Category Archives: Comedy

100 years of the best in comedy. TV, movies, comedians, stand up, stage performers. We give the background and stories about your favorite comedies of all times.

Lloyd Bridges

 

Not only did Lloyd father two very fine actors, he was also one of the most interesting actors in his own right. Lloyd Bridges was a very versatile actor being very successful in just about every genre over the years. He had a successful TV show Sea Hunt in the late 1950’s for 155 episodes. Bridges returned to television a year later in this ambitious 30-minute series, designed to showcase his range and depth as an actor. For The Lloyd Bridges Show, he played journalist Adam Shepherd, who would research a story, and then imagine himself as the protagonist, and the episode would thrust him into a new character in a new situation every week. TV Producer Aaron Spelling came up with the concept, and Lloyd Bridges, later said the show really should have been called “The Aaron Spelling Show”. Bridges said Spelling was a genius. It was a family affair, however, as Jeff Bridges appeared in three episodes, and Beau was in two. Lloyd’s daughter Cindy was also in an episode.airplane-lloyd-bridges

Now, as a child of the 80’s he came to my attention in Airplane, from the Zucker brothers (and Jim Abrahams). This is by far the best of the parody movies, that seemed to flood the movies in the 70’s and 80’s from Mel Brooks and the Zucker brothers. Most of his movies before these featured him in very serious roles, but here he found a new audience as he was extremely funny in these movies. Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker chose actors such as Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, and Leslie Nielsen because of their reputation for playing no-nonsense characters. Until this film, these actors had not done comedy, so their “straight-arrow” personas and line delivery made the satire in the movie all the more poignant and funny. Bridges was initially reluctant to take his role in the movie, but his sons, Jeff and Beau, persuaded him to do it. Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey spoofs his role as airport manager Jim Conrad in the TV series San Francisco International Airport (1970).hot-shots-part-deux-lloyd-bridges

Because of the success of this movie, Bridges would be cast in another parody series; Hot Shots! (1991), and Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), written and directed by Jim Abrahams.  He wasn’t the original actor hired for his role however, as he replaced George C. Scott, when he had to decline the project. Hot Shots! parodies the scene in The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) in which Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) sits atop on a piano and sings “Makin’ Whoopee”. That film starred Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges as the title characters, Jack and Frank Baker. In the sequel, Hot Shots! Part Deux Jim Abrahams originally wanted Marlon Brando instead of Lloyd Bridges to play The President. Later in 1993, Charlie Sheen, who played the lead in this series, would go on to play Aramis in The Three Musketeers (1993). Interestingly, that role was previously played by Lloyd Bridges in The Fifth Musketeer (1979), which also featured José Ferrer as Athos. Miguel Ferrer, his son, also appears in this Hot Shots! Part Deux.bridges-lloyd-jeff-beau

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

 

If you’ve been to Disneyland lately, specifically California Adventure, you will notice a “new” character walking around the theme park. It’s non-other than Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. I say “new” because he was actually the first animated character created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1927, before he created Mickey Mouse, but he never owned the rights to him, until the Disney Company traded the rights for Oswald and all of his original Disney produced animated shorts with NBC/Universal in 2006 for the services of Al Michaels as play-by-play announcer on NBC Sunday Night Football (thank you Al Michaels, that was a Win/Win for us all).oswald

Now, if you’re a Nintendo game fan, then you’ll recognize that they put Oswald to use almost instantly in the video games, Epic Mickey, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.  Here’s some more interesting facts about Oswald:

  • He was voiced by the same person that eventually would go on to become the voice of Goofy – Pinto Colvig, from 1930-1931.
  • Was voiced by actor Mickey Rooney after Pinto left in 1931.
  • Was voiced by Walter Lantz in 1935, who would become famous later for creating another famous animated character, Woody Woodpecker.
  • In the last animated short to feature Oswald, The Egg Cracker Suite (1943) he was voiced by June Foray, who would go on to voice Natasha and Rocky the Squirrel, in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.
  • Featured in DC Comics and Dell Comics over the years.
  • Was the first Disney character to sell merchandise.
  • The full version of the animated short Oh, What a Knight is included as an unlockable cartoon in Epic Mickey by collecting various film reels in the game.
  • Oswald won Best New Character in both Readers’ Choice and Editors’ Choice in Nintendo Power’s Best of 2010 awards.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

 

Continuing the trend of quotable movies this week is the ultimate…Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) starring Steve Martin and John Candy and written and directed by John Hughes. This would have to be one of John Hughes best movies, for me. John Hughes, in an interview on the ‘Those Aren’t Pillows’ DVD edition, said he was inspired to write the film’s story after an actual flight from New York to Chicago he was on was diverted to Wichita Kansas, thus taking him 5 days to get home. John Hughes wrote the first-draft of the screenplay in 3 days. His average writing time for a screenplay in those days was about 3-5 days with 20-some rewrites.steve-martin-planes

Upon receiving the script through his agent, Steve Martin was surprised to discover the script’s 145 page length, with a comedy typically aiming for 90 pages. When Martin met with John Hughes, he asked if the director had any intention of cutting the script. According to Martin, Hughes looked at Martin strangely and said “Cutting?”, making Martin realize the director had no intention of cutting the script. Steve Martin was convinced to join the production after favoring two scenes he had read from the script; the seat adjustment-scene in the car, and the F-word tirade at the car rental desk.steve-martin-trains

The film was also, reportedly, a favorite of John Candy’s. Interestingly, the car in the film that Steve and John drive was modeled after the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), which John Hughes wrote 4 years earlier and which also stars John Candy as the security guard at Wallyworld.

Here’s some really great dialogue from the movie:

Neal: Del… Why did you kiss my ear?
Del: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal: [frowns] Where’s your other hand?
Del: Between two pillows…
Neal: Those aren’t pillows!
[they both leap out of bed, screaming and shaking their hands in disgust]those-arent-pillows

or

Neal: You know everything is not an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing or interesting. You’re a miracle! Your stories have NONE of that. They’re not even amusing ACCIDENTALLY! “Honey, I’d like you to meet Del Griffith, he’s got some amusing anecodotes for you. Oh and here’s a gun so you can blow your brains out. You’ll thank me for it.” I could tolerate any insurance seminar. For days I could sit there and listen to them go on and on with a big smile on my face. They’d say, “How can you stand it?” I’d say, “‘Cause I’ve been with Del Griffith. I can take ANYTHING.” You know what they’d say? They’d say, “I know what you mean. The shower curtain ring guy. Woah.” It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Agh! Agh! Agh! Agh! And by the way, you know, when you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea – have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!

orpta-airport

Del: You play with your balls a lot.
Neal: I do NOT play with my balls.
Del: Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ball-handling in one night as you do in an hour!
Neal: Are you trying to start a fight?
Del: No. I’m simply stating a fact. That’s all. You fidget with your nuts a lot.
Neal: You know what’d make me happy?
Del: Another couple of balls, and an extra set of fingers?

or

Del: Simple. There’s no way on earth we’re going to get out of here tonight. We’d have more luck playing pickup sticks with our butt-cheeks than we will getting a flight out of here before daybreak.

