I became a James Bond fan in the 80s – mainly due to one man. Sir Roger George Moore who sadly passed away recently. Right here, I’d like to take a look at the legend, his life and career as I remember Roger Moore.
Born on 14 October 1927 in Stockwell, London – the only child to policeman George Alfred Moore and his Indian born mother, Lillian Pope. Roger Moore attended Battersea Grammar School, but as the Second World war broke out – the family was evacuated to Holsworthy, Devon where he was educated at Launceston College.
Moore had an apprenticeship at an animation studio – but was fired after making a mistake with one of the animation cells. Around the same time, his father was investigating a robbery that had been reported at the home of film director Brian Desmond Hurst – which in turn led to Moore being introduced to the director and eventually hired as an extra in the film Caesar and Cleopatra from 1945. Hurst was so impressed with the young Roger Moore’s professionalism that he offered to pay Moore’s fees at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Moore spent three terms studying at RADA where, in a strange twist of fate, he met one of his fellow classmates for the first time – Lois Maxwell, who would go on to play Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise.
When he turned 18, Moore was conscripted for national service at the end of WW II. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps on 21st September 1946 as a second lieutenant. Moore was an officer in the Combined Services Entertainment Section and eventually became a captain, commanding a small depot in West Germany.
Moore worked as a model through the early 1950s appearing in print adverts for knitwear and toothpaste.
In 1954, he singed a seven year contract with MGM and the movies he featured in were all disasters. In Moore’s own words…
“At MGM, RGM (Roger George Moore) was NBG [no bloody good].”
Appearing in the movies, Interrupted Melody, The King’s Thief and Diane – Moore’s MGM contract was cancelled due to the critical and commercial failures.
Moore starting making appearances in TV shows such as, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the TV series of The Third Man. He landed the lead role as Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe in the TV show, Ivanhoe (1958–1959). After which, he secured yet another lead TV role with The Alaskans (1959–1960) – where Moore played “Silky” Harris. But it was his casting as Beau Maverick for the TV series, Maverick (1960–1961) where Moore started to become recognised. Interestingly enough, a young Sean Connery tried out for the very same role role too.
From his role in Maverick, Moore was then cast as the lead role of the James Bond-esque Simon Templar in The Saint (1962–1969). A role that made Moore an international star on both sides of the Atlantic. Moore was then cast as Brett Sinclair alongside Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde in the TV show, The Persuaders! (1971–1972). The show was a flop in the US but successful in other territories including Europe and Australia.
Just around the corner was the pivotal role that would make Roger Moore a guaranteed superstar.
The James Bond Era
Interestingly enough, Moore had previously been considered for the role of James Bond several years earlier after his success with The Saint. It was around 1966 when Sean Connery declared he was retiring as James Bond and the producers of the successful franchise began looking at a replacement. Moore was too busy with his TV commitments – so he role went to George Lazenby in 1969 before Connery changed his mind (and his bank balance) and returned as James Bond in 1971s Diamonds Are Forever. Then when Connery stepped down for good, this was when Moore got to play James Bond for the first time in Live and Let Die… or so many people believe.
While the 1973 flick, Live and Let Die was Moore’s first cinematic outing as James Bond – he had previously played the role. In 1964, he made a guest appearance as a more humorous take on James Bond in the comedy series Mainly Millicent.
You can watch Moore’s very first James Bond performance right here.
Moore would go on to play Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun,The Spy Who Loved Me,Moonraker,For Your Eyes Only,Octopussy and A View to a Kill. He was the oldest actor to play the role as Moore was 45 when he starred in Live and Let Die and 58 in his final Bond film, A View to a Kill.
Post Bond Career
During the Bond years, Moore made several film appearances including playing the role of an eccentric millionaire so obsessed with Roger Moore that he had had plastic surgery to look like his hero in The Cannonball Run. Yes, Roger Moore played a character that looked and acted like Roger Moore… the casting was perfect.
Yet he didn’t act on screen for five years after retiring as James Bond. It was in 1990 when Moore returned to the screen with the TV show, My Riviera. He also appeared inThe Quest and the Spice Girls movie, Spice World. While the unfunny 2002 movie Boat Trip was critically panned – Moore’s role of an amorous homosexual was highly praised as he got to show off is more comedic talents.
In 2010, Moore voiced the bow-tie wearing, talking cat, Lazenby (get it?) in the family movie Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Which itself contained more than a handful of James Bond references, in-jokes and parodies. Even after all those years, he could not shake that James Bond persona.
He also has several films in post production waiting to be released in 2017 and 2018 including, Summer Night, Winter Moon, Astrid Silverlock and Troll Hunters.
He was one of the best. Charming, erudite and talented.
Roger Moore died in Switzerland after a brief battle with cancer on 23rd May 2017. He was 89 years old.
Some are blessed with musical ability, others with good looks. Myself, I was blessed with modesty.
