Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Benita Robledo!

Picture Legend from the top:

1. The lovely Benita Rolbedo
2. The whole person!
3. "Righty Tighty"
4. "Genius" Post Office Girl
5. Devil Lady in 2007's "Linnea" in New York
6. 2010's "Going the Distance," with supporting roles from Drew Barrymore and Christina Applegate
7. Last year's "Somewhere," in San Diego. Not somewhere in San Diego. "Somewhere" is the name of the play!
8. "She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5'9" beautiful 'n' tall
Just one look I was a bad mess
'Cause that long cool woman had it all
She had it all, she had it all, she had it all
She had it all!" -Hollies 1972
9. Recent short film
10. Happy Girl in black & white
11. Crocheting and taking pictures while driving last Saturday. Naughty, naughty
12. Oh, THAT SMILE AGAIN! Please stop! Oh my gosh.. I can't take it anymore! Please... All right, I'll do whatever you want! AAAAHHHHHH!!!
13. My new favorite picture... of anything... I don’t know why

It is with the greatest pleasure that I get to give a big happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite actresses (I refuse to call actresses actors), needlework master, amateur plumber, and the Sexiest Woman of 2013, the lovely Ms Benita Robledo!
As you recall, dear readers, we first became acquainted with Ms Robledo last April in the post entitled "It's Expensive Being A Girl," that title being a direct quote of Benita's, from her Facebook page.
She quite often comes out with these single line gems, which I find charming. Here's a few recent ones:
"I'm always in need of a paper shredder and a tape measurer. I wonder what this says about me?"
"Women that travel in heels amaze me."
"One day I'm going to be an adult and not screw up my manicure within 5 minutes of getting it."
"I was this close to starting a juice diet today, but pizza beat up my juicer."
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Ooops, sorry... that last one was from the late Dr. Carl Sagan. How did that get in there?
Anyway, that particular post was my affirmation of her statement, at which point I continued to catalogue the many blatant ways our cherished capitalistic society ritually rips off 51% of the general population simply due to their gender.
Here's a link to that post if you're so inclined:
Her gracious reply to that post was this: "First of all thanks for the very sweet shout-out. Second of all, I couldn't agree with your piece more. Being a girl is a huge financial burden and there is no way around it. It's nice to know that at least some men realize it too. =)"
Indeed. There are some men who do realize this, and I want to take the opportunity right here and now to apologize to her, and all women, for society.
Also in that post I related how I first became aware of her and her work:
"I first became aware of Benita while working diligently at my desk, writing and doing research, as is my custom, with my television turned on, as is my custom. At the time Lowe's, the chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores, was airing their "Training" commercial ubiquitously on broadcast and cable stations. It was actually another version of the commercial linked to above, but using some of the very same scenes, and of course featured Ms. Robledo as the young wife (assuming the two were not living in sin). I'd be working away and I'd be listening to the TV rather than watching it, and I kept on hearing her say "righty tighty," each time it came on. Actually at first I didn't know what it was she was saying, because really, what does "righty tighty" mean without context? Anyway, I heard this commercial often enough that I began to take notice and watch it. "
Well through my diligent efforts I found the clip of the very same commercial that I spoke of above, right here:
I had no idea that Mr Green Jeans was still alive and working, but there he is in plain sight teaching the couple how to improve their home. He still looks good for a man of... a hundred and two years.
Anyway... I of course became intrigued by this lovely young lady and sought further information concerning her career, at which point I utilized this handy website "Who's That Girl In," which can be found right here:
I can't begin to tell you how valuable this site has been to me and many others throughout the years.
After I found out her name it was relatively easy to discover other samples of her work on the web, like this commercial for our United States Postal Service:
And this:
I love the little dance at the end. Love it.
I visited her Facebook page discovering the "It's Expensive Being A Girl," comment, which inspired the post of the same name, and at which point she became aware of me, after which she begged me to become Facebook friends, prompting me to soon relent and comply.
Or I begged her to become Facebook friends after which I wrote the post... I can't seem to remember the exact time-line at the moment.
It's not important.
It's at this point in my series of "Happy Birthday" shout outs I usually provide some biographical information on the birthday person, describing their life and career. However Benita is dark and mysterious, and doesn't provide me with any of this much sought after info... damn it.
So, in instances such as this I'm forced to use Dr. Evil's bio from the Austin Powers films, which has noting to do with Ms Robledo at all:
Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
Therapist: Oh no, please, please, let's hear about your childhood.
Dr Evil: Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
Therapist: You know, we have to stop.
Perhaps the above drastic action will prompt Benita to provide a nice comment in the comment section below, and give us some of that info, as our lovely friend Ms Jennifer Blaire recently did on her birthday. Let's cross our fingers and hope.
We do know some things about her. She was undoubtedly born at a very early age.
I found one listing where she mentioned the New York borough of Brooklyn. In what context she identifies with Brooklyn I have no idea. Was she born there? Who Knows? Many are. Does she live there now? Beats me. Does she just happen to admire the bridge? Again, I have no idea. It's a mystery, an enigma, as is she.
I know this! She speaks fluent Spanish, so we know she wasn't lip syncing in that clip above. That's good.
I happen to know her dad is an ex-Marine (the Marines being a very small part of the United States Navy, for which I was proud to serve), an attorney, and an all around hilarious guy. Or so she claims.
I also know that she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film at SUNY Purchase.
I know from her resume that she has appeared in these plays: "Somewhere," right here in California, "Tio Pepe," "Accomplice: Hollywood," " House of Bernarda Alba," in New York, "Linnea," also in New York, and "Twelfth Night," which if memory serves has something to do with that Shakespeare guy.
She's done a lot of Television commercials of course, has appeared repeatedly on the popular program "Gossip Girl," as well as the soap "Guiding Light." How many can say that? I certainly can't.
She's been in short films (picture above) and long ones (picture above) like, "Going the Distance," and "What Happens in Vegas."
I know she's cute as hell.
I know she's a trained dancer, thoroughly versed in Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop (we have this in common, my specialty being Synchronized Hip-Hop), Tap, Folkorico, Flamenco, Tango, and Egyptian Lap.
I know she likes to sit on horses while they're walking around, driving while knitting, and that she has a passport... very important for making a quick getaway.
I also know that if you're a big time producer you can find out about hiring her from her very own website, here:
And you can listen to an interview with Benita on Smartass Radio right here.
And I know this, that all of us here at Joyce's Take wish Benita, her family and friends, continued good health and fortune (we'll be watching), and a very happy birthday!
Happy birthday Benita!

