I got up from bed slowly and went to the office to do some work. I took a break, going out to the movie theatre to see “The Hurricane Heist,” which turned out to be a terrible movie. The acting was uniformly bad, although Maggie Grace almost came out of the movie well. I guess if you mixed “Twister” with “Logan Lucky” and “Die Hard,” you might have a movie like this. The story was hard to take seriously because it was too wild. It was about the attempted theft of a Treasury facility of cash that was set to be shredded just as a big storm was about to hit. The movie was heavy on the CGI, and it felt like a huge waste of money. The thieves acted so stupidly that it was unbelievable. I don’t know why they let the agent live after they extracted the code they wanted from her, especially as they vowed not to leave any witnesses behind. Two of the scenes were so ridiculous that they approached a Sharknado-like level. I thought that last action sequence was meant to have a Mad Max type of excitement, but it was bizarre and rather comical, as if one of the Mad Max villains got caught in the cyclone in “The Wizard of Oz.” I shook my head and found it hard to believe that this movie was not intended as some type of parody. It has a slight chance of becoming a sort of cult movie for that reason. I’m not sure that I can even imagine audiences laughing at this movie. One woman picked the strangest time to display her supposedly sexy attributes, and there was a goofy reference to a football play at the end. One of the better moments in the dialogue had the hero saying that his preference of peanut better was Skippy. It was a good thing that I paid only five dollars to see this very weak movie, otherwise I might have been upset. It was rather tiring to sit through with its constant noisy quality. At the end, I wanted to know who directed this monstrosity. It was Rob Cohen, who was born in 1949 and therefore should know better. He gained notoriety in Hollywood as the young man who discovered the script of “The Sting.” He was a producer of films like “Mahogany,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” and “Ironweed.” He directed “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001. It’s hard to picture Cohen being able to make more films after this disaster. You can watch this one with some friends while pointing out all the flaws and ludicrous moments. Some of the people who died on March 21 include Pocahontas (1617), Cole Younger (1916), Robert Preston (1987), and Chinua Achebe (2013). Today is a birthday for Matthew Broderick (56), Rosie O’Donnell (56), Gary Oldman (60), and Timothy Dalton (74). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 21, the first episode of the serial “Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars” was released in 1938. In 1967, the Paul Newman movie “Hombre” was released. In 1973, the film adaptation of “Godspell,” starring Victor Garber as Jesus, was released. In 1980, CBS aired the famous cliffhanger episode of “Dallas” in which J.R. was shot. In 1994, “Schindler’s List” won the Best Picture Oscar.
Waking up from Daylight Saving Time still felt terrible on a Monday morning. I tried to prepare for Tuesday’s lecture. I used the computer to watch “Alibi,” an early talking picture from 1929. It seemed that the technical people on the movie hadn’t yet perfected the art of recording and editing sound. The acting was nothing notable, although it was the first movie for Regis Toomey. I don’t know how the daughter of a cop can end up marrying a gangster. I don’t know if this was considered hard-hitting stuff in 1929, but it’s been improved upon many times. Everything in this film is leading up to the ending, which has the cops getting their hands on their man, Chick Williams. I couldn’t imagine a gangster in 2018 having a name like Chick Williams, although we used to have a Lakers announcer named Chick Hearn. It seemed that the cops did something that they couldn’t get away with today, something that reminded me of “Sleuth.” I don’t understand why anyone in a police showdown would stand directly in front of a door. The cops were stupid. You always at least have to slap the handcuffs on the suspect. These guys fell for the turn off the light switch to escape routine. It did set up the startling moment of the movie, which was not as suspenseful as “Vertigo,” but carried the slightest echo of Hitchcock. I noticed that even back then a director tried to sell tickets through sex appeal, this time by showing the legs of a lot of dancers. I saw that one of them couldn’t stay in step. This movie had to be one of the weakest movies ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. I think people gave it a lot of credit for being the first of its kind. After “Alibi,” Roland West would direct “The Bat Whispers” and “Corsair.” Bad publicity from the death of actress Thelma Todd destroyed his career. West went into seclusion. He suffered a stroke, and he would die in Santa Monica in 1952 at age 67. It seems that West’s real life story would have made for a better movie than “Alibi.” Regis Toomey was in many movies, including “His Girl Friday,” “Meet John Doe,” “Spellbound,” “The Big Sleep,” “The Bishop’s Wife,” “Show Boat,” and “Guys and Dolls.” Toomey died at age 93 on October 12, 1991. Some of the people who died on March 20 include Chet Huntley (1974), Gil Evans (1988), and Georges Delerue (1992). Today is a birthday for Holly Hunter (60), Spike Lee (61), Louis Sachar (64), Bobby Orr (70), Lois Lowry (81), and Vera Lynn (101). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 20, Humphrey Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar for “The African Queen” in 1952. In 1967, the Supremes’ single “The Happening” was released. In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married. In 1990, Gloria Estefan broke her back when a truck plowed into the back of her tour bus. In 1991, Michael Jackson signed the biggest record contract in music history with Sony Records. Also in 1991, Eric Clapton’s four-year-old son Conor died when he fell from an open window on the 49th floor of a New York condominium. In 1998, “Primary Colors,” starring John Travolta, Emma Thompson, and Billy Bob Thornton, was released.
