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Silver Screen Classics

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Silver Screen Classics - Page Text Content

FC: It All Began With The Silver Screen | Gone With The Wind Wizard of Oz Streetcar Named Desire Psycho West Side Story James Bond To Kill A Mockingbird Born Free Pink Panther Jesus Christ Superstar The Sting The Exorcist Nashville | Jaws Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third Kind Raiders of the Lost Ark Chariots of Fire Field of Dreams Cape Fear A River Runs Through It Forrest Gump Apollo 13 The Perfect Storm Pirates of the Caribbean | 1939 Academy Awards Banquet - Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California

1: Gone With The Wind - 1939 | Gone With the Wind is based on the 1936 American novel by Margaret Mitchell set in the Old South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. We get a premonition of the tempestuous and turbulent relationship to form between Rhett Butler played by Clark Gable and Scarlet O’Hara played by Vivien Leigh the first time they meet each other. Rhett Butler enters the room and reclines comfortably on a couch, uninvited, during the emotional scene in which Scarlett O’Hara throws a vase across the room in anger after her beloved Ashley leaves. Startled by his presence, Scarlett tells Rhett that he is no gentleman, and Rhett responds by telling her that she is no lady. Rhett is impressed by her fire, thus igniting the saga that unfolds. | In that most magnificent of all years to date for the silver screen, 1939, Gone With The Wind was nominated for an incredible thirteen Academy Awards and took home eight statuettes including Best Picture. “Tara's Theme" from Max Steiner's original score was an Oscar-nominee. Many people mistakenly assume the last line of the movie is Rhett Butler saying “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”. It is the last thing he says to her, but is immortalized because it contains a swear word [oooh!] which was generally not allowed in films of that time period, and because it demonstrates that Rhett has finally given up on Scarlett and no longer cares what happens to her. This quotation was voted the number one movie line of all time by the American Film Institute in 2005. I think the last line of the movie is actually Scarlett saying “Tomorrow is a new day”. | Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable both received nominations for their performances. While Leigh took home the Best Actress statuette, Gable lost to Robert Donat's performance in Goodbye, Mr. Chips at the 1939 Academy Awards. | Wizard Of Oz - 1939 | The Wizard of Oz, another great movie classic of the silver screen produced in 1939, was originally published as a novel by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago in 1900 and since then has been translated into over 40 different languages. Trivia queston: what was Dorothy’s last name in Wizard of Oz?

2: The Good Witch of the North has this curious bubbly voice and is impossibly nice but really not very helpful to Dorothy. Why couldn’t she wave her wand and let her go home instead of having to face the Wicked Witch of the North and get locked in dungeon watching an hour glass tick away her final minutes? It is amazing how traumatic this is on your childhood. Anyway, by the time Dorothy vanquishes the witch (who it turns out is pathologically allergic to water), what does she need Glenda for? Well, no matter, the instructions from the good witch are: | “There’s no race like RAAM, there’s no race like RAAM, there’s no race like RAAM” Next thing you know, Dorothy and her friends have crossed the finish line! Ok, that’s not really the story. Oh, the answer to the trivia question is Gale. | The wicked witch...wonder who does her nails | Streetcar Named Desire - 1951 | Streetcar Named Desire is a film adaptation of the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams. The music score, by Alex North, was a radical departure from the action-based and overly dramatic style in Hollywood at that time. North wrote short sets of music that reflected the psychological dynamics of the characters. Marlin Brando plays blunt-spoken laborer Stanley Kowalski, a complete cultural contrast to Blanche, a destroyed southern belle escaping from a ruined plantation and questionable past. | Look at Vivian Leigh and Marlin Brando together and try not think of conjugal bliss. | Glenda the Good Witch: noted for the bubbliest voice ever recorded one the silver screen | Stanley Kowalski’s efforts to unmask Blanche’s past are predictably cruel and pitiless. Their final confrontation where he rapes her is the finishing touch on Blanche's slow path into complete pyschological breakdown. In the film’s closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the doctor who gently leads her away: "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers", reminding us of her fatal weakness--depending on the attentions of men to fulfill her. | "Why, they told me to take a streetcar named Desire and then transfer to one called Cemetery and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields"

3: Each time I've watched this classic, I come away with a different feeling. The first time I couldn’t stand this self indulgent whiny Blanche character. Then years later I watched it again, and while Blanche still seemed like a pain in the neck, it infuriated me why Stanley Kowalski had to be such a bastard. The last time I saw it, it occurred to me that Blanche ultimately brought it all on herself provoking and goading Stanley until he gave her what she really wanted in her self-destructive way. | Psycho - 1960 | Psycho is a suspense thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, in case you are just visiting us from another planet and didn’t know this. | It is based on the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch (great Trivial Pursuit question, who wrote the novel Psycho?) The film depicts a secretary, Marion Crane played by Janet Leigh, (incidentally my name sake Janet Leigh Christiansen how’s that for a legacy?). Another great Trivial Pursuit question, what was the name of Janet Leigh’s character in Psycho? To continue, Ms Crane is in hiding at a motel after embezzling funds from her employer. Here she meets the motel's owner, the lonely Norman Bates played by Anthony Perkins. Anthony Perkins skillfully crafts his performance, avoiding the stereotypical ranting, raving, drooling, murder-happy, manic characterization; instead his performance as ‘Norman’ is subtle. From his quiet conversations with Marion Crane amidst the stuffed birds, to his weaseling wimpiness when confronted by the detective Arbogast, his character is oddly creepy and unsettling. | Movie trivia: While filming the shower scene, Perkins was in New York. He was never in the actual scene. The ‘blood’ shown running down the drain was actually Hershey’s chocolate syrup (remember this was a black and white film). Hitchcock had a tough time getting this scene past the censors because of its unprecedented graphic violence. He convinced them that there was no actual stabbing shown, but the scene was cleverly crafted for the mind to fill in that detail. He finally succeeded. Psycho is a film that will always be remembered as one of the pinnacles of the horror genre. | Somehow Hitchcock tricks us into believing someone would quite naturally spend a night in such a commode. | I had to sleep with the light on for a week after watching Psycho and was too scared to go down into the basement alone.

