The Concession Stand

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rest in Peace, Wes Craven

Wes Craven, known for his chilling horror films has passed away at age 76.

Mr. Craven got his start as a professor, teaching English and Humanities. He fled academia for show business, which he felt would be more lucrative, and it was. Mr. Craven's early career, however, would be in "stag" films, working under various pseudonyms. His first legitimate film would be 1972's The Last House on the Left, which he directed. While he would have varying success over the next decade, he wouldn't see his biggest hit until 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, which featured arguably his greatest creation- Freddy Krueger. Wes would later helm the Scream series for Dimension Films.

Mr. Craven's work will doubtless live on, scaring generations of moviegoers and inspiring future filmmakers.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Movie Quote Weekends

"It seems to be powered by some sort of electricity!"

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Movie Quote Weekends

"What's the difference between giving me a bracelet or giving somebody else a hundred thousand dollars for a statue you're gonna keep crated up and never even look at? It's just money, it doesn't mean anything! You never really give me anything that belongs to you, that you care about!"

Friday, August 28, 2015

Freaky Fridays: Crazy Marlon Brando

When most people picture Marlon Brando, they imagine a distinguished, legendary actor who portrayed some of the big screen's greatest roles.

"You can act like a man!"

He was a legend, but he was also a little bit insane. Make that a lot insane. For example, he wanted to portray Superman's father as a piece of luggage or a bagel.

Or maybe he was just hungry at the time...

He also decided to not wear any pants on the set of the bizarre Island of Doctor Moreau because he didn't want to be photographed from the waist down. By exposing himself, he knew the director would be forced to follow his wishes.

Yeah, the collective will of the audience ensured that the camera would stay where it was.

In The Score, he became enraged at director Frank Oz and began calling the former muppeteer 'Miss Piggy' and refused to listen to him. Frank had to tell Robert DeNiro what he wanted Marlon to do and DeNiro would relay the message to Marlon, often while they were in the same room.

"Yeah, batshit insane. At least that's what he thinks."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Even More Goldwynisms

"If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive."

"A hospital is no place to be sick."

"Let's have some new cliches."

"Spare no expense to save money on this one."

"I don't want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job."

"I never liked you, and I always will."

"Too caustic? To hell with the costs, we'll make the picture anyway."

-Samuel Goldwyn

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Joan Loved Pepsi

In 1955, Joan Crawford married Alfred Steele, chairman of the board of Pepsi. From that point on, even after her husband died, Ms. Crawford shamelessly promoted Pepsi any way she could.

Pepsi- The Choice of Troglodytes and Battleaxes alike.

Grandma, why do we keep walking past this awkwardly placed Pepsi machine?

I drink this so-called soda!

No More Glass Containers Ever!

Miss Crawford's dirty little secret was that prior to marrying Mr. Steele, she was a spokesperson for Royal Crown Cola.

I force my children to drink this swill by the gallon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Andy Hardy: Mega Franchise!

During the studio system era, actors and actresses were full employees of the studio they were signed to. They would receive weekly checks and benefits regardless of whether they were actively working on a specific project. Therefore it behooved the studios to keep their talent before the cameras. One of MGM's biggest stars was Mickey Rooney, so they eagerly sought a franchise for him to star in. That franchise was the Andy Hardy series.

Andy Hardy was an all American boy whose life was full of gorgeous gals and crazy hi jinks. His frequent co-star Judy Garland appeared in three of the Hardy pictures, often performing songs.

The franchise fizzled out by 1946, though MGM attempted to reboot it in 1958. The reboot failed as well.

"... Back then I was making a movie a week and I was the number one star in the world!"

Ten years after the failure of the Andy Hardy reboot, Mr. Rooney was reduced to making movies like Skidoo and the former security of the studio system was a distant memory.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Happy National Waffle Day!

A Looney Tale

Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes characters have never matched Disney's characters when it comes to licensing revenue and ratings, but Bugs Bunny and friends are still quite important to the company. Sadly, this wasn't always the case.

