Orson Welles' career is the cinematic toybox that keeps on giving. Though he was forced to discard so many of his film projects like neglected playthings, due to a lack of funding, an unshakeable enfant terrible aura, and the Lost & Found vault at Paris' Ritz Hotel, every now and then a new masterpiece, however unfinished, comes to light. For instance, one of Welles' last screenplays for an aborted film project, The Dreamers, based on a story by Karen Blixen. It just surfaced in its entirety on the Internet, via Scribd, and you can read it below.
The Dreamers is another of Welles' rococo inquiries into the overlapping (and, to him, fluid) spheres of reality, dreams, and storytelling. It reads rather like a narrative version of his 1975 documentary about forgers and the nature of authorship, F for Fake. The Dreamers is structured with a shipboard framing device, in which an English traveler named Lincoln recounts for an Arab storyteller a tale from his own life about his experience with a woman he first met in his dreams but then discovered existed for real as flesh and blood. Was she a sorceress? Did she enter his dreams by some supernatural power? Or is it just chance? We don't really know, but Lincoln pursues this woman, called Olalla, even as signs mount that that's a really bad idea: Olalla claims she sold her soul to the Devil and that her heart is buried in a cemetary. She's a spectral femme fatale, like Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai, with a knowledge of the dark arts, and the story, in flashback, explores Lincoln's longing for her.
Welles actually shot 10-20 minutes of test footage for The Dreamers in his house around 1980-81, when he wrote the screenplay. It's been passed around as bootleg footage among Welles aficionados for years, and was going to be used as a hook to sell the idea to movie studios. His friend and fellow filmmaker Henry Jaglom tried and failed to get funding for it, and Hal Ashby was even briefly attached to produce The Dreamers for awhile... until he read the complete screenplay. In Welles' hands it could have really been something, but it's hard not to see why Ashby passed. The Dreamers is paean to the ephemeral. Citizen Kane was as well. But Kane was a scandal as much as it was a masterpiece, and Welles never recovered from it. Ashby can be forgiven for thinking that he might be brought low with The Dreamers if he invested in it.
It could probably never have existed as a film, but that doesn't mean The Dreamers isn't beautiful as a piece of literature. It's full of trascendental moments and snatches of dialogue reminiscent of the ending of Kane or the final funhouse scene in The Lady From Shanghai. At one point Lincoln pretty much lays out Welles' spiritual-trickster view of the world with the line "To love God truly you must love a joke." And the final patch of dialogue pretty much sums up Welles' whole "Living on a Wink, Prayer, Voiceover gigs, and the Charity of Peter Bogdanovich" approach to life at that point: "There are only two things it is ever seemly for an intelligent person to be thinking. One is: 'What did God mean by creating the world?' And the other? 'What do I do next?'"
The Dreamers (unfinished film) screenplay by Orson Welles by vlado0
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Watching Arrested Development is like playing a video game. The more you dedicate yourself to the intricacies, the more you'll be rewarded. Mitch Hurwitz's beloved comedy series regularly rewards its devoted fans with self-directed references that build upon one another as the episodes progress. In short, the more you watch, the more funny the show's jokes become.
Surely, the forthcoming season of AD (which began filming yesterday) is bound to revisit some of the original run's most memorable running gags, from oft repeated one-liners to more intricate plot callbacks. As the new episodes enter production (as proven by star Jason Bateman's Twitter account, revealing photos of the team returning to the set), we can't help but think back on some of our favorite recurring bits through our first three years with the Bluth family. Here's a list of some of our staff's favorite Arrested Development running jokes that we presume, and hope, will find their place in the show's return.
"I've Made a Huge Mistake."
GOB first utters his catchphrase during Arrested Development's fourth episode... twice. First, upon realizing that he might have gotten himself into a trickier situation than he imagined after getting himself locked up in jail. Second, immediately after committing himself romantically to his then-girlfriend (though not for long), Marta.
The Enchanting Mrs. Featherbottom
In an effort to reconnect with his moderately estranged daughter Maeby, Tobias Fünke developed the Mrs. Doubtfire inspired plagiarized alter ego Phylidia Featherbottom in the second season episode "The Immaculate Election." The character's crowning moment came when she plummeted from the second story of the Bluth family home into the living room coffee table, in an effort to bequeath the power of whimsy unto an uninterested Maeby.
Life Lessons from J. Walter Weatherman
As revealed in a flashback in the Season 1 episode "Pier Pressure," George Sr. made a habit of enforcing borderline abusive life lessons unto his young children via the help of friend and amputee J. Walter Weatherman. Over the course of the series' run, JWW helped to teach the Bluth family about leaving notes, not yelling while one's father is driving, and, interestingly, not using people with missing limbs to teach other people lessons.
Sad Charlie Brown Music
Technically, the Charlie Brown musical motif only appeared in one episode — Season 2's "Good Grief" — but made its way into four different scenes, illustrating the sorrows experienced by George Michael, his grandfather George Sr., GOB, and (upon discovering that someone had eaten his hard-boiled eggs) Tobias.
