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 →
A new documentary titled De Palma is seeing release this week from directors Jake Paltrow (The Good Night, Boardwalk Empire) and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg). The film is a chronicle of the life and work of acclaimed director Brian De Palma, whose major body of work has spanned from the 1970s to the present with films like Carrie (1976), a Stephen King novel, Scarface (1983) with Al Pacino (The Godfather, Scent of a Woman) and Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, Batman Returns), and The Untouchables (1987) with Kevin Costner (Waterworld, Dances with Wolves), Robert De Niro (Goodfellas, Casino), and Sean Connery (Diamonds are Forever, The Hunt for Red October). Despite all of the acclaim and success earned by these films, De Palma is one of the many artists who has never been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Untouchables saw Sean Connery win his first Oscar in 1988, Continue reading →
Last year, producer-turned-writer/director Marc Abraham (Air Force One, Children of Men) debuted his new biographical drama, I Saw The Light, at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film is a portrayal of the life of country music singer/songwriter Hank Williams Jr., and was adapted by Abraham from the book Hank Williams: The Biography by authors Colin Escott, George Merritt, and William MacEwen. Starring as Williams is actor Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris, The Avengers), appearing alongside co-stars Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron), David Krumholtz (Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, This Is The End), Bradley Whitford (Scent of a Woman, Saving Mr. Banks), and Cherry Jones (Signs, The Village). Although the film has not been well received by critics, fans have praised the performances of both Hiddleston, and Elizabeth Olsen as his first wife Audrey Mae. Some movie-goers will be able to see it in theaters this weekend, but the trailer is available here on MADE. Check your local listings for showings this Friday.
Yesterday the film industry was struck by another terrible tragedy. Just two months following the sudden death of Paul Walker, Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment in New York City yesterday from what is believed to be a drug overdose. The 46 year old actor leaves behind a legacy of characters including a spoiled prep student in Scent of a Woman, a mistrusted priest in Doubt, the Rock n Roll critic Lester Bangs in Almost Famous, the smart yet energetic clown Dusty in Twister, and the troubled writer Truman Capote in Bennett Miller’s oscar-winning biopic. Hoffman won an Oscar and Golden Globe for his portrayal of Truman Capote in 2006, and has been nominated for a total of four Oscars and four Globes for his roles in Doubt, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Savages, and his most recent picture, The Master in 2012. The actor has also played parts in Punch-Drunk Love, The Big Lebowski, Patch Adams, Along Came Polly, and Mission: Impossible 3. His most recent projects included two selections at this years Sundance Festival: A Most Wanted Man and God’s Pocket. The actor also played a part in the latest installment of The Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. The role is expected to be a part of the third film, so along with several other in-development roles Hoffman was expected to take, the studios/filmmakers will have to find other actors to take his place. Hoffman is succeeded by his three children, Cooper, Tallulah, and Willa with longtime girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell. Hoffman’s contribution to film, as well as his personal talent and admiration for his art will truly be missed in the future.
Al Pacino has always been one of the most versatile actors to ever appear on the big screen. Always taking on challenging and original roles, the actor has been nominated for seven Best Actor Oscars, finally winning for Scent of a Woman in 1993 in which he plays an alcoholic/blind colonel out on a mission of self-destruction. Pacino has most recently starred alongside Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren in the HBO biographical film Phil Spector, which chronicles the elicit affair between rock and roll recording legend Phil Spector and his attorney Linda Kenney Baden during his 2003 murder trial.
Pacino’s next project finds him playing an aging 1970s rock star still living an extravagant lifestyle when he finds a letter from John Lennon written to his younger self that causes him to reexamine his life and try to re-discover the music he originally set out to make. Incidentally John Lennon worked very closely with Phil Spector on many of his solo LPs during the early 1970s, right around the time when Pacino was getting notices for The Godfather (1972) and Serpico (1973). Dan Fogelman will be making his directorial debut with this movie, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Imagine is expected for release next year.