Tag Archives: Robert Stack

The Set of 400: #37 – My Favorite Sale at Penney’s

Today! Because I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley –

Airplane! (1980)

Directed by Jim Abrahams (x3), David Zucker (x4), and Jerry Zucker (x3)

Starring Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty (x3), Leslie Nielsen (x3), Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges (x2), Robert Stack (x3), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stephen Stucker (x2), Jonathan Banks (x3), Barbara Billingsley, Lorna Patterson, Maureen McGovern, Joyce Bulifant, Gregory Itzin (x4), James Hong (x2), David Leisure, Ethel Merman, Jason Wingreen (x2), Jimmie Walker

Does anyone actually watch Airport anymore? Any of the Airport movies? I knew in some vague way growing up that they existed – that Airplane! was a direct parody of those films – but I never saw any of them until I was probably in college. Because those movies are nonsense. Now, by 1980, all four Airport films had been released, so I’m guessing the time was ripe to lambaste those hokey melodramas, but it kinda feels like making a parody of Twilight, no? Like, we all know its garbage, so how to escalate that and make fun of it? This being said, were you to glance at Airport‘s statistics, and found how it was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, and figured ol’ Joe for hyperbole, you’d be wrong. The 1970 Oscars were clearly insane.

When you’ve got Dean Martin playing a pilot, no tongue in cheek, you know there are problems

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The Set of 400: #142 – My Favorite Warsaw Shakespeare

Today! Because I’ll decide with whom my wife is going to have dinner and whom she’s going to kill –

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Starring Jack Benny, Carole Lombard (x4), Robert Stack (x2), Lionel Atwill (x2), Sig Ruman (x4), Felix Bressart, Stanley Ridges, Tom Dugan, Halliwell Hobbes (x2), Miles Mander (x2), Charles Halton

Filmed just prior to America’s entry into WWII, To Be or Not to Be stands as one of the rare comedies of the era tackling the Nazi menace. Once the war began, the whole filmic enterprise took on a justifiably somber tone in regards to the conflict, and so comedies are few and far between. Chaplin’s The Great Dictator had been met with some audience hostility in 1940, so uncomfortable did German aggression make viewers, and so To Be or Not to Be was far from an easy sell when conceived, despite the tremendous script and no less a filmmaker than Ernst Lubitsch at the helm.

By the time the movie would premiere in March of ’42, America was squarely in the war and the film’s star Carole Lombard was dead – a January plane crash after a domestic trip selling war bonds killing her, her mother, and 15 U.S. soldiers. Indeed, Lombard is often referred to as the first female casualty of the war, given the reasons for her travels at the time. So this, coupled with the film’s obvious brilliance, changed the attitude of audiences to one more receptive and supportive of aggressively anti-Nazi pictures.  Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #294 – My Favorite Rolling Ferris Wheel

Today! Because I fought your kind in the Great War, and we kicked the living shit out of you –

1941 (1979)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd (x3), Ned Beatty (x2), Christopher Lee (x4), Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune (x2), John Candy (x4), Nancy Allen, Lorraine Gary (x2), Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Robert Stack, Treat Williams, Murray Hamilton (x3), Elisha Cook Jr., Patti LuPone, Eddie Deezen, Perry Lang, Wendie Jo Sperber, Joe Flaherty, David L. Lander, Michael McKean (x3), Don Calfa, Susan Backlinie, Jerry Hardin, Audrey Landers, Dick Miller (x3), Mickey Rourke

For those of you unfamiliar with this movie – can you believe the above cast got together in ’79 and put on an epic war comedy? And under the direction of the king, Steven Spielberg, following his massive success with Jaws and Close Encounters? Doesn’t it make you want to run out and see what this movie could possibly be?? How have you avoided it all these years? Do it!

And for those of you already familiar with this movie, SHUT UP.

I’m not Titanic-level defensive about 1941, but that’s because most people either didn’t see it or don’t remember it enough to argue about it. And look, I know there is a lot wrong with this movie. It only sort of functions as a comedy – it’s like a less funny It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with explosions and extended choreographed fistfights – and sort of functions as a war movie. But the premise is solid enough and the cast is terrific that, even though it doesn’t totally deliver, it’s still a pretty entertaining movie. Continue reading

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