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Old Actors Never Die...


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Just watched the horrifically nutty "The Swarm" on TCM. It "stars" Michael Caine and Katherine Ross. They are "supported by" A-Listers Richard Widmark, Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, and Jose Ferrer. Bringing up the rear are no less than Ben Johnson, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Lee Grant, Cameron Mitchell, Bradford Dillman, and Richard Chamberlain.

I've painfully cringed through many a B and C movie (typically released in the 60s and 70s) that feature the "greats" of the 30s and 40s and wonder why in the world these actors would sign up for such embarrassing dreck. 

Caine, I can somewhat understand. While he is extremely talented and remains one of my all-time favorites, there was a period in which there wasn't a paycheck he wouldn't cash ("Jaws: The Revenge" and "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" were my primary examples before today's viewing of "The Swarm").

But the A-listers?  Widmark at least had a role to play, albeit a stereotypical ridiculous one. But de Havilland and MacMurray?  What in the world were they thinking? Maybe I'm just a naive movie fan who thinks these people were special. Or maybe, in the words of one actor---I can't recall his name (Mitchum?)---"Man, I'm just trying to earn a living."  😄

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As Caine said about Jaws: The Revenge, "I have not seen the movie, but by all accounts it is terrible.  I have, however, seen the house it paid for, and that is magnificent."

Taking the paycheck for stuff like that also allowed him to take smaller paychecks to make Oscar-winning films like Hannah and Her Sisters.

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2 hours ago, ClassicCodger said:

Just watched the horrifically nutty "The Swarm" on TCM. It "stars" Michael Caine and Katherine Ross. They are "supported by" A-Listers Richard Widmark, Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, and Jose Ferrer. Bringing up the rear are no less than Ben Johnson, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Lee Grant, Cameron Mitchell, Bradford Dillman, and Richard Chamberlain.

I've painfully cringed through many a B and C movie (typically released in the 60s and 70s) that feature the "greats" of the 30s and 40s and wonder why in the world these actors would sign up for such embarrassing dreck. 

Caine, I can somewhat understand. While he is extremely talented and remains one of my all-time favorites, there was a period in which there wasn't a paycheck he wouldn't cash ("Jaws: The Revenge" and "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" were my primary examples before today's viewing of "The Swarm").

But the A-listers?  Widmark at least had a role to play, albeit a stereotypical ridiculous one. But de Havilland and MacMurray?  What in the world were they thinking? Maybe I'm just a naive movie fan who thinks these people were special. Or maybe, in the words of one actor---I can't recall his name (Mitchum?)---"Man, I'm just trying to earn a living."  😄

lol. I saw that in tonight's line up, and opted out. It looked like exactly what you described. You're so spot on about Michael Caine. I remember thinking that, for a while there, seemingly taking every script thown at him, he was ruining his legacy as a great actor, but in the last generation or so, he's been doing a better class of movie. I suspect, though, that MC wasn't the only one in Swarms who was just drawing a paycheck. There probably weren't many choices for most of them around that time in their careers, and those types of movies (disaster, crisis, etc) were on an assembly line back then.

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4 hours ago, Fedya said:

As Caine said about Jaws: The Revenge, "I have not seen the movie, but by all accounts it is terrible.  I have, however, seen the house it paid for, and that is magnificent."

Taking the paycheck for stuff like that also allowed him to take smaller paychecks to make Oscar-winning films like Hannah and Her Sisters.

Famously (or infamously?), as I recall, I understand he was unable to accept his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the latter in person because he was off in the Australia area filming the former.

But when he won again for The Cider House Rules, I was touched by how effusive his praise was for his fellow nominees.

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The 1977 movie TENTACLES, which has a good cast like THE SWARM, was just as bad.  (Henry Fonda appeared in both movies along with another 'paycheck' flick:  CITY ON FIRE (1979-Canadian).   

The only question I can think of in regards to THE SWARM is thus:  Is the 156-minute version better than the 116-minute theatrical version because whole hunks of plot weren't cut/out?  I can't see any way THE SWARM could be considered a 'Good' movie, but the longer version may play better because it's not so darn cho/ppy!  I do believe Irwin Allen assembled the 156-minute version for theatrical release but Warner Bros. insisted he cut it down or Warner would do it for him.  Either way, the 116-minute version is awful.  By the early 1990s the longer cut of "The Swarm" was released on LaserDisc and then later on DVD and Blu-Ray with the longer version.  

 → I think TCM may have aired the longer version just a couple of months ago late at night.  Airing at 3:30 AM - 6:15 AM or 4 AM - 6:45 AM. 