Classic…just classic…thanksgiving

Real Men

 

One of the best unknown comedy movies of all time would have to be the hilarious, Real Men (1987) with Jim Belushi and John Ritter. Jim Belushi plays a super-competent secret agent on the trail of Russian thugs. John Ritter plays a milquetoast dad who gets mixed up in the caper. The story follows their adventures over the course of a week, in which Ritter develops some guts and Belushi gets in touch with his sensitive side. It was written and directed by Dennis Feldman, who also wrote Just One of The Guys (1985), The Golden Child (1986), Species (1995) and Virus (1999), but only directed this one movie.real-men

The movie has some of the greatest buddy-buddy scenes I’ve ever seen, especially when Jim Belushi tries to teach John Ritter some spy skills. It’s so quotable…my brother and I always find ourselves quoting lines from this movie almost on a daily basis. (I used to have a pretty good pen, Bob…) Just as an example, here’s some other great exchanges:

REAL MEN, John Ritter, James Belushi, 1987. ©United Artists
REAL MEN, John Ritter, James Belushi, 1987. ©United Artists

NICK: Would you feel better if you had a gun?
BOB: Maybe…
(gives him the revolver and Nick turns around, Bob tries to fire it  at Nick, nothing happens)
NICK: You don’t have to test it Bob, it’s not loaded.

or

Bob: I didn’t know you smoked.
Nick: Just after sex Bob.
Bob: Well how much is that?
Nick: About a pack a day.
Bob: You know that will kill you?
Nick: It won’t kill you Bob, but it will make you very sore.

or

Nick: I’ve got good news and bad news…
Bob: Whats the bad news?
Nick: We’ll never get out of here alive.
Bob:  Whats the good news?
Nick:  We won’t be here that long.

or

Nick:  We’re as safe here as we are anywhere.
Bob: How safe is that?
Nick: Oh, not very.
Bob: They’re gonna shoot at us, aren’t they?
Nick: Probably, Bob. It’s what they brought the guns for.
Bob: What are they trying to do?
Nick: They’re trying to kill me. They know I can’t afford a loss like that.real_men_us_ld

Scavenger Hunt

 

A little known movie that my brother and I really enjoyed growing up was a fun family comedy called, Scavenger Hunt. It came out in 1979 and had an all-star cast of great comedians like Richard Benjamin, Richard Mulligan, James Coco, Dirk Benedict, Clevon Little, Cloris Leachman, Robert Morley, Ruth Gordon, Roddy McDowell, Tony Randall, Scatman Crothers, Stephen Furst, Stuart Pankin, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Richard Masur, Pat McCormick, Vincent Price, Meatloaf, and Willie Aames. The film is about the will of Milton Parker, who made millions inventing and selling board games and creates the ultimate game for his employees and famliy. Upon his death, his relatives and domestic staff gather for the reading of the will and it stipulates that a Scavenger Hunt will be held to determine the beneficiaries of his sizeable estate. The winning team gets all the money, the rest get nothing. It feels like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad (is that enough Mads?) World (1963) or Midnight Madness (1980).Scavenger Hunt 2

The film was directed by Michael Schultz, who also directed the Richard Pryor classics, Car Wash, Greased Lightning, Which Way is Up and Bustin’ Loose as well as the features Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Carbon Copy, and the Last Dragon and a TON of Tv Shows. It was produced by Melvin Simon who also produced other hard-to-find movies such as Love At First Bite, When a Stranger Calls, The Stunt Man, My Bodyguard, Zorro the Gay Blade, Chu Chu and the Philly Flash and the 3 Porky’s movies. I’ve looked for most of these movies and I found it to be pretty hard to find any of them.  Especially Scavenger Hunt, which only seems to be available on VHS, but will be released very soon on DVD and Blu-Ray:  https://www.kinolorber.com/Scavenger hunt 3 Scavenger Hunt

 

Top 15 Gene Wilder Movies

 

Many of us were shocked to hear of Gene Wilder’s death this week due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease, and so it’s given us a chance to pause and think about this great actor and comedian. It was interesting to me listen to a recent interview of his and he said that he really didn’t consider himself to be a comedian as he didn’t find himself to be very funny. That may be true, but to us, he was hilarious. Here is my list of his top 15 movies, let’s see if your list would be similar to mine:

15.  Thursday’s Game (1974)Thursday's Game

This would be a banner year for Gene Wilder as 3 of the movies on this list were released in 1974. 2 of them would be considered to be “classics” to most people. Classify this one as a forgotten little gem. Thursday’s Game was released as a TV movie and starred Gene with a great cast of comedians with Bob Newhart, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Nancy Walker, Valerie Harper, Norman Fell, Rob Reiner and Martha Scott. The movie is about two guys who’ve been going to a Thursday night poker game for years, when suddenly a disagreement breaks up the game. The two guys then decide to keep getting together every Thursday night doing different things, under the pretense that the game is still going on. When the wives find out they are upset and wondering what they’ve been doing all that time. The budget for this film was so tight that the wardrobe department was practically non-existent. According to Gene Wilder, he and co-star Bob Newhart had to make do with their actual clothes.

14.  The Producers (1967)Producers

We mention the Producers in another blog, CLICK HERE TO READ THAT BLOG POST.  Mel Brooks is almost synonymous with Gene Wilder as they made 3 movies together. These 3 are almost always mentioned as their top 3 movies respectively.  That wasn’t always the case, as the Producers flopped initially but found new life when Mel made it into a smash hit on Broadway. Now, of course, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder were great in this but, Kenneth Mars is also really fantastic in this as well. I talk about him in a blog CLICK HERE.

13.  Haunted Honeymoon (1986)haunted-honeymoon

I find Dom Deluise to be hilarious, but put him in drag and he’s drop dead funny. Gene and Dom appeared in 4 movies together. Now, if you don’t know already, Gene Wilder was a wonderful writer and director in his own right and this is one of the films he wrote and directed. It also stars his then wife and comedian Gilda Radner. This is a notable entry also because it was Gilda’s last movie before she died of cancer. It did not do well at the box office, but I like it because of the 3 actors and I especially like the scenes from the radio show.

