For the first time in Hot Date history, an episode was lost to the computer gods as our original 76th show became a casualty of Dan's misguided efforts to clean off his desktop. That film would have been 2014's indie B-extravaganza The Guest but instead Dan and Vicky cover a B movie from a different era, 1954's Killers From Space starring Peter Graves and directed by W. Lee Wilder, brother of Billy!
Director Taylor Hackford's (An Officer And A Gentleman, Dolores Clairborne) first cut of his Chicano epic Blood In Blood Out was nearly five hours long but distributor Disney, already skittish about the box office prospects of a hard hitting drama about Mexican gang culture with no stars, forced him to cut it down to three. Disney also insisted on a title change. Blood In Blood Out refers to the Chicano gang motto of death being the only way in and out of a gang. Disney, fearing violence at movie theaters, changed the title to the safer Bound By Honor.
The 1970 British production, Scars of Dracula, was the sixth entry in the studio's Dracula films and was noted for being the first R rated movie in the company's history. The movie didn't get a warm reception in the States. Warner Bros., the American studio responsible for bringing most of the early Hammer Dracula films to the US, refused to release Scars of Dracula and critics savaged the movie as an exploitative retread of the earlier classier entries. But Christopher Lee, who struggled with coming back time and time again to the character, returned for two more Hammer Dracula films.
Essentially an immigrant story set in the 1950's New York music scene, The Mambo Kings is also one of the few mainstream Hollywood films to highlight the Cuban/American experience, albeit without actual Cubans in the cast. Leads Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas are Italian/Irish and Spanish respectively. The female leads, Cathy Moriarity and Maruschka Detmers, are American and Dutch. The only cast members with any Cuban heritage are singer Celia Cruz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. but they each have small supporting roles in the film.
Director Russ Meyer was a World War II newsreel cameraman and Playboy photographer before writing, producing and directing his own feature films. But his early work directly influenced the way he approached his exploitation film career. He ran his Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! set like a military operation, demanding efficiency and professionalism from all his creative partners. And he drew on his experience at Playboy when it came time to cast the busty and beautiful women that populated the film. Meyer had the good fortune to find Tura Satana, an exotic dancer and martial arts expert, to play his lead. She also demanded residual points on the film and the rights to her own likeness -- the only actor in the film to strike such a deal.
Gene Kelly, on loan to Columbia from MGM for 1944's Cover Girl, was finally able to put his talents to full use as the main choreographer for the film. With assist from dancer friend Stanley Donen, Val Raset and Seymour Felix, Kelly was able to stage some thrilling sequences including the famous "Alter Ego" scene for himself and "Make Way For Tomorrow" for himself, Rita Hayworth, and Phil Silver. The film was a huge hit and cemented for MGM and the rest of Hollywood that Kelly was a triple threat to be reckoned with.
Hot Date has reached 70 and you know what that means: A Top Ten episode! For this one, we take a shocking trip around the world for our favorite foreign horror films. We'll make stops in France, Japan, Spain and Norway to name a few and play clips that'll make your skin crawl. Get a dose of international zombies, slashers, monsters and ghosts and discover the film that Vicky chose that Dan has never seen!
In the late 80's, Pierce Brosnan was approached to assume the mantle of legendary British movie spy James Bond from Roger Moore. But his contract with NBC and the TV show Remington Steele prohibited him from doing so. When the part came available again in 1994, Brosnan was Eon Productions' and producer Albert Broccoli's first choice. His run would be four films over seven years and Tomorrow Never Dies, his second film, would hold it's own against James Cameron's Titanic to become the second highest grossing film of the 1997 holiday season.
Star Warwick Davis was only eighteen when he was cast as the lead in the Ron Howard directed, George Lucas produced fantasy epic Willow. He gamely and charismatically carries the film, often stealing the heroic spotlight from his more classically handsome costar, Hollywood It boy Val Kilmer. Davis also met the woman who would become his wife on the set of Willow -- she was an extra in the Nelwyn community scenes at the beginning of the film. Initially a modest hit, the film went on to gain a cult following and springboard Davis into a varied and successful career.
