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Posts posted by CaveGirl

  1. On 4/10/2019 at 5:07 PM, TopBilled said:

    Can't programming be diverse?

    Are there certain "types" of viewers you think TCM should be courting, instead of other "types"...?

    I own "Querelle" and bought it years ago mostly not knowing what it was like but the director's cachet intriqued me. Have to admit that a bit of it was a little shocking, but all in all, it is a well made film and I was really impressed with Franco Nero's performance in such an offbeat role. Actually, the outside and humongous wooden poles on the wharf were the most frightening phallic symbols I'd ever seen.

    • Like 1
  2. On 9/6/2019 at 1:07 AM, TopBilled said:

    I enjoyed her performances in these films:

    BLUE DENIM (1959)
    THE SMUGGLERS (1968)

    And she's excellent in a 1968 episode of The Big Valley playing Lee Majors' love interest.

    Agreed, Top Billed!

    A very lovely lady who was always appealing in her roles. I particularly remember Carol in an AHP episode about a lost statue and a convent. I think it also starred Clu Gulager and there's a name one doesn't hear of much now. Carol played a novice who gets involved in a world unknown to her, a bit like the young nun in Bunuel's "Viridiana".

    I recall seeing Carol discussing once that she was always being put on a diet, after her early child modeling years, to maintain a slim figure. She was quite beautiful and belongs in the group of ethereal blondes that also included Yvette Mimieux and Inger Stevens in my opinion. A bit lost, a bit sad, a bit mysterious...


  3. 4 hours ago, spence said:

    I bet someone on here has a long running answer, please try?   Maria Falconetti in 1928's French silent the Passion of Joan of Arc wasn't even and yet any historians call this the single best per y an actress ever?


    Who knows why it was left out  That year  think *Mary Pickford won instead in Coquette (l928-29)

    This is a difficult question to answer, Spence. I would agree that Falconetti's performance is one of the greatest in history but the background on the production and release of this film is so convoluted, it might preclude any totally correct answer. Firstly, if I recall correctly the AA probably would have entered this film, being that it was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer but produced in France, only in possibly the Special Achievement category, due to the foreign implications, but that category is not even mentioned in the first year of selections. Secondly, though I have five books about the film, I have not yet discovered whether it was even entered into any such proceedings for awards, though it did receive some like the National Board of Review's in 1929. Plus due to the destruction of it in various fires in the late 1920's and its consequent reconstruction, with also cuts having been made by those in authority, left Dreyer possibly in a strange situation with no exact reproduction of his beginning work. It was originally released in Copenhagen in early 1928 and later in Paris that same year, but its progression at being seen worldwide is a bit confusing. I shall continue my research and see what I can find in my books on Dreyer. Falconetti also would probably not have been seen by the entire film community as popular as the mainstream film actresses being honored in Hollywood ceremonies, which could have proved to be problematic. I would definitely vote Renee Falconetti in over Pickford as of today, that's for sure!

  4. 22 hours ago, Vautrin said:

    I  saw A Summer Place only once many years ago, so I don't recall too much about it,

    except that much of it was unintentionally funny, as many of those 1950s teenagers in

    trouble flicks were. The song was pretty nifty.


    I always wished Sandy's beau in the film had been Tab Hunter instead of old boring Troy Donahue!

  5. On 9/9/2019 at 4:27 PM, Vautrin said:

    Probably. Wooden coat hangers only though. 

    If we are talking about wooden coat hangers and abortions, I hope no one brings up another clothing item, namely hatpins, and Frank Sinatra's mother who was supposedly known as Hatpin Dolly if I recall correctly, in her neighborhood where there were many wayward women in the same trouble as Carol Lynley.

    Loved the part of BD where Brandon's mommy wants to give him the book on you-know-what!

  6. On 8/16/2019 at 11:37 PM, Dargo said:

    As I recall, Ferrer also took a lot of umbrage to any comments made about his appearance in that one flick where he plays a zinger-slinging French expert swordsman sporting a rather prominent proboscis.

    (...and btw CG...welcome back)

    Thanks, Dargo!

