Now in our sixth calendar year!|
PCR #257. (Vol. 6, No. 8) This edition is for the week of February 21--27, 2005.
Hello, gang! A few notes, some passing ons and more on JAWS. Shall we begin?
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID
Sometimes I gather stuff during the week intending to use it and then either misplace it or totally forget about it. I am profoundly ashamed that last week I forgot to mention the death of the great playwright Arthur Miller. Mr. Miller passed away on February 10th, ironically 56 years to the day that his best known work, "Death of a Salesman" premiered on Broadway. Cause of death was given as heart failure. Born October 17, 1915 in New York City, Miller's father ran a successful factory that made women's coats, though lost the business during the great depression. Miller went to work to earn his tuition to the University of Michigan. While there he won several student awards for the plays he wrote. Graduating in 1938, he received a grant from the Theatre Guild to return to New York City. In 1944, he wrote his first play for Broadway. "The Man Who Had All the Luck" ran a total of four performances. In 1947, he fared better. "All My Sons" opened and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play. In 1949 he premiered his greatest work. On Feb 10th, "Death of a Salesman" opened. Starring Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman, the play became the first in Broadway history to win the Tony Award, the Theatre League Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Shortly after "Salesman" opened, he fell out of favor when he refused to name names during a series of investigations into various writing groups by the government. His 1953 play, "The Crucible," which dealt with the Salem witch hunts, was his version of the proceedings he had to endure. He gained more fame when he took Marilyn Monroe as his second wife. In 1961, he adapted his short story, "The Misfits" into a script for Monroe. He won another Tony Award for the play "After the Fall," which was a fictionalized account of his life with Monroe. But it was the enduring success of "Salesman" that helped anoint Miller as perhaps this country's greatest playwright. At Willy Loman's funeral, his wife insists that "attention must be paid" to the man that nobody noticed. I apologize for not paying attention last week!
ALSO MOVING ON
Congrats to our Editor-in-Chief for his excellent piece on Hunter S. Thompson. No need for me to write anything here as he covered it all. I will say that as we close our issue this week his friends are trying to grant his wish of having his ashes fired out of a cannon!
Sandra Dee also passed away last week at the age of 62. Born Alexandria Zuck on April 23, 1942 in Bayonne, New Jersey, she was a successful model by the age of 12. She started doing television commercials and was signed at age 14 to do her first film. In 1959 she gained stardom when she appeared as "Gidget." That same year 16 year old Dee met 24 year old Bobby Darin. They were married the next year. They had one child, a son, Dodd. She and Darin made three films together in the early 60s. However, various problems caused them to divorce in 1967. In 1965, Dee was the last remaining major star to still be under exclusive studio contract. She did a few television films in the 70s but then retired for good. She gained new notoriety when the Broadway show, and later film, "Grease" introduced her to a new generation with the song, "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee."
Daniel O'Herlihy, the Irish actor with the distinct voice, passed away this week at the age of 85. A star on stage in his native Ireland, he was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his role in "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe." He later went on to star in such films as "Fail Safe" and "RoboCop."
Samuel W. Alderson, an inventor who developed crash test dummies used to make cars, parachutes and other devices safer, died February 11 at the age of 90 in an automobile accident. Ironically, he ran his car into a brick wall and, because he wasn't wearing his seat belt, was hurled through the windshield into a brick wall.
With the Oscars coming up this Sunday, the Writer's Guild of America gave their annual awards out earlier this week. Winner of the Best Original Screenplay Award was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," while "Sideways" took the Adapted Screenplay prize.
There is a great deal of hoopla being made about one of the films nominated for Best Picture. I want to really share my thoughts on this, but I'm afraid if I do I'll spoil a major plot twist. So I'll wait until after the Oscars to vent my rage!
JAWS: THE STORY - PART 7
With a cast and director in place, all that was needed was a completed script. Book author Benchley submitted a draft but, like most screenplays submitted by novelists, it was too "literal" in it's story. In Hollywood, "literal" means BORING. Enter Carl Gottlieb. A member of the famed San Francisco comedy troupe "The Committee," Gottlieb had won a writing Emmy Award for his work on the Smothers Brothers television show. Gottlieb was also an actor, having appeared on various television shows as well as the film "M*A*S*H." Originally hired to play Ben Meadows, the editor of the Amity Gazette, on April 22 1974 he officially became the "script doctor," often working up scenes with Spielberg and writing them overnight for the next day. Though he and Benchley shared screenplay credit on the film, he never collaborated with him. "I never sat in the same room with Peter Benchley," he told an interviewer once. The pace that Spielberg set was grueling. On more then one occasion a member of the crew would ask him, "You guys are making this up as you go along, aren't you?" As a final piece of irony, Gottlieb noticed that as he tightened up the script his character, who was a major player in the novel, kept having less and less to do. Fans of "Jaws" trivia know that, as originally shot, Meadows accompanied Brody and Hooper out to sea when they discovered Ben Gardner's mangled boat. To make it more suspenseful, Spielberg re-set the scene to a nighttime setting and re-shot it later with just the two main characters.
Left to right: Roy Scheider, Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb|
Well, all for now. Have a great week. Enjoy the Oscars. Don't forget to send in your picks. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.