The 1977 infection-on-a-train movie The Cassandra Crossing was an international affair fraught with potential pitfalls. Funded with British, Italian, and West German money, the movie was shot in Italy, France and Switzerland and managed to avoid attempts to shut it down by vandals and the Italian government. Producer Carlo Ponti was married to the film's leading lady Sophia Loren and star Richard Harris was married to then pregnant co-star Ann Turkel. Despite a cast that also included Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster, Martin Sheen, OJ Simpson, Alida Valli and Lee Strasberg, The Cassandra Crossing would ultimately be brought down by bad reviews and even worse US box office receipts.
Inspired by the theatrical Noh dramas he loved so much, Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress became a cultural and financial touchstone in 1958. Despite being dismissed in Japan as a lesser Kurosawa effort, it nonetheless became a top moneymaker and made a successful transition to US shores in late 1960. It stars Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara, and Misa Uehara.
The Velocity of Gary was only director Dan Ireland's second directing assignment. He was primarily a film producer before that, co-founding the Seattle International Film Festival and producing movies for John Huston, Ken Russell and Bernard Rose, many as head of acquisitions at Vestron Pictures. The film marked his second collaboration with star and producer Vincent D'Onofrio after 1996's biopic The Whole Wide World. D'Onofrio enlisted famous friends Ethan Hawke and Salma Hayek to co-star and hired newcomer Thomas Jane to play the title role.
Director Danny Boyle has said his inspiration for Millions was to take a complete left turn from his previous film, the violent infection thriller 28 Days Later, and challenge himself to paint with a different tonal brush. Essentially a fantasy for children with real adult themes at the center, Millions stars the impressive kid actors Alex Etel and Lewis Owen McGibbon as brothers Damien and Anthony and James Nesbitt and Daisy Donovan as the adults in their lives.
The Lady Vanishes broke UK box office records to become the highest grossing British film to date. It was also the first and last time Hitchcock worked with leading man Michael Redgrave. This was Redgrave's first feature, and he insisted on rehearsing scenes while Hitchcock preferred to only rehearse camera moves and keep the acting more spontaneous. Despite the conflict, Redgrave and the entire cast, including Margaret Lockwood, Dame May Whitty, Paul Lukas, Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, deliver whip smart and engaging performances.
In 1954, Japanese film production company Toho was looking to cash in on the monster movie mania inspired by the American film, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. They conceived of Godzilla, named Gojira as a way to announce the power and independence of the Japanese film industry post World War II but also as a metaphor for the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American weapons of war. The film was a huge hit and American producers were eagerly looking for a way to translate Godzilla to a stateside audience. Their answer was to cut 16 minutes from the Japanese version, shoot new scenes with actor Raymond Burr and add the King of the Monsters subtitle for a 1956 release.
Elia Kazan had meant to direct Tennessee Williams' original screenplay, Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, with Julie Harris as his leading lady back in 1957. But Kazan dropped the project and it wouldn't become a film until character actress Jodie Markell secured the rights and directed the film in 2007 with Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Evans, Ann-Margret and Ellen Burstyn starring.
Hot Date 60 will be music to your ears -- movie music that is. Dan and Vicky offer their top ten lists for favorite movie soundtracks and scores. A misunderstanding about the topic yielded some fascinating results -- Dan did mostly movie scores and Vicky mainly stuck to movie soundtracks. There are even some movie musicals thrown in for good measure. No titles revealed in this synopsis so it's all a surprise just waiting for you to listen!
Censored and banned around the world for its frank depiction of the anonymous sexual relationship between a middle age hotel owner and a 19 year old actress, Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris nonetheless went on to gross nearly 100 million dollars and return tarnished star Marlon Brando to the top of the list of the world's greatest actors. His co-star Maria Schneider however was not as lucky. She continued to act but dealt with years of addiction and depression and passed away from breast cancer in 2011.
Emily Watson had never acted for the camera before her career making and Oscar nominated turn in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves. The 1996 film was the first von Trier made after founding the film movement Dogma 95 which set down specific rules for any film created under the banner - namely, no filming on built sets, no use of post-dubbed music and no CGI. With Breaking the Waves, von Trier adhered to none of those rules and in turn created what many feel to be his most successful and accessible film.
