Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Jane Russell (1921-2011)

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Tura Satana (1938-2011)

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Peter Yates (1929-2011)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

 Peter Yates, the four time Oscar nominated director, has died.  He was 81.  Yates is responsible for a handful of great movies, and many other movies worth checking out.  He’s probably best known for two films: Bullit and the classic coming-of-age film Breaking Away.  Here are my picks for the late Peter Yates’ five best movies.

1.  The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973).  One of the best crime films of the 70s, with a knockout cast that includes Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco, Richard Jordan, Steven Keats and, in one of his best roles, the one and only Robert Mitchum.  Finally out on DVD after many years being unavailable in any format, this is one of the hidden treasures of seventies cinema.  Plus, the Criterion Collection disc has a wonderful commentary by Yates.

2.  Bullit (1968).  Steve McQueen at the peak of his coolness.  A terrific police thriller that still holds up after all these years, with wonderful supporting turns by Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn and a small but vital role by Robert Duvall.  Yates’ use of San Francisco is phenomenal, and it’s still hard to top that car chase.

3.  Breaking Away (1979).  I love this movie.  It’s a timeless story of four small-town young men with big dreams: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earl Haley (my personal favorite of the four).  Yes, it’s a great sports movie, but it’s just a great movie period.  Funny, touching and just a touch bittersweet.  Paul Dooley and Barbara Barrie (Oscar nominated for this) steal the show as Christopher’s parents.

4.  Krull (1983).  You probably know that I’m a huge fan of eighties sci-fi/fantasy films, so, of course I have a soft spot for this Tolkienesque/Star Wars-ish throwback.  It’s super cheesy, but it’s also lots of fun.   We don’t celebrate cinematic junk food enough, I think, and this is one of my favorites.  I’m not ashamed to say that this is a great movie.  Remember, the Glaive is in you!

5.  The Dresser (1983).   1983 was a busy year for Yates, my goodness.  Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay deservedly scored Oscar nominations for this great behind the scenes look at an aging master thespian and his dresser, as he performs “King Lear” in Great Britain during World War II.  A brilliant film, with two extraordinary performances.


Jill Clayburgh (1944-2010)

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)

Sunday, September 20th, 2009


Paul Newman (1925-2008)

Saturday, September 27th, 2008






Isaac Hayes (1942-2008)

Monday, August 11th, 2008


Who’s the private dick that’s a sex machine with all the chicks? Well, the song was about John Shaft, but it could have very well really been about that song’s composer, Isaac Hayes. In addition to being a world-renowned composer/singer/music genius (His “Theme from Shaft” won a well-deserved Oscar), he was also an actor, TV star and pop icon. He’s probably best known by audiences for 2 things: “Shaft” and, of course, Chef from “South Park.”

I also will remember his terrific performance as The Duke in John Carpenter’s cult classic Escape from New York. Recently, he made headlines for quitting “South Park” over his resentment over the show mocking his religious beliefs (Hayes was a Scientologist). Hayes was a true funk master if there ever was one.

Bernie Mac (1957-2008)

Monday, August 11th, 2008



    Bernie Mac was a very funny comedian and a natural performer, even though few motion pictures really let him shine as brightly as he could have. The Ocean’s 11 series showed his gift for timing (as the scene from Ocean’s 11 where he threatens a car salesman while he discusses moisturizing cream, one of my favorite scenes from the series), but his leading roles always left something to desire. Mac always let the joy of his performance show through though, I remember not really liking Mr. 3000, for example, but thinking he was immensely likable in the role.

    Like Bill Murray, Mac could play a likable jerk better than almost anybody. He was, of course, a gifted stand-up, as his brilliant routine in the comedy concert film The Original Kings of Comedy proved. He will be missed.

Cyd Charisse (1921-2008)

Thursday, June 19th, 2008