Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Memoriam

Sheesh...this week. Part of me feels that there is something vaguely weird about lumping three people's deaths together on a pop culture blog. For one thing it doesn't do real justice to the life that was lost. I guess we could say we were "honoring" them in a sense. But, then again, I am about to go ahead and do it anyway.

Arthur Penn

Arthur Penn died earlier this week at the age of 88. His career began in the late forties, and he started in theater, and from there worked on live television before getting into the movies in the late fifties. I have to admit, I have only seen two of his movies, but they are his most famous ones. The first being The Miracle Worker in 1962, which garnered both the leads. Patty Duke and Ann Bancroft, Oscars.

His other big movie was Bonnie and Clyde, made in 1969. The influence of which would be far reaching, particularly in the next decade and the younger generation of directors that were coming up. For the time, it pushed the boundaries of depictions of sex and violence, as well as being decidedly counter to the Hollywood conventions of the time. Basically, a lot like Hitchcock with Psycho at the beginning of the sixties, he helped change the game for the next generation at the end of the sixties.

But now that Arthur Penn as passed away, people have been talking about other movies to check out, like his first collaboration with Warren Beatty, Mickey One, or The Chase with Robert Redford and Marlon Brando. Although it seems that he wasn't able to capitalize on the era he helped usher in. 

Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis passed away last night at the age of 85. Tony Curtis, born Bernard Schwartz. Some might say he had it all: he was good looking and he could act. I know of Tony Curtis a bit better than I know Mr. Penn, so here I will give you my five favorite Tony Curtis movies/performances:

1) Some Like It Hot (1959)
There is a reason this movie is going to be mentioned when everyone talks about Tony Curtis: its really THAT good. The writing and repartee here between Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis is just ridiculously good. And this might just be Marilyn Monroe's best stuff too.

2) Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Honestly, this, for me, is a close second to Some Like It Hot. And two movies could hardly be more opposite. It evokes the downtown, New York atmosphere of the late 50's in an amazing way. And it is pretty dark. Tony Curtis plays the unscrupulous press agent, Sidney Falco, who runs afoul of Burt Lancaster's broadway columnist, J.J. Hunsecker. Which doesn't sound like he would be a completely soulless villain, but thats pretty much what Lancaster makes him.

3) Spartacus (1960)
This is probably more Kirk Douglas' (or even Stanley Kubrick's) movie, to be sure, but its a great one. I mean, look at those eyes. Might as well put him in sandals and throw him into the desert.

4) The Defiant Ones (1958)
This is probably the other movie people will be remembered for. Its interesting because it was for this he received his only Oscar nomination. Here he is a convict chained to another convict, Sidney Poitier, who have to learn to work together to survive. I think its a pretty neat concept.

5) Operation Petticoat (1959)
A solid Blake Edwards comedy where Curtis is cast alongside Cary Grant (someone he would impersonate in Some Like It Hot) as a conman executive officer on a ship in World War 2. He has to contend with the ship being painted pink (don't ask) and with a bevy of army nurses that have to come on board. Here he gets to lampoon his image as a Hollywood playboy.

Greg Giraldo

Sadly, you might have heard that Greg Giraldo passed away suddenly this week too, at the young age of 44. You've seen Giraldo all over the place on Comedy Central, on their Roasts, doing standup, and I believe he was a judge on last comic standing. On nearly all of these things, like Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn where he got his first big break. The thing about Giraldo is he was alway reliably funny and smart, and at these sorts of events with a group of comedians, he was nearly always the funniest and the smartest of the bunch. It's too bad he had to go too soon.

When I found out he had passed away, I went and watched my very favorite moment of his, when he eviscerated Larry The Cable Guy on his roast. Well, I should have grabbed it then because now its nowhere to be found, on youtube or anywhere else unfortunately. So here is the Moment Of Zen from last night's Daily Show that was in honor of him:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen - Our Moment of Greg Giraldo
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity


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