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#086 John Ford: The Grapes of Wrath vs. Tobacco Road




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare John Ford’s best and worst rated films, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Tobacco Road (1941), respectively. Nate hates old people, Austin has a crush on Henry Fonda, and they both are surprised at the lack of western.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York (2008) and Anomalisa (2015), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director John Ford:


Tobacco Road Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A poor family in rural Georgia struggles to make ends meet as the clan’s father proudly refuses help at every turn.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.6 | RT N/A C / 36% A
  • Released: 1940
  • Director: John Ford
  • Writer(s): Erskine Caldwell (based on the novel by), Jack Kirkland (stage play), Nunnally Johnson (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Arthur C. Miller (Anna and the King of Siam, The Song of Bernadette)
  • Notable actors: Charley Grapewin, Marjorie Rambeau, Gene Tierney, William Tracy, Elizabeth Patterson, Dana Andrews, Slim Summerville, Ward Bond
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: $1.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews get barely 5 minutes of screen time each. Gene gets just half a dozen lines to speak
    • The Broadway play by Jack Kirkland based on Erskine Caldwell’s novel opened 4 December 1933 and set a record for longevity on Broadway when it closed on 31 May 1941 after 3,281 performances. It was revived on Broadway twice in the next two years, bring its total running time there to nearly ten years (1933-1943). Opened at the Theatre Masque and then moved to the 48th Street Theatre followed by the Forrest Theatre for the original production. The play was revived in 1942, 1943 and 1950. The original Broadway production is the seventeenth longest running show ever as of February, 2013.
    • The early-1941 Ford Super De Luxe Convertible Club Coupe, driven by Harvey Parry, survived its ordeal. During filming it had been crashed into a 100-year-old sycamore tree, then backed out of the debris and driven fast to jump over a 20-foot stream (with the aid of a ramp), and thereafter smashed through several fences, sideswiped a two-ton truck (forcing the truck off the road), rammed through a tool shed (cut from final release), jumped a curb, splintered a park bench, rammed a station wagon, ran into two other trees and skidded until finally overturning. Following this, the car was set right by the crew and driven back to the studio by Parry. A studio employee, Arthur Webb, purchased the badly-damaged convertible from 20th Century-Fox and, with his brother Don, commenced to repair it with hundreds of hours of personal labor and $125 in new parts from a Beverly Hills dealership.
    • The movie was banned in Australia for unspecified reasons, but generally had few censorship problems.

The Grapes of Wrath Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.1 | RT 100% C / 88% A
  • Released: 1940
  • Director: John Ford
  • Writer(s): Nunnally Johnson (screenplay), John Steinbeck (based on the novel by)
  • Cinematographer: Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, Wuthering Heights, The Best Years of Our Lives)
  • Notable actors: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin, Dorris Bowdon, Russell Simpson, O.Z. Whitehead, John Qualen, Eddie Quillan, Zeffie Tilbury, Frank Sully
  • Budget: $800 thousand
  • Box office: $2.5 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Prior to filming, producer Darryl F. Zanuck sent undercover investigators out to the migrant camps to see if John Steinbeck had been exaggerating about the squalor and unfair treatment meted out there. He was horrified to discover that, if anything, Steinbeck had actually downplayed what went on in the camps.
    • John Steinbeck loved the movie and said that Henry Fonda as Tom Joad made him “believe my own words”.
    • John Ford banned all makeup and perfume from the set on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the tone of the picture.
    • John Steinbeck was particularly enamored with the performance of Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, feeling that he perfectly encapsulated everything he wanted to convey with this character. The two became good friends. Indeed Fonda did a reading at Steinbeck’s funeral.
    • Henry Fonda kept the hat he wore in the movie for the rest of his life, until before he passed away in 1982 he gave it to his old friend Jane Withers. Apparently he and Withers, when she was an 8 year old girl and he a young man, did a play together before Fonda made movies. Fonda was so nervous to go onstage that little Jane took his hand, said a little prayer to ease his nerves, and the two of them became good friends for life.
    • The pro-union stance of the film led to both John Steinbeck and John Ford being investigated by Congress during the McCarthy “Red Scare” era for alleged pro-Communist leanings.
    • While filming the Joads’ car traveling down the highway, John Ford wanted to add a shot showing the large number of caravans heading west, so the film’s business manager stopped actual cars making the trek and paid the drivers five dollars to escort the Joads’ jalopy for the cameras.
    • Noah Joad simply vanishes after the scene of the family swimming in the Colorado River. In the book, Noah tells Tom he has decided to stay by the river. In the film, his disappearance is never explained.
    • The production had a fake working title, “Highway 66”, so that the shoot of the controversial novel would not be affected by union problems. Much of the dire straits portrayed in the film continued during and after the release of the movie.
    • When Darryl F. Zanuck suggested to John Ford that, to create an upbeat ending, he use Ma Joad’s “we’re the people” monologue for a closing scene, Ford told Zanuck to direct it himself – which he did.
    • The film was one of the first to be voted onto the National Film Registry (1989).
    • Although John Carradine hated John Ford’s bullying style of direction, he nevertheless made eleven films with him over a period of 28 years. Ford was particularly keen on Carradine’s unusual look.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#085 Jonathan Demme: The Silence of the Lambs vs. The Truth About Charlie




