Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Godspeed Ivan Reitman

Ivan Reitman, who produced the classic National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) and produced and directed Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters (1984), died on February 12 2022 at the age of 75.

Ivan Reitman was born on October 27 1946 in Komárno, Czechoslovakia. His family migrated to Canada when he was four years old. He attended Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto. In 1969 he received a  Bachelor of Music from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He worked as a producer at CITY-TV in Toronto briefly. In 1973 he produced the stage production Spellbound in Toronto. The production moved to Broadway in 1974 where it became The Magic Show, with Mr. Reitman still serving as its producer.

Ivan Reitman produced Shivers (1975), the controversial horror movie that started David Cronenberg's career as a director. He also produced David Cronenberg's movie Rabid (1977). He produced the movies Death Weekend (1976), Isla the Tigress of Siberia (1977), and Blackout (1978) before making his commercial breakthrough with National Lampoon's Animal House. It was in 1979 that he made his mainstream directorial debut with Meatballs.

In the Eighties Ivan Reitman directed the films Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Legal Eagles (1986), Twins (1988), Ghostbusters II (1989), and Kindergarten Cop (1990). He produced the films Stripes, Heavy Metal (1981), The Magic Show (1983), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Legal Eagles, Big Shots (1987), Casual Sex? (1988), Feds (1988), Twins, Ghostbusters II, and Kindergarten Cop. In 1983 he produced and directed the Broadway production Merlin.

In the Nineties he directed the films Dave (1993), Junior (1994), Father's Day (1997), and Six Days Seven Nights (1998). He produced the films Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), Beethoven (1992), Dave, Beethoven's 2nd (1993), Junior, Space Jam (1996), Private Parts (1997), Commandments (1997), Father's Day (1997), Six Days Seven Nights, and Road Trip (2000).

In the Naughts Ivan Reitman directed the films Evolution (2001) and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006). He produced the films Evolution, Killing Me Softly (2002), Old School (2003), EuroTrip (2004), Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (2006), Disturbia (2007), Hotel for Dogs (2009), The Uninvited (2009), I Love You, Man (2009), Post Grad (2009), Up in the Air (2009), Chloe (2009), and Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day (2009).

In the Teens Mr. Reitman directed the films No String Attached (2011) and Draft Day (2014). He produced the movies No Strings Attached, Hitchcock  (2012), Draft Day, Ghostbusters (2016), Baywatch (2017), Father Figures (2017), A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting (2020), and Godmothered (2020). In the Twenties he produced the films Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021).

Ivan Reitman either produced or directed films that had a lasting impact on American pop culture. National Lampoon's Animal House and Ghostbusters both proved influential. Indeed, Ghostbusters spawned an entire franchise. Many of his other films, from Stripes to Twins remain popular. It is safe to say that many of his movies will still be watched for several years to come.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Leave the Hollywood Sign Alone

The Hollywood Sign in 1935
Following the Los Angeles Rams' victory in the Super Bowl Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that a temporary installation reading "Rams' House" would be placed over the Hollywood Sign starting Monday and would remain in place until Wednesday in partnership with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the Hollywood Sign Trust, and the Los Angles Rams. As of yet, the installation has yet to be completed. To say I am upset would be putting it mildly.

Now I know some people might think that this is due to the fact that I have hated the Rams ever since they left St. Louis, but that actually has nothing to do with it. I love the Los Angeles Dodgers, but if they won the World Series I would not want a temporary installation placed over the sign to celebrate that victory. Instead, for me it comes down to two things for me. The first is that the Hollywood Sign is important to me on a personal level. After all, it is where my dearest friend Vanessa's ashes were scattered. Any time I see the Hollywood sign, I cannot help but think of her and her love of classic film and Hollywood.

The second and more important reason can be summed up by what the Hollywood Sign Trust says on the official website, "The Hollywood Sign is more than just nine white letters spelling out a city's name. It’s one of the world's most famous monuments and a universal metaphor for ambition, success, glamour...for this dazzling place, industry and dream we call H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D."  For classic film fans, the Hollywood Sign is even more important than most people. For us it is a symbol of the films we love and the Los Angeles neighbourhood where those films originated. Indeed, the Hollywood Sign is one of those things people around the world want to see when they visit Los Angeles. I suspect many of those people, visiting Hollywood for the first time, would be very disappointed to see an installation altering the sign to read "Ram's House." I have seen the Sign up close and I know I would be disappointed.

Now I know the Sign originally read "Hollywoodland" and was constructed in 1923 to promote  a housing development in the Hollywood Hills. I know it remained that way until 1949, when it was shortened to "Hollywood." I know in 1987 Fox Broadcasting paid to have the sign altered to read "Fox" as promotion for their new network. And it has been altered unofficially many times over (such as the notorious "Hollyweed" in 1976). Given how iconic the sign and close to many people's hearts the sign has become, my thought is that it should never be altered, even temporarily. Tourists want to see the "Hollywood Sign," not the "Fox Sign" or the "Rams' House Sign." If someone is only in Los Angeles for a few days and one of these temporary installations is up, then effectively their experience of the sign has been spoiled. In 2019 I was in Hollywood for only three days. I would have been  very disappointed and even hurt had the Sign read something other than "Hollywood" while I was there.

I believe that the Hollywood Sign ceased to belong to the neighbourhood of Hollywood or even the City of Los Angeles long ago. It has become the property of anyone who loves film and loves the place where films are made. To place any kind of an installation over the name "Holywood" is to disappoint any film lover who wants to see the Sign on the days of that installation. The way I see, if the Hollywood Sign Trust and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce wanted to celebrate the Rams' victory, they could have simply illuminated the sign in royal blue and gold, much the way New York City illuminates the Empire State Building or St. Louis illuminates the Arch for special occasions. That way Los Angelinos can celebrate and those who love the Sign can rest assured that it reads "Hollywood."

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day 2022

Valentine's Day is not a particularly easy day for me, as are many holidays these days. Like many holidays, however, I still observe it. Here at my blog one of the ways I have of observing the holiday is by posting pinups. Here, then, are this year's pinups.

First up is Olympe Bradna, who is waiting for her Valentine!

Here is Dorothy Hart, who is also waiting for her Valentine.

Rita Hayworth has her Valentine ready for her sweetie.
Lana Turner is playing Cupid.

Joan Leslie is the Queen of Hearts.

And Ann Miller is busy creating her Valentine's Day card!

Happy Valentine's Day!