Posts Tagged ‘movies’
Take the test, then enjoy this tribute to the power of props:
* Designing for Films, Edward Carrick, 1950
As we wait for the telephone to ring, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Universal Pictures released Mars Attacks the World, a space opera that prominently featured a classic hand prop, the ray gun. Originally produced as a 15-episode serial, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, the studio had it recut as a feature, planning a 1939 release. But on October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater broadcast their infamous adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Capitalizing on the frenzied attention that Welles created, Universal quickly changed their feature’s title from the originally-intended Rocket Ship, and launched it into theaters.
There are 28– 28— follow-up films to Night of the Living Dead… and that’s not counting homages, parodies, or the myriad “of the dead” and “of the living dead” titles that have nothing to do with George A. Romero’s genre-defining original. Our friends at Den of Geek have the full rundown: “Night of the Living Dead and its 28 Follow-Ups.”
* “Ben,” Night of the Living Dead
As we head for the basement, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Donnie Darko flooded his school… one of the fascinating facts one can glean at The Movie Timeline, a copious compendium that operates on the premise that “everything you see in the movies is true”; real, fictional– if it’s reported to have happened on a given date in a movie, it’s in the list.
“TELEPHONE n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance”*…
Christian Marclay’s “Telephones” (1995), a 7 1/2-minute compilation of brief Hollywood film clips that creates a narrative of its own. These linked-together snippets of scenes involve innumerable well-known actors such as Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Ray Milland, Humphrey Bogart and Meg Ryan, who dial, pick up the receiver, converse, react, say good-bye and hang up. In doing so, they express a multitude of emotions–surprise, desire, anger, disbelief, excitement, boredom–ultimately leaving the impression that they are all part of one big conversation. The piece moves easily back and forth in time, as well as between color and black-and-white, aided by Marclay’s whimsical notions of continuity…
And as a bonus, this from burgerfiction.com:
* Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
As we check caller ID, we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that Charles F. Jenkins was the first to use city telephone lines to transmit a facsimile photo from 1519 Connecticut Ave in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Navy Radio Station NOF at Anacostia– a demonstration for representatives of U.S.Navy and the Post Office Dept. (Earlier in the year, on June 11, a photograph had been sent by radio across the Atlantic from Rome to Bar Harbor, Maine.)
Jenkins is better remembered as a pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television– he racked up over 400 patents, mostly in those fields– and as the recipient of the first commercial television license.
From Network and The Magic Christian to Bergman’s Autumn Sonata and Star Wars (which he screened with Anwar Sadat while preparing for the Camp David peace talks)– Every Single Movie That Jimmy Carter Watched at the White House.
* Andy Warhol
As we settle into our seats, we might recall that it was on this date in 1875 that Henry McCarty was arrested for the first time (for stealing a basket of laundry) and jailed. He promptly escaped and went on to a career in crime– for which he’s better known by his assumed names, William H. Bonney and Billy the Kid.
Not just any white powdery substance will do, of course. Says [prop master Ken Finn]: “You don’t want to use powdered sugar because it gets sticky. You really don’t want to use flour either because if it gets damp at all it just becomes clumpy.” Instead, it’s almost always inositol, a B-vitamin compound. “In fact,” says Ken, “if you ever snort it, you might get this familiar feeling. A certain memory, like, ‘Hey, I’ve tasted this in the back of my throat before.’ What I’ve learned since then is that actual cocaine is oftentimes cut with this stuff. If you ever do shitty [cocaine], You might actually be ingesting this stuff without even knowing it.”
Natalie Kearns, a veteran stage prop master, seconds the use of inositol: “It absorbs easily into the sinuses and doesn’t affect vocal chords, so it’s a good choice for musicals and has been reliably used by some big names on Broadway for extended runs.”…
* Robin Williams
As we lay it on the line, we might send melodic birthday greetings to Paul Williams; he was born on this date in 1940. A composer, singer, songwriter, and actor, Williams is probably best known for popular songs performed by a number of acts in the 1970s including Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World,” David Bowie’s “Fill Your Heart,” and the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays”– as well as his contributions to films, including the lyrics to the chart-topping “Evergreen”, the love theme from A Star Is Born (Barbra Streisand) for which he won a Grammy for Song of the Year and an Academy Award for Best Original Song; and “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie. He also wrote the lyrics to the opening theme for The Love Boat.
Williams struggled with substance abuse issues the 1970s-80s. Sober since 1990, he became a Certified Drug Rehabilitation Counselor.
… one of hundreds of stills of dark passages available at the Sci-Fi Corridor Archive.
* Ridley Scott (from whose Alien  the above example is taken)
As we watch our steps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Kurt Neumann‘s cinematic tale of technologically-enabled metamorphosis, The Fly, premiered. With a screenplay by James Clavell (his first), it spawned two sequels and a remake (by David Cronenberg). The original has a “95% fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
* Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
As we grope for our gats, we might send haunting birthday greetings to Brian Easdale; he was born on this date in 1909. A composer of both orchestral and operatic music, Easdale is best remembered for his film scores, especially those he composed for the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (including Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and The Elusive Pimpernel). Perhaps his most powerful film work was on Powell’s controversial Peeping Tom, a film that used a number of film noir conventions to create a horror-thriller so shockingly unexpected that– while the film is now considered a masterpiece– it effectively ended Powell’s career.