Friday, January 20, 2017

Jason goes to Midnites for Maniacs for a Tribute to Peter Bogdanovich

It took me way too long to get to my first movies on 2017. Working too much and moving into a new place will do that to you. But at least I started with a pair of great films.

Peter Bogdanovich was there in person to say a few words before the first film and chat with Jesse Ficks between films. And he's hilarious, just like these movies. Oh yeah, this was part of SF Sketchfest, so it had to be comedies.

WHAT'S UP DOC? (1972): Bogdanovich said this was the only movie he ever made on a dare. When Barbara Streisand said she wanted to work with him after seeing THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, he was asked what he would do if he could make a movie with Streisand. He said, "a screwball comedy with a crazy girl and a stuffy professor." And so it came to be, and he didn't ruin San Francisco too much in the making of it. Ryan O'Neal plays a professor of musicology who has a theory that resonant igneous rocks were pre-historic man's first music. His domineering fiancé is played by Madeline Kahn (in her film debut! She didn't even know she was funny until she heard people laughing at her.) And Streisand plays...well, part Bugs Bunny and part a force of nature. She's been to school everywhere, and graduated nowhere. And now she's in San Francisco, scamming her way around, and making Ryan O'Neal's life miserable...while seducing him. Throw in 4 identical plaid overnight bags--holding everything from igneous rocks to precious jewels to the Pentagon Papers and wacky hijinx ensue. Oh boy, do they ever ensue. It's been a long time since I laughed that hard.

Then after a wonderful Q&A the laughs kept coming with...

NOISES OFF... (1992): Michael Caine narrates and stars as a director of a traveling theater troupe, making their Broadway debut after a disastrous tour. We then flashback to the dress (or is it tech?) rehearsal of their first performance. And the cast of Carol Burnett, John Ritter, Christopher Reeve (underappreciated as a comic actor,) Denholm Elliott, Marilu Henner, Nicolette Sheridan, .... (I'm forgetting people, but the point is an amazing cast) stumble over their lines and each other with mere hours before opening night. But somehow it's a hit, pickled herrings and all. Flash forwards a few months in the tour to a disastrous matinee in Miami. There have been various hookups and breakups in the cast, and while backstage is now zanier and more calamitous than the screwball play itself. But the hijinx bleed over from backstage to front, and the show is a disaster. But they survive, even make it to Cleveland. And eventually Broadway. Where they will either finally crash and burn or have a rousing success. Michael Caine is too afraid to watch. Hilarious.

Total Running Time: 195 minutes
My Total Minutes: 440,038
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