If you know the movie “Network” at all, it’s probably from this single line of dialogue: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” That’s fine. It’s a great line, definitely the line of the movie, as well as being the mission statement of not just Howard Beale, the anchorman slipping into madness, but the man who created him, playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. Plus, it’s not really a “single line.” It’s repeated again and again throughout the movie, first by Beale himself, then by viewers all over American who shout it out their windows, and finally by Beale’s studio audience, reciting it as a cheap catchphrase, one that’s lost all the bite and bile it once had.
Hollywood loves a self-portrait, as long as it’s a flattering one. And that’s the problem — and the genius of “Sunset Blvd.” The 1950 classic isn’t a glowing valentine to the movie industry; it’s a bitter, nasty picture of how Hollywood chews up and spits out the people who make its existence possible: struggling screenwriters, good-hearted studio employees and, most of all, forgotten stars of the silent era.
This week’s episode of Out of Theaters takes a look at teen movies from two generations: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” which was released in 1982 and aimed at the oldest members of Generation X, and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which hit theaters in 1998 and targeted the Millennials. In a strange twist, “Fast Times” arrived three years before Will graduated high school, and “Can’t Hardly Wait” arrived three years before Billy got his diploma. So, for two of the members of our esteemed podcast (I’m leaving Kevin out because he doesn’t fit the math), these movies didn’t so much reveal what high school was like, they revealed what high school might be — at least, according to Hollywood.
Modern movies starring the likes of Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds have given the very concept of romantic comedy a bad name, but in the right hands, romance plus comedy can be more than amusing or heartwarming. It can be a masterpiece — which brings us to 1960’s “The Apartment.”
Today’s podcast combines two things that are completely outdated: A black-and-white movie and newspapers. His Girl Friday (1940) follows unscrupulous newspaper editor Walter Burns’ (Cary Grant) quest to win back his ex-wife and former star reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) from her dull but pleasant fiance Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy, who played Randolph “not Mortimer” Duke in Trading Places and Coming to America).
This week’s podcast covers the most famous talkie about talkies: Singin’ in the Rain, which depicts Hollywood’s transition from silent films to talking pictures. And, out of respect for the bygone silent film era, we leave an hour of dead air on the podcast. It’s our best episode yet! Singin’ is much more appreciated by contemporary critics (100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) than it was by audiences who first saw it in 1952, when it was released to modest success.
In 1977, there was only one force that could defeat Darth Vader: Woody Allen. Allen’s Annie Hall bested Star Wars at the 50th Academy Awards by winning best picture. As we all know, that defeat stopped the Star Wars franchise dead in its tracks. Annie Hall meanwhile becomes a runaway franchise for fan boys, complete with Woody Allen action figures, Woody Allen theme rides and, unfortunately, the forgettable Annie Hall prequels.
If Gone with the Wind — which we featured in episode one — is the king of classic films, then Casablanca may be the runner up. The 1942 romantic drama is set in the Moroccan city of Casablanca during World War II. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. It’s littered with lines that have seeped into pop culture, like this one and this one. In this episode, we all praise the movie as a flawless masterpiece and then discuss how to remake it into a B-movie filled with unnecessary violence, unnecessary nudity and unnecessary Snoop Dogg. The whole exercise is unnecessary, come to think of it.
The debut episode of Out of Theaters covers a movie that’s synonymous with classic films. Gone with the Wind is not only the highest-grossing, most enduring movie of all time — it’s perhaps the biggest pop culture anything of all time. Starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind (1939) depicts Civil War South as an orange-skied utopia that’s ruined by Yankee invaders and carpetbaggers. It’s a cinematic masterpiece that we can still watch 76 years later and say, “wow, that’s incredibly racist.”