Why There Should Be A Movie About Dyan Cannon And Cary Grant

Dyan Cannon

Dyan Cannon is probably best known now as Cary Grant’s fourth wife, and the mother of his only child. She’s also a two-time Oscar nominee (same number Grant had), and hosted one of the first episodes of Saturday Night Live. I hadn’t seen any of her movies until recently, but her story is pretty damn compelling, and could make for an interesting film.

There’s a clear beginning to the story. An aspiring actress gets a phone call that one of the biggest movie stars in the world—and arguably one of the most charming men to have ever lived—saw on her on a TV show, and wants to meet with her. And it’s not for a film. He just wants to date her. And then they go on to elope in Vegas.

During this time, Grant deals with his own issues, including his troubled relationship with his mother, who he had at one point incorrectly believed to be dead for decades, when she was institutionalized for depression. Cannon and Grant soon divorced, partially due to his LSD use, which helps make this an even more appealing role for any middle-aged leading man. Grant goes on to retire from film, making the claim that his newborn daughter needs stability.

The important thing about Cannon is that her career doesn’t end with her marriage or her divorce. She prospers in the New Hollywood, getting her first Academy Award nomination in 1969 for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, a comedy about open relationships. That was also the same year that Grant got his lifetime achievement award, for films that did not involve open relationships or changing cultural mores. So in that one ceremony, there is the contrast between the old Hollywood and the 60s counterculture, in one erstwhile relationship.

Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon

Cannon would get two more nominations, one for directing a short film and another as supporting actress in Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait, further cementing her standing in the New Hollywood. Meanwhile, Grant stayed retired, getting paychecks schmoozing fellow rich people on behalf of Faberge. The film could end there. It could also explore what happened decades later, when Grant has a better reputation. As David Thomson wrote in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

As well as being a leading box-office draw for some thirty years, the epitome of the man-about-town, as well as being the ex-husband of Virginia Cherrell, Barbara Hutton, Betsy Drake, and Dyan Cannon, as well as being the retired actor, still handsome executive of a perfume company—as well as all these things, he was the best and most important actor in the history of the cinema.

No one ever said anything as nice about Cannon, and she doesn’t have an entry in that 1,076 page tome. This is why I think the story would be so interesting. There was a brief period when her career was better than his. But it didn’t last.

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The Best Decade in Film Keeps Changing

The Godfather greatest film

I enjoy seeing lists of great movies. Part of it is to get recommendations for films worth checking out, but there’s also a fun in observing how things have changed, be it in the way that Louisiana Story was briefly considered one of the most acclaimed movies ever, or how Birth of a Nation stopped being DW Griffith’s most acclaimed film. One interesting thing is the way that the repuations of decades have shifted. The consensus seems to have shifted a bit.

I can compare three lists of mostly American films formed by polls of Hollywood insiders and critics: The American Film Institute’s 1997 Top 100, their 2006 follow-up and the Hollywood Reporter’s list from last year, which came to my attention because they keep retweeting it. In the 1997 AFI Top 100 list, the 1950s were the best represented decade with twenty films, and seven in the top twenty: On the Waterfront in 8th Place, Singin’ in the Rain in 10th, Sunset Boulevard in 12th, The Bridge on the River Kwai in 13th, Some Like it Hot in 14th, All About Eve in 16th, and The African Queen in 17th. For the 2007 list, five films from the 50s were removed (From Here to Eternity, Rebel Without a Cause, An American in Paris, Giant and A Place in the Sun.) Another decade had taken its place.

In the 1997 list, the 1970s were represented by 18 films, with The Godfather in third place. Two films from the decade were removed (Patton and Close Encounters of the Third Kind) but four were added (The Last Picture Show, Cabaret, Nashville, All the President’s Men) so the 1970s were the dominant decade. With last year’s list, the change was more drastic, perhaps because the focus on film professionals from multiple walks on life means they’ve got a much younger crowd. There were eleven films from the 1950s (none in the Top 25!), and eighteen from the 1970s. This time the 1990s dominated, with 24 films.

1994 film

1994 in particular made a hell of a showing, with Forrest Gump in 14th place, Pulp Fiction in 5th place and Shawshank Redemption in 4th place. There were fourteen films from the 2000s, but none in the top fifty. Part of it may just be that there isn’t a perceived consensus, and the kids exposed to these films weren’t in a position to vote for these things. Early film was really missing from the list, with two films from the 1930s (Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, both from 1939) and three from the 1940s. I’m not sure what that means. Perhaps younger film folks simply aren’t tolerant of early film technology, or the anachronistic attitudes.

