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What's in the banner?
Sunday, July 06, 2003
Note: Very often, some goofy idea will catch my fancy, and I'll spend some pleasant thinking about it, tweaking it, trying to get it right. And when it finally is, it goes nowhere. It stays in my head, useless, until something pushes it out.
But now that I have a blog, I can save these little pointless gems forever. The only downside is that you have to suffer through them too. Hard luck for you.
Michele leads us to this site, which allows you to pick a movie by genre, then select director, writer, budget, male and female leads, and two male and two female supporting actors. It then gives you the chances of Oscar nomination and who's likely to give it good and bad reviews.
So I tried to set up my perfect movie, but sadly I was constrained by having to pick a cast from among the living (if that's the word I want). As we all know, the most perfect type of movie is the 1950s science fiction B movie, which is surpassed only by the rare 1950s science fiction A movie.
Now, it won't do to make a 1950s-style science fiction movie today. The hallmarks of a good 1950s SF flick were new and shiny then, but now they're old and weatherbeaten and torn. The things which, in those days, aroused a sense of wonder in your audience, now only arouse a sense of ridicule. They've seen it, examined it, chewed it up and excreted it.
The only solution then, is to make a real 1950s B movie, using genuine 1950s cast and crew. Here, then, is my perfect movie:
An astronomer finds a faint, never-before-seen star cluster in a very unusual pattern. He goes to Europe to present this find at a conference. Meanwhile, an archaeologist is studying some newly-discovered relics which feature dots in, you guessed it, a very unusual pattern. He goes to Europe to present this find at a conference. In a train station, their briefcases become switched (original, eh?), which goes unnoticed until they arrive at their respective hotel rooms. As each man examines the strange briefcase, light dawns in his mind, accompanied by creepy music as your neck hairs stand at attention.
After they compare notes, the archaeologist decides to go in search of the lost civilization which made the relics, and the astronomer insists on going along. They start in the jungles of Brazil (or possibly Africa), searching for the man who sent the relics to the archaeologist: his old mentor. Old mentor is found, and of course has a daughter who used to be in love with the archaeologist (yes, I'm stealing freely from previous movies).
So they all go up on the plateau (of course there's a plateau) from which the relics came. After some standard adventures, they find a Lost Civilization, the survivors of Atlantis, who are in reality the remnants of a marooned colony of humanoid aliens. The Atlanteans know about the existence of the outside world, but they have been laying low, because they've been expecting a rescue ship any millennium now.
Naturally, their time is running out, because they won't be able to hide from our technology much longer. Also, some elements of the Atlantean society are getting restless, saying that the rescue ship is never coming, and they ought to try to join the outside world.
Also, there's a complication in that there's a slave revolt brewing. Yes, the Atlanteans are very advanced, and they have gadgets which use forces we've only begun to glimpse, but they still have slaves. There's a beautiful, heroic slave girl. Also an evil princess, slimy suitors, dinosaurs, a volcano, spaceships, man-eating plants, a fortune in gems, molten lava, ritual combat, fantastic architecture, beautiful sets, incredible vistas, rich colors, filmy costumes, and lots and lots of dancing girls. (No Lost Race movie would be complete without dancing girls.)
In the end, (most of) our heroes escape, the wicked are punished, and Atlantis is destroyed again. That's all I'm sayin'. I will steal freely from the Hammer production of She, the 1960 Irwin Allen production of The Lost World, The Mole People, Lost Continent, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many, many more.
Leigh Brackett will write the screenplay from a story by H. Rider Haggard (which he hasn't written yet). George Pal will direct, and Willis O'Brien will do special effects. As for casting...John Agar will play the archaeologist, Peter Graves will play the astronomer. Agar's mentor will be played by Claude Rains (haven't decided on the daughter yet, maybe Phyllis Coates?). For the beautiful but evil princess I have in mind Coleen Gray (who was The Leech Woman), unless I can think of someone else (Coleen's beautiful, but she's not the best actress in the world). The beautiful and brave slave girl (who will fall in love with the archaeologist) will be played by Rosenda Monteros, who was Ustane in the above-mentioned remake of She (just do the same role, honey---you get to live this time). Slimy suitor to be played by Basil Rathbone. Also starring: Hugh Beaumont! Russell Johnson! Celia Lovsky! Edward Everett Horton!
But, of course, the web site wouldn't let me make this movie. You had to pick your cast from among the living, if you can imagine (writers can be dead, though---I chose Alexandre Dumas). So I picked Ridley Scott to direct, David Duchovny and Halle Berry to star, with supporting actors John Rhys Davies, David Spade, Susan Sarandon, and Janeane Garofalo. (I intended nasty ends for those last two, naturally.) I had a $100-109 million dollar budget (I mean, really, how could you make an epic for less these days?) and only brought in something like $20 million.
It would have been different if they'd have let me cast John Agar.