Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Obit watch: June 19, 2016.

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Anton Yelchin, Chekov in the new Star Trek movies. LAT. A/V Club. He was only 27.

Lois Duncan. YA author, perhaps most famous for I Know What You Did Last Summer. A/V Club.

I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the reasons I like linking to A/V Club obits is that they’re very good at putting people’s lives in context – explaining who this person was, and why they mattered – without snark or meanness. They’re also quicker and better about acknowledging popular culture figures than, say, the NYT.

This obit for Ron Lester is a good example of what I’m talking about. Mr. Lester was Billy Bob in “Varsity Blues” and had roles on “Freaks and Geeks” and “Popular”.

…for a time, he became the go-to actor for casting directors looking to cast large, funny young men.

But his weight was killing him, so he had gastric bypass surgery. The problem was, after he lost a whole bunch of weight, he was no longer distinctive as a large funny guy, and was just one of many interchangeable normal sized funny guys in Hollywood.

The A/V Club links to this Grantland profile of Mr. Lester from 2014, which I commend to your attention. Mr. Lester was 45.

Obit watch: June 8, 2016.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The LAT is reporting the death of actress Theresa Saldana.

She was in “Raging Bull” (which, oddly enough, I have never gotten around to watching) and the 90’s TV series “The Commish”.

It makes me feel weird to say this, but: she was perhaps best known as the victim of a vicious attack by a deranged stalker in 1982. She was stabbed 10 times before a passerby pulled the guy off her. I don’t want to say this was the first celebrity stalking attack, because I’m sure someone will prove me wrong: but it was one of the earliest I can remember, and one of the first to draw public attention. (Ms. Saldana played herself in “Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story”, the movie based on her case.)

[Arthur R.] Jackson [the deranged stalker – DB] was convicted of attempted murder and held in California state prison until being released in 1996 and deported to the U.K., where he was committed in 1997 to a psychiatric institution after pleading guilty to killing a man 30 years earlier. Jackson died in 2004.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 25, 2016.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Beth Howland passed away December 31st of last year, but her death was not announced until yesterday, in keeping with the wishes of her family.

She played Amy in the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Company”, and had a slew of other roles. Ms. Howland was perhaps most famous as Vera on “Alice”.

Unlike many actors, Ms. Howland had never worked as a waitress. “But I just kept sitting around coffee shops and watching how it’s done, and now I can carry four dinners,” she told Knight Newspapers.

I kind of wonder if she was typecast after “Alice”: the obit says she worked “sporadically”.

She had small guest roles on “Eight Is Enough,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “The Tick.”


She and the actress Jennifer Warren were the executive producers of the documentary “You Don’t Have to Die,” about a 6-year-old boy’s successful battle against cancer. It won an Academy Award in 1989 for best short-subject documentary.

(Wouldn’t “After Alice” be a great idea for a new TV series? Linda Lavin is still alive: she could have taken over the diner from Mel. Polly Holliday is still alive, too: she could be working the counter, and then you cast someone to play Vera’s daughter, who works as a waitress…Hollywood types, you know where to reach me.)

The AV Club is reporting the passing of Burt Kwouk, who sounds like a very cool and interesting guy. He was in three Bond films, but is perhaps best known as Cato in the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

“They were always a lot of fun because after a while I got to know Cato quite well and I liked Cato because he never argued with me and he never borrowed money from me. I liked playing Cato quite a lot,” he said of the role in a 2011 interview with the BBC.

Not exactly obits, but worth noting in my opnion: both Bubba Smith and Dave Mirra have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Aux armes, citoyens, Formez vos bataillons, Marchons, marchons!

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

I could claim that I wanted to split this out into a separate obit for reasons. Which is true, but I also didn’t find this one until after the previous post.

The WP is reporting the death of Madeleine LeBeau at the age of 92.

Ms. LeBeau (sometimes credited as Lebeau) was the last surviving credited cast member of “Casablanca” (1942), which the American Film Institute lists as the second greatest movie of all time. “Citizen Kane” is No. 1, according to the film preservation group.

Ms. LeBeau played Yvonne, the girlfriend Rick throws over. She’s also in my favorite scene from what is one of my favorite movies ever:

I believe Ms. LeBeau is the teary eyed woman about 1:30 in, the one who isn’t Bergman and isn’t holding the guitar. Interestingly, Ms. LeBeau’s then-husband, Marcel Dalio, was Emil the croupier (“Your winnings, sir.”)

Ms. LeBeau made her screen debut in a 1939 drama, “Young Girls in Trouble.”