PS: Look for Benita in the upcoming film “Dependent's Day” coming soon!

Message from Benita:

Hi Richard! Let's see if I can clear up any of these mysteries...

First of all, you're right, I was born at a very early age. Go figure! I'm originally from Edinburg, Texas and lived there till I was 15. I then moved to Orlando, Florida where I attended a performing arts high school. Then off to New York for college (SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Acting), and now I split my time between Brooklyn and LA. Oh, and I do admire the bridge. Who doesn't?

My dad is an attorney (again, a very funny guy) and my mom is an elementary teacher (a pretty funny lady in her own right). At the age of 2 my parents took me to the ballet and according to them I was dancing in the aisles. I begged them to sign me up for classes, and I've been performing ever since!

I never leave home without my knitting, but I only knit while driving if I'm stuck in crazy traffic on the 405. A girl has to have some restraint!

If I'm not knitting, I'm either eating or reading. Actually, if I could do all three things at once, I'd be in heaven. Hmmm...sounds like I need to go work on my multitasking. My taste in books is ridiculously eclectic. It ranges from David Foster Wallace to some very nerdy sci-fi/fantasy stuff! And maybe a little Ya-ya Sisterhood every few years or so.

Well, hope that answers a few questions. Thanks again, for the birthday love!

Bio From Smartass Radio:

Benita Robledo (born June 28, 1984) is an American actress. Robledo was born in Harlingen, Texas and resided in Edinburg, TX until she was fifteen. She later moved to Orlando, Florida where she attended a performing arts high school, and later relocated to New York City to attend SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Actingwhere she holds a BFA in acting. Robledo’s father is an attorney, and her mother is an elementary school teacher. She speaks both English and Spanish fluently. Robledo is 5′ 3″ tall.
Robledo began ballet at the age of two, and has performed professionally with the Rio Grande Valley Ballet, and Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. She is skilled in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, baile folklorico, flamenco and tango. Robledo’s first television appearance was on Guiding Light in 2007, and her first major film appearance was in What Happens In Vegas in 2008. Since then, she has also appeared on television episodes of KingsMichael and Michael Have Issues, and had a recurring role of Amalia on Gossip Girl. In film, Robledo has also had roles in Every Day and Going The Distance. Robledo is the voice of Rose Marigold in the video game, Alan Wake. She has also appeared in several television commercials for advertisers including Verizon Wireless, MTV, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, McDonalds, and most notably, Lowes and the United States Postal Service.
Robledo loves knitting, “I never leave home without my knitting, but I only knit while driving if I’m stuck in crazy traffic on the 405. A girl has to have some restraint!” She also loves reading and states “My taste in books is ridiculously eclectic. It ranges from David Foster Wallace to some very nerdy sci-fi/fantasy stuff!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Stanley Kubrick!