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Jonathan Demme’s best and worst rated films, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Truth About Charlie (2002), respectively. Nate talks bad about Markie Mark, Austin wishes he were Buffalo Bill, and they both record the podcast with some fava beans and a nice Chianti — thfthfthfthf.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Tobacco Road (1941), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Jonathan Demme about his work on The Silence of the Lambs:


The Truth About Charlie Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A woman returns from holiday to find her husband has been murdered, and several groups of people are pressuring her to unravel the mystery of his true identity and activities during his final days.

  • Ratings: IMDb 4.8 | RT 33% C / 27% A
  • Released: 2002
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Writer(s): Peter Stone (Charade screenplay), Jonathan Demme & Steve Schmidt and Peter Stone and Jessica Bendinger (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: A New Hope, Signs)
  • Notable actors: Stephen Dillane, Thandie Newton, Sakina Jaffrey, Mark Wahlberg, Christine Boisson, Simon Abkarian, Joong-Hoon Park, LisaGay Hamilton, Ted Levine, Tim Robbins
  • Budget: $60 million
  • Box office: $7.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Mark Wahlberg considers this his worst film.
    • Peter Stone, the writer of Charade (1963) (the basis for the movie) was so against this remake, that in some releases of this movie, his screenwriting credit was changed to Peter Joshua, the name of Cary Grant’s character in Charade.
    • The part of Joshua Peters was originally intended for Will Smith, but due to the extended production on Ali (2001), he was unable to make the start of filming on Charlie, so Demme had to move forward with Mark Wahlberg instead, losing the Thandie Newton and Will Smith “double-act” he had imagined watching the original movie Charade (1963).
    • The movie contains numerous connections to French New Wave films. Reference is made to Shoot the Piano Player (1960) and its star, Charles Aznavour, has a singing role at the end of this movie. Anna Karina, featured in several Jean-Luc Godard films, has a bit part.

The Silence of the Lambs Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.6 | RT 95% C / 95% A
  • Released: 1991
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Writer(s): Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: A New Hope, Signs)
  • Notable actors: Jodie Foster, Kasi Lemmons, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Don Brockett, Anthony Hopkins, Brooke Smith, Ted Levine
  • Budget: $19 million
  • Box office: $272.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In preparation for his role, Sir Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons, and studied convicted murderers, and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killings.
    • Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster’s horrified reaction was genuine, she felt personally attacked. She later thanked Hopkins for generating such an honest reaction.
    • Jame Gumb is the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement. Gein was only positively linked to two murders, and suspected of two others. He gathered most of his materials through grave robbing, not murder.
    • When Sir Anthony Hopkins found out that he was cast as Hannibal Lecter, based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980), he questioned Director Jonathan Demme, and said, “But Dr. Treves was a good man.” To which Demme replied, “So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind.”
    • When Sir Anthony Hopkins’ agent called him in London, to tell him that he was sending him a script called “The Silence of the Lambs”, Hopkins immediately thought he might be going up for a children’s movie.
    • With twenty-four minutes and fifty-two seconds of screentime, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ performance in this movie is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in Separate Tables (1958) beating him, at twenty-three minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
    • Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of the film.
    • After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Sir Anthony Hopkins convinced Jonathan Demme and Costume Designer Colleen Atwood that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists.
    • One of the inspirations, from whom Sir Anthony Hopkins borrowed, for his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter, was a friend of his in London who never blinked, which unnerved anyone around him.
    • Jodie Foster spent a great deal of time with F.B.I. Agent Mary Ann Krause prior to filming. Krause gave Foster the idea of Starling standing by her car crying. Krause told Foster that at times, the work just became so overwhelming that it was a good way to get an emotional release.
    • Jame Gumb’s dance was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine, who thought the scene was essential in defining the character.
    • The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel, and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington. Bundy was executed January 24, 1989. The Green River Killings were finally solved in 2001, when Gary Ridgway was arrested. On November 5, 2003, in a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway plead guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#084 Terrence Malick: Badlands vs. Knight of Cups




