One more treat from the original Footloose, “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” sung by Deniece Williams, featuring the late and much-missed Chris Penn.
Opening this week, we have two remakes and a movie about birding. The original Footloose came out in 1984, starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, and John Lithgow. This remake has Dennis Quaid as the minister in a town so shattered by a terrible tragic accident that they have banned dancing. “Dancing with the Stars'” Julianne Hough and, in the role of the new boy in town who challenges the rules and teaches everyone to dance, Kenny Wormald, a former back-up dancer for Justin Timberlake.
In 1951, The Thing from Another World, a low-budget, black-and-white film directed by Howard Hawks, terrified audiences with a story about a remote Arctic research station where scientists have detected the crash of a spacecraft. When the frozen occupant of the craft thaws, he goes after the humans, who have no place to hide. The 1982 remake from scare-master John Carpenter was called The Thing. It starred Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley and some of the grossest special effects of the pre-CGI era. (And you can glimpse the original playing on a television in the outpost.)
This new version, billed more as a prequel than a remake, stars two of my favorites, Joel Edgerton (the brother with a family in “Warrior”) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Bruce Willis’ daughter in “Live Free or Die Hard”).
The non-remake of the week is “The Big Year,” based on a true story of a year-long competition between three men who see who can break the record for spotting the most birds. It is based on The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession and stars Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson as three guys whose only common trait is that they are even more obsessed with beating each other than they are with birds.
Christopher Columbus has not yet had the movie he deserves, but I prefer the Fredric March version to the later movies. And I recommend a brilliant and completely engrossing new book from biographer Laurence Bergreen called Columbus: The Four Voyages. He writes:
Before him, the Old World and the New remained separate and distinct continents, ecosystems and societies; ever since, their fates have been bound together, for better or worse.
Whatever you think you know and whatever you think you think about Columbus — visionary, delusional, greedy, loyal, brilliant, mad, whether you think of him as an adventurer, a spy, or a despoiler, you will be surprised, challenged, and fascinated by what Bergreen has uncovered.
Happy Columbus Day and cheers to all adventurers and explorers!