Originally posted 6-26-2013

“You don’t have to be a nice person to be extremely talented. You can be a shit and be talented and, conversely, you can be the nicest guy in the world and not have any talent. Stanley Kubrick is a talented shit.” - Kirk Douglas after working on “Spartacus” with Kubrick as the director.

"Kubrick is a legend in every sense of the word, and is one of the most influential, shocking, and well-respected men in the history of film." - Daniell Rossi, Rutgers University


Picture Legend

1. Stanley Kubrick
2. Photographer for Look Magazine, 1949
3. “Fear and Desire,” 1953
4. “Killer’s Kiss,” 1955
5. “The Killing,” with Sterling Hayden, 1956
6. Elisha Cook Jr. & Marie Windsor in “The Killing”
7. Kirk Douglas in “Paths of Glory,” 1957
8. What a cutie! The future Christine Kubrick in the final scene from “Paths of Glory”
9. Kirk and Eric Douglas in “Yellow,” 1991
10. Making “Spartacus,” 1960
11. James Mason & Sue Lyon in “Lolita,” 1962
12. Filming Tracy Reed in “Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” 1964
13. George C Scott as General Buck Turgidson
14. Sterling Hayden as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper
15. Slim Pickins as Major T. J. Kong
16. Peter Sellers as Group Captain Lionel Mandrake
17. Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley
18. Peter Sellers as Dr Strangelove
19. “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968
20. At the Korova Milk Bar in “A Clockwork Orange,” 1971
21. Adrienne Corr about to be Molested in Clockwork
22. Making “Barry Lyndon,” 1975
23. With Ryan O’Neal
24. The Overlook Hotel in “The Shining,” 1980
25. Jackie
26. Relaxing
27. The Grady Twins
28. Lisa and Louise Burns
29. “Full Metal Jacket,” 1987
30. Matthew Modine, Kevyn Major Howard & Papillon Soo Soo
31. R Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
32. Vincent D'Onofrio as Private “Gomer Pyle”
33. “Eyes Wide Shut,” 1999
34. Kelly Bundy
35. Tom Cruise & Fay Masterson as Dr. William Harford & Sally
36. Stanley with Tom Cruise and Sydney Pollack
37. Stanley’s home, Childwickbury Manor, in Hertfordshire, England, just north of London... which is also in England
38. Stanley & Christine

