My Top Ten Movie Presidents 

In celebration of the release of Independence Day: Resurgence and Elvis & Nixon, I figured I’d do a list of My Top Ten Presidents In Movies. Which is a bit stupid since I’ve not seen either of these movies. 😉 I had planned to go to the Independence Day sequel on Tuesday & then do this list but, after the REALLY BAD reviews for it, I decided I couldn’t be bothered. So I watched an equally bad movie at home instead! (San Andreas… Hilarious!)

Anyway, I’ll shut up & just get on with the list. It’s a mix of real & fictional presidents. As always, they’re only on the list if I’ve actually seen the movie. So here are My Top Ten Movie Presidents (roughly ranked according to how much I like the character. kind of. sort of.):

10. Edward Herrmann as Franklin D. Roosevelt in Annie (1982)

9. James Adomian as George W. Bush in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

8. Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln in The Lego Movie

7. Jack Nicholson as President James Dale in Mars Attacks!

6. Terry Crews as President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in Idiocracy

5. Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove

4. Donald Pleasence as the President of the United States in Escape From New York

3. Morgan Freeman as President Tom Beck in Deep Impact

2. Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt in the Night At The Museum movies

1. Robert V. Barron as Abraham Lincoln in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Honorable Mentions:

The presidents in…

The Simpsons Movie
Dave
Independence Day
Air Force One
Big Game
Frost/Nixon
Back To The Future Part II
Beavis & Butt-Head Do America

A Few I’ve Not Seen:

Elvis & Nixon
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Lincoln
Primary Colors
The American President
Olympus & London Has Fallen

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Murder By Death (1976) Review

Murder By Death (1976)

Directed by Robert Moore & Written by Neil Simon

Starring: Truman Capote, Alec Guinness, Peter Falk, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Eileen Brennan, Elsa Lanchester, Nancy Walker, Estelle Winwood

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery.

My Opinion:

Is this the first Neil Simon movie I’ve ever seen in my life?? I think it is! First of all, can I just say that I have no idea when I watched this & it’s stressing me out? Whenever I finish watching a movie, I immediately add it to my current year’s page on here. I forgot to add this one! I just realized when I decided it was time to review it. I’ve added it to my 2015 page but I’m thinking it may have been late 2014. Oh, the drama!! 😉 Now that I’ve murdered you all by boredom, I’ll talk about what I remember of this movie all these days?, months?, years? later. I’m catching up now as I don’t really get to go to any current films over the summers. I need to go to a movie soon!!!

I’d never even heard of this movie until several years ago when someone mentioned it was a favorite of theirs. I kept that in mind so was happy when it appeared on UK Netflix. I’m funny about “comedy” – there are very few that I like. I’d rather watch a “proper” movie like sci-fi, fantasy, action, drama… I mean, no movie will ever be as funny as The Princess Bride so I kind of can’t be bothered to watch many comedies. Oh yeah – Billy Crystal! HE’S funny! City Slickers! Monsters, Inc! Billy makes me laugh! Why do we have to suffer with shit like We’re The Millers nowadays? And why did I even watch that? Maybe I need to explore some older stuff like Murder By Death. Because Murder By Death is… funny! It’s not “Billy Crystal funny” & Peter Sellers is a somewhat annoying distraction but it’s pretty damn funny overall. The surprising thing was that the most serious acTOR, Alec Guinness, was hilarious as the blind butler! I think Guinness & Peter Falk (Princess Bride connection!) were my favorite things about this. Oh! And tiny Nancy Walker as the deaf-mute cook! She was awesome. Her scenes with Guinness’ blind butler were a riot. Is that politically incorrect? Well, if you think it is you’ll want to fast-forward through every scene with Peter Sellers as an Asian detective based on Charlie Chan. Oh boy! More about that later…


So, this movie is a spoof on famous detective novels/movies. Most of the characters are obvious but I did have to look them up. I’ve never read a murder mystery but I’ve always thought about checking out some of Agatha Christie’s novels. I wish I had a little experience with this genre as I probably would have appreciated the comedy a bit more. Well, I did love Murder She Wrote – Angela Lansbury kicks ass! 😉 From Wikipedia, these are the characters who those in Murder By Death are based on:

  • Inspector Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) is based on Earl Derr Biggers’ Chinese police detective Charlie Chan. 
  • Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith) are polished, sophisticated society types modeled on Dashiell Hammett’s characters Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man film series. 
  • Milo Perrier (James Coco) is a take on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. 
  • Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) parodies another Dashiell Hammett character, The Maltese Falcon’s hard boiled Sam Spade. 
  • Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) parodies Christie’s Miss Marple. 

These famous characters are invited for the weekend to the mansion of a mysterious millionaire, played by the intriguing Truman Capote. He claims that there will be a murder to be solved and that the winner will receive one million dollars.

