Category Archives: Movies

Matthew James Thomas

A gallery of screen captures from TV shows and films with British actor Matthew James Thomas. They didn’t really fit in the Pippin post that came before. Comments are appreciated!

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Adventures in Babysitting 30th Anniversary Screening

My friend Marco and I attended a 30th anniversary screening of Adventures in Babysitting (1987) at the Castro Theatre yesterday. Keith Coogan (Brad) was the special guest, and he did a Q&A after the film. He and his wife Pinky had a table set up in the lobby where they met fans, posed for photos, and sold some merchandise.

Marco and I arrived at the Castro early, so we had some pizza slices and then wandered around the neighborhood. One of the art galleries had a portrait of Gilbert Baker in their window. He designed the Gay Pride rainbow flag, and he sadly passed away earlier this week. We bumped into Keith Coogan and Pinky outside a taqueria, so we introduced ourselves and chatted for a few minutes. They recognized my twitter name and were good-humored and friendly.

Once we got in the cinema, I enjoyed watching Coogan and his wife interact with fans before the film. Marco got popcorn and relaxed in our seats. There weren’t a lot of us at the screening, but the line at the Coogans’ table was steady and everybody was having a good time. There was a good spread of ages, too, although I didn’t see any kids.

During the Q&A, Coogan talked about the audition and rehearsal process, his lasting friendship with Anthony Rapp, filming in Toronto, the film’s journey from script to screen, cast parties, real life crushes, the AIB remake, and his current projects. He told us an early version of the AIB script had Sarah swap her toy chest for one carrying plutonium, which evolved into the backpack with the Playboy magazine.

Anthony Rapp tweeted earlier this week about the screening:

I got to meet Rapp in 2006 when he was on tour for his memoir Without You, at both The Booksmith and at his Swedish-American Hall performance.

Adventures in Babysitting holds up well after 30 years. This was my first time seeing it in the cinema. Marco and I reminisced on the drive home about what we were doing in 1987, trying to remember the movies we saw on the big screen that year. It was a good year for films, and in these uncertain times, it’s a good year to escape back into, for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Thank you, SF Sketchfest, the Castro Theatre, and Keith Coogan! You’re lovely, Pinky!

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Happy Birthday, Chad Lowe

A week before Thanksgiving I had to go to the emergency room. The nurse practitioner resembled Chad Lowe, bringing back memories of  Life Goes On and the encounter I had with Lowe here in San Francisco. Once I felt better, I checked IMDb to see what Lowe has been doing lately, and now I follow him on twitter and Instagram. Since January 15th is his birthday, I’m sharing some wallpapers of his many roles—and looks—through the years.

The 80s

I remember watching Chad Lowe first in April Morning (1988), which aired a few days before I moved to England. It’s a TV movie about the first day of the American Revolutionary War. I was already a Rob Lowe fan, so I was curious about younger brother Chad. I remember being impressed by his performance. I wish I’d seen more of his early work, because some of it is now impossible to find.

1984-1989

The roles above are from Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, Silence of the Heart, Spencer, There Must Be A Pony, Apprentice to Murder, April Morning, True Blood, the 1989 Oscar broadcast, and Highway to Hell. This last movie was released in the early 90s, but according to IMDb it was filmed in 1989. The watermarks are a necessary evil.

The 90s

Chad Lowe joined the cast of Life Goes On (1989-93) during the 3rd season as a love interest for teenage daughter Becca (Kellie Martin). I watched the series off and on during its four seasons, busy those years with moving to San Francisco and doing photography for a local band. I didn’t see all of Chad Lowe’s episodes when they first aired, but the ones I did see made a lasting impression. He played Jesse McKenna, a teen whose hook up with a college girl at a frat party led to HIV. When he transferred to Becca’s school, he was cool, mysterious, tortured, and irresistible. Becca fell for him, then learned that they could never truly be together. Their relationship struggle was interwoven with Jesse’s fight for survival and acceptance. The series didn’t shy away from the physical and emotional effects of AIDS. It was bravely depicted, beautifully written, and devastating to watch. Chad Lowe gave one of the best performances of his career. He was recognized for it with a well-deserved Emmy. I spent a recent weekend binge-watching all the Jesse/Becca episodes, transferred from old degraded video tapes. I was emotionally drained by the end. It’s a sin these two seasons are not available on DVD or streaming, apparently because of legal issues over the music used in the soundtrack.

1990-1999

The roles above are: Nobody’s Perfect, Life Goes On, Candles in the Dark, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, Floating, In The Presence of Mine Enemies, Quiet Days in Hollywood, The Hunger, Melrose Place, Touched by an Angel, ER, and Popular.

2000-2005

Chad Lowe played a lot of dark characters during the next decade of his career. I was grateful to have Take Me Home: The John Denver Story to lighten my mood while assembling this set.

2000-2005

The roles above: Now and Again, Take Me Home: The John Denver Story, Acceptable Risk, Law & Order: SVU, Unfaithful, Hack, CSI Miami, Without a Trace, Medium, and Fielder’s Choice.

