“Jaws” Confidential – WIF @ The Movies

Leave a comment

Surprising Facts

About the

Movie “Jaws”

Jaws is often called the original summer blockbuster, so before the next glut of CGI-laden superhero movies fills screens worldwide, why not read a few lesser known facts about the OG blockbuster that set the precedent that allows them to exist? Starting with…

10. Jaws was a PG Release

Jaws is a film that contains a scene of a man being brutally eaten alive by a shark while screaming (fun fact: the actor supposedly broke his leg during that scene so the screams of pain you hear are real), people having the limbs shorn off, and the most iconic jump scare in cinema history. On top of this, the film also involves scenes involving drinking, smoking, swearing, and at least one instance of a shark eating a chubby kid on a raft. Amazingly, censors of the time saw all this and thought to themselves, yeah, this seems suitable for kids.”

Because yeah, Jaws was a PG rated movie, meaning anyone could go watch this thing so long as they had parental supervision, even if they were still at risk of pooping their pants literally instead of metaphorically. Think about that the next time you go watch an Avengers movie and realize it’s a PG-13 because Sam Jackson says the F-word.

9. It Originally Starred Dwarf Stuntmen

The undeniable star of Jaws is the shark, a role that was variously played by a notoriously unreliable mechanical shark (which we’ll get to in a moment) and several real sharks filmed by the crew. The problem was that the shark, who we’ll just call Jaws even though he had a name (which we’ll also get to), is supposed to be a shark of exceptional size, which kind of created a problem when the crew went to film some real Great Whites and realized they’d look noticeably smaller than their robo-shark. An ingenious solution was found in the form of several midget stuntmen.

The idea was to dress these stuntmen up in the same diving suits as the regular cast and film them next to some average-sized Great Whites, creating a forced perspective that made the sharks look super-huge and buff. To complete the illusion, the production team even built a smaller version of the shark cage seen at the end of the movie that the stuntmen were supposed to float around in. This cage wasn’t built as sturdily as an actual shark cage and as a result, before one of the stuntmen could climb inside it, a Great White tore it to pieces. This led to a total rewrite to ensure…

8. Hooper Survived Because Footage of the Cage Being Destroyed was Too Good Not to Use

The footage of a shark tearing apart the shark cage at the climax of the movie was 100% real and was so good Spielberg insisted that it had to go into the movie. The problem was that the original script called for Hooper to be inside the cage at the time, and for him to be killed in the ensuing attack, just like in the book. Another problem was that after seeing a shark tear apart a shark-proof cage none of the stuntmen would get back into the water.

Not wanting to lose the footage, a hasty rewrite was made to show that Hooper survived by swimming to the bottom of the ocean and hiding from the shark. This change also allowed the editors to use footage of the shark attacking from below (where it’s most obvious nobody is in the cage), framing it as if it’s from Hooper’s point of view as he cowered from the shark in a steadily growing cloud of his own urine.

7. Spielberg Laughed When He First Heard the Theme

John Williams’ theme for Jaws is one of the most iconic in all of cinema. Countless articles and academic papers have been written exploring the deceptive depth of the theme and how it affects those who hear it on an almost primal level. Though considered an integral part of the film’s success today, Spielberg was apparently not all that impressed with the theme when he first heard it, he laughed out loud when Williams played it for him.

You see, Spielberg had assumed that the film’s score would be more akin to that of a swashbuckling pirate movie and thought Williams’ minimalist take on the theme was too Spartan. However, Spielberg deferred to Williams’ judgement for final decision, apparently quipping “okay, let’s give it a shot” when Williams insisted the theme would work. We’re assuming Spielberg has never since question Williams’ judgement after the success of Jaws.

6. The Shark Sank the First Time it was Put Into the Water

As noted previously, the robo-shark used for many of the close-ups in the movie was unreliable to an almost comical degree. This is no better summed up than by what the shark did the very first time it was lowered into the water: it sank like a depressed brick of lead with concrete shoes. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to anybody to check if the shark floated while making it.

Along with sinking, the shark often malfunctioned and would sometimes simply stop working for no reason at all. This not only caused the movie to fall 100 days behind schedule, but also meant that half the shots of the movie involving the shark didn’t have the shark in frame.

Curiously, it’s been noted that the fact Spielberg had to film around the fact the shark wasn’t there most of the time, instead having to suggest its presence, made the movie better. Which kind of makes sense. The reason Jaws is such a scary movie is because there’s a constant threat that the shark could appear at any moment and chow down on your butthole. If the shark had been on screen for 50% of the movie like Spielberg had originally planned, its few sporadic appearances would have had less impact. So yeah, when you watch Jaws and find yourself feeling on edge throughout the entire film, that wouldn’t be the case if the shark had actually worked and you could have seen how crappy it actually looked most of the time.

5. The Shark’s Name was Bruce

 The shark in Jaws is always referred to as either, simply, “the shark” or else Jaws, which is weird since throughout filming his name was Bruce. The name is supposedly a name coined by the the production crew as a nod to Spielberg’s lawyer Bruce Raynor who, like the shark, was a bit temperamental.

