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Howard Hawks

Howard Winchester Hawks (May 30, 1896–December 26, 1977) was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era. He is popular for his films from a wide range of genres such as Scarface (1932), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Sergeant York (1941), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Red River (1948), The Thing from Another World (1951), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), and Rio Bravo (1959).

In 1975, Hawks was awarded the Honorary Academy Award as “a master American filmmaker whose creative efforts hold a distinguished place in world cinema,” after the Academy did what it has a reputation of doing, not recognising exceptional talent at the time, although he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for Sergeant York in 1942.

The Thing from Another World (often referred to as The Thing before its 1982 remake), is a 1951 science fiction film based on the 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell. It tells the story of an Air Force crew and scientists at a remote Arctic research outpost who are forced to defend themselves from a malevolent plant-based alien being. It stars Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan and James Arness, who played The Thing, but he is difficult to recognize in costume and makeup, due to both the lighting and other effects used to obscure his features. No actors are named during the film’s dramatic opening credits; the cast credits appear at the end of the film. In 2001 the film was deemed to be a “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant motion picture by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

There is debate as to whether the film was directed by Hawks with Christian Nyby receiving the credit so that Nyby could obtain his Director’s Guild membership, or whether Nyby directed it with considerable input in both screenplay and advice in directing from producer Hawks, although Hawks denied that he directed the film.

Cast members disagree on Hawks’ and Nyby’s contributions. Tobey said that “Hawks directed it, all except one scene” while, on the other hand, Fenneman said that “Hawks would once in a while direct, if he had an idea, but it was Chris’ show”, and Cornthwaite said that “Chris always deferred to Hawks, … Maybe because he did defer to him, people misinterpreted it.” Although Self has said that “Hawks was directing the picture from the sidelines”, he also has said that “Chris would stage each scene, how to play it. But then he would go over to Howard and ask him for advice, which the actors did not hear … Even though I was there every day, I don’t think any of us can answer the question. Only Chris and Howard can answer the question.”

Rio Bravo is a 1959 American Western film, directed by Howard Hawks, starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson. Rio Bravo is generally regarded as one of Hawks’ best, and is notable for its scarcity of close-up shots. The film was made as a response to High Noon, which is sometimes thought to be an allegory for blacklisting in Hollywood, as well as a critique of McCarthyismWayne called High Noon “un-American”, and as a riposte, teamed up with director Howard Hawks to tell the story his way. In Rio Bravo, Wayne’s character Chance is surrounded by allies—a deputy recovering from alcoholism (Dude), a young gunfighter (Colorado), an old man (Stumpy), a Mexican innkeeper (Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez), his wife, and an attractive young woman, and repeatedly turns down aid from anyone he doesn’t think is capable of helping him, though in the final shootout they come to help him anyway.

Hawks’ directorial style and the use of natural, conversational dialogue in his films were cited a major influence on many noted filmmakers, including Robert Altman, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino, and Brian De Palma, who dedicated his version of Scarface to Hawks.


Ray Winstone – Part 2

Winstone was asked to appear in Mr Thomas, a play written by his friend and fellow-Londoner Kathy Burke. The reviews were good, and led to Winstone being cast, alongside Burke, in Gary Oldman’s drama ‘Nil By Mouth’. He was widely lauded for his performance as an alcoholic wife-batterer, receiving a BAFTA nomination (17 years after his Best Newcomer award for That Summer). He continued to play “tough guy” roles in the likes of ‘Face’ and ‘The War Zone’ — the latter especially controversial, as he played a man who rapes his own daughter — but that obvious toughness would also allow him to play decent men softened by love in romantic comedies like Fanny and Elvis and ‘There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble’. In Last Christmas, he played a dead man, now a trainee angel, who returns from Heaven to help his young son cope with his bereavement, written by Tony Grounds, with whom Winstone worked again on Births, Marriages & Deaths and Our Boy, the latter winning him the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award. They worked together again in 2006 on ‘All in the Game’ where Winstone portrayed a football manager.

In 2000 Winstone starred along side Jude Law in the hit cult film ‘Love, Honour and Obey’, then snagged the lead role in ‘Sexy Beast’ that brought him great acclaim from UK and international audiences, and brought him to the attention of the American film industry. Winstone plays “Gal” Dove, a retired and happily married former thief dragged back into London’s underworld by a psychopathic former associate (Ben Kingsley, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance).

After a brief role alongside Burke again in the tragi-comic ‘The Martins’, he appeared in ‘Last Orders’, where he starred alongside fellow British stars Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings and Tom Courteney. Next up, Winstone would get a prime part in ‘Ripley’s Game’, the sequel to ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, in which he once again played a gangster. He followed up with Lenny Blue, the sequel to Tough Love, and the short The Bouncer.

