My friend and colleague, Mark Jeacoma, put up what is probably the most comprehensive yet concise list of notable deaths (I’m not talking about all the old soccer players who seem to drop dead of heart attacks every five hours) for the year 2016. In the last week alone, we’ve lost Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, and the subject of this podcast, Carrie Fisher. It’s gotten so bad of late, we put together dead-pool lists. Who will kick the bucket next? We got our answer the very next day.
Carrie Frances Fisher (October 21, 1956 [fellow Libra] – December 27, 2016) was (oh wow, she was) an American actress, screenwriter, author, producer, and a public speaker. She was known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. Fisher was also known for her semi-autobiographical novels, including Postcards from the Edge and the screenplay for the film of the same name, as well as her autobiographical one-woman play and its nonfiction book, Wishful Drinking, based on the show.
Her other film roles included Shampoo (1975) [I remember her immortal, infamous line, “Wanna fuck?”], The Blues Brothers (1980), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) [She played the treacherous April who steals Dianne Wiest’s boyfriend played by Sam Waterston], The ‘Burbs (1989) [great movie, one of my favorites – “This is Walter!”], and When Harry Met Sally… (1989) [I only vaguely remember that movie, even though it was a big hit – I always thought of it as a rip-off of Annie Hall].
I was thinking about the role George Lucas wrote: Princess Leia. Stronger actresses like Sissy Spacek and Amy Irving read for the part – he wanted Carrie for her baby-face and Hollywood royalty currency, but it’s hard for me to say, she was a stronger actress in her youth, aside from a couple of good performances later on. Sissy Spacek and Amy Irving would’ve killed the part; they would’ve been too confident, I think. She brought a lot of strength and vulnerability to the part in the first two movies, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back.
Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016) was an American actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian. Her breakout role was the portrayal of Helen Kane in the 1950 film Three Little Words, for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. However, it was her first leading role in 1952 at age 19, as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain, that set her on the path to fame. By the mid-1950s, she was a major star. Other notable successes include The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), Susan Slept Here (1954), Bundle of Joy (1956 Golden Globe nomination), The Catered Affair (1956 National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress Winner), and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), in which her rendering of the song “Tammy” reached number one on the music charts. In 1959, she released her first pop music album, entitled Debbie.
In the conclusion to our two-part discussion of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, Mark Jeacoma and I discuss permutations and ruminations of the Star Wars franchise, as well as list our best-to-worst movies. As of this writing, Regan has finished watching the first movie and “Attack of the Clones”, and is preparing for “Revenge of the Sith”. Remember, these are just our opinions. They’re neither right nor wrong, but I’m right. I’m always right!
“Heavy Is The Helmet” With David Lawler and Mark Jeacoma Introduction Music: Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, Meco (1977) Audio Clips: CBS/FOX Home Video Theme, 1995, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), Star Wars: The Special Edition On VHS Commercial, 1997
Tonight, a special two-part presentation: Mark Jeacoma and I discuss “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Also, special thanks to Andrew La Ganke for our brand-spanking-new server (even though it’s been around for the better part of a year, but it’s new to me)! Episode 72: “Heavy Is The Helmet” will premiere tomorrow. As of this writing, Regan is watching Episode 1: “The Phantom Menace” for the first time.
“Ears Of A Gundark” With David Lawler and Mark Jeacoma Introduction Music: Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, Meco (1977) Audio Clips: CBS/FOX Home Video Theme, 1983, 20th Century Fox Fanfare, 1977, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), “The Phantom Menace” (1998), “Revenge of the Sith” (2005), “Star Wars” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Return of the Jedi” (1983)
“Do I get the job, or should we move right onto the shark infested waters test?”
Twice Upon A Time, 1983 (Lorenzo Music), Warner Bros.
There are strange creatures that appear at night when you sleep. The strange creature bring you sweet dreams. Sometimes those strange creatures, the Figmen of Imagination, are thwarted or subverted by evil creatures from the Murkworks (usually dark-winged birds) that bring you nightmares. Of course because this is a “war” story, the Murkworks are locked in a never-ending battle with the Figmen for domination of the night-time world. The leader of Murkworks, Synonamess Botch (a bizarre hedonistic variation on Salvador Dali), abducts Greensleeves of the Figmen. He sends a message back to Din, the sub-dimensional city that exists between the worlds of reality and fiction.
While on garbage detail after being punished by the Rushers of Din, All-Purpose-Animal Ralph (the voice of Lorenzo Music) and his Harpo-esque sidekick, Mumford, come across Greensleeves’ message. His niece, aspiring actress Flora Fauna plays the part of damsel-in-distress for Bosch’s nightmares. Bosch convinces Ralph and Mum to steal the mainspring from something called a Cosmic Clock. Ralph and Mum do not know that the Cosmic Clock controls all of time … everywhere, thus any alterations will affect the Universe. After liberating the spring from the Cosmic Clock, time freezes. A free-land Fairy Godmother commissions superhero Rod Rescueman, an egotistical muscle-head who spends more time washing his cape than rescuing people, but he is interested in the pretty Flora.
Watching this movie as a kid, I was mesmerized by the animation, which was a mixture of Yellow Submarine (the poster art of Klaus Voorman) and Terry Gilliam’s work for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, as well as black & white live-action sequences. I couldn’t follow the convoluted plot, but I enjoyed the (largely) improvised performances of the actors, and remember this was before the advent of “retro-scripting” in later animated works like Dr. Katz, Home Movies, Archer, and Bob’s Burgers. David Fincher and Henry Sellick were among the crew of talented animators who made this movie.
Two versions of this film exist: one with unaltered “adult” language, and the other a “sanitized” version – safe for kids personally approved by the director, John Korty. Korty preferred the “kid” version because it would, presumably, have a wider release at the time. He would be wrong on both counts, as Alan Ladd’s company (which released Twice Upon A Time) was nearing bankruptcy. The Ladd Company was (right up there with Cannon) a defining force in early eighties cinema, producing the titles Outland, Night Shift, Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, and Once Upon a Time in America.
John Korty animated short films for Sesame Street, and worked for Lucasfilm. George Lucas co-produced Twice Upon A Time and used his influence to get a release for the movie. I saw the original cut of the film and snickered at the off-color dialogue. While younger children would not understand most of the adult humor, the movie was most definitely made for kids, but adults could enjoy it too. When Korty learned HBO had aired the “adult” version of the movie, he threatened lawsuits. Later, the cleaned-up version of the movie was substituted, but fans of the movie noticed the changes, and complained. This was an unusual case of mandated censorship, very much in the way George Lucas tends to alter his work (incidentally some of Lucas’ work appears in the movie via Ibor, the robot-gorilla with a television screen for a head – he shows scenes from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark).
Some thirty years later, the film holds up. In fact, in my advanced years I can actually follow the plot. The film tends to only be available in truncated form, clocking in at a slender one hour and fifteen minute running time. I have a VHS version of the film that runs five minutes longer. I don’t understand the discrepancy, because this release appears to be Korty’s approved version of the film. In addition my version of the movie contains a song by Michael McDonald, which I have been unable to verify with other releases of the film, which contain only his sister, Maureen’s songs. Perhaps there is a third version of the film.
Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month. Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.