Sunday, July 31, 2011

Look, More Flavorwires!

Open Thread: Whither the Female Action Hero?

On this day in 1986, James Cameron’s sci-fi/action epic Aliens was released in American theaters. A sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 scarefest Alien, Cameron’s picture was a smash with both audiences and critics, raking in $85 million at the box office and racking up seven Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for star Sigourney Weaver. More importantly, it reinvented Weaver’s Ellen Ripley as the kind of strong, muscular, tough action hero role played almost exclusively by male stars like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schawarzenegger. The trouble is, Aliens came out 25 years ago, and a female action hero like Ripley is still the exception to the rule.

10 Unrealized Book-to-Film Adaptations We’d Like to Have Seen

When Universal announced last year that an epic adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower was in the works, which would include a trilogy of feature films directed by Ron Howard and a two-season television series, it sounded like a massive undertaking — from both a creative and financial perspective. This week, the studio decided it was too massive and pulled the plug on the project, breaking the hearts of fanboys and King readers the world over.

From the beginning, some had wondered if Howard was the right director for the project — now, unless the filmmaker attempts to set the project up elsewhere (unlikely, as both Howard and his Imagine production company have a long history with Uni), we’ll never know. It seems that we can add The Dark Tower to the long list of proposed book-to-film adaptations by famed directors that never saw the light of day. We’ve assembled ten of them after the jump; add yours in the comments.

The 10 Worst TV-to-Film Adaptations

A couple of days back, our own Judy Berman posted a wonderful essay called “In Defense of Turning TV Shows into Movies.” Give it a look, if you haven’t; it’s a reasoned, thoughtful, and persuasive piece. There’s only one problem: The Smurfs. But if The Smurfs merely turns out to be the worst movie adaptation of a TV show, that’s still a mighty tough competition. Though there have been occasional exceptions (The Fugitive, Mission: Impossible, Firefly), the boob tube has seldom proven a starting point for fine cinema. After the jump we’ll take a look at the ten worst TV-to-movie adaptations—and trust us, it was a hard list to narrow down.

Wish List: 13 Movies We’d Like to See on DVD

Buried way down on the list of this week’s DVD releases—below Limitless and Take Me Home Tonight and Peep World—is a little movie called Skidoo, which you may have never heard of unless you are a bad movie aficionado (as your author is). This 1968 “comedy” was an attempt by Paramount and esteemed director Otto Preminger to make a hip film about the counter-culture geared towards the young people—starring such youth heroes as, um, Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Burgess Meredith, Mickey Rooney, and Groucho Marx. It concerns a gangster (Gleason) who is sent into prison to ice an informant and ends up dropping acid and escaping via a flying garbage can. It is as spectacularly ill-conceived as it sounds, and it sank without a trace following its release—though it occasionally popped up on cable, it was never released on home video (not even on VHS) until now.

Of course, Skidoo could be seen via the back channels of bootleg video, but it’s nice to see an oddity like this finally getting an official, authorized, legitimate home video release. And while the movie is an utter mess, it is an undeniably entertaining one, featuring inventive songs by Harry Nilsson and Groucho’s final film performance; let’s face it, even bad movies deserve to at least make it to the marketplace. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a wish list of some other titles that have never made it to DVD—some never even to VHS. Take a look after the jump, and add your own in the comments.

Ranking Your Cinematic Nixons

On this day way back in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee passed the first article of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. It was the culmination of the formal impeachment hearings against the President which began in May of that year, prompted by the break-in of the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel two summers earlier and the subsequent cover-up (and revelations that the Watergate break-in was part of a pattern of illegal activities and “dirty tricks”). Two more articles of impeachment were approved on July 29 and July 30; Nixon announced his resignation on August 8.

In the years since, this most dramatic of presidencies has prompted (unsurprisingly) a wealth of theatrical and television movies dramatizing the Nixon White House. The trouble, of course, is playing Nixon—or at least playing him credibly. The former president’s verbal and physical tics and eccentricities were parodied so endlessly (and mercilessly) by comedians and impressionists of the era that it’s all but impossible for any actor worth his salt to personify the man without making him into a caricature. But several fine actors have given it a shot; after the jump, we’ll take a look at their performances and rank them from worst to best.

The Bond Girls: Where Are They Now?

Quick, what was the first James Bond movie? If you said Dr. No, well, you gave the expected answer, and perhaps the technically accurate one—it was the first feature film based on a Bond novel to play theatrically. But the first onscreen appearance of Ian Fleming’s creation was a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale, which aired as part of the anthology adventure series Climax! While it may have had little in common with the film series that began eight years later (it featured an Americanized “Jimmy Bond,” CIA agent), it did have one indispensible element: the so-called “Bond girl.” Though the character of Vesper Lynd (played by Ursula Andress in the 1966 Casino spoof/adaptation, and Eva Green in the much-more-faithful 2006 version) was rechristened “Valerie Mathis,” she provided the seduction-and-betrayal angle familiar from our encounters with so many of Bond’s later leading ladies.

This arcane footnote of Bond trivia makes its way to your Flavorwire with an unfortunate pretense; Linda Christian, who played Valerie Mathis on that TV version of Casino Royale and was thus the very first Bond girl, died last week in Palm Springs at age 87. Her other film appearances included Up in Arms (with Danny Kaye), Green Dolphin Street (with Lana Turner), and Tarzan and the Mermaids, the final Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan picture. She was also the wife of swashbuckling star Tyrone Power and mother to two of his children. In honor of Christian and the seductive actresses who followed her, we decided to take a look at what became of some of our favorite Bond girls; check 'em out after the jump.

Open Thread: Does Comic-Con Matter?

If you read the movie blogs over the weekend, you read a whole lot about this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the annual convergence of comic book fans, movie geeks, and the filmmakers who would like their money. This year’s slate boasted several big-name directors—including Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Soderbergh—as well as panels for such potential blockbusters as The Amazing Spider-Man and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 1. But there were also some conspicuous absences over the weekend, perhaps attributable to increasingly abundant evidence that a big splash at Comic-Con does not necessarily translate to big box office. Is Hollywood’s love affair with the convention waning? And should it?

Cool Faux-Vintage ‘Captain America’ Posters

When your Flavorwire first received these gorgeous, propaganda-style posters for this week's Captain America: The First Avenger, commissioned by the Alamo Drafthouse and Mondo, we hesitated to share them--merely out of the fear that a post dedicated to them would amount to little more than a commercial for a big new release. Then we got a look at the movie itself, and figured what the hell, we'll shill for it--since it's a work of pure pop bubblegum pleasure, one of the most unabashedly enjoyable pictures in many a moon. (If it is outgrossed by Transformers 3-D, then Americans have lost their will to be entertained.)

One of the many ways that the film sets itself apart from its lesser comic-book movie brethren is in its unique period setting and distinctive production design; as you've probably gathered from the trailers, the bulk of the narrative is set in 1942, with Captain America taking on Hitler (specifically, a rogue wing of the Nazi army). That's why these promotional posters in WWII propaganda art style, as devised by artists Olly Moss, Tyler Stout, and Eric Tan, are so ingenious--they not only promote the picture, but encompass its jazzy aesthetic. Check them out after the jump.

Trailer Park: Badasses and Battleships

Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. This week, we’ve got ten to show you—everything from new Soderbergh and Clooney movies to, yes, a film adaptation of a board game. Check ‘em all out after the jump.

Trailer Park: Superheroes, Ghosts, and Orgies

Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. This week, we’ve only got six new ones—perhaps due to last week’s trailer overload—but there are two very big superheroes among them. Check ‘em all out after the jump.

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