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Terrence Malick’s best and worst rated films, Badlands (1973) and Knight of Cups (2015), respectively. Nate needs to watch more experimental films, Austin gets seduced by Martin Sheen, and neither of them have any idea what Knight of Cups is about.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973) and Knight of Cups (2015), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with actor Christian Bale about working with director Terrence Malick on Knight of Cups:


Knight of Cups Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

  • Ratings: IMDb 5.7 | RT 45% C / 37% A
  • Released: 2015
  • Director: Terrence Malick
  • Writer(s): Terrence Malick (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman, The Revenant, Children of Men)
  • Notable actors: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer, Imogen Poots
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: $1.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • According to Christian Bale, Terrence Malick didn’t tell the actors what the film was about.
    • There was no script. All of the scenes were improvised.
    • Christian Bale had no lines to learn and Terrence Malick only gave him the character description.
    • During filming Terrence Malick would use a technique he called “torpedoing” where he would unexpectedly send people into the scene to get a reaction from the actors who were performing.
    • Christian Bale said that at the start of each day’s shoot he wouldn’t know what would happen to his character.
    • During filming, Christian Bale thought Teresa Palmer was a stripper. It was not until about a week after working with her, he suddenly saw a billboard with her face on it and realized that she is an actress.
    • Christian Bale and Natalie Portman both said that they spent more days on the voice-over work for the movie than they did on the actual shooting of the film.

Badlands Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.9 | RT 98% C / 91% A
  • Released: 1973
  • Director: Terrence Malick
  • Writer(s): Terrence Malick (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto, Steve Larner, Brian Probyn
  • Notable actors: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri, Alan Vint
  • Budget: $300 thousand
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • The actor originally cast as the architect that rings at the rich man’s door did not show up, so Terrence Malick played the part himself. Malick later wanted to re-shoot the scene with another actor, but Martin Sheen refused to re-do the sequence with another person.
    • Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez’s (Martin Sheen’s sons) feature film debut. Uncredited, both play boys under a lamppost.
    • Sissy Spacek met her future husband, art director Jack Fisk, on the set of this movie. As of November 2015, they have collaborated on eight feature films.
    • The film’s tag line (“In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people”) inspired the Zodiac Killer, who had been lying low for years, to write a letter to a newspaper denouncing their flippant attitude to violence in society by running such an ad.
    • The film’s plot and lead characters are based on Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate. In 1958, they embarked on a murder spree that horrified the country.
    • Charles Starkweather had been executed by the time the film started production, but Caril Fugate was still alive and facing parole. The filmmakers changed the principal characters’ names to avoid a lawsuit.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#083 Yorgos Lanthimos: Dogtooth vs. Alps




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Yorgos Lanthimos’ best and worst rated films, Dogtooth (2009) and Alps (2011), respectively. Nate feels like he’s watching a porno, Austin exclusively watches Black Mirror, and they both sounding pretentious about experimental films.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973) and Knight of Cups (2015), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Yorgos Lanthimos about his new film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer:


Alps Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A group of people start a business where they impersonate the recently deceased in order to help their clients through the grieving process.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.4 | RT 74% C / 52% A
  • Released: 2011
  • Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Writer(s): Efthymis Filippou (screenplay), Yorgos Lanthimos (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Christos Voudouris (Before Midnight, Love Is Strange)
  • Notable actors: Angeliki Papoulia, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris, Ariane Labed
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • The 15 Rules of the Alps: An Alps member: 1. Must declare in advance the things he or she is unwilling to do by filling out Form 1 (e.g. kissing, lifting weights, travelling, etc.). 2. Must also declare in advance the things he or she is good at by filling out Form 2 (e.g. dancing, waterskiing, discussing, etc.). 3. Must have some basic knowledge of psychology and sociology. 4. Is obliged to support, under all circumstances, the interests of the Alps group. 5. Must respect other Alps members. 6. Has the right to change their nickname only twice. They cannot choose a nickname belonging to another Alps member. The nickname must strictly be the name of a mountain in the Alps, and not something general or irrelevant (e.g. Blonde, Master, Dragon, etc.). 7. Can never talk about Alps activities with non-Alps members. 8. Is obliged to take the Gymnastics Club Test, if necessary. 9. Must be over 14 years of age. 10. Should always be smart, clean, punctual, and in complete control. 11. Must never get emotionally involved with clients, or have intimate relations with them. 12. Cannot change his or her physical appearance without the Leader’s permission (e.g. dye their hair, lose or gain weight, wear coloured contact lenses, etc.). 13. Must be able to make convincing facial expressions (sadness, happiness, despair, etc.). 14. Must honor the title of their membership, and be ready to kill or die for it. 15. Must never attack another Alps member, and must believe in teamwork.
    • Efthymis Filippou, screenwriter, had to step in as the “owner of the lighting shop” two days before shooting of the film started.

