A CINEMATIC RUNNING GUIDE

The Exec is proud to present A Cinematic Running Guide. We break down all the elements required to make sure the running in your film is up to speed. A Cinematic Running Guide is presented in proud association with NIKE. NIKE, just fucking do it already.

A Cinematic Running Guide, Nay A History

Since the burgeoning cinema at the start of the 20th Century, film makers have captured running in all its forms. From Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, men, women and children have run on screen. Sometimes towards the camera, sometimes away and sometimes they even ran across the shot. Cinema audiences around the world have been thrilled in whichever direction people could run in films.

And ACTION!

With the introduction of sound, running in movies became an even more immersive experience. Hollywood film makers such as Hitchcock used it to great effect in action sequences. Take North By Northwest, Hitchcock uses running towards camera AND away from a fucking plane to create an iconic scene. Without running, this scene would have been dog shit.

It’s All About The Running

Take Tony Richardson’s run-fest, The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner. It came just three years after North By Northwest, but already running is in the title and features heavily as a plot device and arty-farty metaphor. Ok Tony, you went to Oxford, we get it already, jeez!

But Where’s The Chariot?

Fast forward to the early 80s and running is now the entire narrative in Hugh Hudson’s Oscar winning Chariots Of Fire. But audiences were left confused because there were no chariots to be seen anywhere. What’s wrong with these crazy Brits?

Blockbuster Running

With boxing underdog movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone took running to new, heroic heights. Sly continued to fly the flag for heroic running (mainly toward camera but away from the exploding whatever) in films as diverse as First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II and the inexplicably titled Rambo III. There was no Rambo II. What the fuck Sly?

Nice Try Arnie

Other blockbuster action stars tried to get in on the running, but with less success. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried with a bit of running in Conan The Barbarian. But this was mainly across the shot, which was proven to be the least effective. He even tried using running in one of his titles, The Running Man. But all anyone remembers about that film is how piss poor Mic Fleetwood was in it. I’ll be back? Nah, you’re ok man. Stay where you are.

The Running King

And now we come to the undisputed king of running in movies: Tom Cruise. Cruise tried his hand at ‘acting’ in films such as The Color Of Money, Rain Man and Born On The Fourth Of July. But he found his little running feet in The Firm. Here, Cruise discovered he could thrill audiences the world over just by sprinting towards the camera and away from scary, cuddly uncle Wilford Brimley. But he really got up to pace three years later with Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible. The legendary scene where Tom leaps away from exploding chewing gum on a fish tank is an all time running classic. The invention and the daring to not only run toward the camera and away from the water, but in slow-mo and then under the camera is ground-breaking. I mean… shit the bed shivers up my spine.

Running The Show

Since then, Cruise has gone from strength to strength. He can run on sand, on roads, rooves, through windows and even under water. He continues to thrill and astound audiences with his running. Hardly anyone has noticed he really can’t act. And he owes it all to running. Go figure.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS IAN FLEMING

 HOLLYWOOD – Survivor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Sir Edwin Fluffer, reflects on the man Hollywood used to call ‘the intellectual’s Fatty Artbuckle’: Orson Welles.

It was an unusually warm night in the Hollywood hills. Decent folks were at home in their beds, indecent folks like yours truly were in somebody else’s. Outside you could hear the crickets on the lawn. In the distance a Dorothy Lamour was barking.

I’d just finished filming Three Cheers For Charlie so a few drinks seemed in order, one thing led to another, and I passed out with my head in one of the Gabor sisters, maybe Zsa Zsa, but most probably Eva. Dear Noel Coward gave me a fireman’s lift, carried me back to his mansion, threw me down on the bed, and apparently was back at the bar before the ice in his drink had melted.