Ahhhhhhh, public domain. When a previously copyrighted movie loses its copyright (or it never had one to begin with) and that movie becomes perfectly legal to watch for free. To be honest – a lot of public domain flicks are pretty damn terrible, but if you are willing to sift through a lot of crap – you can find some diamonds on the rough.
So here, I’d like to highlight some of the best public domain horror moives out there that you can watch right now and not pay a penny for. From overlooked low budget gems to famous horror pictures that hold a great deal of respect with horror fans. Each and every one of these films are completely free… FREE!
1) Alice, Sweet Alice
Twelve year old Alice lives with her mother and younger sister Karen. During Karen’s fist communion she is brutally murdered by a masked assailant.
This film was also known as Communion and Holy Terror. Due to changes in distributors and various other legal problems, the film was never properly registered for copyright. You can watch Alice, Sweet Alice right here.
2) Satan’s School for Girls
A young woman investigating her sister’s suicide at a private girls’ school finds herself battling a satanic cult.
Produced by Aaron Spelling – yes, THAT Aaron Spelling. This made for TV movie was long forgotten about and nobody bothered to secure a copyright for it. You can watch Stan’s School for Girls right here.
3) Rehearsal for Murder
A year after his fiancée’s death, a playwright schedules a rehearsal for his new play, which proves to be a trap for her killer.
Yet another made for TV movie that nobody bothered to copyright. This one has a few recognisable names like; Robert Preston, Lynn Redgrave, Patrick Macnee and Jeff Goldblum. You can watch Rehearsal for Murder right here.
4) House on Haunted Hill
Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren and his wife, Annabelle, have invited five people to the house on Haunted Hill for a ‘haunted house’ party. Whoever can stay in the house for one night will earn ten thousand dollars each.
From director William Castle. The original copyright holder failed to renew the film’s copyright resulting in it falling into the public domain. You can watch House on Haunted Hill right here.
5) Carnival of Souls
After a traumatic accident, a woman becomes drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival.
When originally released – the film was a failure in the box office so the producers distanced themselves from the movie and didn’t bother to renew its copyright. Yet today its regarded as a landmark in psychological horror. You can watch Carnival of Souls right here.
6) Night of the Living Dead
A group of characters barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from flesh eating zombies.
One of the most infamous and influential horror films ever made. Director George A. Romero created the modern zombie with this one… just a shame he forgot to apply a copyright to the film. You can watch Night of the Living Dead right here.
A man lets a former flame fall to her death rather than let her interfere with his new relationship, but her ghost returns to disrupt his impending nuptials.
A little campy and dated but don’t let that introduction music put you off because there is an effective and creepy ghost story here. Yet another film where the copyright was never renewed. You can watch Tormented right here.
There are plenty more public domain horror films out there to discover – some great, some not so great. I have merely scratched the surface with this list, but there are hundreds more to find and watch.
John Belushi was one of the most beloved and respected comedy actors who ever lived. So to show that deep respect and admiration… they made a terrible biopic movie that just takes a big dump on Belushi, his family, friends and loyal fan base all in one go.
That’s right, I’m going to take a look at the cinematic disaster that was Wired.
Based on the book Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi written by Bob Woodward. Wired is a movie so messed up and disrespectful that it became a huge critical and a commercial failure, plus it has never seen a DVD release as of writing either. Wired currently holds an overall approval rating of 4% on Rotten Tomatoes.
How The Disaster Began
It was when Belushi’s widow, Judith and his manager Bernie Brillstein approached Bob Woodward and asked him if he would like to write a factual account of the life of John Belushi in an attempt to straighten some of the rumours that had been circulating over his death at the time. The result of which was the book – Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi.
Several of Belushi’s closest family and friends were interviewed for the book including his widow Judith his brother James Belushi and closest friend Dan Aykroyd. Yet none of them were happy with the final product as they felt to book was exploitative and not representative of the John Belushi they knew and loved. In fact, Judith detested the book so much that she eventually wrote her own account on the life of her husband withSamurai Widow.
Even though the family and friends of Belushi hated the book and made that very clear, it still went on to become a best seller. Woodward then sought out to sell the movie rights to the book and the result of that was the movie Wired.
It Gets Bad Within Minutes
The movie opens with Belushi leading the Killer Bees in a rendition of the classic blues song I’m The King Bee in what is supposed to be a scene from Saturday Night Live – but as the film couldn’t secure the rights to use anything from SNL, these scenes look less like something from one of the biggest and most popular shows of the 70s/80s and more like something shot in a dingy basement.But it gets worse, so much worse.
Before I get much further into this cinematic mess of a film – I would just like to point something out. Yes the movie is beyond terrible but I have to recognise Michael Chiklis in his debut film role playing John Belushi. He is amazing and nails the Belushi performance, the mannerisms, the high energy, the voice – he even gets the eyebrow thing nailed. Chiklis is most definitely the best thing this film has to offer. The movie is horrendous but I still would suggest watching it just for Michael Chiklis’ amazing performance.
