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The Irishman: A Crushing Disappointment


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13 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

I hear you, Joseph, but the thing's unwatchable.

I've watched Expendable at least twice, so I wouldn't call it unwatchable. I would probably watch it again.

I honestly prefer a put-up job like The Wings of Eagles,

For a great director, Ford filmed some absolutely ridiculous stuff. In an early scene of Wings, Wayne flies an airplane into a swimming pool, with the pool surrounded by people enjoying some kind of cookout. My, what boyish fun! But not to worry, no one suffers a scratch and Wayne has a good laugh! It's probably the most absurd, unbelievable thing I've ever seen in a dramatic movie. And of course later there's a Ford gang fistfight, with everyone enjoying getting punched in the face ten or twelve times and then laughing about it. Again of course no one suffers a scratch. I don't think there was one bloody nose. Hey, it would have been a waste of ketchup anyway.

 

 

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33 minutes ago, Ron Ecker said:

 

Well, of course I'm going to have to watch it again now, grumpier than Ward Bond as I go.

The thing is, in They Were Expendable, Ford's trying to prove he's an artist and a patriot.  You know what happens next.

If you want to see real Ford nonsense mayhem, try Donovan's Reef with Wayne and Lee Marvin.

If I wanted to prove myself a critic, I'd say that Ford's sense of comedy (and, Oh, Christ! it nearly scuttles The Searchers.) descends from early 20th-century theater and the silent films, and Ford will revert to playing to what he thinks are the expectations of those phantom audiences when he can't do better, or feels the script needs livening.  After Griffith, he's the long-lived director most affected by theater conventions.

And now we know what happens next when one tries to prove oneself a critic.

Edited by David Andrews
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23 hours ago, Ron Ecker said:

Thanks. As good as "Blazing Saddles" is, I have to say that my Brooks favorite is "Young Frankenstein." I guess because I loved those old horror movies so much as a kid. Brooks captured the atmosphere perfectly.

Frankenstein's monster was probably my favorite movie character, although Roy Rogers was my hero.

I remember looking in a mirror as a little boy and asking my mother if I didn't look just a little bit like Roy Rogers. 

 

From the interviews I have seen, Young Frankenstein was Gene Wilder's baby that he brought to Mel after Blazing Saddles. If you have a chance to watch it now in HD, pause the film and do a frame by frame advance when they are at the doors of the castle (what magnificent knockers!). There is a mural embedded in the wall to the right of the doors depicting the final scene with the apes in 'History of the World, part II'.

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31 minutes ago, Norman T. Field said:

From the interviews I have seen, Young Frankenstein was Gene Wilder's baby that he brought to Mel after Blazing Saddles. If you have a chance to watch it now in HD, pause the film and do a frame by frame advance when they are at the doors of the castle (what magnificent knockers!). There is a mural embedded in the wall to the right of the doors depicting the final scene with the apes in 'History of the World, part II'.

Interesting. But if I pause the film and do a frame by frame advance of that scene, it won't be to look at a mural.

 

 

 

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If you read around on the internet (because I can't remember where I read this), the Brooks-Wilder friendship was strained by Young Frankenstein.  The studio nixed the film Brooks pitched after Blazing Saddles, and wanted Brooks to direct Wilder's YF project instead, which Wilder's agent had pitched to them.  Though the script is credited to both, they clashed on the set, with Brooks famously having to be argued into shooting the Wilder-Peter Boyle tap dance routine.  Wilder became a breakout comedy star in films he directed himself, or with other directors, and never worked with Brooks again.  Something was lost in that.

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Catching up with Mel Brooks, 93, and Carl Reiner, 97:

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2020/feb/20/love-and-free-food-mel-brooks-and-carl-reiner-share-the-secrets-of-their-70-year-friendship

“I’ll never forget it. I came in one day and I heard this guy say: ‘I’m a Jewish pirate. You know what they’re charging for sails these days? $33.72 a yard! I can’t afford to rape and pillage any more!’ I thought, who is this guy?” says Reiner, eyes widening at the memory.

Edited by David Andrews
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On 2/19/2020 at 4:24 PM, David Andrews said:

If you read around on the internet (because I can't remember where I read this), the Brooks-Wilder friendship was strained by Young Frankenstein.  The studio nixed the film Brooks pitched after Blazing Saddles, and wanted Brooks to direct Wilder's YF project instead, which Wilder's agent had pitched to them.  Though the script is credited to both, they clashed on the set, with Brooks famously having to be argued into shooting the Wilder-Peter Boyle tap dance routine.  Wilder became a breakout comedy star in films he directed himself, or with other directors, and never worked with Brooks again.  Something was lost in that.