Dogtooth Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Three teenagers live isolated, without leaving their house, because their over-protective parents say they can only leave when their dogtooth falls out.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.3 | RT 92% C / 75% A
  • Released: 2009
  • Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Writer(s): Efthymis Filippou (writer), Yorgos Lanthimos (writer)
  • Cinematographer: Thimios Bakatakis (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster)
  • Notable actors: Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Angeliki Papoulia, Hristos Passalis, Mary Tsoni, Anna Kalaitzidou
  • Budget: $240 thousand
  • Box office: $1.4 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The entire film was shot on only one lens: an anamorphic lens with 50mm focal length.
    • The inspiration for the film came about because of a discussion Yorgos Lanthimos was having with some friends who were about to get married. When Lanthimos expressed doubts about the institution and family itself, he was struck by the idea about what would happen to a man who went to the ultimate extreme of protecting his family.
    • The first film from Greece to be officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival in a decade.
    • Because the subject matter was so claustrophobic, the choice was made to set the film in as big and expansive a house as the production could find, complete with swimming pool and enormous garden.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#082 John Schlesinger: Midnight Cowboy vs. Honky Tonk Freeway




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare John Schlesinger’s best and worst rated films, Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Honky Tonk Freeway (1981), respectively. Nate is not a Honky Tonk happy camper, Austin talks about his feelings on Dustin Hoffman, and they both confront their masculinity.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Yorgos Lamthimos’s Dogtooth (2009) and Alps (2011), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview revisiting the cast and crew of Midnight Cowbow:


Honky Tonk Freeway Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Ticlaw, a small town in Florida, has only one attraction: a safari park. The government constructs a freeway that passes near Ticlaw, but decides not to put an exit into the town. The people of Ticlaw, led by its Mayor, will do anything in order to convince the governor to alter the project.

  • Ratings: IMDb 5.0 | RT N/A C / 51% A
  • Released: 1981
  • Director: John Schlesinger
  • Writer(s): Edward Clinton
  • Cinematographer: John Bailey (In the Line of Fire, Antitrust, Silverado)
  • Notable actors: David Rasche, Paul Jabara, Howard Hesseman, Teri Garr, Jenn Thompson, Peter Billingsley, Beau Bridges, Beverly D’Angelo, Daniel Stern
  • Budget: $24 million
  • Box office: $2 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The entire town of Mount Dora, Florida, was painted pink for this picture.
    • Due to delays in filming the movie, the Mount Dora section of the picture was was pushed back until the 1980 summer when it had meant to shoot there in spring.
    • When released, its $24 million budget made it the most expensive comedy ever produced. It was a major failure at the box office.
    • Director John Schlesinger’s original cut was somewhere in the range of three hours.
    • Two thousand extras and background artists in Mount Dora, Florida were paid around US $35 per day to appear in the film.
    • According to Pulse the Magazine, “the film had been fraught with problems, from a disjointed script to its title – and marketing that implied it was just ‘…another car crash comedy romp’. This was compounded by the producers’ decision to sell the video rights before Universal Pictures agreed to release the film. Angered by this, Universal minimized their marketing support and limited the number of theaters in which the film was shown. Withdrawn from theaters just a week after its release, the movie disappeared”.