Anyway, as I was saying – the movie gets bad right from the off. After the brilliantly acted but terrible looking opening, the film cuts to Belushi’s dead body in a body-bag being wheeled into a morgue lying on a gurney. Belushi’s body is left alone in the morgue when suddenly a hand from the body-bag pops out, grabs a donut, eats it and then burps before getting up from the gurney and running down the corridor of the morgue. Yes you just read that right. This film has the dead body of one of America’s much loved and dearly missed comedy actors returning from the dead, swallow a donut like a cartoon character and then run around a morgue naked except for a sheet covering his modesty.
The film also has Bob Woodward appear played by J. T. Walsh. Yes, the author of the book that the film is based on is a character in the film. That is not so much 4th wall breaking but more so just smearing the 4th wall in excrement. Anyway, Belushi escapes the morgue and runs into a taxi driving angel… seriously, his name is Angel and he’s an angel – the film quickly becomes one of those ‘guardian angel’ flicks where the main character is shown his life and what went wrong… only done badly. So if you have been keeping up so far, this is a biography where the dead body of John Belushi comes back to life and is driven around in a taxi by an angel to be shown how crap his life was.
Can you understand why Belushi’s family and friends felt this film was disrespectful?
Disrespectful And Exploitative
Angel takes Belushi to the scene of his death just in time to see his corpse being carried away. We then get that overused and bog-standard scene where the dead body doesn’t believe they are dead and the reveal by the guardian angel that no one can see or hear him. Angel then takes Belushi on a tour of his life. Think A Christmas Carol only written by the same guy that wrote The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – because it was. Wired’s screenplay was penned by Earl Mac Rauch and also the last movie he wrote.
We are introduced to Dan Aykroyd played by Gary Groomes who lectures Belushi on his drug intake. The film also shows various SNL performances and sketches featuring The Brothers Blues – not The Blues Brothers because, as I mentioned earlier, the movie didn’t have the rights to use certain names. These Brothers Blues scenes are pretty well done though and again, Chiklis provides a stunning performance and if you didn’t know better – you could swear that was the real John Belushi at times as his dancing, movements and mannerisms are perfect.
The film takes us on a mish-mash of various ‘flashbacks’ to Belushi’s life but fails to show anything of his actual life. It becomes more a collection of SNL sketches that didn’t really exist because they didn’t have the rights to use them. They couldn’t even use the names of some of the people Belushi was closely associated with in his career.
There is one scene where John asks Judith to marry him and its really well done too, its personal, emotive and well shot. But sadly these scenes that do delve into his life and that of those around him that could have been more interesting if they were the focus are few and far between as the movie is more focused on trying to hammer home that drugs are bad. The film is basically one overtly long anti-drug PSA and not a respectful biography of John Belushi.
But the opening of the dead body of John Belushi waking up and running around naked was just the tip of the iceberg as this movie even manages to out-do its own disrespect. There is a scene in the movie that shows Belushi’s autopsy… and that’s not the worst of it. Belushi is depicted as being awake during this as its played up for laughs as Angel dances around in the background and Belushi screams in pain as well as do impersonations of Marlon Brando while a laugh track plays.
Just take that in for a moment and try to put yourselves in the shoes of a family member or friend of John Belushi watching that scene. Seeing a person you loved and cared about screaming during an autopsy while a laugh track plays over the top. Yeah pretty disrespectful right?
A Diamond In The Rough
Look, the film is horrendous, disrespectful and exploitative. It just shows no regard, no attention, no respect to John Belushi, his life or anyone that knew him. However, there are some great moments in the flick. Aside form Michael Chiklis as John Belushi, Patti D’Arbanville plays Cathy Smith – the woman who supplied Belushi with most of his drugs and who injected him with the speedball that killed him. D’Arbanville’s portrayal of the drug dealer is mesmerising as she is interviewed by the police. The scene is brilliantly acted and shot as well as being brutally honest. An excellent scene… just a shame it ends with the line “Just another fat junkie went belly up” in reference to the death of John Belushi.
But then there’s a scene where they show Belushi’s coffin being loaded onto a plane and its handled in a slapstick/comedy manner as they struggle to get the dead body of John Belushi on-board. As they just can not fit the coffin on the plane, they decide to take his dead body out and just strap it into a seat instead. I know I have used the word ‘disrespectful’ more than a few times in this article but what else can I call this scene?
The last act of the movie mostly takes place in the room Belushi’s died in and again, its well done for the most part. Well directed, well shot and well acted – its moody and effective. But then these scenes are inter-cut with Belushi and Angel playing a Blues Brothers pinball table where its agreed that if Belushi wins that he can go home. This is the main problem with this film, the good scenes – and there are some really good scenes are ruined with slapstick and inane comedy. One second you are watching Cathy Smith inject John Belushi with the fatal drug cocktail that killed him in a scene that is brilliantly convinced, portrayed and very powerful, then seconds later you watching ghost Belushi play pinball with an angel or even Bob Woodward interviewing John Belushi quite literally as he slowly dies. For every great scene in this film, there are a dozen or so bad scenes that ruin them.