Today it is my great pleasure an honor to give a great big remembrance happy birthday shout out to my favorite film director ever, Stanley Kubrick, who unfortunately was taken from us a little over 14 years ago, on March 7th, 1999, at the age of 70.
We have a lot of stuff to go through even though Stanley only made 16 films during his 48 year career, and 3 of those were short documentaries... so let’s get started shall we?
Stanley was born at a very early age on this day in 1928, as a small infant in the northern most borough of New York City, which is called the Bronx... I don’t know why (the Bronx River was named after Jonas Bronck, who created the first settlement as part of the New Netherland colony in 1639, and eventually lent its name to the entire borough)... ah, I take that back, I guess I do know why.
His father, Jacques (Jacob) Leonard Kubrick, was a doctor, so the family was relatively well off. His mom, Sadie Gertrude, stayed at home and took care of him and his younger sister, Barbara Mary, who was born in 1934.
His parents were Jewish, although religion did not play a major role in his early life (or his entire life for that matter). They both passed away in 1985.
"What led you into film-making?”
Kubrick: “I was born in New York. My father was a doctor. My parents had wanted me to be a doctor but I was such a misfit in high school that when I graduated I didn't have the marks to get into college. So, like almost everything else good that's ever happened to me, by the sheerest stroke of good luck, I had a very good friend on Look Magazine [...]. She asked me if I would like a job [...]. After about six months I was finally made a staff photographer. My highest salary was $105 a week. But I traveled around the country and I went to Europe. I learned a lot about people and things. And then, I made a documentary film called DAY OF THE FIGHT about a boxer called Walter Cartier. It cost me around $3.900 and I sold it to RKO for $4.000. So I thought there was a great future in making documentaries, but I didn't make any money on any of the films I made. Then I made a feature FEAR AND DESIRE and then KILLER'S KISS. That led to THE KILLING, and my association with the producer Jim Harris. We did PATHS OF GLORY and LOLITA together."
The Kubricks lived at in an apartment at 2160 Clinton Avenue, in the Bronx, and began attending public school P.S. 3 in 1934, waaaaay before my time.
In 1941, at the age of 13, his dad gave him a Graflex-camera to play with. Stanley soon developed an avid interest in photography. He also liked movies, going to the Loew’s Paradise and RKO Fordham twice a week to see double features.
“One of the things of seeing run-of-the-mill Hollywood films eight times a week, was that many of them were so bad. Without even beginning to understand what the problems of making films were, I was taken with the impression that I could not do a film any worse than the ones I was seeing. I was seeing, I also felt I could, in fact, do them a lot better.”
He was a member of the Photography Club at school and was often assigned to take pictures of sporting events. His dad also got him interested in literature, which would figure prominently in his son’s future career (every feature film Stanley directed was based on a novel or short story), and taught him how to play chess, a game he played throughout his life, which taught him how to strategize and concentrate (and make money by hustling games).
Stanley and I had this in common, we both skipped school quite a lot, and our grades suffered from it. He was reported to the attendance bureau for absenteeism in the spring of 1945. His parents were quite naturally worried that their son might become a drug addled slacker like me and decided to send Stanley out here to California to live with his Uncle Martin Perveler, who at the time was busy establishing a chain of pharmacies in L.A. In the future Uncle Martin (no relation to Ray Walston), would help finance Stanley’s first feature film, “Fear and Desire” (which centers on some soldiers lost behind enemy lines in a forest and was filmed on location in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains, north of Pasadena).
Anyway, the trip out west seemed to have a beneficial affect in young Stanley, who returned to New York and continued his education at the William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx (we have one of those out here in the San Fernando Valley... that guy Taft was very popular it seems). This time Stanley began to score above average grades on reading and intelligence tests which pleased both his parents and the New York educational system.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12th, 1945, with World War II still raging (that conflict would last another 4 months, until the Japanese surrendered on August 15th, 1945 Japanese local time))
Our nation was grief stricken with the passing of the 4 term president who had headed the nation for the last 12 years, who had pulled it out of the Great Depression, and who had beaten back the Germans and Japanese after the attack at Pearl Harbor. 16 year old Stanley Kubrick caught that grief with his camera, catching it in a photo of a newspaper vender holding a paper with the news of the president’s death facing the camera, looking exceptionally upset.
With the help of an insider friend Stanley sold these pictures to Look magazine for $25. Establishing a relationship with Look he continued to sell photos on a frequent basis, and after graduating from high school (due to his poor grades in high school (67% average) he was not accepted to a college. Although he never enrolled, he would sit in during classes at Columbia University) he became an employee, a staff photographer until 1951.
In 1947 Stanley obtained a pilot’s license, and not the kind that helps ships enter harbors. No, he knew how to fly a plane, despite in later years expressing a clear fear of flying displaying a healthy respect for gravity’s tendency to pull things out of the sky.
Stanley met his first love at 1414 Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx, and married his high school sweetheart, Toba Metz at 10:30 AM on May 29, 1948. She was a 18 secretary and he was a 19 year old photographer. The couple moved from the Bronx to Greenwich Village on the west side of Lower Manhattan, where the hippies live.
