“The Godfather” Premiered 40 Years Ago Today
Coppola’s antiphony of themes of innocence and corruption, his artful mixing of domestic detail and cold killing, are what raise this film far about the ordinary gangland epic. The story of the fall of the Cosa Nostra Don, Vito Corleone, and the rise to power of his son, Michael, is as much a story of family loyalty as it is a saga of power struggles in organized crime.
Newsweek March 13, 1972
Now Kubrick has a new movie, taken from the brilliant and shocking novel by British writer Anthony Burgess. The film is not without its small failings, for a man who makes as many daring leaps as Kubrick is bound to slip from time to time, just as he is insured against ever boring us. “A Clockwork Orange” is also a characteristically frosty piece of filmmaking, shorn completely of sentiment, working through brilliant ironies and dazzling dramatic ideas that please us, provoke our laughter, galvanize our intellects, win our admiration- but never touch our hearts.
Newsweek January 3, 1972 [Cover photo by Kubrick]
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“Gone With The Wind” Premiered On This Date In 1939
And a big event it was, for if ‘Gone With The Wind’ is a new high for film making, Atlanta’s premiere out-Hollywooded Hollywood and all points east. When the film’s stars and feature players arrived last Thursday, they found a city facaded in the architecture and finery of the 60’s, its citizens dressed in the hoop skirts and claw-hammer coats of a more prosperous era. Half of Atlanta’s 300,000 population turned out to greet the motorcade that carried the film folk from the airport.
Newsweek December 25, 1939
11/11/11- Happy “Spinal Tap” Day!
Louder than Black Sabbath, more riotous than Quiet Riot, at least as raunchy as Judas Priest … ladies and gentlemen, meet England’s 17-year-old heavy-metal band Spinal Tap. Never heard of them? Can’t recall their ’70s album “Intravenous De Milo” or the recent “Shark Sandwich”? Where’ve you been, man? Now Marty DiBergi, documentarist, has taken camera in hand to correct this glaring cultural gap. He was there for the band’s recent, if somewhat less than glorious, American tour, and he got it down, warts and all, in his revelatory “rockumentary” This Is Spinal Tap.
It is the highest compliment to “This ls Spinal Tap” — a very savvy satire of the rock-and-roll scene — that a number of people are going to take their time getting the joke. It’s easy to miss the fact that Marty DiBergi is actually Rob Reiner. And who would guess that the two lead guitarists from Squatney, England, David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel, are actually American actors Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, so impeccable are their coiffures, their accents and the little cold sores that materialize on their lips? True, you might think it a bit odd to hear that their first drummer died “in a bizarre gardening accident” and that their second drummer choked on vomit (“actually, someone else’s vomit,” they explain), but this is the music biz. Strange things happen. Like getting lost backstage in Cleveland and never finding your way to the stage. Like the little miscalculation over the props for “Stonehenge,” their major Druid production number: the prehistoric stones that descend are only 18 inches tall, not 18 feet, a fact not disguised by bringing on two dancing midgets to make them loom larger.
Close to the Vest: “This Is Spinal Tap” is a very special, very original hoot. Given a target as wide and vulgar as heavy-metal rock, the surprise is that the movie’s wit manages to be so subtle. Director Reiner, who improvised the film with McKean, Guest and Harry Shearer, plays it very close to the leather vest aping the cinema verite style so knowingly that the film becomes a satire of the documentary form itself, complete with perfectly faded “clips” from old TV shows of the band in its mod and flowerchild incarnations. Reiner won’t sacrifice the pseudodocumentary surface for a gag, with the result that the story of the band’s pathetic tour achieves moments of surprising poignancy, as their gigs get canceled, their manager (Tony Hendra) quits, the lead singer’s girlfriend (June Chadwick) takes control and drives guitarist Tufnel away. Reiner has made a very hip, sophisticated sendup, but his affection and feel for life on the road keep the satire friendly. This is surely the funniest movie ever made about rock and roll, and one of the funniest things about it is that it may also be one of the most accurate.
Newsweek March 5, 1984