I watched The Blob (1958) again last night and the last 40 seconds of this film are a perfect setup for a global-warming sequel. I can’t believe no one has cashed in on this yet. I think it is time to re-value the Blob away from insidious 50s consumerism to represent the 21st Century crisis of sustainability. It is a simple transition: over he last 50+ years we thawed out the Artic and the Blob along with it—a layup. Then again, if the Artic starts melting we are pretty much screwed with or without the Blob.
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Another relevant question is why is there a Straw Dogs remake?
I’ll pretend I never heard that. This weekend I went on a kinda Steve McQueen marathon, I also watched The Getaway (1972) —another Peckinpah. And I heard somewhere that as remade, but I don’t believe it—I have no experiential proof.
One more thing, after watching so McQueen this weekend I have to admit that I had this strange, foreign idea that maybe Steve McQueen can;t act. That maybe he is a poor man’s Paul Newman. But I am not sure, I am confused an scared a little bit.
Yeah, I’ll pretend that too.
Never saw the Getaway remake and doubt I ever will. And I’m with you, I don’t think Steve McQueen can act but what he can do is be cool — cooler than anyone cool ever cooled a cool (which is a cliche now about him) — but in an everyman kind of way — he supposedly was a very approachable, kind, generous and decent guy and I think that quality — or at least a hint of it comes through his acting, which, as you’ve already said, isn’t all that good as acting goes. But he’s relatable in a way other on screen cool guys are not and I like that a lot about him. (I think Donal Logue in the Tao of Steve tries to get at that quality but leaves it superficial, imo). And he takes on roles where he elicits sympathy in a way that allows him not to have to act all that much. To wit: Papillon, Great Escape. What did you watch of his? Thomas Crown Affair? I love that one.
My one Steve McQueen story:
Len Lesser, who played a guard in Papillon and was a good buddy of my father in-law’s used to tell this story: In one scene he had to shove Steve McQueen, hard. And had a hard time doing it. McQueen said something like “Just do it. Don’t treat me like a movie star. I’m Steve. Shove me.” And Dustin Hoffman, who was in that scene interrupted and said, “Len, treat me like a movie star.”
As usual you are right, that aura of cool goes a long way. But I watched the Getaway this weekend (and The Cincinatti Kid and The Blob) and I have to say after seeing Peckinpah work with McQueen try to be his ur-manly badass I was let down. McQueen couldn’t even smack Ali mcGraw convincingly, which I know says a lot for his character off screen, but when I think of William Holden as Pike I realize how great Holden was comparatively. And when I think of any actor against McQueen (like James Dean in Rebel without a Cause versus The Blob) McQueen seems much smaller than I had made him in my mind.The only real exception i can think of is Bullitt, but I haven’t seen The Thomas Crown Affair yet, that goes on thsi week. I am gonna get to the bottom of McQueen.
But, now that you mention Papilon, that was an awesome one I have to re-watch, and I have it. That’s an awesome story, and a part of me wishes I was a small, character actor in Hollywood so I can tell those stories too, wouldn’t that be awesome? I mean doesn’t Hollywood need another Harry Dean Stanton? I would try and do that for them 😉
Jim, you are more right than you know.
Kate Phillips, a co-writer of the orginal Blob (see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/theater/27phillipsobit.html), was my screenwriting teacher in college in the late 80s. She was magnificent. I think the class violated every rule of decent pedagogy, because it was mainly one long monologue about her adventures in Hollywood from the silent film days (she worked with every one) to her leading role in one of the Charlie Chan films, to working in Walt Disney’s early script production mill, to the Blob. It was fabulous, and worth every penny my parents and the State of NH paid for it.
But I do remember two things she said about writing The Blob in particular.
The first was about the opening. She said a lot of these critical theorists had made a bunch of nonsense about how the two people that see it first are teenagers making out in a car, and so OBVIOUSLY the Blob was an expression of the libido, or the sexual revolution, and society coming to terms with boomer sexuality.
Baloney, she said.
“We were a bunch of screenwriters who had to get two teenagers out to a remote location to discover the Blob. How do you do that? It’s not rocket science.”
The second thing I remember her saying, though, was exactly what you said. This was 1989, when suddenly global warming was everywhere, there were ozone holes opening up, the whole bit. The remake of the Blob had I think just come out the previous year, and she said given all the global warming stuff out there, she couldn’t understand why they hadn’t just had the Blob thaw out due to warming or ozone holes or whatever. As far as she was concerned, they had put that blob in the arctic as a gift to future sequel writers, why the heck wouldn’t they use it? She seemed a little offended, in a good natured way — did she have to draw these new screenwriters a map?
That was over 20 years ago, of course, my memory is a bit foggy beyond that, but I remember it well enough to say Kate would have LOVED your sequel.
I wish you and I had met earlier, I would have dragged you up here to meet her. She was one of those fantastic larger than life people, just magnificient. She was permanently up. You would have loved her.
Man, she taught at Keene until she was 92? That in and of itself was amazing, and I love these figures that find themselves in universities and can do whatever they want. It is like Nicolas Ray having taught in upstate NY and created a documentary fil with his students there—who knew? How you describe her pedagogy reminds me of stories about the novelist John Barth when he taught at UCLA—from what I heard from other students he chain smoked and complained about the writing process for an hour and a half straight on a regular basis during class. He was supposedly awesome, and would share his issues with his class, but that is pedagogy that would get creamed right now—but who doesn’t love it given the right personality?
All that said, having co-writing credit on the Blob is huge, it is actually a really tight b-movie horror film, and its genius is not overhyped, there is something so smart about having the Blob in the cinema oozing out of the projection room, and making such an amorphous jelly so horrific is not easy to do. The re-make, on the other hand, was offensively bad.