Spielberg himself wasn’t personally a fan of the name since, unlike the mechanical shark, his lawyer sometimes actually worked. So instead, he came up with an altogether more apt nickname considering the numerous mechanical faults the shark suffered throughout production:  The Great White Turd.

4. Spielberg Spent $3,000 of His Own Money for “One More Scream”

Jaws, hands down, contains one of the single greatest jump scares in cinema history. We’re of course talking about when Hooper finds Ben Gardner’s boat, and a big rubber head comes flying out of a shark shaped hole in the hull. That scene wasn’t in the original cut of the movie and was only added after Spielberg watched the audience reaction to the reveal of the shark at the film’s climax (the bit immediately prior to the “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” line), and realized the reaction wasn’t as intense as he’d hoped.

So Spielberg went back to the studio and asked for $3,000 to film another scene with a bigger jump scare and promptly got told not to do one. To be fair to the production company the film was 100 days behind schedule and over budget, so they were within their right to say no, but luckily for us, Spielberg didn’t take no for an answer.

With the studio refusing to pony up the cash, Spielberg decided to film the scene in someone’s pool using his own money. To make the water look more like the kind of place you’d find a sunken boat, Spielberg had the pool filled with milk powder and then put a big tarp over the top to limit the amount of light that got through to the bottom. Admittedly greedy for “one more scream” the director then instructed the sound engineers to make the jump scare happen before the music reached it’s natural crescendo, to make everyone poop their pants the first time they saw it.

3. It Had one of the Widest Releases of Any Film Ever

Jaws was, as noted, one of the first, if not the first, major summer blockbusters. In fact, prior to the release of Jaws and then

Star Wars a few years later, the summer was considered a low period for cinema since it was believed nobody would waste a ball-sweltering summer’s day sitting in a cool, air conditioned cinema. Oh, how wrong they were.

Upon release, Jaws set numerous records for having such a wide release, opening in some 400 cinemas on its first day. But here’s the really crazy part: Jaws was such a massive phenomenon that the number of cinemas screening it across the US more than doubled over the course of two months. This was unheard of back then and rarely, if ever, happens today since most films make the bulk of their money in the opening weekend. It’s a testament then to the sheer inertia of Jaws that after two months at the cinema, demand was still so high 500 more theatres decided to screen it, too.

2. It Kinda Ruined Sharks (and Beaches) for Everyone

As noted in the previous entry, releasing a film during the summer season used to be considered box office suicide since it was believed everyone would be too busy having fun at the beach. Jaws changed all that and during the summer of 1975 beach attendance fell nationwide.

The drop in beach attendance was credited to both the success of the film, which saw millions of Americans flock to cinemas, as well as the fact it kind of made it scary to go into the water. Speaking of which, the film is still criticized today for painting an unnecessarily harsh and objectively incorrect picture of sharks, which hardly ever attack humans. However, the success of Jaws saw shark attacks not only being reported upon more often (creating the false impression that they were more common than they actually are) but also a more negative perception of the animal, which led to many of them being killed for no real reason. All of which kind of leaves a sour taste in our mouths, so let’s end on something a little lighter, specifically that…

1. Michael Caine Loved the 4th Movie

To date Jaws has made more money and has a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than all three of its sequels combined. The fourth film in particular has an impressive 0% rating on the website, and is largely considered to be the biggest cinematic turd since the one Jeff Goldblum finds in Jurassic Park.

According to critics the film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and is more painful to sit through than a prostate exam from a pirate with hand tremors. One person who disagrees is Michael Caine, who has said of the film: I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Along with being paid a pretty penny for starring in the film, Caine has praised the fact that it features a realistic romance between two middle aged people (something that’s rarely seen in cinema) and enjoyed that he basically got a free trip to the Bahamas. In case you’re thinking that Caine is only positive about the film because he got a free vacation out of it, starring in the film caused him to miss the 1987 Oscars. And it’s important to note, he actually won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year, for the film Hannah and Her Sisters. In other words, Michael Caine had so much fun pretending to fight a giant, fake shark in a terrible Jaws sequel he didn’t mind not collecting the most prestigious award for acting in person.


“Jaws” Confidential

WIF @ The Movies

“Mommy, what’s a movie theater?” – WIF @ The (Failed) Movies

Leave a comment

Movies That Were

Box Office Duds

Despite what Disney and Marvel would have us believe, there’s no magic formula for making box office gold. Everyone who makes a movie fully expects it to succeed and do well, but sometimes that’s not in the cards. While there are some movies that are critically maligned and do poorly overall, when a high-budget movie fails miserably the losses can be staggering.

10. The Adventures of Pluto Nash – Lost $96 million

If you don’t recall Eddie Murphy’s The Adventures of Pluto Nash you’re in good company. The 2002 film cost over $100 million to make and it was a massive science fiction comedy extravaganza. Or at least that’s how they described it, since barely anyone actually went to see it. It grossed a paltry $7 million at the box office.

The movie is so bad that even its star Eddie Murphy claims trying to watch it causes him to weep openly. It’s one thing for critics to savage a movie, and Pluto Nash has a dismal 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s quite another when even the star admits that the whole movie was absolutely terrible.

