Archive for June, 2008


Top Five Cinematically Portrayed Presidents

Last week I posted an article on the Top Five Actors to play the character of the President of the United States in movies. But what about the REAL Presidents? How many of them have been featured in movies? Who is the most popular? Factoring ONLY movies or films (no TV shows, TV movies, or videos) here are the



#5 Theodore Roosevelt – What can you say about a President that won the Nobel Peace Prize, was the first to ride in an airplane designed by the Wright Brothers, had a photographic memory, inspired the Maxwell House slogan and the “teddy bear,” and was the youngest voted in office? While he may be fifth highest in film popularity, he’s probably #1 in Toughest Presidents Who Ever Lived. This guy took a bullet to the chest before a campaign speech, and still gave his speech! Unfortunately his boss McKinley wasn’t as impervious to conventional weaponry and “Ted” was ushered into the head position. Boxing, hunting, writing, starting the National Forestry Service, buinding the Panama Canal… Theodore Roosevelt deserves his own movie, but for now the 26th President comes in with 27 appearances in the world of film.


#4 Thomas Jefferson – Pea-loving President Thomas Jefferson (the guy cultivated 15 types of English Pea). Jefferson’s influence is seen all across America; virtually every state has a city or town named Jefferson, as well as a Jefferson County. Aside from that, he was known for his 6,000 books becoming the basis of the Library of Congress, keeping bears from the Lewis and Clark expeditions caged on the White House lawn, playing the violin, and owning 200 slaves. He also oversaw the Louisiana Purchase, was a member of Congress, governor of Virginia, Minister to France, and was Vice President under John Adams. The “Big Cheese” is a cut above Roosevelt coming in with 30 appearances in cinema land.


#3 Ulysses S. Grant – Named for his grandfather Hiram and the Greek hero Ulysses, he changed his name before going to West Point because, let’s face it, H.U.G. ain’t manly. Grant was more renown for his Civil War record which included the taking of Forts Henry and Donelson, the Vicksburg campaign, and accepting the surrender of Robert E. Lee at the Appomatox Court House. While he was probably one of the greatest military strategists and leaders, his presidency was lackluster. Of note, he did show support for African Americans. Losing a “third term” election try he went into retirement nearly bankrupt due to bad investments and throat cancer, which he tried to “cure” using cocaine. Just before dying he published his “Memoirs,” which brought in $500,000 for his family. General-come-President Grant storms up the list past Jefferson with 35 appearances in movies.


#2 George Washington – The first person to be inaugurated as President of the United States (there had been a few others running the country until the position was created) we all grew up hearing the stories of how he chopped down a cherry tree, he had false teeth, etc. While some of this stuff is debatable myth, here is some more trivia: he loved fishing and fox hunting, always carried a portable sundial, once issued an order forbidding swearing in the U.S. Army, was the first Masonic President, grew hemp on his farm, freed all his slaves, and wore size 13 boots. America was just beginning when he was in office so instead of living in D.C., he mainly hung out between Mount Vernon and Philly. He and Thomas Jefferson were the only two people to sign the Declaration of Independence and go on to become president. Number One takes a Number Two in overall cinematic popularity, appearing in motion pictures 51 times (not counting dollar bills). 


Which leads us to the most known of all…


#1 Abraham Lincoln – Honest Abe. The first to be born outside the original 13 colonies (Kentucky!) at an early age his family moved to Illinois. From that point he grew up and took several jobs, including working as a deck hand on a flatboat. His real interest was in politics, becoming a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, teaching himself the bar exam, becoming a lawyer, and finally getting elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he spoke out against President Polk and the Mexican-American War, saying, “God of Heaven has forgotten to defend the weak and innocent, and permitted the strong band of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children, and lay waste and pillage the land of the just.” Fearing political backlash, he stepped away from reelection and focused on being a lawyer. The political itch came back in 1854 and he then took to campaigning against slavery (Lincoln-Douglas debates) and running as an underdog, campaigned for the Presidency. The rest is history… Other interesting trivia: he suffered from depression/melancholia, loved wrestling, had a cat named “Bob,” and has a patent for lifting boats over shoals. If you haven’t noticed his likeness is on the penny, the $5 bill, a stamp, and Mount Rushmore. And if you’re not Lincoln’d out yet he’s number one with a bullet: 106 appearances in movies.


