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Posts Tagged ‘Alan Alda’

Meryl Streep & Alan Alda

Meryl Streep & Alan Alda

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

The Seduction of Joe Tynan is one of the best political movies I’ve ever seen and it reminds me a little bit of the Ted Kennedy-Jimmy Carter 1979-80 Democratic race for president, which I’ll get into later. Alan Alda plays Senator Joe Tynan from New York, who has solid Progressive Democratic credentials. Who is in love with his job and wants to move up and be a national player in the party if not President of the United States.

What separates him from Senator Ted Kennedy is that Senator Tynan, actually wants to be President. Ted Kennedy ran for president in the 1980, because he didn’t like where the country was going with the bad economy and everything else, didn’t think President Carter was progressive enough, but more importantly he felt some obligation to the progressive wing to run for president and put another Kennedy in the White House.

Joe Tynan, loves the president, loves campaigning, loves politics. I would say loves his kids back in New York as well, just not enough to make them a major priority as far as attending their major events. And I would say likes his wife a lot and perhaps loves her and is attracted to her, but doesn’t have much respect for her and sees her as bit of lightweight, at least as far as the people he deals with in Washington. And I believe this comes out pretty clearly in the movie as far as how Tynan talks about his wife whose played by the adorable and funny Barbara Harris.

What makes Tynan a strong potential presidential candidate is that the President a Democrat, has a U.S. Supreme Court nominee up. Who is a bit of a right-winger, at least on civil rights issues and supported forced segregation in the past, who comes from Arkansas. And that puts Senator Tynan in a tough position of having to consider taking on the leader of his party.

Joe Tynan, doesn’t want to take on the President and his Democratic Leadership in the Senate, but he’s not going to support right-wing Supreme Court nominee who supports forced segregation either. Especially since he’s looking at running for president himself. And is approached by civil rights and labor lawyers in the party who want him to vote against Supreme Court nominee. And is approached by Karen Traynor. (played by Meryl Streep)

Who is one of the Democratic activists trying to bring Tynan to their side and oppose Edward Anderson (played by Maurice Copeland) who is the Supreme Court nominee. She gets Tynan real evidence that he’s against civil rights with video of a speech that he gave in the 1960s and that’s how Senator Tynan comes out against Anderson. Which pisses off his close friend Senator Birney (played by Melvyn Douglas) who is a close friend of Anderson and a big supporter of him.

What you have in Joe Tynan is a workaholic who has become a career politician whose always focused on politics and always looking for the next big move in his career and when he’s not doing that and takes any free time, he does it with people other than his wife and family. Starts an affair with Karen Traynor, becomes a national player and hero in the Democratic Party, decides to run for president without even talking to his wife and kids.

Who starts off the movie having basically everything he wants and has everything going for him as a young influential U.S. Senator who can move legislation. But sees an opening to furthering his political career and jumps on that and in the process almost loses everything that he has. I think this is a very good movie about an ambitious workaholic career politician who is never completely happy and satisfied. And is always looking for more, even if it means losing everything that he already has.

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MASH
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus

As the people who created and written the last episode of MASH said, this just wasn’t a comedy. And as funny as the rest of its episodes. But MASH was never a pure comedy to begin with. It was a show about the Korean War and America’s involvement in it. And handled a lot of life and death serious issues, but did it with a lighter touch. And as character Captain Trapper McIntire put it played by Wayne Rogers who was joking around in surgery one day as he was operating on someone and his nurse said, “do you always have joke around while you’re performing surgery?” The Captain said, “yes, because it his what keeps me sane around all of this insanity and death that is this war”. That is what MASH was about. Humans trying to do their best under horrible traumatic conditions.

Humor, is a form of communication. And a way a lot of people, funny people, or people with good sense of humors at least, use to express how they’re feeling. And it can come out at anytime and be used appropriately and inappropriately. MASH, didn’t use humor to make the Korean War look any lighter and less serious than it was. But to show how horrible and crazy of a situation that a lot of America’s Army personal had to work under as part of their service in that war. I think I would go crazy if I had to work under those conditions with a complete straight face all the time. I think I would have a better shot at keeping my sanity in solitary confinement for ten straight years. Than to try to save lives while people are being killed around me and innocent people are being killed.

