Would you go see a movie called The Incredible Journey In A Crazy Airplane? How about Floppy Coppers Don’t Bite?
These are just two examples of bizarre title translations offered up by the folks over at Madmind in an article about some of the truly odd titles German marketers have given to American movies. Click over to see how the above titles became attached to the comedy classic Airplane and to the Dan Aykroyd-Tom Hanks vehicle Dragnet. Wait until you see what they did to Soylent Green and Animal House!
Personally, I’d be interested in seeing an entire article devoted to the translation of Airplane itself. So much of the comedy depends on word play (“Surely you don’t mean it.” “I do. And don’t call me Shirley.”) that I can’t see a literal translation making any kind of sense to German speaking audiences.
The Delta’s old nemesis, Douglas C. Neidermeyer, apparently wasn’t killed by his own troops in Vietnam as previously thought. He’s currently running a restaurant in Milwaukee and has been talking to his college rivals, members of the Delta House fraternity about their time at Faber College.
It’s the word that, if muttered more than once, will get a film an automatic R rating. And the folks over at Box Office Psychics have compiled a list of approximately the top 50 films that unleash the so-called dreaded “F-Bomb.” Not surprisingly, the documentary Fuck, which examines the history of the word and how society has reacted to it over time, tops the list with the word be uttered a whopping 824 times. Meanwhile, the 1997 British comedy Nil By Mouth , with 428 F-bomb drops, takes second place and Martin Scorsese’s Casino, with 398, lands in third place. Click on the link to check out the whole list.
One of my all time favorite movies is the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker disaster spoof Airplane!. If you by chance haven’t seen the film, there’s no real way to describe the film’s offbeat, random, out-of-left field sense of humor. It’s something you’ll just have to experience for yourself.
I first saw the movie sometime in the early 1980s, at my friend’s house on HBO. It was a comic revelation to us and for months afterwards we would set each other up with lines like “Surely you don’t mean it,” and getting the expected “Yes I do. And don’t call me Shirley!” in response.
It wasn’t until around the time I was in high school or college that I learned that the movie was actually patterened after a 1957 b-movie called Zero Hour!, scripted by none other than Alex Roots Hailey! Finding it on television proved impossible and it never got a release on VHS.
Last week though, Zero Hour! finally got a home video release as part of Warner Brothers “Cult Camp Classics” series. And the similarities between Zero Hour! and Airplane! are amazing! Where the original film reached for dramatic tension, Airplane! grabs laughs using the exact same lines. The Zucker-Abrams-Zucker team knew that the original was pure soapy melodrama, and they played it as straight as possible, knowing that’s where the laughs were.
Don’t take my word for it though. Check out these two scene-by-scene comparisons that recently showed up on YouTube.
Director Rachel Talalay’s 1995 adaptation of the popular British comic book Tank Girl may have been raked over by critics and generally ignored by audiences during its brief theatrical run, it has managed to gather a small cult following.* Unfortunately, that following isn’t enough to ensure that studio MGM would want to put the time, money and effort towards a special edition DVD release that would improve the current barebones release already out there.
But for those fans of the film looking to see more of what Talalay had in mind for the film before she had to deal with interference from higher-ups in the studio, there’s hope. Over at her personal site, Talalay has posted some material in the form of photos and several previously unseen clips from Tank Girl that wound up on the cutting room floor. Included among the clips are the film’s original intended beginning (with some storyboards filling in for never finished effects shots), the film’s original ending, a different cut of its mid-film Cole Porter musical number and more. One of the photos features the film’s original Tank Girl, Emily Lloyd, before she was replaced by Lori Petty.
You can check it out here.
* A few years back, I attended an appearance by Malcolm McDowell, who plays Tank Girl‘s villainousKesslee, where before he spoke, a montage of his various film roles was played. By far the clip that got the biggest cheer was a scene from Tank Girl.
Pre-Saturday Night Live, the predominate comic voice in America in the 1970s was the National Lampoon magazine. It should come as no surprise that several of those responsible for the Lampoons’s early success – Michael O’Donoghue, John Belushi, Chevy Chase – would be the ones who would chart SNL‘s early fortunes.
