Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Movies by the Decade feature #4 :: August 19•25

© Universal Pictures

It was an interesting week for new movie debuts. There were a few that are regarded as classics, not many that were very successful, and more than a few that have attained cult status. But the week gave us The Marx Brothers, Preston Sturgess, Shirley Temple's 'swan song' as a child actor, two Chuck Norris flicks in two different decades, cheerleaders, piranhas in 3D, and Darkman. Enjoy this week's look back at the latest movie premieres through the decades, and if you see something that strikes your fancy or is an old favorite, please consider using the highlighted link to make a purchase so we can roll out the red carpet again next week!


Aug 20 - The Poor Simp
  • Cast: Owen Moore, Nell Craig, Harry L. Rattenberry, Vera Lewis
  • Director: Victor Heerman
  • Studio: Selznick Pictures
Aug 22 - An Arabian Knight
  • Cast: Sessue Hayakawa, Lillian Hall, Jean Acker
  • Director: Charles Swickard
  • Studio: Haworth Pictures Corporation, distributed by Robertson-Cole Distributing Corporation
  • Trivia: It's survival status is classified as 'unknown' which means it may be a lost film.
Aug 22 - Guilty of Love
  • Cast: Dorothy Dalton, Julia Hurley, Henry Carvill
  • Director: Harley Knoles
  • Studio: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Adapted from the play by Avery Hopwood. No copies have been located in any film archives so this is classified as a lost film.
Aug 22 - The White Circle
  • Cast: Spottiswoode Aitken, Janice Wilson, Harry Northrup, John Gilbert, Wesley Barry, Jack McDonald
  • Director: Maurice Tourneur
  • Studio: Maurice Tourneur Productions, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the short story 'The Pavilion on the Links' by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Aug 23 - Blue Streak McCoy
  • Cast: Harry Carey, Lila Leslie, Charles Arling, Breezy Eason
  • Director: B. Reeves Eason
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Trivia: This film is considered lost.
Aug 23 - The Point of View
  • Cast: Elaine Hammerstein, Rockliffe Fellowes, Arthur Housman
  • Director: Alan Crosland
  • Studio: Selznick Pictures, distributed by Select Pictures
  • Trivia: With no listing of preserved prints, this is considered a lost film.
Aug 23 - What Women Love
  • Cast: Annette Kellerman, Ralph Lewis, Wheeler Oakman, William Fairbanks, Walter Long, Bull Montana
  • Director: Nate Watt
  • Studio: Associated First National


Aug 20 - The Dawn Patrol
  • Cast: Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, Frank McHugh, Clyde Cook
  • Director: Howard Hawks
  • Studio: First National Pictures (Warner Bros.)
  • Trivia: The film was released in New York City on July 10, 1930 before going into wide release. Oscar winner for Best Story by John Monk Saunders. Remade in 1938 with the same title, with the original renamed Flight Commander. Ronald Colman was originally to be cast in the lead but the studio offered Barthelmess. The production was sued by Howard Hughes who alleged the film plagiarized his own Hell's Angels which was in production at the same time, resulting in the film being rushed through post-production to be in theaters before Hughes' film. First National won the lawsuit. Later, Hawks and Saunders claimed ownership of the idea behind the film with Hawks saying it was based on his own experiences while Saunders insisted the screenplay was based on stories from pilots he and writer Irvin S. Cobb knew. The film earned over $1 million at the domestic box office making it Warner Bros. third highest grossing film of the year behind Gold Diggers of Broadway and Sally.

© Paramount Pictures

Aug 23 - Animal Crackers
  • Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Lillian Roth
  • Director: Victor Heerman
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the Marx Brothers' Broadway musical of the same name. Filmed at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Queens, NY, it was the second of two films the Brothers made in NYC. In the final scene, Harpo uses a Flit gun, spraying Groucho, knocking him unconscious; the name 'Flit' is obscured in current prints of the film as Paramount did not secure permission to use the trademarked name. The song 'Hooray for Captain Spaulding' became the theme song for Groucho's game show You Bet Your Life. The film was re-edited in 1936 to conform to the Hays Code, omitting some suggestive lyrics from the song, and the footage was thought lost until a pre-Code print was found in the archives of the British Film Institute; this print forms the basis for the Universal Blu-ray released in 2016. A 15-second clip filmed in Multicolor was shows as part of the AMC documentary Glorious Technicolor, and is significant because it's the oldest known color footage of the Brothers and features Harpo without his usual costume and wig. Captain Spaulding is one of the Marx Brothers character pseudonyms of the murderous clown played by Sid Haig in House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H is modeled after Groucho, and a character named Captain Calvin Spaulding was featured in early episodes of the series.
Aug 23 - Good News
  • Cast: Bessie Love, Cliff Edwards, Penny Singleton, Mary Lawlor, Stanley Smith, Delmer Daves
  • Director: Nick Grinde
  • Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Trivia: The film was shot in black and white, with the finale in Multicolor but the surviving print at the UCLA Film and Television Archive does not include the color footage and none is known to survive. Based on the 1927 stage production of the same name. Another adaptation of the show was released in 1947. By the 1940s, the 1930 version was no longer shown in the US due to its pre-Code content including sexual innuendo and lewd humor.