12.  Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)the-adventures-of-sherlock-holmes-smarter-brother

Gene reunites with Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman in this gem that he also wrote and directed after they did Young Frankenstein. Favorites of mine, Dom Deluise, Leo McKern and Roy Kinnear round out the cast! Originally, Gene tried to get Mel Brooks to direct this film as well, after they did Young Frankenstein, but he declined and convinced Gene that he could direct it himself. Gen would go on to direct 4 movies and 1 segment of a 5th one. This one is my favorite of all the films he directed.

11.  Death of a Salesman (1966)deathofasalesman

Up until Gene did the made-for-tv version of Death of a Salesman in 1966, he only had acted in a handful of TV shows. It was this film that ultimately put him on the path of stardom. This movie was relatively forgotten over time but had some very strong performances and included some very fine actors with Lee J. Cobb leading the cast. In his autobiography “Timebends”, Arthur Miller says that Lee J. Cobb was his favorite Willy Loman. The original Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller opened at the Morosco Theater on February 10, 1949, ran for 742 performances and won the 1949 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. Lee J. Cobb recreated his stage role 17 years later in this television production.

10.  Murder in a Small Town (1999)murder in a small town

Gene Wilder would write 8 movies over his career and a segment of a 9th one. This is the 2nd to the last one he would write and was 1 of 2 mysteries featuring his Cash Carter character for A&E. I enjoy a good mystery and for some reason I really like it when my mysteries are a little understated as these two mysteries are. This one is about a widowed theatre director who moves to a small Connecticut town where he gets involved in solving the murder of a millionaire, who was the most despised man in town. Gene is very good in this.

9.  Start the Revolution Without Me (1970)start the revolution without me

When 1 Gene Wilder is not enough, we get two! This one has Gene and Donald Sutherland playing two mismatched sets of identical twins – one aristocrat, one peasant – who mistakenly exchange identities on the eve of the French Revolution. Gene Wilder originally wanted Charles Grodin to play the part of Charles/Pierre, but Grodin declined, having committed to directing the original Broadway production of Lovers and Other Strangers, which would have been really fun to see, but Donald does a great job. Gene liked this film especially because he got to fence. Gene was already adept with a sword from his days on his college fencing team.

8.  Bonnie and Clyde (1967)bonnie-clyde-gene-laughing

In less than a year after his appearance in Death of a Salesman, Gene would be cast in 2 films Bonnie and Clyde and The Producers. He would never look back. In Bonnie and Clyde, he got to work with Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle and Michael J. Pollard. This was technically his theatrical feature film debut. Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder would later appear together in Young Frankenstein (1974). Hackman had a small, uncredited cameo as the blind hermit while Wilder portrayed the title character.

7.  Stir Crazy (1980)

We talk about the greatest comedy teams of all time in a previous blog post, CLICK HERE TO VIEW THAT BLOG…but definitely one of the best comedy teams of all time would have to be Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. They hit the list with 3 of their collaborations…almost 4, more on that in a sec…Stir-Crazy

Sidney Poitier directed this movie, and enjoyed working with Gene and Richard, even though Richard was sometimes difficult to work with on this production due to his frequent drug use. When they clicked, they were quite funny.  Sidney would let them improvise during scenes for the movie. This is one of the four movies Pryor and Wilder teamed together, and was the most successful of the four at the box-office. There was no doubting their second match-up was an all-around success. “Our instincts seem to coalesce. The difference, this time, is that ‘Stir Crazy’ is an out-and-out comedy while Silver Streak (1976) was a mixture of mystery, adventure and romance”. Pryor interjected: “You might say that our Pryor picture was a ball but this one is Wilder”. Wilder responded: “You might,” needles Wilder, “But you’ll say anything”.

6.  Blazing Saddles (1974)

Full shot of Cleavon Little as Bart offering whiskey bottle for Gene Wilder as Jim, both seated in sheriff's office. PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Here’s the almost in that last paragraph…believe it or not, Richard Pryor was set to play the role that eventually went to Clevon Little in Blazing Saddles. Richard Pryor even wrote some of the script with Mel Brooks. Although, Gene Wilder was not the original choice for his role either. They had cast and went into production with Gig Young, but he was coming off of alcohol and couldn’t function properly and Mel had to call upon his friend Gene to fly out last second to fill in, as a personal favor to him. One of the best comedy pairings of all time almost happened, two years before they finally appeared together in Silver Streak.

5.  Young Frankenstein (1974)young frankenstein

First film written by Gene Wilder and the only film directed by Mel Brooks, that Mel didn’t write. He didn’t direct anything he didn’t also write, but Gene talked him into directing as a personal favor to him. According to Mel Brooks (in the commentary for Spaceballs (1987)) when Gene Wilder came on to Blazing Saddles at the last minute as a favor to Mel, he requested that Mel Brooks do “his” movie idea next; that movie turned out to be this film. It was a perfect match. Gene Wilder has stated that this is his favorite of all the films he’s made. The cast and especially Mel Brooks had so much fun and were so upset when principal photography was almost completed, that Mel added scenes to continue shooting.

4.  See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)See no evil hear no evil

I forgot Kevin Spacey was in this with Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor and Joan Severance. Gene Wilder almost wasn’t in this movie. Per his autobiography, he turned the script down twice (due to its treatment of the deaf and the blind). He intended to do the same when offered it a third time, but his agent talked him into meeting with TriStar (the studio behind the film). The TriStar people asked Gene to re-write the script for himself and Richard Pryor, which he agreed to do…and the rest is history. Gene Wilder went to the NY League for the Hard of Hearing to study for his role. There he was assigned to speech pathologist Karen Webb, who would ultimately become his fourth wife. They were married 25 years, up until his death. With its dead body murder plot and villainous crime characters, the movie returned director Arthur Hiller and stars Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor to the suspense-adventure-comedy genre that had made their earlier picture Silver Streak a success around thirteen years earlier.

3.  Frisco Kid (1979)The_Frisco_Kid

Now this one is probably the biggest surprise on the list, but it’s just so under-appreciated! Not only is Gene Wilder pitch-perfect in this film as a Jewish Rabbi, Harrison Ford plays an old school cowboy like he was born to it. I just love this movie. In his autobiography, Gene Wilder says that John Wayne was offered the part that was eventually played by Harrison Ford. Wayne loved the role and was eager to work with Wilder. However, an agent tried to offer Wayne less than his usual fee and the legendary actor turned the film down. The sad thing about this movie is that it was a flop when released and has had a very small but devoted following on VHS and DVD…but it’s a wonderful film!

