Ghostbusters star and cowriter Harold Ramis, who passed away Feb. 24 at the age of 69, leaves behind a treasure trove of comedy gold, starting with his turn on Canadian sketch show SCTV in the mid-1970s. He went on to write and direct several cult classics, and appeared in a few, including as Egon Spengler in the two Ghostbusters movies alongside pal and long-time collaborator Bill Murray.
Of course, Ramis’s passing likely closes the chapter on the long-in-development Ghostbusters 3, which is probably for the best. In the 2009 interview below, Ramis talks about working on the third installment. (You can buy the Ghostbusters Double Feature Gift Set at Amazon for less than $14.)
The idea for the cult classic Spinal Tap gestated from a conversation overheard by co-creator Christopher Guest in 1974, according to Legs McNeil’s excellent blog, Please Kill Me. Guest was hanging out at the chic Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont when he heard:
Manager: All right, well, we’ll take our instruments up to the room.
Bassist: Don’t know where my bass is.
Manager: I beg your pardon.
Bassist: I don’t know where the bass is.
Manager: Where is it?
Bassist: I think it’s at the airport.
Manager: You have to get back there, don’t you?
Bassist: I don’t know, do I?
Manager: I think you better.
Bassist: Where’s my bass?
Manager: It’s at the airport.
Spinal Tap the band made its debut on a late-night ABC sketch comedy called The TV Show, in which they parodied NBC music show The Midnight Special, complete with Spinal Tap writer and director Rob Reiner introducing the band in his best Wolfman Jack impersonation.
“To relieve the tension of that moment, we started ad-libbing these characters.”
“We were shooting a takeoff on ‘Midnight Special,’ just lying on the ground waiting for the machine that was supposed to make the fog effect to stop dripping hot oil on us,” says Harry Shearer, who plays Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls. “And to relieve the tension of that moment, we started ad-libbing these characters.”
To relive the glory years of this great fake band, get the Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray for less than 10 bucks at Amazon, or stream it there for a few dollars less.
Heavy metal and other Shirley Temple family revelations!
While the interwebs mourned the loss yesterday of child star and conservative political powerhouse Shirley Temple Black at age 85, a smaller but related story also made the rounds: The Dimpled One’s daughter, Lori Black, once played bass for sludge-metal titans the Melvins!
In fact, Lori Black’s scant Wikipedia page’s sole entry, aside from a two-line bio, is about her time playing with the Melvins and dating its frontman, Buzz Osborne (also known as King Buzzo).
Iconic child star Shirley Temple Black, who sang signature hits like “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and starred in movies like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Heidi and Bright Eyes, passed away at age 85 in the San Francisco suburb of Woodside, Calif.
The adorable curly-haired Temple was a top box-office draw between 1935 and 1938, and saw a cottage industry of products featuring her likeness flood store shelves. A nonalcoholic cocktail was even named after her. The movie-going public largely lost interest in Temple after she grew out of childhood, and she retired from acting at age 21. She then pursued a successful career in conservative politics, eventually becoming a U.S. ambassador.
For the most comprehensive look back at Temple’s short-lived but meteoric career, check out the Shirley Temple Little Darling DVD Collection, featuring restored versions of 18 of her classic films, in both color and black-and-white.
When it was released on this day 50 years ago, director Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb became an instant countercultural classic.
This satirical take on the Soviet-U.S. arms race and the Cold War stars British comic actor Peter Sellers in several roles, including that of the titular character, who eventually finds it impossible to restrain the impulse to give the U.S. president a Nazi salute with his leather-gloved hand.
The film’s first test screening was delayed two months because it had been scheduled on Nov. 22, 1963—the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
George C. Scott, who played General Buck Turgidson, vowed never to work with Kubrick again after the director goaded him into his over-the-top performance by filming what he said were practice runs that would not be seen.
The Dr. Strangelove character’s accent was inspired by Kubrick’s Austrian-American photographer, Weegee.
Sellers was initially supposed to play Major T. J. “King” Kong, the role that went to country crooner Slim Pickens after Sellers was injured.
Set design was handled by Ken Adam, who had worked on several James Bond movies, including Dr. No.
Among the other titles Kubrick was considering for the movie were Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even Trying, Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus and Wonderful Bomb.
Kubrick had originally planned the ending to be a massive pie fight in the war room. The scene was actually filmed, but then cut out.
Own Dr. Strangelove now for less than eight bucks at Amazon.com.