Author Archives: notwithoutmyhandbag
I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted in a year. I know I’m a procrastinator, but this might be a new record with me.
Update! The podcast ThirtyTwentyTen has made it past the one year mark and is now looks back in the week in pop culture in 1987, 1997 and 2007. That means each week’s Classic Corner is in 1967 (50 years ago) and 1942 (75 years ago). In the real world, these years were terrifying – WWII and race riots, respectively – but for movies they were both interesting transitional eras. It’s gonna get weird.
A sampling of what’s coming up: Raising Arizona, the original trippy Casino Royale, Jaws: The Revenge, Belle de Jour, Full Metal Jacket, Ellen coming out, Sgt. Pepper, Withnail and I, Batman and Robin, Hot Fuzz, The Pride of the Yankees, Titanic, The Princess Bride, Bonnie and Clyde and the internet’s favorite whipping boy, Bee Movie.
Each episode has a Classic Corner recommendation – either a great movie from that week, or a movie that reminds me of something I like more – which are all now in their own handy list at letterboxd, where, if you’re obsessive enough, you can keep up with everything I’ve been watching. I wouldn’t advise it. I’m 95% of the way through every best picture Oscar nominee, and all the ones left are early ’30s and obscure as heck. I’ve found some hidden gems in this loooong process – God bless TCM! – so hopefully there’s a few left to keep me going.
Of course, right as I hit the end of the road for best picture nominees, someone suggests I should blog or podcast them all. At one a week, that would take more than 10 years, and we know how I am about procrastinating.
I finally have my own podcast…that I share with three dudes. Something something new sharing economy.
I’m now a regular host and resident old person on Thirty-Twenty-Ten, where we look back at this week thirty years ago, twenty years ago and ten years ago. It’s kind of like “I Love the ’80s” with fewer bored comedians straining for laughs and more forgotten gems like Tommy Lee Jones’ supercar movie.
Check it out now on iTunes.
In more specific-themed podcasting, I hosted my own double episode of Lasertime on the best and worst movie versions of TV shows and brought some older movies into the discussion on a bunch of other topics:
The Best Live-Action TV Adaptations – Lots of Muppets and Star Trek!
The Worst Live-Action TV Adaptations – Guess who got 0 percent approval!
Evil Children! – From Problem Child to the Bad Seed
The Best One-Season TV Shows – Short worthwhile binges
Look Back at Letterman – Great moments in sarcasm
Failed Comedic Vehicles – Some people can’t carry a movie
Animated Show Endings That Mattered – Cartoons with real feels
Summer Camp Stories – Wet hot American summers in film and real life
The Worst Films By Great Directors (Part 1) – I’m not done with this topic. Not by a long shot.
Good lord it’s been a long time since I posted. Because I’ve been talking about pop culture stuff in a roomful of sweaty men. You know, every woman’s fantasy.
Thanks to everybody who sends me messages via Mikel’s Twitter – I’ve gotten great recommendations for classic Hollywood-themed podcasts (You Must Remember This), and people asking for my recommendations on stuff like books about the death of classic Hollywood (“Pictures at a Revolution”).
If you haven’t listened to Lasertime before, I recommend that, too, even when I’m not on it and everybody gets everything wrong wrong wrong.
Here are some of my favorite episodes since I posted last:
Classical Cartoon Music Quiz: You know that one music they always play in movies when they’re at a snooty restaurant? Do you know what it’s called? I quiz the guys on stuff that gets reused constantly.
Awkward Celebrity Encounters: Turns out I’ve met a lot of famous people.
What’s Your Favorite Future?: Blade Runner, Planet of the Apes and more, costarring my brother, a professional smart person.
Robin Williams: We recorded this a few days after he died, and I think we did a good job picking out career highlights. I talked candidly about suicide in this episode, and I’m glad I did.
When Actors Sing: Stars have a pretty bad batting average when it comes to cutting albums.
Oscartime 2015: Now with never-before-seen footage!
MST3K Turkey Day: A Thanksgiving salute to a modern holiday tradition.
Killer Actors: A sort of follow-up to the on-set movie deaths episode.
Conspiracy Bleary: We settle the theories once and for all.
Gross Toys: A look at the ’80s heyday of toilet humor for kids, featuring the grossest things that have ever happened to us.
Man, the one thing I do on the internet and I don’t even plug it on my own site!
I’ve been making semi-regular appearances on LaserTime, the internet’s finest podcast about whatever pop-culture randomness grabs someone’s attention that week. I’m the resident classic film nerd they bring in to talk about older, more obscure stuff these kids today don’t care about, with their hair and their clothes and their twerking. Stuff like “Staying Alive” or whether Cesar Romero was gay or “Fritz the Cat” or the epic death of Oliver Reed.