Having published a photo essay on boxing for Look Stanley used the proceeds and financed his first film for $3,900. A 16 minute black and white documentary entitled “Day of the Fight,” concerning the Irish-American middleweight boxer Walter Cartier. Although the original buyer of the picture went out of business, Stanley was able to sell the short to RKO Pictures for $4,000, making a whopping profit of $100. Yet he was now a profit making, professional filmmaker. “Day of the Fight” was released as part of RKO-Pathé's "This Is America" series and premiered on April 26th, 1951, at the Paramount Theater in New York.
“Day of the Fight,” is also notable for Stanley’s use of the a reverse tracking shot, which can be seen in the clip from “Paths of Glory” below, and which basically is the camera moving forward and photographing where it had been, or from behind. He would use this and other long tracking shots throughout his career.
Inspired by his huge profit Stanley quit his job at Look and began work on others short documentaries, including, “Flying Padre” in 1951 and “The Seafarers,” two years later, his first film in color.
“I was cameraman, director, editor, assistant editor [so he assisted himself... I guess], sound effects man, you name it, I did it. It was invaluable experience, because being forced to do everything myself I gained a sound and comprehensive grasp of all the technical aspects of filmmaking.”
These are the only known, proven, short films made by Mr. Kubrick although it is rumored he may have made more. So if you possess any unknown Kubrick short films, dear readers, that can be authenticated... put them on eBay as fast as possible.
Next Stanley wanted to make a full length film. He borrowed money from family and friends, including Uncle Martin (who attempted to rip off Stanley contractually, wanting a percentage of all of his future films in return for financing this first feature. Stanley, being a pretty astute businessman himself, refused. Uncle Martin eventually relented and was credited as executive producer)
“Fear and Desire” was made in 1951 in California, and concerned 4 soldiers caught behind enemy lines in some unknown war. Depending on what source you used either he and Toba were the only crew members involved, or their was a crew of up to 13.
Stanley met another woman during the production of “Fear and Desire,” and he and Toba divorced that year.
Ruth Sabotka was a student at the American School of Ballet and danced with the New York City Ballet. They married on January 15, 1955, in Albany, New York, and lived in what is now known as the East Village in Manhattan, east of Greenwich Village, where the Ukrainians lived.
“Fear and Desire” garnered some favorable reviews but was a financial failure. Stanley would later disavow himself from the film, calling it a "bumbling, amateur film exercise . . . a completely inept oddity, boring and pretentious," and and tried to keep it out of circulation.
Stanley and Ruth made the big move to Hollywood in 1955 where I came into the picture by being born up north in San Jose... again at a very early age. As far as I know Stanley was unaware of this.
His next movie was 1955‘s “Killer's Kiss,” a 67-minute noir film about a young heavyweight boxer's involvement with a woman being abused by her criminal boss. Again Stanley financed the film by borrowing money from family and friends. Ruth served as the art director for this film, as well as for his next, “The Killing.” She is also featured in a long dance solo, playing the role of Iris.
United Artists paid $100,000 for the movie which had received mixed reviews. They also agreed to finance “The Killing” (based on the book “Clean Break,” by Lionel White), if he could secure a known actor for the lead. Sterling Hayden (who had been the lead in westerns and other noir films up until them. Younger readers might remember him as the Irish-American police Captain McCluskey, who Al Pacino shot in the throat in 1972‘s “The Godfather.” How rude) was said to interested, but the studio wanted Victor Mature (“Samson and Delilah,” “Untamed,” “The Robe”). Stanley didn’t want to wait the 6 months it would take to get Victor so he was allowed to hire Sterling with a reduced budget of $200,000, by far the most money he’d ever had to make a movie.
And it was a good one. It told the story of a complicated race track robbery that went wrong.
One of my favorite lines from the film was uttered by Sterling’s character, Johnny Clay, as he gave instructions to one of his partners who would be required to shoot a horse as it rounded the track. The man was concerned about being out in the open and getting caught, and Johnny said something to this affect, “Why? You’re shooting a horse, that’s not murder... hell, I don’t know what it is...”
One of the film’s co-stars was the great character actor, Elisha Cook, Jr., who had previously appeared in John Houston’s first film, the classic “The Maltese Falcon” starring Humphrey Bogart. I once delivered something to Mr. Cook, probably booze, in the hotel where my father’s liquor store was located in North Hollywood, across the street from Universal Studios. I was like less than 11 at the time. I recognized him of course, being an avid film fan myself. He was dressed in his underwear and was enjoying the company of a scantily clad young lady.
I assume it was his wife as he was married at the time.
I was a little surprised to see him as I knew that in 1957 he had been devoured by a carnivorous Mongolian Maneater plant in the film “Voodoo Island,” with Boris Karloff, as were many others.
Anyway, “The Killing,” lost money at the box office but received rave reviews. Variety magazine wrote, "This story of a $2 million race track holdup and steps leading up to the robbery, occasionally told in a documentary style which at first tends to be somewhat confusing, soon settles into a tense and suspenseful vein which carries through to an unexpected and ironic windup...Hayden socks over a restrained characterization, and Cook is a particular standout. Windsor is particularly good, as she digs the plan out of her husband and reveals it to her boyfriend."
