Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XIX:

Silver Streak

  • The film is a lot better than the poster would make you think.

    The film is a lot better than the poster would make you think.

    Director:  Arthur Hiller

  • Writer:  Colin Higgins
  • Producer:  Edward K. Milkis  /  Thomas L. Miller
  • Stars:  Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Pryor, Patrick McGoohan, Ned Beatty
  • Studio:  20th Century-Fox
  • Award Nominations:  Oscars – Sound; Globes – Actor – Comedy; WGA – Original Comedy
  • Length:  114 min
  • Genre:  Comedy
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Release Date:  8 December 1976
  • Box Office Gross:  $51.07 mil
  • My Rating:  ***.5
  • My Rank:  #18 (year)
  • Nighthawk Globe Nominations:  Picture – Comedy, Original Screenplay – Comedy, Supporting Actor – Comedy
  • Nighthawk Notables:  Best Film to Watch Over and Over, Best Scene (stopping the train)
  • First Watched:  sometime on television
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  more than 5

As a Kid:  There was a goofy television show in the early 80’s called The Fall Guy.  I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember the opening credits.  The song was called “The Unknown Stuntman” and it was actually sung by star Lee Majors (I think that’s how my family ended up watching it – we had been big fans of The Six Million Dollar Man).  It featured several stunts from movies, with the notion that this unknown stuntman that the show was about (played by Majors) had really been the person performing those stunts.  One of them involved a person on top of a train hitting a light switch and being dragged off the train (it’s just 20 seconds in). (more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XVIII:

The Untouchables

  • The most famous graduate of my high school becomes a star.

    The most famous graduate of my high school becomes a star.

    Director:  Brian De Palma

  • Writer:  David Mamet  (suggested by the book by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley)
  • Producer:  Art Linson
  • Stars:  Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Award Nominations:  Academy Awards – Supporting Actor, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design; Golden Globes – Supporting Actor, Score; BAFTA – Supporting Actor, Score, Production Design, Costume Design; WGA (Adapted Screenplay); NBR – Supporting Actor
  • Length:  119 min
  • Genre:  Suspense
  • MPAA Rating:  R
  • Release Date:  5 June 1987
  • Box Office Gross:  $76.27 mil  (#6 – 1987)
  • Ebert Rating:  **.5
  • My Rating:  ****
  • My Rank:  #12 (year)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Supporting Actor, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design
  • Nighthawk Notables:  none
  • First Watched:  the week it came out on video
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  5 or 6

As a Kid:  I don’t think it was known yet when I saw this film.  The “it” in the preceding sentence is not that Kevin Costner was about to become one of the biggest stars on the planet.  It’s that Kevin Costner was the most famous person to ever come out of my high school.  I already liked him before I was inclined to like him and this film (along with Silverado) was a major reason why, even before he starred in the two best baseball films ever made at a time when baseball was a massive part of my life. (more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XVII:

A Nightmare on Elm Street

  • It's all fun and games until Freddy Kruger kills you in your sleep.

    It’s all fun and games until Freddy Kruger kills you in your sleep.

    Director:  Wes Craven

  • Writer:  Wes Craven
  • Producer:  Robert Shaye
  • Stars:  Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, Ronee Blakely
  • Studio:  New Line
  • Award Nominations:  none that I track
  • Length:  91 min
  • Genre:  Horror (Slasher)
  • MPAA Rating:  R
  • Release Date:  9 November 1984
  • Box Office Gross:  $25.50 mil  (#40 – 1984)
  • My Rating:  ***
  • My Rank:  #28  (year)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Notables:  none
  • First Watched:  1987 or so
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  2 or 3

As a Kid:  This film pretty much scared the crap out of me.  It wasn’t the worst movie I ever dealt with (I watched The Hitcher at one in the morning alone – that was a mistake) but it was genuinely terrifying.  And yet, I watched it more than once.  Why?  Well, because I knew it was well-made.  The director clearly had some talent, and he used that to great effect.  I wasn’t quite certain why it had scared me so much – perhaps that I never liked to sleep to begin with (I had nightmares a lot as a kid) and this film is designed to make you scared of sleeping.  Perhaps because the killer was unreal in a sense, and that made him more frightening than someone like Michael Myers.  Either way, this was one of the few non-Godzilla Horror films that I watched more than once as a kid. (more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XVI:

