Best Summer Movie Showdown

07/14/2010

Cinematical has been having a Best Summer Movie of All Time poll going since before summer even started, and now it’s down to two. As they say, either way George Lucas and Harrison Ford win. But which is the the best summer movie of all time, Star Wars (1977), or Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)?

I have interesting first-view stories about both of them, so this is hard for me to decide. If it was between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, I’d have no problem voting. That would be because my Empire story trumps both.

Which other movie would you consider the best summer movie of all time?

(Images courtesy Paramount & Fox)

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Jaws Turns 35

06/13/2010

On June 20, 1975, moviegoers collectively changed their attitudes about swimming in the ocean. Jaws also reinvented the summer movie season, and scary movies, overnight. Much like Alfred Hitchcock’s shower scene, this movie made audiences rethink potential sources of Things to Watch Out For. The sophomore effort of one of filmmaking’s living legends, Steven Spielberg, it still ranks as one of the world’s best-loved movies, with a commanding 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

My personal favorite element of this classic flick is the way the shark was represented; yes, I loved the acting performances of each and every human character, but the character of the shark upstaged everyone. And that shark’s name is Bruce. It’s hilarious to note that the name was attached to the mechanical shark(s) in honor of Spielberg’s lawyer, also named Bruce. Check this out, the last of them was recently found in a junkyard.

Here’s some awesome trivia from IMDb:

During pre-production, director Steven Spielberg, accompanied by friends Martin ScorseseGeorge Lucas and John Milius, visited the effects shop where “Bruce” the shark was being constructed. Lucas stuck his head in the shark’s mouth to see how it worked and, as a joke, Milius and Spielberg sneaked to the controls and made the jaw clamp shut on Lucas’ head. Unfortunately, and rather prophetically, considering the later technical difficulties the production would suffer, the shark malfunctioned, and Lucas got stuck in the mouth of the shark. When Spielberg and Milius were finally able to free him, the three men ran out of the workshop, afraid they’d done major damage to the creature.

Eat him, Bruce!

(Photo: bytehead)

Editing is key, though. With a severely effective assist from the music. Jaws was Verna Fields’ last movie as an editor, and it is her best work. Spielberg came close to shutting down the whole project when he realized the fake shark just looked stupid, but it was Verna who calmly told him she could make it look real through wide shots, floating barrels, and the use of very selective, short shots. Let the viewers fill in the gaps with their imaginations, and they will believe in a monster from the deep.

As Spielberg says in this interview, “Had the shark been working, perhaps the film would have made half the money, and been half as scary.”

(YouTube Link)

Some still shots from a classic, courtesy Universal.


Robert Shaw Trivia

06/02/2010

I’m on a Robert Shaw kick lately, after scoring a great deal on one of his movies at the nearby Hollywood Video’s going-outta-biz sale. I managed to snag Force 10 From Navarone for a few dollars. This has always been a movie I would rent every few years just to see it again, or show it to others. Now I own it, and since  we’re coming up on the 35th anniversary of the premiere of Jaws, here’s some factoids about Quint, aka Mallory, aka Lonniman (It’s Lonnegan!).

From IMDb:

As a boy, he attended Truro and was quite an athlete, competing in rugby, squash and track events but turned down an offer for a scholarship at 17 to go to London with furthering education in Cambridge as he did not want a career in medicine but luckily for the rest of us, in acting.

He went on from the Academy, after two years (1946-1948) to Stratford-on-Avon, where he was directed by Sir John Gielgud who said to Robert Shaw, “I do admire you and think you’ve got a lot of ability, and I’d like to help you, but you make me so nervous.”

He appeared briefly in 1954’s The Dam Busters.

Around 1959, he became involved with the well-known actress Mary Ure, who was married to the actor John Osborne at the time. He slipped her his telephone number one night at 3 a.m. while visiting the couple and she called him the next day. It was around this time, in 1960, that Robert Shaw became a reporter for England’s Queen magazine and covered the Olympics in Rome. Robert Shaw and Mary Ure acted together in Middleton’s The Changeling at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1961. He was playing the part of an ugly servant in love with the mistress of the house who persuades him to murder her fiancé. Robert Shaw and Mary Ure had a child on August 31st, even though they were still married to their other spouses. His wife Jennifer and Mary Ure had children to him only weeks apart from each other. Mary divorced John Osborne and married Robert Shaw in April 1963. The couple was often quoted by the press as being, “very much in love” and together, they would have four children together. (Ten total for Shaw.)

It was in the following films, The Sting and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three that Robert Shaw became familiar once again to American audiences but it is his portrayal as a grizzled Irish shark hunter, named Quint, in Jaws that everyone remembers, even to this day. Hard to believe that Robert Shaw wasn’t that impressed with the script and even confided to a friend, Hector Elizondo, “They want me to do a movie about this big fish. I don’t know if I should do it or not.” When Elizondo asked why Shaw had reservations he mentioned that he’d never heard of the director and didn’t like the title, “JAWS.”

“Avalanche Express” was Robert Shaw’s last film in which he played General Marenkov, a senior Russian official who decides to defect to the west and reveals to a CIA agent, played by Lee Marvin, that the Russians are trying to develop biological weapons. (Shaw sadly died of heart failure midway through filming.)

Many of Captain Quint’s ramblings in Jaws were actually Shaw’s improvisations, and he is considered one of many authors of the famous USS Indianapolis scene.

Allegedly he didn’t get along with Richard Dreyfuss while filming Jaws.

His performance as Captain Quint is ranked #28 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.

He also wrote four books that were well received, along with some plays.

“Writing is where the real center of my integrity lies. I never write for money. I only act for money, but not invariably of course. I would never write certain sentences that I say in films, or even that I write in films, because I often fix up my lines.”

“Acting is instant enjoyment and childlike. As an actor, Lord God, I can take an audience in a theatre and throw them in any direction. I can’t do that as a writer. Writing is painful, it’s lonely and you suffer and there’s no immediate feedback.”

I knew there was some reason I liked him from the get-go. The Shakespeare work doesn’t surprise me, but the life of this man we barely knew through his few cinematic roles is, to say the least, incredible.

Link [IMDb]  (More Jaws and Force 10 stuff to come)


Quint’s Speech From Jaws

06/02/2010

Video

Didn’t see the first shark for about half an hour – a tiger – thirteen footer. You know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups…the idea was, the shark comes to the nearest man and he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’. Sometimes the shark go away. Sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya, right into your eyes. Y’know, the thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes after ya, he doesn’t seem to be livin’ until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white, and then – aww, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin’, the ocean turns red, and in spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and rip ya to pieces…in that first dawn, we lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I don’t know how many men. They averaged six an hour…Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us…and he come in low and three hours later, a big fat PBY [seaplane] comes down and start to pick us up. You know, that was the time I was most frightened – waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a life jacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.