4: West Side Story - 1961 | Winner of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director(s), West Side Story, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, is a true classic musical based on Shakespeare’s tragic romance Romeo and Juliet and by all accounts significant improvement in the previous rendering of West Side Story in 1957(both were choreographed by Jerome Robbins). | Jerome Robbins, a near sadistic perfectionist, constantly pushed his actor/dancers to near their breaking point, and missed deadline after deadline, going way over budget. He was eventually fired so that the producers could complete shooting the final scenes. They hired him back after filming was finished for putting the film together. The scenes and choreography were enacted on the cement streets of New York City ghettos, as in painfully hard and stifling hot. During the scene for “Cool”, one of the actors developed pneumonia and was briefly hospitalized. | Most of the cast were reasonably good singers. However in all but one case their musical numbers were song off camera because their voices just weren’t quite good enough, not for Robert Wise anyway. The exception was Rita Moreno who plays Maria’s protective friend. Moreno is one of the rare talents in Hollywood who has garnered top honors in singing, dancing and acting. All in all, an outstanding musical whose songs have become legendary and dance numbers the among the most energetic and artistic ever captured on the film. | Interestingly, Natalie Wood who played Maria and Richard Beymer who played her lover Tony absolutely hated each other off screen, although they seemed to pull off reasonable romantic chemistry on screen. Further, Beymer was uncomfortable with his character constantly mooning about being in love. He finally settled into his role during the final rumble between the Jets and Sharks when his character at last becomes like one of the Jets and he gets bloody and disheveled. | And everything else works. George Chakiris who plays Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, Russ Tamblyn who plays Riff, the leader of the Jets, and Rita Moreno are just fantastic--their dancing and acting is perfect-- richly deserving of those the Academy Awards they won. I've watched it many times, the first time in the sixth grade, and I never get tired of it. A must-see! | High stepping George Chakiris and the Sharks defend their turf against the Jets | A love for the ages

5: Sean Connery starred in Dr. No as 007, and would be featured in another half dozen Bond films also as 007. He would be followed by Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and the latest in Quantum Solace, Daniel Craig. The three Bond themes to be nominated for an Academy Award for best song are “Nobody Does It Better”, "For Your Eyes Only" and “Live and Let Die.” | Dr. Now - James Bond Theme - 1962 | Ian Fleming created the character James Bond in 1953 in a series of twelve novels which later came to the big screen, starting in 1962 with Dr. No. The film series has grossed over $4 billion, nearly $11 billion when adjusted for inflation, making it the highest grossing film series ever. This does not even include newest movie in the series, Quantum of Solace, recently released in the UK in October 2008. Of the name, Fleming once said in a Reader's Digest interview, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, and 'James Bond' was much plainer than the original 'Peregrine Carruthers'. Agreed. Exotic things would happen to and around Bond, but he always remains a neutral figure — an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department." | Most Bond aficionados agree that James Bond is a romanticized version of Ian Fleming, himself a jet-setting womanizer. Actually Bond does not have to do much ‘womanizing’. In most films, all the babes seem to throw themselves at him. Bond attended the same schools, prefers the same foods (scrambled eggs, and coffee), maintains the same habits (drinking, smoking), shares the same notions of the perfect woman in looks and style, and had similar naval career paths (both rose to the rank of naval commander) as Ian Fleming. | Ian Fleming’s original image of James Bond | The Bond car (an Aston Martin DB5) in Goldfinger. | Pierce Brosnan with Sean Connery in the background in Madame Tousseaus’ Wax Museum | Cost of inflation: Daniel Craig is the highest paid actor in the UK. | To Kill a Mockingbird - 1962 | To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee published in 1960 and adapted into an Oscar-winning film by director Robert Mulligan. It was instantly successful and has become a classic of modern American fiction. The novel is loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on a rape incident that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

