“Batman” ūüé¨ Small Screen to Big Screen

I’ve been a tv and movie junkie since I was a kid and the intersection of movies and television got me thinking about what tv shows successfully made the leap to the big screen. In my previous post, I celebrated the 50th Anniversary of “Batman”– the classic 60’s ¬†tv series. The eventual Warner Bros movie franchise that resulted made “Batman” one of the most accomplished superhero series to make that leap.

In 1989, Tim Burton set about the challenge of ¬†retooling the DC Comics superhero, “Batman” – this update veered away from the “campy” Adam West version and set in motion the money-making Warner Bros Batman films, most notably the “Dark Knight” trilogy.

Batman Keaton

I remember being in the grocery store when “Batman” (1989) premiered. Standing in line overhearing the chit chat, some people were truly upset that the Keaton movie was nothing like the tv series. They wanted the “pow” and “bam” of the William Dozier inception. I didn’t say anything but my husband is a comic book geek so I knew the real story and it was nothing like the “dynamic duo” of Adam West and Burt Ward. The 60’s classic was based on light-hearted portrayals and over the top villains. The real “Batman” is so far from campy it’s funny.

batman tv effects

The film, directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters¬†was based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.’ initial Batman film series. It¬†stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, alongside Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance. The plot is more closely aligned with¬†the comic book as Batman, widely believed to be an urban legend goes to war with a rising criminal mastermind known as “the Joker” (Nicholson).

I felt Keaton brought a vulnerability to the role while focusing on the conflict within.¬†I remember reading an article about Michael Keaton speaking to Jack Nicholson on how to approach the character. Jack being Jack told Keaton to let the mask do the work. Following Nicholson’s advice, Keaton played with his voice’s lower register so the character’s intensity was amplified.

batmankeaton2

Michael Keaton as Batman (1989)

Director Tim Burton did a tremendous job bringing the “Batman series” back to life. The atmospheric presence of Gotham City created the perfect backdrop for the conflict between “good” vs “evil”. Along with Nicholson providing the maniacal humor,”Batman” couldn’t help but be a hit!

batman gotham city

Gotham City

“Batman” was one of the first films to spawn two soundtracks. One of them featured songs written by Prince while the other showcased Danny Elfman’s score. Both were extremely successful. Prince’s soundtrack album was No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart for six consecutive weeks. It has sold over eleven million copies worldwide.

Prince

Prince

Burton explained the theme, “the whole film and mythology of the character is a complete duel of the freaks. It’s a fight between two disturbed people”, adding that “The Joker is such a great character because there’s a complete freedom to him. Any character who operates on the outside of society and is deemed a freak and an outcast then has the freedom to do what they want… They are the darker sides of freedom. Insanity is in some scary way the most freedom you can have¬†because you’re not bound by the laws of society”.¬†(Wikipedia)

batmannicholson

Jack Nicholson as the “Joker”

The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by¬† Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns.¬†Batman was a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. It was the fifth-highest grossing film in history at the time of its release. The film received several Saturn Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination¬†and won an Academy Award.

The American Film Institute anointed Batman the 46th greatest movie hero and the Joker the 45th greatest movie villain on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains.¬†In 2008, Batman was selected by Empire magazine as number 458 of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

batman1989press

“Batman” initiated the original Batman film series and spawned three sequels: Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997); the latter two of which were directed by Joel Schumacher instead of Burton, and replaced Keaton as Batman with Val Kilmer and George Clooney, respectively.

batmanall

Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Killmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale

Personally, I feel the franchise wasn’t fully formed until “Batman Begins” (2005) with Christian Bale as the “dark knight”. This and the subsequent sequels delved even deeper into the dark and intense storyline of Bruce Wayne and his inner demons.

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins¬†was co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan¬†and starred¬†Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, and¬†Morgan Freeman. The film reboots the Batman film series, telling the origin story of the title character (Bale), from his, alter ego Bruce Wayne’s initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, and his journey to become Batman. (Wikipedia)

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and three BAFTA awards. It is followed by The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in a continual story-arc, which has later been referred to as The Dark Knight Trilogy. Many consider “Batman Begins” to be one of the best superhero films of its decade.

The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 (with Bale reprising his role in both films) earned over $1 billion worldwide, making “Batman” the second film franchise (and to date one of only five) to have two of its films earn more than $1 billion worldwide.

Well, I’m totally into this franchise and never miss a new installment in the series. Christian Bale is the man, he’s managed to capture Batman’s intensity with such vigor that the deeper he plunges, the deeper the journey we take with him.

