Tony Curtis

Missing in the Mansion Hatbox Ghost

Films have been shot at Disney theme parks since before Disneyland even opened in 1955. The year before, Walt Disney personally offered a sneak peek of what was to come in the pilot episode of Disneyland. And specials made for TV and souvenir videos continued from there, whether it was to show the attraction on its opening day or offer virtual tours of the park or introduce new additions or to celebrate some anniversary or another. The same goes for Walt Disney World following its opening 16 years later. Once in a while, though, something makes its way out of the parks that’s not made by Disney. Even then, it might be with permission, as in the 1962 Universal release 40 Pounds of Trouble, which features an extensive chase sequence through Disneyland (watch Tony Curtis and some Keystone-esque cops run around Main Street here). And the Matterhorn scene in That Thing You Do (directed by the guy who would later portray Disney). But there’s also Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow, a movie that shocked audiences at Sundance this year with its unauthorized guerrilla shoot at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Escape is hardly the first movie to get away with secretly capturing material on location at Disneyland, however. And now that it’s out in theaters and on VOD, this is a good time to highlight three such clandestine pieces of cinema.

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Culture Warrior

Tomorrow, the Sacha Baron Cohen-starring, Larry Charles-directed The Dictator opens. Unlike the previous two docu-prank collaborations between Charles and Cohen, the humor of the fully staged Dictator doesn’t so much rely on the reactions of ‘real people’ to an idiosyncratic foreigner as it uses its fish-out-of-water arc to chronicle the pseudo-enlightened changes that its eponymous character experiences (this is all based on the film’s advertising – I have yet to see it). With its riches-to-rags narrative, The Dictator seems to be the newest iteration of a long tradition in Hollywood comedy: the story of the redeemable asshole. It’s rather appropriate that the teaser trailer for Anchorman 2 will be premiering in front of The Dictator.  Will Ferrell has made the redeemable asshole into something of an art form in his collaborations with Adam McKay. Ferrell’s often narcissistic, privileged, ignorant, and empathy-challenged creations should, by any measure of any other genre (audiences are far less tolerant of asshole protags in, say, dramedys) be reviled by audiences. But we ultimately find something redeemable, even lovable, in Ferrell’s jerks, even if this surface-level redemption overshadows the fact that they never quite achieve the level of self-awareness that would actually redeem one from assholedom. These are characters we would likely avoid in nearly any real-life circumstance, but yet we go see movies about them learning life lessons which add up to little more than common knowledge for the rest of us. The redeemable asshole is often a white male who is conniving, manipulative, entitled, […]

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Criterion Files

The 1980s proved to be an interesting and difficult time for auteurs of the 1960s and 1970s. Directors like Copolla, Scorsese, De Palma, Altman, etc. offered works that were far from their classics of the previous decade, but many of these films have aged well and proven to be compelling entries within the respective ouvres of these directors precisely because they aren’t part of their canon. While British director Nicolas Roeg did not play a central part in New Hollywood in the same way as the directors I listed, his 1970s work was certainly part and parcel of this brief countercultural revolution in narrative storytelling. I see Roeg as something of a British equivalent to Hal Ashby: someone who made brilliant entry after brilliant entry throughout a single decade, only to fade out of the spotlight once the 1980s began. But unlike the late Ashby, Roeg has continued making films during these years, and The Criterion Collection has taken one of his most perplexing entries from the era of Reagan and Alf out of obscurity. Insignificance (1985) is a strange film about a strange time. Based on the play by Terry Johnson, Insignificance stages an impossible meeting between iconoclastic minds as the likenesses of Marilyn Monroe (Roeg’s then-wife Teresa Russell), Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), and Sen. Joe McCarthy (Tony Curtis) move in an out of a hotel room as they share a variety of 50s-topical dramatic scenarios.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Billy Wilder’s career is a lengthy one, full of highly acclaimed features. But out of all the great films that he made over the course of forty some years, Some Like It Hot may be the most famous. And when you talk about what his masterpiece was creatively, it’s often mentioned right up there with movies like Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment. But I guess that’s no surprise, it’s got Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis acting like ladies and Marilyn Monroe slinking around in cocktail dresses. That’s memorable stuff. Ted Kotcheff’s career was a lengthy but unspectacular one. He mostly did TV work and is probably best known for being the guy who directed the original Rambo film First Blood. But what I best remember him for is a movie about two guys and a dead dude called Weekend at Bernie’s. I must have watched it about a million times on HBO when I was growing up. These days, when you mention it, people talk about it like it’s a joke; but I guess that’s because Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy didn’t quite become Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, and Terry Kiser is no Marilyn Monroe.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. If there’s one thing that movies have taught us, it’s that when you witness a mob killing you have to dress like a woman and join an all-girl jazz band that’s touring the sunnier areas of the country. Also, you just might find love with Marilyn Monroe. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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oam-somelikeithot

Joe and Jerry are two musicians who see a mob murder and decide to go into hiding in an all-female band. The gorgeous Sugar Kane Kowalcyk is part of the troupe, which might just be two good reasons to stay in hiding.

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Operation Petticoat

Throw a bunch of free-spirited, unqualified men and women together in uniform and see where the wacky antics leads.

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