Tag Archives: Cameron Crowe

Billy, How Did You Do it?

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Billy & Cameron. Photo By Neal Preston

We lost the great Billy Wilder 15 years ago today. I thought it would be great to remember him with this 2005 Sight & Sound piece that Cameron wrote. It’s new to The Uncool and we hope you seek out a Wilder film to watch tonight!

Billy, how did you do it?

‘Elizabethtown’ director Cameron Crowe pays tribute to Billy Wilder

 The first Billy Wilder movie to ever grace my family’s living room was Some Like It Hot. I was too small to catch all the subtext of those cross-dressing musicians, but this much was clear: something was going on inside that movie. A subversive sense of humour was at play, and those big laughs rocked our house. Later, someone pointed out that the same man made Sunset Blvd., another movie we all watched together as a family. Both were late-night ‘movies of the week’ on TV. The magic was palpable, even on that small screen.

I decided to become a film-maker to protect a script I’d written called Say Anything… A number of other directors had passed on it, and the script was about to fall into the hands of someone who cared a lot less about it than me. Wilder, a journalist who became a director for similar reasons, was one of the first masters I turned to in preparing to direct. Most writer-directors seeking inspiration eventually go to Wilder. I worked through his pictures one by one. His work was like a drug – character-rich stories filled with laughs and story turns so deft you could get a body rush sitting in the theatre. Eventually, I got to The Apartment, sadly after my father had passed away. Halfway through, it was already my favourite. When I heard the last line of the movie, “shut up and deal”, I realised where one of my dad’s favourite phrases had come from.

Part of the great fun of being a fan of Billy Wilder is that your favourite Wilder pictures change over the years. For me, sometimes it’s Love in the Afternoon; other times it’s A Foreign Affair; but usually I return to The Apartment. The characters, the score, the melancholy and the perfection of the script and performances… It’s hard to top. though the fizzy comic wallop of Some Like It Hot sure gives it a run for its money.

In my experience of interviewing him, Wilder usually chose Some Like It Hot or The Apartment as his personal favourite. His reasons he said, were mostly script-based. He just loved the structure and the successful collaborations with his writing partner Izzy Diamond. He often mentioned the ‘cracked mirror’ scene in The Apartment as one of his favourite moments in any of his films He explained that these pictures and Sunset Blvd. “just worked”. Of his audience favourites, the only one that seemed to displease him was Irma la Douce. As for his favourite actors, he always mentioned Lemmon and Matthau and, with an extra twinkle, Charles Laughton.

Double Indemnity survives because of its masterful victory of tone and performance and direction. For a still young director, it was a work of sly bravura. And Wilder’s favourite element – the inner ‘love story’ between Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson – gives the movie its freshness and a dark kick. Many try for this tone; few get there.Wilder used to say that a masterful comic actor like Cary Grant would forever be beaten at the Oscars by a less talented, furrow-browed serious actor with a “physical ailment of some kind”. It was his way, I think, of waving the flag for what he felt to be a far more difficult exercise – comedy. He was a great fan of modem pictures that had a certain graceful comic perfection, like the Japanese film Shall We Dance?. He also loved the deep-tissue satire of American Beauty. As for his own legacy, Wilder sometimes scoffed, “Why would anyone care about me?” But, in fact, he’d noticed the parade of younger film-makers who cited him and made a point of telling me it genuinely surprised and touched him. “A lot’?” “A little,” he’d answer with a trademark flick of his eyebrow that indicated the opposite might also be true.

As Wilder once said of Audrey Hepburn, “there is only one”. But his lessons to other modern directors are clear: protect your script and your characters; observe the values of script structure… Take a look at the work of Wilder’s own heroes, from Ernst Lubitsch to William Wyler, and then go out there with a camera and tell your stories with glee and a ferocious lack of false sentimentality. But most of all, “don’t bore them”.

Courtesy of Sight & Sound – Cameron Crowe – October, 2005

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Mar 27, 2017

Happy Birthday to Mr. James Taylor!

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Photo by Timothy White

Photo by Timothy White

James celebrated his birthday yesterday and he is still going strong. He’s been on the road touring for the past few years with his latest album, Before This World. He’s wrapping that tour up in South America, but will back on the road this Summer with Bonnie Raitt in the US. Let’s jump back in our time machine to Cameron’s 1976 story from the L.A. Times.

James Taylor: Just a Homebody Who Finds No Warmth in the Spotlight

The young man edged closer and stared for a moment to make sure the lanky figure in the corner of the restaurant was indeed James Taylor. The man then tore a soiled bandage from his own forehead and began shrieking that Taylor had just miraculously healed him.Within seconds, the other customers in the restaurant were gawking at the shy singer-songwriter. Taylor sighed quietly and buried his head in his hands. All he had wanted was a burger.

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Mar 13, 2017

Marvin Gaye: Trouble Man

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troubleman40th

Four years ago, Cameron wrote the liner notes for the 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack. Enjoy!

A quick snapshot of Marvin Gaye, May 1971: Sylmar, California. It’s a rarely documented time in the artist’s life. He’d just finished What’s Going On, and hopped a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles to begin a co-starring role in an earnest film about a young Green Beret. He’s 32, newly shorn of the iconic beard that would characterize his creative gestation. In the summer of ’71, Marvin Gaye is an actor.

