HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer uses his super-stardom to recall the Hollywood Super Stars of yesteryear. Tonight: John Vernon.
When I first met John Vernon I didn’t know I was meeting John Vernon. A handsome man, like a hungover Richard Burton – which is to say like Richard Burton – came up to me and said in a light Canadian accent: ‘Hello! I’m Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz.’ As quick as lightning I told him: ‘That won’t do. You’ll have to change it.’ ‘Any suggestions,’ he gamely replied. ‘Adolphus Agopsowicz of course,’ was my immediate response.
Cooler heads prevailed alas and the world knew him as John Vernon. If you’ve ever seen a film made from 1965-1995 you will have seen John. Prolific and often – unfairly in my view – cast as the villain. From Dirty Harry to Animal House, Outlaw Josey Wales to Herbie Goes Bananas, John showed up, purring like villainy itself had been mixed with ginger and gravel, popped into a blender with something feline and poured over ice.
His leonine head and steely blue eyes made him perfect for the crafty official, the charmer who would stab you in the heart while caressing your nether regions. And he was good at playing villains too.
He amassed years of TV work as well. I remember when he got his first job in Bonanza, he was so happy he actually bought me a drink. An earl grey laced with Armagnac. I had it framed. Of course we had a lot in common. Both RADA trained, as a party trick we would have ourselves blind folded and still find our way back to Los Angeles from places as far afield as Las Vegas or Seattle.
John died, as we all must, but I’m sure when he got to meet the big Executive Producer in the Sky he said with a twinkle in his eye: ‘I was a Cuban in Topaz’.
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HOLLYWOOD – Quentin Tarantino is not only a screenwriter, director and actor, he’s also an inveterate list maker.
Following his now famous top ten lists and compilations, the Studio Exec is delighted to bring you Quentin Tarantino’s top 5 Herbie films, featuring the loveable VW bug.
1. Herbie Goes Bananas: “Although a late addition to the franchise – released in 1980 – Herbie Goes to Bananas for me stands above everything. The reason is simple. It’s political. A Marxist deconstruction of the US’s involvement in South America, as portrayed by John Vernon and Alex Rocco’s thieves. Liberalism’s inept attempts to co-opt the workers power into the state is shown in Captain Blythe’s (Harvey Corman) execution of Herbie. The agricultural workers as represented by Paco in an alliance with Herbie overthrow the combined powers of the repressive state apparatus and a new future feels assured.”
2. The Love Bug: “The first time the racing Beetle “Herbie” appears on the screen is the 1968 comedy The Love Bug. This is that most unusual of films, a counter-cultural children’s movie. The Beetle was actually a late addition to the film, with no particular make of car specified at the script stage. An audition was held with lots of other makes of car vying for the role, but it was the VW that got the part, some cynics contending because of its lax German morals. The film was remade in 1997 as a TV movie.”
3. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo: “The third film in the series but the first to be directed by Vincent McEveety, HGMC is a cross country race film which later was remade as The Cannonball Run. Apparently Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was Burt Reynolds’ favorite film of all time and he ordered the writers of his 1980 film to study the movie and use it as their bible.”
4. Herbie Rides Again: “Following the triumph of the Love Bug the idea of making a sequel seemed obvious. But these were sad days. Walt Disney had worked closely with English director Robert Stevenson on the original film, as his last live action movie. Stevenson returned to Herbie for the follow up but the production was so difficult because of Herbie’s increased drug intake that the director swore he’d never work with him again.”
5. Herbie: Fully Loaded: “Many believed that Herbie was far too old to make a comeback and the youth who made up such a large part of his audience had now moved on to bigger flashier stars. However, inspired by the resurgence of his friend Sylvester Stallone’s career, Herbie cleaned up, went into rehab and produced some of his best work. For the first time in his four decade career, Herbie was finally sober and producing some of his finest work. Unfortunately, co-star Lindsay Lohan and Herbie had a brief affair following the production and there began a torrid drug fuelled affair which continues to this day.”
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