2.  Silver Streak (1976)Silver-Streak

One of five movies where actor Gene Wilder plays a man wrongly accused of committing a crime. The films include Silver Streak (1976), The Frisco Kid (1979), Stir Crazy (1980), Hanky Panky (1982), and See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). Actor Gene Wilder loved his part because he could get to do scenes which were fitting of Errol Flynn doing action or Cary Grant being romantic. When meeting Gene Wilder after having seen Silver Streak, Cary Grant asked him if the script had been in anyway inspired by North by Northwest (1959). As Wilder admitted it was correct, Grant then added, “I knew it! Have you noticed that each time you take ordinary people, say, like you and me, then take them in a situation way above their heads, it makes a great thriller?” First of two consecutive comedy thrillers written by Colin Higgins. The second released two years later was Foul Play (1978). Higgins conceived “Silver Streak” in mid 1974 when he was traveling by train from LA to Chicago. We talk about Foul Play in another blog post, CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

On a sad note…Director Arthur Hiller and co-star Gene Wilder died within 12 days of each other.

1  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

This is number 1 for me. It’s his most iconic role and to be honest, one of my favorite films of all time. willy wonka

According to director Mel Stuart’s “Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka”, when Gene Wilder walked in to audition, Stuart knew before he’d even uttered a single word that he had found his Willy Wonka. The audition convinced him even further, so when Wilder finished and left the room, Stuart chased him down the hallway, cut him off at the elevator bank, grabbed his arm and told him “You’re doing this picture, no two ways about it! You are Willy Wonka!” Producer David L. Wolper, however, was furious because he hadn’t yet had the chance to negotiate a fee. After reading the script, Gene Wilder said he would take the role of Willy Wonka under one condition: that he would be allowed to limp, then suddenly somersault in the scene when he first meets the children. When the director asked why, Gene Wilder replied that having Wonka do this meant that “from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.” The director asked, “If I say no, you won’t do the picture?”, and Gene Wilder said “I’m afraid that’s the truth.” Even Julie Dawn Cole was fooled by the scene in which Willy limps out of his factory to greet the Golden Ticket winners. She mentions in the DVD commentary that she thought that Gene Wilder had injured his leg for real (and that the filming would have to be temporarily halted because of it). This resulted in her being just as stunned by Willy’s somersault as the audience is.

Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie, got very close to Gene while filming. He later told ABC News, “As a young actor filming ‘Willy Wonka,’ I had the rare privilege of working with Gene who I greatly admired,” he continued. “He became my mentor and personal friend. For that I will always be grateful. So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Cannonball Run is Just Plain Fun

 

So I realized something over the weekend. I examined the topics mentioned the most in this blog and number 1 was a surprise…as I seemed to write about Burt Reynolds more than any other topic! So, here’s another blog about him…

If you haven’t seen the film Cannonball Run (1981), now’s the time to do so…it’s just great fun. The original Cannonball Run race was conceived by car magazine writer and auto racer Brock Yates and fellow Car and Driver editor Steve Smith in the early 1970’s. Cannonball Run, was an unofficial, unsanctioned automobile race run five times in the 1970s from New York City and Darien, Connecticut, on the U.S. Atlantic coast, to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California. Brock Yates participated as a driver in all 5 races and began working on a screenplay, to be titled Coast to Coast, but was scooped by two unofficial films in 1976, Cannonball and The Gumball Rally, (both are not that good). Eventually, an “official” Cannonball Run movie was made — The Cannonball Run — starring a slew of great actors including Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise with Yates in a cameo appearance.cannonballrun

Director and veteran stuntman / stunt coordinator Hal Needham joined Brock Yates in one of the races, in fact, the ambulance used in the movie is the actual ambulance that Hal Needham and Brock Yates souped up and raced in the real race. It had been modified with a HEMI engine that made it go up to 145 mph and was equipped with four gas filler holes so that the required 90 gallons could be pumped quickly. Needham and Yates didn’t actually win the race (the transmission blew in Palm Springs) so Needham kept it in storage for several years until the time came to make this film.reynolds cannonball run

The other actors on board for this comedy was Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcet, Jackie Chan, Adrienne Barbeau, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Elam, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bert Convey, Jamie Farr, and Mel Tillis.  Director Hal Needham and producer Albert S. Ruddy liked the chemistry of Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis so much that after this film they tried to sell a pilot to ABC featuring their characters. The head of the network loved the idea but the day before the meeting was to be held to discuss it, the head of the network was fired and the project was canceled. I write about that in another blog (click here to read it)…Cannonball Run

In one of the earlier scenes in the movie, Burt Reynolds’s character says “Could get a black Trans Am”, and then answers himself, “Naw, that’s been done.” This is a reference to Smokey and the Bandit (1977) which starred Reynolds, and was directed by Hal Needham, who directed this film. DeLuise co-starred with Reynolds in the 1980 sequel, Smokey and the Bandit II (1980).  Jackie Chan makes one of his first US film appearances. Inspired by Hal Needham’s notion of including bloopers during the closing credits, Chan begins a tradition of doing the same in most of his movies from this point onward.

TV Series Bible – Zombie Law

 

Adam and I have been trying for about a year to get a 30 minute comedy TV Show pilot picked up with no luck, so I thought I would post our TV Show Bible for the series here in one of our posts to show our process. I hope it can be of some use to someone, at the very least be interesting to someone who may be curious to see how we approach these things.

We have very little connections in Network and Cable TV, so have been hitting mostly brick walls, but if you’re reading this and can see it as a Series AND have connections with anyone in TV, contact us, we’d love to get this into the proper hands:

Boston SkylineEXT. OFFICES OF WYNN JUSTICE – ESTABLISHING

Superimposed, “One Week Earlier”.

Sign outside of a busy downtown city street building reads, “Wynn Justice Law”. The street is bustling with PEOPLE in suits and dresses, rushing to work.

A ZOMBIE slowly ambles into view in the midst of the madness. He slowly tries to grab and bite people, but he’s way too slow. People rush by, push him out of the way and move faster. No one is worried or taking the Zombie serious.

The Zombie population is ignored, and now commonplace.

A HOMELESS MAN sits against the wall of the building, next to him is a Zombie, also sitting against the wall. A WELLDRESSED WOMAN walks by and throws a dollar bill down on the sidewalk in front of the Zombie.

