Have you ever wished for a list of the BEST forgotten films over the years? Here it is. We list the best movies that have been forgotten over the years. This will give you a great movie to watch on Netflix or Amazon Instant if you have no idea what to watch. Give us a chance to suggest a great film for you.
My brother and I always loved The Last Starfighter (1984). We re-visited it again last night in his backyard when we did the Sunday Night Outdoor Movie Night…really long title for a three family event that just consists of a Mickey Mouse Movie Screen, a digital project, DVD player, a boatload of chairs and a LOT of blankets. Anyway, it reminded me how much I really enjoyed this little film over the years and I really think it’s an overlooked and forgotten gem for family fare.
I will admit up front that a few of the scenes don’t hold up 30 years later like everyone coming to see Alex Rogan break the Starfighter record on their local trailer park arcade game. We kinda chuckled at that happening in real life. I think what we liked about the film when we were kids was the theme of being special and “the one” that permeates many of the films over the last couple of decades. It’s a simple theme, but resonates in just about all cultures over time.
The graphics don’t hold up as well either, but aren’t hard to watch like some of the other movies from this decade, and was the first film to have all the graphics produced through a computer. The real joy in the movie is the fantastic casting of the four main leads, Robert Preston, Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart and Dan O’Herlihy all doing fantastic in their roles. Also, I think it’s the best film Nick Castle has ever directed but I love The Boy Who Could Fly (1986) and Tap (1989) as well.
The score of the film really stands out, by Craig Safan, and we both really love it. I have it in my playlist on my phone and Adam’s used it as his ringtone for years. You can recognize the main theme nowadays if you’ve ever been to Disney’s California Adventure and rode the Soaring Over California ride as it is the main theme of that ride now.Rumor has it that Nick Castle has been pushing for a sequel of the film for the past couple of years. I would be very interested in that. I think they should make sure that Alex Rogan and Maggie Gordon are still in it and maybe they are the ones that are training a “new” bunch of recruits to fight against the KoDan Armada. I would definitely see that movie.
Let’s just say up front, that I’m a big fan of how this group of guys made it into Hollywood. Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, being the main 3 went out and raised money from family and friends then went out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere and shot the original Evil Dead. As a young filmmaker I loved the idea of just getting a bunch of my buddies together and shooting horror or action and just having a blast and then…poof, magically a movie is made, released and successful our careers are on jet boosters…
Now, with that said, I know that’s not exactly what happened. They had a struggle with every part of that movie, especially after it was shot and put into post and then trying to get it out to the public. And at some point after all the struggle, they probably wished they had a lot more money and time and support to go back and do the movie the way that they would have preferred, after the first experience and then guess what? They were given that EXACT opportunity and the second time around they decided to not make a sequel…really, but a remake…as a comedy, this time. And they did it and the result is Evil Dead 2: Dead Before Dawn…which is a BRILLIANT and INCREDIBLE movie. It’s so fun, scary, crazy and everything great.
So again, it’s successful and the audience grows and gets even bigger on Video, so a company comes to them again and they are given an opportunity to do a direct sequel this time, and what do they do? They go out and add 2 more genres! The original was straight horror. The second was horror, comedy. The third they added Science Fiction (time travel) and Fantasy (witches, magic, demons) to go along with the comedy and horror. And guess what? They end up calling it, Army of Darkness. It works again! It’s both BRILLIANT and INCREDIBLE! Fantastic in all ways and so, so, so much fun.
Now the first one, I love the “making of” story about kids making their first movie and by itself is a very scary movie, but not a top favorite of mine. But those other two, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, together is some great crazy film-making at it’s best. Films, I would add, that would NEVER be made today. Studios wouldn’t know how to categorize them and wouldn’t know how to market them in today’s system. But they are crazy good.
Who do we have to thank for the making of 2 and 3? None-other than Stephen King! He liked the original so much, that not only did he give a quote for the marketing of the film, which also helped to sell it, he also convinced Dino De Laurentis to finance the making of number 2. Now the only reason I’m calling this a remake (there’s been a debate rolling for years) is simply because they replay the entire first movie in the first 10 minutes of #2 and mainly because it is a deep departure in tone by adding a great deal of comedy in the second one.
Now a side note about the title of the 3rd movie…they didn’t want to name it Evil Dead 3 for some reason and toyed around with calling it Medieval Dead (which I like a lot actually) but ended up putting Army of Darkness on all the marketing and posters and stuff and in the movie itself has the title come up with…”Bruce Campbell vs.” and then another title card comes up with, “The Army of Darkness.” Why didn’t the posters call it Ash vs. The Army of Darkness? Great title and is another reason I’m so glad that the new Starz series is called Ash vs. Evil Dead. Ties it back in together and truthfully I’m still a big fan, the series is great fun and to be honest, they can still go into the realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy if and when the series really gets rolling, which I would totally embrace. Right now it’s straight comedy-horror, but the possibilities are endless. Let’s see what season 2 gives us.