But while some of its leading writers were striking out on their own to Not Ready For Prime Time fame, those still at the Lampoon turned their eye towards expanding their own brand, in the realm of movies. Three of their writers, Chris Miller, Harold Ramis and Doug Kenney, would collaborate on a screenplay about a misfit fraternity house called Animal House, based in part on two of Miller’s short stories that had appeared in the Lampoon- “The Night Of The Seven Fires” and “Pinto’s First Lay.”When it came time to shoot the film, both Miller and Kenney were given small parts as Delta frat members, giving director John Landis two of the screenplay’s writers to fall back on if the need arose.
Recently Miller has written up some memories of his time on the Oregon college campus filming Animal House over on his website*. Miller has also recently published The Real Animal House, a memoir of his college days that influenced his short stories and the Animal House screenplay.
Last month I told you about how Howard Stern almost starred in Barry Levinson’s film Man Of The Year. But it’s no secret that actors are linked to films that they never actually appear in. Often, the actor and the production have parted ways before the cameras start rolling. George Raft made a career out of rejecting roles that would make Humphrey Bogart a star. Other times, it’s discovered early in the filming that an actor is not quite suited for a role as hoped and another actor is brought in to replace them as Michael J. Fox memorably replaced Eric Stoltz on Back To The Future (1984) (see picture on right).
Now there’s a new website called NotStarring which features a database of actors and the films they almost appear in. Since the entries are submitted by users, some of the information found here should probably be taken with the same brand of salt grains reserved for the Internet Movie Database. Still, it makes for some interesting reading. Can you imagine Sylvester Stallone as Richard Donner’s Superman (1977) or Toshiro Mifune in Star Wars as Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Over at the fantastic Cartoon Brew, animation historian Jerry Beck has posted scans of a Look magazine article from Januray 1937 which illustrates, through stills and art work provided producer Leon Schlesinger’s artists at Warner’s Termite Terrace, things that the administrators of the Production Code at the Hays Office were keen on keeping out of cartoons in the 1930s.
Yesterday, while discussing the movie offers he has received over the years in the wake of his 1997 autobiographical Private Parts, talk radio icon Howard Stern mentioned that he was in talks with director Barry Levinson to star in last year’s political satire Man Of The Year, with Stern in the lead role that was eventually taken by Robin Williams as a political satirist who runs for the highest office in the land. It was announcement that brought to mind visions of his 1994 aborted run for New York governor.
Ultimately, Stern turned down the project despite expressing a desire to really want to work with director Barry Levinson. At the time, Stern was making the move from his FCC-hampered terrestrial radio gig to his new home at Sirius Satellite radio and felt that Sirius deserved his full creative energies at the moment. He also mentioned that he felt the script could have used some punching-up and that he had some ideas in that direction. Unfortunately, Levinson was intent on shooting as soon as possible and couldn’t wait the few months that Stern needed to get to a point where he could concentrate on the film.
What made yesterday’s revelation interesting is that while Stern has mentioned receiving film offers in the past, he has only gone into this amount of detail about these offers once before. Following the release of Private Parts, Stern was set to play the supporting role of a record company executive in the Melanie Griffith project Jane. David Spade was cast as Stern’s character’s assistant. Preproduction on the film had gotten as far as wardrobe fittings before a portion of the funding fell through, resulting in a rescheduled shoot that Stern wasn’t available for. When he dropped out of the project, the rest of the funding for the film fell apart and it was never made.
What isn’t surprising is Stern’s insistence of a re-write of Man Of The Year’s script, especially if the draft he was concerned about is the same one Levinson shot with Williams. Stern has a record of being demanding when it comes to screenplays. The script for Private Parts was in development for nearly three years and had reportedly gone through several writers, including Peter Torokvei (Real Genius, Guarding Tess) before Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko delivered a draft that he approved. Other projects that Stern has announced in the past as developing have also stalled out in the scripting phase.