Gene Wilder – A World of Pure Imagination

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Gene Wilder Dies at age 83

Time reversed itself for a moment when I heard the news of Gene Wilder’s passing due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. He’s been a part of my life since “Willy Wonka”and his spirit helped me through the challenging and uncertain days of my fight against Colon and Breast Cancer.

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Last year I wrote about Gene Wilder on my Livinginthemoment2015.com blog as I began chemotherapy for Colon Cancer and how his role in one of my favorite films,”Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” influenced my attitude toward treatment.

Throughout my cancer journey, I was constantly inspired by Wonka’s belief that all things are possible with imagination, whatever your dream may be. What a great philosophy and attitude to keep joy and a positive spirit in your life.

It was “lightning in a bottle” when Wilder teamed up with the brilliant, writer, producer, actor and director Mel Brooks. Their collaboration cemented our “love affair” and would lead to the hilarious and very political comedy-western, “Blazing Saddles” (1974), in which Brooks also starred. This film is an all-time favorite at my house and it’s not unusual for me and my husband to break out in quotes from the movie as we reflect back on the film with fondness.

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The Waco Kid

 

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“Mongo only pawn in game of life.”

I break out in uncontrollable laughter at just the thought of “Young Frankenstein”.

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The next Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder collaboration, “Young Frankenstein” (1974) was pure genius. I’m an old Universal horror fan and the accuracy of integrating all the Frankenstein films with humor was unforgettable and an incredible tribute to the franchise.

“Puttin’ on the Ritz”

Baron Von Frankenstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilder aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.” Mr. Wilder was an accomplished stage actor as well as a screenwriter, a novelist and the director of four movies in which he starred. (He directed, he once said, “in order to protect what I wrote, which I wrote in order to act.”)

“Bonnie and Clyde” 1967

He made his movie debut in 1967 in Arthur Penn’s celebrated crime drama, “Bonnie and Clyde,” in which he was memorably hysterical as an undertaker kidnapped by the notorious Depression-era bank robbers played by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. He was even more hysterical, and even more memorable, a year later in “The Producers,” the first film by Mr. Brooks, who later turned it into a Broadway hit. (New York Times)

 

Although his light has dimmed his spirit will live on forever. R.I.P.

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Red Pill or Blue? What Do You Do?

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Everyone pretty much knows that I’m a movie junkie and often look at my life like a movie. I believe we see ourselves in the films we connect with the most.

That worldview started me thinking, what movie best represents you or your life philosophy?

For me, it’s “The Matrix”. Why? The reason is most of the time I feel like we live in some sort of twilight zone. That “The Matrix” deludes us into believing what is projected on us and some of us choose to be in blissful ignorance rather than deal with the truth.

Which pill would you take; the Red or The Blue?

If presented with the knowledge you seek to change your life, would you?

For me, movies aren’t just movies. They represent a belief, vision, or point of view. Does art imitate life or vice versa? Cinema itself is a projection of a journey the filmmaker wants us to take.

Written and directed by The Wachowskis, and starring Keanu Reeves, “The Matrix” (1999) depicts a dystopian future in which reality, as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “The Matrix”. It was created by machines endowed with feelings and unstructured consciousness to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source.

 

Computer programmer “Neo” learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world”. (Wikipedia)

With this premise, the filmmakers have set up and manipulated us to absorb and confront the possibilities of this hellish world. This alternate space is really a metaphor for the choices we are faced with daily. Knowing the truth, what do we do? Use that information to change what is or choose to be a sleepwalker through life?

 

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This is the reason why I love film. The good ones provoke introspective thought and conversation. Something we are in desperate need of today.

 

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“God bless us, everyone.” Quotable Closing Lines

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I can appreciate there are those who don’t like Top 10 lists but I tend to enjoy them because of getting to find out the favorites of fellow film lovers. Also, reminiscing about my best-loved movies that perhaps I haven’t thought about for a while.

 

 

Closing lines can serve as punctuation, the cherry on top. They can also, wrap up the film. One-liners that recall the movie all over again. Often times these are the quotes we remember most and become representative of the movie’s theme.

There are way too many movies to choose from so these are just a sampling that made this particular list. I love the Top 2 but as I was watching so many other films came to mind.

Please, let me know in the comments some of your best quotes. I’m looking forward to reading them.

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Spoiler Alert: I make it a point to never reveal a film’s ending because it’s a matter of courtesy. Don’t spoil the movie!

 

Although not closing, a few choice quotes:

Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator (1940)

Peter Lorre – Maltese Falcon (1941)

 

Colin Clive -Frankenstein (1931)

 

Wallace Shawn – Princess Bride (1987)

 

Paul Reubens- Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

 

Clevon Little – Blazing Saddles (1974)

Dr. Strangelove or Lovin’ da Bomb! – Ugh😈

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents

Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Sony Pictures Entertainment present on the big screen the Stanley Kubrick classic:

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Bursting into cinemas nationwide for a special two-day event Sunday, September 18 and Wednesday, September 21.