Blah blah blah, hijinks ensue! Some of the jokes were totally silly but that’s the kind of thing I like. I liked Guinness being named Jamesir Bensonmum just so there could be a silly exchange with a couple of guests (David Niven & Maggie Smith if I remember correctly). Speaking of Niven, he’s been in tons but the only other thing I’ve seen him in is The Pink Panther with Sellers. I like him – I’d have to say that I prefer him to Sellers with his over-the-top comedy. Anyway, as I mentioned, Sellers plays an Asian detective here based on Charlie Chan. I don’t know anything about the character of Chan so had to look into this but it does appear that this performance is a send-up of the fact that Chan was so often played by white actors. In this context it makes sense & makes it not as bad as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Truman Capote connection!) but his character may not sit right with some people who watch this movie today. Which is kind of a shame as it’s otherwise quite an enjoyable film.

Summary:

I enjoyed Murder By Death quite a bit but, like the movie, I’m from an older generation. The comedy probably won’t work on a younger audience and may be seen as too politically incorrect at times. If it sounds like your kind of comedy & you’re a fan of the very impressive cast, I’d definitely recommend this if you’ve not seen it.

My Rating: 7/10

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kelechi of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Thanks for the review, Kelechi! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, IMDB rank 37 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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“Hello?… Uh… Hello D- uh hello Dmitri? Listen uh uh I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?… Oh-ho, that’s much better… yeah… huh… yes… Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri… Clear and plain and coming through fine… I’m coming through fine, too, eh?… Good, then… well, then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine… Good… Well, it’s good that you’re fine and… and I’m fine… I agree with you, it’s great to be fine… a-ha-ha-ha-ha… Now then, Dmitri, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb… The *Bomb*, Dmitri… The *hydrogen* bomb!… Well now, what happened is… ahm… one of our base commanders, he had a sort of… well, he went a little funny in the head… you know… just a little… funny. And, ah… he went and did a silly thing… Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes… to attack your country… Ah… Well, let me finish, Dmitri… Let me finish, Dmitri… Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?… Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Dmitri?… Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello?… *Of course* I like to speak to you!” – President Murkin Muffley

Nominated for four Oscars at the 1965 Academy Awards, Dr. Strangelove is based on a fictional and calamitous series of events where an insane general sets in motion the path to a nuclear war.  Fighting to save the world from total annihilation, it is up to the President of the United States (Peter Sellers), other leaders and generals in the war room to save us all.

One thing I absolutely love about Dr. Strangelove is that it’s filmed in black and white.  If you’re watching this for the first time without reading the plot or having no knowledge of the film, on the surface you probably see this as a dark, tense documentary style film based on a very serious matter.  There’s nothing to hide in a black and white film – all the permutations are laid out on the screen.  However, there is one thing that sets it apart.  When you see the delightful Peter Sellers playing three distinctive yet memorable characters, your mind is put at ease.  What you have let yourself in for is 95 minutes worth of genius, satirical comedy.

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The greatest achievement in Dr. Strangelove is taking a familiar and fearful concept and turning it into a comedy that is both hilarious but also a social commentary on the real world.  It’s the biggest hurdle the film faces and in the wrong hands, Dr. Strangelove could have been remembered as something entirely different.  Originally it was meant to be a serious piece until director Stanley Kubrick and writer of the novel (which this film was based on) Peter George decided to change its tone.  What they delivered was a particular type of comedy.  This is not a slapstick comedy in the vein of Airplane or The Naked Gun.  The humour is more deadpan and cerebral as if every character totally and genuinely believes in what they’re saying and doing.  As the audience, this only increases the disbelief and the laughter we get from it.

The theme of the entire film is based on one principle – fear.  It’s the fear from the enemy.  It’s the fear from your closest friends and their actions.  It’s the fear of not fulfilling your duty and your job to the letter.  What sets off this chain of events belongs to one general – General Ripper (Sterling Hayden).

Ripper believes that politicians and leaders are incapable of handling war situations – too much talking and not enough affirmative action.  He’s a no-nonsense style general who would rather let his soldiers shoot first then ask questions later.  Through sheer paranoia based on the idea that the commies are going to take over our fluids (yes you read that correctly), he takes matters into his own hands and gives the order to a B-52 bomber to drop a nuclear bomb on the Russians.  Trust me, if you suddenly feel the urge to shake your head wondering how he came to this conclusion, you are not alone!

Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.” – General “Buck” Turgidson

Because Dr. Strangelove is set during the height of the Cold War doesn’t make it irrelevant.  I think there are plenty of lessons that Kubrick infuses which make the war room aspect easier to parody.  The whole idea of the film is designed to make you feel uncomfortable and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if scenarios like in Dr. Strangelove happened in real life.