I lay there, the room spinning, wondering what on earth my life had come to… It didn’t take long for me to realise that it probably wouldn’t get any better than this, so I vowed there and then never to regret a single moment. In retrospect that was the worst decision I ever made, but at the time shimmying down the drain pipe, hailing a cab, getting driven to Cary Grant’s house, breaking in through the bathroom window and pinching his entire collection of Faberge eggs seemed like a good idea. Noel was furious when I turned up back at his place with my pockets stuffed full of stolen priceless Russian antiquities, but it was already too late. Cary had called the police, and we had to hide them somewhere, so poor Noel had no choice but to force feed them to Erich von Stroheim. 

It was a good twenty four hours before we got them back again, but by then the trail had gone cold, the cops has called off the search and we were in the clear. The eggs were rinsed off under the cold tap, but beautiful as they were I must admit that some of their sparkle had worn off for me. After that Noel always called Erich ‘the goose who laid the golden egg’.  

I did ask Ian Fleming if that was where he got the idea for The Man With The Golden Gun, but he said no. I know for a fact that he got the idea for Thunderball when he saw Charlie Chaplin slip over trying to get out of the pool, but that’s another story…

For more Fluffer please be so good as to CLICK HERE.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS MARLON BRANDO

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to what insiders call the ‘Big Fat Arse’: Marlon Brando.

Of all the neighbours I’ve had in the Hollywood hills the worst was undoubtedly Marlon Brando. It wasn’t the noise from his late night parties or continually having to return his ball after he kicked it over the hedge. What did for my nerves was that blessed lawnmower.

Brando was richer than a Roman Emperor, but I’ll tell you this now: he’d skin a fart to save a penny. Of course it was Chaplin who introduced the ride on mower to California, and by the weekend we all had one. Even Carole Lombard got one and she only had a patio! 

But Brando insisted on still mowing his lawn with some old piece of junk he’d found in a skip. His estate must’ve run to several hundred acres and it’d take him weeks to cut it. Once he’d finished it was time to start all over again! 
I’d look out of my window in the morning and see him pushing that old thing through the grass and my heart would go out to him, but even when Vincent Price said he’d pop over with his strimmer he said no and carried on. 
It was years later that I found out the reason why he wouldn’t let us help him. Once he’d cut the grass he’d rake it all up, and sell it to Lloyd Bridges for his horses.  Bridges told me he only paid 15 cents a bag, but Gary Cooper said it was nearer 20. I’d like to say that Brando gave the money to charity but he didn’t. Most of it was lost bailing himself out of an arms deal in Botswana that went very badly wrong. He showed me some of the letters and the whole thing was a terrible mess, but then he’d wink at me and say ‘never mind Neddy! I’ll be alright while I’ve got my lawnmower!’ 
He also had a rare white shark that he kept in his garage, but that’s another story…

For more Fluffer please be so good as to CLICK HERE.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER REMEMBERS CHARLIE CHAPLIN

HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the man they called the laughing arse: Charlie Chaplin.

Hollywood’s historians will always gleefully tell those tales of the silent stars whose careers didn’t survive the arrival of sound, or ‘the talkies’ as we called them.  But few will ever remember those giants of the black and white movies whose days on the big screen came to an end with the invention of color.

I was one of the lucky ones: the dinner jacket I always wore while filming actually looked very smart in colour, but not everyone was as fortunate.

Dear Buster Keaton, for example, was absolutely hilarious in black and white, but in color his slapstick and general tomfoolery just didn’t come across. I personally think that audiences were distracted by his bright blue skin. The studio didn’t know what to do with him and after he turned down a lead role in The Smurfs he was never seen again. 
 
It was a similar story with Charlie Chaplin.  
In black and white he had the audience holding their sides with laughter, but in color his green skin just didn’t work. He read for both The Incredible Hulk and Kermit The Frog, but sadly lost out to slightly more emerald actors. I believe that in later years he moved to Japan and enjoyed a lucrative career as Godzilla.
But that’s another story… 

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS MARLON BRANDO

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the globulous Marlon Brando.

I can’t remember exactly when I arrived in Hollywood, but it was certainly when films were still being made in black and white. Nowadays ambitious directors will shoot in black and white for what they call ‘artistic reasons’, but believe me when I say back in those days we had no choice!