With exclusive commentary from Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz that helps decipher the many layers of satire in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece.

 

Peter Sellers is at his over the top best with his performance as nutcase Dr. Strangelove.(and a few other characters) A wheelchair-bound nuclear scientist with bizarre ideas about man’s future. The entire war room scene totally represents the lunacy of nuclear war.

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Columbia Pictures agreed to finance the film if Peter Sellers played at least four major roles. The condition stemmed from the studio’s opinion that much of the success of Kubrick’s previous film Lolita (1962) was based on Sellers’s performance in which his single character assumes a number of identities.

Peter Sellers as – President Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove, and Captain Lionel Mandrake

Sellers is said to have improvised much of his dialogue, with Kubrick incorporating the ad-libs into the written screenplay so the improvised lines became part of the official screenplay.

Dr. Strangelove is a 1964 political satire black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the USSR and the USA. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, stars Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, and features Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, and Slim Pickens. The film is loosely based on Peter George‘s thriller novel Red Alert. (Wikipedia)

 

Awards and honors

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and also seven BAFTA Awards, of which it won four.

Kubrick won two awards for best director, from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, and was nominated for one by the Directors Guild of America.

In 1989 the United States Library of Congress included it in the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was listed as number three on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list.

Slim Pickens

Ye Ha! Slim Pickens as Aircraft commander Major T. J. “King” Kong riding the bomb down.

Check with your local theater for showtimes or click here to buy tickets online.

 

 

Memories of Drive-In Movies📽🍿🌭🚘

Once upon a time an inventive movie fan and a sales manager from Camden, New Jersey came up with the genius idea of providing film loving motorists with a way to park their cars, bring their blankie, pillow, and favorite snacks while wearing their comfy PJs and watch movies in the comfort of their own automobiles.

 

Reportedly, inspired by his mother’s struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Richard Hollingshead, subsequently came up with this concept of an open-air theater.

First drive-in theater, Camden, New Jersey, 1933

Hollingshead conducted outdoor theater tests in his driveway by nailing a screen to trees in his backyard and setting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car. He put a radio behind the screen and tested different sound levels with his car windows down and up.

The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000. He advertised his drive-in theater with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” The first film shown was the Adolphe Menjou film Wife Beware. (History.com)

Classic drive-in Intermission Ads

Even though Hollingshead’s theater failed to make a profit, the concept did catch on nationwide and reached its peak in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. (Wikipedia)

Among its advantages was the fact that a family could bring their children while watching a movie and teenagers with access to autos found drive-ins ideal for more private dates. (private, eh?) 😉

Classic googie architecture at this Ohio drive-in

These flicks are hilarious.😄 Welcome to the drive-ins of the 1950’s and 1960’s

Though not as many, drive-in theaters still survive today. I’ve always thought the drive-in was a really cool idea. It could be a communal experience with patrons hanging out by their vehicles, children playing and young couples just trying to get a little privacy.

Over 80 years of B-movie fun and a great way to enjoy a leisurely Saturday night.

 

 

 

The ultimate road trip movie!

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Thelma and Louise (1991)

25th Anniversary

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Sunday, August 21 and Wednesday, August 24

What do you get when you pair a bored housewife and a straight-laced waitress at a coffee shop who are best friends sick of what they’ve settled for in a moment of spontaneity deciding to escape the tedium of their everyday lives?

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Fathom Events, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Park Circus invite you to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Thelma & Louise when it returns to select cinemas nationwide for a special two-day event on Sunday, August 21 and Wednesday, August 24 – 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (local time)

Featuring a special introduction from film critic Ben Lyons talking about the legacy of Thelma & Louise and why, after 25 years, it is still considered the ultimate road trip movie.

Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American road film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri. It’s a story about best friends taking control of their lives and accepting the consequences; changing the outcome of the two-day vacation intended to take a break from their dreary lives.

When you think about it, Thelma (Susan Sarandon) and Louise (Geena Davis) invented the selfie. Susan Sarandon explained she thought her character would be the type to keep a record of their travels, so she improvised the moment. And what about Brad Pitt? What a way to make a splash on the movie scene!

Simon says everybody down on the floor!

Although power hasn’t really changed in Hollywood, Thelma and Louise was a very empowering female liberation film. I never give away endings but at the time I felt wow, finally a real kickass conclusion versus the candy coated type we usually get.

The film became a critical and commercial success, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning one for Best Original Screenplay for Khouri. Scott was nominated for Best Director, and both Sarandon and Davis were nominated for Best Actress.

