Monday, July 12, 2010

War of the Worlds

Have you noticed that newer movies seem to be longer than classic films?  My guess, at least in part, is that the credits at the end are longer.  These days, if you have ANY connection with the production of a movie in ANY small way, your name appears on film.  Right down to the interns who don't even get paid.

Another movie that was remade is War of the Worlds.  Actually I haven't seen the newer version from 2005, by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise.  But the 1953 Gene Barry film will do nicely.  Let's compare running times: 1953 was 85 minutes, and 2005 was 116 minutes.  Lots more credit time, so lets compare cast.  1953 has 90 listed cast members, 2005 has 126 in the cast.  So the newer version has 36 more...(probably extras), and 31 more minutes.

Enough math.  Gene Barry did appear in both films, going from star to bit actor.  Many of the uncredited extras in WotW 1953 had long careers in film and TV.  David McMahon was in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Bus Stop (1956), Elmer Gantry (1960) and a host of TV shows in addition to regular movie work.

Stunt man Joe Gray had 116 acting credits, from A Star is Born in 1937 to some small parts in the 1970s including Airport (1970) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes in 1971.  He also appeared in Guys and Dolls (1955), Some Like it Hot (1959), Bells are Ringing and Ocean's Eleven both in 1960.

Other great names (at least for me) are Henry Brandon, who I talked about on May 30th, and I am happy to have spent some time with Henry.  You can also see famous vocal artist Paul Frees who worked with Spike Jones and racked up well over 300 roles in film, TV and cartoons.  He was a voice heard in Some Like it Hot and Bells are Ringing.  On TV he was the voice of John Beresford Tipton in "The Millionaire" and he was the voice of Boris Badenov, Barney Google, and many others.

Great stars in a movie that was pretty darn good at the time.

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