Vintage Trailer of the Day

The movie that sparked an incredibly successful television show, this adaptation of the Neil Simon play (adapted by Neil Simon) was only the second film from Gene Saks – a director with a remarkably low output in his career. He worked almost exclusively with plays, and even though he didn’t direct many movies, he churned out this classic alongside Mame, Cactus Flower and Brighton Beach Memoirs. Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are in top form here in a surprisingly touching comedy that has sitcom sensibilities. This is the second movie they made together (out of ten), the first being The Fortune Cookie. As it happens, Robert Evans wanted their director there, the brilliant Billy Wilder, to write and direct here as well. As usual, money got in the way, but the movie turned out more than fine. It makes a great double feature with Grumpy Old Men, and who could forget that theme music?

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So what do you do when the law gets close to arresting you for bank robbery? You grab your bicycle and head to Bolivia. The pairing of Paul Newman and Robert Redford here in George Roy Hill’s classic is a potent one, and Katharine Ross rounds out the ensemble with a way about her that won over both men (and audiences). Like most films, it went through its share of casting changes. Jack Lemmon almost played Sundance. So did Marlon Brando. In fact, the film was going to be called The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy when Steve McQueen was set to star, but he dropped out, and Paul Newman’s character took over top billing. There’s something sweet about a movie that features Burt Bacharach singing about raindrops falling on his head and a body count of 30. Plus, you can see a great tribute to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre involving a brand and an ass near the end of the film.

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Why not? There’s been talk all day about a remake of Sam Raimi’s low budget terror flick. Theoretically it will rise from the grave and come out of the mist sometime in the near future, but until then, let’s take a look at the original trailer for The Evil Dead. Filmed at a real-life abandoned cabin, this movie was the culmination of high school friends who spent too many hours playing around with Super 8 cameras in their youth. Unsurprisingly, they would grow up to film a scene where possessed trees rape a woman, proving that film school just isn’t necessary to create good art. That scene was actually banned in some countries, but the movie also achieved the rare feat of naming its lead male character Ashley and making him a badass. Now why isn’t anyone clamoring for a remake of It’s Murder!?

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Come out here, Mabel. This column took some time off (thus calling into question its title), but it comes back strong with an unusual advertisement for an unusual John Cassavetes movie. Peter Falk stars here as the husband of a woman with mental problems (played stunningly by Gena Rowlands). At first, the story was going to be a play, but it was Rowlands who convinced Cassavetes to write it as a screenplay because she claimed the role was too emotionally draining to force an actress to do night after night. It’s a pure passion project which found Cassavetes mortgaging his home to finance and found him lugging it from theater to theater himself after completion because he didn’t have a distributor. Thankfully, An up-and-comer named Martin Scorsese took a liking to his work and threatened to pull Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore from a New York City film festival unless they accepted A Woman Under the Influence. A close call for a film which garnered two Oscar nominations including Best Director and Best Lead Actress.

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Burt Lancaster. Lee Marvin. Robert Ryan. Woody Strode. Jack Palance. Ralph Bellamy. Claudia Cardinale. An incredible line-up was utilized to the fullest degree possible (117 degrees in the desert heat) in Richard Brooks’s The Professionals. It’s a stellar men-on-a-mission story where a group with 100 proof women, 90 proof whiskey and 14 carat gold on its mind gets rounded up to save a young wife from the marauder that’s taken her across the border into Mexico.

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Cats! Singing! Scatting! Having adventures! The 1970 animated flick from Disney has one of the most surreal plots – even for their high standards. A group of cats is in line to inherit a fortune, but they have to battle an evil butler to get it. Fortunately, they can all talk (and one can scat, which comes in handy), and do things that humans do. They use these special powers mostly to play jazz and seem intoxicated. This trailer is for the re-release that took place a decade later, but the joy of the movie is clearly on display here. Who’s up for a double feature with The Fox and the Hound?

