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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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All Movie Talk, Episode 50

Show contents, with start times:

  • Film Buff's Dictionary: Weird Movie Jobs: Gaffer, Grip, Best Boy, Script Girl (2:05)
  • Trivia Question: My Darling Clementine (7:29)
  • Fact Or Fiction: The Idiosyncrasies of Fame (8:45)
  • Top 6: Movie Trailers (15:31)
  • Director Spotlight: Preston Sturges (40:13)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (62:13)
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Show Notes:


All Movie Talk is nearing the end of its run. Episode 52, the one year anniversary show, will be our last. Why? A weekly podcast is a demanding thing, and we both want to reclaim that time in our lives. We've barely scratched the surface of subject matter we could cover, but, all the same, we've done what we set out to do with this podcast and feel that it's time to move on. We couldn't be happier with the 52 hours in the can, and we appreciate all the support you listeners have given us over the past year.

The web site will remain active, although the posts will eventually peter out. There will, however, be Vintage posts and Bloopers extending past the end of the podcast's run, so keep an eye open here for a while.

Film Buff's Dictionary: Weird Movie Jobs: Gaffer, Grip, Best Boy, Script Girl

Four weird-sounding movie jobs are ones that may not be that glamorous but are vital to the pictures. The grips are the people who manage all the rigging for cameras and lights. They set up the poles and other fixtures to which lights and cameras are attached, and on some sets they may help operate cameras as well. The head grip is sometimes called the key grip.

The gaffer is the head electrician on a set, and thus is responsible for the setup of lights and the running of wires to those lights. While the grips are setting up the fixtures on which the lights will go, the gaffer is overseeing the actual installation of the lights themselves. This puts the gaffer directly beneath the cinematographer, who is ultimately responsible for all of the lighting on a set.

A best boy is another older term used to describe the number two grip or gaffer. It dates to the old apprentice system and survives in the very hierarchical film industry, though today it can refer to both men and women.

Finally, a script girl is in charge of not the script but continuity. When a take ends, the script girl makes copious notes about which way the actors are facing, how they're holding their arms, where the props are, and so on, so that when everybody reassembles the next day or week or month for the shot that follows, everybody knows what their starting positions should be.

Trivia Question: My Darling Clementine

How well do you know the cast of John Ford's classic western, My Darling Clementine? It turns out that this guy actually never appears in the film. Strange but true!

Fact Or Fiction: The Idiosyncrasies of Fame

  1. Did Steve McQueen demand that he and Paul Newman have exactly the same number of lines and be billed diagonally in The Towering Inferno (1974)? (Diagonal billing means one person's name appears in the upper right, and the other in the lower left, so that the names can be read in either order, depending on whether you read top to bottom or left to right.)

    The IMDb trivia page had most "making of" features about the film establish the facts.
  2. Did Jennifer Lopez demand, at the last minute, that the advertising posters for Angel Eyes (2001) be recalled so that they could reprinted and credit her as "J.Lo"?

    Snopes to the rescue.
  3. Did Charlie Chaplin once lose a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest?

    The simple answer is only the beginning of the story. Here's Snopes on the subject.
  4. Speaking of Chaplin, were his remains disinterred and held for ransom?

    Snopes, one more time.
  5. Was Walt Disney's body cryonically frozen and buried between the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland?

    Take a guess.

Top 6: Movie Trailers

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Director Spotlight: Preston Sturges

One of the most celebrated makers of screwball comedies, Preston Sturges came to Hollywood as a wealthy inventor whose sparkling scripts were quickly recognized as genius.

His style was completely his own, even as he worked in the fairly specific screwball genre. A Sturges script mixes pratfalls with dialogue so sharp you could cut yourself with it. Negotiating a contract that gave him an unprecedented level of control over films, he wrote and directed eight great films (and 13 in total) in 15 years.

The first film Sturges directed was The Great McGinty (1940), which won the first ever Academy Award for writing. He followed that with Christmas in July the same year. Both films are smart and funny.

In the next year, Sturges would direct one of his most loved and respected movies: The Lady Eve. A comedy with an endless number of plot twists, Sturges is able to use Barbara Stanwyck's femme fatale persona to incredible comedic effect.

Somehow that same year Sturges also found time to make another celebrated classic, Sullivan's Travels, a clever Hollywood satire that inspired the Coen brothers in more ways than one.

The Palm Beach Story (1942) is a comedy of marriage and is a little more serious than other screwball comedies. Taking a lengthy (for Sturges) break, his next film would be 1944's The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, a comedy about a mysterious, unplanned pregnancy in a time when the Production Code prohibited the overt discussion of pregnancy.

Making up for his absence in 1943, Sturges churned out two more films in '44: Hail the Conquering Hero and The Great Moment. Hail the Conquering Hero is considered in the upper echelon of Sturges films, but he has hit his peak just four years after he's started directing.

He broke with the studio system then, an unprecedented move for a writer-director, intending to make films on his own. Unfortunately, his output after that point mostly fails to live up to his earlier successes. In 1947, he would lure great silent clown Harold Lloyd out of retirement for The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, but the result was a disappointment despite having a few great moments.

His last great film was Unfaithfully Yours (1948), which starred Rex Harrison as a man who believes his wife to be unfaithful and becomes driven to kill a funny way, of course.

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