We done gone and did it ‘till we quit it, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers
Uh, no Sir, that’s not, oh forget it
A German court handed a 15-year sentence to an accessory of the attacks of September 11th. It was a little awkward, when informed of the accessory’s sentence President Bush said; “We should not let this case damage the image of the fine Accessorian people.”Times Square isn’t the only place to watch a ball drop
The Seattle Seahawks beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-20 due to Cowboy QB, Tony Romo’s dropping the field goal snap. Romo blew the game with a dropped ball. On the bright side he was named an honorary Chicago Cubs fan.
That was the most painful dropped ball since Ricky Horchner tried to jump his alley’s fence on his bike.Where has the time gone?
Vice President Dick Cheney is going hunting today. Is it already lawyer season? Time flies.Can you tell I grew up near Northwestern?
Last week Texas Tech got their volatile coach Bobby Knight a college basketball record 880 wins. It goes to show that good things happen to good people but also to Bobby Knight.Since you asked:
If there is a record for being a couch tumor I may have set it last weekend. Too many football games for my own good. Some of them I even gave a damn about.
Saturday night, after grilling the most awesome ribs I’ve ever made – I will discuss my secret later – we watched “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” Holds up pretty darn good. It was so good, the next night I watched the version narrated by the screenwriter, William Goldman. Awesome.
As I am a movie trivia nut, I could not get enough of this. It had a little bit of a factor of the old saying of sausage and legislation, if you ever want to appreciate either ever again, don’t watch them being made. Some of the information took away some of the fantasy but mostly it was fascinating. The music is a little corny and dated. Catchy, but corny.
William Goldman is a hoot. I’ve read a book of his on screenwriting and he is a character. Considering his incredible success, Goldman sounds very matter-of-fact and modest, especially by Hollywood standards. His list of screen plays is long and includes “All The Presidents Men” and “Princess Bride” just to name two.
But Goldman’s candor about stars has landed him in hot water. He calls a spade a spade and an assh*le and assh*le. Some movie stars you love to hear him call world class jerks – Dustin Hoffman – and others really disappoint you when you find out what annoying schmucks they are – Steve McQueen.
Goldman relished talking about “Towering Inferno” because it illustrated why he loved Paul Newman so much and hated Steve McQueen so much. Initially Newman was set to play the part of the fire chief, but McQueen threw such a hissy fit that he wanted that role so, being the nice guy that he is, Newman gave it to him but ended up stealing the movie anyway because he was Paul Newman.
Goldman’s insights into “BCATSK” truly reveal how close a great movie can be to a bad movie. A change in scene here, a touch of dialogue there and your entire opinion of a character and the movie can change. It illustrates that nobody knows when they have really made a hit. Goldman says the reviews for “Butch” were horrible. (Goldman, like everybody else, hates critics) It wasn’t until Goldman went to a regular showing in Manhattan and heard the fans raving in the lobby afterwards that Goldman realized it would not be a complete flop.
(To illustrate how a movie can be great or horrible see: “Tombstone” and don’t see “Wyatt Earp” Or the awesome “Without Limits” versus the awful “Pre” both about the same guy, Steve Prefontaine. Casting, music, filming, dialogue choices, it all makes a huge difference )
Paul Newman was supposed to play the Sundance Kid and they had Marlon Brando set for Butch – according to Goldman, Brando was even more of flake than advertised and he was known to be a wildly huge flake. That movie would have sucked. The producer hated the choice of Redford for Sundance saying effectively you could throw a stick on a beach in Malibu and hit three Redfords.
Apparently the real Sundance Kid was quite the scary dude. He was a drunk and a bloodthirsty killer. Not the rock star gunslinger that we see in the movie. But Butch was just like Paul Newman, according to Goldman, likeable and funny.
Goldman and director George Roy Hill cannot say enough nice things about Newman which sort of damned Redford with faint-to-absent praise. Nobody apparently thought too much about Katherine Ross other than remarking how pretty she was. (The scene where the Kid makes Edda Place strip at gunpoint was a pivotal one in my adolescence. For years I packed gum in the side of my jaw to imitate Sundance’s chaw )
Get a load of this. Both the writer, Goldman, and the director, George Roy Hill, were horrified at the audience reaction to the first screening. They said they laughed too much. They actually went back and edited the movie to be a lot less funny. There were some truly funny scenes. My favorite outside of “I can’t swim” was when they arrive in Bolivia and Sundance is smolderingly furious at what a dump the area around the station is. For people who say Redford cannot act, check this scene out. He does a great job.
“It could be worse. You get a lot more for your money in Bolivia, I checked on it”
“What could they have here that you could possibly want to buy?”
Reminds me of when I arrived at Long Beach City College.
I remember the weekend after the movie opened in the Chicago suburbs, everyone at my Crow Island elementary school thought they were the coolest and funniest person alive because they could parrot the line; “I couldn’t do that? Could you do that? How can they do that?” and of course, “Who are those guys?” That movie was a true social phenomenon.
It also shows that movie experts, whether they are the director, producer, the writer and especially the critics, do not look for what normal people look for in a movie. The writer, Goldman, wanted to keep it as true to history as possible and make Sundance a scary psycho character just like just Johnny Ringo in “Tombstone” because that was what historians said was reality; but George Roy Hill knew that would have killed the relationship with Butch and the Kid.
