STAR WARS REWIND! Returning to Jedi

Hosted by DAVID B. ANDERSON and DAVID LAWLER

Produced by DAVID LAWLER

Edited by DAVID LAWLER

RETURNING TO JEDI: A FAN DOCUMENTARY
Written and Directed by Jamie Benning

“Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks
(Ray Davies)

“Celluloid Heroes” by Joan Jett
(Ray Davies)

© Frequent Wire, David Lawler and David B. Anderson copyright 2018 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Anderson, David Lawler and selected guests each episode. This podcast, “STAR WARS REWIND” is not affiliated with Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Buena Vista, George Lucas, or Bad Robot Productions. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All television, film, and music clips appear under Fair Use as well.

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“Her Worshipfulness”

My friend and colleague, Mark Jeacoma, put up what is probably the most comprehensive yet concise list of notable deaths (I’m not talking about all the old soccer players who seem to drop dead of heart attacks every five hours) for the year 2016. In the last week alone, we’ve lost Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, and the subject of this podcast, Carrie Fisher. It’s gotten so bad of late, we put together dead-pool lists. Who will kick the bucket next? We got our answer the very next day.

Carrie Frances Fisher (October 21, 1956 [fellow Libra] – December 27, 2016) was (oh wow, she was) an American actress, screenwriter, author, producer, and a public speaker. She was known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. Fisher was also known for her semi-autobiographical novels, including Postcards from the Edge and the screenplay for the film of the same name, as well as her autobiographical one-woman play and its nonfiction book, Wishful Drinking, based on the show.

Her other film roles included Shampoo (1975) [I remember her immortal, infamous line, “Wanna fuck?”], The Blues Brothers (1980), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) [She played the treacherous April who steals Dianne Wiest’s boyfriend played by Sam Waterston], The ‘Burbs (1989) [great movie, one of my favorites – “This is Walter!”], and When Harry Met Sally… (1989) [I only vaguely remember that movie, even though it was a big hit – I always thought of it as a rip-off of Annie Hall].

I was thinking about the role George Lucas wrote: Princess Leia. Stronger actresses like Sissy Spacek and Amy Irving read for the part – he wanted Carrie for her baby-face and Hollywood royalty currency, but it’s hard for me to say, she was a stronger actress in her youth, aside from a couple of good performances later on. Sissy Spacek and Amy Irving would’ve killed the part; they would’ve been too confident, I think. She brought a lot of strength and vulnerability to the part in the first two movies, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back.

Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016) was an American actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian. Her breakout role was the portrayal of Helen Kane in the 1950 film Three Little Words, for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. However, it was her first leading role in 1952 at age 19, as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain, that set her on the path to fame. By the mid-1950s, she was a major star. Other notable successes include The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), Susan Slept Here (1954), Bundle of Joy (1956 Golden Globe nomination), The Catered Affair (1956 National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress Winner), and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), in which her rendering of the song “Tammy” reached number one on the music charts. In 1959, she released her first pop music album, entitled Debbie.

Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)
Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016)

VINTAGE CABLE BOX: “The Big Chill”, 1983

New VCB Logo

“Amazing tradition. They throw a great party for you on the one day they know you can’t come.”

1983-the-big-chill-poster1

The Big Chill , 1983 (Kevin Kline), Columbia Pictures

It’s bizarre and more than a little morose when I think about the fact that I am older than the central characters in Lawrence Kasdan’s classic coming-to-terms-with-things epic, The Big Chill. All in their mid-thirties, more than a few of them established and respected pillars of their respective communities (except rebel-boy Nick), they reunite for the weekend in South Carolina after the suicide of their friend, Alex (Kevin Costner, not appearing in this film). Kasdan made a name for himself, penning screenplays like The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. His first film as director was the brilliant film-noir spoof, Body Heat starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner.

The Big Chill is a movie that resonates with a different age group – that of our parents, the “Baby-Boomers”, children of the war and the “Greatest Generation”; those who turned their backs on what they perceived was a mindless emphasis on patriotism, imperialism, and consumerism (lots of -isms). As they grew into adulthood, they chose an uncomplicated path to self-destruction through drugs and the concept of free-love because they saw those same failings in themselves. A good portion of The Big Chill fixates on this idea. This is where my conflict comes in. I’m the product of a lost generation: the children of the “boomers” who don’t relate to these internalized conflicts, because we’ve nurtured apathy and despair and saw the hypocrisy in our parents long before they did. I’m sorry, this is getting preachy.