Midnight Cowboy Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.9 | RT 90% C / 88% A
  • Released: 1969
  • Director: John Schlesinger
  • Writer(s): Waldo Salt (screenplay), James Leo Herlihy (based on the novel by)
  • Cinematographer: Adam Holender (Smoke, Twisted, Sea of Love)
  • Notable actors: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Barnard Hughes, Ruth White, Jennifer Salt, Gilman Rankin
  • Budget: $3.2 million
  • Box office: $44.8 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Before Dustin Hoffman auditioned for this film, he knew that his all-American image could easily cost him the job. To prove he could do it, he asked the auditioning film executive to meet him on a street corner in Manhattan, and in the meantime, dressed himself in filthy rags. The executive arrived at the appointed corner and waited, barely noticing the “beggar” less than ten feet away who was accosting people for spare change. At last, the beggar walked up to him and revealed his true identity.
    • Dustin Hoffman put in so much effort portraying one of Ratso’s coughing fits that one time he actually ended up vomiting.
    • According to Dustin Hoffman himself, the taxi incident *wasn’t* scripted. During an L.A. Times interview in Jan. 2009, he said that the movie didn’t have a permit to close down the NYC street for filming, so they had to set-up the scene with a hidden camera in a van driving down the street, and remote microphones for the actors. After 15 takes, it was finally going well, but this time, as they crossed the street, a taxi ran a red light. Hoffman wanted to say “Hey, we’re SHOOTING here!”, not only from fear of his life, but also from anger that the taxi driver might have ruined the take. Instead, being the professional that he is, he stayed in character and shouted “Hey, we’re WALKING here!” and made movie history. Jon Voight also backs up this version of the incident, saying that seeing how well Hoffman was handling the situation, he likewise stayed in character.
    • Dustin Hoffman kept pebbles in his shoe to ensure his limp would be consistent from shot to shot.
    • The film was rated “X” (no one under 17 admitted) upon its original release in 1969, but the unrestricted use of that rating by pornographic filmmakers caused the rating to quickly become associated with hardcore sex films. Because of the stigma that developed around the “X” rating in the ratings system’s early years, many theaters refused to run “X” films and many newspapers would not run ads for them. The film was given a new “R” (children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian) rating in 1971, without having anything changed or removed. It remains the only X-Rated film ever to win the Oscar for Best Picture, be shown on network TV (although the R reclassification had taken place by then), or be screened by a sitting U.S. President, Richard Nixon.
    • Bob Dylan wrote the song “Lay, Lady, Lay” for the film, but didn’t complete it in time to be included in the soundtrack.
    • This film contains the first recorded use of the word “scuzzy”, as a description of Ratso Rizzo. At its root, “scuzzy” is apparently a combination of “scummy” and “fuzzy”.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#081 Sam Raimi: Evil Dead 2 vs. Spider-Man 3




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Sam Raimi’ best and worst rated films, Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Spider-Man 3 (2007), respectively. Nate goes on about horror films again, Austin has a nostalgia trip, and they both go off on tangents.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and The Brothers Bloom (2008), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Sam Raimi about his lowest rated film, Spider-Man 3:


Spider-Man 3 Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A strange black entity from another world bonds with Peter Parker and causes inner turmoil as he contends with new villains, temptations, and revenge.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 63% C / 51% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Writer(s): Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent (screenplay), Saim Raimi & Ivan Raimi (screen story), Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel comic book)
  • Cinematographer: Bill Pope (The Matrix, The Jungle Book, Bound)
  • Notable actors: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell, Theresa Russell, Dylan Baker, Bill Nunn, Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Banks, Ted Raimi, Perla Haney-Jardine, Willem Dafoe, Cliff Robertson
  • Budget: $258 million
  • Box office: $890.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • On May 4th, 2007, while promoting the film on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992), Thomas Haden Church revealed that he broke three knuckles during the subway scene where he swings to punch Spider-Man and ends up punching a chunk of the wall away. Church said that the effects crew had told him that the brick in the middle was fake while the upper and lower ones were real. Unfortunately, the foam brick had not actually been put in place yet, and when Sam Raimi yelled ‘action’, Church spun around and punched the real brick on the first take.
    • All of the screams Kirsten Dunst had for this film were recycled from Spider-Man 2 (2004).
    • Bryce Dallas Howard performed her own stunts during the crane accident scene, unaware that she was pregnant at the time of filming.
    • In total, the film took 2 years and 10 months to make.
    • There were many scenes that were shot but never released on DVD including a montage of Peter (in his black suit) taking down criminals and leaving them strung up, tons of character-building moments, a confrontation scene between Captain Stacy and Eddie Brock (where Gwen dumps him at her father’s house) and Peter freaking out after he looks in a mirror and sees a nightmarish version of the Venom symbiote screaming at him.
    • It was considered at one point to split the movie into two films.
    • One of the sounds used for Venom is of a Tasmanian Devil.
    • According to James Franco, they had to go back and do some re-shoots just prior to the release, because test audiences felt that there was not enough action in the film.

