The Wild Rejected Plotlines for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979)

The original Star Trek was cancelled in 1969, but the cultural phenomenon continued to grow with wildly successful reruns and a burgeoning convention scene. Paramount knew it had a successful property on their hands and tried multiple ways to capitalize, including a short-lived animated series. They then decided on a movie and cast their net wide for potential screenplays. Series creator Gene Roddenberry pitched an ambitious good-versus-evil story that featured Kirk fighting a shape-shifting Jesus character on the Enterprise‘s bridge. Another had the gang stopping the Kennedy association. Still another had Scotty transported back to 1937. The final product was considerably more tame, but The Hollywood Reporter does their typically fantastic job of telling the story of how that film came to be.

‘Star Trek’ Oral History: When Captain Kirk Fought Jesus, 6.27.16


“Badlands”: Terrence Malick’s Debut Masterpiece

Terrence Malick has a well-deserved reputation as the J.D. Salinger of film, a genius recluse who produces art on his timetable alone. His first picture, Badlands (1973), had a notoriously awful production that included most of the crew quitting and the special effects guy getting badly burned. Malick shot enough film for five movies. But the actors, including stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, swear that the quiet, meditative director is the best they ever worked under. Their faith was rewarded as Badlands debuted to rave reviews as the opening film of the New York Film Festival. Described as a timeless, European-style film that showed the humanity and raw ambition of its murderous lovers, the movie established Malick as an original voice in American cinema.

Badlands: An Oral History, 5.26.11

“Steel Magnolias”: Southern Grit

Steel Magnolias comes from a place of anger and hurt: the playwright and screenwriter (Robert Harling) lost his strong sister to the debilitating effects of diabetes, but the story he crafted is one of the resilience and wit of Southern women. After a successful run as a play in New York, the movie had an equally successful run across the nation, garnering the then-unknown Julia Roberts a supporting-actress Academy Award nomination for playing the sister. Roberts was surrounded by arguably the greatest female ensemble cast of the 1980s: Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah, and Dolly Parton. The piece has the classic mix of drama and comedy that leaves audiences laughing through the tears.

Thirty Years of Steel Magnolias, 3.22.17

Smashing, Baby! An Oral History of “Austin Powers” (1997)

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was a loving send-up of the British spy movies of the 60s and 70s that Mike Myers grew up watching. He was at the height of his comedic powers and although the movie made money from almost from the beginning, it wasn’t a smashing success in the theaters. The movie benefited greatly from DVD sales and being shown on heavy rotation on cable TV and by the end of the century its innumerable catch phrases were part of the popular lexicon. The Hollywood Reporter gathers the principals for an insightful and hilarious oral history.

‘Austin Powers’ at 20: Mike Myers, Jay Roach, More Spill Secrets in Shagadelic Oral History, 4.27.17

“Caddyshack” (1980)

Easily the funniest and most quoted sports movie of all time, Caddyshack was created by the young comedic geniuses of National Lampoon, who had just scored their first hit with Animal House. The film starred two Saturday Night Live stars (Chevy Chase, Bill Murray) as well as antithetical veteran actors Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield. The result was a comedy masterpiece full of memorable scenes and one-liners loosely based around country club shenanigans. Sports Illustrated provides a predictably hilarious retrospective with input from all the major players.

Caddyshack, 8.2.10

An Ode to Streetball: “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992)

Playground basketball is an meritocratic society: If you can play, you’re good. If you can’t play, God help you, because you’re going to hear all about it. Director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham) was a lifelong hoopster who understood the inherent kinetic drama of streetball would make for a good movie. The result, White Men Can’t Jump, follows two scuzzy hustlers (Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrellson) as they try to pull off the big heist. Rosie Perez turns in a predictably engaging performance as Woody’s girlfriend. Grantland revisits the funniest basketball movie ever made.

You Either Smoke or You Get Smoked, 8.21.12

Reality Bites (1994)

Reality Bites, Ben Stiller’s directorial debut, is an engrossing character study of a group of friends in the early 20s as they struggle to find their footing in the adult world. Often called a portrait of Generation X, much to the dismay of the people who made it, the film instead focuses on the fertile ground of early adulthood, a subject examined by literally thousands of movies. Winona Ryder gives a luminous performance alongside a brooding Ethan Hawke, an endearing sarcastic Janeane Garofalo, and the cinematic debut of the goofy Steve Zahn. Uproxx catches up the cast and crew for a 2oth-anniversary retrospective.

20 years later: An oral history of ‘Reality Bites’, 2.18.14

“Robocop” (1987)

Everyone’s favorite robotic corporate cop with a heart of gold, Robocop burst on the scene in 1987 with appropriately cartoonish explosions. Although marketed and enjoyed as an action film, Paul Verhoeven’s film achieved iconic status due to its underlying satire and timeless themes of identity. The over-the-top violence famously caused an X rating initially but more than enough made it past the cutting room floor.

RoboCop: The Oral History, 2.12.14

“An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)

Al Gore’s famous slide show on climate change started in the 1980s when he was still the junior senator from Tennessee. Director Davis Guggenheim saw the updated presentation in 2004 and immediately knew it had to be made into a film. No one believed him, including Gore, but his persistence paid off as the $1.1M documentary made over $50M, won the Oscar for best feature documentary, and brought the alarming scientific data in front of millions of eyes.

‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ 10 Years Later: Al Gore, Jeff Skoll and More Dish in THR’s Oral History, 5.19.16

The “Jackass” Boys Blow Up

Jackass grew out of the daredevil ethos of the skater community of the early 90s, prior to the internet the boys tried to one-up each other with gnarly tricks and stunts. A group of L.A. skater punks (Wee Man, Steve-O, Chris Pontius) hooked up with some insane dudes from West Chester, PA (Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn) to create a sketch show centered on outrageous stunts and pranks. They found their ringleader in the charismatic and fearless Johnny Knoxville. Maxim revisits this pop-culture rocket ship, and touches on some of the bad vibes that followed due to alcohol and drug abuse.