If it’s Sunday, breakout the hankies!

Cinema sign

Melodrama Sunday Movie Classics

In a previous post I talked about maybe being a little anal about the rules for Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie watching. I shared my rules for Saturday afternoon movie viewing which is B-horror and science fiction. I also shared 3 of my favorite flicks. The Blob (1958), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and The Tingler (1959). (hope you check ’em out)

So, for Part 2 I’m showcasing Sunday and my criteria for some great classic melodrama.

I love melodramas because they can be so over the top and cathartic (think movie therapy) and there’s no better day to¬†indulge¬†than on a lazy Sunday, vegging on the couch, better yet if it’s a rainy day.

According to dictionary.com:

Melodrama – Exaggerated and emotional or sentimental, sensational or sensationalized: over dramatic.

Bette Davis is my favorite Melodrama Diva! Talk about emotional and dramatic, she had those attitudes down pat. With her I find myself either talking back to my TV screen or weeping. (this is why rain helps) So, let’s find out about “The First Lady of the American Screen:

Bette Davis

Bette Davis color

¬†Ruth Elizabeth Davis (April 5, 1908 ‚Äď October 6, 1989) known as Bette Davis

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ms. Davis is regarded as one of the¬†greatest¬†actors in cinema history. Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences¬†and¬†won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice. She was also the first person to receive 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. With more than 100 films, television and theater roles to her credit, in 1999, Davis placed second on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Bette was known for her no-nonsense, no-holds barred personality and wasn’t afraid to take on unsympathetic character roles. In the RKO film Of Human Bondage (1934), she played such a character as Mildred, the cruel and vicious waitress. ¬†A film adaptation of the 1915 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. This melodramatic adaptation about a crippled doctor’s destructive and compulsive passion for this coarse waitress was advertised with the tagline on one of its posters: “The Love That Lifted a Man to Paradise…and Hurled Him Back to Earth Again.”

In her 1st major, critically acclaimed part she insisted on looking hideous to depict the ravages of the disease tuberculosis¬†on the human body. She wasn’t nominated for an Oscar but so impressed fellow artists that they insisted she be a write-in on the ballot.

Bette_davis_of_human_bondage

Bette as “Mildred” in Of Human Bondage 1934

A little bit of Mildred’s charm:

¬†Let’s take a look at her 10 Oscar nominations and 2 wins:

  • 1935: Won for Dangerous,¬†as a self-destructive, alcoholic actress (really a make-up for not winning Of Human Bondage)

 

  • 1938: Won for Jezebel, as a self absorbed 1850’s southern belle¬†whose insistence on wearing a red-dress to a formal affair (white = chaste) brings scandal and disapproval. Her man “Pres” Henry Fonda was too through with her.

 

  • 1939: Nominated for Dark Victory, as Judith Traherne, an impetuous, terminally ill Long Island socialite. (yes that’s Bette with a drunken Ronald Reagan) Big time tear-jerker! – Bette’s favorite! ¬†

 

  • 1940: Nominated for The Letter, as a low-down, adulterous murderer who has absolutely no remorse for blowing her lover away. However, karma is a bitch.

 

  • 1941: Nominated for The Little Foxes, as Southern aristocrat Regina Giddens – that girl put the cold in cold-blooded. ¬†

 

  • ¬†1942: Nominated for Now, Voyager, as Charlotte Vale – a dowdy, overweight, spinster, abused by her mother but fights back and achieves a starling transformation in body and spirit. An incredible performance! My absolute favorite Bette Davis role!¬†

Charlotte on the edge of a well deserved nervous breakdown:

 

Charlotte’s journey:

 

  • 1944: Nominated for Mr. Skeffington, as Fanny Skeffington, a woman so conceited that she tries to steal her daughter’s boyfriend, loses her looks after an illness but still has the nerve to treat her husband like dirt and still believe she can have any man – no way. In the end she learns the hard way that “a woman is beautiful when she’s loved and only then.” (too bad it’s after her husband goes blind in a concentration camp)

 

  • 1950: Nominated for All About Eve, as Margo Channing ¬†an insecure Broadway star challenged by the younger, conniving Eve – “Fasten your¬†seat-belts,¬†it’s going to be a bumpy night.” ¬†It¬†was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered.

  • 1952: Nominated for The Star, as Maggie, a washed-up actress trying to revive her career. Notably, at this time in Bette Davis’ career, she was struggling for roles despite her body of work. Bette’s ego was blamed.