The cast of this movie is exceptional. Kevin Kline is Harold, a successful businessman. Glenn Close is his long-suffering wife, Sarah (who once had an affair with Alex). Handsome Tom Berenger is Sam, a television star. JoBeth Williams is bored housewife, Karen. William Hurt is the aforementioned rebel-boy, Nick. Jeff Goldblum is Michael, a writer for People magazine (who once published a hatchet-job on Sam), obviously a stand-in for Kasdan. Mary Kay Place is a successful attorney, unlucky in love. Meg Tilly is Alex’s much-younger girlfriend, Chloe. Shot in a real house in Beaufort, the cast lived together for several weeks before shooting commenced, which explains their unbelievably easy chemistry and mutual affection.

William-Hurt-in-The-Big-Chill-william-hurt-29451689-1200-867

Kline and Hurt’s characters are disillusioned in their adulthood. Berenger is clingy after his recent divorce. Goldblum is looking to scam his friends out of money so he can open a nightclub. Mary Kay Place wants to have a baby. JoBeth secretly loves Berenger and wants out of her dead-end marriage to boring, dependable Richard. Glenn Close is the emotional center of the group, weeping for Alex. Meg Tilly’s Chloe is the innocent; blissfully ignorant of the group’s woe.

Because these characters tend to run together with their fears and motivations, Chloe is the one truly unique person under this roof. She is sensitive and idealistic, but also lazy and giggly. Chloe is a part of her own lost generation, not quite old enough and not quite young enough. It’s only logical she connects the most with Hurt’s disaffected Nick, because he seems to be closest analog to the mysterious Alex. Alex is another matter entirely. Completely missing (even in spirit) from the film, he appears to be the glue that held this little community together, and without his gentle sway, everything falls apart.

It’s interesting in that I was eleven years old watching this movie (this is a movie explicitly not made for me) for the first time with my mother, who laughed at every joke, and cried at every somber moment, instantly identifying with these characters. The reason I enjoyed the movie had more to do with the very witty dialogue and what’s more, I appreciated the friendships, the connections, and the warmth of the performances. When I watch the movie now, I still think I’m a kid and couldn’t possibly understand the dilemmas of The Big Chill even though I’m much older than I’m younger than that now.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“May The Fourth Be With You”

May-The-Fourth-Be-With-You

Star Wars was released 38 years ago, May 24th 1977, and tonight is affectionately known as Star Wars Day, and this is hilarious, on the Wikipedia Star Wars Day is defined as … an unofficial secular
holiday in May which celebrates the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. It is observed by fans of the movies. Observance of the holiday spread quickly due to Internet, social media, and grassroots celebrations.

We here at BlissVille thought it only fitting to celebrate the movies, the first three, or rather the middle three – episodes IV, V, and VI, the original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of
the Jedi. The movies are not only wildly successful science-fiction space operas filled with thrills, chills, and a half-naked Carrie Fisher, but touchstones, incredibly monstrous cultural phenomena, so
this will be a rather large, a super-sized episode.

One additional note: I thought rather than regurgitate the stories, I mean everybody knows the stories as written, performed, photographed, and edited, I wanted to talk about possible permutations and theories and ruminations of the original trilogy. Maybe next year, I’ll do the prequels. But tonight, we have Andrew La Ganke and later on, Mark Jeacoma to contribute.

“May The Fourth Be With You”

May-The-Fourth-Be-With-You

Star Wars was released 38 years ago, May 24th 1977, and tonight is affectionately known as Star Wars Day, and this is hilarious, on the Wikipedia Star Wars Day is defined as … an unofficial secular
holiday in May which celebrates the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. It is observed by fans of the movies. Observance of the holiday spread quickly due to Internet, social media, and grassroots celebrations.

We here at BlissVille thought it only fitting to celebrate the movies, the first three, or rather the middle three – episodes IV, V, and VI, the original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of
the Jedi. The movies are not only wildly successful science-fiction space operas filled with thrills, chills, and a half-naked Carrie Fisher, but touchstones, incredibly monstrous cultural phenomena, so
this will be a rather large, a super-sized episode.

One additional note: I thought rather than regurgitate the stories, I mean everybody knows the stories as written, performed, photographed, and edited, I wanted to talk about possible permutations and theories and ruminations of the original trilogy. Maybe next year, I’ll do the prequels. But tonight, we have Andrew La Ganke and later on, Mark Jeacoma to contribute.