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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.
Funny how powerful nostalgia can be, even when it’s not for something that’s directly your own. In the case of George Lucas’ 1973 film American Graffiti, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the characters themselves are pretty darned sentimental to begin with. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) and Steve (Ron Howard) are recent high school graduates on their last night at home before they’re supposed to fly away to college and the film as a whole serves as an inspection of transitions personally and societally. Set in 1962, this is a movie full of people who have not yet heard of The Beatles and are still playing out the routines and styles that had been established in the late 1950s. Enough so, that if you ask a bunch of people who haven’t seen the movie for a while, they probably think it’s set earlier than it is. Let’s investigate the unique sentimentality and nostalgia of a movie that was actually pretty revolutionary for its time.
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Pretend you are a high powered Hollywood producer. The year is 1992 – a time when movie stars mattered. If you wanted to open a hit movie, you needed an A-list leading man. In order to attract top-tier talent, deals were being struck that included ever-increasing pay days for a select group of movie stars. In the July 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, they looked at who was earning six million dollars or more per picture and asked, are they worth it? Some of these guys may have been. Some, in retrospect, definitely weren’t . With the benefit of a quarter century of hindsight, let’s sort out who belongs in which group.
Cameron Crowe is turning 60 today. He graduated from high school at 15 and had already begun to establish himself as a writer; he soon was the youngest person on the staff of Rolling Stone. He was able to get interviews with, and do stories on, a number of big acts of the 1970s. He then spent a year “undercover” at a San Diego area high school, which he used as the basis for the book and screenplay Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He then wrote the screenplay for The Wild Life, after which he was able to get support from filmmaker James L. Brooks for his first directing effort, a movie that is now considered one of the classics among teen romances, if not all romances.
Mention Harrison Ford’s name to anyone who has ever had to interview him and you should get an interesting response. The infamously private actor is very upfront about the fact that he doesn’t like talking to the press. Lawrence Grobel was well aware of Ford’s reputation when he interviewed him for the cover story of the July 1997 issue of Movieline magazine. His solution to the question of how to get the actor to open up was to ask him a series of off-beat questions.
In 1990, Alec Baldwin originated the character of Jack Ryan in the hit thriller, The Hunt For Red October. Paramount was eager to continue the series based on Tom Clancy’s novels. But they were less enthusiastic over the prospects of working with Baldwin. When the actor played hardball with the studio, Paramount was all too happy to replace Baldwin with a bigger star in Harrison Ford. Clancy was a vocal critic of the casting, but Aussie director Phillip Noyce (who would go on to direct Ford again in Clear and Present Danger) had nothing but praise for his Patriot Games star in this interview from the June 1992 issue of Movieline magazine.
The 1995 Style issue of Movieline included a look at five Hollywood fashion plates. Unfortunately, the photos that accompanied this article were not archived. I tried to make up for that a bit with some fashionable pictures of the five stars covered here, but the piece definitely loses something without the photographic trip through celebrity fashion. Still, it’s worth taking a peek at who Movieline thought was worth mentioning for their fashion sense midway through the decade.
Han Solo and Jean-Luc Picard share a birthday. Or if you prefer, Indiana Jones and Professor X. No matter how you slice it, some iconic movie heroes will likely be blowing out candles today.
Today, as Harrison Ford reprises his role as Han Solo for the first time in over 30 years, let’s take a look at an interview from Movieline magazine from December of 1995. At the time, Ford had recently been named “Star of the Century” and he was promoting his somewhat risky move into romantic comedy, a remake of the Audrey Hepburn movie, Sabrina.
Very few movie heroes are as iconic as Indiana Jones. Many movie fans will quickly name the Indy movies as one of their favorite film series of all times. And yet, most of the Indiana Jones movies aren’t very good. Let’s rank them and see how things shake out.
Welcome to the second round of our bracket game celebrating the absolute best the movies had to offer during the 1970s! As someone who was in elementary school at the end of the decade, I have had to catch up on most of these films on home video, but even the move to the small screen cannot blunt the impact of such strong storytelling. During this round, I will be focusing on one great scene from each film and will share my thoughts about what those scenes mean, why they are great, or how they were executed. Then you get to whittle down our field a little by voting on your favorite!
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