--------------------------------------------------

RAY MILLAND kept working throughout the 1970s and early '80s in movies of varying quality.  FROGS (1972) was fun.  I don't know if Ray liked 'working' with so many frogs 'n' toads . . . probably not.   Ribbit!  🐸

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15 hours ago, ClassicCodger said:

Caine, I can somewhat understand. While he is extremely talented and remains one of my all-time favorites, there was a period in which there wasn't a paycheck he wouldn't cash

I was (and still am) such a Michael Caine fan that in years 1986 to 1990 I saw every film he made during that time. Jaws The Revenge is only one I avoided, I still haven't seen it to this day.

Besides Hannah And Her Sisters, there were a few more gems in there- Mona Lisa was an excellent, gritty British film of the seamy side of life, Caine has a small role as a slimy gangster. The Fourth Protocol is a great spy thriller with Caine as a maverick British agent and Pierce Bronsan as a cold blooded Russian assassin, Caine also made two good TV movies during this time- Jack The Ripper and Jekyll And Hyde.

There were a couple of fair and mediocre ones like Sweet Liberty, a film written, directed and starring Alan Alda, there a  few laughs and Caine seems to be enjoying his role as a cocky actor. Without A Clue has a few funny moments with Caine as a dimwitted Sherlock Holmes and Ben Kingsley as a brainy Watson.

The worst one was a boring thriller called Half Moon Street, Sigourney Weaver is a call girl stalked by a killer, Caine is one of her clients. Surrender is a forgettable rom com in which Caine has no chemistry with Sally Field.

I finally gave up in 1990 after a disappointing black comedy A Shock To The System and a dismal It's A Wonderful Life clone called Mr Destiny, Caine has the angel role and Jim Belushi (!) has the lead.

 

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16 hours ago, ClassicCodger said:

Just watched the horrifically nutty "The Swarm" on TCM. It "stars" Michael Caine and Katherine Ross. They are "supported by" A-Listers Richard Widmark, Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, and Jose Ferrer. Bringing up the rear are no less than Ben Johnson, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Lee Grant, Cameron Mitchell, Bradford Dillman, and Richard Chamberlain.

I've painfully cringed through many a B and C movie (typically released in the 60s and 70s) that feature the "greats" of the 30s and 40s and wonder why in the world these actors would sign up for such embarrassing dreck. 

Caine, I can somewhat understand. While he is extremely talented and remains one of my all-time favorites, there was a period in which there wasn't a paycheck he wouldn't cash ("Jaws: The Revenge" and "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" were my primary examples before today's viewing of "The Swarm").

But the A-listers?  Widmark at least had a role to play, albeit a stereotypical ridiculous one. But de Havilland and MacMurray?  What in the world were they thinking? Maybe I'm just a naive movie fan who thinks these people were special. Or maybe, in the words of one actor---I can't recall his name (Mitchum?)---"Man, I'm just trying to earn a living."  😄

At least you didn't pay to see it in the theaters, like I did, when it came out.  That's a $1.75 I'll never see again...

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Caine has SO many good roles to be proud of.  Two of my guilty pleasures (and permanently saved on my DVR) are Gambit with Shirley MacClaine and California Suite with the amazing Maggie Smith.  In the latter, their segment is probably only a total of 25 minutes screen time, but it is as smart as it is hilarious!  If you haven't seen it, several examples of their banter are provided in the IMDB Quotes  (Sydney-Diana).  (The Matthau-Elaine May segment is also pretty good, btw.)

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41 minutes ago, ClassicCodger said:

Caine has SO many good roles to be proud of.  Two of my guilty pleasures (and permanently saved on my DVR) are Gambit with Shirley MacClaine and California Suite with the amazing Maggie Smith.  In the latter, their segment is probably only a total of 25 minutes screen time, but it is as smart as it is hilarious!  If you haven't seen it, several examples of their banter are provided in the IMDB Quotes  (Sydney-Diana).  (The Matthau-Elaine May segment is also pretty good, btw.)

Caine and Maggie Smith are the best things about CALIFORNIA SUITE in my humble opinion. Heck, Smith even won the Best Supporting Actress for her role (well deserved, too).

Ironic she wins her second oscar the same year that Jane Fonda also wins her second Best Actress award in COMING HOME. Smith won over Fonda for Best Actress back in 1969 for THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE. Jane was nominated that year for her role in THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? .

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SURRENDER (1987) re-teamed Caine with Sally Field from BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979).  Ain't Life Grand?   💰

Don't forget about Meekul Caine in THE ISLAND (1980), THE HAND (1981), DEATHTRAP (1982), EDUCATING RITA (1983-UK), BLAME IT ON RIO and WATER (1985-UK).   "Educating Rita" was a good movie.  I don't honestly know if TCM has ever aired it, but it's worth a watch if you've not seen it.

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (1988) was kinda fun.  :) 

And, remember, that Michael Caine co-starred with Steven Seagal in the 1994 action movie ON DEADLY GROUND!  How could anyone let that awesome movie slip from their memory banks?  (Actually, I've never seen it . . . ). 

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