Classic Hollywood homosexuals: “Gayest Episode Ever”
Forgotten film follow-ups: “Sequels You Never Knew Existed”
Actors who deserved better: “Saddest Final Film Roles”
Best DVD extras ever: “Death of DVD”
Naughty cartoons: “Animation for Adults”
Also lots of fun:
Godzilla, kaiju, et al: “Giant Monster Fighting”
Good movies you wouldn’t watch again: “Watching the Unwatchable”
At least they tried: “Worst Accents in Film”
On-set movie deaths: “Dying is Easy”
San Francisco: “Hobosexual”
Oscars 2012: “Oscar Time”
And just in time for the holidays:
Now I have a machine gun: “Manliest Xmas Movies”
I’m glad I’m Jewish: “Worst Christmas Specials Ever Made”
So many things make for a terrible musical number. Get ready to see all of them.
There were five production numbers in the 1993 Oscars, mostly for the best original song nominees, and ranging from “Eh” to “My eyes are melting! And so is my brain!” Charming Disney songs are ruined! Icons are embarrassed! Sailors prance! Keep reading to see the insanity realized!
Wanna see something cute?
At the time, it was the 25th anniversary of “The Graduate.” They gave out the writing awards.
The Oscars 1993 have impacted you if you’ve seen a bridal magazine in the last 20 years. Because this was the very first time most people heard the name Vera Wang.
The name of who designed Whoopi Goldberg’s outfit has been lost to history. Not really, I just don’t want to know.
Here’s an ad I remember running ALL THE TIME.
First we see a cool guy driving in a cool car, heading somewhere. Cut to: a lady in a body suit tries to get into her jeans. So I guess he’s coming to pick her up for a date. I don’t remember why we wore body suits with snap crotches instead of just tucking our shirts in. Anyway, trying to get into her jeans, she jumps and jumps…
And falls over onto a mannequin. Why does she have a mannequin in her bedroom?
From outside, it looks like she’s about to sex up a guy who has no hands and whose neck doesn’t move. Her date sees this and is sad.
Also, her date is Alan Cumming, so I’m not sure who in this scenario he’s jealous of.
And that’s how you sold jeans in 1993.
You know how you sold everything else? With Cindy Crawford and a famous older black guy with no relation to the product.
One of my favorite things about the Oscars we don’t see any more is old timers getting their due. I appreciate that cutting the honorary awards makes the show move faster, but I miss the film clips and speeches from folks you don’t usually hear being heartfelt.
For example, Federico Fellini was finally given an honorary Oscar in 1993, which meant a crazy montage of women being whipped, clowns with giant fake boobs, and other assorted lunacy. And who was there to present it?
Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. The kind of people they just don’t make any more. I’m not even sure they are people.
Fellini’s speech is rather adorable, like he’s your shy grandpa, and he even says he wasn’t expecting this sort of award for another 25 years. (He died eight months later.) He’s like a cute little accented troll doll who makes movies that are uncomfortable nightmares. Then he strikes comedy gold when he stops thanking people to ask his wife and frequent star, Giulietta Masina, to please stop crying. Cut to Giulietta, looking like your grandmother at every wedding.
There were three honorary Oscars in 1993, which helped slow the show down, but were all rather touching if you’re a classic movie fan. Besides the adorable Fellini family and their adorable antics, there was a posthumous humanitarian Oscar for Audrey Hepburn, presented by Gregory Peck, her costar in her first big movie. As we covered in the 1992 article, she died very suddenly from an aggressive cancer in January ’93, which is when the nominations came out. So either they already planned to give her the award, or rushed to include her when they realized how dumb it was they hadn’t done it yet.
Her son accepted and called Gregory Peck “Greg,” which I find too cute. Atticus Finch shares a first name with the oldest of the Brady Bunch!
Then these two broad show up.
Yep, it’s Angela Lansbury presenting another humanitarian Oscar to Elizabeth Taylor. And yes, in that still from “National Velvet,” Lansbury’s the older sister. She’s been around…oh….a while. Liz’s getting the award for all the fund-raising and education she did to fight AIDS, which she was out in front on well before it was a cool thing to do. It’s a shame we tend to think of late-career Liz Taylor as…well…Michael Jackson’s slightly saner friend.
Taylor’s speech has a level of eloquence I’m not sure I ever associated with her before. I’m don’t know if she wrote it or someone else did, but it’s a poetic call to action.
“I call upon you to prove we are a human race. To prove our love outweighs our hate. That our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame. That our sensitivity to those in need is stronger than our greed. That our ability to reason overcomes our fear.”
Good stuff. But enough of all the old geezers, who was actually competing that year?
Yeah, it was one of the few years it’s tough to complain about Best Picture, because it was “Unforgiven,” which is a masterpiece. Clint Eastwood won for picture and director, and Gene Hackman won for Supporting Actor. No complaints there. But there was a winner that was controversial.
Joan Plowright – old, British, married to Olivier – was heavily favored to win best supporting actress, when all of a sudden, in swoops the white girl from “A Different World.” Rumors persist to this day that Jack Palance read the wrong name. True, it’s pretty rare for a comic performance to win, but when they do, it’s in supporting categories. And she’s proven since then she’s not a fluke (see “In the Bedroom.”) So let’s complain about something else.
