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The Blacklist

Blacklist

Spader

Spader

There is something to be said for quality entertainment. A television series needs to not only have a great cast, it should also have a captivating premise. The NBC series The Blacklist, created by Jon Bokenkamp, best known for his directorial work on the 2000 mystery thriller Bad Seed, has both and significantly more.

The Blacklist, currently in its second season, stars James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, also known as The Concierge of Crime. Red, number 5 (five) of the FBI’s Most Wanted List, is every bit as charismatic as the suave and sophisticated criminal defence attorney Alan Shore, the character Spader played for both the legal drama The Practice and the spin-off dramedy Boston Legal.

Boone

Boone

Klattenhoff

Klattenhoff

Lennix

Lennix

In addition to Spader, the series stars Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix, Amir Arison, and Mozhan Marnò.

Marnò

Marnò

Arison

Arison

Each character adds a unique depth to the series which, without that character being there, would not only not be there, it would be detrimental to the series.

Every episode of this series, with several twists and turns no one would expect, has been splendidly crafted to leave viewers guessing which direction the main storyline is to go. Where is the storyline going this season? I would highly recommend watching to discover what it is Red has up his sleeve. It is sure to be epic.

Best Picture Winners Graded: Worst to Best

  1. The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music

The 1965 Robert Wise directed biographical romantic musical The Sound of Music, was based on the Maria von Trapp biography The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.

The Sound of Music Live!The 2013 The Sound of Music Live!, a television special starring Carrie Underwood as Maria Rainer gave me a great appreciation for the 1965 big screen adaptation of Maria’s biography. The Underwood version of the story literally made me root for the Germans. And that is saying something, especially considering I am Jewish. I digress.

DarlingDoctor ZhivagoShip of FoolsA Thousand ClownsThe original 1965 film, a production worthy of the Academy Award for Best Picture, bested DarlingDoctor ZhivagoShip of Fools, and A Thousand Clowns for the said top category award. Whilst I do in all earnestness consider The Sound of Music to be worth of the mentioned award, Doctor Zhivago was equally as qualified to have been bestowed the Best Picture award. For me, it would have been to-close-to-call; therefore, I would have given the award to both productions.

Wise

Wise

Plummer

Plummer

Andrews

Andrews

In addition to the top category award, The Sound of Music also garnered the awards for Best Director (Wise), Best Film Editing (William Reynolds), Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment (Irwin Kostal), and Best Sound (James Corcoran and Fred Hynes).

Curious and curiouser is the fact that this production did not pick up any of the acting related awards. This, to me is highly unusual, especially considering the quality of the performances both Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews  gave for this production.

Best Picture Winners Graded: Worst to Best

  1. Ben-Hur
    Heston

    Heston

    Ben-Hur

The 1959 William Wyler directed Adventure Drama Ben-Hur, with a screenplay written by Karl Tunberg, was based on a novel written by Lew Wallace. The title role was played by Charlton Heston, a performance which landing the then much sought after actor the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Anatomy of a MurderThe Diary of Anne FrankThe Nun's StoryRoom at the TopBen-Hur bested Anatomy of a MurderThe Diary of Anne FrankThe Nun’s Story, and Room at the Top for the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. With such slim pickings nominated for the top category award, it is not all that difficult to see why it was Ben-Hur walked away with the said award.

Wyler

Wyler

In addition to the top category award and one of the two top category acting awards, the Ben-Hur production also received the awards for Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith),Best Cinematography – Colour (Robert Surtees), Best Art Direction – Colour (William A. Horning, Edward C. Carfagno, and Hugh Hunt), Best Costume Design – Colour (Elizabeth Haffenden), Best Film Editing (Ralph E. Winters and John D. Dunning), Best Score – Dramatic or Comedy (Miklós Rózsa), Best Sound (Franklin E.Milton), and Best Special Effects (A. Arnold Gillespie, Robert MacDonald, and Milo B. Lory), and of course Best Director (Wyler).

This was a huge night for the Ben-Hur production. This was the first time a single film had garnered so many awards from the Academy. This number, whilst it has been equalled, has never been beaten.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

UNCLE

Guy Ritchie

Ritchie

Billed as an action adventure comedy, the Guy Ritchie directed film The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a film adaptation of the American 60s’ television series of the same title, is the latest in a long line of television series to receive the big screen treatment.

The film, with a Friday, 14 August 2015 release date in these United States, will probably not have the same feel to it as the aforementioned television series did. To illustrate, Mission: Impossible (1996) and The Sweeney (2012), prime examples of television to big screen adaptations, did not hold onto the feel of the source material. Whilst this has yet to hold true for the forthcoming U.N.C.L.E film adaptation, it is highly unlikely the said release will be a standalone production.

With that said, I am looking forwards to which direction Ritchie, possibly better known for directing Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows takes the first in what I suspect might sooner or later become as big a franchise as that seen with Mission: Impossible.

Henry Cavill

Cavill

Armie Hammer

Hammer

The lead U.N.C.L.E. agents, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are played by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, respectfully.

Based on past experience with film adaptations of classic television series, the adaptation will most likely be designed to attract a new audience, propelling the U.N.C.L.E. agents into a modern 21st century setting rather than that seen in the 60s’.

McCallum

McCallum

Vaughn

Vaughn

As intimated, Solo is played by Cavill, best known for playing Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Solo and was played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, respectfully, in the television series. There is no mentioned of either Vaughn or McCallum making cameo appearances in the big screen adaptation. I feel it would have been nice to have seen the original actors show up in some small way.

As a side note, McCallum is best known by American audiences for playing Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in the long running JAG spin-off series NCIS. As a nod to McCallum ‘s past acting career, Kuryakin is mentioned in an early episode of NCIS. There is a scene where Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) asks her boss Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) what Ducky looked like when he was younger. Gibbs pauses for a moment, smiles, and responds Illya Kuryakin. This, I felt, was a nice little easter egg, for those of us that consider ourselves historical television geeks.

Best Picture Winners Graded: Worst to Best

  1. Hamlet
    Olivier

    Olivier

    Hamlet

The 1948 Laurence Olivier directed big screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was also written by and starred Olivier in the title role.

Originally titled The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the popular William Shakespeare stage play has been adapted to film many times. The Olivier adaptation is often referenced as being the best one created.

Johnny BelindaThe Red ShoesThe Snake PitThe Treasure of the Sierra MadreHamlet bested Johnny BelindaThe Red ShoesThe Snake Pit, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the much sought after Academy Award for best Motion Picture.

Interestingly, whilst it is true Olivier garnered the award for Best Actor, the Surrey born actor missed out on the award for best Director. On this occasion, the Academy Award for Best Director went to John Huston for his work on the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

In addition to walking away with both the top category award and one of the two top category acting awards, the 1948 Academy Awards also saw Hamlet win for Best Art Direction – Black and White (Roger K. Furse and Carmen Dillon) and Best Costume Design – Black and White (Furse).

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