Leslie Nielsen 1926- 2010: Goodnight, Shirley

42 comments on December 01, 2010 by Steve Simels

You know, I just don't get it -- Leslie Nielsen dies and yet Justin Bieber walks the streets a free....er, whatever-the-hell-he-is. But I kid inexplicably popular teen idols.

Seriously, I've been a fan of Nielsen since WAY before he became funny in the 80s...

...and so I think it only appropriate that I note his sad passing with a nod to two of his best performances from the Absurdly Handsome Leading Man phase of his career. And I'm going to exempt his turn in Forbidden Planet, perhaps the best known example of his work back then, for the simple reason that it is in fact the best known, and flag instead two examples of his toilings for television, a medium in which he was especially prolific.

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More monkey business, inspired by our Chimp-is-the-Father-to-the-Man post from yesterday:

Submitted for your approval -- five screen caps from Laurel and Hardy's hilarious Swiss Miss (John G. Blystone, 1938).

The setup: Stan and Ollie are mousetrap salesmen hoping for better business in Switzerland, on the theory (from Stan) that because there is more cheese in Switzerland, there should be more mice. Numerous wacky comic and romantic misadventures ensue, most famously including a scene where the boys have to move an old upright piano across a rickety rope bridge at the top of a mountain pass...

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Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) and Maureen O'Sullivan (Jane) have a spirited philosophical discussion with Cheetah (as himself) about the origin of species in Tarzan's New York Adventure (Richard Thorpe, 1942).

I don't know why this picture cracks me up so much, but it does. Sorry.

I should also add that 30 or so years later, Weissmuller (who back in the day apparently did not have an off-set relationship with his non-simian co-star) told an interviewer for CREEM magazine an ungentlemanly (and perhaps apocryphal) story about O'Sullivan.

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Video Event of the Week: Might Lionsgate's DVD of The Expendables, the over-the-hill-gang action flick starring Sylvester Stallone and geriatric friends, conceivably be what we're talking about? Could Magnolia's Blu-ray of I'm Still Here, Casey Affleck's hilarious pseudo-documentary about Joaquin Phoenix's year of living weirdly, possibly get the nod? Or -- and I think this is unlikely -- might Universal's respective disc versions of Murder She Wrote: The Complete Twelfth Season, starring Angela Lansbury as America's most dangerous houseguest, by some odd chance actually be The One(s)?

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Thanksgiving Image of the Day

108 comments on November 25, 2010 by Steve Simels

From 1926, Lillian Gish, as bad girl Hester Prynne, is the talk of 17th century Boston in The Scarlet Letter (Victor Sjöström, 1926).

Boy, our Pilgrim forefathers were strict, weren't they?

Also, I gotta say, I just love that costume. She looks like a Puritan superhero -- Adultery Girl!

And, of course, Happy Turkey Day, everybody. Stop by tomorrow for a traditional week-ending Cinema Listomania if you get a chance.

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Casting Notes From All Over

4 comments on November 24, 2010 by Steve Simels

So yesterday, as is often my wont of a morning, i was once again immersed in the great comforting warm bath that is the New York Times Arts section when yet another interesting and alarming news item jumped out and troubled my breakfast.

Seems a certain movie star/bad girl won't be playing the lead in a biopic about the most famous -- modesty forbids my using the appropriate word, but it rhymes with sock plucker -- of the 20th century.

To wit, from the Times:

Hollywood has waited many years to tell the story of the adult-film star Linda Lovelace, but it won’t wait any longer to tell that story with Lindsay Lohan.

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Attentive readers may recall that I've talked up the 1947 Columbia serial Brick Bradford in these pages on more than one occasion. There's a couple of reasons I'm a tad obsessive on the subject, of course. For one, I never fail to marvel at the titular star, the astoundingly square-jawed Kane Richmond, who probably looked more like a comic book hero come to life than anybody in screen history. For another, Brick Bradford's sci-fi plot -- an obviously mad doctor (veteran serial baddie John Merton) invents an Interceptor Ray that can destroy incoming rockets -- may be one of the Hollywood fictions that convinced a certain 80s president that his Star Wars missile shield was anything other than a preposterous boondoggle.

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