A Movie A Day #193: The O.J. Simpson Story (1995, directed by Alan Smithee)


Long before O.J.: Made In America

Before The People vs. O.J. Simpson

Before American Tragedy

Before today’s live, televised parole hearing…

There was The O.J. Simpson Story.

In 1994, shortly after O.J. Simpson was charged with the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, Fox rushed The O.J. Simpson Story into production.  It was one of many “true life” stories that showed up as television movies during the 90s.  There was a movie about Woody Allen and Mia Farrow’s divorce.  There was a movie about David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, which actually aired while the siege in Waco was still ongoing.  There were three movies about Amy Fisher.  So, of course, O.J. would get a movie.

Though the movie was produced in 1994, it was not allowed to air in 1995 so that it would not prejudice any of the jurors in the case.  (After all, they might have done something crazy like ignore all of the DNA evidence and let O.J. go free.)  I think the legal authorities may have been giving The O.J. Simpson Story too much credit.  There were many bad made-for-TV movies made in the 90s but The O.J. Simpson Story may very well be the worst.  The only thing it could prejudice some against is television.

Opening with the discovery of the murders in Brentwood, The O.J. Simpson Story mixes scenes of O.J. (played by Bobby Hosea, who shows not a hint of O.J.s famous charisma) talking to the police and his lawyer, Bob Shapiro (Bruce Weitz, slightly more credible than John Travolta was in The People vs. O.J. Simpson) with flashbacks to O.J.’s youth, first marriage, and his relationship with Nicole (blandly played by Jessica Tuck, who, beyond the color of her hair, looked nothing like Nicole).  The film also devotes some time to O.J.’s friendship with A.C. Cowlings, who, as a young man, is played by Terrence Howard.

Several of the famous incidents of the case are wanly recreated.  The famous bronco chase is there, of course.  O.J. is shown beating Nicole in the infamous 1989 incident, which the movie suggests was triggered by Nicole telling O.J. that he would never win an Oscar for appearing in The Naked Gun.  But, since the movie was rushed into production before the trial even began, it is remarkable how much is left out.  There’s no Mark Furhman finding the black glove.  There’s no Kate Kaelin, Faye Resnick, Johnnie Cochran, or even Marcia Clark.  Because the movie was made before the trial had even begun, it does not even take a stand on whether or not O.J.’s guilty.  Narratively, it is an incomplete movie and evidence of why movies that claim to tell true stories should not be rushed into production before the story itself has been completed.

As for the film’s dialogue, when O.J. first meets Nicole, he asks her, “Any problem with going out with a brother?”

“Yeah,” Nicole says with a smile, “I’m in the Ku Klux Klan.”

Not surprisingly, The O.J. Simpson Story was directed by Alan Smithee, which was the pseudonym used by directors who felt that their movie has been so butchered by outside interference that they should not even be credited with the final result.  The O.J. Simpson Story is one of the worst Smithee films that I have ever seen.  Compared to The O.J. Simpson Story, Smithee’s work on Let’s Get Harry was Oscar-worthy.

As for the real life O.J. Simpson, earlier today, he was granted parole from the Nevada Parole Board.  He will be released from prison on October 1st.  He has said that he hope to be allowed to move to Florida after being released.  The real-life O.J. Simpson story continues.

When it comes to the long saga of O.J. Simpson, it seems appropriate to give the last word to MAD Magazine:

Music Video of the Day: Edge Of A Broken Heart by Vixen (1988, dir. ???)


Sometimes there’s no info. Sometimes there’s a bunch of info. This time around, just about everything is condensed into a VH1 show from 2004.

I only have a couple of things to add.

  • The video is that standard stage performance mixed with behind-the-scenes stuff that Wayne Isham is credited with creating.
  • Richard Marx is the guy who turns around and looks surprised. He co-produced their debut album and wrote this song.
  • If you listened to the video above, then you heard mention of an earlier band called Madam X. I will find a Madam X video.
  • The band still plays today, but Jan Kuehnemund–the first person they talked to–passed away in 2013.

Enjoy!

A Movie A Day #192: Betrayal of the Dove (1993, directed by Strathford Hamilton)


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Ellie West (Helen Slater) has a 7 year-old daughter (Heather Lind), a sleazy ex-husband (Alan Thicke), a vampy best friend (Kelly LeBrock), and a pair of inflamed tonsils that need to come out.  When she goes in the hospital for what should be a routine procedure, she nearly dies on the operation table.  Something went wrong with the anaesthesia.  But what, why, and how?  Fortunately, Doctor Jesse Peters (Billy Zane) was there to save Ellie’s life.  Even as Ellie, with the encouragement of her best friend, starts to go out with Jesse, she still suspects that someone is trying to kill both her and her daughter.