 

  • 1962: Nominated for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the demented Baby Jane Hudson who tortures and¬†terrorizes her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) ¬†Much like their real life rivalry. This role renewed her success and paved the way for other deranged characters in such films as: Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) and The Nanny (1965)

 ♦♦♦♦

Bette continued to perform in film and on television in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1983 at the age of 75 she had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. Nine days later she suffered a stroke. Despite her failing health she continued to work until her death in 1989.

This is an in-depth retrospect of “The First Lady of the American Screen”

Enjoy! Don’t forget to bring your hankie.

 

If it’s Sunday, breakout the hankies!

Cinema sign

Melodrama Sunday Movie Classics

In my last post I talked about maybe being a little anal about the rules for Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie watching. I shared my rules for Saturday afternoon movie viewing which is B-horror and science fiction. I also shared 3 of my favorite flicks. The Blob (1958), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and The Tingler (1959). (hope you check ’em out)

So, for Part 2 I’m showcasing Sunday and my criteria for some great classic melodrama.

I love melodramas because they can be so over the top and cathartic (think movie therapy) and there’s no better day to¬†indulge¬†than on a lazy Sunday, vegging on the couch, better yet if it’s a rainy day.

According to dictionary.com:

Melodrama – Exaggerated and emotional or sentimental, sensational or sensationalized: over dramatic.

Bette Davis is my favorite Melodrama Diva! Talk about emotional and dramatic, she had those attitudes down pat. With her I find myself either talking back to my TV screen or weeping. (this is why rain helps) So, let’s find out about “The First Lady of the American Screen:

Bette Davis

Bette Davis color

¬†Ruth Elizabeth Davis (April 5, 1908 ‚Äď October 6, 1989) known as Bette Davis

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Ms. Davis is regarded as one of the¬†greatest¬†actors in cinema history. Bette Davis was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences¬†and¬†won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice. She was also the first person to receive 10 Academy Award nominations for acting, and was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. With more than 100 films, television and theater roles to her credit, in 1999, Davis placed second on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female stars of all time.

Bette was known for her no-nonsense, no-holds barred personality and wasn’t afraid to take on unsympathetic character roles. In the RKO film Of Human Bondage (1934), she played such a character as Mildred, the cruel and vicious waitress. ¬†A film adaptation of the 1915 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. This melodramatic adaptation about a crippled doctor’s destructive and compulsive passion for this coarse waitress was advertised with the tagline on one of its posters: “The Love That Lifted a Man to Paradise…and Hurled Him Back to Earth Again.”

In her 1st major, critically acclaimed part she insisted on looking hideous to depict the ravages of the disease tuberculosis¬†on the human body. She wasn’t nominated for an Oscar but so impressed fellow artists that they insisted she be a write-in on the ballot.

Bette_davis_of_human_bondage

Bette as “Mildred” in Of Human Bondage 1934

A little bit of Mildred’s charm:

¬†Let’s take a look at her 10 Oscar nominations and 2 wins:

  • 1935: Won for Dangerous,¬†as a self-destructive, alcoholic actress (really a make-up for not winning Of Human Bondage)

 

  • 1938: Won for Jezebel, as a self absorbed 1850’s southern belle¬†whose insistence on wearing a red-dress to a formal affair (white = chaste) brings scandal and disapproval. Her man “Pres” Henry Fonda was too through with her.

 

  • 1939: Nominated for Dark Victory, as Judith Traherne, an impetuous, terminally ill Long Island socialite. (yes that’s Bette with a drunken Ronald Reagan) Big time tear-jerker! – Bette’s favorite! ¬†

 

  • 1940: Nominated for The Letter, as a low-down, adulterous murderer who has absolutely no remorse for blowing her lover away. However, karma is a bitch.

 

  • 1941: Nominated for The Little Foxes, as Southern aristocrat Regina Giddens – that girl put the cold in cold-blooded. ¬†

 

  • ¬†1942: Nominated for Now, Voyager, as Charlotte Vale – a dowdy, overweight, spinster, abused by her mother but fights back and achieves a starling transformation in body and spirit. An incredible performance! My absolute favorite Bette Davis role!¬†

Charlotte on the edge of a well deserved nervous breakdown:

 

Charlotte’s journey:

 

  • 1944: Nominated for Mr. Skeffington, as Fanny Skeffington, a woman so conceited that she tries to steal her daughter’s boyfriend, loses her looks after an illness but still has the nerve to treat her husband like dirt and still believe she can have any man – no way. In the end she learns the hard way that “a woman is beautiful when she’s loved and only then.” (too bad it’s after her husband goes blind in a concentration camp)

 

  • 1950: Nominated for All About Eve, as Margo Channing ¬†an insecure Broadway star challenged by the younger, conniving Eve – “Fasten your¬†seat-belts,¬†it’s going to be a bumpy night.” ¬†It¬†was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered.

