Legendary Director of “The Birdcage” Dies

  Mike Nichols, Acclaimed Director of ‘The Graduate,’ Dies at 83

mike nichols-master675

(November 6, 1931 – November 19, 2014)

New York (AP) Mike Nichols, one of America’s most celebrated directors, died on Wednesday from cardiac arrest. He was married to ABC’s news anchor Diane Sawyer. The family will hold a private service this week; a memorial will be held at a later date.

Dryly urbane, Mr. Nichols had a gift for communicating with actors and a keen comic timing, which he honed early in his career as half of the popular sketch comedy team Nichols and May. In films like “The Graduate,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Carnal Knowledge” and in comedies and dramas on stage, he accomplished what Orson Welles and Elia Kazan but few if any other directors have: achieving popular and artistic success in both film and theater. He was among the most decorated people in the history of show business, one of only a dozen or so to have won an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy.

For more of his legacy click here:

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/21/obituaries/mike-nichols-celebrated-director-dies-at-83.html?emc=edit_na_20141120

 

R.I.P.

 

My absolute favorite of his films!

 

The Birdcage (1996)

 

What’s not to love about this film? Starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane the pairing is perfect and the performances are brilliant!

Here’s the plot:

Meet Armand, Albert and their son Val who’s engaged to Barbara Keeley and the rip-roaring evening when their families meet.

Val’s father, Armand, owns The Birdcage, a drag club in South Beach. His domestic partner is Albert, who appears regularly as “Starina”, the show’s star drag queen. Barbara’s father is ultraconservative Republican Senator Kevin Keeley of Stow, Ohio. He is up for reelection and is also co-founder of the “Coalition for Moral Order”.

Fearing the Keeleys reaction if they learn the truth about Val’s parents, Barbara tells her parents that Armand is a cultural attaché to Greece, that Albert is a housewife, and that they divide their time between Greece and Florida; she also changes the family’s last name from Goldman to Coleman to hide their Jewish background.

What could go wrong?

Based on the 1973 stage play by Jean Poiret and the 1978 French-Italian film la Cage aux Folles co-written and directed by Édouard Molinaro; it starred Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault. In Italian, it is known as Il vizietto. An excellent flick definitely worth checking out.

 

Love the scene with Renaldo teaching Albin to act “straight.”  La Cage vs. Birdcage. What do you think?

(Sorry, no subtitles for the trailer but they are available on the DVD)

 

The Birdcage pays homage but definitely brings its own attitude and flair.

 

the Birdcage_imp

 

 

And Hank Azaria as Agador Spartacus is too hilarious!!!!

 

Directed by

Mike Nichols

Produced by

Mike Nichols

Neil A. Machlis

Screenplay by

Elaine May

Based on

La Cage aux Folles

by Jean Poiret

Francis Veber

Starring

Robin Williams

Gene Hackman

Nathan Lane

Dianne Wiest

Music by

Stephen Sondheim

Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki

Edited by

Arthur Schmidt

Production

company

Nichols Film Company

Distributed by

United Artists

Release dates

  • March 8, 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Rain 30th Surprise!

Prince’s landmark soundtrack and film – Purple Rain turned 30 this week.  Prince marked the occasion with a surprise concert at his Paisley Park compound in Minneapolis.  For me, it brought back memories of the energy and excitement in the theater on opening day.  The movie had all the buzz of a true concert experience.  It so rocked I brought my husband back for the midnight showing!

 

Purple Rain poster

Purple Rain 1984

“Let’s Go Crazy, Let’s Get Nuts, look for the purple banana ’til they put us in the truck.”  Let’s Go!!

Okay, you got me, I’m in!

 My weekly movie matinee ritual was turned on his head as Prince and the Revolution along with Morris Day and the Time deconstructed and reconstructed the movie musical genre.  From the very first cord we were plugged into a musical score that would impact the direction of Pop music.

Prince went on to win the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song Score.  And also walked away with a Grammy for Best Album of Instrumental Score written for a Motion Picture.

 

Directed by Albert Magnoli
Starring Prince
Apollonia Kotero
Morris Day
Clarence Williams III
Olga Karlatos

The Kid (Prince) struggles to mediate his parents dysfunctional relationship while dealing with his own tenuous one with the new honey in town, the aspiring singer Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero).

A cherry on top for The Kid is the kick butt love token Apollonia bestows on him, that super sweet white guitar!

Prince Apollonia white guitar

The music moves the story line along and reveals the shifting dynamics between The Kid and Apollonia.  The budding romance, “Take me with You” and the darker side of The Kid “Darling Nikki.”

The Kid and Morris Day and The Time duke it out onstage with licks like -“The Beautiful Ones” and “Jungle Love.”   It turned 1st Avenue, in Minneapolis into a landmark and music mecca.

Exciting, rocking, sexy Prince, there is no other!   The concert numbers totally made the film.  These were my top faves:

Let’s Go Crazy – Prince and The Revolution
Jungle Love – Morris Day and The Time
Purple Rain – Prince and The Revolution
I Would Die 4 U – Prince and The Revolution

Check this funky, fresh version of “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Prince with 3rdEye Girl 2013 Billboard Music Awards

 

I’ve gotta talk about Morris Day and the Time.  I love Morris Day!  Both cool and hilarious.  And  I can’t leave out my man Jerome (Jerome Benton) ever ready with the car door or a jumbo size mirror.  Here’s Morris Day and Jerome’s take on the classic routine “Whose on First?”made famous by the 40’s comedy duo Abbott and Costello.

I wish I could have been at Prince’s Paisley Park for the June 29th celebration!  Being a die-hard Prince fan and having attended all his concert tours, I’m sure it was an amazing evening.  Also, his very special guest turned out to be his Purple Rain co-star, Apollonia Kotero.  (would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall for that reunion:)

Prince graciously posted this audio from his late-night surprise concert with 3rdEye Girl:

Enjoy!

Ruby Dee, actress and civil rights activist dies at 91.

Ruby DeeRuby Dee 

October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014

Screen, stage legend Ruby Dee’s grace, talent and determination epitomized the significance of art and politics in the progress of our society.

Probably best known for her co-starring role in the film A Raisin in the Sun (1961) she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for American Gangster (2007) and the recipient of Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild Award and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.  She also received the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors.  She was married to actor Ossie Davis until his death in 2005.

Lorraine Hansberry – Playwright “A Raisin in the Sun” which highlights the lives of an African American family in racially segregated Chicago.