Happy birthday Kurt Russell!
Can you believe that Kurt Russell turns 65 on March 17th! Hmmm…what can I do to celebrate? After all, he’s one of my favorite Actors…
Time For A Classic Triple Feature For The Birthday Boy!
First, how can you not love a movie with dialogue like this:
Bob Hauk: I’m not a fool, Plissken!
Snake Plissken: Call me “Snake.”
Then, moments later:
Bob Hauk: We’d make one hell of a team, Snake!
Snake Plissken: The name’s Plissken!
And he is, of course, “Snake Plissken!”
Time For The Comic Genius And “Snake Plisskin” Coolness Of Kurt Russell!
Yes, he’s been acting his entire life, but in the 80’s, Kurt Russell made two films that, for me, cemented his reputation as one of the most entertaining Actors around…
In “Used Cars”, he showcased his terrific comic timing as he played off some of the most respected character Actors in film, and in the other, he was – well, “SNAKE PLISSKIN”!
Let’s take a look at two of the greatest films of the 80’s!
“Escape From New York”!
Kurt Russell exudes coolness, attitude and kick assert right off the top, when he is informed of a plane crash…
Bob Hauk: “There was an accident. About an hour ago, a small jet went down inside New York City. The President was on board.”
Snake Plissken: “The president of what?”
The setup is simple but effective: in the future – 1979!- Manahatten is turned into a penal colony, where only the worst criminals struggle to survive …so of course, the President’s plane is hijacked and he is taken hostage. What does the government do? Naturally, they send in Sanke Plisskin.
Here is the trailer:
“Escape From New York” is one of Director John Carpenter’s best moves – a tough, gritty thriller held together by a great Kurt Russell performance. Kurt Russell has stated that this is his favorite of all his films, and Snake Plissken is his favorite of his characters.
It’s his cockiness and attitude that make him a perfect “anti-hero”: of course he has no interest in helping rescue the President, he’s being blackmailed into it.
Cue James Cameron!
There is a shot in the film where a helicopter flies over Central Park – that was actually filmed in San Fernando, California. The buildings in the background were matte-paintings by future director James Cameron!
This is a great action thriller, and Russell is great – it was his idea to give Snake Plisskin an eye patch!
In his next film, Russell starred in one of the funniest, and most criminally neglected films of all time!
When the owner of a struggling used car lot is killed, it’s up to the lot’s hot-shot salesman to save the property from falling into the hands of the owner’s ruthless brother and used-car rival.
Meet Rudy Russo, the sleaziest used car salesman there is – well, except for all the others. Rudy wants to be a State Senator, and he’ll bribe anyone he needs to in order to achieve his dream of higher office. This hilariously profane comedy was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who went on to make “Back To The Future”.
Along with his partner in crime Gerrit Graham, Russell dreams up a plot to screw his arch enemy Roy Fuchs, played with a deliciousness by veteran character actor Jack Warden.
As Roy Fuchs spits out when he disagrees with the local elected officials:
“That Mayor – he don’t know DICK!”
Here is some great trivia, courtesy of IMDB: In a scene where Roy Fuchs (Jack Warden) walks up to Rudy (Kurt Russell) and Jeff (Gerrit Graham) – Graham didn’t have any lines and kept pestering Director Robert Zemeckis for something to say. Finally, he just decides to repeat whatever Russell said to Warden. Apparently Warden was unaware of what Graham was doing, thus his line:
“What’re you? A fuckin’ parrot?”
It was Warden’s genuine annoyance at Graham, which worked so well in the scene that it was included in the final cut.
Michael McKean and David Lander (Lenny and Squiggy) have small roles as techno-geeks who jam President Carter’s State of the Union address in order to plug in an ad for the used car lot…by cutting in live from Roy Fuchs’ used car lot across the street, making use of his cars for their “live pyrotechnics”…
[President Carter on TV]
President Carter: -high inflation. What is the solution?
[TV cuts to commercial for Luke’s yard taking place in Roy’s yard]
Jeff: You want the solution to inflation? Hi, friends. Marshall Lucky here for New Deal Used Cars, where we’re lowering inflation not only by fighting high prices, not only by murdering high prices, but by blowing the living shit out of high prices. Yessir. Here’s an example. It’s a 1972 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, for sixty-two ninety-nine. That price is too high.
Jeff: Yessir. Here’s another one. It’s a Lincoln Continental, Mark IV, 1973. It’s loaded. It’s got air conditioning. It’s got a stereo. It’s got white-wall radial tires. It’s got power steering, power brakes, power seats, power windows. And a price that is just too high.
[Jim appears on car behind him in costume]
Freddie: [on microphone] Look out, Marshall Lucky. It’s High Prices.
Jeff: Take this, you dirty ol’ High Prices.
[“shoots” Jim, who puts on a very convincing act]
Jim: AHHHH. Ya got me Marshall. Ahhhhh…
Jeff: [shocked] Jesus Christ!
[winks at screen]
The movie is profane and hilarious, and Russell plays the slimy used car salesman perfectly…
And the film also has a hilarious car chase with a ton of great action scenes….like this one:
Finally, finish your triple bill of Kurt Russell fun with this classic:
John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is one of the greatest horror films ever made – thanks to Russell’s incredible performance…check it out here:
So I plan to enjoy this Kurt Russell triple bill as a way to kick off a new year on a great cinematic note!
Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Awards, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Exploitation films, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Funny Pictures, Great Films, Grindhouse, Hollywood, Independent Cinema, Los Angeles, Movies, New York, Obscure Movies, Politics, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, The President Of The United States, Uncategorized