    I kind of think men with big noses look better than those with small noses, like Paul Williams.

  7. On 4/14/2019 at 3:01 AM, Sgt_Markoff said:

    These two 'high-handed' verdicts of mine (taken from two different thread discussions) are not incompatible.

    Their situation is therefore dissimilar to the fact that older people have been exposed to the Beatles (in an over-saturated way). So your whole chain of assumption --stemming from this point -- collapses, and it is exactly the kind of argument which is maddening to someone like me in that it strays from the established points which should not be questioned. Rebutt fairly!


    He never even would have cleared the holster, would he, Shane, I mean, Sergeant Markoff? 

    Pa's got things for you to do, and Mother wants you. I know she does, Sergeant Markoff!

    Come back! Come back, Sarge...please!!!

    • Haha 1
  8. On 8/15/2019 at 9:00 AM, LornaHansonForbes said:

    1. YES ME TOO!!!!


    3. I am halfway through with IMPACT; QUATERMASS XPERIMENT was interesting...I am a somewhat begrudging HAMMER FAN, and it was interesting to see what was possibly the birth of three HAMMER HALLMARKS: BOMBASTIC SCORES THAT GRAB YOU BY THE SHOULDERS AND SHAKE YOU FORCEFULLY INTO SUBMISSION IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT THERE IS VERY LITTLE ACTION ON THE SCREEN, LOTS OF FOLEY OF FEET ON STONE FLOORS and OBVIOUSLY DUBBED ACTRESSES...seriously, the actress playing the ASTRONAUT'S WIFE may as well have been dubbed by OLIVER REED it was so obvious.

    4. THE GLASS KEY is a special film to me...more about that in a bit.


    Brian Donlevy as a tyrant in "Beau Geste". Wow!

    Watched all the films which I'd already seen but who cares, it was Brian Donlevy day.

    Wonder if he and Neil Hamilton were friends? 

    I dig "The Glass Key" too, LHF!

  9. Wonderful documentary. While watching I felt like I was living in a Bergman film, like walking through the house of depression in "Cries and Whispers" which instead of death throes was relationship pain, or was in "Persona" with Ingmar's other females interacting with Liv, or even "Winter Light" where instead of a loss of faith, Liv was suffering from a loss of love perhaps for Ingmar. Very moving revelations about their relationship which one can see parodied perhaps in some of his films.

  10. 18 hours ago, The Keeper said:

    Thought I was the only one aware of that edit Dargo. Guess who has the Director's Cut version on Blu-ray? The selling price just went through the roof.

    Hope you're wearing high-top boots. Watch your step. BS everywhere.

    Hey, I've been incommunicado for a while, so what are you "keeping"???

    If it is Michael Rennie, drop him off some time!

    Enjoying your posts, by the way.

  11. On 8/5/2019 at 4:31 PM, filmnoirguy said:

    The '57 Chevy Bel Air 2-dr hard top has always been considered a classic car and it doesn't surprise me that it's going for the big bucks.

    If you dig that classic car, you might like the Fanimation Urbanjet Fan, which comes in Baby Blue, Sonic Silver and Spicy Red, not maybe GM colors but dig the resemblance to the famous car!


  12. On 8/4/2019 at 12:04 PM, Dargo said:

    In reply to sewhite's above post, I'll now reiterate his statement: If you don't want even vague allusions of spoilers, don't read!

    Yes, despite her general abhorrence of cinematic violence, my wife made it through the climatic violent scenes in this film quite okay, and I'd say exactly for the reasons and wordage you used here sewhite..."cathartic and righteous". I'll now add another phrase to this which might also be fitting in this regard..."poetic justice", and which I'm sure you'll understand now that you've watched this film.

    As I walked out of the theater after the movie ended, I also thought how fitting Tarantino's selection of his movie's title is, as its title conjures up the appropriateness of its "fairy tale" ending.



    Darg, "allusions" I don't want, some illusions might be nice, and delusions of grandeur are always welcome but Elysian Field stories would be the best contribution you could make.