She then notices that she threw it in front of the Zombie, so she picks it up and then looks at the Homeless man and throws the bill in his lap. He nods a thanks.

EDWIN WYNN TALKING HEAD

EDWIN WINN (50’s) wears a tweed sports coat and plaid bow tie.

EDWIN WYNN

To say we were floundering would have been an understatement. In the current climate of Zombie Infestation, we just couldn’t find cases in our current practice area. It was getting desperate. We simply had to start thinking outside of the box, or risk the chance of bleeding to death.

He watches as a zombie ambles by and looks at the camera again.

EDWIN WYNN (CONT’D)

Literally.

THE PITCH

Series Logline:  The zombie apocalypse has come and now living in a world filled with zombies is the new normal. Zombie Law is the law firm of Edwin Wynn and Calvin Justice, with the help of their Investigator Laurel Hunt, they represent zombies in all kinds of lawsuits.

Pilot Logline:   In the current climate of the restless undead, struggling attorney’s Calvin and Edwin, with the help of bounty hunter Laurel, have to find new clients quick or face bankruptcy. Their first client, a zombie weatherman in a wrongful termination suit.

In a World Filled with Zombies…It’s Time to Fight…

…For Their Right to Proper Representation.

                                                      ~ Calvin Justice, Esq.

THE SHOW

The primary structure is a one-camera sitcom (Modern Family, The Office) type comedy that at times has a documentary feel where the characters talk to the camera.

In Zombie Law, the commentary is setup almost like video depositions in a case, scattered throughout each episode.

The feeling is a mix of supernatural, comedy, the law and the mundane.

The ideal would be Boston Legal during the zombie apocalypse or simply Office Space with zombies.

Sitcoms like The Addams Family or The Munsters could be accurate, but set within the modern business world not hidden behind the family’s sole residence.

Another good example would be to recreate the original Ghostbusters esthetic and tightly compact it within a sitcom format.Zombies hit the streets

STORYLINES

Each episode features a single case or lawsuit as the “A” story and then a “B” story that continues the season one arc and “C” storyline usually consisting of some kind of rift or resolution to the 3 main characters.

“A” STORYzombie_01A completely compact case or lawsuit, within each episode. IE: the pilot episode is a wrongful termination lawsuit of a zombie weatherman from KRQ News Station Channel 13.  Wynn-Justice Law is on the verge of bankruptcy and takes the case as their first in a long line of representing the new populace of zombies in the city.  They change their name to Zombie Law.zombie_outfits_03

Some examples of other lawsuits throughout the season can be:

"Love Hurts" -- Pictured: Luis Guzmán (Jesse Sallander). Christa must put aside her personal feelings for Grace and work with her to treat Brody, (Cameron Boyce), a patient who claims to have been abused at a camp for troubled teens. Also, Grace is surprised when Campbell asks her out, on CODE BLACK, Wednesday, Feb. 17 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Family Law – A marriage counselor files for divorce citing irreconcilable differences because her husband is a slob and an unrepentant cheater and she’s dead. No longer…til’ death do they part.
  • Personal Injury – A post-life insurance adjuster files for workman’s comp when his employer sends him to a construction site where he gets his arm severed in a wood chipper. In the end, his job costs him an arm and a leg.
  • Tax Evasion – Zombie Law represents a Living Impaired Man who gets sued by the US Government when he stops paying taxes, just because he’s dead. Two things are no longer for certain; death and taxes.
  • Breach of Contract – A dead mailman wants to sue his life insurance company for not providing him the full death benefit to himself when he died. Their argument is simply that he is not the beneficiary, not that he’s not dead, but since his wife is also a zombie, they don’t feel the need to pay her either.
  • Letter of Eviction – A tenant tries to fight a letter of eviction from the management company of the apartment building he’s “living” in. They argue that he can’t really be “living” in the apartment since he’s dead.

CALVIN JUSTICE

Where do you suggest he move?

APARTMENT MANAGER

The cemetery?

SEASON ONE “B” STORY

The “B” storyline is that a major pharmaceuticals company (MOREAUCORP) is the one responsible for the zombie outbreak and Zombie Law has several clashes with the company in and out of court throughout the season.

It gets to be an all-out war, when Moreaucorp creates a new kind of zombie, a faster-stronger Berserker Zombie that threatens the whole world.

There are two main bad guys in the leadership at Moreaucorp.

Moreaucorp.Island of Dr Moreau

The name by the way is a hint to the real identity of the CEO (the secret shadow figure) who is the heir of the famous…DR. MOREAU. The H.G. Wells fictional protagonist in The Island of Dr. Moreau where Dr. Moreau was found to have been creating human-like hybrid animal beings, is the CEO, Edward Prendic.

His main LABORATORY SCIENTIST turns out to be THE FLY.The Fly Scientist

Throughout the series, the scientist will slowly pull in SCIENTIFIC ABORATIONS into the world Ala ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU.the fly returns

This way, we can also bring in other classic monsters that are science or organic based like:

  • The 50ft WOMAN
  • The SHRINKING MAN
  • CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
  • SWAMP THING
  • THEM
  • THE BLOB
  • LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.Little Shop of Horrors

(These could all be variations or our versions of these things.) Think about all the campy 1950’s drive-in feature creatures.

Not only is the CEO a secret shadow figure that gets revealed during the season, he also turns out to be a well-regarded State SENATOR, that eventually runs for President of the United States against the…

ZOMBIE PRESIDENT.Zombie Obama

Here’s more on that:

POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE:

The atmosphere behind the zombie apocalypse is the political commentary. Politics keeps coming up in several episodes that go along with the rising tide of zombie supporters for zombie rights.  It’s a metaphor for rights groups throughout history.  Later on in the season, the President of the United States gets bitten and becomes a zombie and Zombie Law is brought in to argue the diminished capacity of the President in front of House of Representatives and again in a trial at the Senate and whether or not he’s capable of doing the job of the executive office. This ultimately comes full circle as Zombie Law fights from episode 1 all the way through the series for zombie RIGHTS.

“C” STORY

The 3rd story thread usually consisting of some kind of rift or resolution to the 3 MAIN CHARACTERS; Calvin is in love with Laurel, Laurel hates Edwin, Edwin creates chaos for Calvin…etc.  Here is a specific example:

  • Calvin’s ex-fiancée, that spurned him at the altar, comes looking for him. She’s recently dead and wants restitution from Moreaucorp for accidentally creating the zombie that bit her. She’s realized a lot of regrets since dying, the main one being Calvin. This causes confusion and complications with him and with Laurel, whose jealousy makes her realize that she may have deeper feelings for Calvin.ZL Anna Zach

LAUREL HUNT TALKING HEAD

LAUREL HUNT

I’ve known Cal for most of my life, I’ve never seen him this low before.

