Robert Rodriguez briefs Comic-Con on his latest projects
Will the world be safe from maniacal villains?
The acclaimed superhero, responsible for saving our planet from imminent doom, collapsed following a golf game at a Los Angeles Country Club and was found, dead, on a locker room couch.
Whoa, don’t worry…I’m not talking about Chris Evans, the 30-year-old star of the new Marvel Comics extravaganza opening today. No, I’m referring to the original Captain America, Dick Purcell, who stared in a series of Captain America films made in 1944 by Republic Studios. It was one of Republic’s most successful serials but sadly, Captain America himself didn’t live to see it. Just a few weeks after filming completed, on April 10, 1944, the actor dropped dead at the tony golf club in Pacific Palisades (site of the film “Pat and Mike” starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy).
Though he had already appeared in over 70 films, Purcell’s biggest success was achieved posthumously. If only he could have been around to see his fortunes turn. Purcell’s final few years were difficult. He divorced his wife, a glamorous former Ziegfeld girl named Ethelind Terry, after only three months. In the divorce papers, Purcell wrote, “It is no longer possible to live with her without seriously jeopardizing my health and well-being.” Now there’s a story we need to hear more about!
As for this first filmed version of Captain America, it was an oddity. While the superhero looked very much like his Marvel Comics counterpart, complete with the big “A” on his cap and the star and stripes on his chest, Republic veered quite a bit from the comic book’s storyline. Captain America’s alterego, Steve Rogers, was replaced in the serial by District Attorney Grant Gardner, fighting the evil machinations of the films’ main villain. Known as “The Scarab,” Captain America’s nemesis was actually museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor (played by Lionel Atwill). Maldor’s plans for world domination involved a series of lethal weapons he invented including one called the “Dynamic Vibrator.” Oy, what “Saturday Night Live” could do with that (oh wait, they already have!). Captain America’s lady love was played by beautiful Lorna Gray, an actress whose other claim to fame was appearing in many of the Three Stooges’ classic shorts. Gray is still with us today at the age of 93—too bad she wasn’t given a cameo in the new “Captain America” film as Noel Neill, the original Lois Lane, had in some of the later “Superman” films.
How do you think the original “Captain America” compares with the film opening today? Take a look!
The brutal Nicolas Winding Refn film is a heartstopper
This year's Comic-Con is in full swing down in sunny San Diego, and few panels have garnered as much positive Twitter buzz than the one that featured a look at Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" (and if you follow the tweets that come out of SDCC, you'll know that positive buzz is the name of the game, so saying that a panel came out on top in buzz - that's really saying something). I was lucky enough to catch the film at this year's Los Angeles Film Festival, and it's a beautiful - and brutal (a word I can't and won't overuse when it comes to this particular film) - piece of work.
The film stars Ryan Gosling as an unnamed driver - he's a grease monkey who sometimes gets sidework as a stunt driver on some Hollywood productions, but the real money comes in when he moonlights as a getaway driver for all manner of crimes, just so long as they hinge on getting away good and quick. Things change for him when he gets roped into a new job with two mobsters (played terrifyingly by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman). And then things change again when he takes up with his charming new neighbor, Carey Mulligan, and her young son.
The red band trailer gives us a good look at the style the infuses the film's every frame, along with the violence that bursts out in increasing frequency. "Drive" may feature, well, lots of driving, but it's also surprisingly bloody and gun-heavy. It's a stunner, but it's one of those films people like to call a "hard-R," rife with complications and big blasts and pulpy twists that put other action flicks to shame. Yet for all that brutality, "Drive" also serves as just a continuation of Gosling's career, which is one that may see him take on all manner of roles, but roles bound by one common factor - outstanding, heartstopping performance.
American audiences are likely not familiar with Danish director Refn, but he won the Best Director prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival for "Drive," and there's no doubt why - the film is one of the most clear-eyed and well-directed projects I've seen all year. Refn is a startlingly assured director, and one of the few that could keep "Drive" rolling along on a straight track (forgive me). Refn previously directed Tom Hardy in a similarly eye-catching performance in "Bronson."