    If your wife liked it, then I bet I would like it. I mean, she does have good taste ya know.

    • Like 1
  13. On 7/26/2019 at 7:22 PM, cigarjoe said:

    Might as well start a formal separate thread for this.

    Written & Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Cinematography by Robert Richardson. Starring....

    Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton:
    An actor who starred in the television Western series Bounty Law from 1958 to 1963, based on Wanted Dead or Alive (1958–1961). His attempt to transition to film failed and in 1969 he is struggling, doing guest roles on other people's programs while contemplating moving to Italy, which has become a hotbed for low-budget Westerns. Dalton's relationship with Cliff Booth is based on that of actor Burt Reynolds and his long time stunt double Hal Needham.

    Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth:
    A Vietnam War veteran and Rick's longtime stunt double and best friend. Tarantino and Pitt modeled Booth after Billy Jack, a character portrayed in four films by actor Tom Laughlin.

    Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate:
    A pregnant actress married to director Roman Polanski and next door neighbor of Dalton. Robbie did not consult with Polanski in preparation for the role, but read his 1985 autobiography Roman by Polanski.

    Emile Hirsch as Jay Sebring:
    A Hollywood hairstylist and friend and ex-boyfriend of Tate.

    Margaret Qualley as Pussycat:
    A member of the "Manson Family" who catches Booth's interest. Based loosely on Kathryn Lutesinger who had the nickname "Kitty".

    Timothy Olyphant as James Stacy:
    An actor who co-starred on the TV western Lancer.

    Austin Butler as Charles "Tex" Watson:
    A central member of the "Manson Family", alongside four other members.

    Dakota Fanning as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme:
    A member of the infamous "Manson Family" who obtained her nickname while living on George Spahn's ranch.

    Bruce Dern as George Spahn:
    An 80-year-old nearly blind man who rented his Los Angeles ranch out to be used as a location for Westerns. Charles Manson convinced Spahn to allow him and his followers to live on the ranch. In exchange for rent, Manson coerced his female followers into having sexual relations with the ranch owner, and serving as his seeing-eye guides. Burt Reynolds was initially cast in the role, but died before his scenes could be filmed.

    Al Pacino as Marvin Schwarzs:
    A Hollywood producer and Dalton's agent.

    Kurt Russell as Randy:
    A stunt coordinator who also serves as the film's narrator.

    Zoë Bell as Randy's wife, also a stunt coordinator.

    Lorenza Izzo as Francesca Cappucci, an Italian film crew member and Dalton's eventual wife

    Michael Madsen as the Sheriff on Bounty Law

    Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen

    Mike Moh as Bruce Lee

    and many more...

    Let the discussions begin.

    Thank you so much for this great deep background information.

    Can't think about the Manson gang without remembering an office I worked in, where a scam started and people would phone and ask for the Office Manager's name, and then hang up. Then they would call and if she was not in, they would ask assistants to give them the type of paper the copier used for their records, and then would send unwanted paper with a bill to be paid. So we were all told not to give them information, but how was one to know when the call for OM was legit or not. So I began telling people who said they only wanted the OM's name for their records, that it was Lynette Fromme. They'd always call back in a week or two saying they had talked to Lynette Fromme, but now needed our paper information and then I would have the fun of saying "Lynette Fromme? You mean, Squeaky Fromme, the member of the Manson Gang. I think she's in prison, isn't she, out in Tascadero" [how the heck do you spell that???] and there'd then be a giant silence. Saw Squeaky on that CNN special I think on the Manson women, recently and she seems to have lost her squeak. Sorry for co-opting your fab thread, CigarJoe!


    • Like 1
  14. On 8/15/2019 at 12:24 PM, cigarjoe said:

    Lol, we had a discussion about a year or two ago concerning one of the Film Noir that was shown on some other movie channel where they actually blurred out the breast of a woman on a statue. It was either done to the Crack Up! or The Dark Corner if I remember right, but it may be another film entirely.

    The scene has two cops commenting on the statue, I can't it all (the dialog) but one cop states "that's art!"