Jackass: An Oral History, 10.26.10

Richard Linklater’s 70’s Masterpiece: “Dazed and Confused” (1993)

Director Richard Linklater made a name for himself with 1991’s Slacker and Dazed and Confused was his first major studio film. Working with iconic casting director Don Phillips they chose a group of charismatic group of unknowns to star in the movie, including future stars Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg and Joey Lauren Adams. And then there’s Matthew McConaughey, who talked himself into the movie one night at an Austin bar, and then worked himself out of a bit role in the ensemble into the breakout star of the movie. The film didn’t immediately succeed at the box office but has since become one of the iconic depictions of 70’s high school kids and the 1970s in general.

An Oral History of “Dazed and Confused”, 12.26.13

“Phat Beach”: The Gold Standard for Hip-Hop Beach Movies

Producer Cleveland O’Neal approached film school student Doug Elfin (Entourage) about a movie Elflin originally thought was called Fat Bitch. Once Elfin figured out what was happening, he revised the script with O’Neal and directed the low-budget independent film about some broke boys at the beach, looking for love, and hilariously winning a beach volleyball competition on a whim. Its playful street vibe won over viewers of a certain age and can still be found in early morning showings on basic cable. Complex looks back.

The Oral History of ‘Phat Beach’, 8.3.16

The Rebirth of “Wet Hot American Summer”

Netflix has often shown a skilled eye in choosing which “properties” to reboot. Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls, Full House have all been resurrected to popular acclaim. Wet Hot American Summer, first released in a couple cities in 2001 and grossing under $300K, was a different animal. Was it possible to resurrect something that was barely alive to begin with? When the film starred beloved American talent like Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Paul Rudd, whose profiles have skyrocketed since 2001, it certainly was. Triumphantly returning as an eight-episode TV prequel, the raunchy summer camp comedy brings the gang back for more fun.

‘Wet Hot American Summer’: Oral History Details False Starts, Faking Camp Firewood, 7.28.15

The “Hangover” Movies

The first Hangover movie upended popular culture on the way to grossing $467.5M and helped make stars of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, and director Todd Phillips. The bachelor party comedy told as a mystery format allowed for some drama and pathos amidst the debauchery. The second and third films were successful financially but were not on the same level as the original. The Hollywood Reporter gathers the gang for some predictably awesome anecdotes.

The Uncensored Oral History of ‘The Hangover’, 5.1.13

Mike Nichols: Man of Many Talents

Often called the Emperor of the New York arts scene, Mike Nichols lived the life of 100 men and was rewarded with the ultimate artistic distinction: EGOT. Vanity Fair gathers many of the luminaries that he worked with for a remembrance.

Mike Nichols’s Life and Career: The Definitive Oral History, 9.11.15

“Tin Cup” (1996)

Tin Cup is regarded by many golfers as a golf movie that gets the game right. The ambition, elation, and frustration are all note perfect as Kevin Costner embodies the hotshot golfer who won’t lay up. Golf magazine provides a very readable 20th anniversary oral history, including the raucuous off-screen happenings as Costner, Don Johnson, and Cheech Marin lived it up with their Tour advisors.

An Oral History of Tin Cup: One of Golf’s Most Iconic Movies Ever Made, 8.9.16

Siskel and Ebert: Theatrical Criticism

For decades Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, two Chicago film critics, towered over American film criticism due to their popular syndicated show. While famously catty with one another, no one could argue with their passion for their subject or their encyclopedic knowledge of it. Slate provides some wonderful anecdotes about their fiery partnership in excerpts from a 50,000-word e-book first published in the Chicagoan.

The Original Frenemies: An oral history of Siskel and Ebert, 4.4.13


“Aliens” (1993)

Aliens is undeniably one of the greatest sci-fi thrillers of all time and at the center of the suspenseful story is Ripley’s impending clash with The Alien Queen, who often seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Director James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), and producer Gale Anne Hurd discuss the fascinating ways the confrontation was brought to life in the days before CGI.

Aliens 30th anniversary: Oral history of Power Loader Ripley vs. The Alien Queen, 7.18.16

“Trading Places”: Old Hollywood Aesthetic Takes on New Wall Street

Trading Places (1983) is often called a throwback to the screwball comedies of early Hollywood, but the characters stayed just this side of cartoonish, and in doing so helped create a unique cinematic view of Wall Street. Legendary director John Landis pushed through his lead casting choices of Dan Ackroyd (whose career was floundering) and Eddie Murphy (then virtually unknown) over the protestations of the studios and casting agents. They were inspired choices as Ackroyd’s trademark rigidity accentuated his fall and Murphy’s glowing charisma contrasted with the staid boardrooms. Business Insider looks back on what they call the greatest Wall Street film ever made.

It’s The 30-Year Anniversary Of The Greatest Wall Street Movie Ever Made: Here’s The Story Behind It, 6.27.13

Watergate on the Big Screen: “All the President’s Men” (1976)

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein skyrocketed to journalistic immortality due to their dogged investigation of the Watergate scandal. Hollywood superstar Robert Redford thought the “couldn’t make it up” buffoonery behind the scandal and the wildly contrasting dynamic between the two young reporters would make a good film. It was quite the instinct as All the President’s Men would go on to nab eight Oscar nominations and alter the popular perception of journalism itself.  The Washingtonian put together a beautiful spread to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film, including video clips from the movie.

All the President’s Men: An Oral History, 4.3.16