In 2000, he also starred on stage in To Green Fields Beyond at the Donmar Warehouse (directed by Sam Mendes). In 2002 he performed at the Royal Court as Griffin in The Night Heron. Two years later, he joined Kevin Spacey for 24 Hour Plays at the Old Vic, a series of productions that were written, rehearsed and performed in a single day. Now internationally known, Winstone was next chosen by Anthony Minghella to play Teague, a sinister Home Guard boss, in the Civil War drama ‘Cold Mountain’.

Perhaps inspired by Burke and Oldman, Winstone has now decided to direct and produce his own movies, setting up Size 9 and Flicks production companies with his long-time agent Michael Wiggs. The first effort was ‘She’s Gone’, in which he plays a businessman whose young daughter disappears in Istanbul (filming was held up by unrest in the Middle East). He followed it up with ‘Jerusalem’, in which he played poet and visionary William Blake. 

Winstone made his action movie debut in ‘King Arthur’, starring Clive Owen, directed by Antoine Fuqua. In that film, Fuqua proclaimed him as “the British De Niro.” He then provided the voice of Soldier Sam in the screen version of ‘The Magic Roundabout’. 

In 2005, he appeared opposite Suranne Jones in the ITV drama ‘Vincent’ about a team of private detectives. He returned to the role in 2006 and was awarded an International Emmy. In 2005 he also portrayed a 19th century English policeman trying to tame the Australian outback in ‘The Proposition’. A complete change of pace for Winstone was providing the voice for the plucky Mr. Beaver in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’, also in 2005.

Winstone appeared in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film ‘The Departed’ as Mr. French, an enforcer to Jack Nicholson’s mob boss. He also provided motion capture movements and voice for the title character in the Robert Zemekis’ film ‘Beowulf’. He then co-starred in the awful ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull’. He returned to television drama in ‘Compulsion’, originally shown in May 2009. He followed that up with ‘The Tracker’ as ‘Arjan’ with Temuera Morrison. His latest releases included ’44 Inch Chest’, alongside John Hurt, and Ian McShane; and a role as CIA agent Darius Jedburgh in the ‘Edge of Darkness’ remake, as a late replacment for Robert De Niro. 

He is set to play the role of iconic Detective Inspector Jack Regan in a remake of ‘The Sweeney’ and star in the slasher-thriller film ‘Red Snow’, directed by Stuart St. Paul and based on a short film by Adam Mason. Whatever he does next, he’ll be as watchable as ever… “Who’s the Daddy?”


Martin Scorsese – Part 3 (Mid 80’s – Early 90’s)

Scorsese’s next project was his fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, ‘The King of Comedy’ (1983). A satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the more emotionally committed films he had become associated with. Visually, it was far less kinetic than the style Scorsese had developed up until this point, often using a static camera and long takes.
The expressionism of his recent work here gave way to moments of almost total surrealism. It still bore many of Scorsese’s trademarks, however, such as its focus on a troubled loner who ironically becomes famous through a criminal act (murder and kidnapping, respectively). The King of Comedy failed at the box office, but has become increasingly well regarded by critics in the years since its release. Also, Scorsese apparently believes that this is the best performance De Niro ever gave for him.

In 1983 Scorsese began work on a long-cherished personal project, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, based on the 1951 (English translation 1960) novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis. The project collapsed under pressure from outraged Christian groups.

After the difficulties he experienced with Last Temptation, Scorsese again saw his career at a critical point, as he described in the documentary Filming for Your Life: Making ‘After Hours’ (2004). He saw that in the increasingly commercial world of 1980s Hollywood, the highly stylized and personal 1970s films he and others had built their careers on would not continue to enjoy the same status.
With After Hours (1985) he made an aesthetic shift back to a pared-down, almost “underground” film-making style – his way of staying viable. Filmed on an extremely low budget, on location, and at night in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, the film is a black comedy about one increasingly misfortunate night for a mild New York word processor (Griffin Dunne) and featured cameos by Teri Garr and Cheech & Chong. A bit of a stylistic anomaly for Scorsese, After Hours fits in well with popular low-budget “cult” films of the 1980s, e.g. Jonathan Demme’s ‘Something Wild’ and Alex Cox’s ‘Repo Man’.

As well as the 1987 Michael Jackson music video “Bad”, in 1986 Scorsese made The Color of Money, a sequel to the much admired Robert Rossen film ‘The Hustler’ (1961) with Paul Newman reprising his role of Fast Eddie Felson and Tom Cruise. Although typically visually assured, The Color of Money was the director’s first foray into mainstream commercial film-making. It won actor Paul Newman a belated Oscar and gave Scorsese the clout to finally secure backing for a project that had been a long time goal for him: The Last Temptation of Christ.

Like the novel, the Paul Schrader scripted film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust. Even prior to its release the film caused a massive furore, worldwide protests against its perceived blasphemy effectively turning a low budget independent movie into a media sensation. The main source of the controversy centered on the final passages of the film which depicted Christ marrying and raising a family with Mary Magdalene in a Satan-induced hallucination while on the cross.