Because movie budgets are a little tricky to wrap your head around, and they also factor in things like marketing costs on top of it as well as adjusting for inflation, at least one source claims that the total loss for Pluto Nash tops $130 million.

9. Stealth – lost $96 million

In 2005 anyone probably would have thought a movie in which Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx have to tangle with artificially intelligent killer fighter jets would have been a good idea, right? That’s a big yes and no.

The studio that financed the movie for $135 million definitely thought it was a good idea. Audiences who didn’t actually go see the movie did not.  With a healthy marketing budget that was really trying to push it, when it managed to pull in $77 million at the box office it wasn’t as small a loss as the budget makes it seem. All told, it’s estimated that the movie lost about $96 million.

Stealth sits at 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Roger Ebert called it a dumbed-down Top Gun. If you recall, no one ever claimed Top Gun was very smart in the first place.

8. 47 Ronin – Lost $98 million

The Keanu Reeves movie 47 Ronin is what is known in Japan as a Chushingura. It’s a fictionalized account of the real-life events surrounding 47 master-less samurai, known as ronin, who sought to avenge the death of their master.

The story has been made into a film no less than six times but never was the story as big and extravagant as when Keanu starred in it back in 2013. It had a staggering $175 million budget, the highest ever for a debut director. And in a very telling sign, the movie sat on the shelf for two years after it was produced. That’s never good.

47 Ronin lost an estimated $98 million and the blame has been put, in part, on Carl Rinsch and his first time directing chops. It only has 16% on Rotten Tomatoes and many critics accused it of being both boring and cliche.

7. Lone Ranger – Lost $190 million

There are a number of movies that have been called cursed over the years. Poltergeist was one such movie, famously said to be cursed from the first installment through to the third of the series. The Lone Ranger is another film which definitely deserves to be considered for that honor, assuming you believe in such things.

The production of The Lone Ranger was hampered by numerous problems. It suffered delays as well as massive budgetary issues. At one point the budget had reached almost $300 million, and Disney had to shut down production to retool everything. That resulted in some cuts to special effects and other parts of the budget until it was scaled back to a lean, mean $215 million.

There were accidents on set with the stunt people involved, and a crew member even drowned during the production. Disney was fined $60,000 for safety violations and some inclement weather destroyed sets and cost even more money on the budget.

When the film was finally released and the bad reviews rolled in, the result was Disney chalking the movie up to $190 million loss.

6. Mars Needs Moms – Lost $111 million

In 2011, Mars Needs Moms seemed like a sure thing. The legendary Robert Zemeckis, who was responsible for iconic movies like Forrest Gump and Back to the Future, produced the motion-capture animation. The film itself was based on a book by writer and cartoonist Berkeley Breathed. It almost seemed worth the $150 million budget.

When you factor in marketing it’s believed that Disney probably invested about $200 million in this movie. Which is why when, on its opening weekend, it only pulled in $6.9 million people started to get worried. The final gross of the film was about $39 million, which means lost anywhere from $111 million to $161 million, depending on which numbers you want to work with.

Rubbing salt in the wound, when it was released overseas it somehow made even less money: only $2.1 million throughout 14 countries. The question needs to be asked then, how did the movie that had so much talent behind it end up failing so miserably? The problem may have been in the execution.

Mars Needs Moms used motion capture technology, the kind of stuff we as audiences really took a shine to with characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, or the Na’vi from the movie Avatar. The problem was the way it was used in Mars Needs Moms was less cool, and what at least one person described as creepy.

5. Titan AE – Potentially Lost $120 Million on a $85 Million Budget

On paper, the animated film Titan AE looked bulletproof. Director Don Bluth, who created classics like The Secret of NIMHThe Land Before Time, and An American Tail was helming a sci-fi animated film featuring the voice talents of Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman and many other well known stars.

Behind the scenes, things were pretty ugly during the production of the movie. For starters, Don Bluth was not the original director. The film was already $30 million into the production before the original director was fired and Bluth was hired alongside Gary Goldman. According to Goldman, the initial $30 million was used to do some pre-production art and nothing else.

The movie blended traditional 2D animation with 3D animation, which didn’t seem to be a conscious choice from the get go. According to Goldman, they just abandoned the 2D idea halfway through production and finished it with 3D because that’s what was new and cool at the time.

The movie ended up losing somewhere between $70 million and $120 million on an $85 million budget. It also saw the head of Fox Studios fired by Rupert Murdoch, and the closing of their Phoenix Animation Studio, which had produced two major bombs including the earlier animated film Anastasia.

4. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas – Lost $125 million

Proving that there are no guarantees with animated movies no matter how much effort goes into them, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas bombed like a case of Molotov cocktails. The film was produced by DreamWorks Studios, and featured voice acting from Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer. That all sounds great in theory, but the reality was not.

