‘TRON’ with Cindy Morgan

Title:
TRON (1982)
Rated:PG
Written by:
Steve Lisberger and
Bonnie MacBird
Directed by:
Steve Lisberger Starring:
Jeff Bridges as Flynn/Clu
Bruce Boxleitner as Alan/Tron
Cindy Morgan as Lora/Yori
David Warner as Dillinger/Sark
Barnard Hughes as Gibbs/Dumont

 

 

By Count Vardulon

Pre-screening memories: It’s hard to tell a story about a play, like it’s hard to perform a play about a book, like it’s hard to write a book about a movie, like it’s hard to make a movie about a video game. I was too young to understand the subtleties of that idea as a child, but I think I grasped the general concept. An avid fan of video games, I would watch or read anything even vaguely video-game related, and even then I found myself underwhelmed by what Hollywood had to say on the subject. By their very nature video games demand to be played, rather than watched, and movies that featured them could never seem to conceive of a way to engage their audience as viscerally as handing them a controller could.

And then there was Tron. While I may have missed the film in theatres, I was absolutely aware of Tron, and enthralled by what little I knew of it. The film’s creators hit on two important ideas. The first was to look deeper than just the surface of the games – to instead ask just what a videogame was, giving people an imaginary look inside a world that they didn’t understand. The second idea, which is both more mundane and eye-catching, was to make sure that the games themselves look far better than anything available when the movie was made. Watching people play video games that I have access to? Dull as dirt. Watching people play videogames so far advanced that I can’t imagine them – now that’s a compelling experience for a 5-year-old.

Which is most of why I watched that movie 50 times once I managed to tape it off television. It was such a ubiquitous presence in my viewing schedule that there wasn’t a moment of the film that I couldn’t recall immediately, or re-enact if necessary. Which I often found it to be, if I’m being perfectly honest. So when I went to watch it for this podcast I assumed that my ability to quote the film verbatim would mean there would be no surprises when I went back to it. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I hadn’t seen something in the neighborhood of half of it.

I’m speaking, of course, about seeing the film widescreen for the first time. Growing up with standard televisions and before the takeover of letterboxing, it was only when I sat down to watch my new DVD that I realized that for my entire childhood I’d been watching just a fraction of the film I loved. The story was exactly as I’d remembered it, a classic adventure in the “Connecticut Yankee” mold, but the visuals blew me away to a degree that I’d never expected.

I’d always known that the movie was visually arresting, but seeing it widescreen was an entirely new experience. Only now do I really understand just how brilliantly composed every frame of Tron was. And beyond the improved look of the film, I was missing jokes by watching it pan-and-scan – a hidden Pac-Man, one of the first references to cubicle farms in fiction, and the true size of that door.

Maybe it’s a little strange, but the only new feeling I took away from this most recent viewing of Tron is that I didn’t get a chance to see it on the big screen when I had the chance. Now I just hope that the upcoming release of Tron: Legacy will give me another one.

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Our featured guest: Cindy Morgan 

Cindy makes her return visit to our podcast, this time to discuss her other iconic role, that as Yori, the shapliest computer program of its time.

With Tron: Legacy in the works, there is a movement afoot to get her into the picture, and you can do your part by signing the Facebook petition here. In this edition, Cindy shares with us the experience of working with some of the screen’s earliest CGI, the video games they played on the set, the film’s fervent following, and her own inner nerd.

We also hear of a few hidden elements in the film that only the keenest eye would observe.

We are grateful to Cindy for hopping on her time-traveling Light cycle and remembering her time spent behind the scenes of Tron.

‘Caddyshack’ with Cindy Morgan

posterFilm:
Caddyshack (1980)
Rated: R
Directed by:
Harold Ramis
Written by:
Bryan Doyle-Murray &
Harold Ramis Starring:
Chevy Chase as Ty Webb
Ted Knight as Judge Smails
Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik
Bill Murray as Carl Speckler
Michael O'Keefe as Danny Noonan
Cindy Morgan as Lacy Underall
Sarah Holcolmb as Maggie
Scott Colomby as Tony D'Annunzio
The Gopher as Himself

By Pete Hayes

rodneywang

Rodney and his Wang...no offense

Pre-screening memories: My dad was a huge Rodney Dangerfield fan. I remember listening to his records as a little youngster and also enjoying the humor, which balanced observational humor with just the right amount of silliness, which pretty much sums up my sense of humor today.