She looks behind her to see if Cal may be around listening.

LAUREL HUNT (CONT’D)

And I’ve seen him get stood up at the altar. That was embarrassing. Pathetic really. But this was a new low. Even for him.

CHARACTERS

CALVIN JUSTICE

Calvin (30’s) is a bleeding heart without a paycheck, a conservative idealistic do-gooder.Cast of Zombie Law 3

Mona looks solemnly at Edwin and then to Cal. Cal knows when to speak and when to listen.

MONA

I have been here a long time. We’ve been thru a lot together. Edwin, Cal, you’re excellent lawyers… But you suck at running a business!

Edwin looks hurt, but Cal looks like that’s just about right.

MONA (CONT’D)

Cal, you’re a bleeding heart and you take every sad story that comes along. Many of them pro bono.

CAL

I do not.

MONA

My car broke down this morning. Can I borrow some money to get it fixed?

Mona holds her hand out.

CAL

(Taking his wallet out.) Oh, I didn’t know that. I only have…

Mona spreads her arms out for validation. Cal realizes and puts his wallet away.

CAL (CONT’D)

That was just mean.zachary-levi-heroes-reborn-star

He doesn’t like that he got roped into going into practice with Edwin years before, simply because Edwin thought their names together made for “great marketing”.

CALVIN JUSTICE

You only partnered with me because of my last name.

EDWIN WYNN

I don’t deny, Wynn-Justice Law, it’s a good marketing gimmick, but we’re good together.

CALVIN JUSTICE

We’re bankrupt, Ed.

He does, however, embrace the idea of helping the zombies.  He’s an activist with a cause!

ZL zachary-levi-psa-slice

EDWIN WYNN

Edwin Wynn is a brainless get-rich-quick schemer, putting his money where his mouth is…empty. Edwin is a liberal free-spirited entrepreneur.z Anthony_Michael_Hall_1

MONA

And Ed…

EDWIN

(He taps his forehead.) I’m a marketing master. The wheels never stop.

MONA

Like recently, you hosted an adult Slip & Slide contest to try and drum up business.

EDWIN

(He smiles.) Brilliant, I know.

MONA

People got hurt. And your P.I. Referral just signed 3 new clients and filed cases against us.

Ed frowns.

MONA (CONT’D)

Oh by the way, they sent you a fruit basket.

She points to a basket of exotic fruit off to the side. Ed gets excited.Z Anthony+Michael+Hall

He’s like a child in so many ways, 200% loyal, fearless, easily excitable, always upbeat and positive, his enthusiasm knows no bounds and often gets them into trouble, especially Calvin.

CALVIN JUSTICE AND EDWIN WYNN TALKING HEADS

EDWIN WYNN

We don’t need her. What happens when you fall off a horse?

CALVIN JUSTICE

ED, don’t cliché me.

EDWIN WYNN

Winners are just losers who never gave up.

CALVIN JUSTICE

Ed…

EDWIN WYNN

I’m just saying, we’re Wynn-Justice. We just need to figure it out.

Although, if backed into a corner, he can be a scary and formidable foe.  Someone you want on your side, he has a joyful glee in making people think he’s mean, but can use it at times to make the pair stronger. It’s downright mischievous at times.ZL ANthony Michael Hall

LAUREL HUNT

Their INVESTIGATOR is a bounty hunter named LAUREL HUNT. She owns a self-defense dojo, which is appropriate when you think of the world they live in, survival is a much valued commodity. She is the muscle.

Fringe TV Series starring Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Michael Cerveris, Kirk Acevedo, Seth Gabel, Ryan McDonald, Mark Valley, Michael Kopsa, Lily Pilblad, Leonard Nimoy and Ari Graynor - dvdbash.com

Laurel walks over to a small counter by the door. A rough Biker is waiting for her.

BIKER

I’ve got a coupon for your “Evading Police Package”…

He pulls the piece of paper from his leather jacket vest pocket and slams it on the counter.

LAUREL HUNT

The free lesson on how to get out of handcuffs? She looks at the flyer and reaches into a drawer.

BIKER

That’s the one.

She pulls out some handcuffs and slaps one on the wrist of the Biker.

BIKER (CONT’D)

Hey, what the…

LAUREL HUNT

You want the lesson, right?

BIKER

Yeah…

She cuffs the other side to a pipe attached to the wall nearby.

LAUREL HUNT

Here’s the lesson. Don’t break the law!

BIKER

What the? Why you little B—

Laurel headbutts the Biker in the face and knocks him out.  He hangs limply from the pipe.Z Anna Gun

Long-time friends with Calvin, they do not realize yet that, THEY ARE IN LOVE. The sexual tension is tangible, from the very start. The attraction is there, even if they don’t admit it verbally at first.ZL Anna Torv Window

Later in the season they complicate things by replaying the wall of Jericho scene in It Happened One Night. (look it up) Eventually, they connect.

She comes in handy every week and provides the show with some much needed action at times. In the 2 k’s…kicking butt and kissing.

JUDGE DEL TORO aka DODGER ELVIS

Living in an odd world where zombies are real and running around, gives the show an unusual feeling that anything and anyone is possible.  To emphasize that very thing, we’ve created a character that exemplifies that “anyone can be anything” persona; The Dodger Elvis as a JUDGE.Elvis Shadow

ROBERT RUE

Aren’t you going to swear me in?

JUDGE DEL TORO (40’s) turns to Robert to address him. Judge Del Toro looks like a Hispanic Elvis impersonator, with rings on all his fingers, sideburns, oversized gold shades and a pompadour. He picks up his bedazzled gavel and points it at Robert.

JUDGE DEL TORO

Now, see here, little man, this is just a hearing to determine if the plaintiff has a case, no need for that formality just yet. Please just answer the question, thankyouverymuch.Elvis

ZOMBIES

Let’s talk about what the series is wrapped around…ZOMBIES.

In most zombie films and TV shows, zombies are mindless, feeding monsters that are used as fodder.  To kill and forget about, to mow down in droves.

