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Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: A Fish Called Wanda Vs. Die Hard

We are entering the final stretch of the Movies of 1988 bracket game!  It’s down to action hero Bruce Willis against of trio of very different comedies.  Can any of them stop John McClane on his march to victory?  Just like in Die Hard, the “fly in the ointment” finds himself opposed by a motley band of criminals led by a suave European.  But the gang from A Fish Called Wanda is a whole lot sillier than the terrorists who invaded Nakatomi Plaza.  Still, if Detective McClane isn’t careful, he is in imminent danger of having chips shoved up his nose.

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Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: Die Hard Vs. Working Girl

Today’s match-up features two movies which slyly sent-up corporate culture in the 1980’s.  In Working Girl, Melanie Griffith played a put-upon secretary who finds that her hair style and tacky clothes have impaired her ability to break through the glass ceiling.  Bonnie Bedelia’s character in Die Hard experiences similar career frustration.  She has to go so far as to move across the country and revert to her maiden name in order to advance.  And then she ends up working with some coked-up jackass who gets himself killed by terrorists.  Come to think of it, if there was one thing Working Girl could have used more of, it was terrorists.  Imagine Han Solo and Ellen Ripley teaming up to take on some intergalactic mercenaries.  That sure would have pepped up Mike Nichols’ rom com.  Where was I again?  Oh yeah, today’s match features to movies with almost nothing in common.

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Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: Die Hard Vs. Midnight Run

Okay, so this one might be a teeny bit lopsided.  I fully expect Die Hard to win its way into the final four and I won’t be the least bit surprised if it makes it to the final round.  Heck, it’s probably the odds-on favorite to take the crown.  Pretty much anything I might put up against Die Hard in the first round was going to get steamrolled.  One of the reasons Die Hard was able to redefine action movies is that the genre wasn’t in the best place in the late 80’s.  Take a look at the other action movies of the year and you will see what I mean.  Other than Midnight Run, my best options were They Live, Bloodsport, Above the Law and Action Jackson.  I like some of those movies and I know they all have their fans.  But Midnight Run is better than all of them.  It’s a near-perfect buddy comedy that had the misfortune to come up against John McClane.

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March 19: Happy Birthday Glenn Close and Bruce Willis


Glenn Close celebrates her 70th birthday today.  After graduating from William & Mary, she pursued an acting career, and made her Broadway debut in 1974 in a revival of William Congreve’s Love for Love.  She worked steadily both on and off Broadway for the next decade, and won a Tony for Best Actress in a Play for the original Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing.  By this time, she had also begun a film and television career; her first three film appearances, in The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, and The Natural, all brought her Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress.  She then received her first nomination for Best Actress for a 1987 thriller:

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Movieline Cover Gallery 1996

Bruce Willis: Planet Willis

Willis - Last Man Standing

One of the things that stood out about Movieline magazine was that they didn’t pull their punches in interviews.  The writers asked their subjects the kind of direct questions you didn’t see that often in other entertainment magazines.  This was true even when the subject was known for being difficult.  If anything, the questions were even more direct with a difficult subject.  That was the case when Martha Frankel interviewed a very defensive Bruce Willis for the cover story of the August 1996 issue.

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Movieline Cover Gallery 1989

Bruce Willis on the Level

andie macdowell - hudson hawk 2

Yesterday, we dredged up Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Movie Preview from 1991.  The big cover story for that issue was an interview with Hudson Hawk star, Bruce Willis.  I figure since we started this trip down memory lane, we may as well see it through to the bitter end.  So here is Bruce Willis from the May 24, 1991 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

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Michael Lehmann: Adventures of a Young Director

Hudson Hawk

When Heathers came out in 1988, it was a quirky black comedy that almost no one saw.  But it quickly gained a cult following on video.  Even though it was a box office failure, the movie launched several careers.  Among them was director Michael Lehmann.

In the early 90’s, Lehmann and Heathers writer Daniel Waters entered the mainstream with the Razzie-winning Bruce Willis movie, Hudson Hawk.  In the May 1991 issue of Movieline, Virginia Campbell asked the director how he ended up in bed with the infamous producer Joel Silver.  Lehmann’s answers are surprisingly frank.

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Golden Raspberry Awards: 1994

Razzie 1994

The Golden Raspberries started off as an informal joke.  Something for a publicist and his friends to do after the Oscars had ended.  Over time, it has become and enduring and irreverent tradition.  In theory, The Razzies poke fun at the worst movies of the year.  But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies frequently make the wrong call.  We’re going back and looking at the history of the Golden Raspberry Awards one year at a time.

The fifteenth annual Razzies nominated the movies of 1994.  The Lion King and Forrest Gump were the highest-grossing movies that year.  David Letterman introduced Oprah Winfrey to Uma Thurman at the Oscars which was a showdown between Gump and Pulp.  Tom Hanks won his second consecutive Best Actor Oscar which set the tone for a Forrest Gump sweep.  The Razzies introduced a couple of new categories which allowed them to spread the love around.

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Movies that were supposed to launch franchises (but didn’t): Unbreakable


When Unbreakable was released in 2000, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan was riding high.  His previous movie, the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, had been a surprise smash.  On a modest $40 million dollar budget, The Sixth Sense became the second-highest grossing movie of 1999 right behind The Phantom Menace.  But unlike the Star Wars prequel, The Sixth Sense also enjoyed critical success as well.  It was also nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

After his second movie as a director, Shyamalan was a Hollywood power player.  Disney, which had released The Sixth Sense, couldn’t wait to make more movies with their new superstar.  He was paid a record-breaking $5 million dollars for a spec script for Unbreakable in addition to another $5 million in directing fees.  That is a quarter of what it cost to make The Sixth Sense.  But if Shyamalan’s follow-up was even half as successful as that movie, it would be money well spent.

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Demi Moore Gallery

Readers Rank the Die Hard Movies

Die Hard Movie Posters

Jeff the Wild Man recently ranked the Die Hard movies from worst to first.  Naturally, we gave you the chance to do your own rankings.  Here’s what readers came up with.

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