As for my thoughts on season 1, there were some great moments and ASH was by far the best thing about the series. Bruce Campbell is a personal favorite of mine, my brother and I have met and spoken to the actor on 3 separate occasions and on each one, we walked away bigger fans of his than going in. He’s a really top-notch person in real life and drop-dead hilarious and fantastic with people. If he ran for president, I’m serious, he would give anyone a run for their money, he’s than engaging, down-to-earth and likable. He was everything you’d want in a 50 year old Ash and more, and I found the series to be a great extension to the whole Franchise. Thank you for making it guys and for keeping the fans happy, we all appreciate it!
Adam and I have always been fascinated with and loved the move, The Thing by John Carpenter. The things we especially loved about it was the isolated feeling of the movie, the distrust between characters, the paranoia that creeps in and the ultimate scenarios that play out throughout the film to ferret out who is a “Thing” and who isn’t. It really ratchets up the tension in the film.
So with this in mind, I felt compelled to write down and share our experience with, or I should say our near-experience with the making of what was to be a prequel of sorts, but with what ended up with an identical title, (so as to confuse the audience even more; is it a prequel or is it a remake?!?) ultimately released to theaters in 2011.
Anyway, the film was released with some real nifty marketing posters by a young Drew Struzan who would gain fame with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter posters he would paint later. It had some strong competition that year, but really grew an audience on video and my brother and I loved it right away and to this day I think it’s the best horror film ever made.
(Original Drew Struzan Concept For the Poster 1982)
So skip forward a couple of decades and Adam and I have written several screenplays by this time, written several book to script adaptations, and made a few films and even won an Emmy; generally seeing a spark of success which is very fleeting in Hollywood. Overall, feeling pretty good, getting our feet wet and having fun. In 2008, a company convinces Universal to let them produce a sequel to The Thing and posts in the trades a search for pitches and treatments for the production.
I have to admit, we got very excited about putting together a pitch for submission to see if we could possibly convince them to let us write the script. We do a lot of research when we do a script and this treatment was no different. We researched the location, the original film and story it’s based on and elements we wanted to put in our “prequel”. Our idea was pretty similar to what was eventually put onscreen when it comes to general plot. We loved the idea of telling the story of what happened at the original Norwegian Station that was a catalyst for bringing the “Thing” to Kurt Russell’s movie in the beginning. We also were excited to be able to make it possible to bridge the first film with a “third” film by providing a way for the “Thing” to hit the mainland at the end of our treatment.
We quickly outlined what we loved about the Carpenter movie; the isolation, the desperation, the paranoia, the suspicions and key scenarios playing out pitting different groups of people against each other, in this case the different nationalities that were at work within our version. I think the key thing that the new version got wrong was having a woman in the mix, I just didn’t think that worked and if we wanted to stay within the confines of the Carpenter version, we decided to keep it an all male cast.
Anyway, I’m going to let you choose for yourselves, if you think our version would have made for a fantastic companion to the Carpenter film, as I think it does. I’m going to print it here in it’s entirety. Now, just for history’s sake, you know up front they didn’t pick ours. We’re not even sure if we were in the running as we were never notified and none of our real elements seemed to make it into the film they ultimately made. Right or wrong they went on to make the film they decided would do best, but ultimately I think they made another mistake by naming it the same name as the Carpenter film. They should have added, The Thing: Exodus or something.
The Thing Prequel (Treatment by Adam Montierth and Donovan Montierth, All Rights Reserved 2008-2016)
ANTARCTICA – 1982
On a routine reconnaissance mission under the Ronne Ice Shelf, HMS VALIANT, a British Nuclear Submarine discovers an anomaly of dense mass hidden under the ice in the Antarctic. CAPTAIN JAMES MUNRO, a veteran of the British Fleet is notified as he feeds his pet mice. The Sub receives orders to investigate.
They drift along the Bentley Subglacial Trench at the lowest point of Antarctica and find a place thin enough for them to break through the ice and exit through the conning tower. As soon as the sub has settled, LIEUTENANT GILBRETSON, a big bear of a man, stations himself outside the sub and chain-smokes his way through several cigarettes.
A group of five MEN, including Captain James Munro, and Roald Amundsen, a reluctant midshipman recruited as an interpreter, leave Lieutenant Gilbretson, as well as the remaining 122 crew members, and hike five kilometers to the geological research facility owned and operated by the Norwegian Polar Research Establishment with eight current occupants; six NORWEGIAN, one GERMAN and one ITALIAN SCIENTISTS.
