Faced with another day of hanging around the apartment nursing a sore back, I dig into my closet and pull out one of my collections. It’s an old Sun World Grapefruit box filled to the brim with the first three years worth of Premiere Magazine. Issue number one sports Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd. Issue two’s got Diane Keaton on the cover. And issue three? William Hurt (promoting Broadcast News.)
I’m gonna sell the whole lot on eBay as part of my quest to get ahold of some extra cash. But as I page through them I’m reminded why I kept them so long. The articles are great, and full of odd portent: this rising star is gonna be huge; that movie will make a tremendous mark; this movie is in the works. Sometimes the predictions are dead right. Often they’re dead wrong. And full-page movie ads for films long-forgotten underscore the uncertainty that still pervades this business, and calls to mind William Goldman’s long-held belief that “nobody knows anything.”
For example, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II is long out of print on VHS and never been released on DVD. It’s actually a gem of a horror movie that has nothing to do with the first film. It’s hardly long-forgotten, but it’s hard to imagine that it once had a full-page ad in Premiere:
Ishtar still carries with it the stigma of being one of the worst films ever made, even though those who’ve sat down to watch it realize that this is an exaggeration. It’s not great, but it’s hardly the worst film ever made. By the time this ad was printed, it was well on its way to being recgonized as a world-class bomb:
The media were obsessed with the film. Here’s an article from the front of the magazine (where they print the short-attention span reading) that charts Ishtar’s lifespan. And check it out, former Columbia CEO Guy McElwaine paraphrases Goldman:
Movies that seem like important films at the time get coverage that today, seems out of proportion. Does anyone remember the Meg Ryan/Kiefer Sutherland/Tracy Pollan/Jason Gedrick film Promised Land? Premiere seemed to think it was gonna be a lot bigger than it was and featured an article about Meg Ryan during the time of its release.
The “Cameos” column highlights up and coming creative folks, or reminds us of people who’ve been around for a while and are worth looking at some more. Crystal-clear hindsight makes some of their choices questionable. Anyone know who Megan Follows is? Or remember the film Stacking?
She’s actually had an extensive career, but it didn’t pan out quite the way the magazine had predicted. This sort of thing seems to be quite common in leafing through the magazines. Remember Emily Lloyd? Phil Joanou? My favorite is Virginia Madsen. Profiled in the very first issue of Premiere, she’s been working harder than anyone I’ve seen ever since then. And only this year (Sideways) has she really made an impact.
I’d love to see her get some real recognition.
And check this out. Here’s an example of some of the great little “In The Works” jewels to be found among the pages:
I hadn’t realized that Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind was in the works as far back as 1987. Took that one long enough, didn’t it? In 1987 George Clooney was in theaters starring in two memorable sequels: Return To Horror High and Grizzly II: The Predator.
Although come to think of it, I don’t remember those being in theaters.
Finally, it’s hard to remember quite the impact Jim Varney was making on our collective consciousness. Ernest had just kicked off what was to be an epic string of films. According to this little blurb, his success surprised us even then:
Anyway, it’s all coming to eBay later tonight.