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Posts Tagged ‘Time Magazine’

“His ears are too big and he looks like an ape.”
Darryl Zanuck on Clark Gable’s screen test

“He was to the American motion picture what Ernest Hemingway is to American Literature.”
1960 Time magazine on Gable’s death

Before he was called “The King of Hollywood,” and long before he uttered the famous words in Gone with the Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio and raised about 80 miles northwest of there in Akron, Ohio.

Though not a writer, I thought that was an interesting find while doing some research on writer/director Jim Jarmusch also being from the Akron area. Gable even worked at B.F. Goodrich where Jarmusch’s father also worked, though in different eras.

Gable became interested in theater after seeing a play performed as a teenager in Akron. He later worked with a traveling theater group, did manual labor, worked on oil fields in Oklahoma, eventually finding his way to Portland, Oregon where he was a tie salesman and theater actor. After a few years he went to Los Angeles working on his craft on his way to becoming the star of It Happened One Night,  Mutiny on the Bounty, and Gone with the Wind. He was in 65 films and was nominated for three Oscars and won one.

In Premiere magazine’s list of The 100 Sexiest Movie Stars of All Time they listed Gable at #13 and  AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars listed Gable as the #7 male legend. Not bad for a kid from Cadiz, Ohio.

“There’s no special light that shines inside me and makes me a big star. I’m just a lucky slob from Ohio who happened to be in the right place at the right time. I had a lot of smart guys helping me that’s all.”
Clark Cable

Gable also won the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal when he was in the Army during World War II.

Tomorrow marks the two and a half anniversary of “Screenwriting from Iowa” and I’ll explain tomorrow why Clark Gable would have been attracted to screenwriting Diablo Cody.

P.S. Just to show you how times have changed in Akron, Ohio. Chrissie Hynde wrote about Akron in her 1982 song, “My City is Gone” (Pretenders):

I went back to Ohio,
but my city was gone.
There was no train station.
There was no downtown.

Akron was founded in 1825 and I’m sure there have been many changes over the years. Because of the advent of rubber, and Akron being a place where rubber was produced made it once the fastest growing city in America. Its wealth also brought the arts and fostered artists to one degree or another. The New Yorker says that poet Hart Crane “once worked behind a candy counter of a drug store in Akron, Ohio.” (Maybe Akron is what Francis Coppola had in mind when he made his famous comment about the future of filmmaking: “One day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart.”)

The city being gone that Hynde refers to is I believe after some plants and buildings were torn down in the 80s due to economic change.

I went through Akron about 10 years ago and found a great minor league baseball field there (Canal Park) right off Main St. in the downtown area. These days many older buildings have been restored and there is even a Biomedical Corridor downtown.

In 2007, Hynde even opened a vegan restaurant called The VegiTerranean just north of downtown Akron. And I’ve read that she keeps an apartment in her old hometown in an urban renewal area known as Highland Square. This is the same Akron that basketball great LeBron James (the other “King”) said of just this weekend, “Akron is my home, it’s my life. Everything I do is for this city. I’m going to continue to do great things. I love every last one of you all. Akron is home.”

Clark Gable, Jim Jarmusch, Chrissie Hynde, Hart Crane, James LeBron, Benjamin Franklin Goodrich—what a country.

Scott W. Smith


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“I can easily tell you what (Children of the Corn) doesn’t have, namely a solid narrative, good direction, complex characters, strong performances, and genuine terror. And yet, it remains an undyingly popular movie 25 years on.”
DVD Review

All week I’ve been in Sioux City, Iowa working on a production and I picked up a book yesterday that said the first feature film shot in this area was the 1984 Children of the Corn based on a Stephen King short story. The 92 minute film has a strong enough fan base to recently have been released in Blu-Ray for its 25th anniversary edition.

The original film starred Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton and cost $300,000. to make and went on to make over $17 million. at the box office. Six spin-offs have been made and while none were wildly successful there are some actresses who picked up some early experience working on one of the franchise films. The 1995 Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest was the début film of Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts starred in the Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering, and Eva Mendes is one of the stars in Children of the Corn V.

A TV version of the film was shot in Lost Nation, Iowa in ’08 (see photos) and shown on the Sci Fi channel in 2009. It was written and directed by Donald P. Borchers who was a producer on the original 1984 Children of the Corn.

