Scenes I Love: Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer Play Beach Volleyball in Top Gun

Tom Cruise is 60 years old today!  He doesn’t look a day over 36.  Insert your own Dorian Gray joke here.

No matter what else you may want to say about Tom Cruise, you can’t deny that he’s one of the last of the genuine movie stars.  He’s been a star in since the 80s, doing things onscreen that you could never imagine some of our younger actors even attempting.  And right now, Top Gun: Maverick appears to be unstoppable with audiences and critics.  There are many reasons for Maverick‘s popularity but one cannot deny that a lot of it is the fact that Cruise just has that old-fashioned movie star charisma.

Today’s scene that I love comes from the first Top Gun.  In this scene, Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, and Rick Rossovich play beach volleyball.  The scene kind of comes out of nowhere and there are times when the whole thing comes close to self-parody.  (Actually, if we’re going to be honest, it crosses the line into self-parody more than a few times.)  But, Cruise and Kilmer manage to save it, like the movie stars they are!

Scenes I Love: Robby the Robot Makes His Debut in Forbidden Planet

According to the imdb, today is Robby the Robot’s birthday.  I didn’t know that robot’s had birthdays but apparently, they do.  Robby is 67 years old and I think that, along with Earl Holliman, he might be one of the last two surviving cast member of the 1956 sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet.

So, it only seems appropriate that today’s scene that I love should be Robby the Robot’s debut appearance in Forbidden Planet.  Happy birthday, Robby!

Scene That I Love: Clint Eastwood Tells Off The Motorcycle Cops in Magnum Force

Today, we celebrate the 92nd birthday of screen icon Clint Eastwood.

Of the many characters that Eastwood has played, Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan is one of the best-remembered and is still popular to this day.  When he first appeared, Dirty Harry was so willing to break the rules to bring the Scorpio Killer to justice that some critics accused 1971’s Dirty Harry as being a “fascist work of art.”  Callahan answered those critics in 1973’s Magnum Force, when he faced off against true fascism in the form of a group of vigilante motorcycle cops.  The motorcycle cops thought Harry would be happy to join them in their crusade to murder every criminal in San Francisco.

As Harry puts it when he runs into them in a parking garage. “I’m afraid you’ve misjudged me.”

Though Magnum Force never reaches the heights of the first Dirty Harry, the scene below is a classic and the line, “All our heroes are dead,” is one of the most important of the 70s.  (And, for that matter, the 2020s as well!)

Happy birthday, Clint Eastwood!

Scenes That I Love: Bo Hopkins and Richard Dreyfuss Flip A Cop Car in American Graffiti

I just read that the veteran actor Bo Hopkins has passed away at the age of 84.  The last movie of note that I saw Hopkins in was Hillbilly Elegy, where he had a small role as Glenn Close’s husband.  However, if you’re a fan of older films, you will probably recognize Bo Hopkins, even if you don’t know the name.  He was a handsome but weathered actor with a Texas accent and a reckless attitude.  He was a doomed member of a gang of old west bank robbers in The Wild Bunch.  In Midnight Express, he played a mysterious government agent who turned out to be not as benevolent as he originally seemed.

And, in the 1973 classic American Graffiti, he played the leader of the Pharaohs, the local gang of small town James Dean wannabes.  Even though Hopkins didn’t get a lot of screentime in American Graffiti, he definitely made an impression as the intimidating but ultimately friendly aspiring delinquent.  In the scene below, he and Richard Dreyfuss flip a cop car.

RIP, Bo Hopkins.

Scene That I Love: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing Play Pool In The Skull

100 years ago, on this date, Christopher Lee was born in London.  After serving in the secret service during World War II and reportedly inspiring his cousin, Ian Fleming, to create the character of James Bond, Christopher Lee went on to have a legendary acting career.  Though he was best known for playing Dracula, Lee appeared in almost every genre of film and he always gave a good performance.  Even when the film was bad, Lee was good.

Yesterday, for Peter Cushing’s birthday, I shared a scene of him and Lee in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.  Today, for Lee’s birthday, I’m sharing a scene between him and Cushing in 1965’s The Skull.  Though The Skull isn’t one of the strongest films that the pair made for Amicus, it’s worth watching for the performances of Cushing and Lee.  Often cast as rivals on screen, the two were, in reality, the best of friends and Lee often said that he never really emotionally recovered from Cushing’s death.

In the scene below, Lee and Cushing are obviously having a ball trying to outact one another while playing simple game of pool and discussing slightly esoteric concerns.


Scenes That I Love: Peter Cushing Confronts Christopher Lee in The Satanic Rites of Dracula

Today is Peter Cushing’s birthday.  Tomorrow is Christopher Lee’s.

What better way to celebrate than by sharing a scene that I love that features both of them?  1973’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula was one of Hammer’s final Dracula films and, with the action somewhat awkwardly moved to the modern day, it’s also one of the weaker entries.  But it does feature Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, playing Dracula and the latest Van Helsing, and it’s worth watching for that reason.  

Though they often played enemies onscreen, Cushing and Lee were best friends offscreen.  Lee often said that he never really recovered from Cushing’s death in 1994.  Cushing may have spent his career playing villains and obsessive monster hunters but he was said to actually be a kind and rather shy man, an old-fashioned gentlemen who unexpectedly found his fame in horror.  Whereas Lee was a serious student of the esoteric, Cushing preferred to spend his time gardening.

In the scene below, Cushing’s Van Helsing confronts Lee’s Dracula and it’s just fun to watch these two old friends go at each other.  One gets the feeling that Cushing and Lee had a few laughs after the cameras stopped rolling.

Scenes that I love: The Boogie Nights Recording Session (Happy Birthday, John C. Reilly)

Via twitter, I was reminded that today is John C. Reilly’s 57th birthday.  This provides me with a great reason to share a scene that I love from 1997’s Boogie Nights.  After falling out with his director, 70s porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) attempts to reinvent himself as a rock star.  Providing support, both emotionally and musically, is his best friend and frequent co-star, Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly).

Now, obviously, Wahlberg’s brilliantly tuneless singing usually gets the most attention here but there’s something really touching about Reed’s loyalty in these scenes.  It may just be because of the cocaine but you can tell that Reed is perhaps even more convinced of Dirk’s talent than Dirk is.

Enjoy and remember …. YOU GOT THE POWER!

Scenes that I Love: The Roulette Scene From Run, Lola, Run (Happy Birthday, Tom Tykwer!)

Today is the birthday of German filmmaker Tom Tykwer.  Tykwer directed one of my favorite films of all time, 1998’s Run, Lola, Run!  As such, it only seems appropriate that today’s scene that I love should come from that film.

In this scene, Lola shows us all how to win at roulette.  Do not try this in Vegas.