In the 1950's, Warner Brothers was trying to cope with the changes that television was bringing to the entertainment landscape. The idea of newsreels, animated shorts and multiple features all for one ticket was quickly becoming a thing of the past. One of the first things to go were animated shorts. As the major studios stopped producing them, there was a question of what to do with the old shorts. Disney chose to guard its product, doling the shorts out on television at its own pace and on its own programming. Warner Brothers chose a more disastrous path.

With a dearth of TV programming, television stations were looking for quick stuff to throw on the air. Blocks of cartoon shorts were deemed to be just what they needed, but Disney wasn't selling. The Warners, however, were looking for quick cash. Thus a disastrous deal was struck; the studio would SELL (not license or lease, but SELL) all of its black and white cartoons and copyrights to Guild Films, which planned to syndicate them to local TV stations. One year later, it would do the exact same thing to its color cartoons, selling them to Associated Artists Productions.

For much of the 1960's, Warner Brothers did not own its most prized creations. Guild Films, however, went bankrupt and was bought out by Seven Arts, which was later purchased fortuitously by Warner Brothers. By 1969, the black and white Looney Tunes cartoons and their valuable copyrights and trademarks were back under WB's control. The company would not repeat its mistake; from now on, these beloved characters would not be taken for granted.

The color cartoons, however, still remained out of the company's reach. It was overbid for a.a.p in 1969, with United Artists winning the bidding war. Transamerica, which owned UA, was very interested in exploiting the cartoons further and spurned WB's advances to buy the package back. It was at this time that the controversial "Censored Eleven" cartoons were removed from distribution. Transamerica had no stomach for controversy and declared that eleven Looney Tunes cartoons they considered racist would be locked in the vault forever.

By the early 1980's, Transamerica had grown tired of Hollywood and sold UA to MGM. MGM was dealing with numerous issues of its own at the time; its Las Vegas casino had suffered a disastrous and deadly fire and its movies were not doing well at the box office. Ted Turner offered tons of quick cash for the studio's storied back catalog, including the Looney Tunes cartoons. They accepted and Mr. Turner soon owned the cartoons. Despite pleas from film scholars, he kept the "Censored Eleven" deep in his film vaults.

In 1995, all of the Looney Tunes cartoons finally ended up back home when Warner Brothers bought Turner Broadcasting. Bugs and friends were finally fully back home.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Movie Quote Weekends

"Oh spare me, Clark, I know your brand of family fun. Tomorrow you'll probably kill the desk clerk, hold up a McDonalds, and drive us 1000 miles out of the way to see the world's largest pile of mud!"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Movie Quote Weekends

"The fire brigade once got my head out of some railings."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Freaky Fridays: Xanadu

In 1980, Olivia Newton John was one of the world's biggest stars and Electric Light Orchestra was one of its biggest musical groups. Imagine if these two talents joined forces with a retired Hollywood legend? Universal Studios hoped that these elements would mean big bucks at the box office.

A Movie Made in Hollywood Accountant Heaven

Originally given a low budget, the film became a potential blockbuster as soon as Ms. John, ELO and Gene Kelly became interested in it. Universal increased the budget accordingly and began getting high hopes for its potential. The extra money was all up there on the screen, as expensive visual effects were added to give the movie a more ethereal quality.

Trust us, these were amazing special effects back in 1980!

Um, yeah, amazing...

When all was said and done, Universal discovered that putting Olivia Newton John and ELO together made a hugely profitable soundtrack that broke sales records around the world. Unfortunately, slapping together a film from a low budget script and loosely integrated songs would make a terrible movie even with a popular soundtrack. Even adding a touch of class couldn't help this tragedy.

Easily the classiest thing in a classless movie.

Other than Gene Kelly, only Joe Mantegna would leave this film with his dignity intact, and that was because Joe's scenes were cut from the film.

Sorry, Olivia, you can try to hide your face, but we still know it's you.

Olivia, honey, it would help if you looked in the same direction as the rest of the cast...

The film was so notoriously bad that it, along with the even worse Can't Stop the Music, inspired the creation of the Razzie Awards, which dishonors the worst of Hollywood. It would lose out to the aforementioned Village People picture for worst film, though that was probably an award it was happy to lose. In the end, money was lost, careers were tarnished, but sadly no lessons were learned. 

