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Police Academy

When a comedy has 6 sequels, each of which got progressively worse until the final in the series hardly even made it onto a theater screen, it’s hard to judge the first one fairly, especially since it never would’ve happened without the classic film “The Right Stuff”.

Heaven Help Us

Every once in a while, you find a film from youth that is full of great scenes with great actors who most people didn’t know at the time, but today has the makings of a classic.

Dead Man Don't Wear Plaid

In 1982, I was a big fan of movies I couldn’t possibly have seen from the 30s and 40s.  We actually had a VHS VCR in the house, but the small video store near my house had very few movies from that era.  But I read about them in tons of books at the library.  

When Harry Met Sally...

I became a fan of rom-coms because of “When Harry Met Sally.”  For once, the guy was a smart alec who didn’t look like a Ken doll.  One of those “He could be me” situations.

And Meg Ryan was everybody’s high-maintenance but sweet girl next door.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

I can’t tell you how many times I saw “The Incredible Shrinking Man” on television as a kid, but it was a lot.  This film is emblazoned on my childhood.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

How the hell did this cost $65 million?

That’s almost as much as it cost to make “The Rock” the same year, and that got us Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris, and it got the studio more than twice that at the box office.

But darn it, I love “The Long Kiss Goodnight”.

Witness

There’s hardly any part of “Witness” I don’t love.  In fact, I wonder how a film like this even got green-lit.  Much of the supporting cast and the two writers were perennial television workers, the director had never directed an American film, and films about the Amish weren’t known to be blockbusters.

Class of 1984

I’ll admit it.  Many of the films I enjoyed as a child were supremely influenced by a PBS show called “Sneak Previews” with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who left the show in 1982 and went to network syndication with “At the Movies”.  “Sneak Previews” continued without them and never really clicked with me.  Siskel and Ebert were it. 

Malice

The early 1990s were a good time to do husband and wife thrillers, and “Malice” is just about the best. Coming of his hit play-turned-movie “A Few Good Men”, Aaron Sorkin pens this story of intrigue, after which he veered off into politics with “The American President”, “The West Wing” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Moonstruck

This is one of those films that you’d think would have a pretty select audience.  I grew up with and around Italians in Philadelphia where every discussion was at a dinner table, everything was debated at a higher decibel level than average, and someone was making some kind of gravy (now known as sauce) or an egg fried in the middle of a slice of Italian bread.


 “Another Take on Film” -  Movies you may have seen before that are worth “another take” – watch them again and maybe notice some things differently the second time around.  I’ll be continuously adding reviews of films from my personal library of thousands and thousands of titles and sharing what I think is special about each one.  Every good film deserves another take.


An American Werewolf in London

I don’t think John Landis can do straight horror, but this is probably the closest he ever came to doing so.  “An American Werewolf in London” brought scenes of comedy mixed with the macabre.  Heck, some of the scenes are so hyperviolent I’m surprised they passed MPAA scrutiny, and several were cut to make the movie that made the theaters.

But the film is all about Rick Baker, the now-famous makeup artist who secretly played King Kong in the 1976 remake and created the suit he wore.

Kramer vs. Kramer

Dustin Hoffman isn’t just an actor.  When he works, the film becomes all encompassing, and in the 1970s he was on a roll.  He wouldn’t just play a part.  He studies the part.  He fights over scenes.  He rewrites scripts.  He does everything they tell actors not to do.   Check out Tootsie to see the all too real scene between Hoffman and Albert Brooks about how hard his character is to work with.  That was reality for Hoffman.

Anatomy of a Murder

Courtroom dramas are about as frequent as starcrossed lover romance films, but we know how the romance films usually end. 

We sometimes know, or hope we know, how the courtroom drama will end.  

The test of a good movie, especially a courtroom one, is in the rewatching.  When you already know the ending, do you want to see it again.

Trading Places

A staple of American comedy since the 1970s has been the “Saturday Night Live” film where cast members from the famed sketch comedy show hit the big screen with varying success levels.  The early cast members had two names involved:  Ivan Reitman, who generally stayed with Bill Murray movies, and John Landis.  Landis directed “Animal House” and made John Belushi the hottest star at the time.  He directed “The Blues Brothers” with Belushi and Dan Aykroyd (who was supposed to be in “Animal House with Chevy Chase” but that’s another story).   Animal House was the biggest mone

Caddyshack

The funny thing about comedies is how hard it is to be funny in a film.

There isn’t really a designed method to it.  There really aren’t rules.  In the early days of sound films, the Marx Brothers would basically take a show on the road, find out what got laughs and what didn’t, fine tune it to a fever pitch, and bam – you have a film comedy.

Dirty Harry

“Dirty Harry” was one of those movies that was almost never made.  Actors turned down the part.  Studios turned down the script.  It morphed from a story about a New York cop chasing a serial killer who is eventually shot by Marines, not by Dirty Harry.  Then it was moved to Seattle.

Groundhog Day

I love recommending another take to a film that’s about another take, after another and another and another.

“Groundhog Day” just may be the best Bill Murray comedy, and that’s a pretty high standard.  It’s probably in a fourway cluster at the top of my favorites (with “Meatballs”, “Caddyshack and “Scrooged”) but this is his crowning achievement.

Halloween

In the seventies, mainstream horror movies were more supernatural than slasher movies.  From “The Exorcist” to “The Omen” to “Carrie”, it too devils and demons to be scary enough for Hollywood to invest serious money into the genre.  The “escaped lunatic” with a knife wasn’t enough.   Films like that were relegated to the independent, low-budget filmmakers to spend a few hundred thousand dollars and hope to make it back in drive-ins and such.

Hoosiers

Some sports movies work even if you don’t like the sport.  You don’t have to be a boxing fan to like Rocky, and you certainly don’t have to like basketball to love “Hoosiers.”

“Hoosiers” is a sport movie that really isn’t about sports, or even about basketball specifically.  The same type of movie could’ve been about baseball, hockey, football or soccer.