Maitland McDonagh


Question: I haven't been able ...

Question: I haven't been able to find this movie anywhere and hope I'm not just dreaming it: Anthony Hopkins and Blythe Danner are a married couple plotting to kill each other. Though the plot sounds morbid, I don't remember it being a deeply serious movie, and I think it came out before Hopkins made it big in The Silence of the Lambs. — Garrett

Flickchick: This would be the 1985 TV-movie Guilty Conscience, though as far as I can tell, it's only Hopkins's character who's planning to kill his wife (Danner). The gimmick is that he keeps plotting different murder scenarios, and imaging how his trial would play out in each instance. It's a feast for Hopkins fans. Guilty Conscience has been on video (so you might be able to find a used copy) and is currently avai read more

Question: My friend claims ...

Question: My friend claims that Hayley Mills has passed away. I disagree. Can you please settle our bet? We have a whopping $2.00 riding on it (that's like 25 American cents!). — Angela in Vancouver

Flickchick: Your friend needs to cough up some cash. Former child star Hayley Mills, whose credits include such hugely popular pictures as the original versions of The Parent Trap (1961) and That Darn Cat (1965), is alive and well and living in England. Though you didn't ask, her sister Juliet Mills is currently appearing on the bizarro soap opera Passions, and her older son, Crispian (formerly of Kula Shaker), is touring with a band called Pi.

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Question: I just saw Event ...

Question: I just saw Event Horizon, which reminded me of a movie I saw back in the early '80s. In it, a space crew that was being terrorized by some alien force they couldn't see, but which preyed on their fears and desires. Can you help me out? No one seems to know what I'm talking about. — SLP

Flickchick: You're talking about Galaxy of Terror (1981), and you're right: The basic premise is similiar to that of Event Horizon.

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Question: What happened to ...

Question: What happened to the Spider-Man movie James Cameron was supposed to direct? — Webhead

Flickchick: It's approaching the end of shooting with Sam Raimi at the helm. Tobey Maguire is playing Peter Parker, a role that was offered to and sought by much of young Hollywood. Among the names being bandied about last year were American Beauty's Wes Bentley, major Marvel fan Freddie Prinze Jr. and — of course — hunk-of-the-month read more

Question: My question has to ...

Question: My question has to do with film industry practice, rather than a particular movie. My father and I have been arguing about the phrase "Lights! Camera! Action!". He believes it's said, "Lights! Action! Camera!", while I think "Lights! Camera! Action!" Which is correct? — Anthony

Flickchick: This is what a director says when he or she wants to go for a take (as opposed to a rehearsal, which is done without camera): The correct order would be lights, camera, action, which only makes sense, if you think about it: The lights have to be on before you run the camera, and you want the camera running before the action starts. But in fact, this exact phrase is one you're more likely to hear in a movie than on a movie set (just as you're more likely to hear an editor shout "Stop the presses!" onscreen than in real life). Most directors don't bother saying anything about the lights — in an indoor shot, believe me, you know whether or not the lights are on. Usua read more

Question: I recently watched ...

Question: I recently watched The Running Man for the third time and I couldn't help but wonder what happened to Erland Van Lidth? I haven't seen him anywhere else. — Phillip

Flickchick: The Running Man (1987) was Erland Van Lidth's last movie; he died of natural causes later that year. The over-sized actor was also in The Wanderers (1979), as the leader of the Baldies gang, as well as Stir Crazy (1980) and Alone in the Dark (1982). Before he began acting, Van Lidth attended the Massachusetts Institue of Technology, where he was on the wrestling team. He also sang opera, proof once again that people's looks can be deceiving.

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Question: Is the lady who ...

Question: Is the lady who holds up the torch on Columbia Broadcasting Pictures logo — not the old one, but the newer one — modeled on Susan Hayward, a movie star from the 40's? — Kaack

Flickchick: Like many questions that ought to be easy to answer, the more research you do, the harder this one gets. First, it appears that there was only one model for the Columbia Pictures torch lady, though the logo has been modified several times. The lady was originally draped in an American flag; in the '60s the flag was replaced by plain drapery. In 1993, she was slimmed down, given a background of clouds and made to look a little less harsh around the face. At that time a rumor took hold that Annette Bening had modeled for the lady's facial make-over, a rumor her spokesmen firmly denied. In any event, read more

Question: The other day, my ...

Question: The other day, my husband and I were watching Them and reminiscing about great horror movies of our childhood. He never saw one of my favorites, a B&W movie in which the monsters were brains with spinal chords that flew up at people and wrapped around their necks. It was on TV a lot during the early '70s, but I think it's a '50s film. Does it ring any bells for you? — Allegra

Flickchick: It sure does: Fiend Without a Face. As you no doubt recall, the killer brains were invisible for most of the movie, but you could tell they were coming by the clanking sound they made.

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Question: I recently watched ...

Question: I recently watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my children. Can you tell me what happened to the main actors, other than Dick Van Dyke? I'm specifically interested in Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jefferies, Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall. — Tim

Flickchick: Based on the children's novel by Ian Fleming (yes, the author of the James Bond novels), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang continues to be as entertaining as it was when I was a child. Sally Ann Howes, the daughter of English actor Bobby Howes, went on to a long career in movies, TV and on the stage. Her most recent TV credit is the 1992 US miniseries Secrets, but in 2000 she was on Broadway playing the role of Aunt Julia in James Joyce's The Dead read more

Question: In Manhattan ...

Question: In Manhattan Melodrama, there's a scene in which Myrna Loy and William Powell are getting acquainted at The Cotton Club. A talented singer peforms a song (maybe called "Love, What is the Matter" — at least, that's the way the lyrics go) whose tune is a note-for-note a rip-off of (or prequel to) the doo-wop classic "Blue Moon." So what gives — who's the singer and what's the song? — Robert

Flickchick: Legendary Broadway and movie composer Richard Rodgers wrote the tune, which was a keeper from the start. But his equally famous partner, Lorenz Hart, wrote a series of lyrics before hitting on a set that lasted. First the duo put together a number called "Prayer" for Jean Harlow to sing in Hollywood Party, but in the end neither Harlow nor the song made it into the movie. Then Hart wrote a new read more

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