Category Archives: Film / Tv / Theater Review

40 Years Later: 1982 Films Still Having an Impact

Check out this NY Times article, “Five Sci-Fi Classics, One Summer: How 1982 Shaped Our Present.” This is a really interesting read on 5 films from 1982 that are still having an impact on the sci-fi genre 40 years later: “ET, The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Blade Runner,” “Tron,” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing“.

Also see the discussion on Facebook.

Song of the Day #1957

Song of the Day: I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time was written in 1920 by Albert Von Tilzer and Neville Fleeson. It was first recorded as a waltz by Nora Bayes. It was later covered by such artists as Artie Shaw (vocals by Tony Pastor) and Harry James and Helen Forest [YouTube links]. But it is most well known for having been performed by The Andrews Sisters, whose version was featured in the 1941 Abbott and Costello film, “Buck Privates.” Check out the film clip and studio version [YouTube links].

Song of the Day #1955

Song of the Day: One Bad Apple features the words and music of George Jackson, who originally wrote it for The Jackson 5 (no relation). By the end of 1970, the J5 had scored 4 consecutive #1 Hot 100 hits. This song was released in November of that year by The Osmonds, who took this track to #1 for five weeks on the Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B Chart. The Jacksons and the Osmonds would meet in 1971-1972, and Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson would become lifelong friends. Check out this video version of the single [YouTube link], which combines performance footage and clips from “The Osmonds” animated ABC-TV series. (Yes, “The Jackson 5ive” had an animated show too!)

Dexter the Dog

Dexter the Dog … an inspiration, from Ouray, Colorado (the place that inspired Galt’s Gulch in Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged) …

James Caan, RIP

I first saw the Bronx-born James Caan in a heartbreaking 1971 ABC Movie of the Week, “Brian’s Song“, about the life of Chicago Bears football player Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer at the age of 26. The poignant story was told through the eyes of Piccolo’s friend, Gale Sayers (played by Billy Dee Williams).

Nothing in that tearjerker of a film, about the deep friendship of two men from different backgrounds and different races, could have prepared me for Caan’s explosive portrayal of Sonny Corleone in the 1972 film, “The Godfather“, for which he received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor (along with two of his costars, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino). In 1999, his hilarious sendup as another mob character in “Mickey Blue Eyes” showed yet another side to his talent. And in a standout performance opposite the Oscar-winning Kathy Bates, he made us feel the “Misery” in the 1990 film adaptation of the novel by Stephen King. He was in nearly 70 films in a career that spanned from the early 1960s thru 2021, from “Lady in a Cage” and “Cinderella Liberty” to “Funny Lady“, “Rollerball” and “Elf“.

I was saddened to learn that James Caan died yesterday at the age of 82. RIP. [See some discussion on my Facebook post.]

James Caan (1940-2022)

Ski Visits

If ever there was a need to lift Ski’s spirits, this was the week. My sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra, was visited by her long-time colleague and dear friend, Matt Mandery and her two godchildren, Genevieve Teresa Gonzales and Sara Gonzales-Thomas—who is on her way to Boston as part of the cast for tomorrow’s opening night performance of “Wicked” at Citizens Bank Opera House. Also along was Alex Gonzales (our cousin “Sandy”, loving mom of Genevieve and Sara). A blessing indeed!

Ski and Matt

Sandy, Sara, and Genevieve (with Ski)

E.T. Turns 40!

Forty years ago on this date, “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” debuted as the final film at the Cannes Film Festival. After its finale concluded, the audience rose to its feet in a lengthy standing ovation. It would not debut in the United States until June 11, 1982, to rave critical reviews and enormous popular success.

The film was both a thrilling sci-fi adventure and an enchanting, loving story of the magic of childhood. Its terrific cast, iconic images, famous lines, and spectacular Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning John Williams-penned score [YouTube link] were key ingredients in its status as one of Steven Spielberg’s landmark films.

It even spawned a Grammy-winning album [YouTube link], released on November 15, 1982, narrated by Michael Jackson, who, 15 days later, would release a little gem of his own called “Thriller”.

I saw this film when it came out in the summer of ’82 and would see it again many times in the years thereafter, including a staging of it on the big screen at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic providing the score in live accompaniment. That May 2017 cinematic screening was one of the most moving and overpowering experiences of my life. (Folks can check out a Hollywood Bowl screening of it on YouTube.) The film remains one of my all-time favorites. Check out an edited version of the rousing finale below.

“Better Call Saul” Mid-Season Finale – Wow!

NO SPOILERS HERE!!! But just got finished with the mid-season finale of “Better Call Saul” (which started up its sixth and final season on April 18).

Whew! Shocking.

That’s all I’ll say. Can’t wait till July 11, when AMC begins the final six episodes of the show.

Song of the Day #1946

Song of the Day: Friday the 13th (“The Bed Axe”) [YouTube link], composed by Henry Manfredini, is featured in the 1980 slasher film, which went on to spawn a huge multimedia franchise. I’m not particularly superstitious—but I do have to say that I closed not one, but two (!) different book deals on a Friday the 13th! So that sounds like good luck to me! Now “Bring me the Axe!” [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1942

Song of the Day: Be Faithful is credited to many writers, but it depends heavily on samples from, among other tracks, “Love Like This” by Faith Evans and, obviously, “Chic Cheer” by the Edwards-Rodgers team, which started this 3-song arc. It was released by American rapper Fatman Scoop in 1999 and re-released in 2003 to international success. The song was also featured in the 2001 film, “Save the Last Dance.” If you can handle the explicit lyrics, check out the evolution of a sample here [YouTube link].