For unknown reasons, Sinbad was turned into a Sicilian in this movie, completely ignoring the source material, which was just one of several issues. According to DreamWorks, the budget for Sinbad was $60 million. That number should be looked at with a bit of skepticism, as the former head of DreamWorks David Geffen said in an interview that the movie actually lost the studio $125 million. No amount of advertising budget can more than double the losses of a movie, so DreamWorks may have been playing a little fast and loose with their numbers, or their co-founder Geffen just had no idea what he was talking about.

The movie had extensive marketing tie-ins with Baskin-Robbins, Hasbro, M&Ms and more. When it debuted, it didn’t even out-gross Finding Nemo, which had already been in theaters for six weeks.

3. Cutthroat Island – Lost $147 million

It’s not often that a movie does so poorly it kills an entire genre of film, but that’s what Cutthroat Island seemed to do. The Renny Harlin directed movie, starring Geena Davis in a swashbuckling adventure, did so poorly Hollywood didn’t make another pirate movie for over a decade.

It can’t be overstated just how awful this movie’s whole legacy is. The budget for Cutthroat Island was $115 million back in 1995. Its box office take was $10 million. This was so bad, it actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest financial loss in film history at the time. When you adjusted for inflation today, you’re looking at a loss of $147 million.

The IMDb facts page for the movie reads like a rogue’s gallery of bad ideas and terrible mistakes. One actor was fired for getting drunk and mooning Geena Davis. Star Matthew Modine explained that some of the budget went for the shipping of dozens and dozens of cases of V8 for the director to drink on set. They had to be shipped from the United States to Malta, and apparently an entire room of the vegetable juice was left at the end of filming. On top of that, three cameras were used to film every single shot which resulted in massive amounts of unused film at the end of production.

Harlin is said to have fired the chief camera operator from the set, which resulted in dozens of other crew members quitting in solidarity. The blame can’t solely be put on Harlin’s shoulders though, as he tried to quit production realizing just how bad the movie was going to be, as did Geena Davis. The studio refused to stop production.

2. Gemini Man – Lost $111 million

Betting on Will Smith is usually a smart choice when it comes to Hollywood. Many of his early films were massive blockbusters, like Independence Day and Men in Black. Everyone has a miss once in a while though, and Smith definitely missed the mark with his 2019 sci-fi flick Gemini Man.

Estimates place Gemini Man‘s losses at around $111 million. A number of factors seem to have come together to make the movie fail so badly. For starters, it was filmed at 120 frames per second for a 3D release. High frame-rate movies like that have a curious effect on audiences.

While it seems like higher frame rate and crisper detail should make a movie a more exciting and interesting experience for viewers, what happens is the movie becomes so real and clean looking it removes some of the magic and glamour we expect from movies. While it’s hard to define, the result is that audiences just don’t like the way it looks.

The other problem with the movie was that the story-line was pretty generic and not interesting. It wasn’t necessarily a bad movie, but being so run-of-the-mill and then having so many reviews dominated by the technological aspects of the high-frame-rate meant that no one was really trying hard to sell the movie.

1. Terminator: Dark Fate – Lost $120 million

The Terminator franchise is one of the most unusual in film history. The first one made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, proved James Cameron as a blockbuster filmmaker, and started the ball rolling on one of cinema’s most famous characters. 10 years later when we got Terminator 2 it became one of those rare times when a sequel surpasses the original. And then things took a turn.

Rise of the MachinesSalvation, and Genisys were all fairly underwhelming at the box office and for critics. But then James Cameron returned to the franchise with Dark Fate and brought series star Linda Hamilton back as well. It felt like a recipe to take us right back to the legendary status of T2: Judgment Day. Or at least that’s what it seemed like at first.

Dark Fate opened at $29 million at the domestic box office. Respectable numbers for a low budget film, but not for something of this caliber. The budget for Dark Fate was estimated at somewhere around $185 million. In order to break even the movie needed to make about $450 million. That put the movie on track to lose a staggering $120 million overall.

Despite having the original director and cast back, and even being critically praised for being the best film in the franchise since Terminator 2, it seems that audiences had just had enough of Terminator after so many bad movies in a row.


“Mommy, what’s a movie theater?”

WIF @ The Movies

Christmas All-Time All-Stars – WIF Pop Culture

Leave a comment

 People Who

Helped Define

Modern Christmas

Christmas-001

Christmas All-time

 

All-Stars

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #227

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #227

…April 1920 has begun with casting for the minor parts, a charming custom that helps add local flavor to the production…

Casting Call-001

True to his word, especially now that the Atlantic Ocean is free of enemy submarines, Sir James Matthew Barrie is bringing his play, A Kiss For Cinderella, to the United States; Tallahassee specifically. This is quite a coup for a Southern city with a population of less than 70,000. The news has spread quickly through the theater world, leaving New York’s Broadway wanting, immediately establishing Florida’s capitol a destination of some note.

The buzz about the April 10th 1920 premier is all around, well except for Martha Ferrell, whose buzz is mainly a bug up her behind, claiming still that it is Barrie’s doing that her husband was taken from her (even though he was a adulterating, lying, “will” changing man). Everybody else is very excited about this fairy tale translated for the stage, which will be the Auditorium on the Florida State University campus.