The vintage Pan Pacific Auditorium was probably the biggest loser in all of this. Having fallen on hard times, the movie's producers hoped that the success of this film would spark interest in the crumbling building. It actually sealed the building's fate. The building remained vacant until it burned down under suspicious circumstances just days after Florida's Disney-MGM Studios had its grand opening, featuring ticket booths inspired by the original auditorium. Sadly, the release of Xanadu would still be the worst thing that ever happened to the building.

Let this be a warning to you kids- drugs are bad, m'kay?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Marlon Nixes Burt

When Francis Ford Coppola was planning his version of The Godfather, he only saw one person as being suitable for the role- Marlon Brando. But Marlon was being his usual difficult self, playing hard to get and infuriating Paramount executives who encouraged Coppola to pick someone else.

Finally, Marlon agreed to take on his most famous role with one condition- that Burt Reynolds not get cast as Sonny Corleone. The studio had been considering Burt for the role, but Marlon saw Burt as a lightweight television actor and completely unacceptable as a star in an Oscar caliber film. Francis was happy to oblige. Burt was out and James Caan was in. We can only speculate how Sonny Corleone as played by Burt Reynolds would have looked like, though while James went on to serious film success, Burt ended up in lowbrow features, co-starring with orangutans and Dom Deluise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dean Martin is Matt Helm!

Long before the term "franchise" was thrown around, Dean Martin had one of his own- the Matt Helm films. Matt Helm was a swinging James Bond type who drank, indulged in relations with sexy women and maybe stopped crime and espionage along the way.

Nobody mistook these films as Oscar caliber productions; as a matter of fact, the first two films- The Silencers and Murderer's Row came out in the same year- 1966.

Additionally, it was no secret that Dean Martin was mostly playing himself. The Matt Helm films were paycheck films that allowed him to travel to exotic locales on the studio's dime, all the while boozing it up and ogling some broads. Dean Martin treated these films as a party and the studio didn't mind because they were raking it in. While not huge successes at the box office, they were highly profitable.

Audiences loved seeing Deano be Deano and he was more than happy to oblige. He could have continued making these films for years to come.

So why did Dean Martin walk away from this lucrative franchise? It was all due to the last film in the series, The Wrecking Crew, which co-starred the lovely and beautiful Sharon Tate. Dean Martin loved working with her and made it clear that he wanted her to return in any future Matt Helm films. Sadly, they never got another chance after Ms. Tate was brutally murdered. Dean Martin was heartbroken and decreed that he would never make another Matt Helm film. The studio attempted to reboot the franchise as a television show in the mid-1970's, but it failed to catch on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ed Wood's Lost Film

After finishing up his legendarily bad Plan Nine From Outer Space, Ed Wood embarked on a sequel of sorts- Revenge of the Dead. He completed the film in 1959 and sent the print to be processed into film. Sadly, Ed ran out of money and was never able to pay the processing company its fees. The company held the print hostage until it was paid in full. Ed never forgot the film and often spoke about it, but many film historians doubted its existence. Ed had a knack for lying about projects, making them sound bigger or more impressive than they were. Many people believed that he had written the script for the film, but had never actually filmed it.

In the mid-1980's, however, schlock film aficionado Wade Williams decided to hunt down a copy of the film. He carefully researched where Ed might have taken the film and bingo! He found it. Paying the processing fees plus interest, Wade now had a copy of Ed's long lost horror film. It was terrible, much like his other films, but now the world was able to see Ed's long lost film- 25 years after it had been thought lost.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Sinister Man...

Do we really know the full story behind one of movie history's most notorious monsters?

The truth behind William "Harvey" Wonka is exposed!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Movie Quote Weekends

"It's disgusting the way they splash this stuff all over the newspapers! What is journalism coming to? You're laying on top of the queen with her legs wrapped around you. And they call that news. They can't kick you off the force, Frank! It's just not fair!"

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Movie Quote Weekends

"There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Maureen Stapleton: The Electric Grandmother

To many in the early 1980's, Maureen Stapleton was a grandmotherly figure, the perfect choice to play an idealized robotic grandmother in Ray Bradbury's Electric Grandmother.

