Wednesday, February 26, 2014
SORRY TO KEEP YOU WAITING DR. SPENGLER (A Eulogy)
When I was growing up GHOSTBUSTERS next to Michael Jackson was one of the biggest things to me. Truly almost holy as pop culture goes when you are a kid. It is one of the films that I first geeked out over, worshipping. Now I see it as more nostalgia, but definitely ties to y cinematic DNA as far as memories. It was highly influential not only on me, but my generation. We knew the theme song. Repeated the lines. Hell it’s clips were even heavily Even when we used to play on the playground we all had our roles hitch got even bigger with the cartoons. Everybody of course wanted to be Venkman. The person most wanted to play the least was Egon who I was always chosen or doomed in my mind to play At the time. So often was I cast in this role in childhood that I started to rationalize and think Of the pluses. Yes the nerd role but I was the smarted scientist of the bunch, had a devoted woman who idolized me (Janine). In the cartoon had what was supposed to be a blonde pompadour, yet came off like an early edition of the faux hawk. Even in the film he had high big hair. Find everything fascinating. Usually carries the EKG meter. Always seems to keep his cool. Really being the early design of nerd hipster. By the way he also wrote some of the animated episodes. Even the reboot years later EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS.
The same can be said about the man in appearance not necessarily cool. But then when you look at his accomplishments. He is truly noteworthy writing or co- writing ANIMAL HOUSE, BACK TO SCHOOL, STRIPES, MEATBALLS Directing NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, CLUB PARADISE Acting in BABY BOOM, KNOCKED UP, STRIPES, GHOSTBUSTERS 2.
Many didn’t know he was involved in so many things until you do research on him --He was probably my first instance of knowing that an actor cans also write and direct. Before I really became obsessed with GHOSTBUSTERS i thought that writing a film was like just writing the story and plot and leaving the dialogue to the actors. GHOSTBUSTERS was one of the first films I became obsessed with and got the tie in book that was a GHOSTBUSTERS manual and I did research to find pinhole he could be the writer and a star of the film. Which is how I learned about the existence of screenplays. Didn’t read it (until 1996) but it gave me the stepping stones into learning how movies were made.
The films such as
ANIMAL HOUSE - writer.
This is a staple in my youth and my house. Watching it almost every year hat even my grandmother loves this film of course like me she is only familiar with the edited television version. I was 19 when I first saw the unedited version with all the scenes and material cut by television standards fittingly it was in a theater and even though it was with a crowd that had seen the film before. Watching it in a theater was like what I imagine watching it in a theater when it premiered was like. As watching it uncut was like watching it for the first time. Like it was a new film ad easier to understand. I felt baptized that night by it.
CADDYSHACK- writer- director
This was a film more mythologized where as when I saw it as a teenager it seemed more to be about counterculture and nudity. Though as i get older I appreciate the gags and performances especially having such a great comedic cast in the middle I not only a culture comedy but also a coming I age story and film thrown in.
GROUNDHOG’S DAY: writer- director
Which I was lucky enough to see in theaters has a high concept, but It also has bill Murray playing to his strengths in a film where it becomes less on plot and more on his performance an reactions. Creating another comedic character for the ages.
STRIPES - writer - actor
This film that he wrote and also acted in is miraculous. He even gets a few scenes to shine. His introduction being honest with his English learning class. The delivery at the end where he has taught the class a obscure rock n roll tricks instead of any words or complete phrases and sentences. He is even humorous when he is just on the background reacting to everyone’s story of why they joined the army. Look at the cast assembled to recite his words and fill the shoes of the characters he created.
He is like the hipper version of woody Allen. the more mainstream version who never starred in his own work, but seemed to have that nebbish persona but write and made films that were more mainstream and bigger then Allen’s work.
It seems that I have to write too many of these, these days. Yet he always had that mild centered demeanor. Usually in comedy he had a anger when he acted due to being the straight man pushed too far or just being frustrated at being the smartest guy in the room.
He was one of those people who you always thought would be around. Someone who you never knew how much they meant to or affected you, until they are gone.
Especially when you look at his resume and realized that he was part of the building blocks of your generations humor and was part of so many movies that pretty much influenced your childhood.
He never took center stage. He played small to supporting roles. He like d to entertain and make people laugh though preferring to stay in the background. He felt more comfortable and was more effective. No latter why he always seemed easy going more a normal man pushed to extremes and reacting. If you look at his directing though they weren’t all classics. He brought out the best in actors as seemed to be a comedians director. Helping them use their persona into performances and acting. Just looking at his disappointing films they are filled with comedians. --I only recently discovered that he was apart of SCTV.
I mean even when he wasn’t that directly involved in a project. He was gracious enough to appear in small roles in them. Exposing himself to a new generation and reminding theater goers he was still out there. In films like KNOCKED UP and AS GOOD AS IT GETS. Even ORANGE COUNTY (a comedy all star guilty pleasure of mine) appearing in films from a generation of comedians and filmmakers that worshipped his work. Like. Most of the greats never had a chance to have a grand opus that was distinctly identified with him, but he had some classic films associated with him that no one will ever forget. Titles that are instantly recognizable. His comedic personea was painfully honest intellectual. Usually being more painfully honest about himself then others or situations.
At least he loved a long full life. Not cut down in his prime and knowing how much he meant to those who knew him personally as the fans who felt like they do.
Someone most film students and geeks could look up to. His comedy was never obvious always subtle even when going over the top. Always having a certain nuance.
His passing is like learning a familiar neighbor from your youth in your neighborhood has passed. You can never go back to the old times and nothing will ever be the same, but when you think of all those good memories he is attached to them.
He deserves every single word of praise and good memory of him.