They convince the scientists to go out and do some core samples where they find a spaceship buried in the ice. Captain Munro, concerned, ventures back to the Sub to receive his orders. Meanwhile, the scientists celebrate the historic discovery with a video camera and prepare to take samples from the spaceship.
Waiting for orders, Amundsen discovers an alien creature, the THING, frozen in the ice not far from the spaceship. Under protest from Amundsen, the scientists cut the block of ice containing the Thing out of the frozen tundra and drag it back to the research station using a snow tractor. KEEGAN GYLDEN, a top Norwegian scientist cuts a thin sample from the skin of The Thing and places it in a plastic container.
Captain Munro returns from the sub with an armed force of ten GUARDS to secure the station and to prevent the release of information regarding the spaceship. His orders are to retain all scientists and to collect all data, samples and specimens from the craft, until a proper research team can be deployed from Great Britain to examine the find properly.
The scientists are prevented from communicating back to their headquarters and are confined to the facility. Mistrust and anger, begin to grow between the two groups. The scientists continue to examine what materials they have from the craft, while the guards keep watch over them from room to room.
The Thing from the ice block, given time to thaw, slowly comes back to life and takes his first victim, WILLIAMSON, a guard passing between rooms.
In the lab, Keegan removes the thin sample of The Thing and places it carefully on a slide and onto a microscope. He looks into the microscope. The sample appears to be moving. Keegan rubs his eyes and looks back into the lens when a shout is heard from the next room. Keegan and the GERMAN rush out of the room to see what is going on.
It is the room with the block of ice, now empty. ALBIN, one of the Norwegians, is yelling at two guards and pointing to the empty block. As scientists and guards enter the room they become angry over the missing creature. The scientists accuse the guards of stealing the Thing from the ice block and the guards are suspicious of the scientists regarding the missing guard. Tempers rage and the scientists are sent to their sleeping quarters. As they sleep, the Thing, as Williamson, visits several men in their rooms.
Williamson Thing reappears the next morning, seemingly normal, except for slightly odd behavior, Amundsen notices. This doesn’t seem to mend the friction between the two groups but the scientists are allowed to continue their research. The language barrier enhances the groups frustrations as Amundsen is the only one who can speak Norwegian and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to mediate between the scientists and the guards.
Captain Munro takes a few men to go and examine the spacecraft a little closer. They get down to the ship and crack open a hatch in the top and go in. In the dark, they turn on the flashlights and make their way down several corridors. The ship is a frozen disaster. The inside of the ship lay in ruins, wreckage everywhere.
They find what appears to be a corridor with cells. Heavy iron doors with locks on the outside and little glass windows. One of the cells is busted outward, as if something massive broke through the door. A few dead bodies lay scattered about, ripped and frozen. Red ice glints off the floors and walls. Frozen blood everywhere. Captain Munro looks at the familiar body pieces and gasps when he realizes…they’re human.
Back at the lab, the scientists go back to their work. The Italian, complaining about the working conditions, helps GUSTAV, a Norwegian, carry a metal panel from the ship over to a table just as Keegan gets back to his microscope. Keegan yells at the Italian to keep his voice down and peers down into the lenses just as the skin slice of the Thing explodes upward through the microscope and into Keegan’s eye.
Keegan’s head snaps back as the microscope explodes and he falls to the floor, dead. The Italian and Norwegian yell and scramble over to Keegan. Keegan’s eye dangles from the socket and blood pours from his head. A few scientists and guards rush in. Confusion erupts as the Italian attacks the guards thinking they have sabotaged their equipment and killed his colleague. They manage to subdue the Italian and handcuff him and Gustav.
The guards take the Italian and Gustav to another building and lock them into a room by themselves. Williamson stays to watch over them. Keegan’s body is taken to a room and covered with a sheet.
Captain Munro gets back from the spaceship and seems shaken. To try to ease tension, he sends a group of guards back to the Sub. Amundsen pulls him aside to let him know what’s happened. He takes him to view Keegan and then tells him that the men’s nerves are at their breaking points.
Meanwhile, in the room with the two handcuffed men, Williamson paces back and forth nervously as the Italian continues to barrage him with Italian insults. Gustav tries to calm him, but finally Williamson walks over to the Italian and faces him. The Italian shuts up. Just as he thinks Williamson is going to walk away, he opens his mouth and a long tentacle comes out and wraps around the surprised Italian’s head. The Thing starts to assimilate the Italian. Gustav freaks out and starts yelling at the top of his lungs.
A guard runs over from the other building and throws the doors open to find Williamson Thing and the Italian melted together. Gustav runs over to the guard and tries to pull a grenade from the guard’s belt, but Gustav’s handcuffs make it difficult for him to grab the grenade, and in his haste manages to only pull off the pin. When he realizes, he dives outside into the snow, leaving the guard fumbling with his belt to get the grenade off. A few seconds later the building explodes from the inside.