The story that Mel Brooks told about Wilder when I heard him speak here in Denver in 2018 was that he (Brooks) had begged Gene Wilder, urgently, to sub for the  actor who was originally cast in the part of the gunslinger in Blazing Saddles.  (The guy was medically ill and had puked on the set or something.)

Wilder agreed to fill in, but asked Mel Brooks to do him a favor regarding Wilder's concept for the Young Frankenstein screenplay.

Mel had nothing but praise for Wilder when I heard him speak, and also mentioned that the Young Frankenstein cast was so funny that Mel and the crew struggled to keep from laughing and ruining the takes during the filming.

(BTW, Gene Wilder played the kidnapped undertaker in Warren Beatty's film, Bonnie & Clyde.)

 

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Brooks and Wilder buried the hatchet before Wilder died, but there were hard feelings on Young Frankenstein, since it was Wilder's pitch that was greenlighted over Brooks's.  Notice that they never made a picture together again.  Winning formulas are not abandoned over nothing.  Brooks got much of the credit for Young Frankenstein's success, despite the screen credits.  Wilder jumped from a Brooks ensemble actor to the star of a Brooks picture, then established a considerable film presence without Brooks in the rest of the 1970s and the 1980s.

On Blazing Saddles, the actor Gig Young was originally hired to play the Waco Kid.  Young had had an up-and-down career, had become an alcoholic, but scored a surprise Supporting Actor Oscar for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, playing the sadistic dance marathon referee because he was thought to represent "Old Hollywood" and would fit into the film's 1930s mise-en-scene.  (He was one of Old Hollywood's youngest members.) 

Young quit drinking for Blazing Saddles, thinking the role would uptick his career.  And it might have, if he could have done a suave turn as the gunslinger. representing again an Old Hollywood type like Randolph Scott with a comic-deadpan edge, similar to what Leslie Nielsen later did for a second career.  However, on his first shooting day, Young suffered the DTs in the middle of a scene, and was taken away by ambulance.  Brooks reported that Young went into convulsions and foamed at the mouth.  It was in the scene where the Waco Kid has to hang over the jail cell bunk, dead drunk.

Gene Wilder, who had suffered high anxiety playing comedy against Zero Mostel in Brooks' The Producers, turned up to do the cool comic turn.  History was made.  But I can see Gig Young flashing a superwhite grin as the Waco Kid, and Brooks optically adding a gleam spot to one of Young's teeth with an accompanying Ting! on the soundtrack.  Instead, the sad end of Gig Young's career can be found elsewhere on the internet -- though he was good in the same release year, 1974, as a heartless CIA bastard in Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a worthwhile cult film.

Gig Young did one of the classic Twilight Zone episodes, "Walking Distance." 

EDIT

Below, Gig studies for the Waco Kid in Slaughter Trail (1951):

 

791a8073c8e9dbe37c6ab70bec7ac938.jpg

Edited by David Andrews
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2 hours ago, David Andrews said:

Brooks and Wilder buried the hatchet before Wilder died, but there were hard feelings on Young Frankenstein, since it was Wilder's pitch that was greenlighted over Brooks's.  Notice that they never made a picture together again.  Winning formulas are not abandoned over nothing.  Brooks got much of the credit for Young Frankenstein's success, despite the screen credits.  Wilder jumped from a Brooks ensemble actor to the star of a Brooks picture, then established a considerable film presence without Brooks in the rest of the 1970s and the 1980s.

On Blazing Saddles, the actor Gig Young was originally hired to play the Waco Kid.  Young had had an up-and-down career, had become an alcoholic, but scored a surprise Supporting Actor Oscar for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, playing the sadistic dance marathon referee because he was thought to represent "Old Hollywood" and would fit into the film's 1930s mise-en-scene.  (He was one of Old Hollywood's youngest members.) 

Young quit drinking for Blazing Saddles, thinking the role would uptick his career.  And it might have, if he could have done a suave turn as the gunslinger. representing again an Old Hollywood type like Randolph Scott with a comic-deadpan edge, similar to what Leslie Nielsen later did for a second career.  However, on his first shooting day, Young suffered the DTs in the middle of a scene, and was taken away by ambulance.  Brooks reported that Young went into convulsions and foamed at the mouth.  It was in the scene where the Waco Kid has to hang over the jail cell bunk, dead drunk.

