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Get Crazy Opened and Forgotten This Weekend in 1983

I’ve never seen the 1983 musical comedy “Get Crazy” but it’s wiki page does not hold much promise. Sure, there is the odd thrill of Lou Reed lampooning Bob Dylan or Malcolm McDowell as a spoof of Mick Jagger named ‘Reggie Wanker,’ a name that likely indicates the level of juvenile send up to be expected. Beyond the kitsch however, what looks to remain is your average ‘hey kids lets put on a show to save this place’ spirit that was stale when it was first used by stars of the 40’s in movies where orphanages were threatened by mustache twirling villains.

Well hey, taking a break from my snark for a moment, I have found that the entire film “Get Crazy is on Youtube. Let’s watch it together…

Get_Crazy_cover

The Star Chamber Opened and Forgotten This Week in 1983

With a title like “The Star Chamber” one has visions of a science fiction movie. Sadly, this thriller starring Michael Douglas has little celestial about it. Having emerged this weekend, August 3rd, and fallen flatly on it’s face it’s no wonder why it falls into the forgotten movie bin, people heard Star Chamber and wanted a sci-fi movie and got a tepid thriller. 

Michael Douglas stars as a judge disgusted by the number of guilty men he’s forced to let free on legal technicalities. His disgust is turned to vengeance when a veteran judge played by Hal Holbrook informs him of ‘The Star Chamber,’ a secret cabal of judges who mete out their own brand of justice upon those who escape the law. 

Douglas’ Judge Steven Hardin is invited to present his case and when the verdict is rendered a hitman is hired to kill the suspects Douglas believes are guilty. Naturally, the suspects really aren’t guilty of the crime, it wouldn’t have been very dramatic if they were, and Douglas’s troubled conscience thus becomes the driving force of the remaining plot. 

“The Star Chamber” was directed by Peter Hyams who happens to be a terrible director. Hyams’ cinematic crimes include such abysmal efforts as “Outland,” “Sudden Death,” and the utterly inept sci-fi flick “A Sound of Thunder.” “The Star Chamber” was directed during what I will refer to as Hyams’ ‘competent period.’ Here  he is a passable scenarist able to keep his plot straight and his camera pointed correctly; just watch “A Sound of Thunder” and you will know why I say Hyams achieved only a ‘period’ of competence. 

“The Star Chamber” was actually relatively well-liked by critics. Of the reviews that remain from 30 years ago the majority are positive and the look backs accumulated at Rottentomatoes.com are mostly satisfied with the film. One hold out is Roger Ebert who gave the film a modest 2 stars and expressed his disappointment with the film’s mediocre ending. 

“The Star Chamber” was a box office bomb having cost 8 milion to produce and grossed only just over 5 million. The film was a minor speed bump for star Michael Douglas, a few years removed from a hit TV show, “Streets of San Francisco,” and an unlikely Best Picture Oscar for producing :”One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.” Douglas would recover quickly moving into his blockbuster phase in 1984 with the release of “Romancing the Stone” followed by the sequel “Jewel of the Nile,” and then “A Chorus Line” and his magnum opus “Fatal Attraction.” 

So why is “The Star Chamber” forgotten today? Is it the terrible title? Tepid reviews? A mediocre ending? 30 years later I would say all of those factors play a role in “The Star Chamber’s” status as a forgotten film. The true bottom line however is that it simply wasn’t very good. Yes, critics generally favored it but the film inspired no passion. It was competent and mildly entertaining but simply not memorable. Image

Risky Business turns 30

Here at the 1980 Movie Project we have been lazy and ignorant in getting posts up on the blog. We began with the movies of 1980 and then lazily added posts from passing years. In attempt to get caught up we’re picking once again with the 30 years past conceit. With that in mind here’s a link to an article I wrote about ‘Risky Business’ which turns 30 years old this weekend, August 3rd. 

http://voices.yahoo.com/risky-business-30-years-later-12266013.html?cat=40

The Idolmaker

 