The first AFI list had 18 films from 1939 or before. Seven were gone in the next iteration, although there were five new ones, with Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights jumping from 76th place to 11th, and Buster Keaton’s The General popping up in 16th place. Birth of a Nation was in 44th place in the 1997 list, and gone in the 2007 list, although DW Griffith was represented with Intolerance. It’s suprising how much the reputations of the earliest films are still so much in flux.

It’s also taking some time for recent films to become established parts of the film canon. This can take a while. Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption did some climbing to get to the top five. It’s possible they’ll be a little bit lower next time around, but probably not by much. Schindler’s List is the one film from the 1990s on all three top ten lists, so it was acknowledged relatively quickly, in a way that doesn’t seem apparent of any film in the 2000s, although much of that may just be the combination of artistry with a director acknowledged as one of the best ever, and weighty subject matter. There isn’t quite that perfect storm with recent films.

Wall-E can be considered a great film

My guesses for the films most likely to rank higher in lists made decades from now are Wall-E, The Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight. Wall-E is probably Pixar’s masterpiece, and the best science fiction film in decades. Lord of the Rings was the Star Wars of the 21st Century, and the biggest problem is determining whether the first film (which introduced the characters and brought attention to the franchise) should rank higher than the third (which got more awards, and brought the story to a satisfying conclusion.) The Dark Knight is considered the best superhero film, so it’s the apex of a genre dominating the box office, and typically getting impressive reviews. Heath Ledger (whose lead performance in Brokeback Mountain is also in the Top 100) is one of the great film villains, while Nolan is probably the most acclaimed recent director (Inception and Memento made the Top 100.) The Shawshank Redemption, and Citizen Kane a long time ago, show that films don’t chart in early lists can still rate highly decades later, so it’s possible for films ignored in The Hollywood Reporter‘s selection to dominate in the 2020s. Don’t be surprised to see The Departed (Scorcese crime drama with A-list cast), Requiem for a Dream (arguably the best drug drama in American film, can rise with the fortunes of lead Jared Leto or director Darren Aronofsky) or The Hurt Locker (Most significant American film by a female Director, Most acclaimed film about the 21st Century military) start climbing.

Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window

Incidentally, I’d still say that the 1950s for are the best decade in film. It was a good decade for English language cinema, with directors like Hitchcock, Wilder, and Kazan at their peaks, in addition to impressive westerns (High Noon, The Searchers, Shane) and a few other all-time classics (Singin’ in the Rain, Paths of Glory, Bridge on the River Kwai, The African Queen, Touch of Evil.) The ’70s might be better for American films-although I’m not convinced on that one- but the 50s was fantastic for foreign language films. Kurosawa had Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Ikiru. Ingmar Bergman had Smiles of a Summer NightWild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. And there was Diabolique, La Strada, Wages of Fear and The 400 Blows.

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What Comedy Central Should Do With Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah's twitter

Trevor Noah’s stint as lead anchor of the Daily Show has now been scheduled for the end of September. The conversation about him briefly shifted from whether he was too obscure and inexperienced, to whether his comments on twitter have been problematic, and reflected an insensitivity unbecoming of the replacement for John Stewart. Considering the guy had 9,000 tweets, I don’t think his handful of dumb comments was a major deal, although the now mostly forgotten fuss was a reflection of the new political correctness.

He’s not the worst choice for host. The obvious replacements have their shows, and the clips I’ve seen of his are pretty funny. He’s also hosted stuff in South Africa, and seems like a good match with Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore (younger guy with international background followed by middle-aged American.)

However, I do think he would have been a better match for the 11:30 show. His main schtick is an exxagerated outsider’s perspective, which is much more Colbert than Stewart.

Comedy Central tried to replace the Colbert Report, but the ratings haven’t been that good for the Nightly Show. So, a swap seems to be in order. Larry Wilmore could get promoted to the Daily Show, where he can present a more intuitive understanding of some of the things they’re supposed to mock. That would be especially important heading into the 2016 presidential election. Noah could play the confused foreigner, perplexed by American questions, the guy who can act dumb during interviews to get interesting answers.

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Edward F. Murphy, Forgotten Vice-Presidential Contender

Edward F Murphy for Vice President

I’m curious about the people who get selected President, and also in who gets selected for the nomination and who gets selected for Vice-President, and who gets selected to be a losing nominee for Vice-President.

Edward F. Murphy is quite unusual. He received 77 votes to be the Republican nominee for Vice President at the party’s 1908 convention, but wikipedia didn’t even have an entry for him. Charles Fairbank

1908

There was a Democratic Senator Edward Murphy Jr, who served from 1983-1899. He has also been a former mayor of Troy, New York. He would have been in his early 70s in 1908, and it would be unusual for so many Republicans to back a Democrat.