An all-star cast populates the tiny fictional island of Gloucester Island, MA in 1966's The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, Eve Marie Saint, Jonathan Winters, Brian Keith, Theodore Bikel and John Phillip Law appear in the Cold War comedy, actually shot in Northern California.
Snapped up by Roadside Attractions at the Sundance Film Festival for 3 million dollars in 2006, director/writer Chris Gorak's first film and passion project Right At Your Door only managed to make it into 20 venues it's opening weekend. It would eventually deliver more than 2 million dollars in sales worldwide, enough to get him hired on the bigger budget science fiction/horror movie The Darkest Hour from Summit Entertainment. Vanishes
Since the publication of Malcolm Lowry's novel Under The Volcano in 1947, Hollywood had tried in vain to adapt it for the big screen. Artists as varied as Joseph Losey, Luis Bunuel and Ken Russell attempted to corral the novel's stream of consciousness structure and penchant for flashbacks and monologues into an accessible narrative thread. When the property landed on John Huston's desk, his career and health were both on a downward slide.
Prolific Polish American director Rudolph Mate found early success in Hollywood as an acclaimed cinematographer. For five consecutive years, from 1940-44, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Starting in 1950, he directed 26 films before his death in 1966, including well regarded films like D.O.A., When Worlds Collide, The Far Horizons, The 300 Spartans and this podcast's The Violent Men.
By the time the script for Soldier landed with star Kurt Russell it had been kicking around Hollywood for almost 15 years. Russell, testing his status as a reliable and likable lead actor, asked for a reported 20 million dollars and a year to get in shape for the role. He was granted both. The film sank quickly at the box office, despite a great cast including Jason Isaacs, Gary Busey, Connie Nielsen, Jason Scott Lee, and Sean Pertwee and successful action director Paul W.S. Anderson.
Producer Charles K. Feldman was in a bind with the rights to the first James Bond novel, Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. Albert Broccoli, Howard Saltzman and Eon Productions had beat him to the punch, releasing four successful Bond films with star Sean Connery, and using many of Casino Royale's best set pieces. Feldman felt the only feasible way to approach the story was in a psychedelic, satiric direction, hiring five directors, and a who's-who of sixties movie stars to blow out the James Bond story to epically wacky proportions. David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Deborah Kerr, Woody Allen, Orson Welles, Joanna Petit, John Huston and Barbara Bouchet star.
Humphrey Bogart, on loan from his home studio of Warner Brothers, would often show up to the set of Columbia's 1943's war film Sahara hung over and ready for battle -- both on and off camera. He was known to mix it up with Hungarian director Zoltan Korda, continually fighting over his character's dialogue. Bruce Bennett, who played Waco in the film, later told Korda that Bogart was using the conflicts as an opportunity to memorize his lines! The stellar supporting cast includes Dan Duryea, Rex Ingram, Kurt Krueger, Oscar nominee J. Carol Naish and a tank named Lulubelle.
What do a killer whale, Lucy Liu, rampaging trucks and crystal skulls have in common? They all appear in the films on our Hot Date top ten list. For our milestone 50th episode we're giving some love to movies that were box office flops, hated by critics, had troubled production histories or suffered from all of the above. A lot of people think these movies are stinkers but we're bringing them out of the shadows and wrapping them in a warm Hot Date embrace.
Australian director Russell Mulcahy had only one previous narrative film credit on his resume, 1985's Razorback, when he landed the gig directing future cult classic Highlander. Razorback's atmosphere and muscularity and Mulcahy's experience with vivid short form filmmaking directing scores of music videos for the likes of Duran Duran, Elton John, Def Leppard and Human League, both played into him landing the gig. A flop on its initial release, the film gave birth to a mini cottage industry after a huge HBO and VHS following spawned five sequels and two TV versions, not to mention books and graphic novels.
John Frankenheimer took over directing duties from William Friedkin for the sequel to the Oscar-winning 1971 film The French Connection. He got a reluctant Gene Hackman to return to star as New York City police officer Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle as well as Spanish actor Fernando Rey, the French connection himself. Shooting took place entirely in Marseilles, France.