While the title may sounds like an early 90s Merchant Ivory production, Betrayal of the Dove is actually just another “erotic” thriller, the type that used to show up exclusively on late night Cinemax.  The only thing that distinguished Betrayal of the Dove was the cast, which mixed B-movie stalwarts like Kelly LeBrock and Billy Zane with actors who usually did not appear in movies like this.  Alan Thicke was surprisingly good as a sleazy, abusive alcoholic and both Stuart Pankin and David L. Lander were cast in serious roles.

Perhaps the most surprising casting was that of veteran television comedian and Mel Brooks regular, Harvey Korman.  In the role of Ellie’s boss, Harvey not only played a serious role here but, at the end of the movie, he also got to save the day.  I’m not sure if Harvey did his own stunt work but if you have ever wanted to see Harvey Korman as an action hero, Betrayal of the Dove is as close as you’re going to get.

Or you could just watch Blazing Saddles again.

 

Structural Failure: THE BIG STREET (RKO 1942)


cracked rear viewer

When I hear the word “Runyonesque”, I think about racetrack touts, colorful Broadway denizens, dames with hearts of gold, and the like. If you want to make a Runyonesque movie, what better way than to have author Damon Runyon himself produce it, as RKO did for 1942’s THE BIG STREET. All the elements are there, the jargon, the characters, but the film suffers from abrupt shifts in tone from comedy to drama, and a totally unpleasant role for Lucille Ball . The result is an uneven movie with a real downer of an ending.

Based on Runyon’s short story “Little Pinks”, it follows the unrequited love of bus boy Augustus “Little Pinks” Pinkerton for torch singing gold digger Gloria Lyons, dubbed “Her Highness” by Pinks. Henry Fonda plays Pinks as  lovestruck, spineless sad sack, dubbing Lucy Her Highness, even though she’s thoroughly rotten to him. When she’s smacked by her gangster boyfriend Case Ables ( Barton MacLane )…

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Music Video of the Day: Girlschool by Britny Fox (1988, dir. ???)


Of course there’s a video by a band named Britny Fox called Girlschool that came out in 1988. It wouldn’t be the weird world it is if that didn’t happen the same year as the band Girlschool did a cover of Fox On The Run.

I thought this was going to be a short post, but there’s a fair amount of info here.

First, yes, yes they were really there. According to an interview with bassist Billy Childs, they must have used some sort of cloth because he remembers being able to see the girls in the room while they were playing their part. He doesn’t know how it worked. Although at least as recently as 2015, he still wants to know exactly how they pulled that off. I’m assuming it operated the same way as a two-way mirror. That’s as far as I can go, short of digging into physics. It’s something that you see when you’re in a brightly-lit room, and don’t see if you are in a darkly-lit room.

While I can’t explain exactly how it works, I can show you some of the seams.

The clock is flat.

During the transition you can still see the bulletin board and clock.

The band is hiding behind Bach.

This part is kind of amazing to me. The band manager at the time had the foresight to film behind the scenes during the shooting. Here is the general behind-the-scenes stuff.

Now comes two people you might recognize in this video.

The first is the lady with the headphones. That is Kim Anderson who apparently did work on numerous videos, and is still remembered to this day along with other famous women from heavy metal videos. The band manager also edited together footage that included her.

You can see a super-short interview with her below.

The second is the teacher. That is Marianne Muellerleile. You may know her from one of her current 224 acting credits. The one that comes to mind is probably the wrong Sarah Connor from The Terminator (1984). However, she’s one of those actors who if a show had some success, then she was probably in at least one episode of it. My thanks go out to Billy Childs for bringing up where she was from in that aforementioned interview. It wasn’t coming to me.

The last is a quote from I Want My MTV. It’s from Kari Wuhrer talking about a time they shot the show Remote Control in Florida:

Kari Wuhrer: We shot in Florida during the third season, and Britny Fox were on the show as contestants. It was the height of hair metal. I hit on their singer. The next thing I knew, I was getting tattooed and I was on tour with them. He was so dumb, my father called him “the house plant.” As soon as the tour ended, I never heard from him again.

There you go. It’s one of the dumbest metal videos I’ve ever seen. At least Cherry Pie by Warrant was meant to be a parody. Yet, this does have some nice effects work. I just don’t know why it’s in this.

Enjoy!