But while Dangerfield was perhaps the bait, I loved (and continue to love) Caddyshack for the fact that it was a veritable spectrum of comedic styles, each playing to their own strengths. Bill Murray plays the loveable slob he perfected in his days on Saturday Night Live. Chevy Chase was the quip-spouting motormouth he had later honed in the movies. And Ted Knight was the easily agitated time bomb that wrestled (to no avail) to keep a calm exterior.

bill pumping

Bill Murray, who's got that going for him

And, of course, there were the countless one-liners that emerged which were (and still are) repeated every time I strap on the spike and slide out my driver on the course. It is impossible to visit a golf course today without at least one or two scenes or sayings entering my head. I love sports movies, but rarely has one been so completely dominant in my head every time I play the game.

cindy chevy improv

Cindy and Chevy, in a completely improvised scene

New memories: Through the years, I think I have tended to favor one comedian or another from time to time, depending on what stage of life I was in (earlier it was Rodney, later it was Chevy, and perhaps in another few decades it will be Ted), but I lost respect for the others. And I would be remiss if I did not mention our guest for this podcast, Ms. Lacey Underall herself.  Seldom has an entrance into a film been so memorable. Through the years, I may gravitate toward certain comedic stylings, my appreciation for her has remained steadfast. Her addition to the proceedings can not be underestimated, as she provided the perfect balance of sensuality to the silliness.

Caddyshack is rightfully deserved of its inclusion in lists of top comedies of all time, and I can watch dozens of comedies each year, but I am sure it will always remain one of mine.

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Our featured guest: Cindy Morgan

cindychevy

Photo courtesy Cindy Morgan

Lacy may not have had all the zingers in Caddyshack, but make no mistake, even though Caddyshack was filled with top-tier comedians, all eyes were on her the moment she sauntered across the green of ???? Country Club.

It was quite an entrance for the former radio girl from Chicago, but she managed to make her mark at this boys club, including standing her ground with one Chevy Chase. It was a daunting task, but one in which helped cement her into iconic status. On film, she went on to create another legendary character, that of Yori in the cult classic Tron.

Currently, Cindy is putting the finishing touches of a coffe table book of her time spent on the set of Caddyshack, which should be released in 2010. Here, she shares some of those memories, including her famous dive into the pool, her mad golfing skills and her tangle with producers which led to her being left off or downgraded on almost all the promotional material of the film.

Thanks, Cindy, for letting us shoulder your bags for a little while here at Natsukashi.

Essay: ‘Moving Violations’

Moving Violations
Rated
: PG-13
Starring: John Murray as Dana Cannon
               Jennifer Tilly as Amy Hopkins
               James Keach as Deputy Halik
               Wendie Jo Sperber as Joan Pudillo
               Dedee Pfeiffer as Cissy

Directed by: Neal Isreal

Written by: Pat Proft and Neal Isreal

Tagline: “A crash course in traffic school from the creators of ‘Police Academy.’
By Rob Rector
Perhaps it was one of nepotisms finest cinematic moments (yes, this includes the little-seen 1993 direct-to-video brethern-of-movie-star classic Death Ring, whose cover featured the names SWAYZE, NORRIS and McQUEEN in large all caps — only to be preceded by the 7-point revealing the names Don, Mike and Chad, respectively). The film ‘Moving Violations’ featured no fewer than four sibs to the stars. John Murray, little brother of Bill, Jennifer Tilly, lil’ sis of Meg, James Keach, young bro of Stacy and Dedee Pfeiffer, the younger sister of Michelle, were all accounted for in the cast of this quickly produced little slice of quintessential 80s-ness that followed the prototypical format of ragtag losers (traffic offenders) taking on strict authoritarians (traffic cops) in a film that was created by a team that was no stranger to the format, as they produced both ‘Bachelor Party’ and ‘Police Academy.’
Pre-screening memories: To ease the transition, they even gave John the occupation of a groundskeeper, perhaps one of Murray’s most iconic roles ( OK, so technically, he was a landscaper, but isn’t that just splitting hairs?).
Memories of this film were based solely on Murray’s character, Dana Cannon. I remember often pilfering witty rejoinders from the character and trying to emulate his easygoing, sarcastic demeanor in the face of authority (funny how that rarely seems as charming in real life…). You see, it was much easier to lift lines from lesser-known films and pass them off as your own, than, say something more universally known as “Ghostbusters,” where the response would most likely be, “Ha ha, very funny, Dr. Venkman.” But I imagined myself looking suave with a cock-eyed grin when getting yelled at and having the perfect retort to diffuse a situation and win the adoration of many as a result. Only now does it occur to me that there are very few historical instances of wise-cracking landscapers who’ve reached national prominence.
There really was little else to recall of the film. The only other supporting characters who had any discernable impact on me since those multiple screenings more than two decades ago were a fellow traffic offender who saw one too many horror films (my hero!) and that chubby gal from ‘Bosom Buddies’ who held the key to Buffy and Hildegard’s true identity — Wendie Jo Sperber.
So, I am once again ready to take a possible wrong turn down Memory Lane and revisit this little speed bump of a film that had remained part of my consciousness, Moving Violations.’

