Sunday, December 13, 2020

Great Performances: Peter O'Toole in The Stunt Man



Peter O'Toole is brilliant in writer/director Richard Rush's cult classic The Stunt Man, adapted by Lawrence B. Marcus and Rush from the 1970 novel of the same name by Paul Brodeur. It was nominated for three Oscars; including Best Actor (O'Toole), Best Director (Rush), and Best Screenplay Based on Material From Another Medium. O'Toole won Best Actor from the National Society of Film Critics. The Leeds born Irish actor plays maniacal movie director "Eli Cross" who takes a fugitive Vietnam veteran played by Steve Railsback on the run who stumbles onto the film's set and makes him a stunt man on location for his epic shielding him from the police. The fugitive gets more than he bargains for as "Eli" uses him for many death defying stunts and assorted mind games including the big final stunt that proved fatal for a previous stunt man. O'Toole has said that he based his character on David Lean who directed him in his star making turn as "Lawrence of Arabia" and the diabolical rascal and fellow hellraiser John Huston who directed him in his epic mess The Bible. He also cribbed a little watching Richard Rush too when creating the character. When you hear O'Toole shout from his helicopter "I want that shot!" and or swoop in from his crain saying "If God could do the tricks that we could do, he'd be a happy man..." From the film's excellent opening sequence on, the viewer gets sucked into this crazy ride where nothing is what it seems and wants to be on that film's location. 


When Peter O'Toole read the script for the first time, he contacted Richard Rush in Hollywood from England and declared, "I am an articulate, intelligent man. I read the screenplay and if you don't give me the part I will kill you."  

Here's clip from The Stunt Man directed by Richard Rush 
Starring Peter O'Toole, Barbara Hershey and Steve Railsback


The supporting cast is also quite good with Barbara Hershey as the film's leading lady, Alex Rocco as the local cop looking for Railsback, Allen Garfield fine as always playing the nebbishy screenwriter who takes "Eli's" abuse and recognizes his brilliance. Legendary stuntman Chuck Bail playing a version of himself is terrific as the film's stunt coordinator. Perennial bad guy Steve Railsback, best known for playing "Charles Manson" in the epic 70's TV movie Helter Skelter and serial killer "Ed Gein" In The Light of the Moon is competent in a rare romantic lead as fugitive "Cameron, The Stunt Man" but he like everyone else is blown off the screen by the charismatic bigness of O'Toole's "Eli." 

The Stunt Man is one of the very best movies about making movies along with Vincente Minnelli's excellent duo The Bad and The Beautiful and Two Weeks in Another Town, Clint Eastwood's excellent White Hunter, Black Heart (a roman a clef about making The African Queen with John Huston) and Francois Truffaut's wonderful Day For NightThe Stunt Man is a favorite of mine, I watched it repeatedly when it was on The Movie Channel in the early 80's and they'd only show a handful of movies a month! It was one of the films that cemented my love of films and filmmaking. Rush's film has achieved quite a following and mystique over time and its chaotic development and slap dash release was the subject of the documentary The Sinister Saga of Making The Stunt Man. O'Toole has publicly said that "the film wasn't released, it escaped..."

Trailer for The Stunt Man 
Starring Peter O'Toole, Directed & Co-Written by Richard Rush

If you love movies, movies about movies, great acting and Peter O'Toole, please do yourself a favor and watch The Stunt Man which plays on some of the premium cable channels like Cinemax, Turner Movie Classics and streaming on Amazon and Hulu

Some other films starring Peter O'Toole that you might want to check out: The Lion in Winter and Becket where he plays "King Henry II" in both films and the only time that an actor playing the same character in different films was nominated for Oscars. Other films include Mel Brooks's funny memoir film My Favorite Year, The Ruling Class, Lord Jim, How to Steal a Million, Under Milk Wood, What's New Pussycat?, Night of the Generals, Man of La Mancha, Rogue Male, Great Catherine, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Murphy's War, Brotherly Love, The Last Emperor, My Talks with Dean Spanley, The Final Curtain, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, Masada, and the 2006 release Venus for which he was the sentimental favorite to win the Oscar but lost to Forrest Whittaker. O'Toole was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award a record 8 times without winning, however was given a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2002. Then there is of course his signature title role in David Lean's masterful Lawrence of Arabia, that performance was ranked number one in Premiere Magazine's list of 100 Greatest Performances of All Time in 2006. Not all of these films are great but most are worth seeing and O'Toole performances are always entertaining. 

A clip with O'Toole, Allen Garfield and Steve Railsback as they watch the film within a film's footage. 