I listened to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Times radio program on KCSN, featuring songs from U2, The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Verve, and Radiohead. I watched “The Racket,” a silent movie from 1928 that was one of the first movies to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The stars were Thomas Meighan, Louis Wolheim, and Marie Prevost. The director was Lewis Milestone, and the producer was Howard Hughes. I don’t know how a film like this could become lost for about seventy years, until it was found in Hughes’ film collection. A print went out to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for restoration. Edward G. Robinson appeared in the Broadway play version of the story, but Wolheim got the part of Nick Scarsi for the film. Meighan was Captain McQuigg. “The Racket” reminds you of how good “The Untouchables” was. The movie did have a great opening shot of a window opening up to a view of the city. The director Lewis Milestone was known for “Two Arabian Knights,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “The Front Page,” and “Of Mice and Men.” Wolheim died while he was preparing to appear in “The Front Page.” He was only 50 years old. Meighan was only 57 when he died of cancer in 1936. Drinking led to the death of Marie Prevost in 1937 at age 38. Joan Crawford paid for her funeral, attended by Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. Prevost’s pet dachshund bit her legs in trying to wake her, but the dog didn’t try to eat her body, as was suggested by the Nick Lowe song “Marie Provost.” “The Racket” wasn’t the exciting movie that “Wings” was. McQuigg didn’t seem like the kind of cop who could have any success against a Scarface type of criminal. This movie does gives you the sense that the time for movies with sound was about to come. How strong could a movie that is based on a play be if we don’t get to hear the dialogue? This movie did seem to have characters who talked to each other too much for a silent movie. The music didn’t seem like the best fit for this film. I thought about how good a director Howard Hawks was. “The Racket” was an interesting bit of film history. I’m glad that I had the chance to see it. I think of all those films that have been lost over the years. According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 19, the KISS album “Dressed to Kill,” which included “Rock and Roll All Nite,” was released in 1975. In 1976, the Doobie Brothers album “Takin’ It to the Streets,” which included “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “It Keeps You Runnin’,” was released. In 2009, David Letterman married Regina Lasko.
I woke up and watched CBS Sunday Morning. One of the segments featured Glenn Close. I shopped at Trader Joe’s and went to the movie theatre to see “Tomb Raider” with Alicia Vikander. It had some of the qualities of Indiana Jones. It looked like Alicia did a lot of working out to be strong enough to do the stunts for this movie. The story wasn’t hugely inspiring, as it had to do with a long-lost father. There was a fox hunt that involved bicycles. It looked like it was a lot of trouble and damage. I can’t stand action that looks like it is impossible in real life. I had seen “Ex Machina,” but the familiar face to me in this movie was Derek Jacobi. He didn’t have much to do except tell Lara to sign some papers. Some of the action scenes felt like they were from a video game. Did Lara have any emotions other than the desire to reunite with her father? Nothing really developed between her and Daniel Wu. What that had in common besides the fates of their fathers was the ability to use weapons, apparently. I don’t know if she had any observations at all about the real world if she could not anticipate someone attempting to steal her backpack. The crashing of the boat reminded me of “The Guns of Navarone,” along with some other images of climbing. Lara suffers an injury that made me think of Jon Voight in “Deliverance.” She bounces back from it almost like a cartoon character, though. Some people liked the scene with the rusted World War II bomber. I found it overdone and imitative of Steven Spielberg. Other Indiana Jones elements come out when the principals enter the tomb. The fate of Lara’s father was predictable and somewhat disappointing. I found it hard to believe that someone like Alicia Vikander would prevail in some of the fights she goes through in the film. The bit at the end with Lara running for her life was too much to be believable. It was a bit sickening to see a sequel being set up. I wouldn’t mind seeing another of these Tomb Raider movies, although this one felt too familiar to be truly exciting. I wondered if it was a little better in 3D. I found Dominic West not so interesting, and I got tired of the things his character did. I found Walton Goggins unexciting, too. Maybe he was better in those Quentin Tarantino movies, but I don’t remember. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Kristin Scott Thomas. I have no memory of her in “The English Patient,” which had to be one of the most boring of Best Picture Oscar winners. “Tomb Raider” came in ahead of “I Can Only Imagine,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and “Love, Simon” in the weekend box office results, which I was rather glad to see. I would rather see mindless action entertainment win out over questionable message movies. Some of the people who died on March 19 include Edgar Rice Burroughs (1950), Edward Platt (1974), Willem de Kooning (1997), Arthur C. Clarke (2008), Paul Scofield (1998), and Jimmy Breslin (2017). Today is a birthday for Bruce Willis (63), Glenn Close (71) and Ursula Andress (82). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 19, the first televised Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1953, with Gary Cooper, Shirley Booth, Gloria Grahame, and Anthony Quinn winning the acting awards, and “The Greatest Show on Earth” named Best Picture. In 1957, Elvis Presley agreed to purchase Graceland with a $1000 cash deposit against a sale price of $102,500. In 1974, Jefferson Airplane began their first concert tour under the name Jefferson Starship. In 1982, Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash during an attempt to buzz Ozzy Osbourne’s tour bus.
