It became a movie that none other than someone who was Mafia Royalty (and chose to leave the Life, and managed to live), considers to be one of the 2 greatest and most realistic movies on La Cosa Nostra.
The man whose dream it was to produce this was new to the industry, having worked in a cubical at the Rand Corporation, faced unbelievable opposition to the making of this movie. Besides convincing the head of Paramount that he could produce a movie, the opposition he faced involved death threats.
Even the head of Paramount Studios found something in his bed even more terrifying than the movie’s portrayal.
You learn that you can have a good script, but without the right casting the movie can still flop. Without the right screenwriter, the movie will flop.
This miniseries, produced by the producer of The Godfather, Albert S. Ruddy, delves into the painful process and politics they had to overcome in the making of a movie that is considered in anyone’s short list as “one of the best”.
I look at the cast, and can’t imagine anyone else in any given part.
I’d love to tell you more, but don’t wish to be a spoiler.
The story of the making of this magnificent movie is as dramatic as the movie, and Albert S. Ruddy is finally telling the story after 40 years.
In the 1980s someone, either as a joke or an experiment, sent the screenplay of this unproduced play to various movie studios. None considered it to be a project, a handful “got it”, but most came back rejected, for their various reasons.
“Not enough sex“, said one. “Too much dialogue“, said another.
The play rights were eventually bought by Warner Brothers Studio for the ridiculous sum (even then) of $20,000.
It became on the silver screen one of the greatest movies ever made.
I believe that he would have approved of this adaptation of MacBeth. These days, it takes courage for a producer to have his work in Black and White, rather than color. I can think of only a fewmodern movies that were done in B & W.
In The Tragedy of MacBeth, the cinematographer really understood the medium and exploited it. Every shadow, every shade, was enhanced by this medium.
Take a look at the trailer:
One critic called the cinematography a visual feast.
My only issue? It’s really an issue highlighting my own ignorance, and not that of The Bard.
With the Elizabethan and Shakespearean English, I felt that I sometimes needed subtitles :-).
For some reason, Hollywood seems to have forgotten Westerns. Growing up in the 50s, America had a plethora of Westerns. There were more TV series than I can count.
In 1959, NBC started a series that lasted 14 years. It was also one of the first shows that transitioned to color. I can remember, in the early 60s, going with my family to some friends who had a rare color TV every Sunday evening where we would all watch Bonanza.
There have been some low-budget Westerns lately – movies you probably hadn’t heard of but I saw one on Netflix some time ago. I thought Gone Are the Days was a great Western – ended up buying a DvD. A father who led a life of crime had one chance at redemption.
ColoComment recommends Old Henry.
In the 2000s the only big budget Western I can remember was Open Range.
I go to the movies fairly frequently. I generally avoid the “movies of the month” at the local metroplex, but prefer either the “classics” shown there occasionally, or the smaller produced movies. Last night, for example, I went to see The Matrix (1999) which is apparently being reshown on the big screen. I found it to be just as entertaining as it was 22 years ago, although some of the aspects are still perplexing. I’ve heard that House of Gucci is pretty good, and may see that in the upcoming weeks. I think Lady Gaga is very talented; having seen her in a biography movie a few years ago.
I saw Belfast a few weeks ago – a great movie on the origins of “The Troubles” in 1969 at Northern Ireland.
I just finished Being the Recardos today. It tells the story of one tumultuous week during the making of an episode in Season 2 1 * (1952) of I Love Lucy.
There are few TV series that I have enjoyed so much as to see them again (through streaming). The 7th and final season of Bosch (Amazon Prime) is out, and I have been going through the entire series again before enjoying that final season. For me it has been a series to be savored.
I’ve had a friend for years I would call a cinemaphile. Had a collection of over 1,000 movies in his library and wanted me to have a cinematic education. We got up to Hondo (1953) before he moved out of state.
Over the years I have recommended the occasional police movie or series only to have him tell me “I hate Cop and Doctor shows”.
