Movies With A “U”! Unknown Barbra Streisand! Mad Magazine’s Disowned Movie Debut! Oscar-Winning Gangsters And Kurt Russell Too!


Get Our Of Your Sandbox! Movies With A “U” Are Here!

That’s right, Barbra Streisand’s got to get up and at ’em, because my list of “Movies A-Z” hits a “u”nique letter – and a wild group of films!

Here you go: an eclectic group of films that begin with a “U” – including a long-forgotten Streisand film, a disavowed Alfred E. Newman movie, and of course, Kurt Russell!

As always, these are not in a countdown order, just ten movies to enjoy! Or in the case of the first one, DISOWN!

10 – “Up The Academy!”

Did you know that the legendary Mad Magazine made a movie in 1980? And do you know they HATED IT?

Check out the trailer:

UP THE ACADEMY, 1980, ©Warner Brothers

Yes, Alfred E. Newman got into film, and the result was, as they say, “mixed!” This beloved magazine character may have bit off more than he could chew in this teen sex comedy…

UP THE ACADEMY, Ron Leibman, Hutch Parker, Ralph Macchio, Harry Teinowitz, Wendell Brown, 1980. ©Warner Brothers

According to wikipedia,

“The film was neither a commercial nor critical success when it was originally released, and was disowned by both the staff of Mad magazine and actor Ron Leibman (who, despite his sizable role, had his name completely removed from the credits and promotional material). Besides paying Warner Bros. $30,000 to remove all references to Mad from the film when it was released on home video, Mad’s publisher William Gaines issued personal handwritten apologies to every person that wrote the magazine to complain!”

Oops! As you can see, the magazine published a really scathing piece on their own film!

Well, another “adaptation from other source material” was much better received – even though the filmmakers took a non-fiction book and made up most of the story!

9 – “Under the Tuscan Sun”

This 2003 romantic comedy was based on the non-fiction bestseller by Travel Writer Frances Mayes. Here is the trailer:

The film is noticeably different than the original memoir. In the book, the real Frances Mayes buys a house with her fiancé in Tuscany – while in the movie, Diane Lane plays a woman abandoned by her husband who buys the Tuscany house on a whim in order to remake her life….it must have been OK with Mayes – since she co-wrote the film script!

Next up, an interesting cast in a classic “blaxploitation” movie!

8 – “Uptown Saturday Night”

This 1974 blaxploitation comedy was directed by Sidney Poitier, who also starred in the film along with Bill Cosby and Harry Belafonte.

The setup is simple: Steve Jackson and Wardell Franklin get robbed of their wallets containing a winning lottery ticket when they visit Madame Zenobia’s illegal nightclub – so they enlist help to get them back.

Here is the trailer:

As you can see from the trailer, Poitier plays the “uptight” friend, and you get a heavily-bearded Bill Cosby as well. According to IMDB, the roles of Steve and Wardell were written for Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor – but the studio felt they were not big box-office draws! Pryor ended up with a cameo.

If you are unfamiliar with the “blaxploitation” genre, click her to see the best from this great era of film:

https://johnrieber.com/2017/04/11/dolemite-hit-man-shaft-pam-grier-iconic-blaxploitation-stars-classic-cult-films/

Another major box office star of that era was in the midst of doing a trilogy of gritty westerns:

7 – “Ulzana’s Raid”

Burt Lancaster stars in this 1972 western as Indian War Chief Ulzana, who leads a small war party off the reservation bent on murder and terror, and the inexperienced young lieutenant who is assigned to track him down.

Here is the trailer:

Lancaster was a huge star at the time, and he also made these two other westerns at that time – check out “Lawman” and “Valdez Is Coming” as well here:

https://johnrieber.com/2013/05/15/valdez-is-coming-lawman-gun-blazing-burt-lancaster-western-revenge-double-bill/

Next up is a huge hit from 1980, with a cowboy theme – and with John Travolta dancing once again to the tagline:

“Hard Hat Days And Honkey Tonk Nights!”


6 – “Urban Cowboy”

In this modern western, young hick Cowboy John Travolta learns how to dance and find love in the big city…

How can you resist that hat or this trailer?

This film was a huge box office hit, and after “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease”, confirmed that Travolta was a big big movie star…

And here is some trivia: Sissy Spacek and Michelle Pfeiffer were also considered for the co-star role that Debra Winger played.

5 – “Uncle Buck”

John Hughes directed this movie about what happens when you let John Candy babysit your kids!

Here is the trailer:

The scene where Macauley Culkin interrogates Candy through the mail slot gave John Hughes the idea for “Home Alone”!

John Candy made some great movies…

Next up is Clint Eastwood’s modern take on a classic western…

4 – “Unforgiven”

Clint Eastwood revisited the wild west with the revisionist western “Unforgiven”, which he starred in alongside Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. Here is the trailer:

The film took home the 1992 Academy Award for Best Picture, Clint Eastwood won the Best Director award as well, and Gene Hackman won the supporting Actor Oscar – it’s a modern classic.

With so many big hit movies like “The Way We Were” and “Hello, Dolly!” – did you know that Barbra Streisand also starred in this movie?

3 – “Up The Sandbox”

Here’s a Barbara Streisand film from 1972 I bet you never heard of! She stars as a wife who is bored with her day-to-day existence – so she creates a fantasy world for herself.

Here is the trailer:

Reportedly, the Actress loved the film and knew it was a departure for her fans. Here’s what Streisand said when the film was released:

“This story interests me more than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s a departure from the romances, slapstick comedies, and musicals I have worked on up till now”.

Next on our list is a great action film from one of my favorite Directors:

2 – “The Untouchables”

In 1987, Director Brian DePalma had a big hit with the story of Agent Elliott Ness and his dogged pursuit of Al Capone on the streets of Chicago – here is the trailer:

Sean Connery won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Robert DeNiro gained a lot of weight to play Capone – a terrific action movie…here are some of my other favorite DePalma films:

https://johnrieber.com/2016/10/30/shocktober-day-30-brilliant-carrie-brian-depalmas-horror-classics-star-wars-connection/

We end my list of “U” films with a raucous comedy from 1980 that wasn’t a big hit when released, but has grown in statue over the years!

1 – “Used Cars”

Kurt Russell heads up a great cast – all about the slimy world of used car sales…here is the trailer:

Legendary character Actor Jack Warden plays two roles in the film, and the movie is great, “R”-rated fun!

Here is more trivia about the film:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/01/03/used-cars-escape-from-new-york-classic-80s-kurt-russell-snake-plissken/

So there you have it, ten ways to enjoy a film with a bit of “U” in it!



Categories: 70's Cinema, 70's Music, Academy Awards, Action Films, Art, Blaxploitation!, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Exotic Travel, Exploitation films, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Golden Globes, Great Films, Grindhouse, Hollywood, Horror films, Independent Cinema, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Movies, New York, Obscure Movies, Obscure Music, Recipes, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Troma Films, Uncategorized

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3 replies

  1. A very interesting list for U, John. Uncle Buck and Used Cars are two of my favourite American comedies. And I have never heard of that Streisand film.
    When I did my challenge, I went with The Usual Suspects as my pick for U.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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