RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Star Wars

Best Fireworks on Film & TV

Posted on

Hollywood fireworks can’t match the spectacle of a live show in the night sky – but that doesn’t stop movie and TV folks from trying. They use fireworks to illustrate everything from patriotism and protest to love and longing. See for yourself.

LOVE AMERICAN STYLE

I have fond memories of watching this anthology TV series from 1969-74, which was perfect for its era and featured everyone from Flip Wilson to Julie Newmar. Particularly memorable was its intro, which had some groovy fireworks.

MANHATTAN

Woody Allen’s use of fireworks – black and white fireworks, no less – and the music of George Gershwin is nothing short of brilliant. In the opening of his 1979 ode to the Big Apple, Woody shows us a wide shot of fireworks over the city skyline to suggest the excitement and majesty of New York.

LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Old Gandalf (Ian McKellen) was sort of the Grucci Brothers of Middle Earth. Here, in the 2001 movie adaptation of the book, Gandalf’s pyrotechnics are peerless.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Ba-Boom! Film fireworks have never been sexier than in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

V FOR VENDETTA

Fireworks stand for liberty in “V For Vendetta,” a 2005 movie about freedom fighters trying to overturn a fictitious, totalitarian regime. The explosions might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but the fireworks are amazing.

RETURN OF THE JEDI

There’s only one thing to do after you’ve defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and you find yourself on a planet full of teddy bears: set off some kickass fireworks. This is how George Lucas did it back in 1983.

MARY POPPINS

In one of the most magical sequences in 1964’s “Mary Poppins,” a fusillade of fireworks chase a group of dancing chimney sweeps off the rooftops of London. Despite one of the goofier British accents in film history, Dick Van Dyke is still too cool for words.

THE GATHERING

What are fireworks doing in this 1977 TV Christmas movie? Well, they’re a sign that you have to live for today. Ed Asner plays a cold, distant father who brings his family together for one last holiday before he meets his maker.

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY

“The Boy Who Could Fly,” from 1986, is not a terribly well-known movie. Among other things, it is the story of a new kid in town who befriends an autistic boy. One of film’s most beautiful scenes is a dreamlike flight with fireworks.

AVALON

Best fireworks scene ever. 1990’s “Avalon” has a lot to say about families and about America, but here it’s simply about one immigrant’s first Fourth of July in Baltimore.

 

 

 

To all those seeing fireworks in the next week, enjoy!

8 Great Cinema Sword Fights

Posted on

For all the wonders of computer graphics and special effects in modern movies, few things compare with the excitement of a great sword fight. Two combatants (in most cases), two swords and a lot of action. In honor of the great movie sword fight master Bob Anderson, who passed away recently after a career that started with Errol Flynn and went right up to “The Lord of the Rings,” here are some sword fighting gems.

THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940)


We’re starting strong here. This is an incredible fight to the death between Tyrone Power as Zorro and Basil Rathbone as the bad guy. Don’t be fooled by the stilted dialogue. This is straightforward, no-frills action, where the fighters are confined to a single room.

KILL BILL: VOL. I (2003)

Uma Thurman is dazzling as The Bride, who seeks revenge on some former associates who did her wrong. Her epic battle against an army of Japanese gangsters, The Crazy 88’s, is the stuff of gory greatness.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)


Here’s one that’s not gory, but still great. Cary Elwes is The Dread Pirate Roberts and Mandy Patinkin is Inigo Montoya. Their duel is playful, inventive and sharp – just like the rest of this one-of-a-kind movie. And guess who choreographed this fight? Mr. Anderson, naturally.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948)

You can’t very well have a list of movie sword fights without including one Three Musketeers flick. This one, with Gene Kelly, is my favorite (probably because it’s the first one I ever saw). Kelly plays D’Artagnan, and his joyful athleticism is on full display. His sword fights are filled with jumps, tumbles, taunts and vaults. They’re terrific fun to watch.

ROB ROY (1995)

Liam Neeson and Tim Roth engage in one of the most brutal, realistic looking sword battles in movie history. Part of the reason it works so well is because they give the fight time to evolve. There are bursts of effort and there are moments of mind games. And lots of tension.

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

It’s a sword fight AND a wire fight! Ang Lee’s masterpiece is a stunning blend of beauty and violence, with visuals you’ll never forget, such as warriors balancing on tree limbs.

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)

Rathbone is the bad guy again, going up against the one and only Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. What you have here is a sprawling, iconic sword fight that was copied to some degree by dozens of films in later years. Movie historians have noted that Rathbone was an excellent fencer in real life, making his work here all the more believable.

STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)

I love, love, love this lightsaber fight. Some “Star Wars” fans will prefer the Darth Vader-Luke Skywalker fight (which Mr. Anderson worked on), or the Yoda-Count Dooku fight, or the Anakin-Obi-Wan fight, but not me. This one – with Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn and the evil Darth Maul is fast, slow, dramatic, operatic and a feast for the eyes. Plus check out the double-bladed lightsaber. I mean, come on.

So which ones are YOUR favorites? Add to the List!