And not that long ago Variety announced that the Weinsteins were producing a remake of the original with Ehren Kruger writing the script. (But I couldn’t find any other evidence that the movie was still in development. Maybe the TV version killed it.) But with the success of Avatar 3-D can Children of the Corn 3-D be too far off?

Though the stories takes place in Nebraska (usually a place called Hastings), for various reasons the films have been shot in various states including the first one in Iowa. Not sure why the original Children of the Corn was shot in and around Sioux City but I know it’s part of their folklore. Just like Lewis & Clark (and gang) passing through here on their famous journey west. They even have a monument for Sergeant Charles Floyd who died here in Aug. 20, 1804.

I couldn’t find a monument for anything related to the filming of Children of the Corn. Maybe it’s hidden in a corn field somewhere. (Then again, I wasn’t looking for one.) But what I did find was something somewhat related to Children of the Corn from a screenwriting perspective in a Q&A with Stephen King.

TIME magazine Nov. 23, 2007  Q&A: Talking with Stephen King

Gilbert Cruz: There have been so many movies and TV miniseries made from your stories and, not to be disrespectful, but some of them are stinkers. Sleepwalkers, Sometimes They Come Back and its various sequels, etc… How do you maintain quality control? Do you even try?
Stephen King: I’d go crazy. I don’t try to maintain quality control. Except I try to get good people involved. The thing is, when you put together a script, a director, and all the other variables, you never really know what’s going to come out. And so you start with the idea that it’s like a baseball game — you put the best team you can on the field, and you know that, more times than not, you’re gonna win.

And in my case, more of the movies than not — if we except things like Return to Salem’s Lot, Children of the Corn 4, The Children of the Corn Meet the Leprechaun or whatever it is — if you do that, then most times you’re going to have something that’s interesting anyway. That doesn’t mean you’re going to have the occasional thing that’s just a train wreck like Dreamcatcher, because that happens, right?

May all your train wrecks be as interesting as Stephen King’s.

Scott W. Smith

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“The story of Kurt Warner, who announced his retirement after a 12-year NFL career on Jan. 29, always starts with the chapter in that grocery store in Iowa.”
Sean Gregory
Time Magazine

This week’s Sports Illustrated (January 25, 2010) contains an article titled, Iowa’s Got a Secret. SI writer Albert Chen says of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) basketball team that it, “remains the best kept secret in college basketball.” (The men’s NCAA basketball team is 17-2 and currently ranked #25 in ESPN/USA Today poll right after the much larger & established programs such as Ohio St., Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.)

UNI happens to also be where quarterback Kurt Warner played college football before going on to have a career worthy of landing him in the NFL Hall of Fame when eligible. Warner retired yesterday from the NFL after a 12 year career which included playing in three Super Bowls (winning the MVP in one of them) as well as being the most accurate quarterback in NFL history.

I’ve written about Warner before and I really think his story symbolizes everything that I’ve been writting about for the past two years. That you can come from a small place and really accomplish some good things—sometimes even great things at the highest level. But, as with Warner’s case, persistance is equally as important as talent.

After Warner’s high school career in Cedar Rapids, Iowa he was disappointed to not win a scholarship to a Division 1 school. Then he changed his perspective by accepting a scholarship  to Division I-AA UNI back in the 90s.. He would play only an hour away from home so friends and family could see him play, and being a smaller school he figured he could maybe start playing as a freshman. He figured wrong and ended up not winning the starting QB position until his senior year. He got hurt in his second game that year but stuck it out and ended up earning the Gateway Conference player of the year.

He figured he played well enough to be drafted into the NFL. He figured wrong once again, but was given a chance as a free agent to make the Green Bay Packers. But they had a young quarterback named Bert Favre so thing didn’t work out too well in Green Bay. The story is well-known in sports circles and will make a fine movie some day. He worked at Hy-Vee Grocery Store for a little over five dollars and hour, worked as an assistant football coach at UNI, became a QB in Des Moines in the arena football league, moved up to playing pro ball in Europe, before becoming the ringleader in “The Greatest Show on Turf” as quarterback for the St. Louis Rams earning the NFL MVP award twice (1999, 2001). He not only holds the record for top passing yards in a Super Bowl game—he hold the #2 and #3 spots as well.