Gene Wilder, who had suffered high anxiety playing comedy against Zero Mostel in Brooks' The Producers, turned up to do the cool comic turn.  History was made.  But I can see Gig Young flashing a superwhite grin as the Waco Kid, and Brooks optically adding a gleam spot to one of Young's teeth with an accompanying Ting! on the soundtrack.  Instead, the sad end of Gig Young's career can be found elsewhere on the internet -- though he was good in the same release year, 1974, as a heartless CIA bastard in Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a worthwhile cult film.

Gig Young did one of the classic Twilight Zone episodes, "Walking Distance."  Below, Gig studies for the Waco Kid in 1949:

unnamed.jpg

I believe that's Glenn Ford.

FWIW, I saw a special screening of Young Frankenstein a few years back. Mel Brooks and Cloris Leachman talked beforehand. They had nothing but kind words for Wilder, Feldman, Kahn, and Boyle, etc, and made it sound like the whole shoot was just a gas. 

On a somewhat related note, I'm flashing back to a parents' night during high school. It was one of those nights when kids bring their parents to school, and other kids get to ask them about their job. One of my friend's friend's parents was there. He was an actor, but, sadly, none of the drama kids recognized him. But I did. From an episode of Fernwood Tonite, as I recall. In any event, I talked to him for quite a bit, hoping some of the acting kids would hear me and come over to talk to him. He was Kenneth Mars. If I'd have remembered he'd been in Young Frankenstein, I would have asked him about that, but no, all I could remember was Fernwood Tonite.

kenneth-mars-and-young-frankenstein.jpg&

Edited by Pat Speer
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Mars was unforgettable in The  Producers.

When Mostel and Wilder encounter him for the first time with his birds, if you look at Wilder, he almost cracked up 2-3 times. 

 When they go inside to his apartment, that scene cracks me up every time I see it.  

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Below are a couple articles mentioning the Brooks-Wilder tensions on the Young Frankenstein project.  If I can find the material I read previously, which more fully describes their falling-out, I will link to it.  It may have been the Patrick McGilligan book cited in the first article:

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-mel-brooks-book-20190331-asdb4q2lmrca5fssa6fkt3ya7i-story.html

https://inews.co.uk/culture/film/young-frankenstein-first-scene-gene-wilder-mel-brooks-519749

Responding to Pat Speer: There's a new documentary out about "Robbie Robertson and The Band."  Robbie remembers The Band's internal problems a lot more charitably than the rest of the group did, rather like Mel Brooks remembers Gene Wilder.  If you read the memoirs of the rest of The Band, Robertson comes out as a showboater who stole songwriting credit and initiated the group's breakup. 

But there may be another resemblance here.  In his memoir, This Wheel's On Fire, Levon Helm angrily cursed the entertainment industry's divide-and-conquer mentality, by which the perceived "star" of a group was courted and separated from the rest, as a moneymaker who could be dealt with more easily and profitably than the partnership.  (Helm cited not only Robertson in this regard, but Frankie Lymon, and the Elvis who started out in a trio with Bill Black and Scotty Moore.)  It's possible that this industry mindset influenced the Brooks-Wilder breakup, since then the studios could get comedy films from each former partner.

Me, I'm done reading the bad news, and will in future only report the entertainment industry's sweetest and lightest moments.  All three of them.

Edited by David Andrews
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Young Gig, or Gig Young either one, reminds me of Guy Madison. When I went to Machu PIcchu in Peru, Guy was there making a movie. I think it was an Italian production. I watched them shoot a scene where he was supposedly giving this sad speech or eulogy to a crowd. All I remember is the last line, "It's what the Inca would have wanted." When they finished the scene, the director raved about how good it was. Guy told him not to get carried away. The movie was "Last King of the Incas." I've never seen any trace of it anywhere over the decades, so I suspect that critics (if anyone saw it)  didn't rave about how good it was.

 

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By the way...Gene Wilder would have been a mega-star in the silent film era.

Turn off the sound while watching many of his films. 

I laugh just as hard just watching his body language, facial expressions and especially his eyes.  What a great pantomimist!     Chaplinesque imo.

 


 

Edited by Joe Bauer
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