The film has since gained a cult following.
And the good folks at Metro Goldwyn Mayer (better known as MGM) thought so much of it they wanted to work with Stanley, and made available to him the vast library of material they owned to make his next film.
Which was 1957‘s “Paths of Glory,” the story of 4 French soldiers executed during World War I to make an example for other soldiers, based on the book of the same name, written by Humphrey Cobb. Stanley bought the rights to the book from Cobb’s widow for $10,000. Filmed in Bavaria, Germany, it starred Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax. Here’s a clip.
By this time Stanley had earned a reputation as a major control freak, doing endless takes of the same scene until he got it just right, with a “my way or the highway” attitude. Here’s what Kirk said about this according to Hollis Alpert:
“He made the veteran actor Adolphe Menjou do the same scene 17 times. "That was my best reading." Menjou announced. "I think we can break for lunch now." It was well past the usual lunch time but Kubrick said he wanted another take. Menjou went into an absolute fury. In front of Douglas and the entire crew he blasted off on what he claimed was Kubrick's dubious parentage, and made several other unprintable references to Kubrick's relative greenness in the art of directing actors. Kubrick merely listened calmly, and, after Menjou had spluttered to an uncomplimentary conclusion, said quietly: "All right, let's try the scene once more." With utter docility, Menjou went back to work. "Stanley instinctively knew what to do," Douglas says.”
Ruth and Stanley divorced in 1957. I don’t know why. Nobody does. Nobody. But it was rather timely. Take a look at this clip right here. The only female in “Paths of Glory” was the German actress Christiane Harlan, who sang "The Faithful Hussar," which got all of those big old French soldier guys all misty. I have to admit she’s pretty cute. I even said so above in the picture credits. Well Stanley must have thought so as well as they married that same year. They would remain married until he died in 1999. They had two lovely daughters, Anya and Vivian. Christine had one daughter from a previous marriage, Katherina.
Stanley was notorious for not giving many interviews, but he allowed, and appeared in Vivian’s short documentary, “The Making of The Shining,” which can be scene right here.
The film was released in January 1958 and premiered in Munich and Los Angeles. It was considered a modest box office success, though it earned Stanley much critical acclaim.
“The film holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 39 reviews. Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert added this film to his "Great Movies" list on February 25, 2005. Gene Siskel, on a section of Siskel And Ebert's At The Movies show regarding Stanley Kubrick films, declared Paths Of Glory to be one of the all-time great films and "almost" as good as Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.” - Wikipedia
The sequel to “Paths of Glory,” “Yellow,” presented by the guys at “Tales From the Crypt,” appeared in 1991, staring an older Kirk Douglas, with his youngest son Eric, SNL veteran Dan Aykroyd, and Alien android (among a million other fine roles) Lance Henriksen. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forest Gump” “Flight” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” “Contact,” on and on), and can be seen right here.
Next Stanley worked with Marlon Brando for 6 months on his vehicle “One Eyed Jacks,” a western, but the deal fell through, Stanley lamenting that he felt he knew Marlon wanted to direct the film himself... which he did. The only film he ever did direct.
After a week of filming the epic historical drama “Spartacus,” which starred and was being produced by Kirk Douglas, he fired the director (or he quit, we don’t really know) Anthony Mann, and hired Stanley. This was a huge film. A David Lean like huge film (Lean in fact had been offered the job, but turned it down (no British people in it I guess)), with a cast of 10,500, and a budget of 12 million, which sounds like peanuts today, but at the time it was the most expensive picture yet made (1960). Here’s a short but iconic clip.
This was the only film Stanley ever made in which he did enjoy full artistic control, and he and producer Kirk conflicted over many issues, but they got through it and “Spartacus” became a critical and commercial success and established Stanley as a major director, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning four.
After the success of “Spartacus,” Stanley was now considered a big time Hollywood director, so of course he and lovely Christine packed up and moved to England, never to return.
He had previously bought the rights to the Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov’s book, “Lolita,” a story of a middle aged man who gets all worked up over his landlady’s 12 year old daughter Dolores Haze, who he calls Lolita. In 1962 he began making the film in England (he would make the remainder of his films in England). It starred Peter Sellers, James Mason, the lovely Shelley Winters and Sue Lyon as Lolita (and who would go on to co-star with George C Scott in another of my favorite films, “The Flim-Flam Man”). Stanley searched for nearly a year for his Lolita, what Nabokov called “the perfect nymphet.” He found her in Sue Lyon:
“ From the first, she was interesting to watch—even in the way she walked in for her interview, casually sat down, walked out. She was cool and non-giggly. She was enigmatic without being dull. She could keep people guessing about how much Lolita knew about life. When she left us, we shouted to each other, 'Now if she can only act!’”
And Stanley was so impressed with the talent of Mr. Sellers that he would allow him to improvise his lines, something he allowed only one other actor to do, R Lee Ermey, the drill Sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket.”
This was Stanley’s first attempt at black comedy, and the film and book was received not without a certain amount of controversy, which explains the tone of it’s trailor, which can be seen right here.
