47 FILMS: 41. A FACE IN THE CROWD

In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at Eli Kazan’s prophetic political satire A Face in the Crowd.

Anyone wondering at the bizarre events of the 2016 presidential election could do worse than watch Eli Kazan’s 1957 political satire A Face in the Crowd. Written by Budd Schulberg, the film is an insanely accurate prophecy of exactly what we’ve been living through with Herr Trump.

When colorful inmate and singer  is plucked from the obscurity of the town drunk tank and given his chance on the radio, no one could have predicted the meteoric rise of Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith. Am ‘aw shucks’ man of the people, Lonesome’s full of refreshing energy and no-nonsense common sense, harking back to frontier values of freedom and liberty. From a role on the Grand Ole Oprey, he thumbs his nose at the establishment and is soon being lauded by top corporations as he morphs into an advertising Midas, giving the common touch and lending products and his own show huge boosts in sales and ratings. Soon he’s being sought to give advice to a possible Presidential candidate, whose image he revamps. His trajectory is witnessed by a jaded Walter Matthau (was Matthau ever not jaded?) and a beautifully tragic Patricia Neal as Marcia, a woman who discovers Rhodes, falls in love with him, only to be thrown over for a baton-twirling cheerleader, played with minxy relish by Lee Remick.

The brash charm of Rhodes however hides an ambition and cunning that soon sees him vaulting all and leaving cinders in his wake. If none of this sounds even a little bit familiar then good morning Rip, you’ve got some catching up to do. Even Lonesome’s downfall, thanks to a microphone he thinks isn’t on, has an all too familiar sound.

For more of our ‘47 Films to see Before you are Murdered in your Dreams’ Click Here.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS JACK LEMMON

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the actor everyone called the ‘Matthau’s arse’: Jack Lemmon.

Barely a day goes by without someone congratulating me on my performance in The Odd Couple. I haven’t the heart to tell them it wasn’t me and so I don’t. It very nearly was me though, and would’ve been if it wasn’t for Walter Matthau.

He’d had the idea that we could reduce our not inconsiderable bar bill by drilling for gin in his back garden. No-one had ever tried it before, and after only a few attempts we found out why: it’s just impossible to find an extension cable that’ll reach from the plug socket in Wally’s kitchen out as far as the yard. 

We drove around every single hardware store in the Hollywood hills trying to find one, but it was a fruitless task. Much like Claudette Colbert if you know what I mean! 
In the end I cut the lead off his toaster and tried to attach that to the drill, but the resulting explosion caused me third degree burns and my best pair of eyebrows.  
It didn’t help that Walter tried to extinguish the flames with a bottle of rum that he won in a tombola. We were due to start filming the very next day, but after a brief chat with the producer we decided that it would be best all round if I went to hospital instead and dear old Jack Lemmon agreed to step in at the last minute. 
The Academy threatened to give him another Oscar for it, but he already had one in his shed left over from Mister Roberts.
Years later I bumped into Jack at a party and he very kindly passed me the Pringles.
But that’s another story…

GRUMPY OLD MEN REBOOT: FIRST LOOK

HOLLYWOOD – The new re-imagining of the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau classic Grumpy Old Men gets its first poster featuring stars Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington.

Famous for their more serious dramatic/action roles in films such as Malcolm X and Taken, Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington both expressed their delight at being involved in the Grumpy Old Men remake.

They spoke EXCLUSIVELY with the Studio Exec.

So what attracted you to the project?

Liam Neeson: We’ve both done remakes in the past. I’ve done The A-Team and Denzel did The Equalizer and…

Denzel Washington: The Taking of Pelham 123.

LN: Right. But we don’t get much opportunity to do comedy. People look at us killing people in our films and they don’t connect that with comedy for some reason.

DW: Cameron Crowe has been trying to get a remake of the film off the ground for years and the script has been circulating. I was looking for something to do with Liam because I’ve admired him as an actor ever since I saw Krull.

LN: For me, I became a big Denzel fan after watching Ricochet. That was one hell of a movie. I pointed at the screen and said ‘I want to do that’.

How did you divide the roles?

DW: Liam was already attached to play John Gufstafson, which was Lemmon’s role. But that was perfect for me because I’ve always seen myself more as a Walter Matthau man. I’ve got the same hangdog looks.  So I took to the role of Max really well.

LN: When I was re-watching the original I noticed that John was kind of a handy man and I thought, I too have a particular set of skills. And so that made my mind up really.

How will the new film differ from the old film?

DW: No one wants to see a carbon copy. What’s the point of that?

LN: Right. In the original, John and Max are both basically bitter old men arguing about the affections of an attractive neighbor Ariel. They spy on each other and try to sabotage each other’s plans.

DW: In our version I’m ex-CIA.

LN: And I’m ex-Secret Service.

DW: And we both love Ariel, playing by Melanie Griffith.

LN: But terrorists have kidnapped her.

DW: We need to forget our differences and team up to kill the terrorists, evade the police commanded (as ever) by Forest Whitaker and save Ariel.

Wow. It doesn’t sound like a funny premise.

LN: Funny? Why on earth would it have to be funny?

Because it’s a comedy.

DW: Comedies don’t have to be funny.

LN: Look at This Means War.

Yes, but...

DW: Or anything with Vince Vaughn in.

LN: He’s made hundreds of comedies and not once have I laughed.

DW: Good point Liam.

LN: Thanks Denzel.

Grumpy Old Men will be in cinemas in 2016.

Image courtesy of @ThePixelFactor

5 FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT PREDATOR 2

HOLLYWOOD – Frankly the FACT squad were bored, and so they got drunk and watched a film on cable. And here are the 5 FACTS about Predator 2 which is (aside from headaches) the only result of that sad evening.

1. Danny Glover’s trousers are scary. Although supposed to be a hard ass, Dirty Harry type of loose cannon, the only thing loose about Danny is his waistband and weird chalky strides. He does a lot of swearing but there’s a Walter Matthau vibe going on that makes you feel that the Xenomorphs are just pesky kids who have kicked a ball into his yard.

2. Some people say Predator 2 is not as good as Predator, and this is the only occasion in the history of film criticism, that some people have been right.

3. Gary Busey and Adam Baldwin were cast as the strait laced government men!

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not in this film because he asked for money. He apparently not only wanted money but also wanted to branch out into acting and felt that the Predator series wasn’t giving him the opportunity.

5. This was the first film in which the sound torch beams make was finally realistically realized. Every time a torch beam passes the camera it makes a whooshing sound.

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