Evil Dead 2 Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.8 | RT 98% C / 89% A
  • Released: 1987
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Writer(s): Sam Raimi & Scott Spiegel (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Peter Deming (Twin Peaks, Oz the Great and Powerful, Mulholland Drive)
  • Notable actors: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Ted Raimi, Denise Bixler
  • Budget: $3.6 million
  • Box office: $5.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • During the scene where the severed head of Linda bites Ash’s hand, Bruce Campbell says the single line “work shed”. This line was later re-dubbed in post-production due to the quality of the audio, giving it a strange, slightly “disproportionate” sound to the audio. Nine years later, while filming his cameo in Escape from L.A. (1996), the first thing Kurt Russell said to Bruce Campbell on the set was, jokingly, “Say ‘work shed'”.
    • Stephen King was such a huge fan of The Evil Dead (1981) that he convinced producer Dino De Laurentiis over dinner (who was producing King’s Maximum Overdrive (1986) at the time) to have his production company DEG (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group) finance Evil Dead II.
    • Often considered to be a remake of The Evil Dead (1981); however, this is not accurate. The rights to show scenes from the original could not be obtained to re-cap what happened, so the beginning was remade to explain how Ash got to the cabin, etc.
    • The recap of The Evil Dead (1981) includes a shot where the “evil force” runs through the cabin and rams into Ash. When this shot was filmed, Bruce Campbell suffered a broken jaw when Sam Raimi (who was operating the camera) crashed into him with a bicycle – or so people were led to believe. This was a story concocted by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell as a gag to see how many people would believe it actually happened.
    • Most of the film was shot on a set built inside the gymnasium of the JR Faison Junior High School in Wadesboro, North Carolina.
    • Ash’s chainsaw appears to switch hands in one scene. This is because Sam Raimi decided Ash should walk the opposite way across the room in that scene, so he flipped the negative.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#080 George Lucas: Star Wars: A New Hope vs. The Phantom Menace w/ guests Zamar Massey and Daniel Gonzales




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare George Lucas’ best and worst rated films, Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999), respectively. Nate talks shit on Georgie, Austin thinks he may have gone too far in some places, and Zamar and Daniel argue about how bad the prequels really are.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST for our 81st episode where we will compare Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II (1987) and Crimewave (1985), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director George Lucas about the first prequel, The Phantom Menace:


The Phantom Menace Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their old glory.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.5 | RT 55% C / 59% A
  • Released: 1999
  • Director: George Lucas
  • Writer(s): George Lucas
  • Cinematographer: David Tattersall (The Green Mile, Die Another Day, Con Air)
  • Notable actors: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Pernilla August, Oliver Ford Davies, Hugh Quarshie, Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Terence Stamp, Brian Blessed, Andy Secombe, Ray Park, Lewis Macleod, Warwick Davis, Steve Speirs, Samuel L. Jackson, Sofia Coppola, Keira Knightley
  • Budget: $115 million
  • Box office: $1.027 billion
  • Fun Facts:
    • During filming, Ewan McGregor made lightsaber noises as he dueled. It was noted and corrected during post-production.
    • 20th Century Fox released the first trailer, with strict instructions that it not be shown before a certain date. When a Canadian movie theater accidentally showed it a day early, they lost the rights to show the movie.
    • Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala) missed the premiere party in New York City, because she had to go home to study for her high school final exams.
    • After the film’s end credits finish rolling, the sound effect of Darth Vader’s breathing can be heard.
    • During the first week of the first trailer’s release, many theaters reported up to 75 percent of their audiences paying full price for a movie, then walking out after the Star Wars: Episode I trailer was shown.
    • According to Star Wars canon, Obi-Wan’s hanging braid is a Jedi tradition common to all Padawan Learners. When his Master feels that he has reached proper maturity, he cuts the braid with his lightsaber, signifying that the student is now a full Jedi Knight.
    • Natalie Portman’s voice was digitally enhanced to distinguish between Padmé and Queen Amidala.
    • Sets were built only as high as the tops of the actors’ heads and computer graphics filled in the rest. Liam Neeson was so tall, that he cost the set crew an extra 150,000 dollars in construction.
    • Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is a redecorated Sensor Excel Razor for Women.
    • When fully dressed, and in make-up, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley resembled each other so much, that even Knightley’s mother Sharman Macdonald, who visited the set, had trouble identifying her own daughter.
    • The word lightsaber is never used in the film and is ultimately the only Star Wars film that does not have a single character to speak the word. When Anakin talks to Qui-Gon he calls it a “laser sword”.
    • The sound of the underwater monsters growling near the beginning of the film was made by the main sound technician’s three-year-old daughter. The sound of her crying was recorded, and the frequency lowered to obtain the sound heard in the film.
    • Benicio Del Toro was originally set to play Darth Maul. Del Toro left the film after George Lucas took most of Maul’s lines out of the film.
    • At the time of the film’s release, the producers ran a disinformation campaign to suggest that Natalie Portman played both Padmé and The Queen at all times. In fact, they are not always the same person. For many sections of the film, notably those where The Queen is wearing the black outfit with the huge feather headdress, she is actually a decoy, played by Keira Knightley. The real queen, Portman, is actually disguised as a handmaiden. Various conflicting public statements make it extremely difficult to figure out who is who. Whole websites are devoted to figuring out which actress is playing which handmaiden or The Queen at any given point.
    • Ewan McGregor studied many of Alec Guinness’ films, including Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), to ensure accuracy in everything from his accent to pacing of his words.
    • Liam Neeson convinced George Lucas to keep a scene where Qui-Gon Jinn puts his hand on Shmi Skywalker’s shoulder. Lucas felt this might be out of character for the monk-like Jedi, but Neeson thought there should be an emotional connection between the characters. In an interview with Premiere magazine, Neeson defended his action, saying, “It may be ‘Star Wars’, but we’ve got to have something in there for the adults.”