I went out to work on an exam answer key, and then I took the bus out to the Piedmont Theatre. I bought a single scoop of rocky road ice cream before I went to the box office. I saw “Phantom Thread” again. This audience understood the picture, unlike Jennifer Lawrence. I walked over to the video store but had only five minutes to browse before the 12 bus would come. I went over to the record store and bought a CD of Randy Newman’s “Dark Matter” before going home. I watched the Partridge Family episode “Dora, Dora, Dora.” It was Brian Forster’s first episode, and Jack Burns was also in it. Laurie was wearing her shoes when her feet were on the sofa cushions in one scene. With no Saturday Night Movie on KQED, I used the computer to watch “Kitty Foyle,” the movie that brought a Best Actress Oscar to Ginger Rogers. It did have one scene that seemed that it could have come from one of her comedies. That was her accidental pressing of a burglar alarm and pretending to faint. There was a joke about going out dancing, too. This story was about trying to marry someone of a higher social status. The movie is a lowly worker while the man is born into banking. He tries to start a magazine, but his money runs out. The subject matter had to be cleaned up, so to speak, from the novel in order for the film to be made. Kitty has to be married in order to be pregnant. Otherwise, it is a tale that could have come from the pages of Thomas Hardy. Ginger Rogers did give a strong performance that reminded me of Barbara Stanwyck. The one scene that I didn’t like too much was her speech directed at Wyn’s family. He was too weak for her. Ginger didn’t do any singing except for a moment of “Three Little Words.” The coincidence of the woman and her son encountering Kitty at the end stretched believability. I thought the script showed a touch of Charlie Chaplin. The screenplay was by Dalton Trumbo. The director was Sam Wood. Katharine Hepburn was offered the role of Kitty Foyle but turned it down. She was in “The Philadelphia Story,” of course. After “Kitty Foyle,” Ginger Rogers appeared in Billy Wilder’s first film, “The Major and the Minor,” in 1942, and reunited with Fred Astaire for “The Barkleys of Broadway” in 1949. She was in two movies with Marilyn Monroe, “We’re Not Married!” and “Monkey Business,” in 1952. Her last film was “Harlow” with Carol Lynley in 1965. Her last public appearance was on March 18, 1995 for an award from the Women’s International Center. She died at age 83 on April 25, 1995 at her home in Rancho Mirage. “Kitty Foyle” wasn’t a brilliant film, but it’s a good one for her fans to see, as it should that she didn’t have to sing and dance to be worth watching in a movie. It was enjoyable and above average. The male characters weren’t especially memorable. Some of the people who died on March 18 include Laurence Sterne (1768), Johnny Appleseed (1845), Bernard Malamud (1986), John Phillips (2001), Natasha Richardson (2009), Fess Parker (2010), and Chuck Berry (2017). Today is a birthday for Vanessa Williams (55), Irene Cara (59), Brad Dourif (68), and Charley Pride (84). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 18, the Rolling Stones stopped at a gas station in East Ham and urinated on the wall, resulting in a fine. In 1978, the California Jam II music festival, featuring Aerosmith, Heart, Dave Mason, Santana, and Bob Welch, was held in Ontario, California. In 1993, a group of child abuse experts cleared Woody Allen of charges of molestation of his 7-year-old adopted daughter.
