“Used Cars!” Al Capone! “The Usual Suspects”! Unseen Barbra Streisand And MAD Magazine Too! Ten Great “U” Movies!


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!

For this “Cult Movie Monday”, I have 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, the twisted 90’s crime thriller that introduced us to “Keyser Soze!”

8 – The Usual Suspects

This 1995 thriller has been called a “scriptwriter’s tour de force” for Christopher McQuarrie – a great film that talks, talks, then talks some more as, Rashomon-style, it sets into motion one of the best final-act shocking twists ever!

Check out the trailer:

The entire cast shines – and again, one of the best “twist endings” of all time!

Next up, this major box office star was in the midst of doing a trilogy of gritty westerns in the 70’s:

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:

Sadly, we just lost the legendary Sean Connery, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role, 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! Sadly, it wasn’t a hit when released, but has been discovered by cult film fans since then.

The film is funny, profane and also touching, and really worth a watch!

Here is more trivia about the film – the first part of a great Kurt Russell double bill along with “Escape From New York” – click here for more:

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!

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Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Art, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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16 replies

  1. Used cars is a classic, and The usual Suspects seems to get better every time I watch it.
    Great selection for U, John.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the paying to not be connected to the movie, never a good sign for a film!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Uncle Buck is terrific! So is The Untouchables. Thanks, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice eclectic list John. I haven’t seen Used Cars or Up the Sandbox, so I’ll have to try those.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would choose The Untouchables, though I haven’t seen most of the others!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t know there was a Mad movie, perhaps because the magazine disowned it. I loved Mad magazine when I was a girl. Some excellent movies here, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is great John. Very enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

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