One of her last film roles was in “8 1/2”.

Edited to add 5/17: NYT obit.

Obit watch: April 14, 2016.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Two! Two! Two themes in one!

Theme 1: people who had interesting lives and careers.

Anne Jackson, noted actress.

Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).

She was also married to Eli Wallach from 1948 until he died in 2014. And they were good together:

They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.

Arthur Anderson. He was perhaps most famous as the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. But he did a lot of other stuff, including working with Orson Welles:

After acting in “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” Mr. Anderson was cast in 1937 as Lucius, the herald to the 22-year-old Welles’s Brutus, in a Broadway production of “Julius Caesar” set in Fascist Italy. Arthur sang, accompanying himself on a ukulele camouflaged as a lute.
His most memorable moment during the show occurred offstage. After heeding an order to stop hurling light bulbs at a brick wall, he decided to light matches to test the melting point of the sprinkler heads. Besides setting off a fire alarm, he triggered a deluge just as Brutus ascended the pulpit above the body of Caesar on the stage below.

Remember, folks, the sprinkler is not a toy, nor is it a load-bearing device.

Theme 2: the death penalty.

Jack H. Smith passed away a few days ago.

Mr. Smith had convictions for robbery-assault and theft in 1955 and another robbery-assault conviction in 1959 that earned him a life prison term. He also had a prison escape attempt in 1963.
He was paroled from his life sentence on Jan. 8, 1977, after serving 17 years. One day short of a year later, on Jan. 7, 1978, Mr. Smith and an accomplice were arrested in the killing of Roy A. Deputter, who was shot to death while trying to stop a holdup at a Houston convenience store known as Corky’s Corner.

Mr. Smith’s accomplice testified against him and was sentenced to life. Mr. Smith was sentenced to death:

Mr. Smith, a former welder who completed only six years of school, arrived on death row on Oct. 9, 1978, and remained there until his death.

Joe Freeman Britt also passed away a few days ago. He was a prosecutor in North Carolina:

As the district attorney for Robeson and Scotland Counties from 1974 to 1988, Mr. Britt oversaw cases that led to more than 40 death sentences. Only two of the defendants were executed — appeals court rulings led to many altered sentences, and some suspects were later exonerated [Emphasis added: -DB] — but his courtroom record ranked him at one point among the country’s most prolific advocates for capital punishment.

After his time as a prosecutor, he became a judge:

Mr. Britt’s candidacy for the court seat was not without controversy. His opponent, a Native American, died in what the authorities concluded was a domestic dispute. The death essentially guaranteed a victory for Mr. Britt, and it prompted a period of unease and suspicion. Investigators, however, never accused Mr. Britt or his supporters of wrongdoing.

Obit watch: April 8, 2016.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

E.M. Nathanson.

Nathanson was perhaps most famous as the author of The Dirty Dozen, based on a story told to him by Russ Meyer (!) and adapted into a movie that I’ve never actually seen. I wonder if Lawrence has a copy…

Obit watch: April 5, 2016.

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Winston Moseley is burning in hell.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell with you, and you think I’m being harsh: Moseley is the man who killed Kitty Genovese.

Mr. Moseley, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophiliac, died at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., near the Canadian border. He had been imprisoned for almost 52 years, since July 7, 1964, and was one of the state’s longest-serving inmates.

I apologize for quoting at length from the NYT obit, but there are some interesting things in it that deserve to be called out. For example:

While there was no question that the attack occurred, and that some neighbors ignored cries for help, the portrayal of 38 witnesses as fully aware and unresponsive was erroneous. The article grossly exaggerated the number of witnesses and what they had perceived. None saw the attack in its entirety. Only a few had glimpsed parts of it, or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling. There were two attacks, not three. And afterward, two people did call the police. A 70-year-old woman ventured out and cradled the dying victim in her arms until they arrived. Ms. Genovese died on the way to a hospital.
But the account of 38 witnesses heartlessly ignoring a murderous attack was widely disseminated and took on a life of its own, shocking the national conscience and starting an avalanche of academic studies, investigations, films, books, even a theatrical production and a musical. The soul-searching went on for decades, long after the original errors were debunked, evolving into more parable than fact but continuing to reinforce images of urban Americans as too callous or fearful to call for help, even with a life at stake.