6: Lee’s writing style lends itself very well to the cinema. It is visual and subtle with each scene melting into another. Lee combines the narrator's voice of a child observing her surroundings with a grown woman reflecting back on her childhood. | Lee spent two and a half years writing To Kill a Mockingbird. At one point, she became so frustrated that she tossed the manuscript out the window into the snow. Her agent made her retrieve it. Warned that she would probably sell only several thousand copies, Lee recalled her hopes for the book when she said, "I never expected any sort of success with 'Mockingbird.' ... I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement.” As it was, she was overwhelmed with how much recognition the novel earned overnight | A very memorable and beautiful film, To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for eight Academy Awards winning three. Atticus Finch , played by Gregory Peck, is regarded as one of the great heroes of American film addressing racial injustices and raising two children as a single father. "Hardly a day passes that I don't think how lucky I was to be cast in that film," Peck said in a 1997 interview. "I recently sat at a dinner next to a woman who saw it when she was 14 years old, and she said it changed her life. I hear things like that all the time." | Born Free - 1966 | Based on the novel by Joy Adamson, Born Free is a classic among American films. In case you were cruelly deprived of movies as a child and don’t know the story, Joy Adamson and her husband, Kenya game warden George Adamson, raise Elsa, a lion cub. When Elsa approaches maturity, Joy cannot bear to send Elsa off to a zoo and have her become “stupid and lazy”. They then begin a protracted struggle to‘re-educate’ Elsa to living in the wild so that the lioness can return to a free life. | The making of the film was a life-changing experience for actors Virginia McKenna who plays Joy Adamson and her husband Bill Travers, who plays her husband George. Both became animal rights activists and were instrumental in creating the Born Free Foundation.

7: John Barry won an Academy Award for the movie’s musical score. He has since composed the musical score to Dances with Wolves, Out of Africa, and other great films. Born Free is succeeded by sequels Living Free and Forever Free which chronicle the lives of Elsa’s lion cubs after she passes away. | Return of the Pink Panther - 1963 | The Pink Panther is a comedy film released in 1963 featuring the bumbling French police detective Jacques Clouseau who believes himself to be a brilliant detective. The role was originated by, and is most closely associated with, Peter Sellers. The very distinctive theme music was composed by Henry Mancini. The unbelievable ‘r’ pronunciation that comes from way deep down in the throat (“I’d like to rrrrrrrrreserve a gggghhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrroom”) and frequent mockery of the French accent are entirely Peter Seller’s invention. I don’t think the French have ever forgiven us for Inspector Clouseau. | Monsieur Guy Gadbois at your service | A common misconception in the Return of the Pink Panther is that it is the name of the thief who steals the large and valuable fictitious diamond, but it is in fact of the name of the diamond. It gets the name “Pink Panther” because diamond supposedly contains a flaw which forms the image of a "leaping panther” when held up to light in a certain way. | In this scene, Lady Lytton, quite amused by Peter Sellers by Guy Gadbois/Inspector Clouseau, laughs so hard at one point she chokes on her drink. | Sir Charles Lytton, played by the ultra suave Christopher Plummer, is the infamous jewel thief "the Phantom". However he did not actually steal the diamond. His girlfriend "Lady Lytton" played by Catherine Schell does the impressive feat of snatching the heavily guarded jewel. Chief Inspector Dreyfus vents after Clouseau has demolished two trucks and a swimming pool in Nice: "Now he's off to Gstaad. Today, a paradise in the Swiss Alps - tomorrow, a wasteland. [Rolls his eyes and lets out a deep breath] Compared to Clouseau, Attila the Hun was a Red Cross volunteer! "

8: Jesus Christ Superstar is an Oscar-nominated film adaptation of the rock opera of the same name based on the last weeks of the life of Jesus. The film was directed by Norman Jewison. Though it attracted negative criticism from some religious groups [of course it would], the film was generally well received. Ted Neeley who plays Jesus Christ almost missed out on being cast. After inviting director Jewison to see him in a matinee performance, he was injured just prior to the show and a substitute replaced him. As soon as he recovered from his injury, he drove from Los Angeles to Jewison's hotel in Palm Springs dressed up as Jesus Christ as Norman was soon to be leaving for Israel to shoot the movie. Not only did Jewison accept his explanation and apology, but he also gave him the title role in the film. | Jesus Christ Superstar - 1973 | Critics raised a fuss over the portrayal of Judas Icarius, that his character appeared more sympathetic to the poor than Jesus Christ. When Mary Magdalene rubs ointment on Jesus' face to calm him, Judas shatters the relaxing mood saying that the money spent on ointment should have been given to the poor. Jesus rebukes him, telling him that the poor will always be there but Jesus will not (“Everything’s Alright”). | The "39 Lashes" scene was so realistic that Ted Neeley’s mother walked out on it because she could not bear the sight of her son being whipped and tortured so brutally | The film was shot in Israel, primarily at the ruins of Avdat and other Middle Eastern locations in 1972. All the windy scenes in the film were natural. No wind machines were necessary [no surprise ]. Actors were required to "hydrate" every twenty minutes while on location in the desert. Huge, "multicolored" blocks of ice were brought in from Tel Aviv for this process. [Multicolored ice!? Was bottled water not working?] | Avdat, the location of some of the scenes, was built in the first century BC and came to prosper in the next few centuries. It was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in the 5th century AD, and later rebuilt. When a second earthquake destroyed the city in the 7th century it was never re-inhabited. | Modern day Avdat