Alfred Hitchcock ushered in the advent of film sound with 1929's Blackmail, which became England's first talkie. British producers, concerned they were lagging behind the Americans, who were already experimenting with sound in their films, convinced Hitchcock to film silent and talkie versions of Blackmail.
It was an arms race at the 1964 box office between Fail Safe and the similarly themed Dr. Strangelove. Stanley Kubrick pressured Columbia Pictures, the studio that owned both films, to release his film first. As a result Fail Safe, while critically lauded, suffered under the indifference of a paying audience who thought they had already seen the definitive Cold War movie with Strangelove. Little did they know how very different the two films were. The sweaty, sobering, scary Fail Safe stars Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Dan O'Herlihy, Frank Overton and Larry Hagman.
Michael Almereyda's Cymbeline from 2015 was his second Shakespeare adaptation and his second time working with actor Ethan Hawke. Hawke played the melancholy Dane in Almereyda's Hamlet from 2000. Here he plays the scheming sexual predator Iachimo and joins Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, Dakota Johnson, John Leguizamo, Delroy Lindo and Anton Yelchin in the star-studded cast.
Director Jeff Balsmeyer was an American film storyboard artist itching to make his writing and directing debut. His passion project was Danny Deckchair, a romantic comedy based on the real life adventure of California dreamer Larry Walters who tied helium balloons to a lawn chair to lift off into the sky over Long Beach in 1982. After ten years of shopping the idea around and having recently married an Aussie and relocated there, Balsmeyer made and set his film in Australia. Rhys Ifans was chosen to play Danny, Justine Clarke came on as Trudy, his frustrated girlfriend, and Miranda Otto was a natural fit for Glenda, the new woman that comes into his life.
Director John Ford hadn't seen the film Red Dust when he agreed to direct its 1953 remake Mogambo but was intrigued by the challenge of bringing his skills with filming the wide open spaces of the American West to the African serengeti. For his male lead he chose Clark Gable, in desperate need of a hit in his middle age. Ava Gardner, who brought along contentious boyfriend Frank Sinatra to the African location shoot, and Grace Kelly, rumored to have started a torrid affair with Gable, played the love interests.
With only a few documentaries and short films on his resume, Francesco Barilli embarked on his first narrative feature, Perfume of the Lady in Black in 1973 Italy. The film was inspired by research Barilli had been doing on voodoo rituals and cannibalism and had less in common with the traditional stalk and slash Giallos Italy was pumping out at the time. He enlisted American expat Mimsy Farmer, who had moved to Europe when her acting career in the states seemed to be stalling, as his tortured lead.
Released in the US in 1998, I Went Down was one of the most successful Irish films of the year. Its story was a departure from the more serious IRA films being produced at the time. It has a star making turn from Brendan Gleeson, on the verge of breaking big in the worldwide box office with The General, Michael Collins and Mission Impossible 2, playing a character named Bunny Kelly, and a lesser known, but expert, supporting cast in Peter McDonald, Tony Doyle and Peter Caffrey.
For Episode 40, Dan and Vicky pick their favorite scary, shocking, sad, even funny death scenes from non-horror movies. There are some classics thrown in the mix and some you wouldn't expect so get that Kleenex ready. Filmmakers as varied as Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Brooks, John Carpenter and Werner Herzog get the spotlight. Dan and Vicky even provide a few honorable mentions that didn't make the final cut. It's wall to wall DEATH on Hot Date this week!
We talk Odd Man Out, the classic 1947 British thriller from Third Man director Carol Reed. It stars James Mason as Johnny McQueen, the leader of an Irish revolutionary group who ends up running for his life after a botched robbery attempt. His love interest is played by Kathleen Ryan and the eccentric artist he runs into on his journey is Robert Newton.
Just in time for Halloween, Dan and Vicky discuss the 1978 horror thriller based on the Ira Levin novel, The Boys from Brazil. Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Uta Hagen, Rosemary Harris, Anne Meara, John Rubinstein and a young Steve Guttenberg round out the cast.
The original 2 hour cut of the Sylvester Stallone starrer Cobra was exceedingly violent and bleak, so much so that the MPAA insisted the film be cut to avoid an X rating. Initially resistant, Stallone and director/producer George P. Cosmatos gave in as much to avoid the dreaded rating as to challenge the highly tracking Tom Cruise movie Top Gun at the box office. The heavily edited final version of Cobra did have a huge opening weekend and made money for Warner Bros. but wasn't the hit those previous films were.
