Tag Archives: Wilford Brimley

It’s hard to know who to trust, isn’t it, Jack? : Remembering Cocoon with Tom Benedek by Kent Hill

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What’s strange is, for the longest time, I had only ever seen the final scenes of Cocoon. A sea covered in mist, a young boy in the water, a boat loaded with elderly people being chased. Then the sky above lights up. The clouds part majestically as James Horner takes over and the ship ascends into a gigantic spacecraft. Wow, I thought. Cool. Have to see that rest of that! It would be a few days later, but, at last, the whole story was mine to experience.

To talk about films like Cocoon, you need to go back to a different age in cinema. Before most of the popular films were adaptations of characters from the funny papers and franchises and cinematic universes were lined up, as far as the eye can see. It was a time of great risk and invention. When a person with a great idea was king, and the power of Hollywood could make such visions sing.

The era of high concept brought us many of the enduring classics which now appear, in many ways, to be timeless. A young Ron Howard would helm the picture, taking control after another icon of the times, Robert Zemeckis, decided to go off and romance a stone, before heading back in time. Howard had already delivered a fascinating modern day fairy-tale with his magical, romantic, comedy-adventure, Splash. In hindsight this was a fortuitous match, one which would propel Howard’s career to new heights, eventually seeing him become the ideal fit for another 80’s fantasy masterpiece, Willow.cocoon-54a0436aebccd

The men who had produced JAWS, Richard Zanuck and David Brown, brought together a group of impeccable professionals to join Howard behind the camera – at the same time they assembled an extraordinary group of acclaimed Hollywood veterans, cast to fill out the leading roles of the members of a retirement community on the verge of a close encounter of the third kind. Wilford Brimely, Hume Cronyn, Don Ameche, Jack Gilford, Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton, together with brilliant performances by Brian Dennehy, Steve Guttenberg, Barret Oliver and Tahnee Welch are our guides through a story about youth, and how we find things in life that allow us to hold on to that vital part of our spirit – so that we may live richly, even as the years decline.

This phrase has become a cliché with me, but long have I waited to chat with someone connected with this movie – one of the fantastical cinematic staples of my youth. My guest Tom Benedek was the man tasked with taking an unpublished novel and turning it into a story for us all. A story of how sometimes it takes a stranger to show us what those we share our lives with fail to point out, a story about the wondrous mysteries and possibilities that dance in the sky so full of stars above our heads, and a story about our grandparents and the lessons, indeed the wisdom they try to send us . . . and how when their time comes, how hard it is to let them go.

So, as it has happened so many times for me while writing for PTS, my dreams have come true. I now have a glimpse, and not a mere EPK look behind the scenes. I have my story of the creation of a science fiction and fantasy film-making high water mark, from the man who brought it to life on the humble script page.

Cult Rewind: Remo Williams the Adventure Begins

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Frank and Kyle are back with their Cult Rewind series, this time joined by Ben Cahlemer to discuss Guy Hamilton’s REMO WILLIAMS THE ADVENTURE BEGINS. The conversation does take a veer where the three of them discuss the 4K and Ultra High Definition formats, as well as Arrow Video.

Force Friday Podcast: THE EWOK ADVENTURES

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Join Frank and filmmaker Derek Wayne Johnson as they discuss BOTH of the Ewok films that are seminal films from their childhood. Don’t forget to purchase Derek’s film, JOHN G. AVILDSEN KING OF THE UNDERDOGS from retailers everywhere!

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One Composer against the Armada: An Interview with Craig Safan by Kent Hill

The film scores that permeated my youth seemed for the longest time to be written mostly by two guys – John Williams and James Horner. Though, while this pair were both loud and prolific – they weren’t the only composers in town.

I come from a time of cinema obsession where the score and the images were indeed one. I cannot imagine the films of that period without their score nor can I hear the scores and not see the images.

Other dominant composers of the period were Bill Conti, Basil Poledouris, Trevor Jones and a man named Craig Safan. To talk about Craig is to talk about The Last Starfighter, for The Last Starfighter was one of the most important films of my formative years, and its score continues to echo through the speakers of my car stereo as I drive off to face the grind daily (or to battle evil in another dimension).

As much as I could have gushed about all the nuances in the Starfighter score for the duration of our chat, it is proper to acknowledge to he (Craig) has written many a great score for both film and television alike. With scores for Remo Williams, The Legend of Billie Jean, Stand and Deliver as well as the small screen’s Amazing Stories and his long run on Cheers. Craig has even scored a video game, and it was cool to hear how the gig for Leisure Suit Larry came is way.

At the end of our chat I told Craig I constantly listen to his Starfighter score in the car. He asked if at anytime did the car convert to a spacecraft and fly me off to join the Star League? There have been days where I wish that had been the case. Though whenever that music is playing there always seems to be a chance that I may yet get my recruitment papers at last, take flight, and go get me a Gun-Star. But till then, have a listen to the extraordinary gentlemen whose music continues to live on in the glorious films of our last golden age.

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . I give you . . . Craig Safan.

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B Movie Glory: Progeny


What do you get if you cross Rosemary’s Baby with The X Files? 1998’s Progeny, or something like it anyway. Surprisingly thoughtful, restrained and adept for a B movie, it’s got a tightly wound little story about a human woman (Jillian McWhirter) who is impregnated by extraterrestrials that are tinkering around with our biology for who knows why. Her husband (Arnold ‘Imhotep’ Vosloo) is at a loss and doesn’t know where to turn as her condition gets progressively more… icky. Help comes in the form of two kindly doctors (Lindsay Crouse and Wilford ‘Diabeetus’ Brimley) and a UFO-ologist played by an unusually laid back Brad Dourif, but will their collective effort be enough to save her life, remove whatever being is in her womb and escape the attention of the aliens for good? Browsing the shelves this looks like a full on schlock-fest based on the cast and general vibe, but it’s something a bit more tasteful that takes itself just seriously enough to separate it from the mass of junk in this arena. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some slick scares and a few gooey wtf moments, but they’re used with a modicum of discretion and as such feel earned, always taking a backseat to the actors who give the human drama weight. Great little forgotten sci-if/horror. 

-Nate Hill

PTS Presents DIRECTOR’S CHAIR with THE WHEAT BROTHERS

WHEAT BROTHERS POWERCAST

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We were honored to be joined by the filmmaking team of Ken and Jim Wheat, who are responsible for the second of the Ewok films, EWOK ADVENTURES: BATTLE FOR ENDOR, as well as penning THE FLY 2, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 and the Vin Diesel vehicle PITCH BLACK.  We had an absolute blast speaking with Ken and Jim about BATTLE FOR ENDOR and their experience working with George Lucas, the first time they saw STAR WARS and working with Wilford Brimley.  Hope you guys enjoy this one as much as we did!