Friday, December 3, 2010

Some Blog Notes

Hi all!  I need to take a posting space and cover some details with you.
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I finally found out what the Labels are for on the bottom of my posting screen!  I have added a "Label Cloud" on the right.  It will automatically add links to previous posts as I add the labels.  It will take a while, but I will eventually go through all of my older posts and add labels for everything. 

With such a ripe topic as Bit Actors and Actresses, I expect the Label Cloud to loom quite large!  I hope it helps you find a post on your favorite movie or performer.
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Recently I have been having some discussion with other bloggers, and that has been most enjoyable.  I joined a group called the Classic Movie Blog Association a while ago.  Please take a look at that web site when you have a chance.  There are some very talented and knowledgeable people who write their own blogs about movies, and I am sure you will find great information and enjoy your time there.

Topics are varied and can be on a specific star, genre, or simply a collection of movies the writer enjoys.  There are youngsters as well as OFs like myself.  I find it refreshing to hear what the younger set has to say about classic movies I have enjoyed for years.
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Lastly, I will be leaving the Blogosphere for a week, starting tomorrow.  We will be traveling to Florida to visit my father-in-law, and get some much needed rest.  Use that time to browse my archives and leave some comments.  After you have read everything, check out CMBA.  

Never fear, I will return on Sunday, December 12, 2010.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The new movie TRON: Legacy is about to be released, so I thought we should look at the original, TRON (1982).  Both are from Walt Disney Pictures, of course.

Jeff Bridges (b. 1949) and Bruce Boxleitner (b. 1950) reprise their roles from 28 years ago.  They were in their thirties when they made the first one, and they are still playing computer games!  I wonder if the younger stars discussed the fact that many weren't even born when the original was released.

Back to 1982.  Barnard Hughes (1915 - 2006) appears in TRON and 94 other titles on IMDb.  He also had quite a long stage career.  He started in film in the 1954 movie, Playgirl with Shelley Winters (1920 - 2006).  In 1961 he was in The Young Doctors, with Dick Clark (b. 1929).

Other highlights in Hughes' career include Midnight Cowboy (1969); his own TV series called "Doc" in the mid 1970s; Oh, God! in 1977; Da in 1988, based on the play in which he also starred; Doc Hollywood (1991); and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993).

David Warner (b. 1941) also had a bit part.  He made 195 movies and TV shows in the past 48 years.  Look for him in:
Tom Jones - 1963
The Omen - 1976
The Thirty Nine Steps (remake 1978)
Time Bandits - 1981
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 1989
Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country - 1991

And he appears in large parts in the two top money making films of all time, Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2004).   Quite a career, and a very important supporting actor.  He has such a forceful personality, at least on screen. 

There are other Bit Actors in TRON who are just as important, especially when creating a stark, unearthly place to present a story.  My guess is that the stunt actors also had some extra screen time.  People like Tony Brubaker, who has 148 stunt credits and 48 acting credits.  Being a stunt actor is not an easy job.

Charlie Picerni is another stunt man with 319 stunt credits and 61 acting credits.  These guys were in movies like Die Hard (1988) and True Lies (1994).  Now that's action...and hard work.

Now for the bad news.  TRON is available at Amazon, but the DVD is $84.  The funny thing is the VHS tape is listed at $129!  You really should see the original before seeing the remake.  Then you get the full picture.  Maybe other sites, like Movies Unlimited or have better deals, or you can get it from Netflix.

BTW, make sure you check out the Movie Fanfare blog.  They just posted another of my previous blog posts.  I am very happy they enjoy my stuff!  This one is on Robby the Robot.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Moonstruck

I just mentioned Moonstruck (1987) in a comment, and that got me thinking again.  I really like that movie.  A wonderful cast, a great script, and good direction.  The movie works.

But it doesn't work without Bit Actors.  Two that come to mind are Loretta Castorini's aunt and uncle who run a grocery store.  Of course Loretta is played by Cher (b. 1946).  Julie Bovasso plays Rita Cappomaggi, and Louis Guss plays Raymond Cappomaggi. 