Dan and Vicky look at the 1969 musical Paint Your Wagon starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg and Ray Walston. To adapt his own Broadway show for the big screen, producer and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner chose writer Paddy Chayefsky and composer Andre Previn. They changed the source material considerably and scored 10 million dollars from Paramount to bring their nearly three hour version to the screen.
Dan and Vicky discuss 1994's White, the middle film in the Three Colors trilogy from late Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Zbigniew Zamachowski plays a man shunned by his spouse (Julie Delpy), adrift in his adopted country of Paris and longing for a return to his Polish homeland. When a chance encounter leads him back to Poland, he uses the opportunity to exact an insidious revenge on his estranged wife.
Henry Fonda was looking for a movie project that would give him the rush of a stage performance. He found it in 12 Angry Men. A TV version was broadcast on CBS in 1954. Unfortunately Rose and Fonda couldn't get any studio interested in a feature property most felt audiences wouldn't pay for after being broadcast free nationwide. Rose and Fonda eventually founded production company Orion-Nova and made the film themselves and brought on TV veteran Sidney Lumet to direct his first feature. Although a box office failure, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards and is now considered a masterpiece.
Dan and Vicky discuss the hard to find 1980 film Resurrection starring Ellen Burstyn and Eva Le Gallienne in Oscar nominated roles and Sam Shepard, Lois Smith, Richard Farnsworth, Roberts Blossom, and Jeffrey DeMunn in supporting turns. It tells the story of a woman paralyzed in a violent car accident that kills her husband but somehow grants her the ability to heal.
For her feature film directorial debut, actress/producer Helen Hunt chose this adaptation of the Elinor Lipman novel, Then She Found Me. It took 10 years to get it to the screen and only wound up getting funded when Hunt agreed to star in the lead role and bring her friends Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler and Colin Firth in to play the other leads. The supporting cast includes, Lynn Cohen, Ben Shenkman, John Benjamin Hickey, Geneva Carr and Robert Lupone -- and quick cameos from the likes of Tim Robbins, Janeane Garofalo, Edie Falco and Salman Rushdie.
Dan and Vicky tackle noir again with the classic Otto Preminger film Angel Face. The film was a very troubled production and our hosts give us a little background, with an assist from noir historian Eddie Muller's DVD commentary, on all the infighting, the jealousy and the on set violence that plagued the Jean Simmons, Robert Mitchum vehicle. Beyond the juicy back stage stuff, they show a lot of love for the film and tell us why the ending is one of the most shocking in movie history.
Another ten Hot Date episodes down can only mean it's time once again for Dan and Vicky to make a top ten list. This time our hosts decide to pick their favorite performances by an actress. Every genre and era is represented and there will definitely be some surprises and head scratchers along the way. There are a couple of Australians, a French woman, a Spaniard, even a Scientologist or two. Filmmakers as varied as Woody Allen, Terrence Malick and Lewis Teague are represented. But enough hints!
Dan and Vicky tackle their first bona fide B movie with the Roger Corman produced Alien rip-off Forbidden World from 1982. The movie began life under the title Mutant but was quickly re-edited and re-titled by Corman to take out most of director Allan Holzman's nods at humor and give the film a title he thought wouldn't stump viewers. Also tacked on was a pre-credit battle in space scene Corman insisted upon as a shameless Star Wars riff.
After a dispute over royalties for his two previous Edgar Allen Poe film adaptations, producer/director Roger Corman and American International Pictures decided to part ways. Corman approached Pathe Film to finance and release his next feature, another Poe page-to-screen effort, The Premature Burial. He cast Ray Milland because his first choice, Vincent Price, was under contract with AIP. Little did Corman know, however, that AIP was in the process of buying Pathe Films and soon found himself an employee of AIP again and his new film the property of the studio.