The film was not going swimmingly, the director uncommunicative with him, and Marvin was adrift in a world he’d known only as a fan, unaccustomed to set-politics, but ready to learn. It’s no surprise where Gaye found a homeon the camera truck, helping with the film operators, being close to the artistic creation of the film’s feel and look. Most of the camera crew was unaware of Gaye’s recorded work.

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Nov 21, 2016

Why Jack Ford Lives at Home

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rs218

Since election season is in full swing, we thought you might enjoy Cameron’s 1976 Rolling Stone cover story with Jack Ford. Gerald Ford’s son was a hot commodity back at the time. Young, handsome and campaigning for his dad, Gerald Ford. We hope you like it!

Why Jack Ford Lives at Home

A White House Portrait

“I’m Jack Ford and I’m here to reelect my father. I’m not just saying that because I want to stay in the White House. Quite frankly, I would gladly change places with you.’

Five days before the Michigan primary, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May, the sprawling Fairlane shopping center, an indoor mall in Dearborn, is so thick with campaign workers of both parties that it’s hard to take a step without being accosted by zealous volunteers brandishing buttons and bumperstickers.

Today, the shopping center is being visited by a major campaign figure — once removed. A young Republican worker rushes up to a knot of people, breaking the news with breathless reverence: “Did you hear? The president’s son Jack is here! Just around the corner!” There’s a commotion around the corner, all right, and a strange, nervous chuckle is rising above the hubbub; sort of an emphatic ah-ha, followed by three slightly forced heh-heh-hehs.

Then around the corner comes the owner of The Laugh, surrounded by swooning teenage girls. Jack Ford’s three-piece suit — its color an exact match for his tousled sandy blond hair—hangs perfectly on his sleek, athletic, 24-year-old body. He loosens his tie and proceeds to sign the crinkled slips of paper thrust in front of him. He poses for dozens of Instamatic flash pictures and pumps every hand in sight.

“I’m Jack Ford and I’m here working to reelect my father. Can we count on your support?” That’s the stock line he recites to almost everybody. Everybody, that is, except the prettiest girls, who get a slightly bolder variation. The steely blue-green eyes linger a little longer on theirs and, at the beginning of the handshake, Jack will simply say, “Your hand feels a little cold.” On occasion he’ll turn to one of his Secret Service agents and remark wistfully, “I wish there was something we could do about that.” The effect is devastating, and instantaneous. One melted girl.

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Sep 23, 2016

New Extended Roadies Trailer

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Here’s our first extended look at Roadies. The song featured here is “San Francisco” by The Mowglis. Cameron directs the first three episodes of the series and we thought you might like the titles.

  • Episode 1: Life is a Carnival
  • Episode 2: What Would Phil Do
  • Episode 3: The Bryce Newman Letter

Roadies debuts on Showtime on June 26th.

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May 26, 2016

Jerry Maguire Mission Statement

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ThingsWeThink

As we inch closer to Jerry Maguire‘s 20th Anniversary, I thought you might want to read Cameron’s original Mission Statement (that is only briefly featured in the film). Here’s the entire 25 pages penned by Cameron. Happy Monday!

THE THINGS WE THINK AND DO NOT SAY

Thoughts of a Sports Attorney

Miami Hilton, 1 AM

It’s 1 AM and this might be the bad pizza I had earlier talking, but I believe I have something to say. Or rather, I have something to say that I believe in. My father once said, “Get the bad news over with first. You be the one to say the tough stuff. Well, here goes. There is a cruel wind blowing through our business. We all feel it, and if we don’t, perhaps we’ve forgotten how to feel. But here is the truth. We are less ourselves than we were when we started this organization.

Sports Management International began as a small company. I was hired by Jack Scully in 1981, I was fresh out of college, I didn’t even watch much sports. But a young man came to me, and his name was Bill Apodaca. He asked me to look at a contract he’d acquired to play football for the Atlanta Falcons. Before long I was overseeing the business of another member of the Falcons, and two baseball players. The nuances and the small miracles of professional sports would soon hook me — there was something simple and perfect about the way a stadium felt. The way vou felt when a player you’d helped and represented made his stand in front of 54,000 people. And I remember the conversation Mr. Scully and I had by an elevator, standing next to one of those sand-filled ashtray posts, right before he hired me as one of the first agents in this company. “You and I are blessed, he said, “we do something that we love.”

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Apr 25, 2016

San Diego Door Mini Reviews: Bob Weir, Sutherland Brothers Band & More

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bobweirace

Cameron does four mini album reviews from the June 22, 1972 issue of the San Diego Door. These are brand new to the Journalism section! Sorry for the delay in posts, Roadies is in full swing. I’ll try and post things more regularly. Thanks for your patience and stay tuned!

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Apr 7, 2016

Neil Young Movie Double Feature + Q&A with Cameron

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neilyoungfathom

Neil Young will be hosting a one night only double feature screening of Human Highway and Rust Never Sleeps on Monday, February 29th. An Evening with Neil Young will include a Live Q & A moderated by Cameron that will be streamed in theaters across the country. Tickets are available over at Fathom Events’ Official Site.

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Feb 24, 2016

Mike Finger’s The Blue and the Black