Aug 23 - The Great McGinty
  • Cast: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff
  • Director: Preston Sturges
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: The film premiered on August 15, 1940 in NYC before going into general release on August 23. This was Muriel Angelus' final film. It was Sturges' first film as a director, selling the story to Paramount for $10 on the condition he directed. Sturges went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The film was retitled Down Went McGinty for the UK release, an allusion to a song from 1889 (also one of the film's early working titles). Donlevy and Tamiroff reprised their roles in Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944). This was the third film written by Sturges featuring William Demarest, who would become part of the Sturges stock company and appear in seven more of his films. Tamiroff's character inspired Boris Badenov on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Paramount considered remakes in 1950 with Bing Crosby and in 1954 with Bob Hope but decided against them.
Aug 23 - Young People
  • Cast: Shirley Temple, Jack Oakie, Charlotte Greenwood, Arleen Whelan, George Montgomery, Darryl Hickman
  • Director: Allan Dwan
  • Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Aug 24 - Flowing Gold
  • Cast: John Garfield, Frances Farmer, Pat O'Brien
  • Director: Alfred E. Green
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: The female lead role was turned down by Ann Sheridan and Olivia de Havilland. John Garfield suggested Farmer, who had recently been fired from a New York production of Hemingway's only play, The Fifth Column. Farmer later admitted she had an affair with Garfield while shooting the film.


  • No new films premiered this week in 1930.


Aug 19 - I Am the Stars
  • Cast: Curt Jürgens, Victoria Shaw, Herbert Lom, Gia Scala, James Daly, Hayden Rorke
  • Director: J. Lee Thompson
  • Studio: Morningside Productions, Fama-Film, distributed by Columbia Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the life of Wernher von Braun, the film was shot at Bavaria Studios in Munich. The film premiered in Munich on August 19, then made its US debut in New York City and Los Angeles on October 19 followed by London on November 24. Dell published a comic book adaptation of the film in October 1960.
Aug 20 - College Confidential
  • Cast: Steve Allen, Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Meadows, Herbert Marshall, Rocky Marciano, Mickey Shaughnessy, Cathy Crosby, Conway Twitty, Pamela Mason, Elisha Cook, Jr.
  • Director: Albert Zugsmith
  • Studio: Universal-International
  • Trivia: The film was an unofficial follow-up to High School Confidential, but made for a different studio.


© Paramount Pictures

Aug 19 - WUSA
  • Cast: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins, Laurence Harvey, Cloris Leachman, Wayne Rogers
  • Director: Stuart Rosenberg
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the 1967 novel A Hall of Mirrors by Robert Stone, who also wrote the screenplay. The National Society of Film Critics nominated Perkins for Best Supporting Actor of the Year. Paul Newman called the movie the most significant film of his career and the best; The New York Times review called it 'a very bad movie'.


Aug 22 - The Octagon
  • Cast: Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson, Tadashi Yamashita, Lee Van Cleef, Art Hindle, Kim Lankford, Jack Carter, Ernie Hudson
  • Director: Eric Karson
  • Studio: American Cinema Releasing
  • Trivia: Notable for its use of voice-over to portray the inner life of Norris' character. Norris' third martial arts film in a row after Good Guys Wear Black and A Force of One.