9: The Sting - 1972 | The Sting, directed by George Roy Hill who also directed Newman and Redford in the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is a film set in 1936 about two professional grifters Redford and Newman trying to con a mob boss played by Robert Shaw. The story, created by screenwriter David S. Ward, was inspired by some real-life con games perpetrated by the brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff and documented by David Maurer in his book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man. The title phrase “sting” refers to the moment when a con artist finishes the "play" and takes the mark's money. If the con game is successful, the mark does not realize he has been "taken" (cheated), at least until the con men are long gone. Ironically the expression is more commonly used today in the context of law enforcement ‘sting’ operations | Robert Shaw’s character Doyle Lonnegan had a noticeable limp in the film, which was in fact completely authentic. Shaw had slipped on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel just a week before filming began and had split all the ligaments in his knee. He had to wear a leg brace during production which was kept hidden under the wide 1930s style trousers he wore. For some reason, no other actor would accept the part of Doyle Lonnegan, so Paul Newman was obliged to hand deliver the script to Shaw in London in order to ensure his participation. | Marvin Hamlisch produced the musical score with much of music adopted from Scott Joplin. He is one of only two people in history (the other being Richard Rodgers) to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony, and a Pulitzer Prize. Special mention must go to "Solace". The mood of this haunting melody seems to capture the real hardships present during the Depression and acts as a poignant counterbalance to the jaunty confidence of the other rags such as the "Pineapple Rag" and "Rag Time Dance" tunes. A less successful sequel with different players, The Sting II was released in 1983. Mistake. | The Exorcist - 1971 | The Exorcist is adapted on the novel written by William Peter Blatty. It is based on a 1949 exorcism Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University. The exorcism was performed in both Mount Rainier, Maryland and Bel-Nor, Missouri. Several area newspapers reported on a speech a priest gave to an amateur parapsychology society, in which he claimed to have exorcised a demon from a thirteen-year-old boy named Robbie. Interestingly, Mount Rainier does not acknowledge the connection to this exorcist in its town history. Wonder what they’re hiding? | Linda Blair today

10: Max Von Sydow above. His Exorcist character was in some archeological dig, and apparently something evil escaped out of a tomb. We eventually figure out it is the Devil. | Conveniently, the RAAM route passes near these areas so if riders or crew start manifesting unseemly behavior and require a demonic possession treatment center a local exorcism is sure to be nearby. The Exorcist has been called by some "the scariest movie of all time". I had to sleep with the light on for months after this movie came out, and I never even watched it! Probably the Osprey’s crew will be afraid to sleep with the lights out and as with Psycho she will again have to vacate her comfy spot in the van and sleep with them in their motel room because they are afraid to be alone. Sigh... | Nashville - 1973 | Nashville is an American drama film depicting the country and gospel music business in Nashville, Tennessee combined with U.S. presidential politics. The movie was widely despised by the mainstream country-music community at the time of its release who thought it ridiculed their talent and sincerity. | The film won an Oscar for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song - Motion Picture (awarded to Keith Carradine for "I'm Easy"). Keith Carradine plays Tom Frank, a member of the folk rock trio “Bill, Tom, and Mary” (hmmm, who could that really be?). Tom is also a self-absorbed womanizer involved in a tryst with Linnea Reese while sleeping with Mary and Opal. This was the *first* R rated movie my parents let me watch. I was 12 years old. Kind of late in life, but this was the early 70’s and we’re talking about growing up in a small provincial town in Connecticut. | The Parthenon in Nashville, location of the final scene in the movie

11: Jaws - 1975 | This 1975 blockbuster thriller was inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 in which a series of shark attacks occurred along the coast of New Jersey between July 1 and July 12,. Four people killed and one seriously injured. Experts debated which shark species and number of sharks were involved. The attacks occurred during a deadly summer heat wave and polio epidemic in the northeastern United States that drove thousands of people to the seaside resorts of the Jersey Shore [Polio drives people to the beach?]. It is speculated that the increase in humans in the water attracted the ‘rogue’ shark(s) to the area, thus leading to the attacks. | As far as sharks attacking boats, it really does happen. A large shark like a great white might decide a boat is a competing predator and decide to attack the boat. Sharks are as territorial as anybody else. Trivia question: what was the name of Quint's boat? | During the summer of 1976 in Australia there were three consecutive weekends in which horrific shark attacks were reported north of Sydney along the Great Barrier Reef. I was living down there with my family at the time. In one incident, a small fishing boat with three occupants was attacked and upended by presumably a great white shark. One man survived by climbing into a refrigerator that had been on board the boat and escaped being attacked. But he heard the screams of his mates being mauled and killed by this shark. He survived uninjured but required hospitalization for mental breakdown. | The actual mechanical shark rarely worked during filming. This rather worked to the movie's advantage. It inspired the imagination of movie viewers, greatly aided by John William's classic theme music, to conjure this monster below the surface. Way more terrifying than anything Hollywood could come up with, and much more effective than the silly mechanized shark. It finally does make an appearance late in the movie, once while Roy Scheider's character is throwing out chum, and later when the hapless Quint slides down the deck of the nearly capsized boat into the waiting jaws of the well, Jaws. | "We're gonna need a bigger boat" | After watching this movie, I was afraid to go in the water (a small lake in the greater New York area, mind you) for weeks that summer. Sigh... | Triva answer...if you answered "the Orca" you win a free trip in a dilapidated fishing boat in shark infested waters.