2007-2016

Finally, arriving at the present!

2007-2016

The roles above: 24, Bones, Ghost Whisperer, Drop Dead Diva, Pretty Little Liars, California Scheming, Entourage, Rizzoli and Isles, and finally, Comedy Central’s Roast of Rob Lowe.

So, happy birthday to Chad Lowe, with my thanks for all the years of entertainment (and good cries). I hope there are many more to come!

I also hope fellow fans will leave a comment below—be sure to share your favorite role!

Chad Lowe as Spencer (1985)

Spencer pilot (1985)

Notes

A special thanks to my friend Amy for sharing the hard-to-find movies with me.

There are quite a few roles not shown here, but every year with an acting credit on Chad Lowe’s IMDb page is represented. I only used my sharpest images. YouTube has Dare To Love, Fighting for My Daughter, and Captive (at the moment) but they’re in poor shape. Several titles that I own are the same (example below); I had to use publicity shots for Life Goes On and Silence of the Heart. Some movies didn’t arrive in time to use here. Some I just couldn’t locate. The hardest-to-find category include these: the after-school specials, Red Betsy, So Proudly We Hail, Siringo, The Others, Target Earth, Driven, and Suicide the Comedy. I’m listing them here in case other Lowe fans can help me locate them.

As Kippie Petworth (such a great name!) in An Inconvenient Woman (1991)

I’ve focused here on his acting, but Lowe is also a director. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work behind the camera.

Life in Pieces episode

Life in Pieces episode “Musical Motel Property Bingo” with guest star Andy Richter

The credits on IMDb overall seem pretty accurate, although he’s not in some of the season three episodes listed for Life Goes On.

I have to give a bemused shout-out to the girl at Lowe’s Wikipedia page who, despite various efforts to correct her, keeps “fixing” his TV credits.  All but two of them are so wrong they’re inspired. The edit history reveals that they’ve been far worse. I saved the December version:

Chad Lowe's wacky TV Credits from Wikipedia (circa December 2016)

Chad Lowe’s inaccurate TV Credits on Wikipedia (from December 2016). Only the first and last credits are correct.

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MANOS: The Hands of Felt

One of the worst movies ever made, some say THE worst, is MANOS: The Hands of Fate (1966).  Aficionados of bad cinema have embraced this piece of  little gem and kept it from disappearing into obscurity.   Well, some sick talented folks up in Seattle have put together a puppet show that combines the behind-the-scenes story of making the film with the movie itself, and they even added song and dance numbers!  Since I can’t get up to Seattle to witness it in person, I’ve joined the Kickstarter campaign to make it into a film.   Hey, for five dollars you get the download AND your name in the credits.  (I’m really excited about that credit part.)   Join in and become a footnote key player in the continuing evolution of the MANOS phenomenon.  The Master will be so delighted.  MANOS campaign on Kickstarter

Manos Poster

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Johnny Tremain

When I was a kid, I adored the Disney movie Johnny Tremain (1957), as well as the book by Esther Forbes.  I recently watched the film again to see how it held up.  Hal Stalmaster (Johnny) and Richard Beymer (Rab) look achingly young to me now, and the pancake makeup of the period is very obvious on a modern screen.   Still, watching the movie brought back lots of memories, and it was fun to make screencaptures.  Since these days everything seems to relate the western Laramie, I have to mention that Luana Patten (Priscilla) was later married to John Smith.

Click on any image to scroll through.

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My Year End Wrap Up 2012

Another year has slipped away, and here I sit, reflecting back on what entertained me in 2012.  I always start my wrap up by going back to the beginning of the year, to see how my interests have changed.  I began the year dividing my time between British stuff and vintage television shows…and that’s exactly where I find myself now.  Only the faces have changed!

Best Books:  Might as well get the embarrassment out of the way first.  Normally I read a couple of books a week, but I went 8 months out of the last 12 without finishing a single book!  Oh, the shame.  I could blame my eyes, since I need new glasses, but the real truth is that I spend too much time online.  Making videos has also sucked up my reading time, but that’s for another category.  Of the small selection of books read this year, I really enjoyed Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim.  (More about Arngrim’s book in an upcoming post.)  The biggest disappointment was Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.

Best Television:  My television is usually always tuned to either Me-TV or CBS, except on Sunday night, when I watch Masterpiece on PBS.  I still enjoy The Big Bang Theory, but I do think it’s losing something from having too many separate storylines, with the characters spending less time gathered in the same living room.  More characters means less screen time for favorites Sheldon and Raj.  I discovered Leverage in reruns just as the show got cancelled, but at least I have five seasons to explore further.  Since September, I’ve been enjoying reruns of Emergency! on Me-TV.  Another season of Sherlock brought more delight, as well as more Inspector Lewis.  Thanks to a friend, I’m now back to enjoying EastEnders, the British serial drama, and already my life wouldn’t be complete without weekly visits to Albert Square.   This year’s favorite program was Call the Midwife, featuring new favorite Miranda Hart as the wonderful Chummy.  I can’t wait for more of this series!