It was black and white or nothing, and there was no sound either! This made learning lines particularly difficult as there weren’t any, and for years I found it to be a time consuming and laborious process. The best piece of advice I ever got was from my dear old friend Marlon Brando.

‘Just don’t bother,’ he said and from that day to this I never learned my lines again. 
Many modern directors fail to appreciate this particular technique, feeling it to be rather old fashioned, but I disagree. Just look at the greats, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Katherine Hepburn, none of them ever learned their lines and it never did them any harm!  George Cukor actually preferred it when I didn’t know the lines. During the famous Ascot scene in My Fair Lady he gave me the best note I ever had. ‘Edwin,’ he said ‘just stand at the back and don’t say anything’. You won’t find many
directors today with such a clear vision of what they want from an actor, more’s the pity. 
I remember darling Alec Guinness telling me what he thought George Lucas should do with some of his lines on Star Wars, but that’s another story…

47 FILMS: 9. TO BE OR NOT TO BE

In our continuing series of 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams, we look at Ernst Lubitsche’s magnificent To Be or Not To Be.

WARSAW – People often say that GK Chesterton once said comedy is the art of saying something serious in a funny way, although if he did actually say it who knows, but nothing is said more funnily about something more serious than the heroic hilarity of Ernst Lubitsche’s To Be or Not To Be.

Released in 1942 to overwhelming critical disdain, the film tells the story of a group of Warsaw actors who resist the Nazis upon their invasion through their skills of imitation. A brilliant Jack Benny plays Joseph Tura, a vain thespian who attains heroism when it is thrust upon him, and Carole Lombard is his flirtatious wife Maria who uses the first line of her husband’s Hamlet speech as a cue for her lover to visit her backstage.

Darkness and danger are entwined in the comedy and some of the funniest jokes – ‘they call me concentration camp Ehrardt do they?’ – come from the darkest of places. Treating the Nazis with witty contempt should not be mistaken with not taking the Nazis seriously, as many contemporary critics complained. Indeed given its date and the fact that the fate of Europe was yet to be decided, Lubitsche’s film along with Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator stand as two comic acts of resistance to the most vicious farce the world has ever perpetrated on itself. 

For more of our 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams CLICK HERE.

THE MAKING OF TRIUMPH OF THE WILL

BERLIN – In the latest in our celebrated Making of… series, we look at the behind the scenes drama that went into the making of Leni Riefenstahl’s political documentary “Triumph of the Will”.

The Idea

Mountaineer and film maker Leni Riefenstahl had dreamed for years of making a film with famed comedian Charlie Chaplin. She wrote him a number of letters including this one:

Dear Herr Chaplin,

My name is Leni Riefenstahl. I am a German film director and my work includes such hits as Das Blau Licht. I’m mad keen to do a film with you and seeing that I’m German and you have more than a passing resemblance to our Fuhrer, what do you say you come over and we kick around a few ideas? Hmmm?

However, Chaplin was unresponsive and so Riefenstahl wrote a letter to the proposed subject of her film:

Heil Hitler,

My name is Leni Riefenstahl. I am a German film director and my work includes such hits as Das Blau Licht. I’m mad keen to do a film with you and seeing that we’re German and you have more than a passing resemblance to our Chaplin, what do you say you come over and we kick around a few ideas? Hmmm?

To Riefenstahl’s surprise Hitler responded immediately by telegram:

WONDERFUL IDEA STOP ALWAYS WANTED TO BE IN THE MOVIES STOP MUCH MORE FUN THAN ZE POLITICS STOP BUT IN FUTURE WRITE IN GERMAN YOU KEEP WRITING IN ENGLISH AND I WANT YOU TO STOP

Production

Leni Riefenstahl was given carte blanche and all the resources of both the Nazi Party and the German state. She could use aerial shots and miles of film footage as well as a cast of thousands of obedient fanatical extras. However, Leni was not happy as can be seen from this diary entry.