Goldman had a scene he fought to keep where Butch completely broke down in tears, depression and existential angst after they shot the Bolivian bandits when they tried to go straight as payroll guards. Again, GRH talked him out of that movie-murdering scene. The director, Hill, deserves a ton of credit for “BCATSK”.
What the makers of the film thought they had was a huge breakthrough first-ever film about flawed Western heroes who ran from their pursuers rather than having a big showdown. What a load of over-thinking Hollywood B.S. What they really had was the world’s first buddy flick. No way “Lethal Weapon” or all the other buddy flicks happen without “Butch.”
The writer and the director argued and argued over the scene that won over movie goers in the beginning: Butch’s knife fight with that big guy who played Lurch in “The Adams Family”. George Roy Hill couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that Sundance would let his great friend get in a fight that would surely kill him. For me, if Sundance interjects on Butch’s behalf, it makes Butch’s character too weak and Sundance’s too tough. Their friendship was balanced.
The other aspect that they were smart to leave alone was the three way relationship with a couple and their single pal. They were going to have Edda sleep with Butch. That would have killed the whole movie. That unusual relationship was a huge aspect of the film’s allure. Heck, it even inspired the classic and great football novel “Semi-Tough”
(You want to see Hollywood ruin a great story, first read the hilarious football book by great sports writer, Dan Jenkins, “Semi-Tough” and then go rent the movie with Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson. They couldn’t have ruined that book more if that was their primary goal. Why somebody doesn’t do the book justice and make a remake I have no idea)
By the way, the guy and girlfriend hanging-out-with-a-single-guy-thing in real life is not a real easy fit. I’ve tried on both sides on a number of occasions. Competition, jealousy, pride, flirting, all of that works against the three of you.
Another huge factor in a movie being a hit is luck.
“Butch” had all the right elements to fall apart because all three of the primary actors had such strong egos and ideas on how they wanted their character to appear. If it wasn’t for the fact that director George Roy Hill was a real life tough guy Marine fighter pilot hero, it would have splintered off into circuitous tangents. He was the only one who could intimidate Redford and Newman and Ross. This is the reason why Redford and Newman never appeared together again in any movie by another director. (GRH directed them again in “The Sting.”)
My Aunt, Mary Gus, is a good friend of famous author Elmore Leonard. My wife, Virg, and I got to spend an entire day around Christmas time a few years ago chatting with him. What a treat. Amazing guy. Brilliant but very friendly, warm, Midwestern and down-to-earth. (He once asked my Aunt to ask my permission to use the expression my Aunt quoted me using as a term for creating havoc, “Tossing the Baby Ruth into the pool” for one of his books. It broke my heart to admit to him I didn’t create the term, the movie “Caddy Shack” did)
Anyway, Elmore – or Dutch as, we, his good friends (oh brother) call him – was describing to us why he hates making movies, just like Goldman. Dutch was on the set of his first big time Hollywood movie based on a book he wrote, “Stick” He described how Burt Reynolds’ people – not Burt, mind you, his people - would approach him to totally rewrite entire scenes. One example was;
“Mr. Reynolds wants you to write a scene where he wrestles an alligator.”
Mr. Leonard politely replied to Reynolds flunky;
“But there isn’t a scene like that in the book.”
Guess what? Eventually Dutch had to write a really inane alligator scene.
When the reviews came out the critics all panned the story as disjointed proclaiming, although Leonard was a talented novelist, he couldn’t write a decent screen play. How unfair is that?
Didn’t you think being a movie star would be a total gas? I did. Both Elmore Leonard and William Goldman say movie making is truly awful. Taken together, for me, that is the gospel. Goldman says the process is achingly boring and slow and the tension is unbearable. The actors, director and crew wants to make every scene as great as humanly possible but the producers want to make it for as little money as possible. The two goals simply do not jibe. Throw in the fact that you have, according to Goldman, with few exceptions, a bunch of under-educated, hung-over, hyper-sensitive, vain ego-maniac actors trying to steal every shot of every scene and you get the ugly picture.
Hollywood may be high school with money, but it sounds like movie sets are kindergarten with cocaine and prozac.
Hearing Leonard's wonderful story about filming "Stick" made it easy to see why “Get Shorty’ was so great. It was the truth.
So that, Slat and Nuggies, is the long and windy version of why I don’t write for big time studios.
That and the fact that no studio has asked me to.
But if they did, I would strain myself changing my mind and saying yes. God, I am a comedy writing whore. Oh, the ribs.
Brine marinate http://bbq.about.com/od/brinerecipes/r/bl01120a.htm
for a couple hours.
Put the ribs on a pan and give them a strong rub of granulated garlic powder, cumin, pepper, paprika for color. Pour some beer on the bottom of the pan. Place them in an oven at 200 degrees for four hours.
Finish them on a Weber grill with Mesquite lump charcoal, lid on, holes open and slather with your own barbeque sauce every ten minutes for about forty-five minutes. My BBQ sauce has a peach marmalade base with grilled chopped onion and a little white vinegar and Worstestsh, Wurstesteshi, Wortesestes, that great steak sauce, and a dash of mustard and ketchup.
Add baked beans, cornbread biscuits, a fruit salad and a frosty, cold beer and Bob is your freakin' Uncle. Then play poker after. Or watch "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Who are those guys?