Wired is a mess of a picture. It depicts Belushi as a burping, farting imbecile and shows hardly anything of his good and caring nature. I know Belushi was no angel. I’m fully aware of his legendary drug taking and how he could and would disrupt a film shoot. His behind the scenes antics are well known and reported on. Yet despite all of this, the people that knew him best like his widow Judith and best friend Dan Aykroyd always said that he was one of the most caring and thoughtful people they knew. A man who underneath his many demons still had a heart of gold.
This movie shows pretty much none of that and chooses to portray Belushi as a thoughtless, careless drug addict. As a bio – the movie just does not work as it tells very little about the life of John Belushi other than he liked drugs a lot. Then as a movie about drug abuse it falls flat as all of the hard hitting and well shot scenes that are supposed to leave an impact on the viewer are book-ended and inter-cut with unnecessary bad, slap-stick comedy. There are just not enough ‘ WTF Hollywood’s’ to go around.
A new John Belushi biopic has been rumoured for quite some time as back in 2013 Emile Hirsch was said to have been cast to play Belushi.
The film was set to be relased in 2015 and obviously, that never happened and nothing has been heard of since. Wired was such a huge insult and disappointment for John Belushi fans that a new bio that does the great man justice would be welcomed with open arms. Make it happen Hollywood, give us a worthy Belushi bio that can wash away the bad taste of Wired.
Now, before I get into the meat of this article, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I do not believe in curses. I believe in accidents and coincidence. No matter how bizarre or macabre a situation may seem, to me it’s an accident/coincidence with a possible, reasonable explanation. With that out of the way…
There have been several notable cursed movies over the years. With titles such as The Exorcist and The Omen being two of the most famous. Then there are curses associated with actors like Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee. Or even curses connected to a character such as Superman. Just a few examples of supposed curses in movies. But what about a cursed screenplay? Well yes, there is one of those, too, and one that is being blamed for the deaths in the ’80s and ’90s of some of the biggest names in comedy.
The Incomparable Atuk was a novel released in 1963 by writer Mordecai Richler. The book is a satirical tale about a Canadian Inuit who moves to Toronto and loses his simple lifestyle when he is seduced by the greed and pretensions of the big city.
It was going to be one of those fish out of water plots akin to other comedy movies like Crocodile Dundee or Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Rights to the book were bought in the 1970s by Canadian filmmaker Norman Jewison and the supposed cursed screenplay was written by Tod Carroll. If you feel brave and wish to read this cursed screenplay, then you can do so right here. I have to issue a warning, though, not because of a curse, but because the screenplay is not very funny.
But what about the deaths this screenplay is said to have been linked to?
1. John Belushi
It has been said that while Carroll was writing the Atuk screenplay, he had John Belushi in mind to play the title role. By the time the screenplay was completed in the early 1980s, Belushi had become a household name thanks to his time on Saturday Night Live, and things seemed to be working out perfectly. Everything was set to go into pre-production and Belushi apparently loved the script and really wanted to play the part too. The movie was set to begin filming in 1982 — but Belushi died of a drug overdose before that could happen.
2. Sam Kinison
The production of Atuk lay dormant for around a decade before the idea to try to get the film off the ground once again came about in the early ’90s. Known for his outlandish attitude and loudmouth comedic approach, Sam Kinison was signed on to play the lead role, and the film even commenced filming. However, after a few days of shooting – Kinison’s overbearing attitude and drug-fuelled lifestyle caused his life to unravel. He was soon fired from the Atuk production and shorty afterwards he was dropped by his agent. Then in 1992, Kinison’s car was struck by a drunk driver in a head-on collision, resulting in his death from the multiple internal injures he sustained.
3. John Candy
In 1994, Atuk’s production was fired up once more, and this time it was larger-than-life comedy actor John Candy who was suggested for the lead role. Candy was said to have been very interested in taking on the role and read the script with great interest, he was set to star in the movie. Sadly, he died of a heart attack before he could sign up for the movie.
4. Chris Farley
Even after the deaths of three stars connected to the film’s production, Atuk was still trying to find its star. It was 1997 when Chris Farley was suggested for the role, and he was all set to sign on for the film, too. Yet the cursed screenplay took another victim when Farley died of a drug overdose that same year.
Coincidentally, Belushi and Farley were both former SNL stars, both 33 at the time of their deaths, and they both died of a drug overdose — and both after expressing interest in playing the title role in Atuk.
5. Phil Hartman
This one is a little tenuous, I admit. It has been said that Farley took the Atuk script to his friend Phil Hartman with a plan to get Hartman involved in the movie too – in a possible supporting role. Six months after Farley’s death and Hartman was fatally shot several times by his wife, before she committed suicide.