Let’s give a guy an award for playing Foghorn Leghorn! Al Pacino was a great actor. Was. His career can pretty neatly be divided into “Brilliant” and “After Scent of a Woman.” 1993 is the line. He was also nominated that night for his supporting turn in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” where the last vestige of the Pacino who was in “The Godfather” gasps, withers, and dies. Then the bombast and the scenery chewing just became so easy. Every now and then, old Al will peak out – a scene, a few lines, and you’ll sigh and think…damn.
Did you know Jon Lovitz presented at the goddamn Oscars?. Seriously! He stole his scenes in “A League of their Own,” and apparently that qualifies him to give a sound effects editor a prize. I mention him because he has one of the funniest bits in the shortest amount of time I’ve ever seen on an awards show. Basically, he’s doing his Master Thespian schtick from SNL, which totally works in a room full of master thespians.
A commercial break or two later, Lovitz’s nemesis Andy Dick appears for about 1/10th of a second in a tortilla chip commercial. This is weird because “The Ben Stiller Show” had only been cancelled two months earlier, so either this was an old ad, or he was taking any work he could get.
Still to come: Really awful musical numbers (no, seriously, really awful), and a brief word from our sponsor.
Celebrities and politics. Two great tastes that don’t really go so well together. For ever well-meaning, deeply involved celebrity who uses their status, money, and power to do something good (see: Audrey Hepburn, who we’ll be talking about later), there’s some starlet who has some half-formed idea that “the thing in Angola is bad…or something” and puts their well-manicured foot in their mouth and ends up trivializing the thing they wanted to help.
The Oscars in 1993, for the films of 1992, are easily the most political show the Oscars ever did. Some of it planned, a lot of it not.
See, 1992 was “The Year of the Woman.” The best information I can find on where that label came from is that’s the year the U.S. Senate went from two women to seven. Out of 100. Yippee. The Oscars decided to get in on that sweet, sweet condescension and decided it was also Oscar’s Year of the Woman, so they padded out the show with film montage salutes to the women editors and actors and writers. And if that wasn’t good enough, there’s a song about it by Liza – see our coverage of the show’s musical monstrosities for that one. It’s not pretty.
Oscars Women Had Never Won (in 1993): Best Foreign Film, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Director. Only one had ever been nominated (and won) for Visual Effects. Just sayin’.
Opening the show, our host (again) Billy Crystal really mines the secret of The Crying Game for jokes. It comes up a lot.They flirt with spoiling it repeatedly, but manage to not quite spill the beans. Billy Crystal’s best line: “The Crying Game proved one thing – white men CAN jump.”
This was probably the last great pre-internet spoiler, and people were great at not ruining the surprise. The secret wouldn’t make it past preview screenings now, and that’s a shame, because it’s a great movie, and a great shock that spins the movie off in another direction. (I’m just assuming you all know it, with Mayor Quimby having ruined it for you.)
The unscheduled politics show up only a few awards in, when presenters Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins break from the script to plead for Haitian refugees held at Guantanamo Bay and not let into the U.S. because they were HIV+. Law students and non-profits took up their case, and their detention was ruled unconstitutional later that year. Commentators at the time were livid these dern liberals would derail the show for their pet cause.
Not long afterward, the Documentary winner goes past her allotted time lambasting the government for lying about bad things we did in Panama in the first Bush administration. I only mention this because the U.S. mission in Panama seems so very quaint now, and that’s sad.
The final great political interruption comes from Richard Gere, in the most notorious thing he actually, really did. Not what he was rumored to do, because he didn’t do that thing you’re thinking of. Gere also goes off script before presenting an award to talk about how many people are watching the show, and how all that energy could be focused into something good. Something like mentally sending Deng Xiaoping a psychic message to pull Chinese troops out of Tibet. Mentioning the cause you care about and have worked on for years is one thing, and Gere has certainly been committed to this issue before and since, but psychic messages instead of a call for political action? Especially since we had a new president to pester? God, it would have been hysterical is if Deng died right then, the victim of mass-psychic-murder, but the Chinese leader held on another four years.
Up next: The winners! Weird TV ads! Production number hell!
You guys know the Carol Wright catalog, right? It’s an old-people catalog I fondly remember as the source of my grandmother’s address labels and stove-top cover. A lot of the stuff in it is useful if you’re on the older, less mobile side (an ice scraper for your windshield with an extra long handle) or is extremely ugly (an afghan with horses on it with a poem about how a daughter is a special kind of angel…the kind that’s a friend.)
So imagine my surprise when I saw the Carol Wright catalog in the recycle bin in my apartment – an elderly neighbor gets every catalog ever – flipped it open and saw this…
Fun times with the LaserTime podcast guys talking about a classic “funny bad” bad movie, “Supergirl.” I forced them to watch it, and you can hear the high-quality nerd rage.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a GREAT drinking with friends yelling at the screen type of bad movie. I’d say make a drinking game out of the product placement, but that might kill you and all your friends and then I’d feel bad.
Listen here: “Supergirl. Seriously.”