Paula’s note: This post is one of several by movie maven Jack Deth that I have had the pleasure of hosting on this site. See the rest here.
Welcome Bloggers, Cinephiles, Film Fans, and Aficionados of “Just Plain Good!”
Having received an invitation from our hostess Paula to expand and illuminate that arena of young and unrecognized talent usually relegated to the back of a crowd or corner of a set before being noticed and given lines to speak and scenes to execute, I would be remiss to not give it my best effort and reach back to an unsung purveyor of the thespian craft, who literally started off in the background of Midnight Cowboy, Alice’s Restaurant, Little Big Man, and Cold Turkey in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Plying his craft while being one of many. Building up a body of work and a reputation for being able to fill any slot for any type of dumpy, balding, kind of slimy, local or municipal bureaucrat, guard, telegrapher, cop, or barber. Sometimes affixing a Southern accent, or sticking to his high-pitched, upstate New York pronunciations, while using whatever was at hand to enhance his many characters. Before crossing my path in a big way in a small, very personal cinematic gem ramrodded by Dustin Hoffman and directed by Ulu Grossbard. A film which also prompted the parole of recidivist convict, Edward Bunker (Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs), through his semi-autobiographic novel, No Beast So Fierce. Which makes up the two fingers of Rye for this…
On December 09, 2016, movie fans wish a very happy 100th birthday to Issur Danielovitch Demsky, better known as Kirk Douglas.* For my natal tribute, I’ve chosen his charmingly menacing performance as Whit Sterling in possibly the most noir of all noirs, Out of the Past. Please note, there are major spoilers ahead. If you have not seen Out of the Past, what is the matter with you? I kid…bookmark this page, go watch it, and then come back.
What’s great about being a character actor is you know that you can survive forever. It’s not about the gloss of your eyebrows.
— Martin Short
We’re back for a fifth consecutive year to honor the versatility and depth of supporting players with the WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon. Based on a phrase borrowed from Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the WAC! Blogathon is an event that many look forward to each year. It’s a chance to pay tribute to the Louise Beavers and Eddie Andersons of the movie world — the names that seldom or never appeared above the title. Your enthusiasm for spotlighting the oft-nameless faces that appear in countless beloved movies is admirable, and Aurora, Kellee, and I extend sincere thanks to all of the bloggers who have joined us in the previous four years. We invite you all to help us make the fifth outing extra special. Get all the details after the jump…
Greetings all and sundry!
Having taken advantage of the much-hyped East Coast Snow Storm, and watched from my 23rd floor balcony as the surface dwellers dug themselves out, I’ve had time to contemplate the films of 1987 and their standing with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
A year sadly near void of the earlier risk takers and “All In!” gamblers of the previous decade, with many of the Academy choices leading toward less controversial, more palatable fare. So, keeping that in mind, allow me a few moments of your time to explore, excavate, and investigate the confusing, sometimes annoying choices of…
The 60th Academy Awards: Playing It Safe!
According to Box Office Mojo, a neat little reference source which proves useful in this treatise, 1987 was a rather prosperous year for film. With 238 entrants through the year, from the sublime (The Princess Bride) to the ridiculous (Ishtar, Real Men, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown), lots of diversions and variants in-between, and a surprising number of films in its Top 25 films nominated for Oscars.
For those uninitiated, I’ll be laying out this amalgam in the same way I’ve presented earlier critiques of the Academy’s decisions, entailing “The Top Six” categories, taking a “Top Down” perspective, plus a few personal bones to pick in the lower tiers.
This week we salute the less renowned, but nonetheless essential, disciplines of movie-making…THE CRAFTS. Those who practice them are below the title in billing yet are decidedly indispensable to the overall effect of a film. Check out the fabulous Week 3 posts after the jump!
The WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon honors the players who rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many leading actors wished they had. Aurora, Kellee, and I never tire of seeing them show up in films or paying tribute to their talents, and as the previous three installments of this event have proven, neither do you.