So there you have it. An apparently cursed script that is connected to some of the biggest names in comedy from the ’80s and ’90s. But what of the screenplay today? Well, United Artists is said to be the copyright owner and still has the original script in its archives. Perhaps one day the studio will want to once again attempt to get the film off the ground. But would anyone want to sign up to star in a movie with a supposed cursed screenplay?
I love Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 seminal horror flick – The Shining. You love The Shining… that is why you clicked on this article right? Yeah, we all love Kubrick’s take on The Shining even if original author, Stephen King didn’t – but what does he know about horror?
The 1969 Moon landing
There have been numerous fan theories and suggestions about this picture. Most famously is that some people believe that Kubrick hid dozens and dozens of hints that he helped to fake the Apollo 11 moon landing from 1969 and how he used The Shining as an apology for his involvement. Personally, I think that is all crap but some people really do believe it.
We all know the plot. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a struggling writer who takes a job as a caretaker in the Overlook Hotel which is closed for the season. He takes his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) along with him and hopes to use the solidarity of the closed hotel to get some writing done and hopefully finish his book. However, things don’t work out quite as Jack wanted. He starts to suffer from cabin fever and attempts to murder his wife and son as he slowly goes insane while being hunted by numerous visions of ghosts and spirits.
Jack was perfectly sane
But here is the theory… what if Jack Torrance didn’t go mad at all? I guess you’ll need a line of reasoning for this theory right?
I’ll need visual aids to explain what I mean here as most of this involves small, background details in the film itself. So get ready for plenty of pictures…
The big wheel trike
Remember Danny’s big wheel trike from the movie – it had a red frame, blue seat and a single bell on the right handlebar.
You can see the red frame under the blue seat and that single bell on the right in that image.
But that is not what it looked like when we were introduced to it. Earlier in the film when the Torrance family first arrive at the Overlook Hotel, we get a shot of their belongings near the entrance as Jack waits in the lobby.
Here is a zoomed in view of that very same scene.
That’s not a red frame – its white and there is a bell on each of the handlebars too. Its a different trike… but why?
Jack’s typewriter and the sculpture
Jack uses a beige Adler typewriter in the movie – if you need proof…
There it is right there sitting on the desk Jack set up in the hotel. Also in his makeshift writing office, there is a prominent wooden sculpture sitting on a table.
There it is on the left hand side of the screen as Jack throws a ball against the wall while suffering from writer’s block. But later on in the film…
The typewriter has not only changed colour – its a completely different typewriter. Different make/model. As for that wooden sculpture?
As you can see form this shot of the entire room, that table that once adorned the wooden sculpture in front of the fireplace is empty – the sculpture has gone!
Jack’s infamous coat
Its an iconic image. That of Jack wearing that burgundy coloured jacket in the movie.
He wears this jacket for all of the latter part of the flick and have you noticed that is while wearing this item of clothing is when he starts to go mad… or should that read ‘supposedly’ mad? The very first time we are introduced to Jack wearing it is right here, also note the blue jeans…
Jack is asleep and is having what seems to be a nightmare. As I say, this is the first time we see Jack wearing it – but it is not the first time that outfit is seen in the film. We need to go back to near the start once more.
This scene is from earlier in the film from when Jack and Wendy are being given a tour of the Overlook. Who/what is Jack looking at in the centre of the frame there? Lets zoom in slightly…
Jack is looking at somebody cleaning in the background… a caretaker? And what is this caretaker wearing? They are wearing blue jeans and a burgundy jacket – the same blue jeans and burgundy jacket that Jack himself is wearing later in the movie when he goes full on crazy. Hmmmmmm?
So what does all of this actually mean – simple continuity errors?
If you know anything about Stanley Kubrick and his film-making, then you know the man was a perfectionist. Sometimes shooting and re-shooting, getting hundreds of takes of the same scene to ensure it was just right.
The man’s attention to detail was/is legendary. I’m not saying his films do not have continuity errors, of course they do. But what if these points I have brought up here are not continuity errors but are – in fact subtle/subliminal hints as to what is actually going on within the film?
What if the changing colour of the trike, the different typewriter, disappearing wooden sculpture are purposely there to show that there are two different realities going on in The Shining? What if the white trike with the two bells, the beige typewriter and that sculpture on the table are from the ‘real reality’. Then the changes with the red trike with one bell, the darker coloured typewriter and missing wooden sculpture represent the novel that Jack Torrance is writing?
That is what writers do right (I know I do it). We get influenced by our surroundings and take inspiration from what we see. So what if – when Jack does snap and go mad… that is just the fictional Jack from the novel that Jack Torrance the writer has created, what if what we see when Jack losses it is just a visual representation of the novel Jack Torrance is writing? Maybe that is why the colour of the trike changes as does the typewriter and it could also explain why that wooden sculpture disappears too, because these are details that Jack has written within his book.
Plus would it not make sense that Jack Torrance the writer got the idea of how Jack the psycho caretaker should dress from that caretaker he spotted earlier when being given the tour of the Overlook Hotel?