Julie Bovasso (1930 - 1991) only has 29 title on IMDb, released from 1958 to 1992.  She spent most of her career on the stage and doing other work, such as writing.  She was also the dialog coach on Moonstruck, which was more important than you would think.  She was able to blend the Italian and New York accents into something truly believable.  Bovasso also did this for Prizzi's Honor (1985).

Perhaps her most famous role was as John Travolta's (b. 1954) mother in Saturday Night Fever (1977).  A few other movies she was in are The Verdict (1982) with Paul Newman, and Betsy's Wedding (1990) with Alan Alda (b. 1936).

Louis Guss (1918 - 2008) has 102 titles starting in 1957.  Born in New York, his accent came easy.  He did a lot of TV throughout his career.  We see him in The Godfather (1972), and he is in The Laughing Policeman (1973) which was a strange movie starring Walter Matthau (1920 - 2000) as a cop.  Matthau should never be cast as a cop.

Here are some of his better titles -
Harry and Tonto (1974)
Fun with Dick and Jane and New York, New York in 1977
Highlander (1986)
Used People (1992)
The Cemetery Club (1993)

But he also made movies like -
H.O.T.S. (1979)
Girlfight (2000)
A Tale of Two Pizzas (2003)

The fact is that he didn't do much on the large screen, but what he did was good.  I only counted 31 movies, the rest was television work, but I think Bovasso had better titles. 

Moonstruck has many Bit Actors in the mix.  Think of the waiters in the little Italian restaurant, and the bakery girls.  Add them up and you have a great way to spend an evening.  Champagne cocktails, anyone?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Nightmare

After writing about Thanksgiving movies, I got to thinking about other holiday themed movies over the years.

Under the IMDb keyword 'Christmas' there are 2807 titles listed.  Not all of them really say Christmas to me, including The Godfather (1972), but IMDb is really a Wiki.  My guess is that Christmas has more movies than any other holiday, by a long margin.

Now try to think of an Easter movie.  Easter Parade (1948) starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire is the only one for my money.  There are 137 titles under that keyword, including Annie Hall (1977) and American Psycho (2000).  Not movies I think of while eating my butter cream egg.

My vote for the most ambitious holiday movie goes to...are you ready?...Nightmare Before Christmas from 1993.  Think about it.  Here is a movie you can run all the way from Halloween through Christmas, that's a three month audience, and it's not a bad movie!

Tim Burton's (b. 1958) story works very well.  The original music was written by Danny Elfman (b. 1953).  The stop-motion filming of real models give it a retro quality that is missing from computer generated animation.  And the voice cast is wonderful.

Elfman did the singing for the the main character, Jack Skellington, and Chris Sarandon (b. 1942) was his speaking voice.  Sarandon's first wife was named Susan, and I believe she is now a bigger star than he, although Chris has 90 titles on IMDb.  Chris is a Bit Actor all the way.

Catherine O'Hara (b. 1954) was the female lead, Sally.  Look for her in 80 more titles, including Beetle Juice (1988).

William Hickey (1927 - 1997) has been one of my favorite Bit Actors for years.  He has 86 titles and played the villain, Dr. Finklestein.  His early movies go back to 1957 when he was in Operation Mad Ball with Jack Lemmon (1925 - 2001), Ernie Kovacs (1919 - 1962) and Mickey Rooney.

Hickey was also in Little Big Man (1970) with Dustin Hoffman, because of his wonderful voice.  In 1986 he worked with Sean Connery in The Name of the Rose, a medieval detective story that is so moody, it earned a place in my collection.  (That's not very hard, though.  I have hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes.)

Hickey made another Christmas movie, Christmas Vacation in 1989 with Chevy Chase (b. 1943).  He was hilarious as Arthur in Forget Paris (1995) starring Billy Crystal (b.1948) and Debra Winger (b. 1955), constantly singing, "You asked for it, you got it. Toyota." in that droll voice, until they put him in a home.

Back to Nightmare, Paul Reubens (b. 1952) also had a part.  I should have recognized his voice as Pee Wee Herman.  Reubens isn't famous for much, other than Pee Wee and a run in with the law, but he has 76 titles on IMDb, and is doing quite a bit of voice work.

I will work on a Christmas movie list.  One with some great Bit Actors.  But maybe some that are less well known.  It's a Wonderful Life is TOO EASY!