Demented? Certainly. A genius? History would Judge. Up there in his converted windmill, Damn IIon Johnston was developing a radical new film listings theory. By bringing new releases and revived classics together in a succinct column he would create an at-a-glance guide to the movie highlights oi the coming iortnight. All he needed now was a powerful electrical storm and his life's worlr would be complete.
I BLACK SUNDAY A marathon all-night, all-day session at the latest in celluloid horror mayhem includes Robert Englund as the Phantom 01 The Opera, the return at Joseph Ruben in Steplather ii and squelchy Calilomian goings-on in the controversial Society. All this plus leading horror authors like Ramsey Campbell means a least for gorehounds. See feature and listings. Glasgow Salon Sat 24, 11.30pm through to 6.30pm Sun 25 Feb.
I BLAZE (15) Paul Newman dares to looir old and grizzled lor his exuberant comic portrayal ol real-lite State Governor Earl C. Long, whose scandalous allair with exotic dancer Blaze Starr (played by newcomer Lolita Davidovich), is to prove less offensive to the white electorate 01 late Fillies Louisiana than his progressive ideas on race relations. See review. Cannon The Forge, Glasgow, Odeons Glasgow and Edinburgh, UCIs from Fri 23 Feb.
I BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (18) Eight Oscar nominations. including highly-Iancied Tom Cruise, tor Oliver Stone’s second Vietnam opus, lollowing the lactual lortunes of injured soldierlumed passionate paraplegic activist, Ron Kovic. See review. Cannons and UCIs lrom Fri 2 Her.
I DRIVING lAlSS DAISY (U) An extraordinary nine Oscar nominations, including hotly-tipped 81 year-old Jessica Tandy, for this film adaptation oi Allred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play which lollows the changing relationship of Southern gentlewoman Tandy and her black chaulleur, Morgan Freeman (also Oscar nominated), over several decades at gradually shilling attitudes. See feature. Cannon Farxhead and UCIs from Fri 23 Feb.
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16 The List 23 February— 8 March 1990
This year’s pair of major Oscar contenders could hardly offer a greater contrast in terms of movie-making sensibilities. Rolling on almassive wave of hype there‘s Oliver Stone’s Born on The Fourth ofJuly, a self-aggrandising Vietnam/state of the nation epic conducted at a major pitch of intensity by a director whose favourite mode of expression has always been shouting at the top of his voice. Opened out from Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Driving Miss Daisy, on the other hand, is a testament to the power of the smallest gesture, and its recognition by the Academy with some nine Oscar nominations is a cheering reminder that low-key high-quality work may still be rewarded.
Artfully compressing several decades. Driving Miss Daisy documents the changing relationship over the years between wealthy self-made Atlanta lady, Daisy Werthan (marvellously played by Jessica Tandy). and her canny black chauffeur Hoke Colbyrn (ditto Morgan Freeman), delicately placing its tale of initial suspicion, - growing acceptance, and final recognition of mutual dependence within the context of the wider movements in post-World War Two American history.
That this affecting mosaic of everyday pride and prejudice has come to the screen at all is again a tribute to the vision of husband and wife producers Richard (son of major mogul Darryl F.) and Lili Zanuck, who read the play in 1987 before it had been performed, and bought up the rights. With the earlier Cocoon, the Zanucks had taken the chance that a contemporary film audience would sympathise with the problems of old age, realising that with current demographics there was also an untapped reserve of potential movie-goers out there amongst the more mature generations, and with Driving Miss Daisy they could be about to reap the same commercial rewards. ‘Every studio in Hollywood turned this movie down twice,’ Richard Z. explains, ‘but we’re getting such strong figures at the moment because, like we did with Cocoon, we’re attracting the sort of person who maybe only sees one or two movies a year. And that’s a substantial audience.’
Oscar hot tip Jessica Tandy featured in both instalments ofthe extraterrestrialsmeet- octogenarians saga, but this sprightly 81 year-old has been performing on stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic since the 19303. Winning
her first Tony award on Broadway for the original role of Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams‘ A Streetcar Named Desire, she accepted only the occasional film role (in Hitchcock’s The Birds. for instance) before her recent run of celluloid success. ‘I have a particular feeling for great parts, and several of them have happened to be of Southern extraction,‘ recalls the native Englishwoman who retains the outline of a Home Counties accent. ‘But I was never really anybody‘s idea ofa beautiful film star so I never got the challenging roles like I did on stage. I was always the girl in gingham or somebody‘s maid.‘
So far as co-star Morgan Freeman is concerned, however, it has been a question of avoiding the stereotyped pimps‘n’pushers roles that black actors can often be consigned to. His Oscar-nominated performance in
Driving Miss Daisy is followed by the release next month ofGlory. a major historical spectacle tracing the fortunes ofa black regiment fighting on the Confederate side in the American Civil War. Hailing himself from the South (‘I grew up before Brown vs the Board of Education’), Freeman was able to bring considerable personal insight to the role ofthe independent. dignified Hoke: ‘I know the kind ofsongs we sang and dances we danced to facilitate life.‘ in the wake ofhis own current high profile and that of film-makers like Spike Lee. he remains sceptical about claims made for Hollywood‘s growing consciousness of the black experience. ‘The people in the movie industry who put up the money are like politicians. they‘ll follow where the audience will go. But what they’re really interested in is money, to stay in business as film-makers.‘ Being producers. ofcourse. Richard and Lili Zanuck have a somewhat different take on the proceedings. “We didn‘t do Driving Miss Daisy because we thought it was going to be successful.‘ they chip in together, ‘we did it because we thought it was going to be good.‘ In the end, with its deeply-rooted insight, wonderfully modulated pace, and superlative performances that have a real grasp for the way people actually behave towards one another, the film has turned out to be both. (Trevor Johnston) Driving M iss Daisy (U) Cannon Parkhead, UCI C'Iydebank and East K ilbride from Fri 23 Feb.