Tobias' Colorful Diction
This isn't so much a running gag as it is a defining characteristic of one of Arrested Development's fan favorite characters. Tobias has a bit of a habit for slipping some pretty shocking innuendo into everyday speech... without even knowing it. It's a big part of why he is so beloved by AD fans. And speaking of colorful...
From the moment she enters their lives in "Let 'em Eat Cake," the members of the Bluth family, Michael especially, make no effort to hide their... unimpressed attitude toward young George Michael's first girlfriend, Ann. Or Bland... Plant. Egg. Annhog. Here's hoping that she makes a thrilling comeback in the new season (perhaps as GOB's girlfriend now?), and is no less receptive to the family's insulting stack of nicknames.
The Literal Doctor
"Let 'em Eat Cake" introduces another much detested character into the lives of the Bluth family... but this one for much better reason: Dr. Fishman, mocked as "Dr. Wordsmith" by Lucille and known to fans primarily as "the Literal Doctor." How did he get this moniker? Perhaps by affirming that Buster would be "all right" after losing his left hand, or by declaring, "It looks like we lost him," after an apparently heart attack-stricken George Sr. sneaked away from his hospital room.
Yeah, the guy in the $4000 suit is going to explain this joke to you. Come on!
The Many Faces of Gene Parmesan
Private detective Gene Parmesan is another element of Arrested Development that only appeared in one episode, but that seems like it spanned the series due to how big an impact it made on fans. Throughout the second season "Amigos," Lucille is shocked (and elated) over and over by the "master of disguise," Gene Parmesan, who is enough of a class act to not even count the money when you pay him for his time.
A HAND-Ful of Buster
After Buster loses his hand in the second season episode "Out on a Limb," Arrested Development takes no caution poking fun at the youngest Bluth sibling's (well, half-sibling/cousin) handicap. Whether he's exasperatedly screaming, "I'm a monster!" or unintentionally puncturing someone... or something... with his hook, Buster's hand jokes are an AD staple.
Introducing Franklin Delano Bluth
The most accomplished member of the Bluth family by far is Franklin: a recording artist and entrepreneur... and a puppet, who GOB first introduced to AD fans in the Season 2 ep "Meat the Veals." Via Franklin, GOB taught the world a lot about living in racial harmony... and about pimping out a prostitute who may or may not be your biological sister.
Although we might not see Charlize Theron return to her role as Michael's "secretly" mentally challenged girlfriend Rita in the new episodes, we can still hope that the family can find its way back to Wee Britain: the California neighborhood that introduced fans to the wild machinations of a yesteryear's James Bond in episodes like "For British Eyes Only," "Notap***y," and, best of all ... "MR. F."
The Fable of Chareth Cutestory: Maritime Lawyer
In an effort to impress a cute prosecutor at a bar in the episode "Altar Egos," Michael decided to make up an identity for himself: Chareth Cutestory. This role also helped Michael live out a longtime dream of actually being a lawyer... a dream that he had ever since taking a role in a school production of The Trial of Captain Hook. The song'll stick in your head like glue.
He Just Likes Cutoffs
No, Tobias. Those do not effectively hide your thunder.
I'll Meet You Down at the Big Yellow Joint
While George Sr.'s twin brother Oscar and son GOB appear to have their share of familiarity with cannabis, neither the family patriarch nor his straight-laced grandson George Michael seem to have much savvy in the realm of narcotics, both affirming awkwardly, "I'm going to smoke the marijuana like a cigarette." Will another comical mismanagement of streetwise lingo work its way into the future of Arrested Development episodes as it did in Season 1's "Pier Pressure" and Season 2's "Sad Sack"? Are we in for a revival of the boardwalk's hit number "Big Yellow Joint"? Just keep Buster's turtle Mother out of the Afternoon Delight box...
”I Just Want My Kids Back.”
Even though Lindsay Fünke might have no idea who Thomas Jane is, most other people do. He’s the star of such blockbusters as the hit family film Homeless Dad, as we saw in the episode “Out on a Limb.” It’s a touching story. He just wants his kids back.
The Family's Grammar Issues
For an affluent, well-to-do clan, the Bluth family doesn't seem to have a great deal of formal education. Especially when it comes to putting together a sentence do they tend to fail, such as seen (most notably) in the Season 3 episode "Forget-Me-Now." Look at banner, reader!
Not too many things seem to bother the guards at George Sr.'s prison. People sneak out of jail, sneak into jail, get stabbed, push each other off balconies, form alliances, teach courses on misguided versions of major religions... but as fans learned in the second episode of the series, "Top Banana," there is one rule that is always enforced: "NO TOUCHING!"
And of course... The Chicken Dance
After making its first triumphant appearance in the Season 1 episode "Staff Infection," GOB's nothing-like-a-chicken chicken dance (used primarily to torment Buster over his cowardice) has become arguably the most beloved element in the entire series. The rest of the family eventually got in on the act: Lindsay, Lucille, and George Sr. each contributed equally brow-raising depictions of the barnyard fowl. Enjoy the clip below, and watch out for Arrested Development's fourth season!