But he has always had an exception. He enjoyed House for a “doctor show”, and upon my recommendation enjoyed Bosch. Bosch isn’t a typical “cop show”.
Since the danger of getting COVID seems to be lifting, I decided to go to the theater yesterday. That, and the fact that for me anyway I’m not going to stay sequestered in my house for an indefinite time; life is short enough as it is. They recently allowed them to re-open. And one of my favorite programs is the one put on by TCM/Fathom Events. They generally present a classic movie once a month, to be shown only a few days, usually on a Sunday and Wednesday.
Although I question some of their definition of “classic”, vs old (Shrek is on next!), I have seen some fantastic movies, such as North by Northwest (Hitchcocks greatest, IMO), Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon.
Currently (this Wednesday and Thursday are the last days) they are showing the movie La Bamba, about the all-too-short life of 50s rocker Richie Valens.
Valens (actual name, Ricardo Valenzuela), was one of those rock and roll pioneers in the 50s who rose from aspiring singer to national prominence in only 8 months. He and such other headliners as Dion and the Belmonts and Buddy Holly were touring the Midwest playing in small local venues. I was thinking today that rock stars play in stadiums making millions, but in those days it was frequently all night rides playing in front of hundreds.
Towards the end of his short 17 year old life, Richie would be traveling in an old bus with a broken heater in the freezing Midwest. It would be Buddy Holly who decided that day on February 3, 1959, to charter a Beechcraft Bonanza and with 3 available seats, well, 2 since Buddy would have one, they would beat the bus and avoid the freezing and uncomfortable night. The Beech took off in the snow and into immortality. It was the day the music died. And Richie would lose his life, like movie star Carole Lombard 17 years earlier, on a coin toss.
This 1987 movie is what made the career of a previously unknown Lou Diamond Phillips. And in the credits they thank the Valens family for their help, so I am assuming that it is not some screenwriter’s fictional embellishment.
It’s an inspirational story about a boy who rescued his widowed mother and sisters from a San Joaquin valley migrant camp and rose to stardom, all in 8 months.
Without knowing anything about it, I would think it would be about as exciting as watching the grass grow. And in saying that, reveals an ignorance about the game on my part.
But having just finished the 7 part Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, I am watching it again to fill myself in on the detail I missed the first time.
It is based on the novel by Walter Tevis, published in 1983.
The novel’s epigraph is “The Long-Legged Fly” by William Butler Yeats. This poem highlights one of the novel’s main concerns: the inner workings of genius in a woman. Tevis discussed this concern in a 1983 interview,[the year before his death.
It was originally to be made into a movie with the late actor Heath Ledger acting and directing.
It concerns a 9 year old girl, who is sent to a Catholic orphanage in the late 50s. She becomes a chess prodigy, having initially learned the game from the orphanage’s janitor.
And like most geniuses, has her struggles with her past, and substance abuse.
I can remember in 1972, American Bobby Fischer winning the chess word championship against the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky. Like hockey, chess was a game that the Soviets owned.
It is a story of ultimate redemption, and gave me an appreciation for the game.
Netflix has really produced some great series and movies.
11-25-20 here is a nice behind-the-scenes video about the making of the series
Lately, with this COVID-19, there has been an unexpected benefit. Yes, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud.
One theater chain has been showing a lot more “classic” movies. And for the most part, I think the classic movies are better. How much of the current releases will be fondly remembered 25-50-75 years later? Who won the Best Picture award this year?
Andrew Klavan in the LA Times suggests it’s time for Hollywood to get on board for the big win:
We play with our children, read books, go to work and enjoy recreations only because people with guns stand ready, willing and able to kill other people with guns who would kill us if they could.
It’s sweet to forget this and therefore difficult to keep it in mind. “It is hard for those who live near a Police Station to believe in the triumph of violence,” as T.S. Eliot wrote. That’s us — we Americans, protected by a mighty military that by and large obeys the rules of our republic — safe enough, and keeping much of the world safe enough, so that we find it hard to believe in what would happen if that protection failed.