Jason Sudeikis turns 42 today. He began his career working in improv comedy, first with ComedySportz in Kansas City, then with a variety of other comedy troupes across the country. In 2003 he was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live, and was added to the show’s regular performing cast two years later, remaining through 2013. His regular sketches and characters included DJ Supersoak, Pete Twinkie, the ESPN host, and performing with Kristen Wiig in the “Two A-holes” sketches.
During his SNL year, Sudeikis also had recurring roles on 30 Rock and Eastbound & Down, and was a regular, as a voice actor, on The Cleveland Show. He began to get prominent film roles around 2010, with major supporting roles in The Bounty Hunter, the Horrible Bosses films, and The Campaign. His first leading role came in We’re the Millers in 2013.
In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.
When I set this task for myself, there were obviously some of the included films that I had already seen and there were some others which I had yet to experience. Of the latter group, my anticipation in tackling them has varied for a range of reasons. A movie like For Whom the Bell Tolls comes with its own attached literary and historical interests beyond the content of the actual film. Meanwhile, something like Tarzan the Fearless was an opportunity to consider a character whose wild popularity has mostly dissipated in the intervening years. This time around, the primary interest was in getting an additional look at a legendary film actress: one Great Garbo.
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Former teen idol Frankie Avalon turns 76 or 77 today (sources disagree about whether he was born in 1939 or 1940). Avalon was playing backup trumpet in a Philadelphia area band when he was discovered by producer Bob Marcucci. Before long the young man was churning out hits; over thirty charted singles from about 1958-62. His first #1 single may be the song most closely associated with him: