This blonde ingenue made a rocky transition to leading lady. Lyon won the controversial role of Dolores Haze, the sexually charged adolescent and the object of an older man's obsessions in Stanley Kub...
Warner Bros Everett Collection
Just how different are modern cinema and that of the '70s and '80s? Are there great movie scenes that wouldn't get made today because the audience wouldn't tolerate them? Conversely, are there scenes that were shocking back in the day that wouldn't cause anyone to think twice now?
It's a given that audiences' tastes change over time… the same as social norms do in America. Oddly, though, where audiences sometimes become more relaxed about what they will accept — for instance, with profanity, since George Carlin's "7 Dirty Words" has been reduced to two — they sometimes become more conservative about other things. Below is our look at a group of scenes from movies that probably wouldn't make it on screen for a studio release now, and some others that were shocking when they were released that wouldn't cause anyone to lift an eyebrow today.
Oh No, They Didn't!
The Last Temptation of Christ / Life of Brian
Martin Scorsese's adaption of Nikos Kazantzakis' 1953 novel, with the scene of Jesus dreaming of a sexual encounter with Mary Magdalene, was controversial in 1988 and caused an outcry from various Christian groups. In today's media environment, and with the advent of social media, that controversy would be 1,000-fold and wouldn't go away easily. Even Scorsese wouldn't be able to get that into a film now… we'll accept the debauchery and debasement of his The Wolf of Wall Street but depicting Christ as having sexual urges wouldn't fly. In the same vein, imagine trying to convince a studio to okay Monty Python's famous "Always Look on the Bright Side" finale to Brian with the singing crucifixion victims. It met with criticism when it was released in 1979, but it would cause Bill O'Reilly's head to explode now.
Quentin Tarantino gets heat from all sides for his use of the N-word in his stylized action-violence fantasies like Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction… which represent a far different aura than a studio comedy would. Many white audiences would shift uncomfortably in their seats now at Mel Brooks' comedic use of the word during the scene where Cleavon Little's Sheriff Bart first arrives at Rock Ridge. (As well as the various other ethnic jokes throughout the film; Brooks' was an equal opportunity offender.)
Airplane! / Heathers
On a similar token, as funny as Airplane! remains in our memories, in the wake of 9-11 many audiences would be squeamish about laughing at a plane crashing through a terminal, just as the reveal of Christian Slater's plot to blow up the school in Heathers would play much differently now.
What's the Big Deal?
The Exorcist / Rosemary's Baby /The Blair Witch Project
Horror movies have to really work hard now if they want to be controversial. William Friedkin's The Exorcist is still plenty scary 40 years later and the scene where Linda Blair's Regan finds an inappropriate use for a crucifix would still get attention… but it would be minor and chalked up to the now standard shock tactics employed by the genre. Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby is so non-threatening at this point that it's being done as a network TV series. Similarly, Blair Witch's up-the-nose shots would be seen as cute after the rise of films like Paranormal Activity that, in fairness, it helped spawn.
Lolita / The Last Tango in Paris
When Reese Witherspoon had sex with her teacher in Election, it barely registered as being inappropriate. Vladimir Nabokov's book and the subsequent 1962 Kubrick film were hugely controversial (pick any scene of James Mason and Peter Sellers leering at Sue Lyon). When the film was remade in 1997 with Jeremy Irons playing the tortured Humbert Humbert, obsessed with a young girl, audiences could've cared less. When Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango was released in 1972 with Marlon Brando as a widower in an illicit affair with a young French woman it earned an X-rating for its sexual content, particularly for a scene involving butter being used for something far removed from toast. When Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty came out in 1996 with Liv Tyler as an American teenager experiencing a sexual awakening amongst a group of artists in Italy, most people's reaction was, "Hey, is that Steven Tyler's daughter?"
I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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Paul Hogan, whose third Crocodile Dundee yarn will open April 20, is disputing a Writers Guild of America decision to award the film's writing credits to Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Hogan said he wrote the original screenplay, invented the characters and developed the jokes for Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, a far cry from the "characters created by" credit the WGA awarded him.
"I have an ongoing problem with the Writers Guild because I am also the producer," Hogan told the Hollywood Reporter. "The producer is the natural enemy of the writer."
In Hogan's corner: Simon Wincer, who said that he directed a script written by Hogan.
The guild considers "any challenge a good-faith disagreement" and would prevail should Hogan sue, a WGA spokeswoman told the Hollywood Reporter.
Drescher to write about fight against cancer
Fran Drescher will receive $1 million from Warner Books to pen a memoir chronicling her battle against uterine cancer, according to Variety.
Drescher, whose CBS sitcom The Nanny ended in 1999 after six years, managed to beat the cancer because of an early diagnosis. She discussed her fight in an interview in the May issue of Rosie, the new magazine published by talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell.
Drescher also wrote about her career in Whining.
Ex-Beatle may sell mansion because of 1999 attack
George Harrison has told friends that he may sell the 120-room mansion where he was attacked and stabbed in December 1999 by an intruder, according to Britain's The Mail on Sunday.
The ex-Beatle's 34-acre estate, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, could be placed on the market for 15 million pounds ($21.56 million). He purchased the mansion in 1970 for 135,000 pounds ($194,000).
Harrison almost died when Michael Abram punctured his lung with a knife. Harrison's wife, Olivia, saved him by striking Abram with a poker. He is now serving an indefinite term in a psychiatric hospital.
Rosie O'Donnell calls on friends to host show
Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell will continue to recuperate this week after undergoing a medical procedure related to a previous injury, according to the New York Daily News. O'Donnell has called on Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Caroline Rhea and Kathy Griffin to guest host her talk show.
Last week, O'Donnell had a wound on her left hand drained. She cut herself in August when she removed a price tag from a fishing pole belonging to son Parker.
Gandolfini makes Rutgers an offer it can't refuse
Mess with Rutgers University's besieged football team and you could find yourself sleeping with the fishes.
Alumnus James Gandolfini has filmed a morale-boosting commercial for the team, which endured a 3-8 record last season. Gandolfini, who displays his prolific powers of persuasion as The Sopranos' mob boss, appears in the commercial with new coach Greg Schiano.
De Niro to Lopez: "Love Me or Leave Me"
Jennifer Lopez may string Robert De Niro along in a remake of the 1955 romance, Love Me or Leave Me, for Warner Bros., according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The original starred Doris Day as an up-and-coming singer who woos Chicago racketeer James Cagney purely to advance her career.
Unlike the original, the proposed remake would not be based on the real-life story of 1930s singer Ruth Etting.
De Niro and Lopez would each likely squeeze another film into their schedules should they decide to make Love Me or Leave Me. De Niro's slate includes sequels to Analyze This and Meet the Parents; Lopez recently dropped out of the Francis Ford Coppola-produced biopic of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo to negotiate a $10 million paycheck for Taking Lives, a thriller Tony Scott may direct.
Roberts' "Sweethearts" dances against De Niro's "The Score"
Better scratch plans to spend Independence Day with Julia Roberts.
Sony has pushed back the Oscar winner's new comedy, America's Sweethearts, from July 4 to July 13, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Roberts will go head to head with MGM's just-confirmed Legally Blonde, a comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, and Paramount's The Score, a heist flick headlined by masters of method acting Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton.
Rather than compete against itself, Sony also has moved its expensive CGI-animated epic Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within from July 13 to July 11.
MGM also announced it will release the oft-delayed Original Sin, a steamy period thriller pitting Antonio Banderas against Angelina Jolie, on Aug. 3 and its Rollerball remake possibly on Aug. 17.
Besson loses "Yamakaso" lawsuit
French director Luc Besson's production company must pay $50,000 to writer-director Julien Seri, who sued after being fired from the Besson-produced thriller Yamakaso, according to Variety.
The French labor court, ruling in Seri's favor, dismissed a suggestion by Besson's production company, LeeLoo, that Seri had been asked to resign.
Seri and Yamakao co-writer Phillippe Lyon recently lost their legal bid to halt the release of the film, which hit French theaters Wednesday.
Universal snaps up EMusic.com
Universal Music Group will purchase Web song-swap service EMusic.com for close to $23 million in cash, EMusic.com announced Monday.
Universal will pay 57 cents for each outstanding EMusic.com share.
The service, founded in 1998, first operated on a fee-per-download basis. It began offering a subscription service as an alternative to Napster, which allowed users to download music for free, in most cases without the music industry's permission.
EMusic also operates such sites as RollingStone.com and DownBeat.com.
"EMusic represents a tremendous group of assets that appeal to a wide range of music fans, including the popular RollingStone.com and DownBeat.com brands and a deep catalog of digital music," said Larry Kenswil, president, eLabs, Universal Music Group, in a statement posted Monday on EMusic.com. "We feel that EMusic complements Universal's other digital and Internet initiatives and we look forward to joining with them to offer music lovers more and more compelling online destinations and experiences."
TV debut in the network special, "Arsenic and Old Lace"
First TV-movie, "But I Don't Want to Get Married!"
This blonde ingenue made a rocky transition to leading lady. Lyon won the controversial role of Dolores Haze, the sexually charged adolescent and the object of an older man's obsessions in Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita" (1962). From the Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name, Kubrick's "Lolita", although a toned-down version of the story, was nonetheless one of the most notorious films of its day and Lyon rode to fame on its coattails. She played a similar role in John Huston's "Night of the Iguana" (1964), competing for the affections of Richard Burton's defrocked alcoholic preacher against the likes of Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner, and she played an innocent in John Ford's last film, "Seven Women" (1965). She continued to work in films and television throughout the 1960s and 70s.