Captain Munro and Amundsen run outside just as the building bursts into a fireball. The remaining scientists and guards filter outside to see the aftermath. The scientists are asking Amundsen what is going on and the guards are all in shock. Confusion erupts as they grill Gustav as to what was happening. Capt. Munro stands in shock looking at the fire, when he notices Keegan Thing standing next to him looking at the fire as well.
Keegan Thing turns to face Captain Munro and reveals his eye still sitting on his cheek, but acting as if everything is normal. The guards and scientists all look at Captain Munro when he yells in surprise. Keegan Thing looks around as if confused as to what is wrong with him. Amundsen points at his face and mentions the eye.
When he does this, recognition sets into Keegan Thing’s face and the eye on his cheek looks up and then juts up from the socket on it’s own accord and begins to look where Keegan Thing’s normal eye looks. At this, a few of the guards pull their guns from their holsters. Keegan Thing’s not getting the response he’s expecting so the eye plunges back into his head, then he looks around again as if to say, “Is this right?”. The men back away.
Finally not getting anywhere, Keegan Thing’s head cracks open into a giant mouth and launches out at Gustav. The Thing quickly overtakes Gustav as he screams in sheer terror. After the guards overcome their surprise they open fire at the Thing. Wounded, it busts through the door and back through the building. The guards chase it into the main room, but the Thing disappears into the ceiling.
Everyone comes running back outside to get answers from Captain Munro. Captain Munro tries to calm everyone down and explains as best as he can that the alien from the spaceship must have been alive but dormant from his frozen state. Everyone, visibly shaken and upset, argues and rambles about what to do. Amundsen tries to interpret as best as he can to the Norwegians and the German. They all decide that they need to track the Thing down. They assign pairs of men, pass out guns and grenades and spread out to look.
Each pair of men take different areas of the station to try and find the Thing. They look down every corridor, store room and work shed, but find nothing. A man yells from the kennels and shots are fired. The guards and the scientists all run to the kennels to find the Thing in the middle of the room assimilating dogs. They open fire on the Thing and it stops moving as if dead.
Albin speaks to Amundsen that they should pull the Thing out to the snow and burn it. Amundsen translates to the group and they all agree. They get the snow tractor and pull the Thing out to the snow and pour fuel on it. As they all stand around watching, Captain Munro lights a match and the Thing goes up in flames.
Confused, the scientists and guards argue about what to do next. Amundsen mediates as best as he can when he realizes that MIKAHIL, one of the Norwegians is speaking perfect English. He asks him how he’s able to speak English fluently. The group gets quiet and stare at Mikhail Thing. The other Norwegians and the German all back up, scared. The guards take their lead and everyone distances themselves from Mikhail Thing and pull out their guns.
Mikhail Thing tries to explain himself, but nobody believes him. They know that he’s the Thing. He gets angry and lashes out at Albin and one of the guards shoots him. Mikhail Thing, jumps at Albin and he falls into the fire, screaming. The men scatter, afraid. The two remaining Norwegians and the German run into the main room, then the German gets into one of the labs by himself and barricades the door.
Amundsen runs out of bullets as they fight Mikhail Thing. He runs inside and finds an axe. Mikhail Thing disappears behind one of the buildings. Inside, the Norwegians step toward Amundsen and he threatens them not knowing who to trust. The guards and Captain Munro come inside and try to calm Amundsen down. He looks at everyone as if they could be the Thing. The guards rush him, trying to get the axe away from him. Amundsen swings the axe and hacks one of the guards in the leg, he goes down on the ground screaming.
HAYES, a guard, grabs Amundsen. Amundsen chop one of Hayes hands off. The hand hits the ground and Hayes holds his amputated arm in pain. The Captain holds the men off and tries to reason with Amundsen that their fight is not with each other but with the creature. Amundsen argues that anyone can be the creature, how can they trust anyone. Captain Munro talks to Amundsen to try and keep him busy while the guards step closer and closer. Finally they all jump on Amundsen and he takes one last swing and embeds the axe in the door.
They hold Amundsen on the floor until they realize that Hayes, who just moments ago got his hand amputated, now has two hands again. He is helping to hold Amundsen down. The guards look at his two hands then look at his third amputated hand on the ground. They look back up at him and Hayes Thing gives them a “what?” look. The amputated hand suddenly grows spider legs out of the fingers and two eyes pop out of the back of the hand. It crawls frantically towards the guard that is laying down bleeding profusely from his leg.
The guards all jump up and pull out their guns and point them at the Hayes Thing on Amundsen. Hayes Thing immediately runs out of the room and the men follow, firing. The man on the ground bleeding, screams as the spider-hand crawls over and embeds itself into his bleeding leg. His leg and the spider-hand fuse together as one, as the Thing attempts to assimilate him. Captain Munro shoots the bleeding man dead. His leg continues to move. Munro drags the body outside and throws it into the fire.