This last episode was about the last days of the Korean War. A peace agreement between America and the Communist North was being worked out. And the personal at this MASH unit were waiting for the word and being told that they can go home. And how people who’ve spent a year or two-years or perhaps the whole damn war together, how they would say goodbye to each other. And get ahold of each other when they’re back in the states. This episode wasn’t a pure comedy, but again MASH never was. But what it was, was a realistic look at how Army personal enlisted and draftees perform at an Army medical hospital during the middle of a war. Trying to save as many lives as they possibly can while so many people around them are being killed in battle. And they did a hell of a job.

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California Suite
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus

I’m sorry, I wish I could’ve found a better video that would’ve shown all three couples, or groups in this movie that would’ve given you a better idea about what this great romantic comedy is about. But I guess you’re going to have to take my word for it, or see the movie yourself. But this is one my favorite comedies of all-time that I saw again on Friday in preparation to write this blog. This is one of the smartest written and funniest written comedies of all-time, with one of the funniest casts that you could put in a movie. People who should all be in the Comedy Hall of Fame, when you’re talking about Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Walter Matthau, Alan Alda, Michael Caine and Jane Fonda.

California Suite is about four out-of-town couples coming to Los Angeles. There, should I go on, is there really anything else you need to know about this movie, I mean isn’t that enough, can I retire now? Fine, I’ll go on, but it is about three out-of-town couples coming to Los Angeles for sort of a little vacation. You have an African-American foursome coming to LA from Chicago. A Jewish-American couple from Philadelphia to attend a, well Bar Mitzvah, what else. A then there’s a divorced couple. The women coming from New York and the man coming from the San Francisco area. And they are meeting in Los Angeles for some reason and they are meeting to talk about their daughter’s future. Apparently little Sally doesn’t like living with Mom and wants to live with Dad instead.

The divorced couple played by Alan Alda and Jane Fonda is interesting to me for several reasons and I’ll give you a few of them. One, the humor in the movie matches Al and Jane, lets call them very well. It is as if the humor in this movie was written for them as far as all the sarcasm and quick-witted jabs and one-liners they deliver in the movie. Alda and Fonda have a very similar sense of humor in real-life, if not the exact same humor and they are both great comedic actors. It’s as if Alda is doing this movie on M*A*S*H as far as the humor between him and Jane. Jane Fonda has a great line in this movie where she tells Bill her ex-husband, “Billy you’re not a hopeless romantic. You’re even worst, you’re a hopeful one”. Sounds like a line she could’ve come up with on her own.

Then there’s the Chicago couple where Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor, well their characters that is take their wives out to Los Angeles from Chicago on vacation. They are both doctors and best friends and yet they try to kill each other in this movie. If you are familiar with the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, you’ll love this part of California Suite as well. But this time the two men don’t just know each other, but they are best friends and have their wives with them. It is was one disaster after another for them in LA. Starting first in a rental car coming from the airport to their Beverly Hills hotel. The car overheats and they have to pull over and they all get out, but lock the keys in the car. And it just gets worst for them after that.

Then the couple from Philadelphia played by Walter Matthau and Elaine May. For some reason they fly to Los Angeles separately and the Matthau character meets up with his brother who he hasn’t seen in like forever. His brother played by Herb Edelman, I guess is single and perhaps coming off his fifth divorce and is a playboy. And gets his brother drunk at dinner and sets him up with a hooker to be there for his brother when he gets back to his hotel room. They get drunk together again and do God knows what. The next morning he can’t wake his hooker up and wife is on the way and you can imagine the type of problems he’s now dealing with. And it is really Walter Matthau at his funniest.

This is not a movie for people who only like cookie-cutter humor and need to of heard a joke like ten times from late night TV or their favorite comedians or sitcoms, or whatever before they can understand the one-liner and smart ass cracks in the movie. And the humor in this movie also moves very fast with one great one-liner after another. So you not only need to pay attention to what you’re hearing, but do it quickly, because another quick joke is on the way. Played with I’m sure a lot of comedic improv in it as well, especially in a comedy that has Walter Matthau, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor in it. And I believe is one of the best comedies of all-time.
Sony Pictures: California Suite 1978 Trailer

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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Alan Alda playing Captain Cliche on The Carol Burnett Show. The man who probably watches too much TV and too many movies and unable to think for himself. Doesn’t sound that unfamiliar to the faddists who follow every trend just to be cool or awesome. We especially see that with technology today where so many Americans feel the need and must have the latest technology, computer, smart phones etc. Because they won’t want to be the only one that doesn’t have the latest phone or whatever. And be the only one with I-Phone 5 instead of 6 or whatever.