O'Toole interviewed by Robert Osborne for a special on Turner Classic Movies


Here's a 2 part interview with Writer/Director Richard Rush and actor Steve Railsback being interviewed about the film




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IL SORPASSO - Movies - Film Forum

IL SORPASSO - Movies - Film Forum  



I cant wait to see this film.  One of the quintessential road trip movies!  Several of my friends from Italy have told me that it's really great and that Vittorio Gasman gives a legendary performance.  Also with Jean Louis-Trintignant who was so great in last year's "Amour," and one of my favorite films "The Great Silence."   Now at the Film Forum! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peter O'Toole: As Good as it Gets

Terribly saddened by the passing of the great Peter O'Toole, a truly brilliant actor and man.  His work affected me greatly and he's left us an amazing body of work and some memorable appearances on talk shows.  Here are a few clips that I want to share.  I will be doing a full tribute shortly.

Here's my second exposure to Peter O'Toole after of course "Lawrence of Arabia," Richard Rush's great, enigmatic, "The Stunt Man."  O'Toole is wonderful in a bravura performance as a diabolical movie director who will do anything to get his shot.  It has been said that O'Toole based his character on John Huston and David Lean, however I think he had just finished working for Otto Preminger before the this film and might have added a few touches of the mad Austrian to his characterization too.  This is a wildly entertaining film about the magic and insanity of movies and one of my favorites.  Steve Railsback gives an intense performance as the escaped convict who O'Toole hides on his set, making him a stunt man replacing one who died doing a difficult car crash.  Barbara Hershey as his leading lady who he manipulates into a performance.  Alex Rocco as the local cop fed up with the movie people and Alan Garfield in a nice part as the nebbishy screenwriter trying to please O'Toole.  A fine work and one must watch the documentary about the rough road this film had to take to even get made and distributed. 
 

Peter O'Toole playing "King Henry II" for the second time after "Becket," in James Goldman's wonderful historical drama of family intrigue "The Lion in Winter."  O'Toole gives a dynamic performance as the rogue King who must choose his successor and his three very different and conniving sons all vying for it.  Anthony Hopkins in his first film as the young, mama's boy "Richard The Lionhearted," is good and Katherine Hepburn won Best Actress Oscar for her role as the Queen, the legendary "Eleanor of Acquitaine" who is imprisoned by "Henry" but gets to come to the court for Christmas.  Her best line is "what family doesn't have its ups and downs...."   Great film! 
I promise there will be much more to come regarding the great Peter O'Toole.  Here's O'Toole on Johnny Carson in a funny appearance.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Film, "3 Teams: A Youth Sports Story" World Premiere Set!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“3 TEAMS:  A YOUTH SPORTS STORY” TO HAVE PREMIERE ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 2ND AT CLEARVIEW THEATER IN PORT WASHINGTON AT 7PM.




Checkout our website at www.3teamsmovie.com, Follow us on Twitter @3_teams and/or like us on Facebook at 3 Teams: A Youth Sports Story 


 


Long Island based documentary film shows a Dad, Coach and former Hofstra Player’s journey through the crazy world of Youth Sports while coaching each of his three kids’ basketball teams.

Port Washington, NY.  November 13, 2013- Introducing the upcoming documentary film "3 Teams: A Youth Sports Story."   Over 40 million kids play Youth Sports in America and One Man--Rob, a Dad, a Son of a coach, a former NCAA Division 1 player and Youth Basketball coach thinks the way we approach Youth Sports today has gone terribly wrong.  This year he's coaching his three kids' (8, 11 & 13 years old) basketball teams.  He's trying to do Youth Sports the right way and make some positive changes in the way we teach our kids how to play, 

Like millions of parents Rob Weingard coaches Youth Sports in his hometown.  His father was a college coach and athletic director and he played division 1 college basketball at Hofstra University, leading the nation is assists in 1985.  Now he coaches his three children:  Crew in the seventh grade, daughter Stevie in sixth grade and third grader Jensen.  The basketball season’s schedule is hectic, but for many families the sports seasons never end… Over the past twenty years there has been a transformation in Youth Sports.  What was once a community oriented activity, stressing fundamentals and teamwork has now become an industry based on individual competition and advancement.  Parents pit children against each other scrambling for an unrealistic dream of college scholarships.  How did this become the new normal?  And how will it affect our children as they grow into adults?  To find answers Rob went on a journey seeking out other programs and experts in the Youth Sports field like former NBA player and author of the book Just Let The Kids Play, Bob Bigelow, psychologist Dr. Rhonda Yoss-Kaplan, camp director and former director of admissions of C.W. Post University Steve Nisenson and author and host of “The Sports Edge” on WFAN, Rick Wolff.   