Maybe Jack never did go mad and try to kill his family as he was 100% fictional. Jack Torrance had been sitting in that makeshift writing office all along just tap-tap-taping away on his typewriter and blended the story that he had been told about Charles Grady with his own life and created a fictional world inspired by the Overlook Hotel that we see later in the movie… maybe?
Well this is a kick to the scrotum – we recently lost Bill Paxton and right here, I’d like to remember the man, his career and reveal what Bill was doing the day that JFK was assassinated.
Bill was born in Texas on the 17th May 1955. His first acting job was in a movie called Crazy Mama from 1975, where he played a small uncredited role. He directed and starred in the all too strange and surreal video to the Barnes & Barnes song Fish Heads in 1980.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. You want to know about that JFK connection right? Well…
The above photo is on display At The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Its a photo of the gathering crowd outside the hotel that JFK was staying in on the 22nd of November, 1963 and it was taken in the morning just as JFK was setting out for his what would be a fatal tour of Dallas, Texas. See that 8 year old boy being lifted above the crowd in the back? That’s Bill Paxton.
Anyway, back to Bill’s movie career. He managed to get a few small roles through the early 80s in movies including Stripes (1981), Night Warning (1982), Streets Of Fire (1984) among others. Yet it was a small role playing a spiky, blue haired street punk in some young and unknown film director’s low budget flick called The Terminator from 1984 that most movie fans remember seeing Bill for the first time.
He may have had the first line in the movie, but he learns the hard way that you just do not pull a flick-knife on a killer cyborg sent from the future. This small role kick-started a long friendship and career with director James Cameron. Bill and James collaborated several times through the years including True Lies (1994) and Titanic (1997). The duo even teamed up for a documentary on the real Titanic called Ghosts of the Abyss released in 2003. And yes, of course James gave Bill his breakthrough role as Private Hudson in the 1986 sequel – Aliens.
Yet there is one more collaboration between Bill and James that not too many people are aware of. You see, in 1982 Bill formed a musical band called; Martini Ranch. They released a song called Reach and the video was directed by none other than James Cameron. The music video is worth watching to see how many other The Terminator and Aliens alumni you can spot. But be on the look out for Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser and Jenette Goldstein.
Bill continued to forge himself a career as an actor through the 80s and 90s in films and TV. His many, many appearances include; Commando, Back to Back, Next of Kin, Brain Dead, Trespass, Predator 2, Tombstone, Apollo 13 and Twister just to name a few.
By the mid-late 90s, Bill was getting more and more roles. With his performance in the Sam Raimi’s tense thriller A Simple Plan from 1998 being one of my personal favourites.
All through the 2000s, he was continually working in movies and TV. Frasier, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Thunderbirds, 2 Guns, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all featured Bill. He even starred in a sequel TV show to the Denzel Washington movie, Training Day. And I can’t forget the Groundhog Day-esque Edge of Tomorrow where Bill acted alongside Tom Cruise from 2014.
From the morning of the JFK assassination of 1963 and his cheeky appearance to his as yet unreleased movie; The Circle where Bill will be seen acting with Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Emma Watson. Bill had an impressive, long and varied career. But I have always found it strange how he never really become the big leading man in the movies. A handful of larger roles aside, he always seemed to be a secondary character – and I’ve saved the best until last…
Even with over 90 roles in music videos, TV shows, documentaries and of course movies. There is one character in one film that I will always remember Bill Paxton for. You can keep your Private Hudson and Aliens. This is the Bill Paxton I’ll always remember.
From the John Hughes classic Weird Science – the lovable asshole that is Chet Donnelly. I love this character so damn much even though he’s horrible, overbearing and does nothing but terrorise and bully his younger brother Wyatt throughout the film.
Chet is just so damn memorable with so many quotable lines.
But first I’d like to… butter your muffin.
That’s not a joke, that’s a severe behavioural disorder. I mean, the next thing you know, you’ll be wearing a bra on your head!
Not having a good time? Do you think they’re having a good time being catatonic in a closet?
How ’bout a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?
I’m gonna tell Mom and Dad everything. I’m even considering makin’ up some shit!
You two donkey-dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue.
You’re stewed, buttwad!
And my all time favourite Chet Donnelly line from Weird Science…
An accident? An accident? Do you realise it’s snowing in my room goddammit!
I really need to go and re-watch Weird Science for the 157th time.
Bill Paxton died on the 25th February 2017 due to complications from surgery. He was 61.
Thanks for the movie memories Bill.
Anyone who’s worked very hard on a craft or an art to get a certain precision in terms of execution and performance wants to get past all that stuff that holds you up – your ego, all the doubts.
I am a self confessed Quentin Tarantino fanboy. From his first full length movie that was Reservoir Dogs to his most recent picture, The Hateful Eight – I’ve enjoyed all of his films for very different reasons. Hey, I even liked Four Rooms.