The mystery was was solved through the New York Times. I got a trial subscription which gave me access to the archives.

Murphy

There was a reference to Governor Fort of New Jersey’s lukewarm support of former Governor Murphy for Vice President. There was no Governor Edward Murphy, but a Franklin Murphy served as Governor of New Jersey from 1902-1905 as a progressive “square deal” Republican. He had been in his late 50s when he was elected, and had been serving as chair of the New Jersey Republican committee (which he had previously held for 12 years) at the time of the 1908 election.

By the time I found this out, wikipedia user Ariostos had changed “Edward F. Murphy” to “Franklin Murphy” so it was a moot point, but an interesting digression.

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Spider-Man and the Avengers

Avenging Carol Danvers Captain Marvel

It’s possible that the most signfiicant change to the Spider-Man comics while Joe Quesada wasn’t One More Day, but something else that happened under his watch: Spider-Man joining the Avengers.

One More Day muddying the waters about whether Peter Parker will end up with anyone else isn’t likely to affect the films. But the recent Sony and Disney/ Marvel deal means that Spider-Man’s likely to pop up as an Avenger. We also got a monthly title that lasted for more than an year out of Spider-Man joining the Avengers.

So let’s look at events in the Spider-Man comics between Spider-Man joining the New Avengers and One More Day…

The New Avengers

Many comic book fans expect changes to the status quo to last forever, or until the books end, which they seem to want to happen at the time their interest in the title starts waning. I saw a lot of polls asking how long Spider‑Man and Wolverine will remain on the Avengers, often with the implication that once they leave, Bendis’s decision to introduce them to the series (and his entire run on the title) will be a failure. Reading the first Essential Avengers volume is a reminder that the only constant for the Avengers is change. The Avengers team at the end of the first issue couldn’t even last until the end of the second. All of the founding Avengers left in the sixteenth issue, replaced by three B‑grade (and that’s being charitable) former villains. And it was great.

I always thought it was obvious that Spider‑Man and Wolverine would eventually leave the Avengers. It was never meant to be a permanent development, as there never has been a permanent member of the Avengers. The reason Bendis’s New Avengers is so influential—and will remain that way after the departures of Spider-Man and Wolverine—was because of the way it sets the precedent for later writers to put anyone they want onto the Avengers, restoring the series to what it was meant to be: a team book with a diverse array of Marvel heroes.

At the same time, Spider‑Man developed new connections with his fellow Avengers. He has an easygoing camaraderie with Luke Cage, which allows for fun team‑ups. Putting him on the same team as Wolverine strengthens the relationship between Marvel’s two most popular characters. The protege and mentor bond with Tony provided a unique connection between two of the most popular Marvel heroes. While it ended badly (which meant that it made things more difficult for Peter), it was never boring. Thanks to Civil War, while Spider‑Man’s familiarity with some heroes has increased (which leads to less tense encounters with his fellow New Avengers) he has a more adversarial relationship with others—to say nothing of darker vigilantes and younger heroes—who may never have trusted him to begin with.

Life was briefly easier for Peter, when Spider‑Man was on the New Avengers, while his family lived in the Avengers Mansion. Marvel featured stories that wouldn’t otherwise be available, along with unique complications (Wolverine hitting on Mary Jane, a scuzzy tabloid reporting that Mary Jane was cheating on Peter with Tony, etc.) Because things briefly turned out so well, it became all the more dramatic when it ended badly. It’s now going to take a long time before May and Mary Jane can comfortably interact with the Avengers. That brief period of joy ain’t coming back any time soon.

At this point, it seems likely that the sixth appearance of Spider-Man in movies will be in Captain America: Civil War, and that this will be followed by appearances in the Avengers: Infinity War two-parter. And that’s pretty cool. It is worth of noting that the Avengers of the films are basically people who get together for extreme emergencies every few years, which differs from the comics. But the main reason Spider-Man wasn’t closely associated with the Avengers was that Jack Kirby didn’t want to draw a Steve Ditko character in the first few issues, and the Avengers became its own franchise, rather than the lynchpin of the Marvel Universe it has been under Bendis and Hickman.

For many readers, part of Spider-Man’s appeal was that he was a hero who acted alone. Some older comics pros have suggested that launching Marvel Team-Up back in 1972 was a bad idea, because it forced Spider-Man to interact with other Marvel superheroes and become familiar with those guys. So those readers believe that a big mistake occurred under Quesada’s tenure, when Spider-Man joined the Avengers. If there’s a constant in the Avengers membership, it’s change. Spider-Man won’t always be an Avenger, and while he may be more familiar with his former teammates, any writer who wants to tell a story about Spider-Man teaming up with an unfriendly superhero can do so, with one of the many Marvel characters who hasn’t been on the Avengers or the Future Foundation with Spider-Man.