After I got back from work, I took a nap before I took the bus over to the Paramount Theatre. I hadn’t seen a movie there in some time, and “Citizen Kane” was showing on this night. It didn’t attract a big crowd on this night, maybe because of the expected rain. I took a seat in the balcony. The organist appeared and played tunes like “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Anything Goes,” and “Sing.” The sound from the organ spilled over into the newsreel, which showed Debbie Reynolds getting married to Eddie Fisher, and then Game 1 of the 1955 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. A Bugs Bunny cartoon showing Bugs begging for an Oscar followed, and then we saw previews of “Top Hat” and “The Philadelphia Story.” I don’t know if anyone was surprised at long how the News on the March newsreel ran. I thought that Susan didn’t look so old, except a bit around the eyes. I kept wondering about how her singing scenes were done. They had to get a real singer, who was Jean Forward of the San Francisco Opera. I also wondered how Kane got those writers to come over to his paper. Bernstein says that Kane would convert them to his way of doing things within one a week. I liked those scenes of what Kane was like before he got married. He even did some singing and dancing. When I saw all those art pieces in all those crates, I wondered if it was possible for one man to buy all that stuff in a single lifetime. He must have been buying it at a furious pace. The shot that made everyone in the theatre laugh was Emily reading the Chronicle. The rally certain had a fake look to it, and Kane’s comments about Gettys made us think of Donald Trump. The downfall made me think of what happened to Gary Hart in 1984. Times have changed, when you think of what Donald Trump has done. What do today’s audiences think of a story of people running a newspaper? There’s a scene in which Kane uses a typewriter. These things seem like ancient history to young people. I liked Joseph Cotten a lot in this movie. The old Jedediah referred to Xanadu as “Sloppy Joe’s.” He also talked about cigars loudly enough so that the nurses must have heard him. I wondered what happened to Kane’s son. He goes off in that car, and we never see him again. Some of the impact of the film was lost in this big theatre with a print that was not so great and a sound system that made some of the dialogue hard to hear. Everett Sloane was a great actor. That was one thing I was reminded of this time. I appreciated what Gregg Toland did, especially after I recently saw “The Long Voyage Home.” Orson Welles did a brilliant job of direction. The greatness of this film is something that is very inspiring. I was happy to see it again. I thought about those times during the 1980s when I saw this movie and talked about it with my friends. Orson Welles died in 1985, shortly after he appeared on The Merv Griffin Show. He made “Citizen Kane” at the right time of his life, when he was 25 years old and full of energy and inspiration. He brought in the right people, like Agnes Moorehead and Bernard Herrmann. Some of the people who died on March 17 include Luchino Visconti (1976), Jack Arnold (1992), Helen Hayes (1993), Freddie Francis (2007), and Alex Chilton (2010). Today is a birthday for Billy Coogan (51), Rob Lowe (54), Gary Sinise (63), and Kurt Russell (67). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 17, the Disney movie “The Barefoot Executive,” featuring Kurt Russell, Joe Flynn, Wally Cox, Harry Morgan, and John Ritter, was released in 1971. In 1992, Grace Stafford, who was the voice of Woody Woodpecker from 1950 to 1990, died of spinal cancer at age 88. In 2008, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were divorced. In 2010, Alex Chilton died of a heart attack at age 59.
I gave an exam to my class and stopped by the record store to buy a Beatles record before I went home to watch “The Long Voyage Home,” a John Ford film that nobody seems to talk about. John Wayne was in it, as well as Thomas Mitchell and Mildred Natwick. It follows the crew members of the cargo shop Glencairn from the West Indies to England. One of the opening shots shows women who look like they are about to tear their clothes off. It must have been interesting for the audiences of 1940 to see this. The men love to drink. I don’t know what they would do for a living if they didn’t have the chance to be on this ship. They’re shipping a load of dynamite, which has all sorts of symbolic implications. They have to go along with all of this. One wrenching moment in the story involved the men getting to private letters and reading them. They had suspected one man of being a spy. I seem to remember something like this in “Stalag 17.” John Wayne was so youthful in this movie, although he was already in his early thirties at the time. One thing that was notable about this movie was that the cinematographer was Gregg Toland, who would go on to work with Orson Welles on “Citizen Kane.” There was one shot of a face in the background that was in focus that did make me think of Welles. The screenplay was adapted by Dudley Nichols from the Eugene O’Neill plays “The Moon of the Caribbees,” “In the Zone,” “Bound East for Cardiff,” and “The Long Voyage Home.” The downbeat moments and the hard drinking does make you think of O’Neill after you also see his name in the credits. The movie lost money, which may have been because there was no love interest to attract women, along with the fact that it was 105 minutes of men on a ship. This film certainly felt like a departure for John Ford, since there were no horses to be seen, although we do see a drunken brawl. I thought it was a good film, even if it wasn’t something that we would really remember, like “Stagecoach,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” and “The Searchers.” Eugene O’Neill himself really liked the film, telling Ford that it was moving and beautiful. The ending made me think of “The Iceman Cometh.” Thomas Mitchell would go on to be Uncle Billy in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That is how most of us remember him, but he does show in this movie how good an actor he was. Some of the people who died on March 16 include Modest Mussorgsky (1881), Tammi Terrell (1970), Arthur Godfrey (1983), and Ivan Dixon (2008). Today is a birthday for Lauren Graham (51), Erik Estrada (69), and Victor Garber (69). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 16, the Broadway musical “1776” opened in 1969. In 2008, Ivan Dixon, who was Kinch of “Hogan’s Heroes,” died of kidney failure at age 76 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jerry Jeff Walker turned 76 today.