ‘what comes next?’ chapter in the lives of former political public enemies like The Weather Underground. An unusual family is on the lam. The parents are militant radicals from the Nixon years, who went underground when one of their bombs maimed a janitor. Now they are nearing their forties, and must move from town to town whenever they think the Feds have picked up their trail. The couple chose their life and has accepted the consequences, but where does that leave their growing children, who are likewise forced to live like gypsies under assumed names?

I should think that this good movie would have a tough time in today’s market. If the online mob harps on Wonder Woman for promoting non-traditional values, what would they make of a movie ‘glorifying terrorism?’ Half of America still wants to see Jane Fonda strung up by her thumbs, and death threats for ‘enemies’ singled out on the web are now routine. Our channels of information are so jammed with stories elbowing each other for attention, I don’t think anybody could rouse the general public to even consider the problems of this kind of fugitive. Who has time for scurrilous pleas for sympathy for ‘undeserving’ people, when the public responds better to patriotic pieces about veterans . . . or cute animals?

Always watching for signs of F.B.I. surveillance, young Danny Pope (River Phoenix) alerts the rest of his family through pre-arranged signals. Annie and Arthur Pope (Christine Lahti & Judd Hirsch) abandon their jobs, their belongings and even their dog and flee to a new state with Danny and their other son Harry (Jonas Abry). With new identities they start new lives. Arthur and Annie find off-the-books employment as a cook and a medical receptionist and the boys are enrolled in school with ‘previous transcripts on the way.’ We see the unusual preparations that must be made, with secret arrangements so that any family member can alert the others if they’re found out; we also see that the family is supported to some degree by a network of post-radical (or still radical?) sympathizers, such as a doctor (David Marguiles) who tends to political fugitives. But the Popes are cut off from their own families. Annie’s disapproving father (Steven Hill) can only see her in an extraordinary circumstance arranged by a third party. Potential trouble comes when former comrade Gus Winant (L.M. Kit Carson) drops by. He’d like to sleep with his old flame Annie, and is carrying guns in the assumption that Arthur will agree to rob a bank with him. But a more troubling problem is closer to home. Young Danny has inherited his mother’s musical talent, and his teacher Mr. Phillips (Ed Crowley) is encouraging him to apply to Julliard in New York. Danny is also stuck on Phillips’ teenage daughter Lorna (Martha Plimpton), a girl to whom he might be ready to commit. As far as Arthur is concerned, Danny can’t do any of those things because his first duty is to help his family in the undercover life. Annie doesn’t know what to do. If she leaves her son behind, she may never see him again.

Practically speaking, Running on Empty will only play well to a certain segment of the public. Are you the kind that sympathizes with draft deserters that fled to Canada, or the kind that wants to hand them long terms in prison? The Popes aren’t victims of injustice, at least not directly; they knew what they were doing when they went militant, and the injuries they caused can’t simply be dismissed as youthful idealism. They are also hopelessly associated with fanatics they inspired, like the Sla. And there’s no statute of limitations on armed insurrection. I think almost all of the radical fugitives that went underground are now accounted for. Some served prison time and others got off because courtroom prosecutions would reveal or publicize the government’s own illegal doings. Running on Empty dramatizes what might have been reality for just a few of these ‘outlaws in the eyes of America.’ Some radicals reportedly found it easy to live undetected while still on various Most Wanted lists. Others found ways to turn themselves in, square themselves with the authorities and re-commence academic lives interrupted years before to oppose the government. *

Running on Empty is a fascinating show, with a cast that clearly had to work hard to make their characters believable. Christine Lahti puts up with her bossy, security-minded husband. He himself gets drunk one night and starts shouting his real name loud enough to wake the neighbors. Judd Hirsch and director Lumet know that these can’t be ordinary people. He doesn’t try to make them Ozzie and Harriet types, somehow (sniff!) trapped by their youthful mistakes. No, they’re still promoting various Union and social justice causes here and there, although Arthur must back away whenever he becomes visible enough to appear in a news photo. Every year they celebrate a birthday to Sam, the man struck by their bomb. It’s not a joke, but a ritual so they won’t forget their crime.

At the center of the movie is the cult actor River Phoenix, who graduated briefly to good roles after his appearance as an adolescent space voyager in the fantasy film Explorers. Phoenix is excellent as Danny, a kid raised to never let down his guard. The show begins with Danny detecting a plainclothes tail and executing what must be ‘escape plan 9.’ The family is out of town in a matter of minutes. Danny’s a sensitive, smart guy. If he plays by the rules, he must keep himself a complete mystery to his new girlfriend Lorna. The boy is committed to his family, but feels the pull to go off on his own, where a decent future awaits. In a way, it’s not a situation wholly unique to these former radicals. This must happen all the time when someone breaks away from a strongly structured family, or a religious cult.