And for those who are curious as to how other Presidents have done…


Franklin D. Roosevelt: 21 times.

John F. Kennedy: 21 times

Richard M. Nixon: 18 times

Bill Clinton: 9 times

George W. Bush (current): 14 times

Other trivia note: John Tyler, James Buchanan, and Warren G. Harding have NEVER been in a movie. 














Will you be my Prez? Top 5 Actors

Here at the Film Guys Online/ Chas film Productions Research Department, we have combed through the vast information available to us to present to you:




Note: the following 5 actors are based on the amount of times that they have played the “character” of the President of the United States, not necessarily on acting ability, likeability, or popularity.


#5 Ronny Cox – I remember when he played Andrew Bogomil in “Beverly Hills Cop 1 & 2,” as well as the a-hole head of CP in “RoboCop.” Oh yeah, and he was in “Total Recall.” Mr. Cox starts off the list by playing the Prez twice: he was President Tom Kimball in “Captain America” (1990) and President Jack Neil in “Murder at 1600” (1997).



#4 Gene Hackman – Gene is in my Top 20 Actors of All Time. Although I have not officially made that list, he’s a serious contender. Known for roles such as “Popeye” Doyle in “The French Connection,” and Capt. Ramsey in “Crimson Tide,” Hackman was the kinda guy that was unpredictable, which made watching him great. He’s another two President-er: he played ex-President Monroe Cole in “Welcome to Mooseport” (2004) and President Allen Richmond in “Absolute Power” (1997).


#3 Hal Holbrook – “Magnum Force,” “Capricorn One,” “The Fog,” “Creepshow,” and “The Firm,” are but a few of the titles under Holbrook’s belt. Currently, he played Walter Perkins in the indie film, “Into the Wild,” based on the book by Jon Krakaeur. Mr. Holbrook played President Adam Scott in “The Kidnapping of the President” (1980) and President Maxwell Monroe in “Under Siege” (TV movie, but I needed to round-out the list) (1986)


#2 Leslie Nielsen – Growing up with the humor of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker it’s hard to imagine Leslie Nielsen as a serious actor. His most notable appearance was in “Forbidden Planet.” It was because of his foray into slapstick comedy that he played President Baxter Harris in “Scary Movie 3” (2003) and “Scary Movie 4” (2006). My favorite quote of his is still: “Nice beaver.” Gotta love the “Naked Gun” movies.



#1 Roy Scheider – Has there ever been a greater actor than Roy Scheider? Maybe, but I shall and will debate you until my last dying breath. Or until the pizza gets here. Either way, Scheider is, was, and has been my favorite actor of all time. It takes a lot to convince throngs of audiences that a mechanical killer shark is REAL, and he was just the person to pull it off. Roy is the King of Actors Playing the Prez, holding Three Occurrences: he was President Carlson in “Executive Target” (1997), President Robert Baker in “The Peacekeeper” (1997), and President Jack Cahill in “Chain of Command” (2000).


Did anyone notice that Scheider his “French Connection” co-star Hackman played El Presidente in the same year? 1997. And Scheider played the character twice. There ya go.


Remake Radar: The Day the Earth Stood Still



Welcome to the June edition of Remake Radar, where we tackle Hollywood’s penchant for remaking previous films (for better or worse). This edition’s remake: The Day the Earth Stood Still.


“The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951)


Stars: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, and Sam Jaffe.


Director: Robert Wise


Story: Klaatu (Rennie) lands his spaceship on Earth to give a message of peace. The response in kind is to shoot at him. He calls out his giant robot Gort (Lock Martin) and narrowly escapes. Klaatu blends into society by calling himself Mr. Carpenter, and meets single mom Helen Benson (Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Gray). He tours around a bit, finds out that mankind has a penchant for warfare, and warns others that if the Earth doesn’t stop making other planets feel uncomfortable, it’ll be destroyed. Speaking of which, unless he gets to Gort and repeats the magic words, Earth WILL be destroyed.