It’s a scary notion seeing how easy it is to launch an attack on another country, with one man “pushing” the self-destruction button with such ease and no concern for anyone else.  It’s a scary notion knowing that all the failsafe plans to stop it, has an abundance of technical or procedural loopholes, which can’t be overturned.  It’s a scary notion how people of authority can react so stupidly, like Colonel Guano telling Mandrake that he would have to answer to Coca-Cola for shooting at the vending machine for change.  There are many more examples which I won’t spoil for you, but everything descends into madness all based on fine margins of political and diplomatic posturing.

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The film does have its tense moments with the paratroopers on board Major Kong’s B-52 plane as a case example.  They go through their manual checks before locating their target and dropping the bomb, all to the backdrop soundtrack of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”  This reinforces the scare factor of the film with precise attention to detail of the crew’s operations.  It reminds the audience the seriousness amongst the humorous stupidity.

Even the character names are interesting – General Jack D. Ripper aka Jack the Ripper.  Coincidence?  I think not, but these supposedly cool-headed individuals in the highest positions of power revert to uncontrollable eccentric behaviour.  Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove is a classic example.  His character is in the film for the briefest of moments but his impact is unforgettable, playing a former Nazi German scientist, most likely pardoned for his crimes but enthusiastically provides advice on eugenics to the President of the United States.  Turginson who rapidly inserts chewing gum into his mouth in every scene he’s in, is an animated individual. He’s always concerned about what the enemy is going to do in a particular scenario and his energy feeds into that paranoia.  It’s a brilliant performance by George C. Scott who is a standout alongside Peter Sellers.

Dr. Strangelove is a film hell bent on showing humanity at its lowest ebb.  Even when the world is at stake, common sense should prevail but the distrust and fear of the enemy is the real winner.  It’s filled with surreal moments such as the often-parodied scene where Major Kong rides the bomb as if he’s participating at a rodeo.  The ending with Vera Lynn singing while the world blows itself up is a bleak reminder of what the world could become and the whole absurdity of war.  Kubrick’s careful balance keeps the message on point yet at the same time the satirical jokes will live with you for years.

It’s safe to say, you will have a blast watching this!

The Pink Panther (1963) Review

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The Pink Panther (1963)

Directed by Blake Edwards

Starring:
David Niven
Peter Sellers
Robert Wagner
Capucine
Claudia Cardinale

Music by Henry Mancini

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
A jewel thief plans to steal the Pink Panther, the world’s largest diamond, from Princess Dala of Lugash. Bumbling French police inspector Jacques Clouseau intends to catch the mysterious thief known only as The Phantom.

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My Opinion:

I’d never seen any Pink Panther movies before watching this a few months ago. I figured it best to start with the first one. I also have no experience with Peter Sellers beyond Dr Strangelove (which is awesome). So, I’m probably the worst person in the world to review this. Or… Maybe the best depending on how you look at it! I’m a virgin to Clouseau. (Huh?)

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I have to make these reviews shorter or I’ll never finish up my 2013 movies in 2013. I enjoyed The Pink Panther. It’s SO of its time, though! A young person today wouldn’t go for this swinging 60s film. The pace is VERY slow and we get this long musical number in the middle of it that I fell asleep during at least three times so I had to keep rewinding. I admit that I watched this over a couple of nights – it does get dull in places (Oh no! It’s a classic! Have I pissed anyone off??).

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This is deservedly a classic, though. It has a great 1963 look & feel plus, of course, it brought us the (some would say genius) character of Jacques Clouseau. And the Henry Mancini score MUST also be mentioned – who doesn’t know The Pink Panther Theme?! Finally, this movie also introduced us to the cartoon character of The Pink Panther in a fantastic opening credits segment (I’ll put the YouTube link to that at the end of the review). The Pink Panther diamond got its name because it’s a large pink gem that has a small flaw resembling a panther. The camera zooms into the diamond and the cartoon panther comes to life for the credits. Honestly, this was probably the best part of the whole movie to me. No, I didn’t know before seeing this JUST how the cartoon character had come to be.

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So, already, this movie is very iconic thanks to Clouseau, the score & the opening credits. But David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine & Claudia Cardinale are also fabulous in this so I don’t think ALL credit can go to (some would say “the comedy genius of”) Peter Sellers. I especially liked the strong female leads! How refreshing. Of course, they’re naturally extremely sexy compared to the average looking older men, one of whom is a bumbling idiot (other than Robert Wagner who is REALLY handsome. Wow – I’d never seen him so young!). This never really changes in Hollywood – the women are always more attractive but at least these two women are very clever & strong lead characters. God, they really are sexy, though. Am I going on about this too much? I’m starting to worry myself a little. Honestly, women were SO much more attractive in the old days… Here they are – one hot & sultry and one cool & classy (give me this over Megan Fox any day):

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Phwoar!

This screwball comedy won’t be for everyone but it’s a great slice of the 1960s and very much worth a look for anyone who loves film & wants to experience the best from each decade.

My Rating: 7/10

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