© New Line Cinema

Aug 22 - Pump Up the Volume
  • Cast: Christian Slater, Scott Paulin, Ellen Greene, Samantha Mathis, Mimi Kennedy, Seth Green, James Hampton
  • Director: Allan Moyle
  • Studio: New Line Cinema
  • Trivia: Moyle had quit directing after his 1980 film Times Square was taken away and re-edited, focusing on screenwriting. When the script for Pump Up the Volume was optioned, Moyle was persuaded to direct his screenplay. Moyle's contract stipulated if the right actor could not be found for the lead role, the project would be cancelled; Christian Slater had all the qualities Moyle was looking for. The film won the Golden Space Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival, beating festival favorite Jesus of Montreal from Denys Arcand. Some audience members booed when the winning film was announced.
Aug 24 - After Dark, My Sweet
  • Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern, George Dickerson
  • Director: James Foley
  • Studio: Avenue Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the 1955 Jim Thompson novel of the same name. Roger Ebert put the film on his 'Great Movies' list.
Aug 24 - Darkman
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake, Ted Raimi, Nicholas Worth
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Studio: Renaissance Pictures, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on a short story by Raimi that paid homage to the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s. Raimi created the film after failing to secure the rights to The Shadow and Batman, making a deal with Universal as his first Hollywood studio film. This was Neeson's first action film. The film's success at the box office led to two direct-to-video sequels; Neeson did not reprise the role for either. Appearing in cameos are Bruce Campbell, Ivan Raimi, John Landis and Jenny Agutter. Raimi drew inspiration for the character from The Phantom of the Opera and The Elephant Man. Raimi has said directing McDormand was difficult because they had differing ideas on how to make the best film possible. Raimi had issues with the editor Universal had given him who was not following Raimi's storyboards, and eight weeks into assembling a rough cut, the editor had a nervous breakdown and quit. Test audiences did not like the film, and Universal execs said it was the worst scoring film in the studio's history. Two more screenings with Danny Elfman's musical score went better, but Raimi said the film was not what he thought it should be because the studio got nervous about some of the wilder things in the movie and Raimi had to cut them, which he said was unfortunate. Raimi did love the marketing campaign, saying it was 'brilliant' and made the movie a money-maker. A 30-minute pilot for a proposed FOX television series that basically retold the Darkman origin story with some alterations starred Christopher Bowen and Kathleen York, with Larry Drake reprising his role. The pilot never aired and the series was not picked up.
Aug 24 - Delta Force 2
  • Cast: Chuck Norris, John P. Ryan, Paul Perri, Richard Jaeckel, Begoña Plaza, Mateo Gómez, Héctor Mercado, Billy Drago
  • Director: Aaron Norris
  • Studio: The Cannon Group, distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Trivia: Also known as Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection and Delta Force 2: Operation Stranglehold. The film's original title was simply Stranglehold. Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down a role in the film to do Cyborg. While set in a fictional South American country, the film was shot in Tagaytay City, Philippines which explains the Taal Volcano in some scenes. Much of the film was shot at an unfinished hilltop mansion that Imelda Marcos started building in 1983 as a guest house for a visit from then president Ronald Reagan that was never made. The building stood unused after Marcos was removed from power so the production company bought it, made $1 million worth of refurbishments including the addition of a pool ... and then blew it up. A helicopter crash two months into filming killed three crew members and the pilot and injured ten others including actors John P. Ryan, Matthew Gomez and Geoff Brewer, who died a few days later. Production shut down for six weeks and production was completed in Tennessee because the cast and crew were too devastated to return to the Philippines.
Aug 24 - Dreams
  • Cast: Akira Terao, Martin Scorsese, Chishū Ryū, Mieko Harada, Mitsuko Baisho
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Studio: Akira Kurosawa USA, distributed by Warner Bros. Picture (US) and Toho (Japan)
  • Trivia: Inspired by recurring dreams Kurosawa claimed to have had. It was the first film in 45 years in which he was the sole screenwriter. The film was made with assistance from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The film was released May 11, 1990 in Japan.
Aug 24 - Men at Work
  • Cast: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Leslie Hope, Keith David, Darrell Larson, Dean Cameron, John Getz
  • Director: Emilio Estevez
  • Studio: Epic Productions, distributed by Triumph Releasing Corporation
  • Trivia: The original screenplay was titled Clear Intent, and Estevez came up with the idea while filming St. Elmo's Fire. At one point, John Hughes was interested in producing or directing. Estevez did 15 drafts of the script and had no intention of casting his brother, but Sheen wanted in after reading the script and Estevez felt he needed to do a comedy at that point in time. The film's title was changed to Pop 65 then Men at Work. The studio disliked the original ending and added ten days to the shoot schedule. Estevez edited the film at night while making Young Guns II during the day.

© Warner Bros. Pictures

Aug 24 - The Witches
  • Cast: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, Jasen Fisher, Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks
  • Director: Nicolas Roeg
  • Studio: Jim Henson Productions, Lorimar Film Entertainment, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the 1983 children's novel by Roald Dahl. It was the last theatrical film produced by Lorimar before the company shut down in 1993. It was also the last film Jim Henson worked on before his death, and the last film made based on Dahl's material before his death. The film performed poorly at the box office but has gained a cult following. Dahl hated that Roeg changed the ending to the film, so he agreed to film his ending and the one from Dahl's book. Dahl was so moved by the ending based on his material that it made him weep, but Roeg stuck with his own ending which prompted Dahl to demand his name be removed entirely from the credits and threatened a publicity campaign against the film, only dissuaded on the urging of Henson. The film sat on the shelf for more than a year after completion due to Lorimar dissolving its theatrical distribution operation. The film premiered in London on May 25, 1990 and was scheduled to open in the US the same day, but a bad test screening in Florida caused Warner Bros. to delay the film until August.