Our series ventures to change that. The series ventures to play on that impression by starting out to make fun of it and then to slowly HUMANIZE the zombies again.Zombies

To show the progression of the zombie disease as if it was Alzheimer’s or Dementia. To slowly endear the zombie to the viewer.  To get them on “their” side. We use it as a metaphor for HUMAN RIGHTS and to help us examine the human condition and the political and prejudicial atmosphere that is the United States of America.Zombie_law

www.injuredbyazombie.com   www.facebook.com/ZombieLaw

Zombie Sign

Jim Dale Has an Amazing Voice

 

There are some fantastic underrated actors out there. One of my all time favorites would be an British actor by the name of Jim Dale. He’s been nominated for many awards including an Oscar and a Golden Globe, but the biggest ones he won are 2 Grammies and a Tony. He’s most recognizable for his voice, but Adam and I just loved him in a series of Disney films in the late 1970’s.jim-dale-Petes Dragon

The first film was Pete’s Dragon in 1977. An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit. Seems fitting because a non-musical remake of the film is coming out this month. But the original is a musical and we just love this film. Jim Dale plays the bad guy and con-artist Dr. Terminus, and does a great job singing, so it’s no surprise that he has been nominated for five Tony Awards, winning one for Barnum (1980) for which the New York Times described him as “The Toast of Broadway”, also winning the second of four Drama Desk Awards.hot-lead-and-cold-feet

The next film was the hilarious Hot Lead and Cold Feet in 1978. This saga of the old west involves twin brothers who compete for possession of a rickety cow town founded by their father while a crooked mayor tries to put an end to the competitors so he can inherit the town himself. He plays 3 separate roles in in the film, before it was popular to do this. Eddie Murphy made that popular later on in his films. He plays the two twins, Eli and Wild Billy as well as their father, Jasper. Fourth-billed and in a supporting role playing the Denver Kid was actor-comedian Don Knotts who had starred in a number of comic-westerns. Promotional materials for the movie more prominently promoted him as if he were in a lead major role. The film’s main movie poster for example featured an image of Knotts feature prominently in the optical center of the artwork. So I think it really hurt the film overall, as no one knew who this British actor was and every one I knew was waiting for Knotts to appear. Regardless, Jim Dale is still the stand-out in the film and does a fantastic job.Unidentified Flying Oddball

His last film for Disney again has him playing a villain in the Unidentified Flying Oddball in 1979. An astronaut and his android double travel back to the time of King Arthur. Dennis Dugan played the astronaut, as went on to a very success film career as a director for a lot of Adam Sandler movies. The film’s English “Unidentified Flying Oddball” title makes the picture one of few English language filmed adaptations of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court not to be named with this title or something similar. Others include Black Knight (2001) and A Knight in Camelot (1998). The movie is commonly known in English language speaking territories by three titles: “The Spaceman and King Arthur”, “Unidentified Flying Oddball” and “A Spaceman in King Arthur’s Court”. About sixteen years after this picture in 1995, the Walt Disney Pictures studio would adapt again Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, this time titling the film A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995). Ron Moody would also reprise his role as Merlin in this movie.Jim Dale and Harry Potter

Now after a lot of work in music, TV and movies, he really became well known for his voice work on the Harry Potter Series. He has recorded all seven books in the series as audiobooks, and as a narrator he has won two Grammy Awards in 2008 and 2001, and has seven Grammy nominations.  He also narrates the Harry Potter video games and many of the interactive “extras” on the Harry Potter DVD releases. So if you recognize him, it’s surely by that amazing voice of his. He held a Guinness World Record for creating and recording 134 different character voices for one audiobook, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Top 15 Romantic Comedies of the 90’s

 

If you are like me, you are probably missing the good old romantic comedies we used to have. All we ever seem to get are gross out comedies or sleazy rated R comedies these days. I was thinking back and I think I enjoyed the romantic comedies of the 1990’s the best! Granted that was when I was dating the most and is also when I fell in love and got married, so it’s a very distinctive period of wonderful courtship and romance in my life. It seemed to be a perfect time for rom-coms.

Now, with that said, my list would probably be different than your list! Right off the start, you’ll probably be wondering why Pretty Woman didn’t make my list at all and wondering why some films did, but that’s the wonderful things about lists…they are versatile. (Just to answer that question in your head, I just didn’t like Pretty Woman, that’s all, it was a fine film, just not one of my favorite’s for top 15, that’s all.) Now, this list is supposed to get your mind thinking about your favorites and maybe discovering a few new films you probably just never got around to watching.  If that’s the case, then I’ve done my job effectively.

15. Clueless (1995)clueless

A modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m going to tell you a secret only my family knows…I’m a huge Jane Austen fan…OK, I admit it. I’m a sucker for the movies that have been adapted from her courtship novels and I love it when one gets the modern treatment. Directed by Amy Heckerling and starring Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, it’s a fun little movie. This movie had a cleverly written screenplay that included a wide array of completely made up lingo. One of the promotional items distributed to tie-in with the film was a booklet called How to Speak Cluelessly; in it was a lexicon of many of the invented terms used for the Clueless world (some of which became part of real teen lingo at the time). An example: a Baldwin is a very handsome male, as in the famous sibling actors.

14.  Defending Your Life (1991)defend

This is an incredibly creative film about the after-life. Written and Directed by Albert Brooks and starring Albert and Meryl Streep, it’s a great examination of a person’s life and it carries with it the idea that life and especially LOVE carries over with us. It struck me very hard when I first watched in and I instantly fell in love with Albert and Meryl’s characters.

13.  I Love Trouble (1994)I_Love_Trouble_1994

I’m a huge fan of the films of Nancy Myers and Charles Shyer, and will run out to see one of their films the day they come out. This one was a box office bomb for some strange reason, and I just love it. It reminds me of the old Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn movies with Nick Nolte in the Tracy role and Julia Roberts in the Hepburn role. Truth-be-told, they both do a good job in this movie, but Roberts definitely steals the show.  She’s mesmerizing in this. Roberts and Nolte reportedly did not get along throughout filming, although I don’t think you can tell with the final result. Roberts later described Nolte as “disgusting” whereas Nolte said she was “not a nice person.” Roberts disliked Nolte’s macho act, and was not shy or polite about letting him know. He, in turn, began deliberately engaging in it to piss her off. Regardless, neither one of them ever worked together again.

12.  Doc Hollywood (1991)Doc_Hollywood-1991

I wonder how many movie posters show Michael J. Fox pulling his sunglasses down…that’s like his signature move. This film was directed by Michael Canton-Jones and stars Michael J. Fox and Julie Warner.  I thought this movie was awesome, but it comes with a caveat…although it’s rate PG-13, it does have full-frontal nudity by Julie Warner when she walks out of the lake. It seems out of place for a light romantic comedy, to be honest. In this movie, Fox stars as a Doctor who gets into a car accident on his way through town and is forced into staying and working as the town Doctor.