Semi-retired and living in the Caribbean, actor Peter Finch initially resisted starring in Network and director Sidney Lumet was equally hesitant to have a Brit play the pivotal part of American TV newscaster turned prophet Howard Beales. But an audition tape where Finch did a spot-on American accent convinced Lumet that he'd found his man. Tragically, Finch died soon after the film was completed but became the first actor to receive the Best Supporting Actor Oscar posthumously.
It took British director Peter Yates and Yugoslavian screenwriter Steve Tesich, born Stojan Tešić, to tell the quintessential American coming of age story Breaking Away from 1979. The film was set and shot in Bloomington, Indiana where Tesich's family emigrated to when he was a teenager and tells a story based on a bicyclist Tesich befriended during his time racing for Indiana University. For his efforts, the screenwriter received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Film (Comedy or Musical).
On Hot Date 25, Dan and Vicky cover as much ground as the protagonists do in the 2012 film The Loneliest Planet. In addition to their thoughts on the film, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg as a couple hiking through the mountains of the former Soviet state of Georgia, your hosts discuss recent celebrity deaths, their love of over pumped stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, and AMC Theatres' dodgy ticket policies.
A year after making his acclaimed directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino saw the very first script he every wrote make it to the big screen in a major Hollywood way. Jam-packed with big stars and directed by hot shot Tony Scott, 1993's True Romance seemed destined for greatness but ultimately fell short at the box office. Audiences were more in the mood, it seems, for the repressed entanglements in Scorsese's Age of Innocence than for the red hot, go-for-broke love between Patricia Arquette's Alabama and Christian Slater's Clarence. Deemed too talky by some and too violent by others, True Romance ended up barely breaking even.
Coming off the successes of The Graduate and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, director Mike Nichols could have done anything he wanted. He chose to reunite with Graduate screenwriter Buck Henry to adapt the ambitious and satirical Joseph Heller war novel Catch-22. When that film was met with critical and commercial indifference (it's since become a cult favorite), Nichols then turned his sights to more familiar terrain -- the relationship drama Carnal Knowledge from 1971. Armed with a cast of actors ripe for their breakout moment, Nichols fashioned a searing, funny and frank look at contemporary relationships that had a local theater owner in Georgia getting arrested and the Georgia Supreme Court accusing the film of obscenity.
The summer of 1983 was poised to be the season that SNL alum Dan Aykroyd broke out as a movie star with no less than three movies coming out in as many months. He found success co-starring with Eddie Murphy in the hit Trading Places and made a brief appearance in the tragedy plagued but profitable Twilight Zone: The Movie. But the third film, released before the other two and positioned as a starring vehicle for Aykroyd, would become one of his greatest flops. Doctor Detroit, is mostly forgotten today but boasts a cast of actors that would go on to greater acclaim -- Howard Hesseman, Fran Drescher, Lynn Whitfield, future Mrs. Aykroyd Donna Dixon, TK Carter and in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her non speaking role, Glenne Headly.
For his first attempt at a Technicolor film and his first collaboration with James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock chose to adapt the British stage play Rope's End as a series of 10 minute long takes. Loosely based on real life child murderers Leopold and Loeb, Farley Granger and John Dall murder a school chum in their apartment, hide his body in a chest of books and cooly host a party around him, aroused by the thrill of it possibly being discovered.
Episode 20 is out of this world - literally - as Dan and Vicky discuss their choices for favorite space/alien films. Suggested by loyal listener Ken Cooperman, Dan and Vicky pick a few science fiction classics you may have seen but also some stealth additions that may creep in under your radar. They also offer runner-up and honorable mention choices and catch us up with what they've been watching recently. So, strap yourself in, make sure your ship is pressurized and prepare for blast off as Hot Date looks to the skies for an alien movie fest. And have extra fun figuring out the name of the song and artist played over the opening credits!
It was a battle-ax royale at the box office in early 1964. The Joan Crawford film Strait- Jacket had come out exactly a month before but it was this Bette Davis vehicle, Dead Ringer, that came out on top. Dead Ringer was the number one film in the country two weekends in a row and continued the recent trend of Grand Dame Guignol films -- grotesque horror/thriller movies starring once popular Hollywood actresses moving into middle age.
