Billy Crystal is turning 70 today. He graduated from NYU in 1970, one of the very long list of NYU alumni in film and television (he graduated one year before Christopher Guest and Oliver Stone). He worked regularly as a comedian, and began making TV guest appearances in the mid-seventies. In 1977, he landed his first major role, as Jodie Dallas on Soap (one of the first gay regular characters on American television). In the late 1980s he became a major presence in film, starring in comedies like Running Scared and Throw Momma From the Train, and with Meg Ryan in the rom-com When Harry Met Sally. One of his most remembered parts from this period was a cameo, as a miracle man.
We are kicking off the second round of our Movies of 1988 bracket game with two sublimely silly comedies about con men and criminals who are constantly trying to get one over on each other. Both A Fish Called Wanda and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels feature dim Americans pitted against sophisticated Europeans and the culture clash that results generates a lot of laughs. As does the ridiculous physical comedy. While both movies are smart, neither shies away from low-brow humor. As we keep saying, 1988 was a great year for comedy. But there’s only room for one intercontinental caper comedy in the final four. Which one will it be?
What do Dangerous Liaisons and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels have in common beyond being released three decades ago? More than you might think. Both movies are set in France. They were both adaptations (Liaisons is based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and Scoundrels is a remake of Bedtime Stories). And both movies center on characters who lie to each other. There was also a real life dangerous liaison which crossed over to the cast of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but I will get to that after the jump.
Our two headliners today were both born on this date in 1933 and are celebrating their 84th birthdays. In 2013, there was some kind of big joint 80th birthday celebration for the two where at least a few photographs were taken, such as this one where they are seen with, if I am not mistaken, Whoopi Goldberg and Stevie Wonder.
Sir Michael Caine is one of three actors to have been nominated for an acting Oscar in five different decades (the others are named Nicholson and Olivier). He began acting in British film and television in the fifties, but did not really attract a lot of notice until 1964’s Zulu, which he followed with starring roles in The Ipcress File (and two sequels), Alfie (Oscar nomination #1), Gambit (his first American film), and The Italian Job. That’s just naming a few—Caine has always worked a lot.
After that first Oscar nomination for Alfie, Caine was subsequently nominated for the 1972 film Sleuth, for Educating Rita, for Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters (his first win), for The Cider House Rules (second win), and most recently for The Quiet American. Many here probably know him as Alfred Pennyworth from the Dark Knight Trilogy, or his other films with Christopher Nolan. Others may think of Get Carter, or Secondhand Lions, or something else from his extremely diverse filmography. Personally, I will always remember him as Peachy Carnahan in The Man Who Would Be King:
Somehow it seems it is already December! Where did 2014 go? But the tree is up and we’re counting down to Christmas again. Last month, we had a lot of fun with a Saturday Night Live bracket game which tied into the Chevy Chase episode of our podcast. So for December, we’re bringing the brackets back with a holiday spin which will also tie into a very special Christmas episode of Lebeau’s Le Show.