For now, check out the trailer over at IGN, and let us know what you think in the comments section. "Drive" opens on September 16.
Because of course he will
Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel' moves to summer 2013
The film is a passion project for the 'Bridesmaids' star
It appears as if Annette Bening is looking to continue to beef up her resume with slightly kooky and generally lovable mother roles. Bening was recently nominated for an Oscar for her work in “The Kids Are All Right” as one half of a lesbian pair with a brood of two teenagers, and she’s currently filming a mother role in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ “He Loves Me” (that duo are also responsible for another great mother role – they directed Toni Collette in “Little Miss Sunshine”). Now Deadline reports that Bening is adding yet another maternal part to her slate – she will play Kristen Wiig’s mother in “Imogene.”
Wiig is executive producing and starring in the film, which has been touted as a passion project for the “Saturday Night Live” regular. Wiig has been championing the project for two years, and her recent pull after the tremendous success of “Bridesmaids” earlier this summer gave the film the boost it needed.
The script, penned by Michelle Morgan, has Wiig starring as a New York City playwright who attempts to win back in ex-boyfriend by way of a fake suicide attempt. The plan backfires spectacularly, and Wiig’s character finds herself in the custody of her mother, who has her own issues to deal with – she’s a gambling addict. But despite that somewhat bleak plotline, “Imogene” is supposedly more funny than sad. Bening and Wiig sound like a wonderful mother-daughter pairing for such a film. Bening has the experience and the mien to play this type of character, and Wiig has proven that she’s adept at striking the balance between funny and sad by way of self-exploration (her performance in “Bridesmaids” so struck me as delivering on that promise with aplomb).
“Imogene” is set to be directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (the pair have previously directed such varied fare as “Cinema Verite,” “American Splendor,” and “The Nanny Diaries”). “Imogene” is set to start filming in New York in August. Now we just need someone to play an ex-boyfriend worth faking suicide for (Ryan Gosling, anyone?).
Buys screen rights to 'A Discovery of Witches' novel
A Doc-Star talks About Cameras, Talking and Truth: 'Imagine if the Sumerians had FlipCams ...'
After the hard-hitting documentaries "The Fog of War" and "Standard Operating Proceedure" -- and earning an Oscar for "Fog" -- documentarian Errol Morris' latest, "Tabloid," promises both the rigor and refusal to look away he brought to his serious looks at war and the loopy, loony what-the-what? sense of possibility and play in his films "Fast, Cheap and Out-of-Control" and "Gates of Heaven." In '"Tabloid," Morris looks at a 1978 sex-and-power scandal where Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen, flew to England to retrieve Kirk Anderson, the lover she'd lost to the Mormon Church's missionary program; McKinney kidnapped Anderson, chained him to a bed and then either made love to him to bring him back to sanity -- or violated an unwilling man. Featuring plenty of McKinney's no-holds-barred sass and extensive interviews with the journalists who covered the "Manacled Mormon" story in the British press at the time, "Tabloid" is a fascinating, freaky look at what happens when private concerns become public narratives. We spoke with Morris in Los Angeles.
When you're conducting an interview as extensivley as you do, do you ever have a degree of awareness and sympathy for them where you think, 'Please stop talking?' You find yourself getting deeper and deeper? Or is that when you rub your hands together and say, 'Now it's getting good ...'?
Morris: I don't think it's either, really. I'm usually so focused on keeping an interview going, making sure that it's working, making it clear what they're saying; the story is emerging. All these competing, crazy concerns in an interview, I worry. I don't think that rubbing my hands together or cackling sounds quite right. There are things I hear in interviews which I think are pretty fantastic and I'm aware, 'Now this is something pretty damn good.' Usually it's something I become aware of after the fact: I become aware in the editing room. Usually it's not something that I'm aware of in the course of actually doing the interview, if you can believe it.