    Get this, CJ...I saw a tv transmission of Bunuel's "L'Age d'Or" once where they blurred out the naughty bits [as John Cleese might say] of the statues, yet left in the scene with, was it Lya Lys, shall we say, nibbling on the statue's toes.

    I mean really, this is the swallow a gnat, choke at a camel, rule apparently.

    Not that I personally found the marble munching offensive, just so you know...

    • Haha 1
  15. As a teen, I read the book "The Loved One" by Evelyn Waugh, being that my naturally morbid nature and adherence to black humor always led me in such directions, plus I always wanted to visit Forest Lawn which seemed to be the place being satirized. Loved the wit and viewpoint of the American way of treating thanatopsis and thoroughly enjoyed the film version which I saw afterwards.

    Being that I had not seen the film for many years, I marked it on my movies to watch calendar to review, plus I was looking forward to seeing the bit with Tab Hunter as tour guide for Whispering Glades also. Then, a sad event occurred. Someone close in my family milieu died unexpectedly this past weekend, putting all friends and relatives into a state of depression at their loss.

    The day of the viewing, I was home just waiting the many hours before getting ready to attend the funeral home visitation and turned on the tv. While flipping channels, I encountered the TCM one, and fittingly or unfittingly, "The Loved One" was just about to begin.

    I wondered...should I watch this film? Understandably, films about death are a lot more humorous when one has not just had a loved one suffer such a fate. Then an opposing thought came to mind, that it might be good to watch to take my mind off things so dire and full of despair. The film started...I could not laugh at the usual things I might have found amusing, yet in some perverse way I think I kept watching wanting to suffer a bit, in honor of the lost person whose life had been taken.

    I then remembered a thought encountered in a book I read about Carl Dreyer once, in which he said something like, a scene in a film is changed and encountered in a totally different way, depending on the perspective in which you place it. If you show two people in a room quietly eating dinner, the audience may find it boring, banal or just very low key, but then attend it with a companion shot of a dead body in the room right next door to their dining area, and the former scene takes on a whole new perspective to the viewer. Hence, I realized that watching "The Loved One" while mired in the mist of a similar situation, would change my perspective, and mayhaps, open some doors that could prove beneficial in the long run. Or...even if not, testing one's own humanity and ability to deal with unpleasant situations, might be mind altering so...I ended up watching the whole film.

    What I got out of it, is neither here nor there and something I'm sure none here or the TCM staff would be the least bit interested in, so I shall remain mute. What might be of interest to the few here who are into such life changing events, would be if others have seen films under such differing circumstances and would like to share any thoughts about such.

    Sorry to interrupt the usual proceedings with moribund tales more worthy of Thomas Mann, and I apologize beforehand for all that find this post boring or not up to their standards. Thanks for listening.

    • Thanks 1
  16. On 2/13/2019 at 11:59 PM, Dargo said:

    Oh, c'mon here, Swithin!

    Saying that this film is "the best and truest depiction of Ohio in film" in such a broad brush manner as this, would be like saying all native Californians are shallow and lack any intellectual depth at all!

    Or for THAT matter, that all Manhattanites spell certain words in our language inclusive of that really dumb and needless British superfluous letter 'u' because they think it somehow makes 'em look "more sophisticated"!

    (...I mean SURE, just 'cause SOME of us might fit these kinds of regional stereotypes, doesn't mean ALL or even a majority of those who reside, say in this case, in the great state of Ohio, are like the losers depicted in that really really weird movie here, dude!) ;)



    Correction, Dargo...you forgot to put the extra "u" in the town's name!

    The original spelling of this town is Daytuon, Ohio. I know this because my friend who is a magician is from Daytuon, said that French settlers came there in the 1700's and named it, but later fools who didn't believe in powered flight, the Wrights or even evolution, wanted to drop the "u" and won out.

    My friend has one other outstanding distinction also, she taught Rob Lowe magic when he was a child in Daytuon.


    • Haha 1
  17. 19 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

    Re: 'Light at the Edge of the World', I don't even know how they got a woman into that story at all. Seems ludicrous that Eggar's character is even present. Its literally a lighthouse at the tip of Patagonia or somewhere. Eh.

