Monday, October 19, 2015

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Trailer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There may be no more eagerly anticipated film this decade than "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens," aka "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens," will appear in theaters beginning December 18, 2015, and undoubtedly for months thereafter.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The film stars, in no particular order:

Mark Hamill
Carrie Fisher
Harrison Ford
Andy Serkis
Billie Lourd
Adam Driver
Peter Mayhew
Gwendoline Christie
Daisy Ridley
Oscar Isaac
Max von Sydow

Personally, I think the fact that Ming the Merciless made it into the Star Wars saga is kind of cool. Somewhat ironic, too.

The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and written by him and , and .

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Friday, July 17, 2015

Jane Fonda, Iconic Beauty

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda in Paris, 1963

Jane Fonda (Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda, born December 21, 1937) is an American actress, occasional fashion model and fitness video creator. She is a two-time Academy Award winner, and in 2014, she was the recipient of the American Film Institute AFI Life Achievement Award.

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda and friend Brooke Hayward, 1960s, in a picture taken by Brooke's husband, Dennis Hopper.

Jane is the daughter of legendary actor Henry Fonda. Their family didn't come over on the Mayflower, but they weren't far behind, arriving in the 1650s.

Jane Fonda
Jane, Peter and Henry Fonda on the set of "Sunday in New York," 1963.

Jane has a brother, Peter, and maternal half-sister, Frances. Peter also is an Academy Award nominee (twice) and is the father of Bridget Fonda.

Jane Fonda
Jane with her father, probably early 1960s.

She has been married several times, to French Director Roger Vadim, activist Tom Hayden, and television mogul Ted Turner.

Jane Fonda
Jane and French Director Roger Vadim on their wedding day

Jane went to Vassar, and rumors swirled about her time there. The story, apocryphal but fun, goes that she she was told once at dinner to go upstairs and change because she wasn't wearing gloves, and nobody was allowed to eat without them. She supposedly then came down for dinner naked save for the gloves.

Jane Fonda

Jane acted in a series of mediocre films in the early 1960s, usually playing a brainless young blonde. However, it was invaluable training which she later put to very good use.

Jane Fonda

She acted with some top names, such as Robert Redford, Lee Marvin and Alain Delon.

Jane Fonda
Jane was happy to play up her sexuality before she became a "serious" actress.

She gained a great deal of experience, including learning how to sell a character and a film, which would prove invaluable in coming years.

Jane Fonda
Jane in "Cat Ballou" (1965).

While just a minor Hollywood star, Jane was still the daughter of Hollywood royalty. She became a jetsetter who spent a great deal of time in Paris. After she married Vadim, though, she decided to give him what he wanted and film a sexy science fiction film, "Barbarella."

Jane Fonda
Jane during the filming of "Barbarella," photo by Pat York.

The film marked a turning point for Jane. She was able to pick and choose her next film role, and she picked "They Shoot Horses, Don't They." It was a wise choice, turning Jane into a respected dramatic actress and earning her the first of seven Oscar nominations, including two wins. She credits the role with changing her career toward serious roles.

Jane Fonda

After that, Jane became an A-list actress. She also adopted a Bohemian lifestyle in keeping with the times and joined the anti-Vietnam protests. This earned her life-long enmity by many veterans of the war. She doesn't talk about that period of her life very much in public anymore.

Jane Fonda

Jane earned an Oscar a few years later with her role as a callgirl in "Klute." She won another later in the decade for "Coming Home." It is not reaching to say that Jane was the top Hollywood actress of the 1970s. However, somewhat oddly, her fee dropped substantially during the middle portion of the decade, perhaps due to all the controversial publicity she was receiving. She recovered from that setback with "Julia" (1977), for which she received another nomination.

Jane Fonda

As the '80s arrived, Jane remained at the top of her game, starring with her father Henry in the role that earned him an Oscar in "On Golden Pond" (1981). It was in many ways the pinnacle of her film career, and she never again had such a great role. Her final nomination was for "The Morning After" in 1987, a decidedly mediocre film.