Stepmother-001    April has begun with casting for the minor parts, a charming custom that helps add local flavor to the production. There is plenty of talent in these parts, or at least people who think they have it. Auditions are well attended, with some being the last person you would think has any leaning for the stage. Some will need an extensive make-over, like Phoebe Love, who has actually won the part of the evil stepmother, displacing the actress who was traveling with the production and not at all pleased by the demotion. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde. It may be the only time you will witness Phoebe acting contemptibly mean.

Stepsisters Cinderella

“Stepsisters returning home after the ball” by Arthur Rackham

Others are cast as extras, and a chosen few are understudies, ready to step in if a star falls ill or loses his or her voice. Agnes is one, learning the role of Euphronia, not the role she coveted, but at least she would be the prettier of the evil stepsisters. ‘Drat! Wouldn’t you know that Abbey would get the part of Cinderella?’ Herb Love is the natural choice for the Baron, so that would mean if circumstances were right, it is he who would let Cinderella’s stepmother bully and belittle her, equally out of character.

James Barrie has chosen his son, Matthew for the part of the prince, not so much nepotism, as Matthew is an actor of good repute and he is lucky to have corralled him for this one month engagement.

Baron Cinderella

@CostumeKen

King, queens, princes, step family and extras work long hours rehearsing stage blocking and speaking parts. Barrie is a stickler for perfection and even though he did not write Cinderella, C.S. Evans did, his adaptation is crisp and demands much of his actors.

And the costuming——whew——-Cinderella has more than a dozen changes herself, quite an arrangement of rags and riches. But for the sake of a happy ending, in this case many happy endings, it is well worth the effort.

 


Alpha Omega M.D.

Cinderella

Aschenputtel by silhouette animation shadow master Lotte Reiniger

Episode #227


page 212

Fave Film Origins – WIF @ the Movies

Leave a comment

Popular Films

Adapted From

Crazy Sources

Lots of iconic stuff is adapted from other iconic stuff – Jaws the movie from “Jaws” the novel, the Pirates Of The Caribbean skeleton monsters from Keith Richards, and the works of Terry Gilliam from full-blown dementia.

But not these. These iconic works are adapted from … well, weird crap. Crap you’d never think to adapt to film, unless you were on an obscene amount of cocaine, which is the only explanation we have for these:

10. The Producers (2005)

Moviegoers could be forgiven for being a little confused about 2005’s The Producers, an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name. Or was it an adaptation of the 1968 Mel Brooks film? Both? Who knows?

The 2005 film is a rare successful example of a recursive adaptation – that is, an adaptation to medium A from medium B, which was originally adapted from medium A. The 1968 film was adapted into the Broadway musical, which was then adapted back to film in 2005. The, um, producers of the 2005 film never even looked at Brooks’ original – it was wholly an adaptation of the musical, which had been running since 2001.

It was a great adaptation but, if it gets adapted back into a stage play based solely on it, we think that the fabric of reality might start to get a little wobbly.

9. An Inconvenient Truth

After his defeat in the 2000 Presidential election, Al Gore returned to a topic that had fascinated him for years – global warming. He finished compiling a slide showon the subject that he had started years earlier and took it on the road, giving his presentation to hundreds of audiences over several years.

In 2005 the presentation was seen by Laurie David, a television producer and part-time environmental activist, who somehow got the ball rolling on convincing Gore to turn it into a movie. Now, Gore was very passionate about his subject, but was not exactly known as a dynamic speaker. Yet instead of getting, say, The Rock to narrate, he chose to do it himself.

The 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth is largely just a filmed version of Gore’s presentation, making it the only film we can think of to be adapted from a lecture. We won’t argue with the potential importance of its message, but we will argue that its success was probably singular, and that “Adapted Lectures” do not need to become a regular thing.

8. Adaptation

Ask any screenwriter to adapt a narrative-free rumination on orchid poaching and life, like Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief”, and you’ll likely end up with pages and pages of unusable garbage, and a screenwriter hanging by his neck in the closet. Unless the writer is Charlie Kaufman, in which case you’ll end up with an epic mindscrew containing Nicolas Cage’s two best performances, filmed from one of the greatest screenplays ever written.

Kaufman turned the unadaptable novel, itself based on Orlean’s original New Yorker article, into a meditation on the nature of adaptation itself – not only in the literary but the evolutionary sense – with himself as the star, a screenwriter struggling to adapt a screenplay which, of course, will eventually be made into the movie you’re watching.

It’s an approach only Kaufman could have pulled off, and whoever’s bright idea it was to make “The Orchid Thief” into a movie should thank their lucky stars that Kaufman was their writer.

7. He’s Just Not That Into You

This 2009 Affleck-and-Aniston wankfest is a pretty standard ensemble rom-com on the surface. It’s one of a handful (a very small handful, mind) of ill-advised self-help book adaptations- this one a 2004 Oprah Book Of The Month that was inspired by, O Holy Grail of creative inspirations, a line of dialogue from “Sex And The City.”

The book is essentially a long series of really obvious telltale signs that the person you’re pursuing is – wait for it – not into you. How to pad this out into a feature film instead of, say, a damn commercial? Why, by turning several of its points into a series of (supposedly) comic vignettes in the style of a bland, vacuous rom-com with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston!