Part of then 31 year old Ethan Hawke's audition for Training Day was a series of casting sessions with star Denzel Washington. It was after one of those reads that Hawke left fuming, upset that Washington had taken an improv too far, insulting and cursing him. But director Antoine Fuqua saw exactly the relationship he needed for the characters in the film and offered Hawke the role of rookie Jake Hoyt.
Things get confusing on Dan and Vicky's 17th Hot Date. They chose a random date in January of 2010, usually a deadly month for movies, and came up with the fairly classy Michael Hoffman film, The Last Station starring Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren. The film was dropped in a few theaters for an Oscar qualifying run in late 2009, but actually went wide in January of the following year, hence the confusion. But the Academy wasn't confused and the strategy paid off with Oscar nominations for both stars. Dan and Vicky examine the drama, based on the last few months of famed Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy's life, and chek hov their likes and dislikes.
Director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) came up with a unique strategy for funding and staffing his debut feature Pi. He approached family, friends and everyone in between with the promise that if the film was a failure, he'd give them $50 on top of their initial investment of $100. The cast and crew had a different incentive -- he asked them to work for a deferred salary of $200 per day plus a cut of the box office if the film made any money. After premiering at Sundance, the $60,000 film got a $1 million dollar distribution deal and ended up grossing nearly $3.5 million when released to theaters in the heart of summer blockbuster season, July 1998.
Steve McQueen, David Soul and Sam Elliott were all attached to the car chase classic Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry when it was to be a direct adaptation of the novel The Chase and had no female protagonist. But after years of fits and starts, B movie producer James Nicholson acquired the property, brought friend and frequent collaborator Peter Fonda on board, had the script changed to make the leads a bickering couple and rode into history with the film as a top grosser for studio 20th Century Fox.
It seems incongruous that producers would have originally wanted Vanessa Redgrave for the title role in 1966's Georgy Girl because sister Lynn seemed an absolute perfect fit and, indeed, ended up making it her breakthrough role. The film co-starred James Mason, Alan Bates, Charlotte Rampling and, in a small role, Redgrave's mother, Rachel Kempson. It was a huge hit in the UK but an even bigger one in the United States, much to the relief of Columbia Pictures who had sweated the young, unknown leads, the avant-garde shooting style of Canadian director Silvio Narizzano and some risque subject matter.
It took three William Faulkner stories to make the sultry, southern classic film The Long, Hot Summer and one difficult movie icon to almost unmake it. Although Orson Welles was director Martin Ritt's one and only choice to play burly land baron Will Varner, the two clashed continually on the sticky Louisiana set. They would eventually make up after the movie was finished but Ritt seems to have definitely earned the moniker the industry gave him later -- the Orson Tamer. In stark contrast, leads Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were in the throes of a love affair on and off screen and would eventually get married just two months after the film wrapped. Their union became one of the longest and loveliest in movie history.
2008's Zack and Miri Make A Porno was Kevin Smith's most expensive, most high-profile film at the time so a lot was riding on its success. Could Seth Rogen prove his star turn in the prior year's Knocked Up wasn't a fluke? Could Elizabeth Banks (replacing the previously announced Rosario Dawson) hold her own in her first headlining vehicle? Could a hard R movie with the word "Porno" in its title be a crossover hit? Would this finally be Kevin Smith's entre into mainstream Hollywood? Well everyone involved went on to flourishing careers, but Zack and Miri Make a Porno would not be the raucous hit they all hoped for.
Melissa Sue Anderson was eager to break out of the house that Michael Landon built when she signed on for 1981's slasher Happy Birthday to Me. She was still screaming and crying but this time it was from trying to avoid being shish kebabbed by a mysterious killer and not from the trials of prairie life. She was joined by tough guy film legend Glenn Ford as her psychiatrist, Canadian stalwart Lawrence Dane as her preoccupied Dad, future soap superstar Tracey Bregman as her best friend and fledgling actors Lisa Langlois, Lesleh Donaldson, Matt Craven and David Eisner who would all go on to healthy careers.
Hot Date is in celebration mode! Dan and Vicky have reached episode ten and want to shake things up and do something special for our loyal listeners. Instead of bantering about one film, our hosts pull out all the stops and pick their ten favorite films from ten randomly chosen directors! As a bonus, they'll also choose runners-up. There's a filmmaker for ever taste -- horror, comedy, action, or drama. We won't reveal the filmmakers here but rest assured they are some of the most exciting artists working today and one who is no longer with us.