Jane Fonda
Julian Wasser. "Jane Fonda (pregnant) demonstrating", 1973.

Jane expanded her sway behind the camera throughout the '70s and '80s, and the huge amounts of money she was earning gave her the opportunity to repay her father for some of what he had done for her. She produced "On Golden Pond" and forever after very proud to have given her father the chance at the end of his life to receive the honor of an Academy Award. It was his final film and he passed away soon after.

Jane Fonda
Jane's mugshot when she was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War. One of the great mugshots of all time.

The VCR also made its appearance in the early '80s, and Jane climbed aboard by filming and selling a line of exercise videos. Her most popular one, "Jane Fonda's Workout Video," sold 17 million copies. Clad in spandex and performing entire routines herself, Jane became the top-selling home video star of all time.

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda at Café de Flore Paris, 1961, by Willy Rizzo. Evidently, huge bags never go out of style.

Jane's career wound down in the '80s, starring in "The Old Gringo" with Gregory Peck in 1989 and a couple of other sub-par projects before officially retiring. She married billionaire Ted Turner, and they were happy for most of the 1990s. Eventually, though, Jane got the itch to return to acting. She divorced Ted and found a comeback vehicle in the 2005 Jennifer Lopez film "Monster-in-Law."

Jane Fonda
Jane looking very French with her husband.

Since then, Jane has resumed her Hollywood career, including a cable television show with Lily Tomlin. Now deep into her '70s, Jane still looks fabulous, and the years have been very kind to her.

Jane Fonda
Jane and Roger in St. Tropez, 1968

Jane continues acting, and even mentions making a sequel to "Barbarella' some day. If any actress could pull it off at the age of 80, Jane Fonda could.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Film Legends: Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch was born Jo Raquel Tejada on September 5, 1940. She is a screen legend who also is one of the most misunderstood actresses on the silver screen. Everybody knows who Raquel Welch is, which is a testament to her abilities and presence as well as her enduring talent.

First of all, Raquel is of mixed origin, with a Bolvian father and English mother. She began studying ballet at an early age, and her focus always has been on dance, not modelling.

Raquel with Ringo Starr in "The Magic Christian"

Raquel has two children that she had before she ever became came to the public's attention. Thus, she was a mother all along, not just some young ingenue.

Raquel's roles include her breakthrough role in "Fantastic Voyage" in 1966, which was not her first role but her first prominent starring one. She became iconic in "One Million Years B.C." the same year, a film which made absolutely no sense but showed Raquel off in a stunning leather bikini.

Raquel tended to play up her supposed Native American ancestry, which was non-existent but she had 'the look.'

Raquel went on to other starring roles, such as "Hannie Caulder," "Fuzz," "Mother, Jugs & Speed" and "Legally Blonde." However, she never quite became the leading lady that many expected. She remains a sex icon more than an acting legend, but one thing is clear: Raquel Welch is remembered.

Raquel has significance beyond being merely a sex bomb. She helped to broaden the classic movie portrayal of female beauty beyond the stereotypical Marilyn Monroe blonde-bombshell look. In that sense, she helped to pave the way for women like Jane Fonda who came to prominence at roughly the same time.

She also made big hair popular - if you think that is a good thing. She also, as shown by the accompanying photos, helped to advance the art of cheesecake photography.

Raquel also opened the door to the 'female revenge' genre with "Hannie Caulder" in 1971, a film that portrayed a gunslinging woman of the Old West who did whatever it took to get even with her prey. At least the Ernest Borgnine character died happy!

Raquel in "Hannie Caulder"

Since the 1970s, Raquel has been pretty much a celebrity more than an actress. However, she remains a working actress who appears in films as a treasured character actress.

Raquel in "Kansas City Bomber"
Raquel stole the show in "Fantastic Voyage"
Raquel was filming "Myra Breckinridge" while "True Grit" was in the theaters.
Raquel in "Mork and Mindy"