Category Archives: Sunset Boulevard

Life imitates art. Film relating to life.

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Political Lessons from “Blazing Saddles” and “Bananas

blazing_saddlersThe recent death of Gene Wilder prompted the theatrical re-release of two of his most popular movies. For those unfamiliar with the great comic actor on the big screen, that new release yielded much more than a windfall of laughs.

“We’ve got to save our phony-baloney jobs,” perhaps the truest line in all of cinema. In September, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wilder’s family-friendly film from 1971, played in 200 cinemas. The 1974 Western satire Blazing Saddles played in only 60 theatres but was more significant, for several reasons… Continue reading

Metropolis: Back to OUR Future…

Metropolis-August-Scherl-Berlin-1926_bkgrnd_02.jpgIn the early 1960’s, on Friday nights I would watch WTTW, the local PBS television station in Chicago. Their offering? Silent movies. The one that struck me the most – ‘Metropolis‘ – the 1927 film by German Director, Fritz Lang with musical ‘soundtrack’ by Gottfried Huppertz.

In this past half-century plus, missing segments of the film have been discovered and the film was eventually restored to its near full original presentation – the Director’s cut – if you will.

Over the years I have witnessed numerous additions and partial restorations including the first semi-full major restoration of the film – including digital applications in 2001. ‘Metropolis’ was once again upgraded in 2010 as additional footage was discovered.

Why does any of this matter? To some – it will not. To others, you will realize that what you are about to watch is an eighty-nine year old depiction of life in the future. Much of it has come to pass.

Oh yes… what you about to see has been modified by a fan, to include the music of Pink Floyd (‘Wish You Were Here‘). It is set set to the pre-2010 version (without the most recently discovered footage).

Today is one of those days that I am not up to publishing new columns on this day.

Let us return – Back – to OUR Future.

Enjoy the beauty of REAL film-making. ~ (J.B.)
Continue reading

George Kennedy (Dragline) Dead at 91

George-Kennedy-Dragline-Cool-Hand-LukeGeorge Kennedy, an American actor who won an Academy Award for playing a hulking chain gang convict who pummels Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke” and later earned laughs in the “Naked Gun” comedy films, has died, media outlets reported on Monday. He was 91.

The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, citing a Facebook post made by Kennedy’s grandson, said the actor died early on Sunday in Boise, Idaho. Reuters could not independently verify the reports. Continue reading

Gaddy: Fort Massacre – REVISITED

“The West has never known a Hero like the Killer who commanded Fort Massacre” ~ Taken from the film trailer of the 1958 Western, “Fort Massacre.”

Fort_Massacre_FilmPosterFor those of us who have realized that no matter who we vote for, a corrupt government gets elected, the past few days have provided an awful lot of humorous but thoughtful moments. It has been fun to watch the Republican Party continue to implode as their previous demand that Donald Trump not run as a 3rd party candidate begins to backfire and further illustrate there is actually no significant difference between them and the Democrats. As this writer has previously written, one of the strongest supporters of current, stated republican principles is none other than the Democrat front runner, Hillary Clinton. She supports everything Jeb, Marco, Carly, Lindsey Graham, Huckabee and Ben supports, militarily and socially, even more so in many regards.

A couple of days ago, Trump set the media (social and sycophant) on fire with his proposal to stop all immigration of Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” It certainly appears the entirety of the political world has turned on the “Donald” with many making reference to the same Constitution they have studiously avoided while religiously supporting unconstitutional social issues and unlimited wars. Continue reading

American Sniper Breaks Box Office Records

eastwoodThe Hollywood Reporter calls it a “shocker” that a patriotic movie by one of the best directors working today, about an American hero who kills jihadists, is really, really popular. To me, that sounds like a formula for success, but Hollywood still thinks tender stories about gay males coming of age are what the public demands, along with cartoonish special effects-laden, nine-figure-budget mind candy. Continue reading

Hanson : Our ‘Face in the Crowd

obama_face_in_the_crowd_on_brick_wall_8-17-14-1Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes. Continue reading

A New Biography Shows That ‘John Wayne’ Was His Own Best Creation

Scott Eyman’s new life of the actor John Wayne portrays an extremely complicated man who invented his own public persona and played it beautifully.

searchers“Truly, this man was the son of God.” Thus speaks a Roman centurion at the end of George Stevens’s inaptly named The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). It’s a line that always gets a big laugh, partly because the idea of anything so irreligious as Hollywood hokum commenting on the provenance of Jesus Christ is axiomatically funny, but mostly because the centurion is played by John Wayne, a movie star who might have known a son of a gun when he saw one, but who patently knew precious little else.

