Sex-Crazed Stars, Tabloid Wars and Tough Guys! Auto Focus, The Paper and The Long Good Friday!

Hold The Phone!

The Paper

I love telling someone about a great movie they may have missed. Recently, I got someone hooked on “Barton Fink”, the classic Coen Brothers film – there are a ton of great, overlooked films to share – or films that had modest popularity when they were released, but have slipped out of the spotlight…

In that vein, here are movies that were somewhat overlooked upon release, and they all deserve some DVD, Netflix or other form of streaming love!

The Paper – Directed by Ron Howard. Released in 1994

Ron Howard directs this wildly entertaining comedy-drama about a day in the life of a New York tabloid newspaper…Look at this cast!

Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and Randy Quaid. Then add Jason Alexander, Jason Robards and Spaulding Gray and Catherine O’Hara – what a great group of Acting talent!

Michael Keaton plays Henry Hackett, the editor of a New York City tabloid. He is a workaholic who loves his job, but the long hours and low pay are leading to discontent. The Paper’s owner puts hatchet womman Alicia Clark, played with delicious verve by Glenn Close, in Keaton’s path, leading to an explosive battle over the future of the paper.


Alicia: “One of our security guards actually tried to frisk me. (pause) We’re having drinks later.”

Marisa Tomei is Keaton’s hugely pregnant wife and former reporter – who is fed up because he has so little time for his family.

He is therefore considering an offer to edit a paper like the New York Times, which would mean more money, shorter hours, more respectability…but might also be a bit boring for his tastes. But a hot story soon confronts Henry with tough decisions.

Henry: Did McDougal call in?
Janet, Henry’s Secretary: No.
Henry: No message at all from McDougal?
Janet, Henry’s Secretary: I have no motive for lying, Henry.

My new favorite line when questioned by someone is:

“I have no motive for lying.”

So Keaton interviews for the new job, but can’t help but sneak a peek at the competition’s desk, leading to a followup call that doesn’t go well…and results in another great Keaton scenes as he explodes at his now, never-to-be new boss…

Keaton: “I realize this doesn’t exactly get us off on the right foot.”
New York Sentinel Editor: “The right foot, are you out of your mind? The offer is rescinded. How stupid do you think we are? What do you think I get when I put two and two together? Three? Three and a half?”

Keaton: “Let me talk. Let me say something, wait a mi-”
New York Sentinel Editor: “Well, I hope you’re satisfied, asshole! You just blew your chance to cover the world!”

Keaton: “Really? Well guess fucking what? I don’t really fucking care. You wanna know fucking why? Because I don’t fucking live in the fucking world! I live in fucking New York City! So go fuck yourself!”

The Paper

[Keaton slams down telephone back on the receiver]
Keaton’s Secretary: “You handled that well.”
Keaton: “Thank you.”

This is a great, fun movie!

The Long Good Friday – directed by John Mackenzie – released in 1980.

In the mood for a “tough as nails” British crime drama? Look no further than this gem, which introduced Bob Hoskins to America with a big fat fist to the face!

Hoskins stars as Harold, a prosperous English gangster, who is about to close a lucrative new deal when bombs start showing up in very inconvenient places. A mysterious syndicate is trying to muscle in on his action, and Harold wants to know who they are. He finds out soon enough, and bloody mayhem ensues. Oh, did I mention that Harold has a bit of a temper?

Casino Manager: “It was a good night. Nothing unusual.”
Harold: “Nothing unusual,” he says! Eric’s been blown to smithereens, Colin’s been carved up, and I’ve got a bomb in me casino, and you say nothing unusual?”

So things aren’t going well – and Hoskins decides to have a chat with some of his British mob competitors…

[Harold’s lads have rounded up all the local villains who are now hanging upside down from meat hooks in the abattoir]
Harold: “For more than ten years there’s been peace – everyone to his own patch. We’ve all had it sweet. I’ve done every single one of you favours in the past – I’ve put money in all your pockets. I’ve treated you well, even when you was out of order, right? Well now there’s been an eruption. It’s like fuckin’ Belfast on a bad night. One of my closest friends is lyin’ out there in the freezer. And believe me, all of you, nobody goes home until I find out who done it, and why.”