Captured five days later during a burglary, Mr. Moseley confessed to the murders of Ms. Genovese and two other Queens residents: Annie Mae Johnson, 24, who had been shot and burned to death in her South Ozone Park apartment in February, and Barbara Kralik, 15, who had been stabbed in her parents’ Springfield Gardens home the previous July. Both women had been sexually assaulted.
Mr. Moseley was never tried for murdering Ms. Johnson or Ms. Kralik, though he recited details only the killer could have known, the police said. He testified at the trial of Alvin Mitchell, who had already been charged in Ms. Kralik’s murder. The conflicting accounts left a hung jury. Mr. Mitchell was convicted in a second trial.

Well. I wonder what happened to Mr. Mitchell. (I tried a Google search, but “Alvin Mitchell” is too common a name.)

In 1968, on the visit to a Buffalo hospital for treatment of a self-inflicted injury at Attica, Mr. Moseley overpowered a guard, took his gun and fled. In his several days on the loose, he took five hostages and raped a woman before he was finally recaptured by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He received two 15-year terms, to run concurrently with his life sentence.

That’s something I didn’t know. (It is perhaps worth noting that Moseley was originally sentenced to death for the Genovese murder, but had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment on appeal.)

Also among the dead, and one I’ve been meaning to note: Adrienne Corri, actress, perhaps most famous for her role in “A Clockwork Orange”.

Erik Bauersfeld.

Obit watch: March 9, 2016.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

I have to note this one: Kathryn Popper has passed away at the age of 100.

Ms. Popper had a very small, almost microscopic, role in “Citizen Kane“: she appears as a photographer at the very end of the movie, and has two lines.

According to the NYT, she was the last surviving person to have appeared in the film: Jean Forward Baker, who dubbed Susan Alexander’s voice, is still alive.

Her first visit to New York was with Welles to promote “Citizen Kane.” She moved to the city a year later, befriended many celebrities, wrote a hibachi cookbook and never left.

I’m guessing this is the cookbook?

Also among the dead: George Martin, noted record producer, perhaps most famous for his work producing an overrated mediocre band with a few toe-tappers.

Random notes: March 1, 2016.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

The HouChron ran an article about the various official state weapons, tied to Tennessee naming the Barrett M82 as the official state rifle.

Problem is, as part of the continuing creeping BuzzFeedification of the HouChron, it was a shallow slideshow. So instead I’ll link to Wikipedia’s list. Thoughts:

  • Pennsylvania, Indiana, and West Virginia have all named historic firearms. Hard to argue with those, especially the long rifle.
  • Arizona has the Colt Single Action Army revolver, which is a fine gun, but doesn’t seem to be uniquely Arizonan, so to speak. I guess there’s that whole Wild West association…
  • I guess if you’re going to pick a gun to represent native son John Moses Browning, the 1911 is a fine choice. For a pistol. Now how about the Winchester Model 1894 as the official state rifle, guys?
  • And speaking of Winchesters, yes, it does fill me with indescribable delight down to the very bottom of my shriveled coal-black heart that Alaska’s state rifle is the pre-64 Model 70.
  • Hey, whatever happened to that movement to make the Walker Colt the Texas state gun, anyway?

In other news, Lawrence’s review of “Hail, Caeser!” is up. I think he liked it more that I did, but I also don’t think we’re all that far apart on it. Elaborating on a couple of Lawrence’s points (some spoilers):

  • I like Hobie’s character arc, too. He seems to be underplaying how smart he really is for much of the movie, but there’s a scene between him and Eddie Mannix that made me think, “Wow, Eddie’s going to leave the studio for Lockheed…and Hobie’s going to become the new fixer.” He could pull that off. But what I liked even more was the scenes between Alden Ehrenreich’s Hobie and Veronica Osorio’s Carlotta Valdez (basically Carmen Miranda with the serial numbers filed off). Those two actors are totally convincing as a couple that’s surprisingly good together. Lawrence talked about wanting to see the imaginary movies within the movie more than the actual movie itself: I agree. And I’d also love to see a movie about Hobie and Carlotta, and their rise from cowboy actor/Latin singer-dancer to deeply in love Hollywood power couple over a period of, say, 50 years.
  • The Thora Thacker / Thessaly Thacker thing is a clever gag that just didn’t quite work for me. But there’s the gem of another good movie in there: identical twins who are bitter childhood rivals and become bitter adult rivals, both working the Hollywoood gossip industry…I’d watch that movie, too, especially if the Coen brothers directed it.
  • Where did the police raid on the Communist house come from? Did Hobie call the cops before pulling Baird Whitlock out? Did he call Eddie, who called the cops? Did somebody on shore spot the Russian submarine and call the Coast Guard? Was there something I missed, or did a scene perhaps get cut?