The guards come back and shake their head as if to say the Thing is gone. All men become paranoid and point guns at each other suspecting everyone of being the Thing. The Norwegians try to calm everyone down. They speak as Amundsen translates. They explain that the Thing is learning how to act human. He mentions that they can identify the men that are the Thing, by amputating fingers and seeing who’s grows back.
Reluctantly, everyone agrees. The Norwegians get a surgical kit out and with scalpels cut a finger off of everyone’s hand one by one. They all hold up their bloody hands to show that none have grown back. The remaining men; four guards, two Norwegians, Captain Munro and Amundsen are all human.
The lights and heaters in the facility go out. They run outside to the generators to find Hayes Thing and Mikhail Thing are destroying the generators together. The men open fire at the Things and they both go down as if killed. To make sure they pour fuels on the bodies and burn them in the snow as the Norwegians check the generators.
They explain to Amundsen that they are not repairable and only have a few hours left before everything at the station freezes. A dog comes around the side of the building and everyone realizes that they haven’t killed all of the Thing. The dog runs away. The Norwegians tell Amundsen that they can’t let the Thing live and that they will use the helicopter to find it and kill it. After they are done, they will fly to the nearest city. Captain Munro lets them know that the rest of them are going back to the sub to report what has happened at the station. The Norwegians take their guns and grenades and start the Helicopter. Captain Munro, Amundsen, and the rest raise their amputated hands in a four finger salute, signifying still human. The Norwegians return salute and fly away.
The four remaining guards, Captain Munro and Amundsen head out to the sub. Forgotten and barricaded in the lab, the German cuts his wrists knowing that the cold will kill him soon. Sadly, he cuts his own throat.
The men get back to the sub to find Lieutenant Gilbretson back outside waiting for them. Amundsen notices that he is not chain-smoking and casually asks him about it. Gilbretson looks at him confused. This alarms Amundsen and the guards all pull their guns on Gilbretson. Captain Munro tells Gilbretson that they will have to cut a finger off to prove he is human. Just as a guard goes to cut his finger off, Gilbretson Thing morphs into a GIANT THING and grabs the surprised guard and tears him in half.
The guards open fire on the Giant Thing and Captain Munro and Amundsen throw grenades at it. They find cover just as the grenades go off and open a fissure in the ice. The Giant Thing slips into the water and screams like a banshee. The salt water reacts as acid to the Giant Thing and it foams up and dies horribly, sliding back into the sea.
The three remaining guards, Captain Munro, and Amundsen enter the sub to find it a ghost ship, everyone is gone and the communications boards are destroyed. They are concerned but relieved that they are back aboard and seal the sub back up and make arrangements to go home. Captain Munro leaves one of the guards in charge and goes to get some sleep in his cabin. He finds his mice alright and feeds them. Just as Captain Munro lays down, one of the mice grows tentacles and lashes out.
Amundsen, still unnerved from his ordeal, seals himself in his room and begins to record his fresh thoughts into a tape recorder. Later, he makes his way back to the navigation room. The three guards and Captain Munro are busy at the controls of the sub. They all ignore Amundsen as he enters and they stare at a TV monitor which shows them what is outside the sub.
Amundsen, curious, peers to see what they are looking at. Underwater, outside the sub, they are scanning another spaceship. As the sub moves further, Amundsen sees more ships and what appears to be a spaceship graveyard. Deathly, dark and sinister ghost spaceships lay scattered along the bottom of the sea where they have fallen.
Amundsen looks at Captain Munro and notices that he has all of his fingers again. Smiling, Captain Munro Thing looks directly at Amundsen and begins to explain that he was a captive on a ship headed for another place long ago. He managed to take over the ship, but crashed here in the process.
Amundsen looks at the guards to see if they notice that the Captain is now the Thing. All of the guards turn to face Amundsen. Eerily, they all stare at him along with Captain Munro Thing, and speak to him in perfect unison.
They explain that they sent a distress signal and had wondered what happened to those that followed. They now realize that they landed here and the sea swallowed them up.
After sending the signal, when they couldn’t wait any longer, they exited the spaceship and the weather was too much for them and they froze. Until Amundsen came and found them in the ice. They tell him that now they will survive and take over the planet, thanks to Amundsen.
Amundsen pulls out a gun and points it at Captain Munro Thing, who smiles and says that it won’t be long before he joins them. Instead of shooting Captain Munro Thing, Amundsen quickly aims at the pipes above their heads and a stream of salt water fills the cabin. The Things all scream together and scramble to reach Amundsen and find cover. Amundsen seals them in the room and soon the Things foam up once again in a horrible death, ending Amundsen’s worst nightmare.
