Saturday, December 7, 2013
7 December 2013
Emily Browning b. 1988 (Sucker Punch, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Nicolas Hoult b. 1989 (Warm Bodies, Jack the Giant Slayer, X-Men: First Class, Clash of the Titans)
Jack Huston b. 1982 (Outlander, Twilight: Eclipse, Eastwick)
Jennifer Carpenter b. 1979 (Quarantine, The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Shiri Appleby b. 1978 (Roswell, Xena)
C. Thomas Howell b. 1966 (E.T., Alphas, Torchwood, Kindred: The Embraced)
Jeffrey Wright b. 1965 (Source Code, The Invasion)
Tom Waits b. 1949 (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Mystery Men, Dracula)
W.D. Richter b. 1945 (screenwriter, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dracula, Big Trouble in Little China, Needful Things)
Kenneth Colley b. 1937 (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Avengers)
Johnny Duncan b. 1923 (Batman and Robin )
Leigh Brackett b. 1915 died 3/17/1978 (screenwriter, The Empire Strikes Back)
A lot of interesting names on the birthday list today. Jeffrey Wright is one of my favorite actors, so good in Boycott and Angels in America among other roles. Tom Waits is one of my favorite songwriters. In terms of film history, Leigh Brackett is the most important person here, a woman who wrote mysteries, westerns and science fiction, famous for her snappy dialogue and independent female characters. Besides The Empire Strikes Back, her writing credits include The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and Rio Bravo with John Wayne, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan and Angie Dickinson. Those are three damn good movies.
But in a quirky mood this morning, I decided the Picture Slot should go to two guys looking uncomfortable in tights, including birthday boy Johnny Duncan as Robin in the 1949 serial. (Batman was played by Robert Lowery.) This picture is included to remind young people that back in the day, the budgets for comic book movies were microscopic.
Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to late Ms. Brackett, thanks for all the memories.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture released, 1979
Yes, I saw this movie more than once and no, it wasn't much good. Still, it was an important milestone in science fiction history on film, showing the industry how much pent up demand there was for a TV show that had been cancelled ten years earlier. I was in college when Star Wars and Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, and they were a huge step up from the low budget movies of the 1950s, the precursor to the movie industry of today where the biggest hits are almost all special effects extravaganzas. (Supporting evidence: The last #1 movie of the year that wasn't sci-fi, fantasy or a cartoon was Saving Private Ryan in 1998.)
Predictor: Brigadier General Billy Mitchell in 1925
Prediction: “Japan may unleash a war in the Pacific. She could attack America by striking first at Hawaii, some fine Sunday morning.”
Reality: Unlike Jack London's prediction with an exact date for the attack on Hawaii by Germany, Mitchell gets the attacker right and also the day of the week. An early proponent of air power, he flew with Eddie Rickenbacker's squadron in World War I and showed in 1921 that bombers could take out a battleship. In a test run against an undefended captured German battleship the Ostfriedland, a flight of bombers sent the ship to the bottom with 1,000 and 2,000 pound bombs. Mitchell's support of air power put him at odds with many of the Navy brass, and when he excoriated the Navy upper command for the loss of a dirigible and several biplanes, inadvisedly using the word "treasonous" in his condemnation, he was given a court martial, found guilty and put on half-pay for five years.
Being right is one thing. Being tactful is quite another. I've learned that lesson a few times in my life as well.
Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
World AIDS Day was last Sunday, but I found a prediction about the progress of the disease in South Africa while researching yesterday, so I'll report it a week late tomorrow.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!