At its release, the movie stirred controversy. At the intersection of several genres, it is now considered a classic, influenced other films and artistic works, and became a landmark of feminist film. (Wikipedia)

It’s a perfect movie for an ultimate girl’s night out so grab your friends and don’t miss seeing this classic on the big screen!

 

For tickets: Thelma and Louise

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Let’s Get This Party Started!

The opening title sequence of a movie should invoke the tone of the film, grab your attention and create the anticipation of what’s to come. I recently did a post on most memorable film trailers and now I’m offering up some of the most memorable opening titles.

Vertigo (1958)

 

Alfred Hitchcock is the “master of suspense” for a myriad of reasons and this opening sequence created by Saul Bass, graphic designer, and Academy Award-winning filmmaker is an epic example of setting the tone and anticipation of what’s to come.

Hitchcock hints at the relationship between James Stewart and Kim Novak by opening on James Stewart’s name above Kim Novak’s lips transitioning into her eyes and the swirling sensation of vertigo. In addition, the beautifully haunting theme music of Bernard Herrmann perfectly sets the suspenseful mood of the film.

Casino Royale (2006)

The poster shows Daniel Craig as James Bond, wearing a business suit with a loose tie and holding a gun. Behind him is a silhouette of a woman showing a building with a sign reading "Casino Royale" and a dark grey Aston Martin DBS below the building. At the bottom left of the image is the title "Casino Royale" – both "O"s stand above each other, and below them is a 7 with a trigger and gun barrel, forming Bond's codename: "Agent 007" – and the credits.

It’s always dicey when you try to recast an iconic treasure like James Bond. Sean Connery was the only Bond I recognized (although Pierce Brosnan definitely held his own) so, when Daniel Craig was announced to fill Connery’s spot, I was definitely skeptical but quickly became a huge Daniel Craig fan. I think he did a great job of bringing just the right amount of attitude, style, and hotness necessary to carry on the franchise.

Casino Royale introduces James Bond before he holds his license to kill through his transition into his 007 status. The opening theme song by Chris Cornell (then-former lead singer of Soundgarden and former lead singer of Audioslave), adds the perfect punctuation with his title song – “You Know My Name!”

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Official poster shows the titular hero Deadpool standing in front of the viewers, with hugging his hands, and donning his traditional black and red suit and mask, and the film's name, credits and billing below him.

One of the coolest, funniest, most irreverent sequences I think I’ve ever seen are the opening titles for one of my new favorite movies, “Deadpool” (2016).

I call Deadpool the anti-Marvel film because its tone goes against the grain of a typical Marvel movie. Ryan Reynolds was hil-a-ri-ous! Although there was plenty of action, Reynold’s deadpan comedy changed the attitude of the film and was priceless. Talked friends into watching who aren’t Marvel fans and after it was over, loved it and said it was totally not what they expected. If you haven’t, give it a chance. I think you’ll enjoy it.

These are just of few of my favorites. Let me know in the comments those that make your list.

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A Century of Black Filmmakers🎞

PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA

Directed by Richard Norman, Richard Maurice, Spencer Williams and Oscar Micheaux

This collection of the works of America’s legendary first African-American filmmakers is the only one of its kind. Funded in part by a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, the packaged set includes no fewer than a dozen feature-length films and nearly twice as many shorts and rare fragments. Subject matter includes race issues that went unaddressed by Hollywood for decades.

Spencer Williams Films

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Spencer Williams

Spencer Williams (July 14, 1893 – December 13, 1969) was an American actor and filmmaker. He was best known for playing Andy in the Amos ‘n Andy television show and for directing the 1941 race film “The Blood of Jesus”. Williams was a pioneer African-American film producer and director. (Wikipedia)

The Pioneers of African-American Cinema collection includes new digital restorations of over a dozen feature films, plus shorts, fragments, trailers, documentary footage, archival interviews, and audio recordings.

This clip is a scene from Richard Maurice’s ELEVEN P.M. (circa 1928). It is regarded by historian Henry T. Sampson as one of the most outstanding black films of the silent era and is Maurice’s second and only surviving film.

Eleven P. M is one of more than a dozen feature films showcased in Kino Lorber’s five-disc collection PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA, now available at KinoLorber.com and Amazon.com. Music is by Rob Gal. Mastered from 35mm film elements preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Devereaux Micheaux (January 2, 1884 – March 25, 1951) was an African American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 films. Although the short-lived Micheaux Book & Film Company produced some films, he is regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker, the most successful African-American filmmaker of the first half of the 20th century and the most prominent producer of race films. He produced both silent films and sound films when the industry changed to incorporate speaking actors. (Wikipedia)

These films and filmmakers deserve to be remembered, honored and explored. Their contributions play a significant role in the development of the American cinema.