Not bad for a kid from Cedar Rapids who didn’t even earn a Division 1 scholarship and sat the bench for his first three years of college here in Cedar Falls. Time and time when asked what’s kept him going through the dark times, his answer always involves faith. Faith in his talent, and faith in God.

You don’t have to be a football fan (or even a sports fan)  to appreciate the Kurt Warner story. And it’s a nice bonus that his work on the field is matched by his charity work off the field. Kurt Warner is simply one of the good guys.

“Since those days chucking candy in the grocery store in Cedar Falls, Kurt Warner has been an inspiration.”
Sean Gregory
Time magazine

Kurt Warner is retiring, but don’t expect him to disappear. You’ll see more of him, just not in a football uniform. He’ll probably be leading the way in something like building homes in Haiti for Habitat for Humanity, just like he did last year after the floods destroyed over 5,000 homes in his hometown of Cedar Rapids.

Scott W. Smith

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Happy New Year.

Well, I made it one whole year blogging once a day and I won’t say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done–nor was it the easiest. Perhaps self-medication for ADHD. I’m not sure when I started this journey two years ago that I would have imagined that it would have evolved into a part-time job. But it’s given me a place to hyper-focus on an area of great interest to me.

And apparently screenwriting and filmmaking is of great interest to a lot of people as there are many blogs dedicated to the ever-changing film industry. Let hope it all results in better films in the near future.

I would also like to thank all the people for stopping by Screenwriting from Iowa in the past year to read some of the 142,630 words I wrote last year on this blog. December ’09 ended up being my biggest month ever view-wise and was actually five times higher than December ’08. As long as people keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Technically, my anniversary date for the blog is in a couple weeks and I’m working on a change to mark that period. (I welcome any suggestions as well.)

In the meantime, I’ll kick off the new year where I finished last year (which was just last night) with a post connected to the movie Up in the Air. This time just a simple quote from the book’s author Walter Kirn on why he lives in Montana.

I live in Livingston, Montana, a town of 7,000 not far from Yellowstone Park. I have a commercial building downtown, the top part of which is the loft, and I do almost all of my writing there. I found it necessary at an early stage in my career, about 20 years ago, to remove myself from metropolitan life in order to observe America. And I think it‘s served me in good stead, strangely enough. Through the years I‘ve worked for Time Magazine, all sorts of magazines based in New York, and they were always willing to send me everything west of you know the Hudson River and east of Los Angeles. So it‘s worked out.”
Walter Kirn
C-SPAN/Q & A

That’s what I’ve been trying to say for two years now–living outside New York and L.A. does have its advantages (as well as its obstacles). The key is to keep observing, and keep writing. Keep submitting and keep networking. I’d love someday to hear a screenwriter being interviewed about his or her new film to be asked, “What made you think you could write a film in ______ (nondescript middle of nowhere place in fly-over country) and actually get it made?,” and hear them say, “There was this blog….”

Related post: “Up in the Air” Over Iowa

Scott W. Smith

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“Film makers can’t get enough of Adolf Hitler. I think it’s because he’s the perfect villain.” Arnold Pistorius

Once upon a time in Hollywood…1941-1976

So in a sweeping look at American film history today we’re going to clip off 35 years.  Again one of the reasons for this brief look back at film history is to see how change has been a constant throughout the business and to see how we are in another major shift.

Hollywood had enjoyed its greatest decade through the 1930s in the short history of the film industry. (Some still believe that era was the greatest movie decade of all-time.)

1940 & 1941 continued the Golden Era of cinema. But then on December 7, 1941 the world changed for Americans with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The United States was coming off The Great Depression which started with the crash of Wall Street in 1929.

Hollywood actors and directors lended a hand in making training and propaganda films . And then there were movies about the war and its lingering effects back in the states.

So Proudly We Hail, 1943
Best Years of Our Lives, 1946

But I think the biggest lingering effect of Hitler and the Nazi’s is it created a world of fear. I’m not sure we’ve ever recovered from the idea that one man could cause so much pain and destruction in the modern world.

“The motion pictures made during World War II deeply affected Steven Spielberg, and movies about the war remain fertile ground for numerous filmmakers during subsequent decades. One reason for the continued popularity of these sages, and for movies about different wars as well, is the panoply of visual pleasures such conflicts offer.” “Citizen Spielberg”: by Lester D. Friedman

Europe exported existential thought and a new wave of movies that we free morality standards in the American film industry.

Much has been written about the prosperity that followed World War II, but many films reflected a period of questioning human existence and sometimes landing on nihilism or some for of despair. And themes that followed from World War II were prevalent for at least the next 30 years—and maybe until the present day. (The names and fears have just changed over the years)

Look at some of the top films of the 50s:

Rebel Without a Cause
On the Waterfront
Sunset Boulevard
Rear Window
War of the Worlds
Death of a Salesman

Sci-Fi films with end of the world themes were popular:
It Came From Outer Space
The Thing
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Them

Hilter may have been gone but there were plenty of worries beyond wondering how Jerry Mathers was going to break in his baseball glove on Leave it to Beaver. (The Korean War, Soviets, the Bomb, communists, etc.)

And then into the 60s President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr were shot and killed, there were riots in Chicago,  L.A. and other cities. Viet Nam War.  And if things werem’t bad enough TIME Magazine’s cover on April 8, 1966 asked, “Is God Dead?”

Some of the more well known movies of the 60s were:

Dr, Strangelove; or how I stopped learning to Love the Bomb
They Don’t Shoot Horses Do They?
Easy Rider
Psycho
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Bonnie & Clyde
Cool-Hand Luke
Midnight Cowboy
2001 A Space Odyssey
The Wild Bunch
The Manchurian Candidate

The pessimistic trend  continued into the early 1970s in politics with Viet Nam & Watergate as well as at the movies:

M*A*S*H
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Deliverance
Five Easy Pieces
The Last Picture Show
The Godfather
Chinatown

Sure you had Disney movies and light musicals during all these years but these films represent much of the best films of the era.

Bruce became the catalyst for change. Bruce was a mechanical shark on the set of the 1975 film JAWS who didn’t work as well as desired.  But he worked well in the edit bay and the $7 million film went on to make over $400 million worldwide. Sure there was blood and guts, but it had a happy ending.

The tent pole movie was born (or maybe just perfected). And once that genie was out of the bottle everybody in Hollywood was shooting for the  $100 million boxoffice goal.  By this time Viet Nam was over and Americans were ready to get on with life and the bicentennial celebration of the United States in 1976.

And Rocky was there toward the end of the year to give audiences something to cheer about. I do believe the one-two punch of JAWS & Rocky had a huge impact on the future of the film business. More thills per minute and a somewhat happy ending that would make a lot of money.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Part 5)

Scott W. Smith

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I don’t know much about Jeremy Rifkin other than Time Magazine called him “the most hated man in science,” but I found this quote interesting;

“The modern age has been characterized by a Promethean spirit, a restless energy that preys on speed records and shortcuts, unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment of the quick fix…Lost in a sea of perpetual technological transition, modern man and woman find themselves in increasingly alienated from the ecological choreography of the planet.”
Economist Jeremy Rifkin
via The Surfers Journal
article Gone Bamboo by Gavin Ehringer
Volume 18, Number 4

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“Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app.”
                                                                         Time Magazine 

 

I’m so behind the times (and Time magazine). Yesterday I mentioned something about screenwriting and Twitter and now I find out that just last month Southwest Airlines asked Twitter followers to help them write the first Southwest Airlines Script. Here are the results. (It’s not art, but remember that one of the first images caught on film in 1894 was Fred Ott’s Sneeze. That’s the kind of stuff you learn in film school.)

But now I’m catching up; http://twitter.com/scottwsmith_com

For a list of Hollywood producers, directors, screenwriters and actors using twitter go to /Film.

And congrats to actor/director (an Iowa-native) Ashton Kutcher  on just last week being the first Twitter member to have 1 million followers. (And for pledging $100,000 if he won to fight Malaria. “I’m calling to have a check made out for $100,000 to the Malaria No More Fund,” wrote Kutcher. Second place was media giant CNN. I don’t know how much a threat swine flu is to North America (and, yes, in Iowa we don’t care for that name), but I do know the foundations are shifting in how we are processing our news and entertainment. 

And just to totally try to keep up with the changes, I know The New York Times called Twitter “One of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet,.” but just yesterday Michael Liedtke at Yahoo announced that Twitter quitters outnumber those flocking to Twitter. 

 

Scott W. Smith

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