 

  • 1952: Nominated for The Star, as Maggie, a washed up actress trying to revive her career. Notably, at this time in Bette Davis’ career, she was struggling for roles despite her body of work. Bette’s ego was blamed.

 

  • 1962: Nominated for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the demented Baby Jane Hudson who tortures and¬†terrorizes her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) ¬†Much like their real life rivalry. This role renewed her success and paved the way for other deranged characters in such films as: Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) and The Nanny (1965)

 ♦♦♦♦

Bette continued to perform in film and on television in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1983 at the age of 75 she had a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. Nine days later she suffered a stroke. Despite her failing health she continued to work until her death in 1989.

This is an in-depth retrospect of “The First Lady of the American Screen”

Enjoy! Don’t forget to bring your hankie.

 

Too”Blazing”Hot?

Blazing Saddles_movie_poster

I’ll never forget the day my boyfriend (now husband) came to me super excited about, in his words, “the funniest movie he’s seen” and there’s another showing in half an hour!. ¬†Okay I say, skeptical, but I’m game. ¬†He couldn’t stop talking about his favorite “moment” – the “campfire and beans scene.” ¬†As the end credits rolled I agreed, this was the funniest movie I’d ever seen and my favorite “moment” was — holy crap — I can’t name just one. ¬†Lili von Shtupp “I’m Tired”, “The sheriff is near” or “Mongo only pawn in game of life.” ¬† Awwh, it’s too hard to pick just one! ¬†Blazing Saddles is probably one of the most quotable movies of all time.

The movie was nominated for three¬†Academy Awards, and is ranked No. 6 on the¬†American Film Institute‘s¬†100 Years…100 Laughs¬†list.

“Mongo only pawn in game of life”

Mongo

 

But, I wonder, how would Blazing Saddles be received by audiences today?

This film was released in 1974 but reflecting today on the welcoming scene for Sheriff Bart, it could just as well have been President Obama’s¬†Inaugural Reception. ¬†In the western town of Rockridge the women clutched their purses and the men drew their guns. ¬†A Black Sheriff, no way! ¬†For some, The President’s election and re-election evoked some of those same feelings. ¬†A Black man in the White House, no way! ¬† Yes, it’s 2014 but yes for some, the stereotypes still¬†exist. ¬†There are those who wish the country could go back to the “good ole days” when if you were white it’s alright, but, if you’re black get back. ¬†It’s irrational and built on fear, but racism has always been apart of the fabric of this country.

Mel nig

 

Directed by: Mel Brooks

Written by: Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Andrew Bergman, Norman Steinberg and Al Unger

Songs: Mel Brooks

Starring Cleavon Little
Gene Wilder
Harvey Korman
Slim Pickens
Madeline Kahn
Mel Brooks

It’s a brilliant film! ¬†The writing, the acting, the concept. ¬†And what a concept. ¬†A Black sheriff in an all white 1874 small western town. ¬†What could possibly go wrong?

The film is an in your face satire about racism in the old west as opposed to the Hollywood cowboy myth. ¬†Liberal uses of the N word and plenty of references to black men being sexually”gifted.” ¬†Lili: “Is it true what they say about you people?” ¬†Also, you know black men all want white women.

Lili von Shtupp goes there:

 

“Where the white women at?”

 

I’m not really sure how Blazing Saddles would touch people today, but in 1974 I got the feeling that black and white laughed at the jokes and understood their own truth within the satire. ¬† Have the voices of hate overshadowed our ability to laugh and rebuke racism or are the hate filled voices of today outliers? ¬†Is the majority of the country trying to go backwards or are we embracing progress and the commitment it takes?

Harvey Mel

 Blazing Saddle Quotes:

  • Jim: [consoling Bart] What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know…¬†morons.
  • ¬†Bart: I better go check out this Mongo character.

[Bart reaches for his gun]

Jim: Oh no, don’t do that, don’t do that. If you shoot him, you’ll just make him mad.

  • Mexican Bandit: Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.
  • ¬†Lili Von Shtupp: Hello, handsome, is that a ten-gallon hat or are you just enjoying the show?

If you have seen the movie give it a revisit and let me know what you think. ¬†Or if you haven’t, check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments.