Superman: The Movie (1978) Sharp Dressed Men Make An Impression! Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#7 Of A Bunch)

(thanks, Jason Makiaris!) 

This one’s priceless and still a kick in the pants because it’s classic 1970’s New York gone comic book (thanks to the great Richard Donner), but even more hilarious for one key reason. I recall seeing the film back in 1978 and some kid sitting in front of me asking his dad who the black guy was noting how awesome Superman’s costume was. I don’t think there was EVER a pimp in a Superman comic when this film was released (and I’m not sure if one has ever been in an issue even as a background character). I do remember the father muttering something like “Er… um, I’ll tell you later – just watch the movie!” and me trying not to crack up laughing for the next hour plus. To this day I often wonder HOW that guy explained what a pimp was and what he did to his kid. THAT conversation must have been a doozy. The full scene is here – enjoy!

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Dirty Harry Gets Lucky: Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#6 Of A Bunch)…

(thanks, elinokiprios13!) 

Yeah, this one still works quite well, as does the entire film. Sure, Dirty Harry rubbed (and still rubs) some the wrong way for a few reasons, but there’s NO denying director Don Siegel and star Clint Eastwood knocked it out of the park. Before the series descended into self-parody and too many one-liners and dopey situations (see The Dead Pool… or please don’t unless you love to cringe and laugh at the same time), we got a deadly serious Harry delivering one of the all-time best zingers in any film ever. Granted, Harry’s response to the injured would-be bank robber IS a bit over the top (Any cop doing that crap and getting seen doing it would be off the force, I’d bet), but that Scorpio killer is completely off his rocker and the film shows you clearly that despite Harry’s rather rude behavior, that old-time justice has its way with that creep. Still, I wonder how that would be played now? And NO, I don’t want a remake.

Amusingly enough, I wrote up a joke plot outline for a FINAL Harry flick many years back that had an aged and very retired Callahan out camping and fishing somewhere in the woods and a few people with grudges against him (for stuff he’d done in previous films) trying very hard to kill him (and failing miserably for a few reasons). It got wiped in a hard drive crash with a bunch of other ideas and I don’t want to even attempt to recreate it now. Still, back them I thought it made sense and the ending was pretty funny and final for the character and the few people that get to read it seemed to agree in a “too bad NO one will ever turn this into an actual script” manner…

Shaft “Let The Music Do (Most Of) The Talking” Intro: Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#5 Of A Bunch)…

(thanks, FarOutFunky!) 

Issac Hayes won a very well-deserved Academy Award for this funky theme to Gordon Parks’ still impressive action film that’s about as far from “blaxploitation” as it gets because the material is played seriously and every actor on screen was committed to make the project work as an action film and a still solid crime drama. I’ve seen this way too many times to count as well as some making-of features on that explosive main theme and the film that show how tight the production was and how the end result still stands up as a killer flick for the ages. I also love this intro because it’s got those actual grimy Times Square locations that are ALL gone these days. I can remember too many movie theaters lining both sides of Broadway and those side streets and while MANY were porn houses, a lot were playing first-run to oldies in single to multiple features in a SINGLE theater! Yes, there were no megaplexes back then running twenty plus flicks – unless you knew what you wanted to see, half the thrill of going to the movies was strolling up and down looking at marquees. Granted, the chances were good if you dress like a mark and acted like a total tourist, you’d be tailed around by creeps. But hey, those were the days of thrills nearly every step in that seedy area, kids…

Terminator 2: Judgment Day “Dressing For Success”: Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#4 Of A Bunch)…

(thanks, cromptonog1!) 

This intro made and STILL makes me laugh a lot for a few reasons, chiefly the fact that James Cameron cheated himself a chance to make this a LOT funnier. How so? Well, he shortcuts Arnold into landing just EXACTLY where he needed to in order to deck himself out with spiffy leather togs (which is a great thing, don’t get me wrong). But ask yourself, folks… what would have happened if that formerly killer now nice-guy Terminator landed near a senior citizen’s home, a golf course, prison, or some other place where finding awesome clothing and a handy hot hog would have been next to impossible? That would have made for a definitely more amusing opening for sure, although yes, NO way as classic as this one is. Of course, if someone ever shows this post to Cameron, I’d bet I’m in for an earful and I’d sit there and take it, too. I think he’s got enough of a sense of humor to realize I’m just kidding around (heh).

And NO, kids… I didn’t forget Sarah Connor’s equally awesome introduction at all. I wanted to do her first, but couldn’t find a suitable clip on YouTube to use in the time I have today. I’ll get to her (and yes, other heroic ladies) as part of this series soon enough as I’d planned out to include ladies here from the get-go.

Doctor Jones, I Presume? Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#3 Of A Bunch)…

(thanks, jackpmoore!) 

Thanks to George Lucas, Philp Kaufman and Lawrence Kasdan with a grand assist from director Steven Spielberg (and of course, the great Harrison Ford’s performance), this one’s easy to fall into and get hooked on right from the moment the Paramount logo fades into that mountain and a big grin spreads on your face. I also find this intro hilarious because those old serials the film was derived from were divided into chapters only a few minutes long, so this would have never been allowed. Anyway, this is one of the most perfect film openings that sets the tone for what’s to come a few minutes later in that trap-packed cave and later, the wilder globe-hopping adventure to come that’s still one of the most re-watchable films ever. I saw Raiders on day one of its release here in NYC and many times since because while it’s far from flawless, it just never fails to entertain in every respect. That’s one part of what makes a true classic movie hero, I’d say…

John Ford’s Stagecoach: Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#2 Of A Bunch)…

(thanks, ThePiemmebi!)

What can I say about John Ford that hasn’t been better said by a load of other (and far better) writers? Not much, other than even if you hate westerns, his 1939 classic, Stagecoach was and still is a quite phenomenal film from a year where there were dozens of them popping into theaters throughout the year. That famous first shot of John Wayne as Ringo is brilliant and thrilling because it immediately introduces a character that adds to the story in many ways. Without seeing the rest of the film, this clip sets up Ringo as someone who’s liked and hated, a friend, yet a stranger and some sort of outlaw. He’s not giving up his Winchester at all, and yes, that stubbornness comes in very handy soon enough as things get dangerous and his skills are required.

I haven’t seen this one in a while, but if it’s on soon (TCM, of course! I missed the John Wayne flicks they ran last month) and I’m up, I’ll be watching and cheering those great stunts and oohing at that stunning Monument Valley setting once again…

Mad Max “Much Damage?” Clip: Writers, Here’s How To Introduce Your Hero (#1 of A Bunch)…

So, TCM making more (and better) use of its YouTube page means I get to babble about storytelling for a series of posts about one important part of a good (or even not so good) heroic movie. Forget all about Mel’s more current issues, folks. Back when this film was made, he was cool beans on a fresh plate and Mad Max was to many, his breakthrough role (at least in the USA where action fans got both barrels from this wild ride). This particular clip shows George Miller’s assured direction of always hard to shoot vehicle action and some dynamic camerawork along with excellent use of scoring and sound effects. The opening minute of this scene is pure white-knuckle action, then there’s a pause while Max is introduced and takes over the pursuit, completely changing the tone. The contrast between the Night Rider’s ranting and Max’s slow set-up works and when he breaks the Toecutter in that “chicken” match, you know it’s pretty much all over. Granted, Max goes though some breaking of his own as the film progresses, but I’ll let you catch this on TCM (Saturday, May 3 at 2am ET/Fri, May 2 at 11pm PT) and not spoil a thing if you’re now to this one…