Based on: “Farewell to the Master,” by Harry Bates.


What do we know now?: It’s coming out at the end of the year! Director Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) will be bringing it to a theatre near you on/around December 12, 2008.


The current cast:


Jennifer Connelly…      Helen Benson

Keanu Reeves…          Klaatu

John Cleese…              Dr. Barnhardt

Kathy Bates…             ?


Movie Review: Get Smart



Sorry about this one, Chief.


Starring Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, and James Caan. Directed by Peter Segal


For the most part, it was enjoyable.


The story: Maxwell Smart (Carell) works for CONTROL, an organization that rivals the CIA and is thought to be defunct. Smart is one of the best linguists for CONTROL, producing reports on singular conversations that look like tomes of literature. What he really wants to do, however, is be a field agent. On his eighth try he passes the test, but Chief (Arkin) won’t promote him because Smart is too good at his job.


When Siegfried (Stamp), a terrorist wanting to get KAOS back into action, blows up a factory and infiltrates CONTROL, agents are killed and their identities compromised, the Chief has no choice but to send out Smart (because no one knows who he is) and Agent 99 (Hathaway), who had facial reconstruction surgery (know one knows who she is, either).


Meanwhile, Siegfried and KAOS have a plan: the President (Caan, doing a “W” impersonation) will be attending a concert at L.A.’s Disney Hall. During the final notes of “Ode to Joy,” –KABOOM. Ensuring this plan is Shtarker (Ken Davitian) and a gigantic bodyguard named Dalip (Dalip Singh), as well as the possibility of a double-agent inside CONTROL.


What works for this movie is the “amusing” humor. Not always laugh-out-loud, not always knee-slapping, but whimsical, amusing humor. It’s this light-hearted humor that sustains for the first third of the movie. From there it goes to action sequences (the best I’ve seen done for a comedy movie) that are broken-up by an occasional remark or laugh-out-loud moment.


Carell’s plays Maxwell Smart as a doggish-character who gets kicked around a lot, but keeps loyal to the task at hand. He may not be 100% the Maxwell Smart envisioned a la Don Adams, but he’s the closest we got. Hathaway does a good job at being Agent 99, but I think she was a little young for Carell. Arkin was great as The Chief, and Dwayne Johnson did a good job, too. Hell, even Bill Murray did a good job as Agent 13 (an agent forever disguised as a tree).


Is there anything I didn’t like about the movie? Not really. I wasn’t expecting a lot. Does it stack up to the television show? Seeing as how the show was on the air decades ago, it’s kinda difficult. I mean, condense a TV show down to a two-hour film and don’t use the actors who were originally in it. Is it a good idea or a bad idea? Should we continue making movies based off of TV shows? That’s a discussion for another time.


Kudos to Trevor Rabin for making music that really stood out.


Overall, this movie was enjoyable in a “kill an afternoon” sorta way. If this doesn’t make the money it needs at the box office, it’ll be a hit when it comes out on DVD and makes its way to cable.


My grade: B


In Passing… George Carlin (1937-2008)



This one is kinda personal.


I’m not big on doing these obit columns. Part of the reason I do them, among the gambit of other entertainment news/reviews that I do, is to pay respect to individuals (quite a few who are behind the scenes) and to make aware to those outside the industry the passing of someone who affected entertainment and, at times, became part of the pop culture.


This morning I logged onto the Net and found George Carlin was dead. He had passed away yesterday from heart problems at the age of 71.


The first time I had heard about him through my parents and friends. I eventually anted-up and bought “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” (an audio version of his “Doin’ It Again,” HBO special). It was my rite-of-passage into the world of comedy. From that point I bought his next two albums and listened to the point where I knew the routines by heart.


Being a movie nerd (special interest geek) I remember back to the “Bill and Ted” movies where he played Rufus. He was in on the joke of it all and hey, it was a paycheck. He also played in some of Kevin Smith’s movies notably “Dogma” (as a priest), “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (as a hitchhiker who knew the rules of the road), and in “Jersey Girl” as Ben Affleck’s dad. Other films include: “Scary Movie 3,” “Cars,” and “Car Wash.”


