2001: A Space Odyssey (Part 2)

It’s the eleventh installment of KubrickCast and our second of at least a few about 2001: A Space Odyssey, arguably Stanley Kubrick’s greatest achievement In this episode, we explore how Doug Trumbull joined the special effects team; why the Discovery is headed to Jupiter in the film but Saturn in the novel; why the Earth is so blue; Bill attempts (and, let’s be honest, mostly fails) to explain how the spaceship scenes were shot; how the floating pen effect was achieved without wires or CGI; Kubrick’s criteria for including music in his films; why Kubrick was right not to use Alex North’s score, but could have been nicer about it; the music of Strausses Richard and Johann; György Ligeti’s mixed reaction to the use of his compositions in the film; why HAL 9000 sings “Daisy Bell”; also, I was told there might be aliens?  (1:10:14) 

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2001: A Space Odyssey (Part 1)

On this tenth episode of KubrickCast, we talk about Stanley Kubrick’s most famous film, one widely considered among the greatest of all time: 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this first of two and at least three (!) episodes, we consider the origins of the project, from Stanley Kubrick meeting with Arthur C. Clarke at Trader Vic’s, development of the script (and novel), the massive research project they undertook—rivaling only NASA in the West—the process of live action filming from 1965 through 1967, the film’s depiction of the apes (australopithecus!), and the Monolith itself… with plenty more, and much more yet to come.  (1:13:47) 

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Ken Adams’ concept art for Major Kong’s ride on the nuclear missile, on display at LACMA.

Via William Beutler.

Dr. Strangelove (Part 2)

We’re back today with the second half of our discussion about Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). In this installment, we move on from the characters and actors to explore the film’s themes, including whether mankind can control itself, let alone the machines it creates. Plus, who was more accurate about the U.S. Cold War military stance in the 1960s, Stanley Kubrick or the White House?; true stories of bad behavior from the U.S. missile command; the critical and box office response upon release; Kubrick’s cutthroat competition with Sidney Lumet’s similar film, Fail-Safe; Dr. Strangelove’s wry take on masculine sexual insecurity; Bill’s recap of reading Peter George’s Red Alert, and the tragic tale of its author; and the film’s enduring legacy in comedy, in popular culture, and as a commentary on U.S. national security in a post-Edward Snowden world. (1:07:41)

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Stanley Kubrick’s scribbled brainstorm for what to name Dr. Strangelove, on display at LACMA.
Via William Beutler.

Stanley Kubrick’s scribbled brainstorm for what to name Dr. Strangelove, on display at LACMA.

Via William Beutler.

Dr. Strangelove (Part 1)

This is an episode we’ve been looking forward to a long time, and we’ll bet you have, too. In episode eight of KubrickCast we explore one of the films considered to be Stanley Kubrick’s finest: Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Actually, we’ll start doing so. As the (Part 1) above suggests, we talked for longer about this movie than any one to date, and so we’ve decided to go easy on you and make this episode a two-parter. In this first installment we investigate the pre-production, including: the departure of Kubrick’s producing partner, James Harris; the arrival of Peter Sellers and Terry Southern to the project; and early versions of the screenplay, which included an alien narrator (!). We also explore interesting details of the production, such as: the humping planes in the opening credits; the film’s unique (and spare) approach to the music; and the story behind the unique sets. We round out the episode by discussing the film’s characters, actors, and the story behind each performance: how Stanley Kubrick tricked George C. Scott; how Sellers delivered “3 performances for the price of 6”; how Slim Pickens wasn’t told the film was a comedy; and the basis for the character of Dr. Strangelove himself.  (1:32:39)

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Lolita

Episode seven focuses on Lolita (1962), Kubrick’s adaptation of the controversial 1955 Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name. This was a transitional film for Kubrick: it followed his early pictures, including some very good ones like Paths of Glory, and his sole work-for-hire feature, Spartacus. In Lolita we can see Kubrick beginning to find his way toward a new approach to his pictures, which resulted in the classics we’ll be discussing in future episodes. Whether Lolita itself is a classic is a matter for debate: it received a mixed reception from critics at the time, and from your podcasters as well. In this episode, Bill and Renan discuss the many differences between the novel and film—including age-ing up of Lolita and dramatic changes to the central character, Humbert Humbert—the challenges Kubrick faced getting it made and distributed, the comedic stylings of Peter Sellers, the sublime silliness of a tune called “Lolita Ya-Ya”, comparisons with the 1997 remake, and even with Mad Men and Game of Thrones.

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Documentary Shorts

The sixth episode of KubrickCast represents a bit of a detour, as we take a pause from our primary project of exploring one Kubrick film per episode and revisit Stanley Kubrick’s early career and early films. Beginning as a freelance photographer for Look magazine in the 1940s, Kubrick made three short documentary films prior to the beginning of his feature film career. These were: Day of the Fight, chronicling a day in the life of a boxer before the night of a big fight; Flying Padre, following a priest in New Mexico who uses a single-prop plane to tend his 400-square mile parish; and The Seafarers, a work-for-hire project in behalf of the Seafarers International Union. (48:29)

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Stanley Kubrick’s fake and real letter.

Fun, but definitely fake. kubrickblogjp:

Stanley Kubrick’s fake and real letter.

Fun, but definitely fake.

kubrickblogjp:

Stanley Kubrick’s fake and real letter.

Fun, but definitely fake.

Spartacus

We’re not Spartacus (1960)! In our fifth episode we contemplate a big, ambitious and flawed Stanley Kubrick film which in most respects was not a Stanley Kubrick film. Hired by star and producer Kirk Douglas, buffeted by studio execs and cranky actors, subordinate to the expectations of a four-quadrant Hollywood epic, Kubrick made one last “one for them” in Spartacus. After a grueling summer-long shoot, he delivered a three-hour picture considered a classic by most but not one he was happy with—and not one of our Kubrick favorites, either. That said: this is a big movie with a fascinating background and plenty to talk about, including: the relationship between Spartacus and the Red Scare; how this film stacks up against later Hollywood epics like Braveheart and Avatar; Peter Ustinov: The World’s Most Interesting Man; plus, why Spartacus couldn’t have happened in the smartphone era. Starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons, Tony Curtis and Charles Laughton. (1:07:55)

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