Needless to say, the movie did not do very well critically or commercially. Moviegoers were just not that into it, and even though that joke ss ridiculously obvious, but it was right there. We’re not even sorry.

6. The Box

For his next trick, following the epic argument starter Southland Tales, Richard Kelly turned to an adaptation of a classic … okay, an underrated … fine, a really obscure story, whose most well-known version is as a 15-minute segment from the 80’s Twilight Zone revival called “Button, Button,” which itself was adapted from a very short (8 pages!) story by Richard Matheson.

The story is too thin to fill out 15 minutes of TV, let alone a feature film, and the film itself got very mixed reviews, to say the absolute least. You wonder why labyrinthine-plot-meister Kelly would turn to it at all rather than, you know, just coming up with another of his wackaloon original stories. Sadly, it’s starting to look less and less like Kelly is ever going to make another movie as unbelievably awesome as Donnie Darko.

5. The Shop Around The Corner/You’ve Got Mail

Quintessential chick flick You’ve Got Mail is essentially an updated version of the 1940 romantic comedy The Shop Around The Corner, repackaged as a vehicle for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and co-starring AOL instead of the US Postal Service.

The earlier film was adapted, for some reason, from an obscure Hungarian play called “Parfumerie” that was never even translated into English, let alone performed for English speaking audiences. Many of the plot tropes have become standard issue for rom-coms, so the next time you’re watching one, and find yourself wondering why in the heck all of these movies have virtually the same plot, you can thank Hungarian playwright Miklós László. Or go back in punch his lights out; that works too.

4. The Fast And The Furious

Vin Diesel’s surprise hit from 2001 was loosely based on a Vibe Magazine article about illegal street racing, titled “Racer X.” The 1998 article chronicled the underground drag racing scene, which had been spreading throughout Southern California in the early 1990’s. While we suppose a movie about the scene makes sense, we’re surprised there was apparently no other source material to adapt. For that matter, we’re surprised an adaptation was even necessary.

Just one in a long, long series of one film based on Vibe friggin’ Magazine, The Fast And The Furious spawned a ridiculous series of five films (soon to be six) that are still going strong, almost like an engine of some kind.

3. I Know What You Did Last Summer

This 1997 film is known mainly for ripping off the vibe of the previous year’s Scream – perhaps because it was written by the same guy – and also for Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts. Like Scream, it’s a kind of combination slasher flick / whodunit with a twist ending, and it’s also pretty damn gory.

Unlike Scream, or practically any other slasher movie, it’s adapted from a novel. And not just any novel; the kind you used to order from Scholastic catalogs when you were a kid. Yes, this movie was originally a Young Adult novel – from freakin’ 1973.

Of course, the novel did not feature any gory murders (one character was shot, but survived), and being a YA novel, its focus is largely on the romantic relationship between the female protagonist and her hunky boyfriend (giggle!) Which begs the question: why didn’t the filmmakers just come up with an original story for their slasher flick? Why adapt any novel, let alone this one?

2. Braveheart

The 1995 historical film Braveheart is fondly remembered as one of the last films in which Mel Gibson was undisputedly awesome. It is NOT typically remembered for being based on a 15th century epic poem entitled – we kid you not –  “The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace” by a poet known as Blind Harry. Not only did we not make that up, we can’t even pronounce it.

As one of the only historical records of Wallace, the poem’s accounts of his deeds were leaned on heavily for the film’s story, even though almost as little is known about Blind Harry as about Wallace.

1. Live Free Or Die Hard

The Die Hard films have a history of adapting weird crap, but none this weird: the 2007 installment takes its premise from a 1997 (timely!) article in Wired magazine by John Carlin. The article describes “war games,” of the sort meant to anticipate and respond to an information attack, the type that wouldn’t be possible for several years.

Originally set to be adapted to film in 1999, as its own entity, the project stalled until it was absorbed (like so many other things) by the Die Hard franchise. The PG-13 rated film notoriously failed to please fans, or anyone else really, with its bloodless violence, neutered dialogue and absurd explosions. Fortunately, the 2013 installment A Good Day To Die Hard is rated R and – get ready for this – is not an adaptation of anything, but an original story for the first time in franchise history.


Fave Film Origins –

WIF @ the Movies

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 235

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 235

Chapter Twenty-0ne

A DOOM WITH NO VIEW

…My cameras were rolling during the most amazing event in the recorded television history of the world and the film is blank…

The sounds of silence speak loudly. Like traveling through a tunnel without an opening and no end, the Libbyites wander the empty grounds of Comiskey Park barely able to speak. And if they do, what can they say. Nearly all of them starts, then stops before anything meaningful get shared; a dropped jaw tells no tales.

Even for a Californian like Sam Jr. who thought he had seen it all in his young life, can only gather up his equipment and check on his people. He is being told that none of the cameras had recorded anything from the time of the blackout, until BG spoke after the light & dark show. “But they weren’t turned off; you’ve got to be kidding me! We were rolling during the most amazing event in the recorded history of the world and we don’t have it!”