But the real reason that Carlin is known is his comedy. Social and political commentary, religion, human nature, and poking fun at the English language, were all done with acidic humor and wit. Whether he was talking about war (“The bombs and the rockets and the bullets are all shaped like dicks…”) or language (“Sneakers became running shoes. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue…”) or anything else (“A place for all my stuff…”) he knew how to jab at it the right way, making a point and having you agree at the same time.


One accomplishment (if you can call it that) was having a Supreme Court case brought against him. In 1973 he was in Wisconsin doing a concert rattling off the “Seven Dirty Words.” Wisconsin radio broadcasted it all (uncensored) and a guy driving down the road with his son in the car were listening to it. He complained, it went to the FCC, the FCC talked with the TV station, Carlin was brought up on obscenity charges, and eventually it went up to the Supreme Court. You can go to your local library and look it up the case; it’s funny to see the seven words listed in a book that contains other, more prestigious, cases.


In closing, thank you George for inspiring comedians around the world and for making the rest of us think about the things we take for granted. We’ll miss your satiric thoughts, sharp tongue, and the fact that you could make us laugh our asses off.


“Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.” – George Carlin



For more information, check out the article on Yahoo! At:


For his movie credits, click on the link below:



Movie News and Views June 20, 2008 Trailer Edition




“Diminished Capacity” – Matthew Broderick takes a vacation to see his uncle (Alan Alda) has the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s but most importantly, a genuine mint baseball card. Along with Virginia Madsen they go up to Chicago to try and sell it. Opens July 4, 2008 View the trailer at:


“The Stone Angel” – Ellen Burstyn, Ellen Page, and Christine Horne in a movie based on a book by Margaret Laurence. Romantic stuff. Opens July 7, 2008 View the trailer at:


“The X-Files: I Want to Believe: – It’s been a few years, but Mulder is called back on a case and enlists the help of Scully. Also stars Xzibit, Amanda Peet, and Billy Connelly. The Truth Is Out There… Opens July 25, 2008 View the trailer at:


“Vicky Christina Barcelona” – Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson) are sisters who go to Barcelona, where they meet an artist (Javier Bardem). Bardem seduces them and when his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) shows up, things really get out-of-hand. Opens August 15, 2008 View the trailer at:


“Death Race” – Briton action star Jason Statham is a NASCAR driver who is framed for the death of his wife. Punishment: he’s sent to a prison where the female warden cuts him a deal. If he can survive a no-holds-barred souped-up muscle car race, then he’s free to go. But will the warden let him survive? Also stars Ian McShane. Opens August 22, 2008 View the trailer at:


“Burn After Reading” – Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand work in a fitness club and stumble upon the memoirs of a CIA agent (John Malkovich). When they try to blackmail him, things get crazy. Opens September 12, 2008 View the trailer at:


“The Women” – Let me run down the cast list for ya: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Carrie Fisher… it’s endless. Opens September 12, 2008 View the trailer at:


“Choke” – Sam Rockwell is a re-enactor who sleeps with every woman that he can and elicits money from sympathetic people when he chokes on food in restaurants. Based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk (“Fight Club”). Opens September 26, 2008 View the trailer at:


“Eagle Eye” – Shia LeBeouf is a slacker who is being hunted down by a government agency who must team up with Michelle Monaghan to get some answers. Also stars Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, and Michael Chiklis. Opens September 26, 2008 View the trailer at:


“Punisher: War Zone” – Ray Stevenson plays the Marvel character who, this time, is taking on a New York underworld boss it wants to control it all. Opens December 5, 2008 View the trailer at:


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Brad Pitt is the title character: a man who was born looking ancient and regresses in outward age as he progresses with his inward age. Complications arise when he falls in love with Cate Blanchett. Opens December 19, 2008 View the trailer at:


A Tale of Two Hulks



2003: “Hulk”

2008: “The Incredible Hulk”


2003: Directed by Ang Lee

2008: Directed by Louis Leterrier


2003: Dr. Banner played by Eric Bana

2008: Dr. Banner played by Ed Norton


2003: Betsy Ross played by Jennifer Connelly

2008: Betsy Ross played by Liv Tyler


2003: General Ross played by Sam Elliott

2008: General Ross played by William Hurt


2003: Banner’s father made him “special” by altering his DNA.