On his journey Rob goes into the highly controversial world of AAU Basketball and travel teams which according to many has become a for profit way for kids to play sports and be noticed by college coaches with hopes of landing that scholarship.  Fueled by the notion that the more that one plays, the better player that they’ll become, kids spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars playing on travel teams and teams governed by the AAU in the same season.  The core concept is simple pay to play and travel with “top” athletes from other communities in hopes of getting college exposure.  But is all of that extra activity worth it and at what cost?  How much commitment is left for a young athlete to invest to any one team? 

The myriad of issues of Youth Sports are addressed in this documentary from the overloading of kids’ schedules, the actual odds of an athlete receiving a scholarship and the lack of free play for today’s kids in the super structured world of today.  Rob also visits two programs that “do it the right way,” West Islip Lacrosse a perennial state and national level contender and the legendary Bridgehampton Killer Bees basketball program that has more NY state basketball championships that any other school and yet has less than 20 boys in their whole high school. 

Rob meanwhile is coaching his three children’s basketball teams and we follow these very unique squads as they progress through their seasons.  Crew’s seventh grade team consists of youngsters on the verge of playing for their high school teams.  Stevie’s sixth grade girl’s team is a fun group of girls who make every practice seem like a sleepover party and yet they learn to play the game and become teammates.  Jensen travels from his hometown to nearby Hempstead to play in a much different community than his own and in his first basketball league season run by an unforgettable lady coach/police detective.
“3 Teams: A Youth Sports Story” hopes to shed some light on the issues that face parents and coaches of Youth Sports and hopefully provide some answers and ways for the kids to have fun and take home some lessons for life. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Horror Film Tribute to My Favorite Horror Star Christopher Lee!

It's Halloween and I salute my favorite horror movie star, the eternally cool Christopher Lee. Lee was cousins and spied in WW2 with OO7 creator Ian Fleming. He holds the Guinness Book of World Records for Actor With Most Film Credits. He's been in some of the greatest movies of all-time and some of the worst, however he always makes them better. He was the definitive "Dracula," "Mummy," & "Frankenstein Monster" in the Hammer Horror films and was a Bond villain in "The Man With The Golden Gun," and audiences today know him from the "Star Wars" and "Lord of The Rings" sagas and Tim Burton's films. He also records Heavy Metal and Opera records. Still going strong at 90! Cheers! Here's a look at 10 of his best! 
 
On the cover of the great Paul McCartney album "Band on the Run." Also on the cover is the equally cool James Coburn
 
 

Here's the trailer for a true gem of a film that Christopher Lee did for the great Billy Wilder, "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes."  This is a wonderful film and its failure at the box office severely affected the masterful Wilder.  Lee plays "Mycroft," Holmes' older and smarter brother.  If you ever get the chance to watch this film, please do!  Here it is!  A wonderful, original story by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Here is a full movie that is one of Christopher Lee's best, "Horror Hotel" aka "The City of The Dead." Co-starring Venetia Stevenson who would marry one of the great Everly Brothers. It's a bout a curse put on a small New England town by a witch. Very moody and scary film.  



Lee as the Bond villain "Francisco Scaramanga" in the underrated "The Man With The Golden Gun.     
Here's Lee co-starring with fellow Horror Icons Boris Karloff and Barbara Steele in the very stylish film "The Crimson Cult." One of the better Devil worshipper movies. Complete film here  
This is Lee in a scary "Alfred Hitchcock Hour" episode where he is a real ghoul recruited by Hollywood types to be in a horror movie. Very good!  
Gotta include one of these, here's Lee in his signature role as "Count Dracula" with his longtime co-star and good friend Peter Cushing in "The Satanic Rites of Dracula."   
Last but not least is a public domain gem made in Spain with the leftover model trains from "Dr. Zhivago" produced by the great and notorious producer/writer Philip Yordan and Bernard Gordon for their Scotia Films is the wonderful Euro Horror film "Horror Express."  This film has a great cast starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas along with some familiar Euro Horror faces.  It's a really wild mishmosh of genres and is terribly entertaining and gained a real cult following through its many tv showings in the 70's and 80's.  Enjoy!  
 Here is Lee receiving his Fellowship Award from BAFTA in 2011 presented by Tim Burton and given a loving reception by the star studded crowd.   
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

American Legacy Magazine: A Moment's Gesture

Here's the cover story that I wrote for the Spring 2008 issue for the excellent magazine devoted to the African-American Historical experience, American Legacy.  The article was about the tumultuous events that took place leading up to and during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics culminating in the now iconic photo of Gold and Bronze Medal winners in the Men's 200 Meter Dash, Tommie Smith and John Carlos.  These two young athletes took a stand and it affects them to this day.  I was very proud of this piece and it marked my first foray into magazine writing.  Special thanks to the wonderful Audrey Peterson the editor of this magazine and who took a chance on me.  For more information about Amercian Legacy Magazine, visit their website: http://www.americanlegacymag.com/