And so here I am with Day 1 of the 4th annual WHAT A CHARACTER! I know you can’t wait to read all the fabulous posts. Before you jump in though, we’d like to thank all the participants for their understanding as we re-scheduled the blogathon from last weekend due to world events. We really appreciate your patience.
UPDATE – November 13:
The WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon has been postponed until next weekend, November 21-22-23. We will promote everyone’s post as usual during those three days. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
WE’RE BACK for number 4!
WHAT A CHARACTER! — a phrase borrowed from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) so that we could dedicate a blogathon to those whose names few remember, but whose faces are familiar – honors the players who rarely got leading parts, exhibiting instead a versatility and depth many leading actors wished they had. Aurora, Kellee, and I never tire of seeing them show up in films or paying tribute to their talents, and as the previous three installments of this event have proven, neither do you. So here we are with the fourth annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon.
A New Year brings many things. Cold weather. Occasional snow. The Super Bowl. Worries about taxes. And that selection of works from the previous year’s effort in regard to cinematic entertainment known as the Academy Awards. The celebration of the “be all and end all” that is the magic of Tinseltown.
With the toils of 1975 fuzzily reflected in the tastes and perspectives of what felt like the final year of pulling up from the nosedive, ennui and la cafard created by Vietnam. Comedies in abundance. Woody Allen flexing his intellectual muscles with Love And Death on one side. To an off-the-wall New Wave import, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, adapted from the massively popular “audience participation” stage play. Dramas would also score high with Peter Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock, and Antonioni’s The Passenger. Making room for conspiracy thriller Three Days of the Condor by Sidney Pollack. And science fiction taking a roller coaster ride with Bryan Forbes adapting Ira Levin’s high-end The Stepford Wives. To David Cronenberg’s creepy They Came From Within. And the no-budget take on Harlan Ellison’s post-apocalyptic narrative, A Boy And His Dog, filling those more base tastes.
An eclectic year to say the least, with proven masters doing things their own way, while making room for just-starting-out talent, who would be household names in later years, going against established convention. Not an easy year for Academy voters, with a plethora of personal tales, and a noted lack of established musicals and other hugely-budgeted studio “epics” to be whittled down to an easily manageable number.
The offerings of 1975 would also have a Wild Card, a change to the long-standing paradigm, ramrodded by a young upstart named Stephen Spielberg. Released during the summer and added to the deck of contenders by tremendous reviews and popular demand. An intentionally made and executed “Blockbuster” by the name of Jaws.
Having perused, assembled and critiqued the films brought to the forefront during 1975. I’ve decided to lay out my offering very much as I had done for our hostess Paula a couple of years ago, and present for your approval:
The 48th Academy Awards: Old vs. New. With A Twist!
Our Third Annual 31 Days of Oscars Blogathon wraps up today (Monday, Feb. 23) and tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 24) with Pictures and Directors. Another great week of fabulous posts, NEW ADDITIONS AT THE END OF THE LIST:
To paraphrase a common saying, writing about cinematography can be like dancing to architecture. But I’m going to give a shot, because it’s a travesty that Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, CBE has been nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar a whopping TWELVE times, and has yet to win.
With his nomination this year for his work on Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Deakins is on a three-year streak, having also gotten the nod for Skyfall in 2013 and Prisoners in 2014. He’s been nominated for Academy Awards in two consecutive years THREE times (1997/1998, 2001/2002, 2008/2009), was once nominated twice in the same year (2008), and he’s won numerous other awards, including BAFTAs and ASC and BSC awards.
Deakins is known for his simple, naturalistic set-ups and his devotion to story over all other considerations. He likes silhouettes, fire at night, and high angles, but his shots almost never draw attention to themselves, which may be part of the reason it’s never been his year with the Academy.
He is most often associated with the Coen brothers, with whom he has worked on eleven pictures (not all Oscar-nominated). Their work has benefited greatly from his fluency with different lighting styles.
I was overwhelmed by the thought of analyzing the circumstances that have kept Deakins from the podium in the past, so I’ve chosen to spotlight briefly just a few of his amazing Oscar-nominated works. You know them, even if you’ve never heard his name. For instance…