Darth Vader feels the Blues
For those of you wondering, Jennifer Lopez is 39 today, which means that it’s her birthday. Hence she’ll be much more demanding than usual – the staff will have to divert their eyes as they hand over their presents, all drinks will be served at a few degrees short of room temperature, and Tom Cruise and his beer swilling buddies will be over later to bust through a few cans and dance around to house music. That’s just how they do things in Hollywood. That’s the birthday vibe. So we thought we’d get her a gift, and after exactly nineteen minutes of very half-hearted conversation, it boiled down to a toss up between some of those wonder-knickers that make your bum look bigger, or a clip of Darth Vader that over three million people appear to have enjoyed, but we’d never once come across. That’s right, we’re pretty with it. In the end we got her both. Happy Birthday Your Lopezness!
Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, 1980
Harrison Ford turns 66 today, which means that his best days are probably behind him. He’s already attempted to play an old Indiana Jones, which went okay, but we don’t really fancy watching a pot-bellied Han Solo trundling around space attempting to chat up sexy green lap dancers with a dribbling wookie nervously looking on. It wouldn’t be right. Even so, we thought we’d celebrate the ageing process by getting him a present, so we ordered four orange squashes, informed mummy that this was going to be a long afternoon and to keep the sandwiches coming, and got to debating. After at least thirteen minutes, it boiled down to a toss up between some Star Wars figures, or an old interview with Han and Luke. In the the end we got him both. Happy Birthday H. Ford!
A massive chipmunk, by Chris McVeigh
Friend of the site Steve sent in this quite terrifying picture, presumably taken at some kind of Star Wars convention. Notice how still and startled the man dressed up as a stormtrooper looks. He’s petrified, no doubt about it.
Han Solo, PI
It’s official, our homosexual friends will be in mourning today, remembering the loss of the greatest gay man of them all – Judy Garland. She would have been 87 today, had she not done herself in with barbiturates back in 1969. A terrible terrible waste. She should be with us, putting on one heck of a show down at G-A-Y, possibly supported by Girls Aloud, or the Pussycat Dolls. But she isn’t, she’s dead. Still, we thought we’d get her a gift, so we put on vest tops and strode down a high street looking fierce and giving good walk, and decided that she’d either like a drawing of a massive ant fighting a mouse, or a Magnum PI/Star Wars mash up. In the end we got her both. Have a FABULOUS Birthday Garland!
Some marvelous films just didn’t make it…
Passionate cinema goers will tell you that the 1970s was a ripe time for the pictures. Movies were four or five hours long, you could smoke all the way through them, and popcorn was two bob. Of course, no one actually knows what a bob was, so that really could mean anything. Cars were five bob, houses nineteen bob, and if you wanted a yacht in St Tropez, you’d need a deposit of at least three or four bob. See – total nonsense. That aside, it really was a healthy time for bloated movie makers with beards, and coming up with our top four was a brutal exercise. Just sliding to the cutting room floor at the very last moment were: Star Wars, Alien, Rocky, Serpico, Grease, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, and The Warriors. Our ever changing top four currently looks like this…
1. Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory
Kids films were absolutely brilliant throughout the 1970s – Bugsy Malone, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar and Star Wars were all considered for the top spot. But this original version of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory just steals it, thanks mainly to being a great great film. Certain members of the Interestment family must have watched it over fifty times. The combination of oiky children and Gene Wilder’s sometimes-scary portrayal of Wonka made it just chilling enough to remove any sickly-sweet edges. A fantastic motion picture.
2. Apocalypse Now
A big, fat, bloated film, Apocalypse Now encapsulates everything that was brilliant about 1970s cinema. It’s amazing, and keeps out other 1970s epics including The Godfather films, Alien and The Deer Hunter. Part war film, part exploration of madness and power, it features one of the greatest casts of all time – Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Larry Fishburne, Marlon Brando, and the amazing Dennis Hopper. As a cinematic experience it’s hard to think of a single film that could better it.
3. Mad Max
Revenge films were enormously a la mode throughout the 1970s – Carrie, Death Wish, and to an extent, Taxi Driver. The best of the bunch, however, was Mad Max, which starred Mel Gibson before he went all weird. The tale of a kindly family man donning leather and going after the bikers who murdered his family, this is an absolutely fantastic film, which includes fast cars, arms being pulled from their sockets, and a difficult hack-saw conundrum. Gibson’s finest work.
4. The Jerk
Quite simply, the best Steve Martin comedy ever made, it kick started a flurry of films starring exellent US stand ups that went all the way through the 1980s. The tale of a young white man with salt and pepper hair leaving his adopted black family and making his way in the world, it is brilliantly stupid. It keeps out other great 1970s comedies Annie Hall and Animal House.
No, we don’t know what a mash up is either…
Two things mattered in the early 1980s – Star Wars and the A Team. Everything else just existed, like wallpaper, or the heel on your new school shoes. There was nothing fun about those things, they were just boringly essential, a bit like toes. Hence, a small fireworks display went off in our minds when we were pointed in the direction of this special treat, a Star Wars/A Team mash up. Our younger selves would have literally wet their Spiderman underpants.
Let’s get it on
Billy Dee Williams – yes, Billy Dee Williams – turns 72 today, which is ridiculous, quite frankly. He looks more like 62. He’s had a solid innings so far, doing his best in great films like The Empire Strikes Back, Batman, and Secret Agent 00 Soul, so we decided that we should definitely buy him a decent gift. We gathered round a big table to drink wine from clay jars served by women in petticoats, and dicussions became heated. One half of the room wanted to buy him some massage oils, while the others thought that a funny Lando Calrissian and Han Solo clip would be just the ticket. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Billy Dee Williams!
A strange premonition…
Had he not died nine years ago when the cancer got him, Alec Guinness would be turning a very majestic 95 today, and what a life. He fought in wars, starred in films, and then was in Star Wars – a series of movies, incidentally, that he hated. No matter, we thought we’d get him a gift, and after a night spent arguing in a jacuzzi, it boiled down to a toss up between a great big poster of Christina Aguilera, or an old clip of Sir Alec telling Parkinson that he pretty much saw James Dean’s death coming. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Obi-Wan!
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away… mistakes were being made
Everybody – literally EVERYBODY – goes mental if you say nice things about the Star Wars prequels. You would be wiser to stand in a city centre repeatedly stabbing a dead and bloodied labrador puppy with a Rambo knife if you really wanted to make friends. But that’s enough about that. The big problem isn’t with the atrocities that ruined people’s childhood memories, but with the original three films – the ones that you’re supposed to like. On the face of it, they might look like sexy extravagant space romps, but if you study them really closely, your children could come away from Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi having picked up some very bad habits indeed. Here are some of the bad lessons they would learn:
1. If you come across a strange old man lurking in a wasteland, befriend him.