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Tag Archives: Harry Potter

A Gallery of Cinematic Hats

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Much is made of computer animation and other technology in movies and TV, but I think one of the best special effects goes on top of an actor’s head. It shapes our whole attitude about a character, without so much as a transposed pixel. Here, without commentary, are some of my favorites.

HARRISON FORD AS INDIANA JONES

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CHARLIE CHAPLIN AS THE LITTLE TRAMP

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THE LADIES OF “DOWNTON ABBEY”

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CLINT EASTWOOD AS THE MAN WITH NO NAME

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SALLY FIELD AS “THE FLYING NUN”

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JON HAMM AS DON DRAPER

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THE CAT IN THE HAT

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CARMEN MIRANDA

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JIMMIE WALKER AS J.J. EVANS

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ALAN HALE JR. AS THE SKIPPER

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MAURICE CHEVALIER

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JOHN WAYNE

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MARY TYLER MOORE AS MARY RICHARDS

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BASIL RATHBONE AS SHERLOCK HOLMES

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MIKE NESMITH IN “THE MONKEES”

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FESS PARKER AS DANIEL BOONE

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DANIEL DAY-LEWIS AS ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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THE SORTING HAT FROM “HARRY POTTER”

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ART CARNEY AS ED NORTON

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B.D. IN “DOONESBURY”

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MINNIE PEARL

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LARRY HAGMAN AS J.R. EWING

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JOHNNY DEPP AS THE MAD HATTER

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BUDDY EBSEN AS JED CLAMPETT

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ARETHA FRANKLIN AT THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION

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LIDSVILLE TV SERIES

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GENE HACKMAN AS POPEYE DOYLE

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ERROL FLYNN AS ROBIN HOOD

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HUMPHREY BOGART AS SAM SPADE

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MARGARET HAMILTON AS THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST

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That’s a LOT of hats! But even so, feel free to suggest a few more!

A Dozen Sleazy Reporters

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Newspaper reporters make great bad guys. They’re nosy, they’re impertinent and they often dress lousy. Here are my picks for the worst of the lot.

KATE MARA IN “HOUSE OF CARDS”

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TV audiences are getting a real treat with Mara’s performance on the Netflix original series, “House of Cards.” She’s a talented, twisted scribe who has no ethical boundaries in her pursuit of personal fame. She’s scary good.

BURT LANCASTER IN “SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS”

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Lancaster is pure evil as columnist J.J. Hunsecker in “Sweet Smell of Success.” He makes and breaks reputations, reveling in the tremendous power he wields. That’s not a good thing if you’re trying to marry J.J.’s beloved sister. Burt is like a coiled snake.

BRUCE WILLIS IN “THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES”

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This is not one of Bruce’s better films, for a variety of reasons. However, his tabloid reporter character here is highly memorable. He opportunistically pounces on a scandal involving race, class and politics and holds on for dear life.

MIRANDA RICHARDSON IN “HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE”

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I love her name: Rita Skeeter. She’s the snarky reporter in the Harry Potter series, and she definitely puts a spin on her stories – complete with questionable quotes and outright lies. She can’t even get poor Harry’s age right.

BRODERICK CRAWFORD IN “SCANDAL SHEET”

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Crawford, who plays the gruff editor of a tawdry “scandal sheet,” has a bit of a situation on his ink-stained hands. The wife he used to beat up and then abandoned has threatened to expose him. He deals with her in the way film noir characters usually do, but then he has to assign one of his reporters to cover the story and hope he doesn’t get caught. Get me rewrite!

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN IN “SHATTERED GLASS”

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This is perhaps the most frightening item on The List, because it’s a true story. “Shattered Glass” is the story of disgraced journalist Stephen Glass, who fabricated parts of dozens of stories in The New Republic magazine. It’s one of those movies that slowly, painfully reveals the depths of the villain’s deception. Peter Sarsgaard is very good as the editor who gets to the truth.

ROBERT DUVALL IN “THE NATURAL”

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Sports reporters can be sleazy, too. In the great baseball movie, “The Natural,” Duvall is clearly more interested in a juicy yarn than in the game. He’s just as corrupt, in his own way, as a greedy owner or a player on the take.

BARBARA STANWYCK IN “MEET JOHN DOE”

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Because this ends up being a comedy-drama with social overtones, you tend to forget that Stanwyck’s character did something pretty bad. She’s being laid off from her gig as a newspaper columnist, and she decides to print a letter from a made-up person threatening to kill himself on Christmas Eve because the world is unfair to the downtrodden. It gets even worse when the paper hires Gary Cooper to be the fictional “John Doe.”

