I finally got my copy of the forthcoming two-disc A Streetcar Named Desire (Warner Home Video, 5.2), and here are two recordings from the 1947 Marlon Brando screen test, when he was 23. It’s mainly footage of Brando and a somewhat older actress acting a scene from an early version of a script called Rebel Without a Cause, in which Brando’s character wasn’t named “Jim Stark” (the teenaged kid played by James Dean in the 1955 film) but “Harold.” In excerpt #1, Harold, obviously angry and distressed, is talking to the girl about getting away (maybe to South America, he says), and excerpt #2 is recorded from footage of an off-the-cuff chat between Brando and an off-screen casting woman (possibly named Ruth Ford). The test was apparently shot before Brando began performing in the ’47 play of “A Streetcar Named Desire”– when the woman asks for his previous stage credits he only mentions plays he did prior to “Streetcar.”
That disputed headline for Sharon Waxman‘s 4.4 N.Y. Times story about the currently-playing trailer for United 93 upsetting people (which has prompted West 43rd Street notions about Universal withdrawing the trailer…notions that are entirely confined to West 43rd Street, apparently) reads “Universal Will Not Pull ‘United 93’ Trailer, Despite Criticism.” But the headline for the same story in today’s (4.4) print edition doesn’t imply quite the same assumption…it feels a tad less negative. Here it is…
“The best mise en scene is the one you don’t notice. You have to make the public forget that there’s a screen. You have to lead them into the screen, until they forget the image only has two dimensions. If you try to be artistic or affected you miss everything.” — director-writer Billy Wilder
Okay, so DHL (the courier company with the yellow trucks and yellow jackets) isn’t really involved in “a logistic and shipping partnership” with Paramount Pictures and Mission: Impossible: 3 . The real deal, according to Mark Ebner’s Hollywood Interrupted, is that they “paid millions to Paramount for the opportunity of having Tom Cruise appear on screen driving a stupid yellow DHL truck around Italy” in the film. I for one am shocked, shocked, that this sort of thing goes on in the film industry. In Billy Wilder‘s One Two Three, Horst Buccholz screams in exasperation, “Is everybody in the world corrupt?” in response to which a chubby Soviet trade ambassador replies, “I don’t know everybody.”
“To me, Flight 93 was a defining moment in the sense that the hijack victims of Flight 93, when they understood what was going on, changed themselves into the Flight 93 militia and fired the shot heard around the world, the beginning of the war against Al-Qaeda, followed by Congress and Bush officially declaring that same war. To me, this is something that I think is probably…we haven’t had a moment like this since 1776. These victims said, ‘We will be victims no more.” They became soldiers, men and women alike, shoulder to shoulder, and took on Al-Qaeda and said, ‘You will not succeed,’ and they took down that plane and I think it’s marvelous.” — caller to Rush Limbaugh show on 4.3.06. Note: I never thought I’d link to Limbaugh in any way, shape or form, but there it is. Exception: However director Paul Greengrass decides to depict the final moments of that flight, the 9/11 Commission concluded, based on black-box recordings, that the passengers never busted into the cockpit and therefore didn’t force the plane down.
That headline for Sharon Waxman‘s N.Y. Times story about negative responses to Universal’s United 93 trailer is, I feel, pretty unfair. It reads “Universal Will Not Pull United 93 Trailer, Despite Criticism.” This implies that some kind of heated consensus has taken shape against the showing of the trailer, and that angry crowds are massed outside Universal’s gates. There’s resistance to the trailer, granted, or rather to the idea of seeing the film. I’ve received more than a few letters from different U.S. cities and regions since the trailer was first shown a week ago last Friday (on 3.31), and a lot of people are apparently saying “too soon!” Fine. But nobody’s carrying picket signs and no one is pressuring, much less asking, Universal to pull the trailer, and that’s why it’s unfair to try to make an issue out of Universal’s refusal to do something that nobody’s asked them to do. The notion that people are complaining about the showing of the trailer came from a currently-running Newsweek story about a manager at an AMC Loews theater in Manhattan “taking the rare step of pulling the trailer from its screens after several complaints.” The story quotes one of the theater’s managers, Kevin Adjodha, as saying “‘one lady was crying’ [and that] we shouldn’t have [played the trailer]…that this was wrong…I don’t think people are ready for this.'” Waxman reports that theatre managers at this same theatre decided to show the trailer only before R-rated films or “grown-up” PG-13 ones. A Universal spokesperson told me this afternoon “there were two [trailer] complaints reported to us.” Waxman also talks to people whose mates or family members were killed in the planes on 9/11 — David Berry, Tom Roger and Sandra Felt. Two said they were disturbed or somewhat disturbed by the trailer; Felt said “she was surprised that the trailer had disturbed some moviegoers” and that “9/11 is a fact…it happened…running away from the movie isn’t going to resolve underlying factors of why we’re upset by it.”