The movie’s tension level doubles when Danny takes the forbidden step of telling Lorna everything. How many of us living normal lives (well, reasonably normal lives) could trust our sweethearts with such a volatile secret: “I and my whole family are fugitives from justice. Anybody helping us is a potential accomplice. Just by letting you know, I’m putting you in legal jeopardy. Will you turn me in, or become a criminal with me?”

At this age Martha Plimpton might remind one of a teenage Lauren Bacall. A survivor of Goonies, she is featured in what I think is the best Cannon film, Shy People. Plimpton and Phoenix have several worthy melodramatic romantic scenes to play, and they’re excellent together.

With the ace director Sidney Lumet in charge the strange relationships seem credible, even when the flaky, reckless Gus Winant breezes through. The former radical patriot is now nothing but an outlaw bum. In a nice choice, Gus is played by L.M. Kit Carson, the original fake counterculture hero in the classic experimental faux-documentary David Holzman’s Diary. With dangerous idiots like Gus on the loose, the Popes can’t even consider themselves part of a noble creed. Some of their old colleagues are indeed armed and dangerous.

I don’t think the Popes would stand a chance of evading the cops in today’s security state. One can no longer simply find the name of a dead infant and apply for a new birth certificate and passport. The Popes aren’t hiding in a shack in the woods, but are out and about in the public, working and rubbing elbows with schools and doctors. I guess that back in the 1980s Arthur could become a cook and Annie a receptionist without references, but it’s less likely now, when one can’t buy bubble gum without leaving a data trail. Traffic and security surveillance cameras are now everywhere. Billions of smart-phone photos are taken at public gatherings, and routinely posted on the web. A high-level security agency could be (is?) scanning the web with face recognition software.

Sidney Lumet wrote that his movies Running on Empty and Daniel had the same theme: “Who pays for the passion and commitment of the parents?” This is an even-handed and insightful drama. Lumet made a wide range of great entertainments, and some of the best- ever ‘New York Jewish Liberal Movies.’ He’s also one of the few directors who could take on fundamentally controversial material like this, and continue to maintain a busy career.

The Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray of Running on Empty is a good encoding of what was already a very good Wac Mod disc from just two years ago. The improved picture and sound reveals the expected quality of a top Sidney Lumet product. The small town we see is very attractive, a political landscape completely different from the corporate/banking rapacious wasteland of last year’s Hell or High Water. ‘Radicals unselfishly trying to stop a war in 1971’ is still anathema, while Mr. and Mrs. U.S.A. now considers it justifiable for ‘radicals to selfishly try to rescue their ruined finances.’

Madonna is on the soundtrack for a scene in Daniel’s music class. The final James Taylor song Fire and Rain works extremely well in context: “. . . and I always thought that I’d see you again.”

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,

Running on Empty Blu-ray rates:

Movie: Excellent

Video: Excellent

Sound: Excellent

Supplements: none

Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? Yes; Subtitles: English (feature only)

Packaging: Keep case

Reviewed: June 21, 2017

(5451empt)

* I remember a major case from 2001. A radical who had evaded capture for thirty years finalized arrangements to turn herself in, after a delicate negotiation aimed at running her quietly through the legal system to let her get on with her life. She was reportedly not personally responsible for any violent acts, and under her assumed identity had worked for decades in a socially productive job. I followed her story for a couple of days in the newspaper . . . and then 9/11 happened. In the storm of security-minded post-attack chaos that followed, her story thread just vanished from the media-scape. I don’t have a clue what happened to her next. The timing couldn’t possibly have been worse for a former Enemy of the State.

Visit DVD Savant’s Main Column Page

Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: dvdsavant@mindspring.com

Text © Copyright 2017 Glenn Erickson
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Today's Soap World Birthdays

Former Days Of Our Lives actress Taylor Spreitler turns 17 today. We Love Soaps TV interviewed the up and coming actress in July 2009. She's currently starring on the ABC Family hit Melissa & Joey. Happy Birthday to everyone celebrating today.

See the full list below.