Best Twitter:   I’m very picky about twitter.  Too much shameless self-promotion?  Unfollow.   Too many retweets?  Unfollow.   Too many conversations that should be private?  Unfollow.  No sense of humor?  I shouldn’t have been following in the first place!  I enjoy humor, whimsy,  and folks who don’t take themselves too seriously.   The most consistently entertaining tweets this year have come from Josh Groban.  I’ve also enjoyed following Russell Tovey.  I can count on a friend to share the best of Demetri Martin and The Onion, so I guess they count, too!

Best Theatre:  Oops.  Didn’t see any.  Never mind.

Best Movies:   I had good luck with the movies I saw in the cinema this year.  Mind you, I still haven’t seen three of the four films I was most looking forward to in 2012, so they will have to wait until 2013!  The Avengers was terrific, and I also enjoyed Life of PiThe Dark Knight Rises wasn’t a favorite, but Tom Conti and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made it worthwhile for me.   I saw my first 3D movie, John Carter, but I’m not a fan of the technology.  It was a great year for silents: Napoleon was stunning, and I also saw three films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, with The Canadian (1926) making the deepest impression.   Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan had an entertaining beginning and middle, but I was disappointed by the third act.  The best new film I saw in 2012 was Argo.

Best DVDs:  I spent six months of this year with Wagon Train at the top of my Netflix queue.  They never sent me any on the discs, and my queue always said “short wait.”  I could have bought the DVDs for the money I spent on my Netflix plan, especially since I wasn’t watching the discs they sent me instead.  I cancelled my account.   This means I can’t go look at my history for this year to review, but this an easy category.  The best DVDs of my year have been the classic television western Laramie, particularly seasons one and two.  When I’m not watching the episodes again and again, I’m making tribute videos and posting them on YouTube.  I now have more YouTube followers than blog followers!   Which leads me to a new category…

Best Time-Sucker-Upper:  Call it a hobby, a passion, an obsession, a skill or an art.  But this year I started making videos, and now I can’t stop.  I’d been making slideshows using still images at animoto.com, and this summer I tried using their template program for short video clips.  It was okay, but I didn’t like their wide border which wasted space, so it forced me to try Windows Movie Maker.  I had no idea it would be so much fun!  My Laramie tribute videos aren’t very interesting to people who aren’t fans of the series, but I’m proud of my channel and grateful for all my followers.

Best Music:  Mostly I’ve listened to older stuff this year.  When Davy Jones died, I started listening to lots of the Monkees.  I love Gaelic Storm’s album How Are We Getting Home? (2004), discovered in a stack of my own CDs that I never got around to hearing.  I’m definitely going to listen to more of this group in 2013.  I’ve also been enjoying lots of Kate Rusby.  One of my favorite new old songs is “Can’t Turn My Heart Away” by Art Garfunkel.  I’m still enjoying The Book of Mormon Broadway soundtrack, but I learned the hard way not to listen to it in public.  Even with earphones, you look like a nutter snickering at the lyrics.

Best Music Video:  My choices are never conventional, but that’s what you get for taking musical advice from me!   Here’s my favorite:

Never mind that it was uploaded in 2008.  It’s still the most adorable video I’ve seen on YouTube this year!  If you don’t know it, this is India’s national anthem.

Best New-To-Me Software:   Handbrake for ripping DVDs, and Google Talk for saving me a fortune on phone bills.  I chat now with friends around the world, without the complications of installing Skype, and no webcam to show everyone how hideous I look through a fisheye lens.

Entertainer of the Year:  Honorable Mention this year goes to Miranda Hart.  I discovered her in Call the Midwife, and now I’m enjoying her comedy on YouTube and her BBC series Miranda.  The winner is an easy choice.  In April, I purchased season one of Laramie on DVD, and by the end of May, I was a member of Robert Fuller’s official fan group.  While my favorite role is Jess Harper in Laramie, I’ve been enjoying Wagon Train, Emergency!, and all of Fuller’s other television shows and movies.   I’ve spent hours chatting with other fans, making tribute videos and collages, and searching ebay for vintage photos.  For so much entertainment in so many different ways, Robert Fuller is my Entertainer of the Year.  Thank you, Mr. Fuller!

Jess Harper whip blog crp

Robert Fuller in Laramie

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Portraits of Barbara Stanwyck

I recently watched the PBS documentary Pioneers of Television: Westerns, and I was struck by what Linda Evans said about Barbara Stanwyck, her co-star on The Big Valley.  I didn’t know she was one of the nicest people in Hollywood, taking the time to get to know all the crew members and really enjoying herself on set.  This led me to check out the book Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck by Ella Smith from my local library.  I haven’t read much of the text, because the portraits in the book are too wonderful.  This book is now out of print, but here are some of those images, with more to come.  Perhaps it’s a cheat, to fill my blog pages, but what a great way to cheat!

With Joel McCrea in Internes Can’t Take Money

Columbia general publicity 1930

Stella Dallas

Breakfast for Two

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