Friday, May 14, 2010

For the Weekend: Hulu's a Lulu

I love Hulu!  It's such a great website.  I don't know how I'd live without it.  (I'd actually have to get cable again.)  And it's been awhile since I've mentioned any of the many films you can watch for free on Hulu, so I thought I'd pick a few greats out for you this weekend.

First up, from 1964 - "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," Stanley Kubrick's classic dark comedy about nuclear war.  Starring Peter Sellers (in three roles), this is one of the great films of the 60s, and of cinema.  America was in the middle of such a crisis at the time, that the country just needed to laugh about it.  However, the first scheduled screening of the film was November 22, 1963, the day Kennedy was shot.  So, knowing the country couldn't laugh about itself right then, the premiere was pushed to late January 1964.  The studio only agreed to make this film because of Sellers.  They believed that Sellers was the only reason Kubrick's "Lolita" (1962) was such a success.  Sellers was paid $1 million for "Strangelove," which was 55% of the film's budget.  Kubrick even moved the production to England instead of Los Angeles, because Sellers could not leave England due to his pending divorce.  Click here to watch this classic film.

Next is "Chaplin" from 1992.  Robert Downey Jr. stars as Charlie Chaplin, the famous comedian of the beginning years of Hollywood.  If you like classic Hollywood and all the stories that go with it, you'll love this film.  It has a great cast along with Downey portraying all the real characters of his life, including Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Diane Lane, Kevin Kline, Moira Kelly, and Milla Jovovich.  The cast even includes Geraldine Chapin, Charlie Chaplin's real daughter, playing her own grandmother.  Directed by the great Richard Attenborough, he shot over 200 hours of film, causing the first cut of the movie to be over four hours long.  He managed to dwindle it down to 147 minutes, but the studio still felt that was too long and cut an additional 12 minutes from the film - 12 minutes that Attenborough said hurt the movie a lot.  I still remembering loving this movie though, and as a kid adoring the soundtrack.  I used to listen to it over and over, including the version of "Smile" sung by Robert Downey Jr himself.  So if you feel like watching Downey before he became Iron Man, click here.

My final selection for you - "Jerry Maguire" from 1996, Cameron Crowe's film that brought us the lines "Show me the money" and "You had me at hello."  It stars Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr in his Oscar winning role, and Renee Zellweger.  Crowe originally wrote the parts of Jerry and Dorothy (Cruise and Zellweger's roles) for Tom Hanks and Winona Ryder.  Hanks couldn't do the part though because he was working on "That Thing You Do" at the time.  And after Cruise was cast, Ryder did some screen tests him.  Unfortunately, Ryder and Cruise looked more like brother and sister standing next to each other, so Crowe searched for a new Dorothy.  Every starlet in Hollywood was considered for the role, from Cameron Diaz to Janeane Garofalo to Courtney Love.  Crowe, being a huge fan of Billy Wilder and "The Apartment" (good taste, I must say), used Shirley MacLaine from "Apartment" as a role model for the type of woman he was looking for.  Finally he found Zellweger, and a new star was born.  Click here to watch this 90s favorite.

See, isn't Hulu great?!  So for the weekend, get out your computers, and enjoy some great films online.  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  Be back Monday.

(Post-tidbit: "Chaplin" was released on the 15th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin's death.)

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