Except, one learns from Scott Eyman’s exhaustive new biography, John Wayne: the Life and Legend, Wayne was a rather more cultivated man than his movie persona allowed. He was a talented chess-player and no slouch at bridge, and he had a penchant for reciting Milton and Dickens and Shakespeare from memory. Among the titles on his bookshelves were first editions of Lolita and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, as well as a complete set of Winston Churchill’s prose. True, he got into the University of Southern California on a football scholarship. But at high school, in Glendale, he had won the essay of the year award, had written for the student newspaper, was a lynchpin of the debating team and was both President of the Latin society and Chairman of the Senior Dance. Continue reading

‘Catching Fire’ in the Coming Century: Will We Heed Its Pointed Warning?

Once in a while, Hollywood gets it right: for example, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. As Breitbart News has already noted, it’s a distinctly dystopian take on the future, seen from the perspective of year five of the Obama era.

catching-fire_webAnd as with its predecessor film from last year, The Hunger Games, this new film is a big hit. As a commentary on Obama’s America, that’s all the more revealing since movie audiences tilt young. In fact, Americans aged 12-24 represent only 10 percent of the US population, although they account for nearly a third of US moviegoers. So it’s the young—supposedly a cohort of Obama loyalists—who are bulking up the audiences for this PG-rated film.

Yet it must be observed that the source material precedes Obama; the first novel, The Hunger Games, appeared in 2008. Indeed, author Suzanne Collins has said that George W. Bush’s Iraq War was a major inspiration for the whole Hunger Games trilogy.

In other words, if American presidents, and their policies, are to be given “credit” for Collins’ dystopian fantasies, the credit must then be apportioned between the two parties. Continue reading

The Greatest, Most Relevant Speech Ever

charliechaplinEvery so often we are reminded of our roots – back on the old Hollywood lot. The Federal Observer has posted this video in the past, yet it seems even more relevant today. There are great lessons in movies – not all – but the true classics – and this is one of them. Thanks to the good folks over at Zero Hedge for reminding us. See you at the movies… (Ed.)

Every now and then, it is good to refresh knowledge of what is truly important in life. So it’s time to post “The Greatest Speech Ever” by Charlie Chaplin. Charlie Chaplin was known as the greatest silent actor ever. The most powerful excerpts from his speech, still very relevant today, in my opinion, are below:

“And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.” Continue reading

Hedy Lamarr: Inventor of more than the 1st theatrical-film orgasm

Hedy Lamarr in "Boom Town" by Laszlo Willinger (MGM, 1940)Hedy Lamarr, Old Hollywood sex symbol, had a brain. It’s a fact that may be nearly as overlooked as the inventor’s wartime creation: landmark technology that was a precursor to Bluetooth.

It’s not surprising that she’s known best for her sultry persona, given her film role that made everyone sit up and take notice. In 1933’s “Ecstasy,” a Czech film, she raised eyebrows and drew condemnation around the globe when she appeared nude in one part of the film and simulated an orgasm in another.

Lamarr is seen going skinny-dipping and, still without a stitch on, chasing a runaway horse. The orgasm scene comes later, and, yes, she does smoke a cigarette afterward. “Ecstasy” is considered the first theatrically released movie to feature an actress simulating an orgasm on screen. Continue reading


American StoryA television movie like An American Story couldn’t get greenlit today. In fact, it’s still surprising the Hallmark Hall of Fame and CBS joint production actually got broadcast back in 1992.

Yet this fictionalization of the Battle of Athens, the last and best modern example of American citizens forcefully asserting their Second Amendment rights, was actually shown only 21 years ago. The telepicture earned two Primetime Emmy nominations, one for music and another for cinematography.

This well made TV movie, starring Brad Johnson and directed by John Gray, depicted the last time in modern American history when a large group of decent, ordinary citizens were involved in an armed confrontation with criminally corrupt representatives of their own government. Continue reading

‘Les Misérables’ – A Fitting Lesson for the Age of Obama

The groundbreaking new film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Les Misérables” features desperate people suffering under soul-shattering unemployment, naive university students decrying the rich and stoking the flames of socialist revolution, an unyielding government official interested not in right and wrong but in following his government’s rules and one heroic individual who follows his faith in God to guide him from one success to another all the while truly helping others by using his own private wealth rather than through the ineffective and neglectful government.