Superman II

  • superman_ii_ver5Director:  Richard Lester  /  Richard Donner
  • Writer:  Mario Puzo  /  David Newman  /  Leslie Newman  /  Tom Mankiewicz
  • Producer:  Ilya Salkind
  • Stars:  Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Terence Stamp
  • Studio:  Warner Bros
  • Award Nominations:  none from groups I track
  • Length:  127 min (original)  /  116 min (Donner cut)
  • Genre:  Sci-Fi (Comic Book)
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Release Date:  19 June 1981
  • Box Office Gross:  $108.18 mil  (#3 – 1981)
  • Ebert Rating:  ****
  • My Rating:  ***.5
  • My Rank:  #9 (year)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Nighthawk Notables:  Best Opening Credits
  • First Watched:  in the theater on my 8th birthday
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  15-20

As a Kid:  My mother took my older brother, my sister and I to the movies for my 8th birthday.  It was a double feature of Star Trek II and Superman II (well over a year after it was first released).  The former film scarred my mother for life but both films were a godsend to me.  I loved them both then and I love them both now.  Indeed, when I was a kid, the only films I loved more than Superman II were Star Wars and Watership Down (I was not a normal child).  So why is it that I loved the second film so much? (more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XV:

Hollywood finally decides to embrace the comic book world - the real start of a good relationship.

Hollywood finally decides to embrace the comic book world – the real start of a good relationship.

Superman

  • Director:  Richard Donner
  • Writer:  Mario Puzo  /  David Newman  /  Leslie Newman  /  Robert Benton
  • Producer:  Ilya Salkind
  • Stars:  Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty
  • Studio:  Warner Bros
  • Award Nominations:  Oscars – Editing, Score, Sound, Visual Effects; BAFTA – Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Score, Sound; Globes – Score; WGA – Adapted Comedy; ACE
  • Length:  143 min (original)  /  151 min (director’s cut)
  • Genre:  Sci-Fi (Comic Book)
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Release Date:  15 December 1978
  • Box Office Gross:  $134.21 mil  (#2 – 1978)
  • Ebert Rating:  ****
  • My Rating:  ***.5
  • My Rank:  #9 (year)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Nighthawk Notables:  Best Scene (the first appearance)
  • First Watched:  in the theater
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  more than 10

As a Kid:  It was November of 1982.  I wanted desperately to get home so that we could watch Superman on television.  It was a new 3 hour version of the film that had played over two nights back in February but was now being played in one showing.  And we were headed home, though not fast enough, from Disneyland.  That should tell you two things: 1 – Growing up 6.1. miles from Disneyland means you can take visits there for granted.  2 – I was crazy about watching a comic book movie, especially one in which there would be extra scenes.  Deleted scenes and extended editions were clearly made for me, even when I was a kid.

(more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XIV:

The original isn't always the best.

The original isn’t always the best.

The Terminator

  • Director:  James Cameron
  • Writer:  James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd
  • Producer:  Gale Anne Hurd
  • Stars:  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton
  • Studio:  Orion
  • Award Nominations:  none that I track
  • Length:  107 min
  • Genre:  Sci-Fi
  • MPAA Rating:  R
  • Release Date:  26 Oct 1984
  • Box Office Gross:  $38.37 mil  (#21 – 1984)
  • My Rating:  ***
  • My Rank:  #46 (year)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Notables:  none
  • First Watched:  sometime after it came to HBO
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  3 or 4

(more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XIII:

Yes, the cow is an important plot point that will lead to a really tasteless gag.

Yes, the cow is an important plot point that will lead to a really tasteless gag.

Top Secret!

  • Director:  Jim Abrahams / Jerry Zucker / David Zucker
  • Writer:  Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Martyn Burke
  • Producer:  Jon Davison / Hunt Lowry
  • Stars:  Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Christopher Villiers
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Award Nominations:  none
  • Length:  90 min
  • Genre:  Comedy (Parody)
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Release Date:  22 June 1984
  • Box Office Gross:  $20.45 mil  (#52 – 1984)
  • My Rating:  **.5
  • My Rank:  #131  (1984)
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Notables:  none
  • First Watched:  On HBO sometime in 1985 probably
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  at least 5

(more…)