ORSON WELLES IN “CITIZEN KANE”

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I had to include good, old Charles Foster Kane, although he’s more of an executive than a lowly reporter. Apart from the film’s overall greatness, it is also a testament to the notion that information is power. You can even start a war with it.

AUBREY PLAZA IN “SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED”

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Even interns need to follow this rule: Don’t get emotionally involved with your source. That’s especially true if he claims to be a time traveler.

SALLY FIELD IN “ABSENCE OF MALICE”

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This is a tough one, because Sally Field’s reporter character isn’t intentionally trying to do harm. But that’s the point. By being so easily manipulated (thanks Bob Balaban!) she indeed does great harm to Paul Newman and Melinda Dillon. It’s an excellent film.

KIRK DOUGLAS IN “ACE IN THE HOLE”

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My man Kirk is magnificently malevolent in this picture, directed by the brilliant Billy Wilder. Kirk is a former New York City reporter, now working in New Mexico, who stumbles across a gripping story of a man trapped in a cave. Not only does he delay the rescue operation in order to string out the story an extra day or two – he seduces the wife of the guy in the cave! That’s just wrong. “Ace in the Hole” is a smart, snappy tale of sensationalism gone wild.

Wow. That’s a lot of jerky journalists.

13 Unforgettable TV & Movie Teachers

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The new school year has The Jimbo List thinking back to classic film and television teachers of all time. Some of them are inspiring and some of them are vile – just like in real life.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS IN “STAND AND DELIVER”

Not only does Olmos convey the quiet passion good teachers embody, he also rocks one of the worst comb-overs in cinematic history. Here, he’s introducing students to “cal-culus.”

JOHN HOUSEMAN IN “THE PAPER CHASE”

Born to play this role? I think so. Houseman’s forbidding law professor, Kingsfield, was a career-defining role.

TINA FEY IN “MEAN GIRLS”

Fey, as math teacher Ms. Norbury, is just brilliant. Without detracting from the main characters or plot, she manages to present a teacher who is smart, vulnerable, absurd and compassionate.

MORGAN FREEMAN IN “LEAN ON ME”

His methods were highly debatable, but there’s no getting around the fact that Principal Joe Clark made a lasting impression. Freeman and his bullhorn saw to that.

MICHAEL GAMBON IN THE HARRY POTTER MOVIES

Gambon’s Dumbledore, the head honcho at Hogwarts, was everything we need teachers to be: a mentor, a protector and a champion of our individual potential.

JANE LYNCH IN “GLEE”

She’s conniving, she’s malicious and she’s a wrecking ball of sarcasm. That’s why we can’t get enough of Lynch’s psychotic cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester.

ROBERT DONAT IN “GOODBYE MR. CHIPS”

This film and performance are about as far removed from today’s styles as possible. Yet the eternal struggle to gain control of a classroom remains relevant.

BEN STEIN IN “FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF”

This is always funny because we all relate to it. For a little bit more teaching energy, we give you …

DEBBIE ALLEN, ET AL, IN “FAME”

As teachers at a performing arts high school in New York City, Allen & Company hammered home the need for discipline, diligence and desire in finding success.

LLOYD HAYNES IN “ROOM 222”

Another TV ensemble, this time from the early 1970s. Haynes was inspiring as a teacher at a Los Angeles high school.

DONALD PLEASENCE IN “THE TWILIGHT ZONE”

The episode here, called “Changing of the Guard,” is admittedly hokey. It’s about an old teacher whose former students “come back” to show him the difference he made in their lives.

RICHARD DREYFUSS IN “MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS”

I’ve got to think this is every teacher’s dream: To end a lengthy career with a send-off that brings together students of several eras in appreciation. Dreyfuss plays a feisty music teacher who grudgingly takes a teaching gig in the 1960s and eventually makes it his life’s work.

SIDNEY POITIER IN “TO SIR WITH LOVE”

Mr. P. did smoldering intensity better than anyone. Perfect casting.

Class dismissed. But feel free to add to the List!

12 Harry Potter Books We’ll Never Get to Read

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As the final Harry Potter movie makes its way to theaters this week, millions of fans will be reminded all over again that no more stories about the boy wizard are forthcoming. But maybe it’s for the best. Do we really want to see Harry struggle through the adventures of adulthood? Consider these books we’ll never have to read:

Harry Potter and the Wedding Toast Fiasco

Harry Potter and the Proctologist’s Tone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce Picnic

Harry Potter and the Deadly Halitosis

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Ambition

Harry Potter and the Revenge of “Reply All”

Harry Potter and the Sales Conference in Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Price Prints

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Ibuprofen

Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Alumni Fund Phone Calls

Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Coupons

Harry Potter and the Awkward Car Ride With the Babysitter

 

Are there others I’ve left out? Feel free to add a few more!