 

 

Post-Screening: I honestly wonder if at some point the producers just threw up their arms and said, “You know what? F***k it, let’s just produce a PG-13 Animal House.” I have witnessed many a variation of the iconic film, but have yet to see whole chunks lifted so cavalierly as they had in Moving Violations (and this is from a connoisseur of crap comedy who has viewed such era films as Screwballs, King Frat, Mad Magazine’s Up the Academy, The Hollywood Knights, and the short-lived Animal House spinoff sitcom Delta House).
Shall we put the evidence on Lady Justice’s scales, shall we?

  1. A Dean Wormer-esque authority figure (played by James Keach as a traffic cop) who despises a lowly group of misfits, led by a slovenly good-time Belushi-like guy (played by Murray)
  2. A ” When the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” rallying cry from said good-time guy.
  3. A incident involving the bedding of a girl who admits she’s underage pre-coitus (though no tissues were used to stuff the bra).
  4. A sexually aggressive female authority figure, though this time its Sally Kellerman as a judge who stands in for Dean Wormer’s cucumber-comparing wife.
  5. A finale that features a downtown parade that erupts into calamity and confusion.
  6. A float being commandeered by our heroes and driven at high rates of speed.
  7. A beauty queen atop of said float in said parade who dutifully stays put and waves to the crowds.
  8. A “where are they now” blurb at the end credits on the fate of our protagonist landscaper.

I’m sure a more trained eye could pick up more, but at this point I felt I had spent way to much time in my CSI-like analysis on it.

Some other items I did glean from the viewing include:

  • A blink-and-you-missed-it cameo from one Don Cheadle as a fast food employee. (His only line was “Can I take your order?” repeated a handful of times.)
  • The film boasted the name of Clara Peller in the opening credits, better known as the “Where’s the Beef?” lady from the 80s Wendy’s commercials. (Are you really sure that’s a hook you want to hang your film on? That’s like saying, “Special appearance by The Noid,” or “Featuring the comedic stylings of the “Dude you got a Dell” guy.)
  • James Keach is actually the more charismatic lead in the film as the psychotic motorcycle cop whose slow seething turns into violent rage. Though by the film’s conclusion he’s reduced to parading around in a dog collar and leather undies — best not to ask.
  • The horror-film afficionado was actually more amusing than I remembered, especially when he was stoked to see one of those gore-soaked “instructional films” titled “Blood Runs Red on the Highway.” I remember being shown such a PSA (similar to this one) in grade school in which a log carrier accidentally unloads its cargo at a high rate of speed through the windshield of an unsuspecting reckless driver. Yes, in grade school. Is it any wonder I turned out worshipping the works of gory effects masters such as Rob Bottin, Rick Baker and Stan Winston?

New Memories: I admit to still getting a few chuckles from this film made on the fly (it was written in a month and shot and released within six). When a girl says, “My ride’s here, it’s my sister…” and a nun pulls up in a Chrystler is classic stuff and what’s not funny about a lowly puppeteer being abused by the same kiddie audience he’s trying to entertain?). And this scene is quite cute:

 

It cannot be forgiven, though, that they cast the go-to guy for stiff-shirt comedy, Mr. Fred Willard, and fail to use him for his true potential. But what truly amazes me is that I ever found John Murray’s performance to be notable for his wit or charm. And I am thankful that I did not follow my admiration of his role to more extreme lengths, as I am pretty sure I’d make a lousy landscaper.

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