The Idolmaker was released November 14th 1980

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The Last Metro

What is it that makes a work timeless? Can an artist set out to create a timeless work or must it organically linger in the minds of those who experience it and share that experience with others for years and decades. Francois Truffaut’s “The Last Metro” is undoubtedly a timeless work; one that will linger for me and has taken up space in the minds of many for three decades now. 
”The Last Metro” stars legendary ingénue Catherine Deneuve as Marion Steiner a famous film actress now operating the Theater Montmartre in Paris following the disappearance of her husband Lucas (Heinz Bennett). It is 1942 and being Jewish while Nazis occupy half the country and members of the Vichy Government conspire with them has made life dangerous for even a man as loved and respected as Lucas Steiner. 
Lucas is supposedly on the run, headed for Spain or South America or maybe Hollywood. We will find out however that he is still in the theater and still very much in love with his wife. Meanwhile, Marion is running the theater and preparing to unveil a brand new production under the direction of Jean Loup-Cottins (Jean Poiret), a noble but not all that interesting director who will unknowingly be receiving Lucas’s notes. 
Joining the theaters regular players is an up and coming young actor named Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu) who we meet one day as he fails miserably attempting to pick up a woman he meets on the street. The woman, Arlette (Andrea Ferreol), also happens to be the wardrobe designer for the Monmartre and she has a very good reason for declining Bernard’s advances. 
Between meeting women on the street and now starring in the Monmartre’s new play, Bernard also happens to be a member of the French Resistance, working in secret to get the Nazis out of Paris by any means necessary. Marion Steiner is unaware of the danger Bernard brings to the theater, especially with Lucas hiding in the basement. 
Marion works hard to avoid politics but when one of Paris’s most influential theater critics Monsieur Daxiat also happens to be one of the top Nazi conspirators in France, he brings politics to the fore and forces Marion into some very difficult and dangerous choices. 
Reading my plot description I can see that I have described “The Last Metro” as something of a hot-house of plot. However, what is so amazing about Truffaut’s work in “The Last Metro” is the complete lack of danger he brings to this material. Instead, Truffaut brings an effortless charm, sensitivity, care and nonchalance to even the most distressing and surprising plot revelations. 
In “The Last Metro” the Nazis are a mounting threat but never the arch, over the top villains of most World War 2 films. Truffaut makes the simple choice to allow the audience to fill in the danger; who doesn’t know how evil the Nazis were? Truffaut recognized that there was no need to underline the point. 
We will learn that though Marion loves her husband she will inevitably fall for Bernard because that is what happens in a movie such as this. These two people are called upon to love each other on the stage and that love must eventually spread off the stage. It’s part of a conventional narrative that this conflict must exist, what sets this conflict apart in “The Last Metro” is Truffaut’s casual acceptance and passive presentation of Bernard and Marion’s destined love affair. 
Conflict is maybe too harsh a word to describe the effortless evolution of Marion’s love for her husband to her love for Bernard. Making the transition charming and easy to swallow is the ingenious way Truffaut and actor Heinz Bennett conspire to make the audience feel good about Lucas being cuckolded. For Lucas, like Truffaut, art is evolution and the evolution of his production of this play calls for Marion to love Bernard regardless of her commitment to him. 
There are other revelations in “The Last Metro” that also rise and fall like a gentle tide washing ashore. Watch the elegant ways in which Truffaut weaves the story of a pair of homosexual characters. As with his approach to the Nazis, Truffaut allows the audience to fill in the blanks about the difficulties these two characters face in both the time the film is set and, of course, under the thumb of the Nazis. 
The Last Metro is remarkably sensitive and smart, gentle and dramatic. “The Last Metro” is simply a perfect movie, one so graceful and elegant that it could only come from an extraordinarily gifted creator like Francois Truffaut. In a too short life, he passed away at just 52 years old in 1984; Truffaut created a cinematic legacy like few others.

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Scanners

Scanners was released January 14th 1981

Scanners on IMDB

Scanners WIKI

Actress Jennifer O’Neill is still active as an actress and anti-abortion activist. Visit her website

http://astore.amazon.com/seankernfreew-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=3

Vincent Canby’s 1981 review of Scanners for the New York Times 

Roger Ebert’s 2 star review of Scanners at RogerEbert.com

Courtesy of Google a review of Scanners from 1981 in the Miami News

Weighing the critics reactions to Scanners, a story from 1981 in the Lakeland Ledger

Scanners was a hit in 1981 and it had investors celebrating. From the Leader-Post

Richard Corliss’s appreciative review of Scanners from 1981 in Time Magazine

Rumor has it that a Scanners remake is in the works.

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The 39 Steps

 

The 39 Steps was released May 2nd 1980

Star Robert Powell also appeared in the 1980 movie Harlequin

Robert Powell went on to star in the series Hannay based on the character he played in The 39 Steps

The TV version