Tag Archives: Milos Forman

The Set of 400: #9 – My Favorite Excessive Display of Notes

Today, because I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint –

 

Amadeus (1984)

Directed by Milos Forman (x2)

Starring F. Murray Abraham (x5), Tom Hulce (x3), Elizabeth Berridge, Jeffrey Jones (x6), Simon Callow, Roy Dotrice, Christine Ebersole (x2), Kenny Baker (x6), Cynthia Nixon, Vincent Schiavelli (x6), Charles Kay

We didn’t sit around the television watching a lot of 18th century Viennese epics as children, but perhaps because of when it was made and how often WPIX was willing to air this four hour (with commercials) biopic, a lifelong love affair sprung up with Amadeus. I mean, it’s basically a perfect movie – the leanest 160 minute film you’ll ever see – full of marvelous performances and dazzling set decoration, and even if you aren’t a particularly big fan of classical music, the combination of filmmaking expertise on display and riveting soundtrack make for an always engrossing audience experience. But for a kid? How and why did this movie catch?

I think having such a basic conflict is easy to understand at any age. Mozart – loads of raw talent, kind of an immature asshole. Salieri – marginally achieved skills through hard work, bitter at the very existence of Mozart, in a position to screw him up. Even years before you get into serious schooling and/or the workplace and you encounter people who basically fit either of these categories, the concept resonates – jealousy, yearning for acceptance/friendship, speaking backwards as a way of impressing potential romantic partners. A lot of basic human desire is evident out there! Plus, vibrant settings and fun costumery and terrific location shoots and the make-up! Again, it’s a perfect movie. I’ve used this description periodically on this list, but there’s always like one weird thing even in the best of movies to kind of rankle you, right?

Ahem

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The Set of 400: #182 – My Favorite Projectile Water Fountain

Today! Because I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this –

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Directed by Milos Forman

Starring Jack Nicholson (x4), Louise Fletcher (x3), Brad Dourif, Will Sampson, Scatman Crothers (x3), Danny DeVito (x5), Vincent Schiavelli (x5), Christopher Lloyd (x4), Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco, Sydney Lassick, Louisa Moritz, Mews Small, William Redfield

I was already well familiar with the movie by the time I read Ken Kesey’s book, which is a very different Cuckoo’s Nest experience, and then later Dale Wasserman’s play – which bears more similarity to the movie, but is sort of a neat hybrid of the two. Kesey famously hated the direction the movie went, because again, that book is wildly different, even as it tells basically the same story, but both are pretty great in their own ways.

The movie, however, does win out in the end, being the absolute cinematic classic that it is. And the whole thing came together as it did by a lot of luck – Kirk Douglas had starred as McMurphy on Broadway in the early ’60s and held the rights, only to age out of the role and pass the producing onto his son Michael, opening the door for Nicholson to come on board. That casting delayed the film, due to other Nicholson projects, which also roundabout-ly caused Lily Tomlin to vacate the Nurse Ratched role, picked up by Louise Fletcher, who subsequently dropped out of the epic pre-production on Robert Altman’s Nashville, in the role that ultimately Lily Tomlin ending up jumping into (Part of the reason Tomlin’s Linnea has deaf children in Nashville is because Louise Fletcher was fluent in sign language, having been born to deaf parents!). I think I have all that right, pulled together through various sources and my muddled memory.

And Lily Tomlin is excellent in Nashville

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