Judd Hirsch is celebrating his 82nd today. He studied physics at CCNY and worked as an engineer for Westinghouse, before beginning an acting career in New York theater, making his Broadway debut in the role of the Telephone Man in Barefoot in the Park, and in 1976 received a Drama Desk Award for Jules Feiffer’s Knock Knock. He then received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor for an appearance on Rhoda.
In the late seventies and early eighties Hirsch appeared in two of the roles that he is best known for. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Dr. Berger in Ordinary People, the psychiatrist who helps Timothy Hutton’s character deal with his brother’s death. And he starred on Taxi as Alex Rieger, receiving five consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy, winning twice.
David Cronenberg is one of those directors you either love or you don’t get at all. The Canadian filmmaker came up making low budget movies with an emphasis on body horror. In the eighties, he achieved a level of mainstream success with movies like The Dead Zone and a remake of The Fly. Although according to Cronenberg, he’s never been mainstream. He also insists that most of his movies, despite their sometimes disturbing imagery, have comedic elements. At the time of this interview from the January/February 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, Cronenberg was discussing his latest movie, an adaptation of the novel, Naked Lunch.
In the first half of our action/sci-fi portion of this bracket we dealt with dangerous, and even deadly situations, but today’s competitors contain some true horror elements that shocked and frightened audiences on a much deeper level. Both films were not just hits at the box office, but generally admired by critics and cinephiles, taking home a little bit of Oscar gold when awards season rolled around. The Fly won a statuette for its amazing and horrifying makeup effects, while Aliens grabbed two wins for its sound and special effects. Both films have also aged reasonably well due in part to those award-winning special effects and the genuinely emotional reactions they produce when you sit through them.
I have long considered myself a fan of director David Cronenberg. So I was surprised to realize that I had never seen one of his better known early films, Videodrome. It’s not like I was unaware of Videodrome. To the contrary, I was always kind of fascinated with it. But somehow, I never got around to actually watching the thing.