Earlier this week, Sir Roger Moore, the third actor to portray Ian Fleming’s British Secret Service Agent, James Bond, passed away at the age of 89. Moore died after a brief battle with cancer at his home in Switzerland, according to his family members. The actor first achieved fame with lead television roles in series like Maverick and The Saint in the 1950s and 60s. His first outing as James Bond came with 1973’s Live and Let Die, the second Bond novel by author Ian Fleming. Moore’s appointment to the role came after Sean Connery returned for one additional film (Diamonds Are Forever) following actor George Lazenby’s dismissal from the the part. He would then go on to star as Bond in an additional six films throughout the remainder of the 1970s and up until 1985’s A View To A Kill. Continue reading →
Director Sydney Lumet‘s 1973 undercover police drama Serpico earned Al Pacino his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor. While it was another in a long-running streak of Oscar nominations for Pacino that resulted in no wins until 1992’s Scent of a Woman, Serpico‘s other Oscar nomination was for Best Adapted Screenplay for screenwriters Waldo Salt (Midnight Cowboy, The Day of the Locust) and Norman Wexler (Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive). Although Serpico proved to be the last Oscar-worthy project of Wexler’s, Waldo Salt had a much longer, and much darker story in Hollywood screenwriting history.
Waldo Salt was born on October 18, 1914 and grew up in Chicago an accomplished academic. He was so accomplished, in fact, that he graduated from Stanford University at the same time his friends were graduating from high school. Shortly thereafter, Salt was in Hollywood working as a screenwriter for MGM. There he worked on and assisted with various writing projects, but his first solo writing adaptation was with a 1937 film called The Bride Wore Red. The next year, Salt joined the American Communist Party, putting himself on the radar for the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare/McCarthy era 12 years later. Continue reading →
On September 20, 1956, director William Wyler‘s Friendly Persuasion was released in theaters in the United States. Based on the book by Jessamyn West, the story revolves around a Quaker family in 1862, whose faith and belief in non-violence is tested when Confederate troops come sweeping through their land and the family must decide whether to fight or to remain complacent. The film was written by screenwriter Michael Wilson (A Place in the Sun, Planet of the Apes), and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenwriting. It wasn’t until 2002, however, that Wilson would receive legitimate recognition for his work on the film. Continue reading →
Movie-goers will have no shortage of great movies to see this weekend. Friday will not only have the chance to see The Peanuts Movie and the new James Bond installment, Spectre, but fans of festival-circuit films will also be able to see two major picks from this years’ Toronto International Film Festival. The first is the biographical drama from director Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) with Golden Globe winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Godzilla) titled Trumbo. The film follows the famous screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who along with 300 other writers and filmmakers in Hollywood was blacklisted by the federal government during the Red Scare era of the American 1950s. Trumbo is, perhaps, one of the more interesting cases; he continued to write scripts under anonymous surnames while he was blacklisted and even won Oscars for his work on Roman Holiday (1953) and The Brave One (1956). Making up the supporting cast are actors Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Man of Steel), Helen Mirren (The Queen, The Hundred-Foot Journey), Louis C.K. (Louie, American Hustle), Elle Fanning (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Maleficent), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, Argo), and Michael Stuhlbarg (Pawn Sacrifice, Steve Jobs), in a script adpated by John McNamara (Jericho, Aquarius) from the book Dalton Trumbo by author Bruce Cook. Continue reading →
Every year the Toronto International Film Festival serves as one of the major international film festivals that close out the fiscal year, and this year’s festival is sure to feature an excellent celebration of Oscar-worthy filmmaking. Toronto’s film festival is usually filled with entries seen earlier in the year at festivals like Sundance and Cannes, but it also brings its own special line-up to its audience. This year several highly anticipated films will have the honor of being shown during the festivities, most notably the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass with Johnny Depp, Matt Damon‘s next space adventure following Interstellar titled The Martian, and one I personally am really excited to see, another biopic called Trumbo with Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Godzilla) in the title role of McCarthy-era screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, whose film credits were published under various pseudonyms over the years after he was blacklisted during Senator McCarthy’s famous Communist-trials in the 1950s. Continue reading →
Javier Bardem seems to be gaining a reputation in Hollywood as the go-to movie villain. His portrayal of bounty hunter Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2008, and he also brought the most originality to a James Bond villain in Skyfall (2012) than audiences have seen since perhaps Robert Davi portrayed drug-lord Franz Sanchez in License To Kill (1989) opposite Timothy Dalton. But now there is word from The Wrap that Bardem may be taking the villain role in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which will once again star Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and Keith Richards as Jack’s father Captain Teague. Actors Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom are also rumored to be returning to the franchise as Captain Barbosa and Will Turner, although this has not been officially confirmed. Bardem would be playing the ghost pirate Captain Brand, who is seeking a supernatural object that will aid him in his quest to get revenge on Sparrow for killing his brother. The new movie will be directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg and is expected to begin filming this coming February in Australia (apparently after some reported incentives from the Australian government) and has received a new release date from Disney for July 7, 2017. That is still a very long way away, and even now Pirates of the Caribbean seems like a distant memory of the early 2000s, but maybe Disney will actually pull something decent out of their ever-growing well. I guess we’ll find out in a few years’ time.
With Oscar-winner Helen Mirren already attached to star as Hedda Hopper, director Jay Roach is filling in the cast for his upcoming Cold War-drama Trumbo. The film tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted in Hollywood after being found in contempt to Congress in a hearing with HUAC after refusing to give any information about Communist influence in Hollywood. When the 1960s came around and blacklisting was ended, Trumbo came back to the public eye and it was revealed that he was behind the screenplays for popular films like Spartacus (1960) and Exodus (1960) while he was working under pseudonyms and false names. Roach is now looking to add John Goodman (Argo, O Brother! Where Art Thou) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Godzilla) to his roster, but deals have yet to be officially sealed with either actors. This should turn out to be a pretty great movie, but we’ll have to wait and see how Roach approaches the story content. We’ll keep an eye out for an official cast list.
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was a Hollywood icon during the 1950s, when he was blacklisted during the Red Scare period of the 1950s and was consequently sent to prison by HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee). Upon his release he continued to write projects for the big screen using several pseudonyms, and even won two Oscars for his work, all the while continuing his work as an active voice against HUAC and the Communist-paranoid government of America at the time. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo) and Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen, Hitchcock) will lead the cast as Trumbo and his wife, Cleo, in a script that will revolve around Trumbo’s blacklisting and its effects on him and his family. The film will be directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents).
Bryan Cranston has spent the last several years portraying the turbulent life of chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad, but with the final season of Breaking Bad wrapping up, Cranston will now be moving on to bigger projects. He is currently taking a role in director Gareth Edwards’ upcoming film Godzilla, which is scheduled for release May 16, 2014. According to new reports, Cranston will also be collaborating with director Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers) on a dramatic film based on the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo was blacklisted and did time in prison following questioning by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) during the Red Scare era. Despite being blacklisted, Trumbo still managed to write several films under false names, even winning numerous awards. There has not been any specifics released regarding the plot or supporting cast but Roach and Cranston rarely fail to deliver something worth watching, so let’s wait and see.