The film received mixed reviews, with some critics praising it for its daring subject matter, while others, like Pauline Kael, describing it as the "first new American comedy" since the 1940s. "Lolita is black slapstick and at times it's so far out that you gasp as you laugh."
“Lolita,” cost 2 million to make, and made over 9, making it a very successful venture, which allowed Stanley to continue making films.
1964‘s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” is my second favorite Kubrick film. It tells the simple tale of an Air Force General gone mad, who sends American bombers armed with nuclear weapons to Russia with orders to drop their bombs because the Russians were infecting our “precious bodily fluids,” causing him to be impotent. It was Stanley’s second attempt at satirical, black comedy, which he thought was the only viable way to tell this tale... and it worked. “Dr. Strangelove,” is considered a classic, a masterpiece of American film making (although it was made in England).
It starred George C Scott, Sterling Hayden (in probably his best known role), Slim Pickens, Keenan Wynn, the lovely Tracy Reed, a young James Earl Jones, and Peter Sellers in 3 different roles (he was supposed to have played 4 roles but supposedly sprained his ankle accidentally which caused him to be unable to play an American bomber pilot. According to the biographical TV movie, “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” starring Geoffrey Rush as Sellers, Peter hurt his ankle on purpose to get out of the role).
Two clips from the film can be found here and here.
Very much like “Lolita,” “Dr. Strangelove,” made a lot of money, costing 1.8 million to produce, and grossing almost 9.5 at the box office.
“It is often ranked by critics and directors amongst the greatest films of all time, and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the 24th greatest comedic film of all time. It holds a 100% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 61 reviews. It is ranked number 21 in the All-Time High Scores chart of Metacritic's Video/DVD section with an average score of 96. It is also listed as number 26 on Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.” - Wikipedia
Despite the above salutations I once showed “Dr. Strangelove,” to case managers Paul and lovely Erin, both in their 20s, at Movie Day one time. They both couldn’t have been less impressed. I showed them “Failsafe,” as well, the dramatic version of “Dr Strangelove.” Same reaction. I suppose they don’t realize, or care, that Russia still maintains an arsenal of at least several hundred nuclear missiles which are aimed at them at this very moment.
Always looking forward to the next project Stanley decided to tackle Sci-Fi, wanting to make “a real good science fiction movie.”
He decided to use a short story from Dr Arthur C Clarke, who happens to be my favorite science fiction writer (“Rendezvous with Rama” “Childhood’s End” “The Fountains of Paradise,” etc.) entitled "The Sentinel," which concerns the discovery of an artifact on Earth's Moon left behind eons ago by ancient aliens, which is commonplace enough, but Stanley decided to use it anyway and contacted Dr. Clarke in 1964 to help him write a screenplay.
The next year they began filming “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It was released in 1968 and it was claimed to be unlike any science fiction movie yet made, utilizing ground breaking, realistic special effects (consider this dear readers. There is no atmosphere in outer space. No atmosphere means there is no medium to carry sound waves, hence there is no sound in outer space. 2001 is the only film that I have seen that does not use sound effects on its outer space shots. Instead Stanley used music, like Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danub,” and his brother Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” It really worked) It won Stanley his only personal Oscar, an Academy Award for Visual Effects.
“I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeon-holing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content . . . , just as music does. . . . You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning.”
Here’s a rare clip with Stanley being interviewed at the film’s premier.
And one of the film’s opening sequence.
And one with Dave Bowman matching wits with the Hal9000 computer.
2001 cost 10.5 million to make. “The film earned $8.5 million in theatrical gross rental from road show engagements throughout 1968, contributing to North American rentals of $15 million during its original release. Reissues have brought its cumulative exhibition gross to $56.9 million in North America, and over $190 million worldwide.” -Wikipedia
And it’s my favorite Stanley Kubrick movie, and possibly my favorite movie period.
Stanley next wanted to make a biograpical film based on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military and political leader, but the financing fell through and the film was never realized.
What was made was 1971's “A Clockwork Orange,” based on the futuristic novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. It starred Malcolm McDowell as Alex, a young, mixed up gang leader prone to violence, drugged milk, sex, and rape, and who would be a test subject for mind control rehabilitation.
Stanley had wanted to make a movie in a short period of time on a low budget after the failure of the Napoleon project, and he did. It was a hit here in the States, grossing more than $26 million on a budget of $2.2 million, and was critically well received and nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture (losing to “The French Connection”), very rare for an X-rated picture.
Here’s a clip of the opening of the film.
In the United Kingdom, “A Clockwork Orange” was very controversial and withdrawn from release by Kubrick himself after he received several death threats.
Stanley’s next film, 1975s “Barry Lyndon,” was based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s “The Luck of Barry Lyndon,” about the adventures of an 18th-century Irish gambler and social climber. Stanley, along with his cinematographer John Alcott, got their grubby hands on a specially adapted high-speed f/0.7 Zeiss camera lens originally developed for NASA to be used in satellite photography, which allowed them to film interior shots using a natural light source that would have been appropriate for the interior of an 18th century house, like candles, which the results can be seen here.
