One thing that defines scripts and films in general is the tittle. Some titles are so iconic that once you mention them you pretty much have a full on breakdown of the story.
One funny thing about titles is that they don’t always start out the way they end up. A classic example of title changes was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Originally the title was Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. The title was switched when Paul Newman took over the lead role. The film wouldn’t have been any less successful, or less classic had the title not changed, just really odd to pronounce.
Do you ever wonder about the term movies?
The fact of the matter is that the term itself did not really refer to films. “Movies” was a term used to refer to people in the industry. In other words movies were filmmakers.
The fact is that “movies” was a term used with disdain. If you were a movie you were largely and generally considered trash of the worst kind of name to call someone.
In those days filmmakers were looked upon as invaders rather than welcome individuals. Incredible to think that the term we use now was actually politically incorrect.
An actor’s biggest test comes with a complex role. What often determines how legitimate the actor’s performance will be is whether or not he or she really knows and understands that particular character. Staying in character is a stern test that can turn into an overly emotional exercise. Some of the best examples of staying in character have some seriously detrimental consequences. Some examples include Heath Ledger as Joker, Steve Carrell as John du Pont, and Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove. These performances have the common denominator of heavy emotional involvement.
As the Joker Heath Ledger rarely slept, was hard to be around, and found himself at odds with the character while filming The Dark Knight. The emotional toll of the roll is largely credited with Ledger’s downward spiral into an eventual accidental death. The Peter Sellers role as Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove was equally as difficult.
In the film, Peter Sellers had to play three roles simultaneously for director Stanley Kubrick. Sellers was so intensely involved in all the roles that it almost seemed like he couldn’t have a minute to be himself. Some people claim that when Peter’s mother visited him onset he addressed her as Dr. Strangelove. Lastly come Steve Carell and his role in Foxcatcher.
Carell plays the part of John du Pont, an eccentric and insane millionaire that went to prison for the murder of Olympic wrestling champ Alexander Schultz. Carell stated that he was so deep into his role that he was often reclusive and incredibly difficult to talk to.
These roles are considered sensational and that’s a direct result of the actor’s strong emotional commitment.
Why so serious? It’s only a film.
The importance of a good script far outweighs star power and deep pockets. A couple of highly touted films that were supposed to be mega hits were lavished with cash and completely destroyed careers, hopes, and dreams because of bad scripts. The two films are Last Action Hero and Waterworld.
When both films were made there was an expectation that the big budgets would make up for the terrible scripts. In the case of Last Action Hero the 60 million dollar budget could not really help its star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, avoid the backlash that came with a terrible story. On the other side of the equation Waterworld made headlines as the most expensive movie of its time with a 175 million dollar budget. The film was a failure that made Kevin Costner go from being a bankable star into a questionable figure; again it was a terrible script that did it.
It’s all in the script people!
Some performances in film are simply unforgettable. When you see a specific scene or shot you can almost tell what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen. The magic of a film is at times placed on the shoulders of a single performance.
Whether or not this practice is engage upon intentionally really only depends on the director and performer dynamic. The way to know if it was the performance is being able to understand the story behind the performer. A great example, an all time great example is Gene Kelly.
Everyone thinks of Gene Kelly’s performance in Singing in the Rain. The iconic sequence in Singing in the Rain where Gene Kelly is climbing all over light posts, dancing and singing while in the middle of a downpour is an all time great moment. What makes that moment even greater is the fact that Gene Kelly was suffering from a fever of 103.
All time great indeed!
One of the biggest villains in animated film history is the evil Lord Farquuad from Shrek. Like every villain it’s assumed he has some sort of back-story. The back-story is actually Michael Eisner, former Disney CEO. The story there is that Jeffrey Katzenberg hated Eisner, who in turn referred to him as an “ evil midget.”
Farguaad must have been a compromise between the midget nature of Katzenberg and the square, hero like jaw of Eisner. In a way Lord Farquaad is the best of two bad worlds. The character is a memorable villain so it doesn’t say a lot for Katzenberg or Eisner.
If you ask anyone who their favorite James Bond is chances are that you will get a universal response in favor of the legendary Sean Connery. The reason for Sean Connery’s popularity is twofold, his machismo and on top of that his portrayal of the cool spy.
Something interesting to note about Connery is that he was wearing a hairpiece through his entire run as the British super spy. Sean Connery would eventually toss the wig out the window and continue his highly respected trajectory as a film Icon but it was the Bond role, wig included, that made him a star.
The film Independence Day is a summer blockbuster classic that established Will Smith as a major box office commodity. The film is basically about a bunch of good guys getting together and saving the planet from a decidedly lethal alien invasion. Yes the plot of the film is somewhat generic but the film was written and shot in a way that generated real interest.
An unknown fact about Independence Day is the fact that James Brown played a part in it. James Brown did not perform nor did he use his super powers as godfather of soul in order to help. Using James Brown’s voice, screaming, created the sound of weapons exploding in the alien spaceship.
Wow, HEY, get down now!
Avatar is by and large on of the biggest hits in the history of cinema. With mixing some incredible 3D effects and creating some crazy worlds the film touched on new and amazing territory. Avatar is a great film that touches on a million subjects from the environment to relationships between different beings. The general social commentary of that film only enhanced the incredible visuals, a rarity in film.
A funny fact about this classic is that it was almost released ten years before. The film was due to be released in 1999 but at that time the budget of the film would have been a staggering 400 million dollars. One has to wonder what Avatar would have been like if Cameron had gone ahead, ten years and a different cast may not have gelled nearly as well.
When it comes to well loved classics, 1984’s Ghostbusters is right near the top of the list. The film was a hit taking in over 200 million at the box office and spawning a licensing bonanza that included toys, clothes, music, cartoons, and a sequel. The story of Ghostbusters was originally set in the future.
The profession of ghost busting was actually like that of a paramedic or police officer. It’s fair to assume that this was changed because the story wouldn’t have been quite as exciting. The part about Ghostbusters that made it fun was the aspect of four scientists doing something that only they were capable of doing and no one else. Thank goodness for re writes!
Who you gonna call? Not the paramedics.