A New Hope Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.7 | RT 93% C / 96% A
  • Released: 1977
  • Director: George Lucas
  • Writer(s): George Lucas
  • Cinematographer: Gilbert Taylor (Dr. Strangelove, The Omen)
  • Notable actors: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Phil Brown, Shelagh Fraser, Jack Purvis
  • Budget: $11 million
  • Box office: $775.4 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • George Lucas was so sure the film would flop that instead of attending the premiere, he went on vacation to Hawaii with his good friend Steven Spielberg, where they came up with the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
    • In early drafts of the script, R2-D2 could speak standard English, and he had a rather foul vocabulary. Although all of R2’s English speech was removed, many of C-3PO’s reactions to it were left in.
    • The first film to make over $300,000,000.
    • George Lucas’ decision to accept a lower salary on the film in exchange for full merchandising rights was considered a fool’s gamble on his part. Toys based on movies had never been major money-earners (though some movie-toy combinations had done moderate retail returns) because of the long gap between when a movie would go through its theatrical run and when any products based on it would be available. Star Wars, however, was such a phenomenon that it reached the holiday 1977 sales period in full swing, and changed the way movies were merchandised forever.
    • The skeleton that C-3PO passes belongs to a Tatooine creature called a Greater Krayt Dragon. This artificial skeleton was left in the Tunisian desert after filming and still lies there. During filming of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), the site was visited by the crew once more and the skeleton was still there.
    • According to Harrison Ford, during the making of the film, he and Mark Hamill would usually fool around and not commit to their work whenever Alec Guinness was not on set. When Guinness was on set, they behaved much more professionally.
    • Harrison Ford didn’t learn his lines for the intercom conversation in the cell block so that it would sound spontaneous.
    • James Earl Jones and David Prowse, who play the voice and body of Darth Vader respectively, have never met.
    • The actors found George Lucas to be very uncommunicative towards them, with his only directions generally being either “faster” or “more intense.” At one point, when he temporarily lost his voice, the crew provided him with a board with just those two phrases written on it.
    • Prior to the film’s release, George Lucas showed an early cut of the film to a group of his film director friends. Most, including Lucas himself, felt the film would be a flop; Brian De Palma reportedly called it the “worst movie ever.” The only dissenter was Steven Spielberg, who correctly predicted the film would make millions of dollars.
    • Stunt doubles were not used for the scene where Luke and Leia swing to safety. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill performed the stunt themselves, shooting it in just one take.
    • The scene of Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter spinning out of control was added late in the film at the insistence of George Lucas. Other members of the film crew were opposed to including this shot, feeling that it set up a sequel (at the time sequels were generally regarded as inferior cash-in movies), but Lucas insisted upon its inclusion nonetheless.
    • Due to the limited budget, the American cast members and crew (including George Lucas) all decided to fly coach class to England, rather than first class. When Carrie Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, heard about this, she called Lucas, complaining about how insulting it was for her daughter to be flying coach. Fisher was in the room with Lucas when he took the call, and after a few minutes, asked if she could talk to her mother. When Lucas handed her the phone, she simply said, “Mother, I want to fly coach, will you f**k off?!” and hung up.
    • While George Lucas was filming on location in Tunisia, the Libyan government became worried about a massive military vehicle parked near the Libyan border. Consequently, the Tunisian government, receiving threats of military mobilization, politely asked Lucas to move his Jawa sandcrawler farther away from the border.
    • The lightsaber sound effect is a combination of the hum of an idling 35mm movie projector and the feedback generated by passing a stripped microphone cable by a television.
    • Peter Mayhew and David Prowse were both given a choice as to which giant character they wanted to play, Chewbacca or Darth Vader. Mayhew wanted to play a good guy and Prowse wanted to play a bad guy, so they ended up playing the matching characters.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#079 Andrew Dominik: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford vs. Killing Them Softly