    Anyway it rather reminds me of this flick I've long been waiting to see because it has one of my favorite limey actors in it (Ian Bannen). Love Ian Bannen. Five men..one woman...Station Six Sahara!


    I just saw a wonderful film that I know you would be enarmored of, Sgt. Markoff!

    It is called, "Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women" from 1968, and stars one of your favorite female thespians, Mamie Van Doren as Moana.

    I recall being a big baseball fan, you said you first appreciated her talents when she dated Bo Belinski, and in this movie she brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the role, and it is only sad that Mamie never got to perform the part of Grushenka from Dostoevsky, as she wished. The movie is unique in that I could not tell if it was in color or black and white, due to some startling cinematographic technique, or maybe it is just faded, but Mamie and the women are magnificently attired in seashell brassieres and white hip-huggers and still can take on all the astronauts who have travelled to Venus to rescue their lost crew, proving as you've said many times, woman is stronger than man when it really counts.

    One more reason to look for this gem, is that actor Gennadi Vernov who plays Astronaut Andre Freneau is a dead ringer for Ian Bannen, but of course without the fine Scottish accent. Look for this classic, and no thanks are necessary, Sarge!

    P. S. Peter Bogdanovich directed this under an alias, but don't blame Mamie for that...okay?

    Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)

    Unrated | 1h 18min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
    Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women Poster
  18. 2 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

    Can't resist. One more piece for today--because its so rare --Mark Kermode's famous rant against blockbusters. It's published in his book, 'The Good, the Bad, and the Multiplex' but was excerpted on news sites around the web. Then, powers-that-be must have gotten irked and had it yanked. Anyway here it is, in full. You cant find it anymore.



    Every time I complain that a blockbuster movie is directorially dumb, or insultingly scripted, or crappily acted, or artistically barren, I get a torrent of emails from alleged mainstream-movie lovers complaining that I (as a snotty critic) am applying highbrow criteria that cannot and should not be applied to good old undemanding blockbuster entertainment. I am not alone in this; every critic worth their salt has been lectured about their distance from the demands of "popular cinema", or has been told that their views are somehow elitist and out of touch (and if you haven't been told this then you are not a critic, you are a "showbiz correspondent"). This has become the shrieking refrain of 21st-century film (anti)culture – the idea that critics are just too clever for their own good, have seen too many movies to know what the average punter wants, and are therefore sorely unqualified to pass judgment on the popcorn fodder that "real" cinema-goers demand from the movies.

    This is baloney – and worse, it is pernicious baloney peddled by people who are only interested in money and don't give a damn about cinema. The problem with movies today is not that "real" cinema-goers love garbage while critics only like poncy foreign language arthouse fare. The problem is that we've all learned to tolerate a level of overpaid, institutionalised corporate dreadfulness that no one actually likes but everyone meekly accepts because we've all been told that blockbuster movies have to be stupid to survive. Being intelligent will cause them to become unpopular. Duh! The more money you spend, the dumb and dumberer you have to be. You know the drill: "no one went broke underestimating the public intelligence". That's just how it is, OK?

    Well, actually, no. You want proof? OK. Exhibit A: Inception.

    Inception is an artistically ambitious and intellectually challenging thriller from writer/director Christopher Nolan, who made his name with the temporally dislocated low- budget "arthouse" puzzler Memento. Nolan unfashionably imagines that his audience are sentient beings, and treats them as such regardless of budget. Memento cost $5m, had no stars or special effects, aimed high nonetheless, expected its audience to keep up, and reaped over $25m in the US alone. Inception cost $160m, had huge stars and blinding special effects, aimed high nonetheless, expected its audience to keep up, and took around $800m worldwide. See a connection here?

    Nolan earned the right to make a movie as intelligent and expensive as Inception by grossing Warner Bros close to $1.5bn with 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight'. I remember burbling to Radio-5-Live listeners that 'Batman Begins' was "far smarter than any of us had the right to expect from a movie which cost that much". But why shouldn't it be smart? Why shouldn't we expect movies that "cost that much" to be worth it?