June 4th, 1934

Filming again today all day. Got home exhausted. Stopped over at the Kino to check out the rushes and I can’t make head nor tail of it. No matter what direction I give, Adolf insists on improvising his own business. He siegs away all the time and then looks stern and glares with those eyes. It’s all very well but he looks nothing like Chaplin when he’s doing that. He doesn’t have Charlie Chaplin’s lightness, nor his warmth. Plus he refuses me to film him out of uniform. I did one day with him wearing the bowler hat and walking with the cane and it was fantastic, but for some reason he felt it beneath his dignity and had the negative destroyed and shot my first AD. NOt all is lost. Speer’s set design is impeccable.

Reception

Triumph of the Will was a massive hit in Germany. Not so much in Austria until the Anschluss, it performed poorly in Poland until 1939 when it picked up and France until 1940 when it became a huge hit. Any country where the film failed to perform soon became a target for Adolph Hitler’s armies. The Riefenstahl was satisfied with the film although she rued having to abandon the Chaplin story-line for making a more straightforward film about Hitler and the Nazis.  However, she was furious when in 1940 Chaplin released The Great Dictator which she claimed was essentially her idea. She attempted to sue Chaplin but with the ongoing Second World War the legal papers were never properly served.

The Triumph of the Will was released in 1934.

For more of The Making of… CLICK HERE.

HIDDEN GEMS 12. CITY LIGHTS

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. You’re welcome.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, films were made in black and white and no one spoke. These were the famous black and white silent movies. No one knows why they were in black and white and without dialogue but I strongly suspect it was something to do with Europe and an innate sense of artistic superiority, but that is just my feeling. A young London man called Charlie Chaplin made a whole series of these films with very little success. His inability to gain an audience was widely seen as due to his tasteless decision to grow a Hitler mustache and later in life he would have the terrible luck to die on Christmas Day while everyone else were opening their presents.

Before that happened though, he made a film called “City Lights”. Nobody has seen it and very few copies exist today, but it is an absolute treasure and should be slapped to the top of your to watch list, if you should have one. It tells the story of ‘the Tramp’, a strange character dressed a bit like Alex from Clockwork Orange. The city has no place for one like he, he has no money and no apparent occupation, but he has a heart of gold and soon falls in love with a blind flower girl. At the same time he is also befriended by a suicidal millionaire whose life he saves. His new friend however is a terrible drunk and forgets who the tramp is whenever he sobers up.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why would I want to see that? It sounds so depressing!” Well, no it’s actually very, very funny. From the drunken rowdy with his pal to a dance like boxing match with a slugger to win the prize money to help cure the flower girl, there’s a laugh every minute. I don’t know why Chaplin never became more famous. Just watch the scene where he surreptitiously eyes a bronze nude in a shop window unaware of the open hole in the street right behind him. It’s genius and I’ll fight anyone who even tries to deny it. Or at least skip around the ring while you try to chase me.

And here’s the thing, the Tramp doesn’t win that fight. His comic heroism is in the fact that he loses repeatedly yet somehow manages to get up again. His rich friend accuses him of thievery and he is eventually carted off to prison – but not before he has given the girl the money for the operation. When he returns, he is even worse off than before. He was always a tramp but now he looks dreadful. The ending is a moment of glorious emotion, a triumph of sorts but also a defeat as the girl realizes her benefactor is not the rich man she presumed him to be and his love for her meets her pity rather than admiration.

For more Hidden Gems CLICK HERE.

WAS PETER SELLERS ALSO A NAZI?

HOLLYWOOD – Following the unveiling of Charlie Chaplin as a Nazi, the Studio Exec has discovered that British comic actor Peter Sellers was also possibly a member of a far right group as can clearly be seen from this photograph taken in 1969.

Peter Sellers was already famous for his portrayal of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark when he was apparently seduced by the tenets of National Socialism, probably by old Goons colleague Spike Milligan. Stanley Kubrick, who worked with Peter Sellers on the film A Clockwork Orange in which Sellers played a number of parts, said of Sellers:

Peter is a wonderful actor, capable of comedy and drama and anything. And as a human being, he is a very interesting man, and apparently Aryan. Or at least that’s what he keeps saying.