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Andrew Dominik’s best and worst rated films, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Killing Them Softly (2012), respectively. Nate oozes over the lighting, Austin tries to get over a cold, and they’re both surprised by how solid both of these films were.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST for our milestone 80th episode where we will compare George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with actor Ben Mendelsohn and director Andrew Dominik about Killing Them Softly:


Killing Them Softly Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 74% C / 44% A
  • Released: 2012
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), George V. Higgins (based on the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by)
  • Cinematographer: Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Curatola, Ray Liotta, Trevor Long, Max Casella, Sam Shepard, Slaine, Linara Washington
  • Budget: $15 million
  • Box office: $37.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The Turkish former minister of culture found the movie so offensive that he told the press that he wanted the age bar for this movie to be raised from 13 to 18 or, if possible, remove it from the theaters altogether.
    • Originally titled Cogan’s Trade.
    • Richard Jenkins’s character is never seen standing. He is either sitting in his car or sitting on a bar stool.
    • The first feature film to use Kodak’s 500T 5230 film stock.
    • One of the three films that received an “F” CinemaScore from audiences upon their release in 2012, along with The Devil Inside (2012) and Silent House (2011).

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Robert Ford, who’s idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 76% C / 75% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), Ron Hansen (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Sicario)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooklynn Proulx, Dustin Bollinger, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, Joel McNichol
  • Budget: $30 million
  • Box office: $15 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Brad Pitt’s personal favorite movie that he has acted in.
    • Of all the films made about Jesse James, his descendants have claimed that this is the most accurate. They were especially enthusiastic about Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck’s performances.
    • Cinematographer Roger Deakins has called the arrival of the train in darkness is one of the high points of his career.
    • According to Andrew Dominik, Brad Pitt’s contract stated that the movie’s name could not be changed.
    • In reality, Jesse James suffered from a syndrome that made him blink much more than the average person. Although it’s mentioned at the start of the film, Brad Pitt barely blinks during most of his scenes.
    • During filming, Sam Shepard was in his 60s and Brad Pitt was in his 40s. The characters they play are supposed to be in their 30s. Casey Affleck was in his early 30s, close to Robert Ford’s age during the epilogue, but much older than Ford’s age during the main plot.
    • Nick Cave’s score was written before the film was shot.
    • The original cut of the movie was nearly four hours long. It was edited down to two hours and forty minutes at the studio’s request. At one point, Pitt and exec producer Ridley Scott put together their own cut. When it tested poorly, they went back to Dominik’s cut. The 4-hour version played at least once, most notably at the Venice Film Festival.
    • A scene at the beginning reveals that half of Jesse James’ left middle finger is missing. The top half of Brad Pitt’s left middle finger was digitally erased in every scene in which his hands appeared.
    • Ron Hansen, writer of the novel, spent about a week on the set. He helped with editing and even had a cameo in the film. During an interview, Hansen lauded Casey Affleck, who he thought added his own perspective to the complicated character of Robert Ford. Hansen then said, “In some ways it feels like he was born to play this role.”
    • When Jesse goes looking for Jim Cummins, he introduces himself as Dick Turpin. A legendary English rogue and highway robber of the 1730s, Turpin was romanticized in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th century. Dick Liddil introduces himself as Matt Collins, a play on Mattie Collins, Liddil’s wife.
    • Jeremy Renner was originally considered for the role of Robert Ford. He was rejected as too old.
    • The film had two production designers, Patricia Norris and Richard Hoover. Only one name could be listed in the credits, so both decided to go uncredited.

Intro music by Eric Lynch