The telephone number for lead character James “Jim / Jimmy” Scott Rockford (Played by James Garner) in the show “The Rockford Files” (1974-1980) was shown to be 555-2368 during the opening credits, as his answering machine message is heard just before the music starts. This was also the phone number shown for the Ghostbusters in their ad in the 1984 film “The Ghostbusters”.
For the 1985 film “Murphy’s Romance”, based on the 1980 novel by author Max Schott, director Martin Ritt and actress Sally Field, who played the character Emma Moriarty, insisted on actor James Garner playing the lead character Murphy Jones.
Columbia Pictures really wanted actor Marlon Brando to play Murphy Jones because of his “box office allure” which was interesting despite the fact Brando hadn’t been in a film since 1980, while Garner had more recently played the lead character King Marchand in the 1982 box office hit “Victor Victoria”. The reason for denying Garner at first was he was viewed at that point as primarily a television actor despite having enjoyed a flourishing film career in the 1960’s.
Eventually giving Garner the role, Field reported that her on-screen kiss with Garner was the best cinematic kiss she had ever experienced. So I’d say Field was indeed satisfied with backing Garner.
“The good deeds a man has done before defends him.”
– Oscar Isaac, “Ex Machina”
Since we spoke about the 1994 film “Maverick” for the Movie Fact for tonight, why not now speak of the series from which it was based off of. For this I introduce you to the show “Maverick” (1957-1962), a show you’d think be serious, dealing with the suppose first TV anti-hero Bret Maverick (Played by James Garner), but alas found comedy in itself which was shown in various facts about the show.
Garner claimed that during filming one day they had less than an hour until overtime would have to be paid. However, within this hour they still needed to shoot a complicated fight scene. So, spying a group of tall weeds, Garner suggested that he throw his opponent into the weeds and have the fight proceed with much shaking of the weeds, and people being ejected from the weeds, only to immediately run back in. The results were extremely funny, and thus the cast and crew began to look for “funny” ways to cut corners. This lent in turning the show into a semi-comedy. Also, producer Roy Huggins stated the writers’ guiding principle for the Maverick series was his belief that, as he quoted, “In the traditional Western, the situation was always serious but never hopeless. In a ‘Maverick’ story, the situation is always hopeless but never serious.” Let’s be honest though, this show had some really spirit to it…even going as far as to inventing a move years before a famous boxer supposedly did it.
That’s right folks, several years before legendary boxer Muhammad Ali made it famous in real life, during season one the character Bret competed in a boxing match and used the “rope-a-dope” strategy. For those unfamiliar, this meant letting the other fighter tire himself out and them coming back to beat him.
Whether the show was comedic or original, it was a series that was so popular it got a film adaptation made that was directed by Richard Donner, who directed such major films as “Superman: The Movie” in 1978 and “Lethal Weapon” from 1987-1998. One that would be nominated for Academy Award for Best Costume Design for costumer designer April Ferry. We’re talking about a classic series so let’s use a classic line…the series was a winning hand.
The steamboat used in the 1994 film “Maverick”, based on the 1950’s television series of the same name created by Roy Huggins, that was dubbed the Lauren Belle for the film was actually the Portland. The Portland was the last remaining sternwheel tugboat in the US and, at the time, belonged to the Oregon Maritime Museum in Portland. Being a literal antic required a major overhaul though.
Over several weeks, the Portland was decorated to alter its appearance to resemble a Mississippi style gambling boat. This included the addition of two decorative chimneys. In August 1993, the production requested permission to film scenes of the riverboat along the Columbia River in Washington State and, as a result, the artificial smoke released by the boat’s chimney was considered to violate air-quality laws in Washington and Oregon. Therefore, the film required approval for the scenes before their scheduled filming date in September 1993. After filming concluded, the decorations were removed, the Portland was returned to its original state and put back to rest.
Using the last of any historical mode of transportation is always interesting in retrospect. It shows just how far we’ve come. Whether it’s for the better or not is anyone’s guess but because of facts like this and movies like this that use pieces of history like this, history never dies completely. It just comes in and out of retirement.
“Sometimes you have to break things down to build them back up again.”
– Anna Camp, “Pitch Perfect 2”
During rehearsals for the new British science fiction show “Humans” (2015-Present), based on the award-winning Swedish science fiction drama “Real Humans” (2012-2013), actress Gemma Chan, who played the “synth” (A type of human-like robot) character Anita, and her fellow robot actors were sent to a “synth school” run by the show’s choreographer, in a bid to rid themselves of any human physical gestures and become convincing synths. “It was about stripping back any physical tics you naturally incorporate into performance,” explains Chan. Chan also added that it was, as she put it, a “relief to go home and slouch” after a day on set.
The overall production seemed to be a physical hassle for many…even the human characters. Actress Katherine Parkinson, who plays the character Laura Hawkins, began filming six weeks after giving birth to her second child. Her part in the series was filmed on 10 separate days, between 10 days rest.
So, long story short, every one was a trooper for this series.
In one scene of the 1985 fantasy film “Ladyhawke”, the character Captain Etienne Navarre (Played Rutger Hauer) tells the character Philippe Gaston (Played by Matthew Broderick), nicknamed the “The Mouse”, to ride his horse to Imperius’ castle and slaps the horse’s rear to make it ride. However, the first time the scene was filmed, Hauer slapped the horse too hard. In doing so, the horse took off, with Broderick in tow, over the hill and off into the horizon. Unfortunately, but also comically, the horse was too powerful for Broderick to stop, so all everyone could do was sit and wait for him to come back. Talk about the horse that got away.
“He’s got a good heart. He just keeps it up his ass most of the time.”
– Christopher Plummer, “Danny Collins”
The Polish drama series “The Decalogue” (1988) was conceived when series creator Krzysztof Piesiewicz, who had seen a 15th-century artwork illustrating the Commandments in scenes from that time period, suggested the idea of a modern equivalent. Kieślowski was interested in the philosophical challenge and also wanted to use the series as a portrait of the hardships of Polish society. However, he deliberately avoided the political issues he had depicted in earlier films. He originally meant to hire ten different directors. He instead decided to direct the films himself, but used a different cinematographer for each with the exception of episodes III and IX (Titled “Decalogue III” and “Decalogue IX” officially), both of which used Piotr Sobociński as director of photography.
As I mentioned the Movie Fact for tonight, episodes “Decalogue V” and “Decalogue VI” were both expanded into the 1988 Polish films “A Short Film About Killing” and “A Short Film About Love”, respectively.
The series “The Decalogue” is Kieślowski’s most acclaimed work and has been said to be, and I quote, “the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television”. It also has won numerous international awards, though it was not widely released outside Europe until the late 1990s. Still, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick wrote an admiring foreword to the published screenplay in 1991. Stanley Kubrick, considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time heralded for his complex stories, praised this series. Save to say…Kieślowski was truly inspired and inspired others.