[Photo Credits: Fox]
If you have ever been embarrassed by your big loud family then you will certainly relate to Toula (played by Nia Vardalos) the narrator and main character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. After all her suburban home is modeled after the Parthenon and her father (played by Michael Constantine) believes a squirt of Windex can cure anything--including bursitis--and that every word in the English language derives from a Greek root. At 30 Toula is still living at home and kowtowing to her strict father--who believes that every Greek woman's ambition should be to marry a Greek man have Greek children and feed everyone until she dies. Suffice it to say he is less than happy when Toula becomes engaged to Ian (played by John Corbett)--a non-Greek. What ensues is a hilarious tale of what happens when two families--one loud Greek Orthodox the other conservative Episcopalian--must reconcile their differences for the sake of their children's happiness. Vardalos' narration of the events that are occurring--and how she feels about them--helps draw the viewer into Toula's world.
Vardalos is great as Toula and presents her character's traits and peculiarities fittingly well like her low self-esteem and the way she slouches. More importantly Vardalos made Toula's character believable. When Toula begins taking classes at a local college her confidence improves she puts on a little makeup combs her hair and voila! She's transformed into a beautiful person oozing happiness. It's quite charming. Corbett is well cast as the sweet and accepting fiancé but he comes across as a little bland. That really dated haircut certainly doesn't win him any points either. Constantine as Toula's strict father is chauvinistic and thick-headed but he plays his cards just right so you can never really hate the character straight out even though he treats his wife and kids like a Neanderthal would. As Aunt Voula Andrea Martin is by far the most hilarious of the bunch and she delivers each line with zany conviction. For all you 'N Sync fans Joey Fatone has a small role as Toula's cousin and has maybe three lines in the film.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is based on comedy writer Vardalos' one-woman show. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson saw the show and apparently liked it so much they decided to produce it through their Playtone studio. Directed by Joel Zwick the film is not the first to deal with big weddings and what happens when too many family members get involved. Ang Lee did it better with the 1993 romantic comedy The Wedding Banquet about a gay Taiwanese-American man who marries a young Chinese woman to satisfy his parents as did Mira Nair with last year's Monsoon Wedding about an arranged Indian marriage. But Zwick who has directed a slew of TV shows from Happy Days to The Wayans Brothers keeps things fresh and funny despite the tired storyline. Set in Chicago but filmed in Toronto the film feels authentic especially the scenes in the family's diner Dancing Zorbas their house and their neighborhood. But the movie could have done without the cartoonish old-world granny with anti-Turkish sentiment.
Before U.S. forces are set to invade the Japanese island of Saipan in June of 1944 Marines Joe Enders (played by Nicolas Cage) and Ox Anderson (played by Christian Slater) are given a special assignment: They must protect two Navajo code talkers Ben Yahzee (played by Adam Beach) and Charlie Whitehorse (played by Roger Willie). The men's orders are to protect the code "at all costs " and although it is never worded as such it is assumed they are to kill the code talkers if they fall into enemy hands. Enders somehow rationalizes that killing Yahzee will be easier if the two remain distant and he treats Yahzee like dirt for the first half of the film. Yahzee tries to appease Enders by telling jokes and being sweet until he finds out what Enders' true mission really is. Yahzee then turns into a Rambo-type soldier on a one-man kamikaze mission killing everything in his path. Ultimately the two men bond and Enders is faced with the predictable dilemma of deciding Yahzee's fate. Windtalkers is inspired by true events but unfortunately the film doesn't focus enough on the Navajo experience or the code but instead places too much emphasis on Enders' inner turmoil.
One thing war films are usually good at is establishing the bonds among soldiers in times of conflict but the relationships developed in Windtalkers are practically nonexistent. As Enders Cage is a bitter man dealing with some heavy issues but we never get a chance to care about his character's plight; he's too busy being detestable. It would have been interesting to get a better glimpse into Beach's character Yahzee but instead of delving into how his racist comrades' actions affect him for example Beach has to sling back smart one-liners like "How did you know I was a chief? You must have seen me showering with my war bonnet." Slater's character is just as one-dimensional as all the other characters but he at least shows a glimmer of human emotion in Anderson that makes him slightly more likeable. Frances O'Connor has a small and useless role as a nurse stationed at a hospital in Hawaii. Her character Rita is so irrelevant to the film's plot that she actually disappears after a few scenes only to resurface intermittently as a voiceover for letters she writes to Enders.
The premise for Windtalkers is a fascinating one that is trivialized rather than explored. Director John Woo pulls out every Navajo cliché including ritualistic flute-playing and mystical burials. The most interesting aspects of the film are the anatomy of the code and watching it go into effect from its boot-camp development stage to the language being used over the battlefield radios to encode messages. But rather than focus on that scribes John Rice and Joe Batteer hone in on Enders and Anderson and they waste time developing useless storylines like the friendship Enders strikes up with nurse Rita at a Pearl Harbor hospital. The battle scenes come across as bland compared to last year's Black Hawk Down but the film's most disappointing aspect is the fact that Yahzee's and Whitehorse's characters are so underdeveloped. (Wait I seem to remember Yahzee having a son named George Washington. Give me a break!) The film's soundtrack composed by James Horner also seems oddly out of place and too upbeat for the morose subject matter.