    Because we have been told for too long that popular movies must, by their very nature, be 'terrible', and we've all learned to accept this horrendous untruth.

    As for Inception, the idea that a "mainstream" audience could embrace a movie that includes the lines "Sorry, whose dream are we in?" and "He's militarised his subconscious!" would seem anathema to the studio heads (and their mealy- mouthed media minions), who have been telling us for decades that dumb is beautiful. Yet Nolan has become one of the most financially reliable directors working in Hollywood without ever checking his intellect in at the door. Did no one explain the rules to him? Did he miss a meeting?

    Don't get me wrong; Inception isn't perfect, nor is it "stunningly original", as some would have you believe. The plot, which revolves around explosive industrial espionage played out within the interlocking layers of an unsuspecting psyche, is essentially Dreamscape with A-levels and draws upon a number of populist sources, ranging from Wes Craven's horror sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors to Alejandro Amenábar's Spanish oddity Open Your Eyes (later remade in Hollywood as the inferior Tom Cruise vehicle Vanilla Sky). It is also, in essence, an existential Bond movie: On Her Majesty's Psychiatric Service. But like great pop music, groundbreaking cinema rarely arrives ex nihilo, and the fact that Nolan seems to have watched (and loved) a lot of genre trash in his time merely increases his significant stature in my eyes.

    Too many blockbuster movies nowadays seem to be made by people who hate cinema, who have seen too few movies, and who have nothing but contempt for the audiences who pay their grotesquely over-inflated salaries. So, did Inception become a money-spinning hit because it boasts a really smart script?

    I'd like to think so, but honestly, no.

    Would it have taken less money if it had been less intelligent?

    Maybe. Probably not. Who knows?

    Would it have taken more money if it been less intelligent?

    Maybe. Probably not. Who knows?

    Would it have made anything like that amount of money if it didn't include:

    a) an A-list star

    b) eye-popping special effects

    c) a newsworthy budget?

    Definitely not.

    So what does the success – both financial and artistic – of Inception prove? Simply this: that if you spend enough money, bag an A-list star and pile on the spectacle, the chances are your movie will not lose money, regardless of how smart or dumb it may be. Trying to be funny may be a massive risk (fail and your movie goes down) but trying to be clever never hurt anyone. Clearly, the exact amount of money a movie will ultimately make will be affected to some degree by whether or not anyone actually likes it; Titanic couldn't have become a record-breaking profit-maker if some people hadn't wanted to see it twice, and whatever my own personal problems with the film I concede that loads of people really do love it to pieces. But the fact remains that, if you obey the three rules of blockbuster entertainment, an intelligent script will not (as is widely claimed) make your movie tank or alienate your core audience. Even if they don't understand the film, they'll show up and pay to see it anyway – in just the same way they'll flock to see films that are rubbish, and which they don't actually enjoy. Like Pearl Harbor .

    This may sound like a terribly depressing scenario – that multiplex audiences will stump up for "event movies" regardless of their quality. But look at it this way: if the audiences will show up whether a movie is good or bad, then does the opportunity not exist to make something genuinely adventurous with little or no risk? If the studio's money is safe regardless of what they do, artistically speaking, why not do something of which they can be proud? If you're working in a marketplace in which the right kind of gargantuan expense all but guarantees equivalent returns, where's the downside in pushing the artistic envelope? Why dumb down when the dollar is going up?

    Why be Michael Bay when you could be Christopher Nolan? In fact, despite the asinine whining of those cultural collaborators who have invested their fortunes in the presumption of the stupidity of others, the blockbuster market arguably offers a level of artistic freedom that no other sector of film financing enjoys. The idea that creative risk must be limited to low or mid-priced movie-making (where you can in fact lose loads of money) while thick-headed reductionism rules the big-budget roost is in fact the very opposite of the truth.