How many secret Nazis are hiding, or have hidden, in Hollywood?

Here is a short list:

Charlie Chaplin

Clint Eastwood

Peter Sellers

Gregory Peck

Ian McKellen

Malcolm McDowell

Bruno Ganz

CHARLIE CHAPLIN NAZI PICTURES REVEALED

HOLLYWOOD – Following the pictures of the Queen Sieg Heiling like a (Storm) trooper, the Studio Exec have unearthed evidence that famed film director and silent movie legend Charlie Chaplin was also a closet Nazi.

Charlie Chaplin took the movie world by storm with his lovable rogue the ‘tramp’ who charmed audiences with films such as The Kid, Gild Rush, City Lights and Modern Times. However, a series of photographs recently unearthed show the diminutive British comic wearing what looks like a facsimile of Nazi uniform and saluting in a Queen Elizabeth II approved fashion.

Film historian and expert Mark Cousins (no relation to the one with the annoying voice) talked the Studio Exec through the photograph:

What we can see here is Charlie Chaplin in a later part of his career. We know he had been targeted by the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover personally for his supposed communist allegiances, something for which he refused to apologize or deny, though he was never a member of the Communist Party. There is a chance however that the pressure was telling and this might have pushed him to attend some right wing rallies as a way of evening up the score. The photograph clearly shows Nazi inspired regalia and one can only assume that the modifications to the Swastika were to avoid legal complications and provide what is known today as plausible deniability.

Did his Nazism continue or was it simply a flirtation, like David Bowie?

Soon after the photograph was taken Chaplin left the United States and it was made known that his visa application to return would be turned down. He ended up in Switzerland, a notorious safe haven for Nazis, though whether or not this was a motivation we can’t know.

Charlie Chaplin was unavailable for comment.

KEYSTONE KOPS: THE TRUTH

HOLLYWOOD –  A newly discovered and as yet unpublished memoir by key Keystone Kops actor – Hamm Shewness – has shocked the world of Hollywood with its lurid revelations of excess and violence. The Studio Exec has got hold of some extracts and publishes them below:

CHAPTER 1, p. 21.

The first film I was in, it was 1913 and Mack Sennett of Keystone Pictures was doing a flicker with Mabel Normand and wanted a crazy gang of background artists who could do falls, stunts and physical business. He’d got us all together. There was me, Hank Mann, Jimmy Finlayson, Edgar Kennedy and Al Swain. Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Artbuckle also donned the blue briefly but they were loath to share the screen so anonymously. From the very moment we all changed into our uniforms you could feel the sexual energy. It was magical. I don’t know what happened. Mack Sennett was out on the set waiting and he wasn’t a patient man. He came into the changing room to see what was taking so long and, boy, did he get an eyeful! But at least that gave him the title for the flick: The Bangville Police!

CHAPTER 3, p. 52.

As our popularity grew so did our sexual shenanigans. The thing was we all looked like each other pretty much and so once we were in uniform, I don’t know what happened but it became a free for all. It wasn’t even sexual really. It was something else. Something dark, Dionysian, something bestial. There are a few films that you see us all fall off a car into a pile. If you freeze the frame, you’ll see that within seconds copulation has started, like one huge amorphous alien being. It was disgusting and I’d come home utterly appalled at my own behavior. But the next day I was first on set.

CHAPTER 9, p. 119.

 As the films began to wane in popularity, the stunts became increasingly violent and extreme. This was partly because of the demands of topping ourselves and our previous achievements but it was also because now violent hatred and jealousies within the group as well as widespread use of amphetamines – which at the time were legal – drove us into homicidal rages many of which you can see on screen. The stunts we planned were often designed to try and kill a member of the group who had fallen out of favor. In What a Kalamity! (1923) I lost three fingers and poor Jimmy Finlayson was hit so hard in the privates that his eyes crossed permanently.