“You got all the other shots Sam, that’s where the rubber meets the road,” encouragement comes from a likely source. The ringmaster, of what turned out to be the Greatest Show On Earth, has accepted the events of the evening for what they are, God with us. “Do you know how many souls were won for Christ tonight?”

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have a camera following Moses around, pre-, present and post Egypt? Examples:

  • Joseph a Jewish Prince of Egypt
  • Ten plagues against Pharaoh
  • The burning bush
  • Parting of the Red Sea
  • Rod & staff, asp & snake

“My father’s friend C.B. Demille is starting a film about the Ten Commandments. I hear it is quite the production.” Goldwyn keeps his finger on the pulse of what’s hot in Hollywood. Had he only been able to capture the divine acts of the evening, what story it would have been, yet still is and it will affect him for years to come, as it does the “others”.8 of 'em in Forever Mastadon

“Nothing surprises me about this bunch anymore,” Eddie D. is childlike in his assessment of the experience. “None of my cousins have a story like this to tell.”

“Did not Constance tell you that you and Edie would be the cousins with all the attention in the future? Sam has been getting feedback, on the shortwave radio, from NBC and they tell him that over 50% of all television sets in the United States were watching the Revival!”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 198

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 222

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 222

…the Comiskey Park Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusade Revival is heating up

It’s getting close to showtime…

So Samuel Goldwyn is treating the production of the Comiskey Park Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusade Revival like it will be an Academy Award contending production. He has become quite familiar with the crusade concept by now, but this is going to be seen by millions of people around the world and his name is going to be listed as producer, director and managing editor (& popcorn vendor).

— “The three stationary cameras in the middle of the stadium… you guys pick a carriage and follow it for as many times they go around… and not two of you on the same one, got it? —REVIVAL CAM-001

— “And I want all cameras panning the crowd during Communion. Zoom in on their faces, especially the ones who are crying or have their hands reaching for the sky. That is the image I’m looking to spotlight. —

— “Remember, for those of you who work with me in my movies, I cannot possibly control all the shots you are capturing. I want you to use your instincts, resisting the temptation to focus in on the crazies. Remember the Chicago Stadium meeting, the kook with the “You Are Going to Hell!” t-shirt or the chick who rushed the stage wanting to plant a smooch on BG?” –

“Did I hear my name?” asks the man who leads thousands of seeking souls to salvation. “I was eavesdropping on your production meeting and all I can add is that I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the word Revival. From here on out the Crusades are going to be billed as Revival Meetings. Whether it is an intimate gathering or a thunderous throng, I want the spirit of Revival to spread through this nation like wildfire!”

Billy Graham thinks big… h-u-g-e, big.

“And we are going to put faces to names and stories to faces; real people pulling on the same end of the rope, all for the sake of a fundamental truth.” BG tears up about how at this moment in time. Literally millions of united souls helped produce a moving and monumental 5 months. “We are witnessing a seminal moment in the history of modern man, Sam my boy!”

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. is thinking big-screen big.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 186

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 221

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 221

Chapter Nineteen

??? GUESSING ???

…a trio of Carbon-14 Coaches will make an undetermined number of circuits around Comiskey Park...

Related image

C-14 COACH ONE:

Willard Libby (makes sense)Carbon 14 Coaches-001

Billy Graham (ditto)

Sister Mary Joseph (lucky charm)

Dr. Louis Steinberg (good-luck doc)

 

C-14 COACH TWO:

Constance Caraway (fearless leader)

Fanny Renwick (right-hand gal)

Martin Kamen (faithful Libby friend)

Agent Daniels (man of many names)

 

C-14 COACH THREE:

Eddie Dombroski (taxi driver/storyteller)

Edie Dombroski (dedicated to Eddie)

Ajax Bannion (fearless flyer)

R Worth Moore (legal eagle)

Above is the lineup of the parade that will enter Comiskey Park through the right field gate, after the concluding altar call. The trio of Carbon-14 Coaches will make an undetermined number of circuits around the ballpark. late this April 1951 afternoon.

Sam Goldwyn has assembled a film for the occasion, each of the coach riders retelling the highlights of their experience for posterity; to be projected onto a 40’h x 60’w screen bought from a drive-in theater for the price of hauling it away. It will be shown after BG’s opening sermon and before Communion.

Heaven only knows what will happen in~between.

Crusade-001

When Billy Graham envisioned his Midwest Crusade, he thought about asking many titans of faith to join him, but the more time he spent around the so-called Libbyites, he realized that he had all the evangelistic fuel he needed with them alone.

The Bible is filled with “ites”, the easiest being the Israelites. Name six more andLibbyites-001 win a prize:

  1. Moabites
  2. Jacobites
  3. Amalekites
  4. Hittites
  5. Levites
  6. Reubenites

Ding-ding-ding, everyone is a winner. Some “-ites” are more famous than others and if you can name the hundred or more “-ite” clans, God bless you.