12: Star Wars - 1977 | Star Wars, followed by a series of successful sequels, has generated the third highest box office revenue behind only Harry Potter and James Bond. The music might sound very familiar. John Williams, born February 8, 1932, has composed many famous film scores, including Superman, Born on the Fourth of July, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark. With 45 Academy Award nominations, Williams is, together with composer Alfred Newman, the second most nominated individual after Walt Disney. William's style may be described as a form of neoromanticism inspired by the large-scale orchestral music of the late 19th century. Neoromantic music is as far as I can figure is noted for avante guarde elements such as sound-mass composition, tone clusters, atonality, quarter-tones. In other words, it mimics the events happening in the movie and follows abrupt swings in tension and drama. | I don't what's going on in this scene because I never did see Star Wars. | Back to the movie. In 1971, Universal Studios initially rejected making Star Wars, which was still in the concept stage, in favor of American Graffiti. Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand, George Lucas then wrote it as a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars. By 1974, he had expanded the treatment into a rough draft screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, a young boy as the protagonist named Luke Skywalker, and of course the wise Jedi Knight. By 1976, after who knows how many rewrites, the script was finally ready for production. And the rest is history | The prominent element of Star Wars is the "Force", an energy field created by all living things that binds the galaxy together. The Force includes supernatural powers such as telekinesis, clairvoyance, and mind control and enhances physical speed and strength. The Force also has a dark side that imbues users with hatred, aggression, and malevolence. The Jedi uses the Force for good; the Sith uses the dark side to attempt a takeover of the galaxy.

13: Close Encounters of the Third Kind - 1977 | Close Encounters of the Third Kind is yet another success in a series of science fiction film box office hits in the late 70's and which I never went to see either. Richard Dreyfuss is an electrician and playing scientist again, apparently retiring from oceanographer after Jaws, in favor of chasing UFOs. Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, and Jack Nicholson all turned down the part which is a good thing because I don’t see them being the goofy scientist type at all. Spielberg was already familiar with Dreyfuss so soon after Jaws, so whaddya know... | Terri Garr again has to be the wife of a husband gone off the deep end, the first time being wife of John Denver in Oh God starring George Burns. The genesis of Close Encounters of the Third Kind is Steven Spielberg, as a young boy, and his father watching a meteor shower in New Jersey. Originally he thought about doing a low tech, low profile (low budget) documentary. Also now that Spielberg had scored huge with Jaws he had more financial clout for creating a big budget scifi thriller. | The road will start to look like this four or five days into RAAM. | Principal photography began on May 16, 1976. Spielberg initially did not want to do any locational shooting because of his negative experience on Jaws but he soon dropped the idea. Locations included Devils Tower National Monument and an abandoned World War II airship hangar, incidentally six times larger than the largest sound stage in the world, in Mobile, Alabama. Filming was soon beset with technical and budgetary problems. Spielberg called Close Encounters "twice as bad and twice as expensive [as Jaws]". | Perhaps someone reading this can explain what this is all about (didn't see this movie either). | Computer-generated imagery was used in a test reel for the UFOs, but Spielberg found it would be too expensive since CGI was new technology in the 1970s. The small aliens in the final scenes were played by local girls from Mobile, Alabama. That decision was requested by Spielberg because he felt "girls move more gracefully than boys". Hahaha Spielberg first tried using puppetry for the aliens, but the idea didn’t work.

14: Raiders of the Lost Ark - 1981 | I remember going to see this movie with an English major who decided ahead of time that he was absolutely going to hate it, because it was an excessive amount of money ‘wasted’ on one shallow box office smash instead of being directed into classics of timeless and lasting quality (critically acclaimed content). Actually I think he was just really jealous of Harrison Ford... | Complete with low brim hat and bullwhip ready at his side | Well, a lot of folks would agree the film has a feeling of a comic coming to life with scenes featuring Indiana Jones narrowly escaping a giant rolling rock, then madly pursued by a thousand Hovitos armed with poison darts. By the way, for all his great looks and manliness, Harrison Ford cannot run to save his life. It's more like a controlled fall, even in his prime. But he does have a body that won’t quit, even decades later. Who can forget what a stunning silhouette he makes against the setting sun atop an ancient ruin excavation in Cairo, Egypt? | And then there is that particularly intriguing romance with Karen Allen. “You still know how to show a girl a good time” she says outside the flaming wreck of her tavern holding the coveted medallion piece. Whatever happened to Karen Allen anyway other than almost perishing aboard the fated Mistral in The Perfect Storm? | The actual Ark of the Covenant is described in the Bible as a sacred container, wherein rested the stone tablets on which were inscripted the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron's rod and manna, whatever that is. According to the Biblical account, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses' prophetic vision on Mount Sinai. God communicated with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover. The history of the Ark details how it was transported all over antiquity and kind of goes on forever. However, the final fate of the Ark is a mystery. When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and plundered the temple where the Ark was kept around 500 BC, the Ark disappeared and has entered the domain of legend. Many historians suppose that the Ark was probably taken away by Nebuchadnezzar and destroyed. Kind of an anonymous ending after so many centuries of worship.