Beaten and worn, Amundsen quickly programs the subs computers to the nearest port. Soon the sub reaches land and is seen entering Christchurch, New Zealand harbor.
Off in the small confines of the sub, a small Mouse Thing grows tentacles and lashes out.
Now you can see from our version that we got some inspiration from Ice Station Zebra (1968), as they are also on a mission to get to one of the Science Stations, in that one under the guise of a rescue mission in ours, an exploration mission. This is great because we can now explore more of what’s underneath the ice, we maintain the claustrophobic feeling and now we also have a vehicle that can take the danger to the mainland for the possible 3rd movie.
Anyway, we would have loved to see our version as I think it really had a chance of creating a new Franchise for the film series and I for one would have LOVED to see the possible 3rd movie where the THING hits a population and then really can do some damage. Oh, well, I hope you liked our version too, we can only hope that someone somewhere gets the idea to keep this film series going again.
These are two of my favorite films of all time, and the saddest thing is that no-one seems to know about them! I mention them to people and no-one has ever watched the films. They’ve been overlooked and forgotten over time.
Peter Bogdanovich, being a huge film fan, loved the screwball comedies of old. A very good example of this type of film is Bringing Up Baby (1938) which has 5 main elements that make for a very successful screwball comedy; Cary Grant, the bumbling absentminded professor type, Katherine Hepburn, the smart crafty and manipulative woman that wants the Cary Grant character to fall in love with her at all costs, the object the Cary Grant character is after, in this case, a dinosaur bone, this is where number four comes in, the giant mix-up (helps to have a dog and leopard for this) and then last is very fast dialogue.
This formula has been repeated multiple times since and soon after developed it’s own genre within comedy, the screwball. I would argue that this wasn’t the first screwball comedy, Twentieth Century (1934) may have been first, but I’m not entirely sure if all the elements were in place. I will give credit to figuring out the formula to Howard Hawks, who really seemed to be great at putting together the right elements, just think about how he changed the Hildy Johnson role in the play The Front Page into a woman (Hildebrand turned into Hildegard) instead of a man and turned it into another fantastic film, His Girl Friday (1940) as an example of truly how good he was at it. I’m giving credit to the term screwball comedy due to the fact that to even be considered to be a so-called “screwball comedy” director Howard Hawks thought there couldn’t be any “normal” people in the movie, and that everyone had to be a “screwball.”
Now, let me take the opportunity to say that these elements are my opinion, but to me, seemed to be the five elements that make for a successful screwball comedy. If a screwball comedy is missing one of these items, it can still be a screwball but will be less successful.
All these elements are in What’s Up, Doc? and it’s no surprise that the title even includes “up” in both movies. The bumbling absent-minded professor is Ryan O’Neal,Barbra Streisand is the smart crafty manipulative woman, the object Ryan is after is a suitcase full of igneous rocks, the mix-up includes 3 other identical suitcases that include secret documents, diamonds, or just plain clothes, and finally it also has the incredibly fast dialogue.
As a side note, Barbra Streisand has gone on record to say she didn’t get this movie at all and thought the comedy wouldn’t work, she said she never knew what was really going on. She said recently, “I was just a hired actress on that film. Just following orders.” Which is truly a shame, because I think she was brilliant in this movie and really is a natural at comedy! Her instincts are dead on and she could have had a huge career in the comedy genre, but since she always felt a little awkward in the genre, concentrated on drama and thus we only have her in a handful of comedies. I think she could have rivaled Lucille Ball at comedy if she would have decided to go that way early on in her career. Not to say it hurt her at all, she’s a fantastic dramatic actor as well, I just wish we had more comedies from her.
It’s interesting to me that Katherine Hepburn had a similar experience on her film, Bringing Up Baby. She initially was so bad at comedy it drove Howard Hawkes crazy. They brought several people in to help her with her comedic timing, including Walter Catlett and even silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. She was a very fast learner, although, and Howard Hawks grew to respect Katharine Hepburn tremendously for her comic timing, ad-libbing skills and physical control. He would tell the press, “She has an amazing body – like a boxer. It’s hard for her to make a wrong turn. She’s always in perfect balance. She has that beautiful coordination that allows you to stop and make a turn and never fall off balance. This gives her an amazing sense of timing. I’ve never seen a girl that had that odd rhythm and control.”
As for Ryan O’Neal, his character being inspired by the stuffy professor played by Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby, Ryan O’Neal had a chance to meet and speak with Grant. They had a great time talking, but the only advice he received in shooting the movie was to wear silk underpants. Both Grant’s and O’Neal’s characters were visually modeled after the silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. Another interesting note is Christopher Reeve based his performance as Clark Kent in four “Superman” movies on Cary Grant’s “David Huxley” from Bringing Up Baby, so you can make an argument that Clark Kent is also Harold Lloyd.
