Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Greats Pass Away

Long ago, in a far away place, I was a projectionist at a movie theater. One of the movies we ran was "The Empire Strikes Back" aka Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. (1980) It was directed by Irvin Kershner, who passed away three days ago. I've must have seen Empire hundreds of times since its release, TV broadcast and I also own the DVD. And it never grew tiresome.

Some consider Empire the greatest of the Star Wars movies. And for good reason. Kershner kept the characters center to the film. The romance between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is something out of the best love stories that Hollywood has ever told. But that doesn't mean he didn't know how to film an action scene. From the attack on ice planet Hoth to the asteroid chase to the climatic light saber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, Kershner made iconic images that cling to your mind. And don't forget the special effects of Industrial Light and Magic and the writers. Kudos to the writers. George Lucas wrote the the story. Leigh Brackett who wrote the screenplay for "The Big Sleep" (1946) and Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat, Raiders of the Lost Ark) completed the screenplay.

Actor Leslie Nielsen passed away two days ago. I knew him initially as the star of the classic science fiction film "Forbidden Planet" (1956) Later I would watch him on television. His characters would never smile and they would display a super serious masculine sensibility. He would later smash that characterization to smithereens in Airplane. (1980) Delivering his lines in a dead pan authoritative manner, he would utter the silliest and most awful yet funny puns. The result? Comedy magic.

Surely, we will mess these great artists. And I'm not calling you Shirley. Oh, Leslie let him RIP.

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back Trailer

Keith Olbermann salutes Leslie Nielsen even though he was in that right-wing movie, An American Carol. (2008) Keith is still fair and honors him.

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