Over the years, Tarantino has made films that all seem separate and yet he always throws in little nods, references and connections via his shared universe that he was doing long before Marvel got in on the act. Using his own made up products like Red Apple cigarettes in all of his films as one example of many.
He has even extended his shared universe into the works of other directors like Robert Rodriguez, Tony Scott and even Oliver Stone… most of the time because Tarantino has had a hand in there somewhere from a writing/producing perspective. But it is in character names and possible connections where his shared universe really comes to light. From main characters to secondary ones and even off screen characters – all of his films are connected in one way or another via his characters. But there is more than one movie universe going on within his movie universe. Confused? I’ll let Quentin himself explain…
There is actually two separate universes. There is the realer than real universe, alright, and all the characters inhabit that one. But then there’s this movie universe. So From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, they all take place in this special movie universe. So when all the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, when they go to the movies, Kill Bill is what they go to see. From Dusk Till Dawn is what they see.
Got it? There is a ‘real’ movie universe and a ‘movie’ movie universe going on within Tarantino’s movie universe and characters from his ‘real’ universe can go to see moives from his ‘movie’ universe within that ‘real’ movie universe. So here, I’d like to make as many of the connections as I think I have found from his moives as a writer, director or producer. I’ll start with what I think is a very interesting connection.
There will be SPOILERS ahead for pretty much every Quentin Tarantino film.
Mia Wallace Played Beatrix Kiddo
You remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are out enjoying a $5 milkshake? Mia Tells Vincent that she is a struggling actress and shot a pilot for a TV show called Fox Force Five. If you listen to the description of the main characters in that show that Mia gives – they sound pretty familiar. Okay so they are not exact and water tight, but those characters sound a lot like the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad from Kill Bill. The blonde one was the leader – (Elle Driver?), The Japanese fox was a kung-fu master (O-Ren Ishii?), the black girl was a demolition expert (Vernita Green?), the French fox’s speciality was sex (Sofie Fatale?). And what type of character did Mia play in Fox Force Five… the deadliest woman in the world with a knife… or possibly a sword?
As Tarantino said that the characters from Pulp Fiction could go to the movies and watch Kill Bill, what if that Fox Force Five TV pilot got picked up but adapted and turned into a movie instead and that movie was called Kill Bill? And what if struggling actress, Mia Wallace was the one who played Beatrix Kiddo A.K.A The Bride? Sounds reasonable right? I mean you have to admit that they do look a lot a like too…
The Vega Brothers
Now this one is already pretty well known as Tarantino himself has spoken about this several times and even said he wanted to make a Vega brothers movie prequel a while back. But for those not in the know, Mr Blonde A.K.A Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) and Vincent Vega from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction respectively are in fact brothers.
Yes, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are officially and canologicaly connected and even if he never made his proposed Vega Brothers flick, Tarantino still says these two films are directly connected. He never revealed much about his Vega Brothers picture, but he did say this…
I did think about the idea of the Vega brothers, taking place before the movies when like Vin was in Amsterdam and his brother Vic/Mr Blonde comes and visits him, and their adventures.
Its a very sketchy idea at best but it was enough to get me thinking – if the film was to be a prequel that would have been set in Amsterdam and involved the Vega brothers, aside from drugs, what else is Amsterdam famous for? Diamonds. What were they stealing in Reservoir Dogs? And what exactly was in that damn briefcase in Pulp Fiction? Its a rough idea but I’m sure Tarantino must have been thinking about linking everything together. What if Vic and Vincent stole diamonds in Amsterdam, brought them back to America where they were sold and Vic then got involved in a heist to steal them back once more? Then what if those diamonds that were taken by Mr Pink at the end of Reservoir Dogs ended up in a briefcase in Pulp Fiction?
Its possible that the Vega brothers may not be the only siblings sharing the Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction canon, what about Jimmie (Quentin Tarantino) and Lawrence Dimmick (Harvey Keitel) A.K.A Mr White? Now – as far as I have researched, Tarantino has neither confirmed nor denied that these two are related, but within this shared universe, why not? Bothers, cousins or other. Its possible right?
You remember Jimmie from Pulp Fiction right? He’s the fella that was not too happy about deceased gentlemen of colour being stockpiled within his vehicle shelter – who clearly has connections to the criminal underworld if he is friendly with hitman Jules (Samuel L. Jackson). Jimmie’s last name is Dimmick. Mr White from Reservoir Dogs reveals his real name is Lawrence Dimmick to a dying Mr Pink. But if they are related then I have one question. Why doesn’t Jimmie mention there is an uncanny resemblance between his sibling Lawrence and the guy that has been sent to help clean things up Winston Wolf?
Scagnetti And Scagnetti
This is an unusual one as only one of these characters are actually shown on screen – the other is only quickly mentioned in passing and many people miss it. Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) from Natural Born Killers sports an impressive quiff and an unstable personality. He may be a lawman, but he’s not exactly on the right side of the law either. A good guy with bad tendencies. When Mr Blonde is catching up with old friends in Reservoir Dogs – he mentions his parole officer is someone called Seymour Scagnetti, who apparently is not a nice guy either. Does being a bad-good guy run in the family?