Onetime hot-shot action director John McTiernan (The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard, Basic) has stepped into some Anthony Pellicano wiretap crap. He is now apparently looking at felony charges for having lied to the FBI, and is scheduled for arrignment on 4.17.06. Lying to the FBI carries a maximum penalty of five years. The U.S. Attorney has charged in U.S. District Court for Central District of California that on 2.13.06 McTiernan knowingly made a false statement to the FBI by claiming he had no knowledge of any wiretapping conducted by Anthony Pellicano. The U.S. Attorney’s charge is that McTiernan in fact had hired and paid Pellicano to conduct a wiretap of producer Charles Roven, whom McTiernan worked with on Rollerball (2002). McTiernan’s attorney, John Carlton of Arnold and Porter, didn’t pick up.
Mark Ebner‘s Hollywood Interrupted site has passed along the news about former Hollywood agent Pat Dollard almost getting killed in Iraq while filming a pro-war documentary series called “Young Americans.” Last year Dollard “ditched a lucrative career as a Hollywood agent [and] took leave from his family” — this means what exactly? it makes Dollard sound a little bit like Scott Glenn‘s “Colby” character in Apocalypse Now — and went to the front lines in Iraq to start shooting the series. On 2.18 — about six weeks ago — Dollard was wounded while on combat patrol with U.S. Marines in the city of Ramadi. He “suffered a concussion, neck injuries, shrapnel wounds, a damaged leg, and severe muscle and ligament damage,” Ebner writes. “Two of the young Marines with him on combat patrol were not so lucky. They were both killed in the attack.” Yeah, war zones are tough places and sometimes the worst happens and young guys get killed…uh-huh. And the fact that Dollard got hurt pretty badly signifies what exactly, apart from the fact that a bomb had his name on it? You walk in harm’s way and you might get hurt…way of the world, right? And by the way, U.S. News & World Report‘s Paul Bedard had news about Dollard’s misfortune on March 7th.
I’ll eventually get used to the new N.Y. Times web design, but right now I hate it. The old-fogey version (i.e., the one that was up just yesterday) was totally fine for me. The new design seems opposed to the storied atmosphere on West 43rd Street or even midtown Manhattan, for that matter. It makes the Times look like a weekly newspaper out of Springfield, Illinois. You can always improve a site internally by streamlining links and improving search functions, but if it looks good and bears a comfortable resemblance to the print version and everyone’s down with it, why mess around? All that white space seems so undisciplined and purposeless. Plus the lack of compactness in the design, the lame-ass fonts down below, etc. Did the online art department want to do something that would impress their bosses…to show they’re working hard and deserving of their salaries?
I knew Inside Man might run into some trouble on its second weekend after I saw it for the second time at an all-media screening at the Avco in Westwood. A stocky African- American guy in a blue blazer was sitting with his date to my right, and providing a running commentary about the action all through the film. And then came the quiet-time final scene in the bedroom — Denzel Washington looking at the diamond as he gets undressed, and maybe chuckling at the irony — and then the screen went to black and the credits began, and this guy said to his date, “That’s it?” As soon as he said that, I knew. If guys like this feel a little bit disappointed, you’re on your way down. Inside Man suffered a 46% decline last weekend, taking in about $15.6 million for a cume of $52.7 million. It’s doing moderately well, but obviously some people are telling their friends, “Yeah…it’s okay.”
How normal is it these days for guys to not grim up and get focused on some kind of career plan until they hit 29 or 30, or even 31 or 32? Fairly normal, I think. The bottom line is that the stuff that’s funny in Kevin Smith‘s Clerks 2 is pretty fucking unfunny out there in the real world, but this is what gives good comic films their undertow.