I called Alan Alda Captain Cliche in this scene, but Cookie Cutter would’ve worked to. Someone not able to think for them self especially when they are talking to people they like and want to like them. So what they do to compensate is use material that they’ve heard from other sources. There’s cookie cutter humor that I’m not a fan of that we see today with so many sitcoms and movies using other people’s material and lines because it worked and sound cool there, so they use that with their project as well.

But if you know the real Alan Alda as opposed to this dope he played in this sketch, which he did very well, not that it takes a lot of effort to play a dope, but you know that Alda is anything, but cookie cutter or cliche when it came to his own humor. And that he is very spontaneous and off the cuff, flip and real quick with his wit. As we saw with MASH where he had a big role in the material that was used and as we’ve seen throughout his carer and with his personal appearances.
Dinner & A Movie

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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Same Time Next Year might be the best romantic comedy of all-time. And if it isn’t, it might be the smartest romantic comedy of all-time and definitely in the top one percent of both categories. Because I don’t believe it was trying to be funny, but the movie was just so natural. With the two main characters George and Dorris played by Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn, who were just so real with both having noticeable flaws that came out often especially George. And the two both looking for something different in their relationships.

The only part of the movie I do not get is the opening scene. Why would two happily married people be out in the country by themselves having dinner by themselves? What were they doing there all alone when they are both happily married with kids. But that is how the movie and this love affair that is only one weekend a year, but for the next twenty-six years starts. And this would actually be a movie that should’ve had a second chapter. To see how this couple made out because both of their spouses die in the movie.

What I also love about this movie is when George and Helen weren’t making love in the movie, the rest of the movie was conversational between this couple. And you get to learn so much about them. About how vulnerable and lacking in self-confidence George was. And how unsure he was and easy to blame himself about things and how bad of a liar he was. To Helen wanting a stronger man in his life stronger than the man here husband was. These are two very good caring people, but two real people looking for something different in their lives.

Northern California Coast

Northern California Coast

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MASH
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat

I’ve been asked a lot in my lifetime all thirty-eight years of it by people who know me, but perhaps not very well, people who I’m friendly with. “How do you describe your sense of humor”? Because if I’m friendly with you and we get along and open up with each other, my humor will come out of lot because it is a big form of communication for me. Because I use it to basically let people know how I’m doing and how I’m feeling.

I have a real good friend who I met in high school over twenty years ago. (Damn that makes me feel old!) Who gets the same question, actually her sister asked him that the same question. Actually she asked us together one night when we were hanging out together. And I’m going to give you the same answer as I gave her and my buddy feels the same way. Because we essentially have the same sense of humor. Actually he stole mine, and I’m borrowing someone else’s, but anyway. We both have a low-tolerance for stupidity, stupid questions or people acting stupid. And we use our spontaneous sense of humor to let people know what we think of that.

I posted the video of M*A*S*H in this blog because that show had the same sense of humor. Looking for funny moments in life wherever possible and doing it in the worst circumstances possible. Thousands of miles away from home in a land they perhaps never heard of before the Korean War. And having to try to save as many lives as possible in the heart of this war. When they could’ve been killed at any time, but using that humor to keep their sanity. And joy for life as much as possible as so many people around them lost their lives.

What makes M*A*S*H the best sitcom of all time is the writing and this style of humor. And Alan Alda who in many ways was playing himself when he was playing Captain Dr. Benjamin Hawkeye Pierce the Chief Surgeon of this 4077 M*A*S*H Unit. Unlike a lot of the sitcoms of today that are cookie cutter and use each other’s material. Or lines they picked up from the last hit movie comedy or latest hit comedian. M*A*S*H used their own lines that hadn’t been written before or only heard by very few people. And the humor was based around finding the funniest and stupidest things in a horrible situation. To keep their joy of life alive.

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