    As David Puttnam has been saying for years, the biggest risk in Hollywood at the moment is making a mid-priced, artistically adventurous movie which has a great script but no stars or special effects, ie the kind of film that studios now view as potential financial Kryptonite. It is this area in which producers can most legitimately be forgiven for following a policy of cultural risk avoidance, because it is here that monetary shirts may still be lost. Remember – The Shawshank Redemption, a prison drama with no marquee-name stars or special effects, actually lost money in cinemas (it cost $35m, of which it recouped only $18m in its initial release period) before it went on to become one of the most popular movies of all time on home video. If it had cost $200m, starred Tom Cruise and featured a couple of explosive break-out sequences, it would have broken even in the first few weeks – guaranteed.

    For further proof of money's ability to make more money, look at the list of the most expensive movies of the past 20 years and see how infrequently they have failed to turn a profit, regardless of quality. Sam Raimi's baggily substandard Spider-Man 3, which even the fans agree was a calamitous mess (unlike the first two instalments) cost $258m and grossed $885m worldwide. X-Men: The Last Stand, which tested the patience of devotees of both the comic books and the movies, ran up a bill of $210m but still raked in $455m worldwide. James Cameron's Avatar (aka Smurfahontas, or Dances with Smurfs) cost $237m and (if we include the unnecessarily extended "Special Edition' re-release) has achieved global box-office takings just shy of $2.8bn.

    Even David Fincher's utterly up-itself The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, an upmarket indulgence in which Brad Pitt plays a man who lives his life backwards, managed to balance its $150m costs with worldwide box-office takings in the region of $329m, thanks in part to well-placed news stories about its ultra-expensive special effects. If you take the oft-repeated industry maxim that a film must gross twice its negative cost (the price of actually making the film before incurring print, publicity and distribution costs) in order to earn its keep, then all of these movies were bona fide hits. Working on the same ratio, Bryan Singer's dangerously star-free 2006 superhero flick Superman Returns, featuring Brandon "who he?' Routh, "underperformed' at the box office, with takings of $390m just failing to balance its official cost of $209m (as opposed to the $270m some reported) although ancillary revenues would certainly have pushed it into profit.

    Compare that with Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, which I really liked (although crucially my kids didn't) but which only a fool would have financed to the tune of $100m, since it contained no stars (Catherine Keener is an indie queen, James Gandolfini a safe bet only on TV) and boasted deliberately unspectacular (but nonetheless costly) special effects.

    Like Heaven's Gate, Where the Wild Things Are was a movie whose budget was totally out of whack with the financial realities of what was on-screen, and it has been widely described as a chastening flop. Jonze's folly still took around $100m in theatres worldwide and has since recouped more on DVD and TV, meaning that the level of its "failure' is far from studio-sinkingly spectacular. Once upon a time, a film like Where the Wild Things Are would have ended Spike Jonze's career and sent industry bosses tumbling from high windows. Today, it is merely a curio from which everyone will walk away unscathed.

    This is the not-so-harsh reality of the movie business for top-end productions in the 21st century. For all the bleating and moaning and carping and whingeing that we constantly hear about studios struggling to make ends meet in the multimedia age, those with the means to splash money around will always come out on top. So the next time you pay good money to watch a really lousy summer blockbuster, remember this: the people who made that movie are wallowing in an endless ocean of cash, which isn't going to dry up any time soon. They are floating on the financial equivalent of the Dead Sea , an expanse of water so full of rotting bodies turned to salt that it is literally impossible for them to sink. They could make better movies if they wanted, and the opulent ripples of buoyant hard currency would still continue to lap at their fattening suntanned bodies. If they fail to entertain, engage and amaze you, then it is because they can't be bothered to do better. And if you accept that, then you are every bit as stupid as they think you are.

    This is no time to be nice to big-budget movies. This is the time for them to start paying their way, both financially and artistically.


    I hate detest, despise and abhor "blockbusters"!

    P.S. Next research project for you, Sarge is to look up Akira Kurosawa's remarks in the dinner given for him by Spielberg way back, that was televised. Let's just say, Spielberg's name wasn't mentioned in Akira's remarks, but it was obvious to whom Akira was referring, in his cracks about sequels, blockbuster films and the like and why his own films had lived on.

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