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What daring! What arrogance! We salute these trailers! In 1982, John Milius brought Conan the Barbarian to life with questionable authenticity and a gallon or three of body oil. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the only man at the time for the job, and James Earl Jones the only man willing to turn into a snake and fight him. Now there’s a new adaptation coming soon featuring Jason Momoa. He’s got a huge loincloth to fill, but, unlike Schwarzenegger, it’s almost certain he didn’t have to tone down his workout routine in order to wield a sword properly. Arnold was a monster.

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Weird Al Yankovic was already popular before writing UHF and taking on the role of George Newman (a subtle nod to MAD Magazine’s mascot). It was probably no surprise that he would choose parody as his first major jump into film producing, and the movie has a ton of direct film scenes and lines as well as references or parodies to a ton more. Conan the Librarian seems especially timely. Unfortunately for Orion, who thought this thing would crush at the same box office where Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were playing, the movie was only a modest success. The company went under a few years later.

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I know very little about this made-for-TV rip-off of Alien, but when Shannon Shea mentions something like this in his column, it’s time to check it out. Fortunately, the trailer sells the hell out of the movie. All that matters is lines like this: “A strange, unknown creature so powerful it lies dormant for centuries surviving for one purpose…to someday return…and rule this land.” Rule this land? Is the creature King Arthur? Probably not, but The Intruder Within looks truly inspired. Wait. Is that Michael Hogan? It is! Why am I not watching this movie right now?

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With the constant conversation about spoilers and trailers giving away entire films, it’s fascinating to watch the original trailer for Fight Club. It’s a trailer that was largely ignored and didn’t do much to bolster the movie’s box office numbers, but since its release, the philosophically bloody film has become a cult phenomenon partially known for its twist. Yet, even though this trailer shows a lot, it doesn’t give everything away. Even in scenes we now know to be crucial moments, the lines come out as generic one-liners that any drama or action movie might have. That may have hurt the film’s marketing overall, but at least it didn’t tell everyone the spoils in a dumb attempt to get them into the theater. A better question (or at least one that’s more fun) is whether you’d go see this movie or not. Forget the dozens of times you’ve seen it. After watching this trailer, would you go see a strange-looking flick from the director of Seven called Fight Club?

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If you ask someone what their favorite Steve McQueen movie is, they probably won’t say The Thomas Crown Affair. That’s a bittersweet testament to his career, because the entire movie is him being awesome, wealthy, and sneaking his thieving fingers into Faye Dunaway’s private collection. He also steals some artwork from some people. Effortlessly cool, it’s a study in mod everything – from clothes to furnishing to attitudes, and it represents a version of the 1960s where mutants aren’t constantly trying to stop the US and USSR from blowing each other up near Cuba.

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With the “Sunrise” section of Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathrustra” blasting, the unforgettable marriage of space imagery and classical music comes together with full force. The old meeting something so new it hasn’t been seen yet. Stanley Kubrick trucked in tons and tons of sand to make the moon in this iconic sci-fi masterpiece (that’s not nearly as action-packed as some feel led to believe). He also provided the breathing noises for inside the spacesuits, although it’s debatable which took more effort. Of course, special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull also claimed that they shot 200 times more footage than made it into the movie, a claim that’s difficult to believe, considering that would mean they shot close to 536 hours of film. Hopefully you enjoy this trailer for its beauty and lack of plot. That’s all for us today. See you next Wednesday.

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Right in between Dr. Strangelove and Casino Royale, Peter Sellers played a crazed doctor named Fritz Fassbender for a little flick called What’s New Pussycat?, and the result was a comedy about as offbeat as they get. The Woody Allen-scripted movie saw Sellers teaming with Peter O’Toole to explore the randomness and destruction of romance. O’Toole plays a wealthy cad who refuses to lead the married life with the woman he loves, opting instead for tons of casual sex. Burdened by the issue, he seeks the guidance of the crazed Fassbender who has more than a few romance problems himself. Some of it makes sense, most of it doesn’t, and the trailer captures that hilarious spirit perfectly.