The final chase scene, an idea they had because of the one from the then recent movie Bullitt (1968) which was also filmed in San Francisco, cost $1 million to shoot (a quarter of the total budget), 19 days to shoot requiring 32 stuntmen resulting in 11 minutes of screen time. The segment with the giant pane of glass alone took four or five days to film. The plate glass bit was filmed at the junction of Balboa and 23rd Avenue in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
The fender bender Judy causes as she crosses the street to the Bristol Hotel was added on the spur of the moment. When no stunt cars were available, Peter Bogdanovich instructed a crew member to rent two cars and make sure he got collision insurance. Then he staged the wreck before returning the battered cars. If you see the moment in the film, it’s actually really scary to think how close they could have come to hitting Barbra, if they were just off by a few seconds.
This film has been given recognition as the first American film to have the stunt people listed in the credits at the end of the movie (the first film over all to have done this is the British movie, Moonraker). I’m not sure if this is entirely correct, as the stunt people over the years have just been given different credits as actors or such, but as for the actual “Stunts” credit, this may be true.
Now for the initial releases of these movies, Bringing Up Baby, was an unmitigated flop, going so far as to have Katherine Hepburn branded “Box Office Poison” the next year, but has since gained a following and made it’s money back. It’s now considered by many to be Howard Hawk’s best film. What’s Up, Doc? itself, was incredibly successful the year it was released, coming in third to The Godfather and The Poseidon Adventure, but sadly has been virtually forgotten over time.
In 2004, twin brothers Adam Montierth and Donovan Montierth along with writing partner, Jason Walters, wrote, produced and directed a little 35mm film that changed their lives. That film, which started out as a tribute to their grandfather, was called Reveille and starred film and American Forces Veteran’s David Huddleston and James McEachin. Reveille soon was screened at over 50 film festivals, winning over 20 awards and was shown on The Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Network. In 2007, it was viewed by the Armed Forces in Balad, Iraq, became a viral sensation by being viewed to over 5 million people on Google Video (before there was YouTube) and won the twins an Emmy Award.
Adam and Donovan spent the next few years trying to get a feature film based on Reveille produced called Capture the Flag. At one point, in 2008-2009, the film looked like it was finally going to be made, they had a $5 million dollar budget through a hedge fund and signed actors and Veteran’s James Garner and Louis Gossett Jr. The recession hit and the hedge fund withdrew the funds before they could start production and the film went into turnaround.
Brothers’ Ink Productions went on to make Locker 13 with Ricky Schroder and a slew of great actors and Capture the Flag was eventually optioned by Sleeperwave Films and Producer Eric J. Adams. Eric is a producer, screenwriter, journalist and author. He wrote the script and produced (consulting) the feature film“Supremacy” (2015), starring Danny Glover and Joe Anderson, and he co-wrote and produced “Archie’s Final Project” (aka My Suicide) (2011). Archie’s Final Project won 21 major international film festival awards, including the Crystal Bear in Berlin.
Sleeperwave Films is still in development on the project but has already brought Producer Michael Birnbaum (Bandits, The Big White and John Tucker Must Die) and Director Jeremiah Chechik (Benny and Joon, Christmas Vacation, and The Avengers).
Reveille, the short film that started it all is now available on Facebook. Please share and like the film, as the more people that see the short film, the faster we can get the feature film made:
Burt Reynolds played Gator McKluskey in White Lightning (1973) and again in Gator (1976). These are two fantastic films about a moonshine-running King of the Bayou, with high octane, super-charged, double-barreled action, mystery, murder and adventure. I loved these films and really wished they made more of them.
The fun starts with White Lightning, that was supposed to be Steven Spielberg’s first theatrical film, as he spent months on the pre-production, but was eventually replaced with Joseph Sargent, who himself was fired from Buck and the Preacher and replaced by Sidney Poitier the year before. Joseph would go on to make the very successful TheTaking of Pelham One Two Three the year after. Burt Reynolds met the writer, William W. Norton on Sam Whiskey (which he wrote) and Burt loved the idea of this ex-con character that gets drawn into working with the feds to catch a moonshine ring.
Burt’s good friend, Hal Needham, did the stunts in this movie and would eventually direct Burt in several films including Hooper (a film about a legendary stunt man) and the Smokey and the Bandit films. There was a scary moment in the chase sequence that ends with Gator’s car sailing from a river bank onto a barge that went seriously wrong. The plan was for the car (driven by Hal) to land squarely on the mound of soft earth in the barge, on the take he fell short and landed on the rear of the barge with the rear of the car hanging into the water. Hal was hurt and stunned, Burt watching the scene from behind the camera, dove into the water, swam to the barge and helped pull Hal out of the car. Needham recovered from his injuries and would go on to do the stunts in Gator three years later.