15: Chariots of Fire - 1981 | Chariots of Fire is a British film based on the true story of British athletes preparing for and competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics, probably the last time white two men vied for a gold medal in the 100 meter. Still even they had to deal with racist issues, with one of the athletes being Jewish in a world of brewing anti-Semitism. The title is a reference to the line, "Bring me my chariot of fire," from the William Blake poem adapted into the hymn Jerusalem. The film's working title was "Running" until author Welland saw the scene with the singing of the hymn in the film and decided to change the title | Remember the crummy running shoes they wore? More like bedroom slippers if you ask me | The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. The theme music from Chariots of Fire was composed by Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou or as he is more commonly known and much more easily spelled, Vangelis. Vangelis is a world renowned, Greek composer of electronic, new age, and classical music. He has also composed the award winning scores for the films Blade Runner and 1492: Conquest of Paradies. | Of course it would be another decade before African Americans were allowed to compete | St. Elmo's Fire - 1985 | St. Elmo’s Fire is the name of the bar that this lovable group of young adults likes to hang out in. The movie is one of the most memorable of the ‘brat pack’ movies of the 80’s. David Foster, born November 1, 1949 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, wrote the score for this movie. He is a multi Grammy Award winning musician, producer, composer and arranger. Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire is one of his biggest solo hits. | St. Elmo's Fire is actually an electrical weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge originating from a grounded object in an atmospheric electric field (such as those generated by thunderstorms or thunderstorms created by a volcanic explosion). For those of you who flunked Earth Science plasma is ionized gas. That means it has the property of the positive and negative charges moving about independently. Which in turn means the air which is normally a poor conductor, is now electrically conductive. Don't think I want to experience this.

16: A coronal phenomenon is created by an electrical discharge brought on by the ionization of a fluid (e.g. plasma) surrounding a conductor such as the high voltage coil in the picture. Or in the foregoing explanation a grounded object such as a sailing ship in an atmospheric electric field such as a thunderstorm. St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formiae, the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms, and was regarded by sailors with superstitious awe, accounting for the name. Ball lightning is often erroneously identified as St. Elmo's Fire. They are separate and distinct meteorological phenomena. I had to find a picture of ball lightning. Also something I probably don’t want to experience. Ball lightning is a phenomenon still not understood and was regarded by scientists as a hoax until recently. Unlike lightning it can last several seconds. It is not necessarily connected with thunderstorms as the name would imply. | Field of Dreams - 1989 | This is supposed to be what coronal phenomenon brought on by electrical discharge looks like | Rare photograph of ball lightning | What does all this electricity stuff have to do with the movie? Nothing really, except the movie makes the rather pretentious claim of comparing the St. Elmo’s Fire phenomenon with wild young hearts struggling with adulthood. Well, I mainly likd it for the theme song. | Field of Dreams is a fantasy/drama film based on the novel Shoeless Joe, and directed and adapted by W. P. Kinsella. The movie has a great cast - Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster in his last film appearance. Field of Dreams has generated its own pop culture. The most famous line to come out of the movie, “if you build it, he will come” has been used (or misused) in numerous other films, radio and TV shows, and even stand up comedic routines, The Iowa tourism board issued an official bumper sticker "Is this Heaven?" with an outline of Iowa. | "Why does my cornfield keep talking to me?" | One critic's comment: “The movie is a rarity in one respect: a non-violent film that is almost strictly a man's film, one that brought tears to millions of men who watched it.” Not sure I wouldn’t be offended by that remark about a non violent man's film, if I were a guy. I am somewhat put off by the notion this is a man's film. Why, because it features a baseball field?

17: One night, a few weeks after my own father passed away, I was watching this movie for the umpteenth time, and ended up letting it run past the end of the film credits, too inert to get up and rewind the VCR. At the very very end of all the credits appeared the words, “For our parents”. | Except for a few location shots in Boston, including Fenway Park, much of the film was shot in Dubuque County, Iowa and Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The home (then and now a private residence) and field were on adjoining farms near Dyersville, Iowa. Alas, the RAAM course travels quite a bit south of these locations, so no field of dreams await the riders and crews. In a twist of irony, the baseball field built for the film did actually become a tourist attraction just as it did at the end of the movie. The novel Shoeless Joes is much more fantasy oriented. Kostner did a good job of keeping this movie in the realm of an every man experience, if you consider disappearing into the corn stalks an every day occurrence. | The character played by Burt Lancaster is Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, based on a real baseball player of the same name. The character is largely true to life, excepting a few factual liberties taken for artistic reasons. The author in the story, Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), is fictional but inspired by the life of reclusive author J.D. Salinger whose most famous work is The Catcher in the Rye. | What a perfect place to build a baseball field! | Cape Fear - 1991 | Cape Fear is a thriller film first produced in 1963 and later directed by Martin Scorsese in the 1991 release. At first glance Max Cady seems to be just another creep, a rapist and convict out to torment and humiliate a nice, upper-middle class family. ‘He's an ex-con,’ yuppie lawyer Sam Bowden smugly says. But gradually it becomes apparent that they seriously underestimate his vengeance. The ex-con turns out to be a vicious, psychotic character of extraordinary strength and wily intelligence. When it came out, this movie was reviled by critics for its violence. [They’re watching a Scorsese film and they're shocked by the violence?] | Poised on the edge of a nightmare