2008: Banner is your standard nerdy scientist


2003: A lab accident happens and Banner survives, his altered DNA mixing with nanomeds.

2008: A lab accident happens and Banner miraculously survives Gamma radiation poisoning.


2003: Banner goes on the run because when he gets angry, he becomes the “Hulk,” and he likes it.

2008: Banner goes on the run because when he gets angry he becomes the “Hulk,” and he hates it.


2003: Banner returns home to get information, which isn’t much seeing as it was devastated by a bomb explosion.

2008: Banner returns home to Culver City Campus to get information, which isn’t much seeing as how General Ross removed it from the computer system.


2003: Banner becomes Hulk and saves Betsy’s life because his dad unleashed three mutant dogs on her.

2008: Banner becomes Hulk and saves Betsy’s life because she went to protect him and puts herself in the middle of Hulk being strafed by ammunition while her father watches.


2003: General Ross is slightly sympathetic, but believes Banner will follow in his father’s footsteps.

2008: General Ross lied to Banner about the work he was doing and sees him as military property to dissect.


2003: The experiment in the lab was about creating soldiers who could regenerate.

2008: The experiment in the lab was about creating “super soldiers.”


2003: Hulk DNA goes to Banner’s father, who wants to “understand” the transformation.

2008: Hulk DNA goes to Emil Blonsky so he can become a super soldier and bring Hulk down.


2003: Hulk DNA does not mix well and Banner’s dad becomes a giant electrical monster.

2008: Hulk DNA does not mix well and Blonsky becomes Abomination.


2003: Banner/Hulk must sacrifice himself and fight dad/giant electrical monster.

2008: Banner/Hulk must sacrifice himself and fight Abomination.


2003: The fight ends with the military dropping a giant Gamma bomb. Hulk and electrical monster are nowhere to be found.

2008: The fight ends with Hulk strangling Abomination with a chain. Hulk wins, and runs away.


2003: Banner/Hulk is hiding out in an Amazonian rainforest.

2008: Banner/Hulk is hiding out in the Canadian woods.


2003: Banner/Hulk was in San Francisco.

2008: Banner/Hulk was in New York City.


2003: Hulk no speak.

2008: Hulk speak: “Hulk smash!”


2003: Stan Lee had a cameo as a security guard.

2008: Stan Lee had a cameo as a senior citizen who drank juice with Hulk blood in it.


2003: Lou Ferrigno had a cameo as a security guard.

2008: Lou Ferrigno had a cameo as a security guard, and he does the voice for Hulk.


In Passing… Stan Winston (1946-2008)



Special effects master and makeup artist Stan Winston passed away last night at the age of 62. Winston’s start was doing gargoyle makeup for the 1972 TV movie, “Gargoyles.” From there he would do makeup for such movies as “The Wiz,” “The Thing, “Edward Scissorhands,” “Pearl Harbor,” “A.I.,” and “Constantine.” He’s more renown, however, at being the special effects guy for, “Aliens,” “Leviathan,” “The Relic,” “Predator,” “Constantine,” and the recent “Iron Man.”


Best wishes and deepest sympathies for the Winston family.


For more information, check out the L.A. Times article at:


Stan Winston’s IMDB resume:


Special thanks to Mike Sampson at for his post on this.


Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk





Starring Ed Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, and Tim Roth. Directed by Louis Leterrier.


For the purposes of this movie review, I’m only dealing with the current “Hulk” movie, not the 80’s TV show, the cartoon, or any of the comics, and only limited dealing with the 2003 Ang Lee movie.


Like “Iron Man,” this movie wastes no time. The opening credit sequence shows that Bruce Banner (Norton) was a scientist exposing himself to gamma radiation, being watched over by assistant Elizabeth Ross (Tyler). Something goes wrong and Banner becomes… something else. The lab is destroyed and “Betsy” winds up in the hospital. Her dad General Ross (Hurt) bans Banner and he leaves. From that point Banner is on the run (watch for S.H.E.I.L.D. references as well as the  names Tony Stark and Nick Fury).