In short, it is the perfect allegory for Americans living in the Age of Obama. Continue reading

Americans Will Find The New Les Misérables Film Hard To Stomach

I saw the new Les Misérables film this week. It was rather like being hit by a truck, which then kept reversing and ploughing resolutely forward again.

Generally, I prefer my musical politics a tad more Nixon in China. Still, the decision to shoot the numbers largely in single shots means the singers are forced to act, not simply bawl X Factor-style. Brit Eddie Redmayne is revealed to boast not just cheekbones, but a sterling tenor, too, the old hoofer, and Sacha Baron Cohen will be wasted if he is not booked for panto next Christmas.

I’m not sure how it’s going to play in the US, though. For a start, the bromance is subdued for a nation that brought us Top Gun’s bros riding bros’ tails.

Moreover, the various poxes, STDs, boils and not just British but also French teeth are likely to inspire hysteria in the neurotically sanitised US of A. And this before the male leads spend several scenes literally covered in shit. Still, it will serve to confirm everything Yanks feel about contemporary Europe.

Written by Hannah Betts, and published at The Guardian, December 14, 2012. Continue reading

Get out the vote

“Let me tell you about Florida politicians. I make ’em out of whole cloth, see – just like a tailor makes a suit.

Yeah, that’s right – I get their name in the newspaper. I get ’em some publicity and get ’em on the ballot, then after the election, we count the votes… and if they don’t turn out right – we recount ’em – and recount ’em again until they do.”Edward G. Robinson as ‘Johnny Rocco,’ Key Largo, Warner Bros Pictures; 1948

Opens 09.11.12: Last Ounce of Courage

Last Ounce of Courage is the story of a grieving father inspired by his grandson to take a stand for faith and freedom against a tide of apathy and vanishing liberty. Alongside fellow citizens of courage, faith, and integrity, he is a champion for the cherished principles we the people hold dear. A tale of family bonds and free expression, the film seeks to encourage all Americans to take a stand and raise their voices in support of their beliefs. Last Ounce of Courage and Veritas are proud to partner with StandUSA, an online community for American values, in standing up for the ideals of faith, family, and freedom in a pivotal time for our country. StandUSA, along with its partners and affiliates, encourages all Americans to take the inspirational message of the film to heart and let it spur them to raise their voices in support of freedom. Last Ounce of Courage opens September 14 in 1,200 theaters nationwide. Continue reading

Clint Eastwood Hangs ‘Em High

Paint Your Wagon! Clint Eastwood just dropped another nuke on Obama. In the latest issue of The Carmel Pine Cone (Sept 7-13, 2012) American’s favorite actor said,

“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

The Pine Cone is the weekly newspaper for Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula. Clint Eastwood was the Mayor of Carmel, California from 1986 to 1988 and didn’t run for a second term. Clint was elected in a landslide with 72% of the vote. President Ronald Reagan called Clint to congratulate him on his victory. Mayor Eastwood accomplished all of his campaign promises while in office and cleaned out a lot of the bureaucracy and red tape that riled him enough to run for office in the first place. You don’t mess with The Enforcer.

Maybe Obama should look up from his teleprompter and take a peek at the High Plains Drifter riding his way. The Pale Rider told the Pine Cone in last Tuesday’s interview,

“Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that’s what everybody needs to know. I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle.” Continue reading

Sowell: A Powerful Movie

Years, and sometimes decades, pass between my visits to movie theaters. But I drove 30 miles to see the movie “2016,” based on Dinesh D’Souza’s best-selling book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” Where I live is so politically correct that such a movie would not even be mentioned, much less shown.

Every seat in the theater was filled, even though there had been an earlier showing that day, and more showings were scheduled for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I had to sit on a staircase in the balcony, but it was worth it.

The audience was riveted. You could barely hear a sound from them, or detect a movement, and certainly not smell popcorn. Yet the movie had no bombast, no violence, no sex and no spectacular visual effects.

The documentary itself was fascinating, as Dinesh D’Souza presented the story of Barack Obama’s life and view of the world, in a very conversational sort of way, illustrating it with visits to people and places around the world that played a role in the way Obama’s ideas and beliefs evolved.

It was refreshing to see how addressing adults as adults could be effective, in an age when so many parts of the media address the public as if they were children who need a constant whirlwind of sounds and movements to keep them interested. Continue reading