Warren Burton (ex-Jason, Another World; ex-Phillip, Santa Barbara; ex-Warren, Guiding Light; ex-Eddie, All My Children) - 66

Sarah Laine (ex-Sarah, General Hospital; ex-Gretchen, Undressed) - 28

Jessica Dunphy (ex-Alison, As The World Turns) - 26

Taylor Spreitler (ex-Mia, Days Of Our Lives) - 17

Trivia: Also born on this day, in 1918, was the last Augusta Dabney who starred on numerous soaps including Young Doctor Malone, Another World, As The World Turns, Loving and many more. She died in 2008.
See full article at We Love Soaps »

Kevin McCarthy obituary

Elegant and charming supporting actor with more than 200 credits over a 70-year career

Kevin McCarthy, who has died aged 96, notched up more than 70 years as a working actor on stage and screen, with more than 200 film and TV credits. However mundane the material, it was usually enhanced by his lazy charm and natural elegance, his intriguing baritone voice and unconventional good looks – all attributes that might well have led him down the political path of his cousin, senator Eugene McCarthy. As it happened, he preferred to play politicians rather than be one.

He received his first screen credit in Laslo Benedek's version of Death of a Salesman (1951). McCarthy had previously played Biff, one of Willy Loman's disillusioned sons, in the London production of Arthur Miller's play, in 1949. By the time of the movie, he was a youthful-looking 37, with considerable stage experience. Resuming the role of Biff, he held
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Kevin McCarthy: 1914-2010

  • Comicmix
Actor Kevin McCarthy, made famous by his role of Dr. Miles Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, passed away this past Saturday in Cape Cod; he was 96 years old.

McCarthy, who has been acting since 1938, has had an amazingly long career, acting even to this year, with many roles under his belt in the 90's as well. A look at his IMDb page includes roles in movies, television, and even some voice-over work. His notable roles included Uncle Walt in the Twilight Zone movie, roles in Innerspace, Dark Tower, The Howling, and even a role as Marilyn Monroe's husband in the 1961 film "The Misfits". 

And while some in the later generations may recognize him as the evil R. J. Fletcher of Weird Al's cinematic opus, Uhf, it would be his role in Body Snatchers that would prove to be his most memorable. McCarthy would end up lending his memorable "You're next!
See full article at Comicmix »

Veteran Actor Kevin McCarthy Died

Veteran actor Kevin McCarthy has passed away at the age of 96. The star died at a hospital in Cape Cod, Massachusetts on Saturday, September 11, according to a representative for the facility. No details of his death have been released as WENN goes to press.

McCarthy started his career on Broadway in 1938 before making his big screen debut in "Winged Victory" in 1944. His first starring role came in 1951 with the film adaptation of the Arthur Miller play "Death of a Salesman", which won him a Golden Globe and a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

He went on to play Dr. Miles Bennell in sci-fi classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", which, although not a commercial success, turned him into a cult hero for generations to come. He starred in dozens of movies, with his last in 2009.

McCarthy married actress Augusta Dabney in 1941, but the pair divorced in 1961. In 1970, he married Kate Crane
See full article at Aceshowbiz »

Actor McCarthy Dies

  • WENN
Actor McCarthy Dies
Veteran actor Kevin McCarthy has passed away at the age of 96.

The star died at a hospital in Cape Cod, Massachusetts on Saturday, according to a representative for the facility. No details of his death have been released as WENN goes to press.

McCarthy started his career on Broadway in 1938 before making his big screen debut in Winged Victory in 1944.

His first starring role came in 1951 with the film adaptation of the Arthur Miller play Death Of A Salesman, which won him a Golden Globe and a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

He went on to play Dr. Miles Bennell in sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which, although not a commercial success, turned him into a cult hero for generations to come.

He starred in dozens of movies, with his last in 2009.

McCarthy married actress Augusta Dabney in 1941, but the pair divorced in 1961. In 1970, he married Kate Crane and they went on to have two children. All three survive the actor.

Kevin McCarthy, Actor of 1956 Sci-Fi Classic Body Snatchers, Dead At 96

The La Times has reported that actor Kevin McCarthy passed away on Saturday.

Kevin McCarthy, the veteran stage and screen actor best known for his starring role as the panicked doctor who tried to warn the world about the alien “pod people” who were taking over in the 1956 science-fiction suspense classic Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, died Saturday. He was 96.

McCarthy died of natural causes at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass., said his daughter Lillah.

During a career that spanned more than 70 years, beginning on stage in New York in the late 1930s, McCarthy played Biff Loman opposite Paul Muni’s Willy in the 1949 London production of “Death of a Salesman.” Reprising his role in the 1951 film version opposite Fredric March, he earned a supporting-actor Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe as most promising male newcomer.

McCarthy had appeared in several other films and had a string of
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

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