Looking past the controversy, The Last Temptation of Christ gained critical acclaim and remains an important work in Scorsese’s canon: an explicit attempt to wrestle with the spirituality which had under-pinned his filmsup until that point. Scorsese received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, and Hershey’s performance as Mary Magdalene earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Along with directors Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola, in 1989 Scorsese provided one of three segments in the portmanteau film ‘New York Stories’, called “Life Lessons”. That was a stepping stone to one of his greatest achievements.

Gangster epic Goodfellas (1990) was a return to form for Scorsese and his most confident and fully realized film since Raging Bull. De Niro and Joe Pesci in Goodfellas offered a virtuoso display of the director’s bravura cinematic technique and re-established, enhanced, and consolidated his reputation. After the film was released, critic Roger Ebert, a friend and supporter of Scorsese, named Goodfellas “the best mob movie ever” and is ranked #1 on Roger’s movie list for 1990, the film is widely considered one of the director’s greatest achievements.

However, Goodfellas also signified an important shift in tone in the director’s work, inaugurating an era in his career which was technically accomplished but some have argued emotionally detached. Despite this, many view Goodfellas as a Scorsese archetype – the apogee of his cinematic technique. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Scorsese earned his third nomination for Goodfellas but again lost to a first-time director, Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves). Joe Pesci earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Goodfellas. Scorsese and the film won over a numerous of different awards, including five BAFTA Awards, a Silver Lion from Venice.


Martin Scorsese – Part 1 (1960’s – early 70’s)

Martin Charles Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievemant Award for his contributions to cinema, and has won awards from the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Directors Guild of America. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Departed’ , having been nominated a previous five times.

Scorsese’s body of work addresses such themes as Italian American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, modern crime and violence. Scorsese is hailed as one of the most significant and influential American filmmakers of all time, directing landmark films such as ‘Mean Streets’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’ – all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro.

Martin Scorsese was born in New York City; where he was raised in a devoutly Catholic environment. As a boy, he had asthma and couldn’t play sports or do any activities with other kids and so his parents and his older brother would often take him to movie theaters; it was at this stage in his life that he developed passion for cinema. His initial desire to become a priest while attending Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx gave way to cinema, and, consequently, Scorsese enrolled in NYU’s University College of Arts and Science, (now known as the College of Arts and Science), where he earned a B.A. in English in 1964. He went on to earn his M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1966, a year after the school was founded.

Scorsese attended New York University’s film school (B.A., English, 1964; M.F.A., film, 1966) making the short films ‘What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?’ (1963) and ‘It’s Not Just You, Murray!’ (1964). His most famous short of the period is the darkly comic ‘The Big Shave’ (1967), which features Peter Bernuth. The film is an indictment of America’s involvement in Vietnam, suggested by its alternative title Viet ’67.

Also in 1967, Scorsese made his first feature-length film, the black and white ‘I Call first’, which was later retitled ‘Who’s That Knocking at My Door?’ with fellow student, actor Harvey Keitel, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, both of whom were to become long-term collaborators. Even in embryonic form, the “Scorsese style” was already evident: a feel for New York Italian American street-life, rapid editing, an eclectic rock soundtrack, and a troubled male protagonist.

From there he became friends with the influential “movie brats” of the 1970s: Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. It was Brian De Palma who introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro. During this period he worked as the assistant director and one of the editors on the documentary film ‘Woodstock’ and met actor-director John Cassavetes, who would also go on to become a close friend and mentor.

In 1972 Scorsese made the Depression-era exploition flick, ‘Boxcar Bertha’ for B-movie producer Roger Corman, who has also helped directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron and John Sayles launch their careers. It was Corman who taught Scorsese that entertaining films could be shot with next to no money or time, preparing the young director well for the challenges to come with ‘Mean Streets’ (1973). following the film’s release, Cassavetes encouraged Scorsese to make the films that he wanted to make, rather than someone else’s projects.

Championed by influential movie critic Pauline Kael, Mean Streets was a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro, and Keitel. By now the signature Scorsese style was in place: macho posturing, bloody violence, Catholic guilt and redemption, gritty New York locale (though the majority of Mean Streets was actually shot in Los Angeles), rapid-fire editing, and a rock soundtrack. Although the film was innovative, its wired atmosphere, edgy documentary style, and gritty street-level direction owed a debt to directors Cassavetes, Samuel Fuller, and early Jean-Luc Godard. The film was completed with much encouragement from Cassavetes, who felt Boxcar Bertha was undeserving of the young director’s prodigious talent.

In 1974, after the success of ‘The Exorcist’, actress Ellen Burstyn was allowed to choose whoever she wanted to direct her next project; she chose Scorsese to direct her in ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Although well regarded, the film remains an anomaly in the director’s early career, as it focuses on a central female character. It is a film that is used regularly as a rebuttal to those who maintain that Scorsese only makes macho movies.

Returning to Little Italy to explore his ethnic roots, Scorsese next came up with ‘Italianamerican’, a documentary featuring his parents, Charles and Catherine Scorsese. He would return with his greatest triumph…