And another clip.
The film starred Ryan O”Neal as Barry, and the lovely American actress and model Marisa Berenson. It was a modest commercial success upon it’s initial release, and like many of his films has gained in popularity until it is now considered one of Stanley’s greatest... Martin Scorsese’s favorite Kubrick film I’m told.
Here’s an audio clip with Stanley being interviewed by the French film critic and historian Michael Ciment.
“Barry Lyndon” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (losing to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”), and won 4 others ( Cinematography, Art Direction/ Set Decoration, Music Adaptation, and Costume Design).
Stanley was now beginning to slow down a little. I don’t know why. It wasn’t until 1980 when “The Shining,” was released. It was based on the Stephen King novel, and starred Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, as the parents of Danny Torrance, A young man possessing extraordinary psychic abilities much yearned for by the haunted Overlook Hotel for which the family was caretaking for during a snowed in winter in the mountains of Colorado.
Always the innovator, Stanley made use of the newly invented Steadicam, a weight-balanced camera support, which allowed for smooth hand-held camera movement in scenes where a conventional camera track was impractical, like in long tracking shots such as this one.
And here’s Jack having a conversation with the Brady Twins ghostly father.
I was serving in the navy when “The Shining” was released, living in Portland while my ship was in dry dock, and I remember looking so forward to seeing it, being a fan of the novel, and having waited so long since “Barry Lyndon” had appeared. The movie was a tad different than the book (King himself was not pleased with the final product and wrote his own screenplay for television which appeared in 1997 as a mini-series), but I was not disappointed.
As I mentioned earlier both of his parents died in 1985. Gertrude Kubrick died on April 23rd in L.A. at the age of 82, and Jacques Kubrick died on October 19, 1985 in L.A. of bacterial pneumonia.
Stanley was making his next film, the Vietnam War saga “Full Metal Jacket,” at the time, and the death of his parents was an emotional setback to say the least. Still he persisted.
“Full Metal Jacket,” is my favorite “war movie” by far. It doesn’t try to preach that war is a bad thing, which it is. It just depicts what can and does happen when it happens.
Here’s a scene featuring the former real life drill instructor R. Lee Ermey, who was so good at what he did Stanley abandoned the scripted words he had formulated before hand and allowed him to ad lib. Ermey continued his work in films and television, and I am always pleased to see him as he has a distinct talent for comedy. The clip also features a young Detective Robert Goren, or the tremendously talented actor Vincent D'Onofrio, in his 3rd film. Vincent gained 70 pounds for the role.
Here’s another clip featuring the lovely actress Papillon Soo Soo, whose actually a British model and actress, born to French and Chinese parents.
And the Micky Mouse finale.
I used to show FMJ each New Years Eve while working at the Pasadena ARC for some reason.
I don’t know why.
Throughout the 80s and 90s Stanley developed a plan to make a film pertaining to artifical intelligence based on Brian Aldiss’ short story, "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long." Consulting about this project with the young upstart director Steven Spielberg, Stanley admitted the story line for A.I. suited Spielberg’s sensibilities more then his own.
After Stanley’s death Steven indeed went on to direct “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” which is kind of a modern, roboty take on the story of Pinocchio.
Stanley’s final film, 1999‘s “Eyes Wide Shut,” starred then married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Here’s the opening scene... a favorite of mine... I don’t know why.
EWS was based on Arthur Schnitzler's Freudian novella “Traumnovelle” (“Dream Story” in English), and was about... well I don’t know exactly what it was about really. It was Freudian for Christ’s sake! I know it concerned sex, I do know that. There were naked ladies in it. I also know our friend Fay Masterson appeared in it in a scene with Tom. Fay you may recall appeared with our good friend Jennifer Blaire in a series of writer/director Larry Blamire vehicles, such as “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” and “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again,” and “Trail of the Screaming Forehead,” and “Dark and Stormy Night,” some of the finest films ever made.
She’s been in a whole bunch of other things as well but none of them matter.
In 1997 the Directors Guild of America presented Stanley with the D.W. Griffith Award for Lifetime Achievement. Here’s a clip of his acceptance.
Stanley worked 18 hours a day for 15 months trying to get EWS ready before it’s planned release date of July 16th, 1999. Michel Ciment believes that "he literally worked himself to death," trying to complete the film to his liking.
On March 7, 1999, four days after screening a final cut of “Eyes Wide Shut” for his family and the stars, Kubrick died in his sleep of a heart attack.
Stanley’s work will remain relevant for as long as there are movies. Right now there is an exhibit, “Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures,” being displayed in the atrium of the Art Department of the Los Angeles Central Library, not far from where I live. I’m going to go see it tomorrow or the next day.
He was and is my favorite film director. Just today as I played 7 card stud with my lovely ex-case manager Erin, she expressed a desire to watch 2001 again.
“You can do that,” I told her. “I gave you a copy.”
“Yeah, I’ll have to dig that up. I want to see that star baby.”
All of us here at Joyce’s Take remember Stanley on his birthday... and many other days as well.
Happy birthday Mr. Kubrick.