© Screen Gems

Aug 23 - Snatch
  • Cast: Benicio del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemyng, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia, Jason Statham
  • Director: Guy Ritchie
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures (UK), Screen Gems (US), SKA Films, Matthew Vaughn Productions, distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Trivia: The film shares themes and the visual style of Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and shares actors Vinnie Jones, Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham and Alan Ford. A TV series based on the film debuted on the Crackle streaming service on March 16, 2017 and starred Rupert Grint; the series ran for two seasons. The film premiered in the UK on August 23, 2000 but did not cross over to the US until January 19, 2001.
Aug 25 - The Art of War
  • Cast: Wesley Snipes, Anne Archer, Maury Chaykin, Marie Matiko, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Michael Biehn, Donald Sutherland
  • Director: Christian Duguay
  • Studio: Morgan Creek, Franchise Pictures, Amen-Ra Films, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: Two direct-to-video sequels were produced, The Art of War II: Betrayal, which featured Snipes, and The Art of War III: Retribution, which did not. Jet Li was originally cast for the role played by Snipes. The film opened at Number 2 behind Bring It On with $10.4 million.

© Universal Pictures

Aug 25 - Bring It On
  • Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union
  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Studio: Beacon Pictures, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: The film spawned five direct-to-video sequels which featured none of the original cast. This was Payton Reed's first film. Actors were expected to have a cheer prepared before auditioning. Actors attended a four-week cheerleading camp to avoid the use of stunt doubles during filming. The 'types of inspiration' montage included a clip from the film Sweet Charity. The film was Number 1 at the box office for three weeks, opening with $17.3 million. Roger Ebert called the film the 'Citizen Kane of cheerleading movies.' Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote the music for a musical stage version that opened at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta on January 16, 2011, embarked on a national tour launching in Los Angeles in November 2011, and had a limited Broadway run with previews starting July 12, 2012 and an official run from August 1 - December 30, 2012.
Aug 25 - Some Voices
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Kelly Macdonald, David Morrissey
  • Director: Simon Cellan Jones
  • Studio: Film Four Distributors
  • Trivia: Adapted from the stage play of the same name by Joe Penhall, who also wrote the screenplay. It was the first feature film for Cellan Jones, who was also nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Academy Awards. The film opened in the UK on August 25 but may not have received a theatrical release in the US.


Aug 20 - Lottery Ticket
  • Cast: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Keith David, Charlie Murphy, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Terry Crews, Loretta Devine, Ice Cube
  • Director: Erik White
  • Studio: Alcon Entertainment, Burg/Koules Productions, Cube Vision, Sweepstake Productions, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Aug 20 - Nanny McPhee Returns
  • Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith
  • Director: Susanna White
  • Studio: StudioCanal, Relativity Media, Working Title Films, Three Strange Angels, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: Released internationally as Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. The film opened in the UK on April 2, 2010. A third film was planned to be set in modern day England, but while the film performed well at the box office, it was still a disappointment for the studio and plans were cancelled.

© Dimension Films

Aug 20 - Piranha 3D
  • Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss
  • Director: Alexandre Aja
  • Studio: The Weinstein Company, Atmosphere Entertainment, Chako Film Company, Intellectual Properties Worldwide, distributed by Dimension Films
  • Trivia: A very loose remake of 1978's Piranha, which was inspired by Jaws. Richard Dreyfuss, who played Matt Hooper in Jaws, agreed to appear in the film when offered a larger salary, which he then donated to charity. His character is a parody of the Hooper character, and they share the same first name. The character listens to the song 'Show Me the Way To Go Home' on the radio, which was the same song Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw sang aboard Quint's boat. Chuck Russell was originally set to direct, and made uncredited rewrites to the script before Aja was hired. The film was scheduled to begin shooting in late 2008, but was delayed until March 2009 so the lake water would be warm enough for the cast and extras. The film was shot in 2D but was always planned for a 3D release so care was taken to compose shots for the optimal 3D conversion, one of the first post-conversions to be well-received by the critics. The film was set to have a panel at the 2010 Comic-Con but was cancelled after organizers felt the footage that was to be shown was inappropriate.
Aug 20 - The Switch
  • Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis
  • Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
  • Studio: Miramax Films, Mandate Pictures, Echo Films, distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • Trivia: The film premiered at the ArcLight Hollywood on August 16, 2010. The film's original title was The Baster, which was inspired by the short story 'Baster' by Jeffrey Eugenides, originally published in The New Yorker in 1996. The last Miramax film distributed by Disney before the company was sold to Filmyard Holdings in December 2010. Aniston had known Bateman since she was 25.
Aug 20 - What If...
  • Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, Debby Ryan, John Ratzenberger
  • Director: Dallas Jenkins
  • Studio: 10 West Studios, Jenkins Entertainment, distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment

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