For more on the history of African-American Cinema:

 

Toga, Toga!🍻

TCM Big Screen Classics

This joint venture with Fathom Events is an outstanding movie series and a great opportunity to check out some tried and true gems on the big screen! Even though we have the convenience of DVDs and streaming, nothing beats the experience of sitting in the dark and enjoying a great film with fellow movie lovers.

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And an excellent film that fits the bill is the 1978 comedy “Animal House”.

 Presented by Fathom Events

Let’s head back to college with John Belushi and the gang in this raucous, and hilarious film packed with completely uncivilized frat parties, food fights, togas, and lots of fun!

National Lampoon’s Animal House:

August 14th & August 17th

School’s out for the summer, so why not break all the rules? The Deltas did and now they’re battling Dean Wormer. Whose side are you on? The uncivilized frat boys or the administration of Faber College?

The screenplay was adapted by Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller, and Harold Ramis from stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon magazine, the stories were based on the writers’ college experience in fraternities.

“Animal House” was the first film produced by National Lampoon, the most popular humor magazine on college campuses in the mid-1970s. The periodical specialized in humor and satirized politics and popular culture. Many of the magazine’s writers were recent college graduates, hence their appeal to students all over the country. (Wikipedia)

Being a college student in the mid-1970’s, I loved reading National Lampoon. The humor was totally off the wall. An all time favorite magazine cover was entitled: “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” including a gun to the dog’s head. (told you it was off the wall and sometimes totally inappropriate😳 )

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Cover of the infamous “Death” issue in January 1973.

Thanks to “Animal House”, toga parties became one of the favorite college campus happenings during 1978 and 1979. In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in theNational Film Registry.


Coming Soon To a Theater Near You!

60th Anniversary

Whether you’re a Yul Brener fan or just a push over for a love story, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical classic,”The King and I” celebrates its 60th anniversary and is the next film in the series.

Premiering Aug. 28th & Aug. 30th.

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I’ll keep you posted on the upcoming films.

Nothing But My Favorite Trailers🎬

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I was working on a post the other day and the TV show Nothing but Trailers was on in the background. It got me thinking about some of my all-time favorites and what constitutes a great trailer.

First of all, it can’t just be a series of scenes from the movie. That really irks me! What’s the point of me going if you’ve already given me your best shots? Just lazy.

An excellent trailer peaks your curiosity gets your heart stirring and demands that you’re first in line to see it. An incredible trailer gives you minimal information but builds the anticipation with atmospheric music, punctuation shots, and an ending that elicits the core emotion of the film.

This is the criteria I applied to the following trailers and is the basis for them being some of the most memorable.

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Number One has got to be the 1979 sci-fi classic – Alien. “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Starring Sigourney Weaver, director Ridley Scott scared the crap out of me and the little boy sitting in front of me at the theater. Oh, and to make matters worse, I was pregnant at the time. Yikes! (if you’ve seen it you understand, if you haven’t, what?? You must!) And my girl Sigourney Weaver showed the world what a badass woman in space looks like.

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Sigourney Weaver

This is the epitome of an incredible trailer. Little bits and moments and truly haunting music. My heart was racing and I had no idea of what I’d just seen.

The visuals were outstanding! There was absolutely nothing familiar in the images coming off the screen. The Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger. (I don’t know how he slept with those images in his head) The film received both critical acclaim and box office success, receiving an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

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Number Two is the sci-fi thriller –The Dark Knight (2008) – “Why So Serious?”

First of all, Heath Ledger. Second of all, Heath Ledger!! Even in the trailer, his intensity shines thru. He draws you in and you’re compelled to see more. His Oscar-winning performance was incredible and the most talked about that year.

Ledger almost made a complete sweep of over twenty awards for acting, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Heath Ledger

Unfortunately, we lost him, but his genius as The Joker lives on. Starring Christian Bale as the caped crusader and directed by Christopher Nolan, when I saw this trailer I knew where I was going to be on opening night. Totally lived up to the hype.

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Last, but certainly not least of this compilation is the original master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s – Psycho (1960) “…she just goes a little mad sometimes.”

This trailer shows Alfred Hitchcock taught the world just how horror is done. Fits every criterion for an incredible movie trailer and then some. Starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, my heart is racing right now re-visiting this magnificent piece of cinema.

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Sir Alfred Hitchcock – (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980)

Hitch’s stylistic trademarks include the use of camera movement that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. In addition, he framed shots to maximize anxiety, fear, or empathy and used innovative forms of film editing. (Wikipedia)

To quote me, “An incredible trailer gives you minimal information but builds the anticipation with atmospheric music, punctuation shots, and an ending that elicits the core emotion of the film.”

An unquestionable classic!

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Now that I’ve shared some of my faves, I’d love to hear some of yours! 😎

 

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