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DID YOU READ

Tony Curtis (1925-2010)

Tony Curtis (1925-2010) (photo)

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Tony Curtis, star of some of the greatest Hollywood movies of all time, died of a heart attack Wednesday, and The New York Times‘ Dave Kehr has their obituary. It’s full of details of his life and career both well-known (Curtis, born Bernard Schwartz, was a famous ladies man married five times) and obscure (he attended acting classes at The New School for Social Research with Walter Matthau).

Curtis’ cinematic immortality is assured three or four times over. Of course he’s best known today as one of the two cross-dressing musicians on the run from the mob in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like it Hot” (1959). But even if he hadn’t landed that role, or given such a brilliant performance in two different disguises (as “Josephine” and as an oil magnate who sounds suspiciously like Cary Grant), his legacy would still be strong. He played the title role in a memorable biopic of “Houdini” (1953). He earned an Oscar nomination for Stanley Kramer’s “The Defiant Ones” (1958) opposite Sidney Poitier. He collaborated with Kirk Douglas on two epic period adventures: 1958’s “The Vikings,” and 1960’s “Spartacus.” In that film Curtis appeared in one of the most notorious deleted scenes in Hollywood history, a thinly veiled homosexual encounter between his character, the slave Antonius, and Laurence Olivier’s Marcus Licinius. Olivier’s character tries to seduce Curtis while discussing his taste for “both oysters and snails.” I guess the veil was too thin; censors cut the scene, and it was lost for some thirty years until a restoration in the early 1990s by Robert Harris (available on the Criterion Collection DVD of the film).

I’ve saved one best film for last, 1957’s “Sweet Smell of Success” co-starring Burt Lancaster and, giving one of its finest performances in film to date, the city of New York, playing itself (in 1957, most movies set in New York were still shot primarily in Los Angeles). Curtis played a “cookie full of arsenic” of a press agent named Sidney Falco (a real PR firm in New York City now bears the character’s name). Though it was a critical and financial flop in its day, “Sweet Smell of Success” is now regarded as one of the best films of the ’50s, and an unusual but brilliant film noir. And Curtis is fantastic as a wildly ambitious barnacle on the hull of show business.

In 2008, Curtis told the San Francisco Chronicle “I will probably die within 15 years. I have to come to terms with that, though I almost don’t want to talk about it. When I was running around Hollywood … there was no such thing as death, not for any of us. Now I hope I’m prepared for it.” Sadly, it took a lot less than fifteen years. Early in “Sweet Smell of Success,” as Sidney lays out his plans, a character asks him where he’s trying to get. “Way up high, where it’s always balmy.” Sidney may not have made it, but Tony Curtis did.

The trailer for “Sweet Smell of Success:”

The trailer for “Some Like it Hot:”

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.