Libbyites are found only in the collection of words named CONSTANCE CARAWAY ~ Forever Mastadon~. To add your name to the current roster of the lucky twelve dedicated members, there will be a form to fill out in APPENDIX B section at THE END of Forever Mastadon. (Placed therein for WIF readers only)


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 185

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 214

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 214

…Samuel Goldwyn needs to which of the Graham All-Stars will be taking part, so to skillfully place his cameras…

Billy Graham All-Stars-001

“Pray for good weather Samuel. There won’t a tent or roof to cover us from the elements.” Billy Graham recommends prayer in all things life, but much is at stake at the April 28 finale. “I’m not sure that the Holy Father cares whether it rains, snows, is hot or cold. I remember one time in Ventura, California… the Santa Ana’s were howling that day and 5,000 people were wearing canvas hats that morning.”

jesus treeThe accidental acquisition of the Holy Scroll, which was conveniently (if not beautifully) placed in the path of CCPI, has been enclosed in a huge shatterproof glass display case, just like the Constitution of the United States. Crusaders can come within inches of a document produced by an undoubtedly verified heavenly author.

It’s no statue of the Virgin Mary, crying blood for all the wanting witnesses. Nor is it a eucalyptus tree with a dark bark patch resembling the figure of Jesus on the Cross.

But what it is is backed by team of antiquities (not antiquated) experts, including a librarian from a quaint town in Wisconsin. Otherwise easily persuaded people can only guess what Mary’s son looked like, or whether that is real blood or not.

“Is Willard going to be at this one?” Sam needs to know which of the Graham All-Stars will be taking part, so to skillfully place his cameras for the paramount cinematic effect. How about “all of them” MisterMovieMan asks.

“Now that the veil of secrecy has been tossed to the side, I need to keep my entire Chicago friends close and the enemy of all mankind even closer; I’m expecting a whiz-bang doozy of a day!”

The excitement is building.

“We are going to tell the Willard Libby story, end to end—top to bottom.”Libby thoughts-001

“You couldn’t write a movie script this good!”

“Constance and Martin are putting together the glorious and amazing timeline, quite a story indeed.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 180

Film Locale Legends – WIF @ the Movies

Leave a comment

Movie Sets

That Took On

a Life of Their Own

Hollywood strives to make movies look as real as possible: after all, The Matrix wouldn’t have been nearly as convincing if it’d been filmed in some guy’s basement. To make that magic, sets are often elaborately and solidly built. So elaborately and solidly, in fact, that after filming is over, those sets keep being used, even when it’s no longer for the movies.

10. Pioneertown, CA

pioneer-town

Mane Street (Really. That’s not a typo) of Pioneertown was built in the 1940’s, as a location for Westerns like Cisco Kid and The Gene Autry Show. Although it was a movie set, all the buildings were real, not just false fronts, so after the Western craze went boots up, regular folks moved in. In 1972, the building that had been “The Cantina” in various shows and movies became an outlaw biker bar that served burritos. In 1982 the biker bar was reopened as Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, and is still there today, as is the rest of Pioneertown. In fact, if you’d like to own a part of Mane Street, like the Likker Barn, check the real estate listings…they’re often for sale.

9. Christmas Story House, OH

A-Christmas-Story-House

When filming on 1983’s Christmas Story ended, Ralphie’s house gave up the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, and went back to being a house. Like other ordinary houses, it was eventually renovated until it looked nothing like it had in the movie. In 2004, Brian Jones, whose job was making and selling replica Christmas Story leg lamps, bought it on eBay. Jones re-renovated the house back to its movie glory, going frame-by-frame to make sure it was exact. Today it’s open to visitors, and Jones also bought a house across the street and turned it into a museum. A Christmas Story museum, naturally.

8. Shakespeare in Love’s Rose Theatre, somewhere in England

Rose-Theatre

What do you do with a stage set after Gwyneth Paltrow is no longer prancing around on it? You give the whole thing to Judi Dench, apparently. Dench kept the Rose Theater set from 1998’s Shakespeare in Love in storage until 2009, when she donated it to the British Shakespeare Company. The Company announced plans to use the set as a stage in a Shakespeare center, but nothing’s been done with it yet: in 2010 the Chester Chronicle reported that the city’s attempt to bring the theater there had failed.

7. John Wayne’s Alamo Village, TX

alamo-village

Never one to skimp on details, John Wayne had a full-scale, working reproduction of the Alamo built for his 1960 film about, of course, the Alamo. The set was used as a location for other films until 1971, when it was sold back to the original owner of the land. John Wayne’s Alamo Village then became a tourist attraction, with a John Wayne Museum, trail rides, and gunfight reenactments, until the owner died and it closed to the public in 2009.

6. Spahn Movie Ranch, CA

spahn-movie-ranch

Westerns like Bonanza and The Lone Ranger were filmed at the Spahn Movie Ranch from the 1940’s-60’s. In 1968, the ranch’s elderly owner let Charles Manson and his “family” stay there as they prepared for Manson’s “revolution.” They were living on the ranch at the time of the Tate-La Bianca murders, and Manson was arrested there in 1969. The buildings burned down in 1970, no doubt as some kind of heavenly judgment, and today the land is part of the Santa Susana Pass State Park.