So imagine the surprise when she appeared in Johnny Dangerously as the innocent looking but profane Ma Kelly, who got to say choice lines like:

"What can't you say in front of your mother? I know what you can't say! You wanna get laid. You wanna hump your brains out! Vavoom, vavoom, vavoom!"

"I go both ways."

Did the producers corrupt this innocent woman? Actually, the real Maureen Stapleton was a boozing, carousing, profanity spewing broad. In fact, after winning her Oscar for Reds, she was asked how it felt to win such a distinguished honor. Her response?

"Not nearly as exciting as it would be if I were acknowledged as one of the greatest lays in the world."

This innocent looking lady was a rough talking classy broad.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Welcome to Park Lake!

Park Lake at Universal Studios Hollywood has been used in hundreds of television shows and movies. In its early days, it served as a forbidding lake in The Creature of the Black Lagoon, and it also appeared in McHale's Navy.

Look familiar? It often is used in crime shows and films these days as a body dump site. While millions of Universal's theme park guests have seen the lake in person, millions more have seen it on television or film around the world.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"Smiley Takes Over The World!"

BENTONVILLE, AR (FN)- Eager to fix its battered reputation, The Wal-Mart Corporation today announced that it and Dreamworks Animation planned to create a movie based on the popular “Smiley” character that rolls back prices in the discount giant’s commercials. “We are eager to show the world that we are not the type of company that our detractors portray us as being,” noted Wal-Mart spokesman Hugh Spitzer, “We might take advantage of our employees and shut down local businesses, but we certainly don’t enjoy doing it. Besides, don’t you like only paying eighty eight cents for a two liter bottle of generic cola?” 

The film will be entirely animated and feature the excitable Smiley as he protects his Wal-Mart store from union organizers, hostile community members, OSHA inspectors and any others who stand in Wal-Mart’s way of providing so-called “Every Day Low Prices”. “We’ve seen him use lots of devices to lower prices in the past- whips, sledgehammers, knives, etc. I would imagine he’d find those handy in his war against the hippies and communists who don’t like Wal-Mart,” noted the spokesman. 

 Many Hollywood observers were surprised that Dreamworks Animation would undertake such a project, but as Dreamworks head Jeffrey Katzenberg explained, “This is a no-brainer for us. We are excited to bring the Wal-Mart Smiley into the same enchanted world of Shrek and the Donkey,” he noted, “Besides, they threatened to stop selling our DVDs, so that sealed the deal.”

Wal-Mart and Dreamworks Animation were reluctant to provide too many details about the movie but did mention that Smiley’s main enemy will be a female character named “Commy U. Nion”. Joining Commy will be her team of villains, most of whom are government bureaucrats. “The message we want to give the next generation of children is that Smiley will take over the world eventually, so you should just roll over and accept it,” noted the Wal-Mart spokesman. When asked to provide further comment, Mr. Katzenberg merely shook his head and took another swig from his flask. 

 Smiley Takes Over the World will begin production immediately and feature the voices of Kathie Lee Gifford, Tom Selleck, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. Despite the fact that production hadn’t yet started, the FOX News Channel already gave the movie its highest rating of five stars. “I haven’t seen this movie yet,” noted the FOX News reviewer, “But I think the movie is as good if not better than An American Carol because that’s what the RNC wants us to say.” A release date has not yet been set.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Locked Up By Constantin

Why are the Fantastic Four films so bad in comparison to the other films in Marvel's stable? Does the comic book company have no idea how to deal with this set of characters? Actually, the truth is a bit complicated.

In 1986, Marvel was in dire straits and needed money fast. It signed a deal with Constantin Films giving permission to make a Fantastic Four movie. But it had to use its rights every so often to keep them. Its first attempt to keep the rights resulted in Roger Corman's ridiculous Fantastic Four which was only made as a defensive maneuver against Marvel Comics. It never earned a release.

In the early 2000's, Constantin was again desperate to keep its hold on the franchise. It farmed its permissions to Fox, who began making lackluster films in an effort to keep the rights.

By this point, Fox and Constantin's colossal blunders appear to be created mainly to spite Marvel and its new parent company Disney rather than legitimate attempts to make a successful film.