Robert Preston

The Last Starfighter

Jeremy’s still hobnobbing around Austin at the South by Southwest Film Festival, so he doesn’t have time to listen to a commentary track. He’s watching too many movies for the first time. So I’m stepping in to travel in time back to 1984 to have another go at The Last Starfighter. If you’re a child of the 80s like me, a lot of your movie-going interests were defined by the Star Wars movies. But once those movies wrapped up in the first third of that decade with the prequels (and alleged sequels) more than a dozen years away, a great void was left. I was about thirteen years old when The Last Starfighter came to theaters in the summer of 1984, and it tapped into the same wonder and excitement that the first three Star Wars were about. I was looking for another story about a very average teenager who comes from nowhere special to fight in an interstellar war against some really bad dudes. The thing that made The Last Starfighter different from every other movie of that decade was its then-groundbreaking and now-rudimentary use of digital effects. Only Tron had been so bold with digital environments before, and The Last Starfighter literally gave us something we hadn’t seen before. The 1999 “Widescreen Collector’s Edition” of The Last Starfighter DVD included a commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb. Sure, the commentary includes dated 90s references to pagers and the like, and both Castle and Cobb […]

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It’s hard to believe that Robert Preston, who owned the role of flim-flam man Harold Hill, had to wait until Cary Grant turned it down in order to be asked for the part. Thankfully, Grant passed. Oddly enough, Warners’ first choice was Frank Sinatra (which definitely would have been interesting), but Meredith Wilson (who wrote the music) demanded Preston’s presence in order to make the movie version. The result is an incredible musical that focuses on the long con, a sweet librarian, and the letter T.

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Every Sunday in September, Film School Rejects will present a musical that was made before you were born and tell you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Musicals breaks the rules to present a story of a flim-flam man selling a small town of stubborn Iowans a boys’ band and selling a particularly blonde, stubborn Iowan on love. You won’t be able to resist the charms of The Music Man.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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