And that’s just the opening.


Banner is now living in Brazil keeping under the radar by working at a bottling plant, practicing yoga and breathing exercises, learning the language by watching “Sesame Street,” and keeping in contact with “Mr. Blue” as to how he can get rid of the “Hulk-ness.”


When his blood accidentally makes it into a bottle of fruit juice it affects a mild-mannered citizen (Stan Lee) and Hurt gets the best of the best to help tear down the slums of Brazil/ find Bruce Banner. Inducted into the group is Russian-born English-bred and on-loan to the States Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). After destroying the bottling plant Blonsky stares into the face of Hulk and like Ahab to Ishmael he makes a new life goal of bringing Banner/Hulk down. When Blonsky confronts Ross about what’s going on, Ross confides that he was trying to re-initiate a “super-soldier” program using Banner and that’s how Hulk came about. Blonsky, apparently as crazed as Ross, signs up for some “super juice.”


Not to be outdone in the Crazy Department, Banner wakes up in the jungle and decides that having nothing to lose, he should go back to Culver University (where it all started) and get the data he needs to send to “Mr. Blue.” This means also running into Elizabeth and the distinct possibility that he will not make it to New York to meet up with the scientist, but it does assure the destruction of military stuff.


I’ll stop there. While this film is largely plotless, it’s enjoyable on about the same level of “Iron Man.” Is it better than the previous movie outing? Yes, by 100 times. Is this a film? No. This is a comic book that you are watching (sorta like how “Iron Man” was). Yes, there’s destruction. The villain in this movie makes sense as opposed to “super demigod” Nick Nolte. And yes, I was actually behind the Hulk to win.


The only problem that comes with doing a Hulk movie is the problem with dealing with Superman: these characters are limited. Bruce Banner is boring compared to the primal rage of Hulk like Clark Kent is boring compared to how super Superman is.


Aside from that, I got no complaints. Why should you see this? Well, it’s probably the best Hulk film yet. It’s a little more than popcorn fun, the CG is well done, Norton does a great job, etc. Watch for the cameos of Stan Lee as (again) a mild-mannered senior citizen who drinks “Hulk” blood and Lou Ferrigno as a security guard (and he moonlights as Hulk’s voice). Tim Blake Nelson is Stearns/ Mr. Blue, a scientist intrigued with the Hulk.


Extra credit if you can comment on the review with the Bill Bixby reference.


My grade: B+


Movie Review: Son of Rambow



Make film. Not war.


Starring Neil Dudgeon, Bill Milner, Jessica Hynes, Will Poulter, and Jules Sitruk. Directed by Garth Jennings.


Setting: England, some point in the 1980’s. Will Proudfoot (Milner) is a young schoolboy with a great ability to do drawings. His main problem is that his family is under the religious regime of the Brethren, a sect that outlaws media, art, and most of the outside world influences. Enter Lee Carter (Poulter), the “trouble” kid. He smokes, helps his brother bootleg movies, and gets into trouble just about every day. When these two opposites meet, Lee makes Will feel indebted to him, and pulls him into helping to win a filmmaking contest. When Will watches “First Blood” for the first time, he transforms from mild-mannered kid into the rambunctious “Son of Rambow.” What follows is a tale of friendship, religion, family, and small-scale filmmaking.


What I liked about this movie: it’s endearing. Instead of your CGI-based movie, or the standard sugar-coated Disney fare, this film has heart whereas the others have money. It’s not a perfect film; it has its flaws and it can meander, but overall I enjoyed it.


The only movie I could even compare it to would be “Bowfinger.” Thing is, it’s not as campy or corny as “Bowfinger” was. However, it does show filmmaking on a small scale: getting the people, the prima donna actor, “losing control” over the production… all of that is in here. Again, it’s a nice movie. Not great, not earth-shattering, but nice. And that’s all it really aims for.


My grade: B