11.  Housesitter (1992)

Housesitter : Original Cinema Quad Poster

Great movie directed by none-other than Miss Piggy’s alter-ego, Frank Oz and stars Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. I love these two actors and when you get them both together…magic. They loved working together so much they found another project years later by remaking the Neil Simon hit, The Out-of-Towners (1999). In this one she plays a con-artist that takes over his home.

10. Don’t Tell Her it’s Me (aka The Boyfriend School) (1990)

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

This is one of those films that appear on lists, that blow people’s minds. It had a very small theatrical release originally and then my brother and I found it on HBO late at night when we were in college and completely loved it.  We called it the best straight-to-HBO movie we ever saw, for years…before HBO started to produce their own stuff of course. It’s definitely a HIDDEN GEM, if you’ve never had the chance to see it. Directed by Malcolm Mowbray and stars Steve Guttenberg and Jami Gertz, it was originally released under the great song featured in the opening credits, but then changed later on video to the original source novel title. Guttenberg plays a guy who just survives cancer, only to find that he has let himself go and needs help making him more desirable to women. He recruits his romance author sister, Shelley Long, to help him get the girl of his dreams. Perfect setup for a rom-com.

9. The Cutting Edge (1992)

Cutting Edge : Original Cinema Quad Poster

This film doesn’t hold up as well over time, just simply due to the fact that neither actor does their own skating and there is a cheesy and fake ice skating trick they use to win the whole competition, BUT– with that said, the chemistry between Moira Kelly and D. B. Sweeney is awesome and so much fun to watch.  The true joy in this movie is seeing these two actors go head to head. That’s why it makes my list. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser, who played Starsky in the original Starsky and Hutch!

8. Runaway Bride (1999)

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

Ok, yes, I like this film waaaaay more than Pretty Woman…I just do, okay? Same cast and crew, different characters and storyline. Directed by Garry Marshall and starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Also, this is the second time Julia Roberts has a movie on this list (but not the last). Let’s be honest, we’re talking the 90’s…where Julia Roberts was queen of the rom-coms…but they were so good. This one is about a woman who runs away from several weddings, and then tries to avoid a reporter who comes to town to do a story about her.

7.  You’ve Got Mail (1998)YouveGotMail

This movie is a remake of the fantastic Jimmy Stewart movie, The Shop Around The Corner, but written and directed by the incredible Nora Ephron. It stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who own competing bookstores, in the same block. Ryan’s store is named The Shop Around the Corner, the two main characters are latter day (mail) and present day (email) “pen pals”; they both know they are falling in love with their respective pen pals; when the man realizes who the woman really is, he pursues her, but is not sure the love match will work; in the end, they find they belong together. It’s cute.

6.  While You Were Sleeping (1995)whileyouweresleeping

This is the first movie that put Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, and for years there was a race to see who would become the queen of the romantic comedies between Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and Sandra…in the end I think it’s a tie between Sandra and Julia. Directed by Jon Turteltaub and starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman, the film is about a woman who pretends to be the fiancee of a man in a coma. It’s a charming movie and I just realized that it’s set around Christmastime. It’s alarming how many movies on this list are set around Christmas, it’s a romantic time of year, I guess.

5.  Sleepless in Seattle (1993)sleeplessinseattleposter

Another Nora Ephron movie and it also is with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The 2nd of 3 movies that Meg Ryan and Nora Ephron did together the 3rd one being When Harry Met Sally, which was directed by Rob Reiner.  Rob Reiner plays Tom Hanks best friend in this movie. All around great people to be making movies with.  Sleepless in Seattle is about a recently widowed man whose son goes on a radio talk show to try and find his dad a new wife. The premise that the two lead characters meet at the Empire State Building comes from the Cary Grant Deborah Kerr movie An Affair To Remember. That film made another list of the top 15 for me, The Top 15 Cary Grant Movies. 

4. Speechless (1994)speechless

This was another bomb when it came out to the theatres, but is such a good movie. Directed by Ron Underwood and starring Gena Davis and Michael Keaton, and is about two opposing speech writer’s during an election. The main reason to like this movie is because Keaton truly rocks in it.  He’s extremely funny and charming in this movie.  I think it’s my favorite of all of his movies…and that’s saying a lot because he’s done a lot of fun movies. It also has Christopher Reeve in it and he’s always great to watch as well…it’s strange to think that around this time they were both still portraying Superman and Batman respectively and if they were to do a Justice League together it would have made for a highly entertaining movie. Gena Davis is tall and good enough to have played Wonder Woman back then, what do you think?

3.  The American President (1995)the-american-president

I keep wanting to yell out, “I Love That Movie, ” as I write this blog. I have to keep telling myself, you know that, afterall you are reading my top 15 list. This one is directed by Rob Reiner and stars Michael Douglas and Annette Benning, and is about a US President and a lobbyist dating while he is in the White House. This one is written by the amazing Aaron Sorkin. I rewatch this movie quite a bit and it’s a little sad every time I do, as Michael Douglas doesn’t actually act or impersonate any President that’s ever been in office and yet he personifies the perfect President that we have all always wanted in real life.

2.  Tin Cup (1996)tincup-movie-post

Is this a sports movie or a romantic comedy? Why, it’s a bit of both! It’s about a failed golf pro that hires a psychiatrist to help him qualify for the US Open. It’s directed by Ron Shelton and stars Kevin Costner and Rene Russo.  Kevin Costner is very good in this and was always a pretty good athlete in his own right.  A lot of the shots in the movie of his character playing golf is really Costner, playing golf. The scene at the end of the movie where Roy hits the shot into the water hazard again and again was based on an actual event. Gary McCord, the commentator with the handlebar mustache in the movie, is an actual commentator and pro golfer. In a 1987 tournament he had a shot similar to Kevin Costner’s. He needed a birdie to win and went for it. He hit the water over and over again and finally made the shot, but it cost him 15 strokes. In the movie Costner gets it in 12. The scene where Roy wins a bar bet by hitting a golf ball at a pelican also was based on a real life incident from McCord’s career.

1.  Notting Hill (1999)nottinghill

My favorite romantic comedy of the 90’s.  Directed by Roger Michell and stars Julia Roberts (again) and Hugh Grant. It’s about a quiet travel book story owner who meets and falls in love with the most famous film star in the world.  Roberts and Grant are wonderful together. Hugh Grant got to play in a movie opposite Sandra Bullock a few years later, so Win/Win for him. Now all he has to do is find a way to get in there with Meg Ryan to get the trifecta…