The film was so successful that Burt decided he wanted to do another film with the character and decided to direct the sequel himself. Up until this point he had only directed one episode of the TV Show, Hawk (which only lasted for 1 season) 10 years before, but managed to get the studio to agree to let him direct the film. Burt got William to write the sequel and also had Hal doing the stunts again.
Hal Needham’s luck didn’t change on this film as he was hurt again on a stunt at the end of the final chase scene. The truck that Gator (Hal doubling for Burt) gets thrown from flips over and it broke Hal’s back in the process. He was a very good stunt man, by all accounts, but this does make sense why he turned to directing in the subsequent years.
Great films, both of them are a lot of fun to watch. Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!
I’m going to start a new series of blogs for the 100 Years Blog, based on great little films that seem to have been forgotten over time. My first post is with the great little family gem called Six Pack (1982) that came out in the early eighties. It’s arguably the best movie that Kenny Rogers ever starred in and is most remembered for his hit theme song Love Will Turn You Around that was featured in the film.
My only complaint about the film would be the title that seems to be a play on words and seems to be in direct conflict with it’s family theme because it’s a reference to Beer. Which is also interesting that Kenny’s name in the film is Brewster and he goes by Brew for most of the film. I really think that the marketing was a big miss on this one as I think it really kept some families from going to see the film, which is a shame, because it’s really good. The title makes it feel like an adult contemporary comedy about drunk guys out for a wild night, not a cute family movie. So I guess you could also file this one under missed opportunities.
The film is notable for having a young Diane Lane and you can definitely see the potential for being a great actress even that early in her career. It also stars Anthony Michael Hall in his first movie role, before he made it big in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984) and Breakfast Club (1985). I want to also state that he’s a very under-rated actor! He’s still fantastic, and I found him to be just hilarious in Psych last year and Rosewood this season. He needs to get more work.
The film was directed by Daniel Petrie for 20th Century Fox. Daniel Petrie is best remembered as the man who directed Sally Field in an Emmy Award winning role for Sybil, and for Fort Apache the Bronx and for the classic film A Raisin in the Sun starring Sydney Poitier.
Bruce Lee was the first worldwide asian superstar and this was the film that put him in the spotlight. The highest grossing film in China up to this time, it was also a sensation in the US and all over the world. Martial Arts became a phenomenon. Lee didn’t know it, but when he went to China to make this movie, he was already a star because The Green Hornet was released in China as The Kato Show.
This is somewhat of a surprise as it was another TV show that forced Lee to make Fists of Fury in China. In 1971 Lee went to Warner Bros. with an idea for a TV Show he called The Warrior about an asian martial arts expert in the wild wild west. Warner Bros. went forward with the show but without Lee and they hired a caucasian to play the asian in the show and named it Kung Fu.
He was so upset that they went with a caucasian for the role that he went to make a real martial arts film to show Warner Bros what he was capable of. The rest is cinema history and in the end, Bruce Lee became a worldwide sensation. Lee also paved the way for the asian stars to come later, like Jackie Chan and many others.
In this film, the martial arts was really revolutionary for the day, although, Lee doesn’t have a fight scene until 45 minutes into the film. You can definitely see a difference between him and all the other fighters…Bruce Lee sizzles. He really is electric. I especially liked the fight scene in front of the icehouse (which is hilarious by the way – unintentionally – when he punches a bad guy in the chest and he flies back through the icehouse wall leaving an exact shape of his body in the wall of wood slats) and the fight scene at the end. Although, the Big Boss at the end, just doesn’t seem to have even a fraction of the power and strength that Bruce Lee does, but manages to catch Lee off guard several times and slice him up a bit.
Fists of Fury (The Big Boss) was directed by Wei Lo for Golden Harvest.
Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page or Website):
Fists of Fury
History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Orange Sky Golden Harvest is a film production, distribution, and exhibition company based in Hong Kong. It played a major role in becoming the first Chinese film company to successfully enter the western market for an extended period of time, especially with the films of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. At the same time, it dominated HK box office sales from the 1970s to 1980s.
Notable names in the company include its founders, the veteran film producers Raymond Chow (鄒文懐) and Leonard Ho (何冠昌). Chow and Ho were executives with Hong Kong’s top studio Shaw Brothers, but left in 1970 to form their own studio. They succeeded by taking a different approach from the highly centralized Shaws model. Golden Harvest contracted with independent producers and gave talent more generous pay and greater creative freedom. Some filmmakers and actors from Shaws defected. But what really put the company on the map was a 1971 deal with soon-to-be martial arts superstar Bruce Lee, after he had turned down the low-paying, standard contract offered him by the Shaws.