After the success of the The Thin Man in 1934, MGM was eager to get stars William Powell and Myrna Loy back in front of the cameras for a sequel. It took two years and, if film lore is to be believed, some financial courting of Loy but, with a new story from Dashiell Hammett, the country's favorite sleuthing couple was at it again in the 1936 follow-up, After The Thin Man. Along for the ride are their adorable and mischievous wire fox terrier Asta, a supporting cast of eccentric and hilarious characters and a young Jimmy Stewart.
Before he became the official film adapter of all things J.R.R Tolkein, Peter Jackson was a young monster movie enthusiast and animator creating kitschy, violent, over the top gore-fests in his home country of New Zealand. When Dead Alive, his third feature, appeared in 1992, it had one of the biggest opening weekends of any film in New Zealand history, beating the latest Warner Bros. Batman film at the box office. It didn't have as immediate an impact in the US in February 1993 but Hollywood could tell they had a unique talent on their hands.
Impact: The force with which two lives come together. Sometimes for good, sometimes for evil. Dan and Vicky come together and it's ALL for the good as they look at the little remembered B-movie from 1949, Impact. The movie that asks: If your wife's lover botches a hit on you and accidentally kills himself AND the world mistakes his charred body for yours, could you let your wife hang for a murder she didn't actually successfully commit? And how do you pay back the surprisingly progressive Chinese maid who saves the day -- and your butt?
When Barbara Streisand decided to tackle her grittiest role to date -- as a prostitute indicted for murder fighting to prove her sanity in a competency hearing -- who was going to say no? Well...actually...someone did. In 1982 when Streisand expressed interest in the role of Claudia Draper in the film adaptation of the play Nuts, Universal declined and gave the role to Debra Winger instead. Four years later, after being mired in development hell, Winger was out and Streisand got the role back and pushed it through at Warner Bros. She chose the screenwriters, director, cinematographer, even had a hand in casting. So, what's the verdict? Does Nuts emerge as a vanity project or does Babs hit it out of the park?
Producer Robert Evans resisted the efforts of horror schlockmeister William Castle to direct the film adaptation of Ira Levin's novel, Rosemary's Baby, and the film world is all the better for it. Polish wunderkind Roman Polanski took the reigns and created a horror classic; a movie Levin called the best EVER film adaptation of a novel. Self-congratulation aside, he's not too far off.
Heads you win, Tails you die! When late director Tony Scott read the story of Domino Harvey in an article in The Daily Mail, he was eager to translate her life to film. Working with her and screenwriter Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales), Scott ended up with less a biopic and more a bombastic love letter to the style in which Harvey lived her life -- fast, furious and on the edge. A onetime model and DJ, affirmed tomboy Harvey found success later as a bounty hunter. Scott's film tracks her through one particularly messy job, complicated by blackmail, mistaken identity, missing limbs and the cast of Beverly Hills 90210.
French director Roger Vadim made his US filmmaking debut in 1971 with Pretty Maids All In A Row, based on the scandalously prurient novel of the same title. It was an inauspicious and largely forgotten film and was one of the last movies to come out of MGM before they almost entirely ceased film production. It stars Rock Hudson, Telly Savalas, John David Carson and the very sexy Angie Dickinson in a tale of sexual exploration and murder on a sunny California high school campus. Written and produced by Mr. Star Trek himself, Gene Roddenberry, Pretty Maids is one of the strangest films to ever come out of a major studio and Dan and Vicky get into all the lunacy.
Based on Peter Schaffer's hit play, the movie version of Amadeus won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Actor and Director. Dan and Vicky watched the Director's Cut, which has about 30 minutes of footage not included in the original release version.
On the premiere episode, Dan and Vicky choose July 27, 1972 as their Hot Date. The classic survival thriller "Deliverance" was released on July 30th and went on to become one of the highest grossing films of the year, pick up three Oscar nominations and forever change the discussion of rural versus urban class dynamics. Dan and Vicky discuss their impressions of the film and address the controversial scenes that have given it its reputation.