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There are few figures as frightening as Gloria Swanson‘s Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. Freddy? Jason? Leatherface? All of them cower in fear as she walks down the staircase. It was the capstone to her career, and a meta experience in more ways than one, but on a simpler level, it was nominated for an unbelievable 11 Oscars (and won 3 of them). What apparently deserved awards for Best Music, Best Black and White Art Direction, and Best Writing became an enduring force of a film that still thrills to this day. Fortunately, this trailer is just as ethereal and mysterious as the movie itself.

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From another world…from another galaxy… This terror from beyond is actually from the world of Don Dohler – a schlock master. An alien menace has come to earth to eat people for some reason, and the town is at the mercy of its laser blasts and its constant look of surprise. You won’t get a great example of it in the trailer, but some of the film’s music was done by a young J.J. Abrams.

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There’s no real reason to even write an intro here. Chances are if you saw Super 8 already it made you strangely hungry for Reese’s Pieces. This story about an alien whose face was designed to look like Albert Einstein and Carl Sandburg gave birth to a pug (not a joke) is beyond iconic. It’s even literally iconic in the fact that its main image has become the symbol of Amblin entertainment. We may not have a trailer for Night Skies, but we’ve got one for E.T. If Poltergeist represented the dark side of suburban life, this represented the (incredibly frightening) lighter side.

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It’s Spielberg week around here, so hop on your bike and join us on an adventure that involves dirty criminals, dirty pirates, and mortgage-saving gold. The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner, is the kind of fantasy that a lot of children had growing up. They knew something was happening, changing in their neighborhood. They knew that their parents were in some sort of trouble that was too grown up to really grasp, and they wanted to do something to fix everything. Fortunately, a pirate left a ton of treasure to help them out. Now to avoid all the booty traps to get to it. There is a ton of trivia surrounding this movie, but maybe my favorite is that Data has “007″ inscribed on his belt, because, as we all know, Data was always a bigger bad ass than Bond. The other contender is the fact that the children weren’t allowed to see the pirate ship until they filmed the scene of them discovering it. That’s a play right out of the Willy Wonka playbook, and apparently the Goonies take had to be redone because some of the kids cursed.

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For anyone who’s ever stared into the television and said, “They’re here,” – this one’s for you. This trailer for the Tobe Hooper-directed Steven Spielberg-directed Tobe Hooper-directed horror flick knows what scares you. As most realize, Spielberg produced this film back-to-back with E.T. and the feel of both films is remarkably similar even with different boogeymen. However, in this one, Spielberg instilled his own childhood fear of clowns and of a spooky tree outside his bedroom window into the move. It’s a cultural icon (that was almost scripted by Stephen King), and, on a personal note, isn’t it great to see Zelda Rubenstein on screen again if only for a brief moment?

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Those who scoped out yesterday’s trailer will notice a distinctly Spielbergian feel to this week’s vintage trailers, so hopefully that Amblin logo will be swirling around your head all week. It isn’t present in this teaser, but there’s something about a pair of high top sneakers kicking the tires on a soon-to-be iconic vehicle that makes me giddy. Back to the Future is a rare type of universal movie that’s equal parts entertainment and enlightenment. Plus, it treats time travel extremely well, which is a bonus. We see a lot of teaser trailers these days, but it’s fascinating to look back on this short spot meant only to titillate and recapture some of the thrill that people on the edge of seeing this movie in 1985 would have felt. The only difference is that they have no idea what they’re in for. This trailer is a machine that converts nostalgia into anticipation.

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We named the dog Indiana. The highest grossing film of 1981 has since become a modern legend after launching a series of films that are beloved by millions. The hat, the whip, the swagger, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford introduced the world to a man who was smart enough for the classroom and rough enough to fistfight pirates. This trailer is an epic look at that man’s adventure, trying to recover a radio for speaking to God.

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published: 04.18.2014
A
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+

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