18: De Niro has remarkable range for portraying characters of great compassion and great evil. | A River Runs Through It - 1992 | What was possibly more disturbing was the possibility that a vicious ex-con could be smarter, tougher, and more untouchable than a successful lawyer. Some of the actors in this thriller, most notably Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, played in both the original Cape Fear from 1962 and the 1991 remake. Between the two movie versions, they actually switch ‘sides’. Gregory Peck defends Max Cady, whereas in the original he played the lawyer Sam Bowdin being terrorized by Max Cady. Robert Mitchum is police Lt. Elgart whom Sam Bowdin turns to for help, while in the original he actually played Max Cady. | Incidentally the title Cape Fear, which does actually exist and drains the largest watershed in North Carolina, comes from the 1585 expedition of Sir Richard Grenville. Sailing to Roanoke Island, his ship became embayed behind the cape. Some of the crew were afraid they would wreck, giving rise to the name Cape Fear. At any rate, the RAAM crew will frequently check underneath the support van on the road after reading this. And no doubt be thankful the RAAM route veers well the north of North Carolina. | A River Runs Through It is based on a novel by the same name by Norman Maclean who passed away in 1990. Maclean was raised in a Presbyterian family in early 20th century Montana whose views on life are filtered through his passion for fly fishing. The novella is noted for using detailed descriptions of fly fishing and nature, and for engaging the reader with profound metaphysical thoughts | “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. “ | The half light of the canyon

19: Robert Redford directed the film starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer, and Tom Skerritt. In spite of the technical difficulties of filming in the river canyon with the extreme contrasts of bright sunlight and shadow, the film took advantage of the distinctive lighting to fantastic effect. It won an Oscar for cinematography as well being nominated for three Academy Awards. It also showcased the musical talents of classical and jazz musician Mark Isham and considerable acting abilities of a relatively undiscovered Brad Pitt. | “Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them. Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.” | The novella A River Runs Through It is recognized as a minor American classic. | Forrest Gump - 1994 | Forrest Gump, released in 1994, was based on the 1986 novel Winston Groom. It was the top grossing film in North America released that year, garnering thirteen Academy Award nominations, of which it won six, including Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, Best Director, and Best Actor (Tom Hanks). The endearing theme of the movie is that this simple man made folks around him realize life is not so complicated as most people approach it. | "Run, Forrest, run!" | Archival footage of JFK, Nixon and other historical characters and the use of such techniques as chroma key, warping, morphing and rotoscoping made it possible to depict Gump meeting and shaking hands with now-deceased presidents. | Chroma key above overlays two images. The image of the boy in the left frame is removed from the green background and transplanted into the image on the right.

20: Rotoscoping was the technique used on actor Gary Sinise to appear with his legs amputated. This was achieved by wrapping his legs with a blue fabric, which a "roto-paint" team then used to paint out his legs from every single frame. At one point, while hoisting himself into his wheelchair, his "missing" legs are used for support. Forrest Gump: [narrates] Now for some reason I fit in the army like one of them round pegs. It's not really hard. You just make your bed real neat and remember to stand up straight and always answer every question with "Yes, drill sergeant." Drill Sergeant: ...Is that clear? Forrest Gump: Yes, drill sergeant! | Wasn’t Sally Fields great as Forrest’s mom in this movie? | Apollo 13 - 1995 | Apollo 13 dramatized the event of the ill-fated same-titled lunar mission in 1970. The movie was based on the book Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger and was directed by Ron Howard. The film was praised for its adherence to the technical details of the actual event. However there were a few minor anachronisms if you watch carefully, including the appearance of The Beatles' Let It Be album which was actually released after the Apollo 13 launch. In another scene a NASA technician points to a Mr. Coffee machine and says, "The spacecraft needs to be able to operate on barely enough power to run this coffee pot for nine hours." However, electric drip coffeemakers, such as Mr. Coffee, did not exist until 1972. Ok, very minor. | Photograph of the Apollo 13 damaged Service Module taken from the Command Module after being jettisoned. | The crew used the Lunar Module as a “lifeboat” in space. Despite great hardship caused by severe constraints on power, cabin heat, and potable water, the crew successfully returned to Earth. The mission was thus called a "Successful Failure". It was later made public this successful failure cost $4.4 billion. The Apollo 13 review board does not refer to the incident as an "explosion", but as a ruptured disk which had functioned to prevent a catastrophic explosion. | The hastily adapted Command Module's lithium hydroxide canisters for filtering dangerously high CO2 levels aboard the lunar module resulted in a marvelous bit of engineering lovingly dubbed “the mailbox.” | The "mailbox" | [So the crew 'only' had to deal with a regular explosion, I mean ruptured disk.] The flight's problems actually began during the liftoff with a lesser-known malfunction. During the second-stage burn, the center engine shut down two minutes early. Engineers later discovered that this was due to dangerous ‘pogo’ oscillations which might have torn the second stage apart. This was corrected in subsequent missions. Tom Hanks refers to this as "looks like we've had our glitch for the mission" soon after liftoff.