Paula And The Dentist
Dentist, Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) was born in Düsseldorf, Germany but moved to America where he took up the rather profitable career of being a bounty hunter. It has been theorised that sometime in the 1850s, Schultz married a younger woman who outlived him as Dr. King Schultz is killed during the events of Django Unchained. Then later in Kill Bill, Beatrix Kiddo is burred alive in grave – and the name on the grave? Paula Schultz. Even more so, the chapter from the film it titled; ‘The Lonely Grave Of Paula Schultz’ and she would have been lonely if she died a widow. Maybe Dr King Schultz and the unseen Paula were married within this universe? Plus, the dates on the grave seem to add up too…
The War Hero And The Bandit
Back in Pulp Fiction and Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) tells a young Butch Coolidge (Chandler Lindauer) a little about the Koons heroic family history and a lovely story about a very important watch. Yet it seems that not everyone in the Koons bloodline may have been quite as upstanding as their family think. In Django Unchained while Dr King Schultz is training Django (Jamie Foxx), a wanted poster is shown for the Smitty Bacall Gang and one of the gang members is called; Crazy Craig Koons. I wonder if this Koons family member also placed timepieces in hard to reach places?
The Cops And The Bandit
That very same wanted poster from Django Unchained reveals yet another name, Gerald Nash who is wanted for murder. It seems that Gerald must have had children at some point because during Natural Born Killers a re-enactment of a murder of a police officer is shown and the name of the dead cop? Gerald Nash. But that is not all, doesn’t the name Nash sound familiar? What if I said this other Nash was also a cop? Still unsure, then lend me your ear. The kidnapped cop from Reservoir Dogs that Mr Blonde plans on torturing while listening to Steeler’s Wheel is named Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) and Tarantino has confirmed that Natural Born Killers Nash and Reservoir Dogs Nash are in fact cousins.
Maynard The Bigoted Family
Maynard (Duane Whitaker) from Pulp Fiction is the owner of a pawn shop… and has a perverse hobby that involves a gimp, a corrupt security guard and underworld crime boss being… well just watch the film. He seriously seems to have several problems, but if you have a racist/bigot bloodline then what do you expect? But what bloodline is this? Well during the awesome Candyland shootout in Django Unchained – an unnamed, rifle toting racist screams out “Ain’t no (insert racial slur towards black people here) gonna kill Maynard!”. After which, said self-proclaimed Maynard is brutally shot to death by Django in a satisfying orgy of blood and bullets.
Clarence And Lawrence’s Shared Love
True Romance is a great love story flick. A love story full of drugs, vengeance, guns and plenty of dead bodies…but a love story none the less. Aside from having one of my all time favourite movie scenes ever where Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) and Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) engage in an intense game of cat and mouse. The film also features another possible Tarantino connection. The hooker with a heart of gold, Alabama Whitman/Worley (Patricia Arquette) seems to have had a life before True Romance where she teamed up with Lawrence Dimmick from Reservoir Dogs as Mr White reveals that Alabama was his ex-partner. So if she was his ex-partner, after the break up – did she fall into prostitution to make ends meet and finally find love with Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) later?
The Nazi Killer And The Film Director
Sticking with True Romance, Clarence tries to sell the cocaine he acquired to a film director called Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek). During the events of the film, Lee is putting the finishing touches to his latest in-movie flick; Coming Home In A Body Bag 2, a sequel to his hit Vietnam film that Clarence is a big fan of. But what if Lee got inspiration for his war movies from members of his own family? Maybe Sgt. Donny ‘The Bear Jew’ Donowitz (Eli Roth) from Inglourious Basterds and his Nazi brain-bashing ways played a hand in Lee’s film career?
Another Nazi Killer And His Great, Great Grandfather
Inglourious Basterds featured a lot of Nazi killing… a hell of a lot. One of the best and most intense scenes in the flick took place in an underground tavern where English Army officer Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) goes undercover as a German officer and things go badly. It seems that bloodshed and gunfights in enclosed places is a family trait as Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) from The Hateful Eight can attest to. But how are these two characters linked? Well Oswaldo Mobray is just an alias as his real name is actually ‘English’ Pete Hicox and he is the great, great grandfather of Archie.
The Dead Texas Ranger With A Long Life
Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) first appeared in From Dusk Till Dawn – where he was quickly executed via a bullet to the head. But you just can’t keep a good Texas Ranger down as he resurfaced in Kill Bill where he was joined by his son Edgar McGraw (played by Michael’s real-life son James Parks). The McGraw family kept on growing when Earl popped up again in the Death Proof and Planet Terror combo of Grindhouse. This time around Earl and Edgar were joined by Dr Dakota Block née McGraw (Marley Shelton) the daughter of Earl and sister of Edgar.