Helen Mirren stars as his wife, who is also tough as nails, but also able to maneuver out of any situation, like when one of the mob tries to seduce her in an elevator…

[in the lift on the way to Harold and Victoria’s penthouse]
Jeff: “I wanna lick every inch of you…”
[the lift stops, the bell pings]
Victoria: “Saved by the bell. Goodnight.”

In her 2008 autobiography “In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures”, Helen Mirren claims that it was at her insistence that her character “Victoria” was made into a more complex character than just the stereotypical mob moll.

This movie is full of great imagery and aggressive dialogue…

Harold: “Alan found him dying. He’d been nailed to the floor.”
Jeff: “When was this, then?”
Harold: “Well, it must’ve been just after you saw him and just before Alan saw him. Otherwise, you’d have noticed, wouldn’t you? I mean, a geezer nailed to the floor. A man of your education would definitely have spotted that, wouldn’t he?”

This was the first theatrical film role for Pierce Brosnan, who has a small but pivotal role. But the breakout star here was Hoskins…

This film has an amazing ending that showcases everything that made Hoskins such a breakout Actor…terrific film!


Auto Focus – directed by Paul Schrader – released in 2002.

Now here is a movie I absolutely LOVE – a terrific bio-pic of TV Star Bob Crane, who achieved fame in “Hogan’s Heroes”.

In 1965, Bob Crane, who had achieved some earlier success as a television supporting actor, was working as a successful morning radio DJ at KNX Los Angeles. Despite enjoying his work, photography (especially of the female form) and drumming, Crane wanted to be a movie star. So it was with some reluctance that he accepted the title starring role in a new television sitcom called Hogan’s Heroes, a WWII POW comedy.

To his surprise, the show became a hit and catapulted him to television stardom. Here is Greg Kinnear as Bob Crane – an absolutely captivating performance as the “every man” who becomes a household name…

This film is directed by Paul Schrader, who famously wrote “Taxi Driver” and known a thing or two about the dark side of people.

Bob Crane’s story is fascinating, and sordid. The fame resulting from “Hogan’s Heroes” led to excesses and a meeting with home video salesman and technician John Carpenter, with who he would form a friendship based on their mutual interests, namely excessive sex (for Crane, purely heterosexual sex) and capturing nude females on celluloid.

His fame allowed Crane to have as much sex as he wanted, with Dafoe being his willing “wing man”…picking up women at bars to take back to the TV Star’s pad…

Look at this trivia from IMDB: The leather jacket that Greg Kinnear wore while playing ‘Bob Crane’ in the Hogan’s Heroes scenes in this movie was the one that ‘Bob Crane’ actually wore during that TV series Hogan’s Heroes. Crane’s son Bob Jr. (Robert David Crane) loaned the jacket to Greg Kinnear for this movie. Prior to Hogan’s Heroes, this jacket was worn by Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan’s Express.

Crane ends up married to Maria Bello, but that doesn’t slow down his “swinging” ways…

Here’s a conversation he has with his Agent, who tries to help him straighten out his life…

Agent: “Sex is not the answer.”
Bob Crane: “I know that Lenny, it’s the question. ‘Yes’ is the answer.”

And of course, his creepy friend Dafoe is there to help him every step of the way…

Bob Crane: “A day without sex…
John Carpenter: …is a day wasted!”

After years of abuse, the lifestyle takes a tragic toll. And every step of the way, Kinnear is terrific – a phenomenal performance.

I worked with Greg at E! during “Talk Soup” and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet…that “genuine nice guy” persona is what makes this movie work…look for this!



Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Awards, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, Exploitation films, Film Noir, Foreign Films, Golden Globes, Grindhouse, London, Movies, Movies About Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, TV Show, Uncategorized

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