When the Mask Came Off

There was another major development in the later hald of Quesada’s run. The unmasking allowed for an year of new stories which could otherwise not be done, although it did coincide with declining sales for both Friendly Neighborhood Spider‑Man and Sensational Spider‑Man. The only reason “Spider‑Man Unmasked” happened was that the people at Marvel were planning a giant retcon anyway and understood that this provided an opportunity to see what type of material they could do if the world knew that Peter was Spider‑Man. Some of it was really good, especially Peter David’s Vulture storyline and Matt Fraction’s Sensational Spider‑Man Annual.

There was some objection to ending the “Unmasked” status quo while there were stories left to tell, though it’s preferable to end it too early than to end it too late, especially given the declines in sales, and the way it was obvious the unmasking wasn’t going to last forever, which may be the reason readers left the satellite books.

Organic Webbing

One fairly controversial change under Quesada involved giving the comic book Spider‑Man organic webbing, like his movie counterpart—at least in the Raimi films. With this, there weren’t many arguments that good writers could make it work. It doesn’t really allow for many new stories, and actually just makes things a bit easier for Spider‑Man.

Good drama is about making things as difficult as possible for the protagonist, and organic webbing denies that, by removing a source of conflict and pressure. The only story the comic books haven’t really told that requires organic webbing would be Spider‑Man’s reaction if his webbing starts malfunctioning (although that was pretty much covered in the first two movies.) Well, you could also do a story where Electro zaps Spider‑Man’s webbing, and he’s internally barbecued. But that’s pretty much it.

While the Brand New Day guys went a bit overboard with webbing problems in the first few months, it was preferable to the alternative. Wags noted that Bendis never gave Ultimate Peter Parker malfunctioning webshooters, this shouldn’t be used as a reason to limit Dan Slott.

The flipside of the duplicity question is whether Quesada and Marvel have been hypocritical in their reasoning behind One More Day to allow post-Brand New Day developments in Amazing Spider-Man.

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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The Infinite Spider-Man: Other Franchises And More Complaints

Frank Miller's Spider-Man and Daredevil

Other Series

Fans of other Marvel titles often complained that their favorite series could establish a new precedent for Spidey.

Developments in DC titles like Batman, Superman (Pre-Flashpoint), The Flash ( and Teen Titans were compared to the Spider-Man comics.

The same approach was taken with Marvel titles considering whether characters like Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones could be a model for Peter Parker.

Finally, I looked at superheroes from outside of the Marvel Universe with the Incredibles, Goku from Dragon Ball Z and a few Image heroes.

One More Day was compared to stories that changed long-lasting DC franchises. Was it like Green Lantern: Rebirth, or Emerald Twilight? Or was it like it like Flashpoint? That mini-series changed Superman in a big way.

Lies and Misdirection

There were a few questions about reader expectations on the current direction of the book which were worth addressing, starting with whether One More Day made it too obvious to readers what can and can’t happen in a comic book.

That led to another questions: How much does the typical reader really know regarding the storytelling decisions in comics?

There is an alternative question: Is there a point when the fans are being misled?

Questions about whether fans were misled were followed by questions about whether individuals at Marvel were lying. So, was Joe Quesada too dishonest?

Comments Joe Quesada had made about One More Day were considered in the context of later changes to Spider-Man: Did decisions in the Brand New Day era contradict the rationale for OMD?

Why was it okay for Spider-Man to become an Avenger?

Did decisions in the Big Time era contradict the rationale for OMD?

The Infinite Spider-Man is a series of mini-essays regarding Marvel’s options for the future of the best character in comics.

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The Lizard Image Gallery

I came across enough images of my favorite Spider-Man villain for an entire post, starting with a John Romita Sr. splash page.

Romita Lizard

 

Someone posted a page of Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man #6 online.

Black & white page from Amazing Spider-Man #6 by Steve Ditko

The crying Lizard from that issue makes me laugh.

Steve Ditko's Crying Lizard

As far as I’m concerned, the definitive take on the Lizard still comes from Todd Mcfarlane. Torment was probably the story that introduced me to the villain.

spideycover24

Jon Totlebon had a unique take in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, which was probably the definitive origin story.

Ultimate Lizard

 

For the hell of it, here’s a weird looking real lizard.

real lizard

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