Tag Archives: James Tolkan

The Set of 400: #45 – My Favorite Enchantment Under the Sea

Today! Because the way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

Back to the Future (1985)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x4)

Starring Michael J. Fox (x4), Christopher Lloyd (x6), Lea Thompson (x3), Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson (x3), James Tolkan (x5), Claudia Wells, Marc McClure (x4), Wendie Jo Sperber (x2), George DiCenzo (x2), Frances Lee McCain, Casey Siemaszko (x2), Billy Zane (x4), Donald Fullilove (x3), Jason Hervey (x2), Harry Waters Jr.

I mean, come on, you don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Back to the Future, right? Even with the incestuous overtones and the general lack of effects-heavy science-fictioning going on, it’s still one of everyone’s top sci-fi films ever made. It’s a little dated, sure, but it was such a towering staple of the ’80s that it gets a pass for the anachronistic jokes and references. Pepsi Free? Come on! By the time I first saw this movie – as I mentioned before, years after it had come out – I didn’t even know what the hell Pepsi Free was.

Wait a minute, there was a Diet Pepsi Free? Now I really don’t understand what it was

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The Set of 400: #107 – My Favorite Portable Plot of Land

Today! Because the key here, I think, is to not think of death as an end, but think of it more as a very effective way of cutting down on your expenses – 

Love and Death (1975)

Directed by Woody Allen (x8)

Starring Woody Allen (x6), Diane Keaton (x2), James Tolkan (x4), Jessica Harper, Harold Gould, Olga Georges-Picot, Beth Porter, Zvee Scooler, Aubrey Morris, Tony Jay, Howard Vernon

In the next short stretch, there’s going to be a ton of Woody Allen movies, and I apologize. As I’ve stated many times on this list, yes, I’ve got some reservations about Woody, but you’ve gotta realize how madly I loved this guy’s movies for most of my life. My greater concern as far as the list goes is how many of his films seemed to land in this general area. In the next month there are fully four films, including this one. That may seem like a lot, but going back to lists from years prior, this more represents a sliding of his films than some dominated bunching. He’s only got one movie in the top 85. It’s a 1992 situation all over again! Lots of films, not a ton populating the top rungs of the evaluation!

Also, the rare white cloak variation on Death!

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The Set of 400: #193 – My Favorite Rudolph Valentino Impression

Today! Because he’s never Justin any more. All day, every day –

They Might Be Giants (1971)

Directed by Anthony Harvey

Starring George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford, Rue McClanahan, Al Lewis (x2), Theresa Merritt, Oliver Clark, James Tolkan (x3), F. Murray Abraham (x3), Sudie Bond, M. Emmet Walsh (x4), Louis Zorich, Paul Benedict, Frances Fuller, Lester Rawlins, Ron Weyand

Another kind of Sherlock Holmes movie, They Might Be Giants shares more similarities with Man of La Mancha than with Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective, despite this movie featuring a mystery, a Watson, and sort of a Moriarty. Sort of. Not all that dissimilar from #264 The Ruling Class, this is another play-based lunatic comedy wherein the main character believes himself to be someone completely different – Ruling Class had Peter O’Toole’s upper crust noble convinced he was Jesus Christ; They Might Be Giants sees George C. Scott’s respected lawyer and judge Justin Playfair 100% committed to the idea that he is actually Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #196 – My Favorite Faceless Villain

Today! Because for a tough guy you do a lot of pansy things –

Dick Tracy (1990)

Directed by Warren Beatty

Starring Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Madonna (x2), Glenne Headly (x2), Charlie Korsmo, Dustin Hoffman (x3), Paul Sorvino (x2), Mandy Patinkin (x2), Seymour Cassel (x2), Charles Durning, William Forsythe, James Tolkan (x2), James Caan (x2), Michael J. Pollard (x3), Kathy Bates (x3), Dick Van Dyke, Ed O’Ross, R.G. Armstrong, Catherine O’Hara (x2), John Schuck (x2), Charles Fleischer (x4), Henry Silva, James Keane, Frank Campanella, Allan Garfield, Colm Meaney (x2), Bert Remsen (x2), Estelle Parsons

Look, we all wanted Dick Tracy to be the second coming of Batman in the summer of 1990, and no one more than Warren Beatty. They were using these hyper-stylized, primary color posters and design schemes, and they packed the film with movie stars from the smallest bit roles to the leads. And so what if the movie doesn’t 100% work – there is so much obvious effort in every inch of this film that you can’t help but be impressed as hell.

It’s a film exploding with color, and bullets

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The Set of 400: #344 – My Favorite 3D Shark

Today! Because he’s in a ’46 Ford, we’re in a DeLorean – he’d rip through us like we were tin foil –

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x2)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd (x2), Lea Thompson (x2), Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Billy Zane, Charles Fleischer, Casey Siemaszko, Elijah Wood (x2), Flea, Joe Flaherty, Donald Fullilove, Mary Ellen Trainor (x2)

Ah, 1989! A transformative film year for young Joe, not so much due to Back to the Future Part II, but because its release finally prompted me to watch Back to the Future Part I. And, you know, Batman, Indiana Jones 3, Ghostbusters 2, and so on. As I didn’t have the luxury of great distance between the original and the sequel, these two movies fell into that aforementioned issue I had as a kid – where a movie and its sequel sort of blend together. It didn’t help that BttFII straight rehashes the original movie during its second half, so the sheer laziness of this move didn’t much bother me as a ten year old.

And, I mean, they try to make it clever, showing the old scenes from new angles, with all new stakes and complications, but with a decidedly older face on Marty, and a completely different Jennifer. If you watch the first and second movies one after the other – and try to think of it as one movie – I think it actually makes for a cooler experience. If you allow yourself to ruminate on the fact that four years passed and this is what they came up with – not to mention the mind bending time travel convolutions and all that chalkboard explaining of things – you might not think back on II all that fondly.

Whatever you say, Doc!

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