Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gettin Sentimental; David Janssen; Lost Movies

From Cinema Retro- Getting Sentimental With John Cleese

"Attention all eligible ladies! If your goal in life is to marry John Cleese, you may want to reconsider. Appearing on a British chat show, former Monty Python star Cleese had jaws dropping when he unleashed his anger on the two women in his life who have caused him the most angst: his now deceased mother and his third wife, whom he divorced in a bitter, high profile court case. Of his mum, Cleese said, "'And she lived to 101 - I thought I'd never get rid of her.' Of his ex-wife, he said, "'Her voice alone could tear the testicles off a rabbit. She never stops talking." "

-----------City In Fear

From Internatioal Movie Data Base:

"City in Fear, a 1980 ABC made for television movie,which is loosely based on the Son of Sam murders, is television at its best. Anyone who gets the chance to view this movie will be in for a treat. The viewer can't lose with veteran actors like Robert Vaughn, Susan Sullivan, Mickey Rourke, Perry King and the forever amazing, but often underrated actor, David Janssen.

David Janssen would have been an Oscar nominee in films had he lived. The character of Vince Perrino played by Janssen is that of a frustrated, cynical alcoholic columnist, who is a man of many excesses one of them being alcohol. Janssen is hired by a wealthy Robert Vaughn, who recalls Janssen as a legendary columnist, who he (Vaugh)hopes can revamp a Los Angeles newspaper that has just been brought by Vaughn, when a series of murders of young women begins, that will by the end of the movie create a reign of terror in the city.

"Watching this movie is almost like gradually seeing the curtains close in on the career of one of the finest actors in film and television. David Janssen died of a heart attack on February 13, 1980, he was 48 years old. City in Fear was a three (3) hour movie of the week. City in Fear aired on ABC a month after his death."

Ed here: This review overpraises the movie, I think, but it's an intersting film only because it reminds us of the influence newspapers once held. It reminded me in fact of a darker version of the old Lou Grant newspaper series with the excellent Ed Asner.

Janssen is especially interesting here because he's hustling rather than hiding. There are several good scenes with Janssen and Robert Vaughan who brings real nuance to his role. Janssen looks burnt out--no making up the baggy eyes, the burgeoning paunch--and that only helps the character. There's a great scene with his agent trying to sell Jansseen to Vaughan in a haughty irritating way. He's trying the old We have absolutely no interest in your offer routine. Janssen looks near death and tries one of his grimacing smiles on Vaughan who then cuts through the bullshit by listing how much Janssen owes to his ex-wives, the IRS, his bank. Janssen adds disollution to his usual sorrow and it's moving to watch.

I used to watch the Irv Kupcinet show in Chicago. No more decent man was ever in front of the camera than Kup. On weekends he usually had stars coming through town to promote films and tv shows. Janssen looked rehab-ready. Really bad and probably half in the bag. I may be confusing shows here but I think this was the one where Tennessee Williams was also a guest. Talk about rehab-ready. Ole Tennessee was born that way. There was a moment of tension when the subject of male gay stars came up and Janssen offered to name a few if Kup wanted him to. Real panic in Kup's eyes. He didn't have that kind of show. Too nice a guy. I don't recall that Janssen was particularly mean about it. His whole interview was sort of off the wall anyway so this fit right in. He chain smoked and sipped what might have been wine and looked forlorn and allowed himself one of those occasional painful laughs. He would be dead within sixty days.

He's very good in this movie. He didn't make it on the big screen but he was a classic player on the small one. He brought intelligence, compassion and quiet grief to a medium that abhorred all three.

------------Run Stranger Run

Looking through John Stanley's Creature Feature book and came across a listing for Run, Stranger, Run (1973) A psychothrillerdirected by Darin McGavin with Ron Howard, Cloris Leachman, Patricia Neal, Bobby Darin and Simon Oakland. What a cast. Anybody ever see this movie?


pattinase (abbott) said...

A bit off the main subject but keep meaning to watch the old Lou Grant show on Hulu. So much available there if I could just learn to watch it on my computer. Janssen was incredible at showing a man in pain, maybe because he was one.

Anonymous said...

And did you know... David Janssen's last theatrical filn was the legendary Sun Myung Moon production INCHON? This one sat on the shelf for more than a year, being constantly re-edited, and Janssen's death was one of the main reasons. The Moonies simply decided to cut Janssen out entirely,which played merry havoc with the continuity (as memory serves, Janssen was to have had second or third billing after Olivier). As things turned out, David Janssen may have been the lucky one...

StorageCraft said...

I love the Lost movie a lot. I have watched it 5-6 times and each time i watch it it makes me excited as well as emotional. It has got a spark in it which makes it different from the rest.