Tag Archives: Laurence Olivier

I got your Oscars right here

Back in the 1980s, the hilarious British puppet show Spitting Image tried to establish a beachhead in the colonies. It didn’t pan out, but it did leave behind this glorious trashing of the Academy Awards. The victims include Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Sigourney Weaver, Laurence Olivier, and above all, Leonard Nimoy.

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Friday finds

Ain’t It Cool News has been running behind-the-scenes photos from well-known movies, including this snap of Dustin Hoffman testing the patience of Laurence Olivier on the set of Marathon Man. If you’ve read William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, you know Hoffman was more than a bit of a dick with Olivier, playing method-acting-young-turk to Olivier’s old school Shakespearean eminence grise. The most cringe-inducing moment came when Hoffman badgered Olivier into a round of character improv, which the ailing lion endured despite very obvious pain and discomfort. Olivier got his own back during the filming of the famous Nazi dentistry scene, which Hoffman prepared for by going without sleep for days, arriving on the set looking so strung-out that Olivier, in his best stage legend voice, said, “Dear boy, why don’t you just try acting?”

Now here is a reason to visit Asbury Park!

Uchenna Ikonne,who blogs about African pop music at With Comb & Razor, was just interviewed by Public Radio International. Give it a listen.

Time to check in with James Lee Burke.

Ray Bradbury’s a little old to follow through on this, but I’m sure he appreciates the thought.

“Hitchens’ remarks on the passing of Jerry Falwell were on the mark. Interviewed during a CNN obituary of Falwell, Hitchens brought a sharp turn in the program’s tone: ‘The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend. Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September the 11th were the result of our sinfulness and were God’s punishment — if they hadn’t got some kind of clerical qualification?’

I’ve read quite a few remembrances of actress Patricia Neal since her recent death at 84, but this one at The Sheila Variations is far and away the best. She rightly gives pride of place to the earthy, world-weary sensuality of Neal’s performances as Alma Brown in Hud. Playing against Paul Newman at his studliest and Melvyn Douglas at his flintiest, Neal did more than hold her own: She made Alma the true moral counterforce to Hud’s greed and selfishness, as opposed to the father’s inflexible moral rectitude. Good, thoughtful arts writing isn’t dead — it was exiled to the Internets by newspapers and magazines.

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Peter, Laurence, and Richard (and Bill)

It’s a Richard III weekend here! This clip is from a 1965 Granada television special, The Music of Lennon and McCartney, which featured Peter Sellers reciting the lyrics of  “A Hard Day’s Night” in the manner of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. The Beatles had been fans of Sellers since his Goon Show days, and at their request he had presented them with their Grammy Award earlier that year. Sellers’ recitation was released as a single and actually sold pretty well.

In case you need a refresher, here’s Olivier’s version of the “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech that opens Richard III.

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