TCM Remembers: It’s Been A Year of Falling Stars…


 

Hmmm. These TCM tributes are getting longer and harder to watch as the years zip by and we lose a few more stars. Yes, it’s not complete, but that can be rectified with a bit of creative calendar juggling. I suppose the thing about starting a new year fresh is big with too many people that changing this tribute’s air date to January would be seen as sacrilege to many. But at least this would insure they got in everyone including actors whose films would probably never be shown on the channel. Okay, I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a job programming content for a cable channel. All you’d get would be old “B” movies you’ve never seen (or haven’t seen for decades), silly comedies from around the world, oddball random cartoons and the occasional documentary.

So Long, Jim- It Was A Nice Long Ride, Wasn’t It?

(thanks 11db11!)nbsp;

I can recall watching the pilot for The Rockford Files on NBC as a ten-year old kid and while not completely understanding everything that was going on, finding the show intriguing enough to come back week after week for almost the entire run of the series. Nothing lasts forever, and I was sad to see it vanish in 1980 (as far as original episodes went), but as with nearly any TV show that gains popularity and notoriety, reruns kept things going if I happened to be around to catch one. Of course, James Garner did much more memorable work in films before and since. Some of my favorite performances of his were in The Great Escape (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964, the actor’s favorite role), Grand Prix (1966), Marlowe (1969) and Victor Victoria (1982). But, of course, since I was raised more on the tube, it’s Jim Rockford I’ll remember the best. I don’t have a favorite episode per se, but I absolutely recall rolling on the floor laughing at the episode where someone tries to bump off Rockford by sticking a canister of laughing gas in his car and hoping he’d have an accident:

(thanks 11db11!) 

This sequence makes me laugh harder today because it’s an homage of sorts to the scene in North By Northwest where a drunken Cary Grant (as Roger Thornhill) is put behind the wheel of a stolen Mercedes Benz and sent down a dark road towards certain doom off a cliff. Of course, he survives by taking the wheel and zig-zagging away from that cliff and down a highway until he brakes into the back of a patrol car. Jim got a wall tap to wake him out of his sunnier drive above. Anyway, another fallen star in another year too full of them. I’ll let TCM roll me out of this post with one of their tributes while I get ready for a slightly longer walk home tonight…

Random Film of the Day*: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

*For the next week or so plus, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away on May 7, 2013 at age 92 in London and yes, the film world owes him more than they can ever repay…

7th Voyage of Sinbad From the moment you hear Bernard Herrmann’s outstanding main theme that sets up the thrilling adventure ahead, director Nathan Juran’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad sets itself squarely in fantasy film history as a true classic. Of course, having Ray Harryhausen on board and in full charge of the film’s effects work at the height of his talents makes this one an absolute must-see as well as one of the best genre films ever made. It’s a perfect blending of talents by all involved and it’s probably the one film Harryhausen worked on I’ve seen the most times as have many who’ve been influenced by it over the decades. This film was yet another hit for Harryhausen and producer Charles H. Schneer and also introduced the word Dynamation into the movie lexicon (later rechristened “Super DynaMation” and later, “Dynarama”), which amusingly enough, ONLY refers to the stop motion technique the master perfected over time and became an immediate means of letting his fans know who was behind the visual effects in that latest cinematic treat they wanted to catch…
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Random Film of the Day*: 20 Million Miles to Earth

*For the next week or so plus, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away on May 7 at age 92 in London and yes, the film world owes him more than they can ever repay.

20000000_MilesWhile it has some great creature and scenic effects, some terrifically lousy acting and ridiculous dialog plus a few plot elements nearly sink 20,000,000 Miles to Earth like the doomed spacecraft that brings the Ymir into movie monster history.

That said, there are some iconic images in this 1957 sci-fi flick that linger in the memory, all masterfully animated by Harryhausen’s steady hands. His Ymir is at first “cute” and tiny, but as it increases in height and gets poked and pushed into an uncontrollable rage by a cast of idiots who misunderstand the poor creature until the army is called in to blow it off Rome’s Colosseum, you actually feel more sympathy for it by the time the film ends. Of course, if you just hate monsters in general, you’ll be cheering along with the fist-pumping crowd when the creature gets its due. But I’ll bet you a nickel that you’ll still think that Ymir was pretty damn cool…
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Random Film of the Day* Earth vs. The Flying Saucers

*For the next week or so plus, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away yesterday at age 92 in London and yes, the film world owes him more than they can ever repay.

Earth vs. The Flying SaucersWithout Ray Harryhausen’s still impressive special effects, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers would probably have been just another 1950’s “B” movie lost to the ages, only popping up on one of those cheapo compilation DVD’s you see as impulse items at some big box stores. However, thanks to those awesome saucers and some fine destruction of federal property by some rather cranky aliens, the film has been a favorite as well as an inspiration for other flicks from Independence Day to Mars Attacks! and more. The somewhat clunky acting and use of WWII stock footage don’t hurt the film one bit because they’re usually only a few minutes from one of Harryhausen’s cool animated saucers blowing the heck out of something or simply flying across the sky…
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Random Film of the Day*: Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

* Nope, this isn’t a permanent format change, folks. For the next week or so plus, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away today at age 92 in London and yes, the film world owes him more than they can ever repay.

JatA_posterForget about today’s overblown CG effects, many of which make modern movies worse than better. Ray’s best work was all about blending fantasy into the assorted realities of the worlds he created and transporting viewers to places and making them forget about the outside world for about an hour and a half or so.

Jason and The Argonauts was the sixth collaboration between Harryhausen and producer Charles H. Schneer and for many (including Ray), his best film. As a kid, this was one of the stapes of my TV diet, and as I grew older, finding out just how much work Harryhausen sunk into each film he worked on made me realize the man deserved his “legend” status as well as a the director’s credit denied him by Hollywood’s arcane rules… Continue reading