 

Keystone Khaos: Sex, Drugs and Murder in Hollywood’s Golden Age will be released on Amazon and at all good bookshops from 2015.

BRAD PITT CUTS HAIR

LONDON – Last night universal celebrations broke out spontaneously when news reached the masses (via IMDB) that Brad Pitt had cut his hair.

The actor was spotted in England where he is filming Fury a Second World War film and wearing a cap to hide his recently shorn head. An observer in Trafalgar Square said: 

You can put VE day and VJ day together, along with all the New Year’s Eve parties and 4th of July celebrations and it would still only be a fraction of the happiness we now feel that Brad Pitt no longer has those floppy locks, he kept having to tuck behind his ears in World War Z.

The corpses of Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin were exhumed and forced into grotesque postures of dance and joy as part of the celebrations. ‘It’s what they would have wanted,’ said grave digger, Paul Simon. In Syria rebels and regime fighters sat down together like brothers and compared before and after photographs of Brad’s hairstyle, dreaming of happier times.  

Mr Pitt last had short hair for the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds

Fury will be released in 2014.

XAVIER POULIS: DIRECTORS WEAR HATS

Many people think that directing is all about under standing the text of the script, having an individual visual style and motivating actors. All that’s bullshit. It’s about wearing the right hat. Proceed resident Swiss Cinema Expert and millinery muffin, Xavier Poulis:
Charlie Chaplin always directed films in his favourite hat which was loaned to Alfred Hitchcock, or Hitch – as he preferred to be known – while directing The Birds, to huge acclaim.  


 Marty Scorsese never wears hats these days and spends thousands of dollar a year on his wiry locks, but in the free and easy days of the seventies and under the influence of Roger Corman, Martin wore this little man from Delmonte number.

Steven Spielberg has no money and so often has to resort to advertising his own films on the top of his head and just above his petulant face. Look at how bitter he is. An angry disappointed man, what in Switzerland we would call a ‘man’. 

Howdy there! Mr David Lynch, no Eraserhead he! But rather a full on Stetson that the crazy squirrel sandwich eater sports with a happy go lucky grin as he prepares go ape shit at a ho-down. Yeee-Ha!

What a Maverick! When he’s not busy criticizing films he hasn’t actually seen, Spike Lee rocks in this erm… What the fuck is that? To forsake his usual baseball cap for this is bizarre get up is truly the act of a rebel but on the other hand, well, it is very, very funny. Go for it, Spike! Just for once, Do the Wrong Thing!

And finally Kathryn Bigelow shows that it isn’t only the boys who can have fun. One night in Baghdad and no head gear to hand, the Bourne-like Bigelow steals into a local carpet shop and Voilà! No Muslim need feel offended at her Western decadence! And let the torture commence!

FLUFFER REFUSES TO LEARN HIS LINES

That’s me in the topper at the back…












I can’t remember exactly when I arrived in Hollywood, but it was certainly when films were still being made in black and white. Nowadays ambitious directors will shoot in black and white for what they call ‘artistic reasons’, but believe me when I say back in those days we had no choice!

It was black and white or nothing, and there was no sound either! This made learning lines particularly difficult as there weren’t any, and for years I found it to be a time consuming and laborious process. The best piece of advice I ever got was from my dear old friend Marlon Brando.

‘Just don’t bother,’ he said and from that day to this I never learned my lines again. 
Many modern directors fail to appreciate this particular technique, feeling it to be rather old fashioned, but I disagree. Just look at the greats, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Katherine Hepburn, none of them ever learned their lines and it never did them any harm!  George Cukor actually preferred it when I didn’t know the lines. During the famous Ascot scene in My Fair Lady he gave me the best note I ever had. ‘Edwin,’ he said ‘just stand at the back and don’t say anything’. You won’t find many directors today with such a clear vision of what they want from an actor, more’s the pity. 
I remember darling Alec Guinness telling me what he thought George Lucas should do with some of his lines on Star Wars, but that’s another story…