21: The Perfect Storm - 2001 | Incidentally, Lowell’s radio transmission after the explosion actually was, "Houston, we've had a problem" which in the movie is "Houston, we have a problem". Personally I think the movie version is more realistic. After the initial explosion they still had a very big problem on their hands and were a lonnnnnnng way from home. | Original Apollo 13 crew: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise. All dressed up but not going anywhere yet | Apollo 13 crew: Lovell, Jack Swaggert, and Fred Haise. These guys better hurry and suit up. | The Perfect Storm was based on a novel written by Sebastian Junger in 1997 and later produced by Wolfgang Petersen in 2001. Casting and acting by all involved was perfect. In spite of the intense drama, nothing is overacted or overly dramatic. I really like the casting of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Linda Greenlaw, who in real life had nothing more than friendly relations with Captain Billy Tyne. Normally Ms. Mastrantonio plays a frosty bi-otch type and here she is, mixing with unshowered salty dog crew hands loading bait and tackle. | As far as the actual Andrea Gail is concerned, no one knows what happened. The last anyone heard from them was around midnight. Shortly thereafter all radio communication was lost, no doubt due to storm’s winds damaging the boat and ripping off the antennae. It is entirely possible that they were unable to turn around and escape and/or met up with one of those 80 or 100 foot rogue waves reported by some witnesses. Those funny buoys they had used to mark their fishing lines washed up on the coast of Sable Island days later, but no sign of the boat. Mostly likely in Davy Jones locker of the cold grey North Atlantic. It is conjectured that they may have attempted to veer north of the center of the storm to avoid the worst of it, unlike their bravado of deciding to go right through it as depicted in the movie | This is the ‘perfect storm’ as seen from aloft. Fascinating for meteorologists, nightmares for Coast Guard and ships at sea

22: When Junger came to Gloucester to write the book, he had a very difficult time earning the trust and confidence of the locals, most of whom were sick of outsiders and reporters coming to their town after the disaster. Finally it was the mother of one of the crew and owner of the "Crow's Nest" local inn who opened up to him. After that, everyone followed suit. One of my favorite characters was the woman named ‘Red’ who reminds me of my sister. On film as well as off she and the Andrea Gail crew hand name Bugsy form an strong affection for each other. | Pirates Of The Caribbean - 2007 | There is a significant difference between the book (reality) and the movie where the Coast Guard had to abandon the chopper and ditch into the raging maelstrom. Entire documentaries have been made on this particular ordeal. I stayed up past 2am unable to put the book down reading that chapter. The book is a fascinating read, one which you can read a second time because there is so much you miss some of it on the first read. Example: after the Mistral crew are rescued, the woman who basically commandeered the boat for 52 hours during a nearly impossible Coast Guard rescue in raging seas climbs into the rescue chopper. As she looks out over the stormy North Atlantic she starts hallucinating wildly, seeing the African Serengetti and herds of animals running through the dry grass. I think I appreciate this more fully after my trials with RAAM 2008 during which I frequently saw things I knew simply weren't there. | The 'perfect storm' occurred when Hurricane Grace veered north and the storm off the Grand Banks stalled. The result was these two storm systems combining air circulation, cyclonic from the Grand Banks storm, anti cyclonic from Hurricane Grace. This caused the storm to move ‘backwards’ back to the east coast, instead of the usual west to east motion of the jet stream. Moving in the same direction as the incredible winds being generated added an extra 20 knots to the wind speed. The result was over a billion dollars of flood damage to the east coast. High seas caused the Hudson River to literally back up and flooding was reported as far north as Albany, NY. | The 'perfect storm' actually peaked after the Andrea Gail went down. | Pirates of the Caribbean is a multi-billion dollar Walt Disney franchise encompassing a theme park ride, numerous video games and course the movie trilogy. By August 2007, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had grossed over 2.7 billion. The first of the trilogy, The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) was an unexpected success, resulting in the equally successful Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007). The story follows pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, (doesn’t Johnny Depp make a great pirate!), and blacksmith Will Turner as they rescue Elizabeth Swann from the cursed crew of the Black Pearl captained by Hector Barbossa.

23: The basic plot has a certain relevance to history, with English pirates squaring off against their Spanish rivals. The era of piracy in the Caribbean Sea began in the 1560s and flourished in the 1600’s. Piracy was sometimes given "legal" status by colonial powers, especially England and the Netherlands, in the aim to weaken their rivals, principally the Spanish who despite their great wealth and power were unable to sufficiently protect their merchants on the open seas. | Special effects: Film designers had evil characters wear dulled contacts to give them an enhanced sinister look. Mackenzie Crook wore two contacts to represent his character's wooden eye: a soft version, and a harder version for when it protrudes. Rotten teeth and scurvy skin were dyed on. Yeaccchhh. Depp used a genuine pistol made in London, 1760 which he obtained from a dealer in Connecticut. | A favorite pirate stomping ground. | To minimize the considerable difficulties of filming on the ocean, filmmakers spent only six days on open sea to shoot the battle scene between the Black Pearl and the Interceptor. For the remaining scenes, they used the quietest beach they could find in the Caribbean, St. Vincent, a volcanic island in the Grenadines chain. Here they built the replicas of ports Port Royal and Tortuga. For budget reasons, the Dauntless and the Black Pearl were built on barges, with computer-generated imagery finishing the structures. Another Black Pearl replica was built on the Spruce Goose (heavy transport aircraft), to control fog and lighting. The Interceptor was the re-dressed Lady Washington, a functional sailing ship from Seattle, embarking on a 40-day voyage arriving on location on January 12, 2003. A miniature of her was also built for one of the storm sequence. | Walking dead man

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