Sunday, March 16, 2014

Arlington VA high school honors alumni with achievements in Hollywood ("Terms of Endearment", "Reds", "Aliens")

Today, at a concert at Washington-Lee high school in Arlington VA, I noticed four movie marquees for achievements in cinema by Washington-Lee high school graduates over the years.

The one that seems most important to me may be Shirley MacClaine, class of 1952, “Terms of Endearment”, from Paramount in 1983, directed by James L. Brooks, from a novel by Larry McMurtry.  The long dramedy depicts a mother  Aurora (Shirley MacClaine) and her relationship with daughter Emma (Debra Winger), through a marriage, while Aurora courts an ex-astronaut (Jack Nicholson) on the Gulf Beaches near NASA and Houston.  I saw the film in Irving, Texas, and it was quite popular in the Lone Star State.  About three fourths through the film, Emma is told by a doctor who notices enlarged lymph nodes when he gives her a vaccination that she may have cancer.  The tone of the film changes at once.  I recall feeling startled by that scene.  A routine visit to the doctor and an almost incidental death sentence. 

There's more: 

Another W-L film is “Reds (1981)”, directed by Warren Beatty (W-L class of 1955). I’ve mentioned it a few times recently.  Warren Beatty plays the journalist plays John Reed, with girlfriend Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) become involved in the Bolshevik revolution and rise of communism in Russia (I think around 1917) and want (and even try) to bring the idealism back home.  They may not understand the implications of what they want to do.  Journalists are supposed to be objective, right?  This very long film (195 minutes) had an intermission, with the stirring Soviet National Anthem by Alexandrov being sung right before the breakpoint.  The film was regular aspect and mono, although the DVD will surely be technically much better. (Don’t confuse with the thriller “Red”).  Beatty had been a heartthrob in “Splendor in the Grass” (1961), where he is a troubled young woman’s boyfriend, in a drama that takes sexual repression into mental illness (a hit at William and Mary my lost semester of 1961), and then in Lilith (1964), where he is gradually seduced by a mental patient in an asylum.

Although not subsumed by W-L posters, it’s good to compare this drama to “The Year of Living Dangerously” (1987, MGM, by Peter Weir who had directed “The Last Wave”), about a journalist Guy Hamilton played by Mel Gibson, with Sigourney Weaver, covering political turmoil in Indonesia under Sukarno, with the help of the dwarf photographer played by Linda Hunt.  Roger Ebert had called this movie “one of the great ones.”

Stan Winston, class of 1964, directed the creature effects in "Aliens" (1986), the sequel to Ripley’s “Alien” (1979), where the planet has been colonized.  In a subsequent sequel “Alien 3” Ripley is given “clippers for her private parts” and in “Alien Resurrection” (1997) she becomes a hybrid being.
I covered Sandra Bullock (1982 class) and her “The Blind Side”  here on Dec. 7, 2009.  

I also made a major update to my review of "The Double" on Nov, 7. 2011 today (regarding current events in Russia and former Soviet Union.) 

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