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FordRun17

Men Running in Movies & Who Tops A-List of Screen Sprinters?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

You could say it’s a sweaty little secret, but in ninety-nine percent of all enduring Hollywood blockbuster smash hits, inevitably some man will break into a sprint to save his life. Consider Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow as a running man, from himself and various Admirals, Captains, Dead Men, and “natives.” Recall the beach scene in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise where he breaks full tilt chased by cannibals, who used to think he was their King.JDRunM17

We’re not going as far back as Master Runner of the Silent Era, Charlie Chaplin, or the speedy hi jinx of The Marx Bros. And no, we’re not talking “The Loneliness of the Long-Distant Runner” (1962) type movies either, that focus solely on the footwork. Which also knocks out “Chariot’s of Fire” (1982) and “Marathon Man” (1976) as running-themed genres.

Neither are we exactly talking men running after women, as in Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman” or Hugh Grant, also after Julia Roberts, in “Notting Hill.” Because those are expected hit-the-pavement moments. We’re talking adrenaline bursts, which is a hallmark of the Man’s Movie. Think of Rocky Balboa, and the all-out man-blast against Apollo Creed in Rocky II. RockyAplo17It’s friendly, but someone will have to die, or at least be critically injured later. Sly Stallone runs in nearly every movie, for personal reasons in the first Rocky to professional reasons and then to save his life.

Not to be outdone by Stallone, Harrison Ford kicked ass on foot, not only as a space racer in “Star Wars” — running on the tarmac and into hyperspace. But Ford’s real running glory is as Indian Jones, franchise fronter, who escapes the iconic rolling huge stone ball, among other fleet-of-foot feats of derring-do. FordRun17Contemporary Michael Douglas did a bit of fancy footwork in “Romancing the Stone,” disqualified on romantic grounds unfortunately, but there’s footage of him in most of his films breaking out in full speed courtesy of his training from the old “Streets of San Francisco” days. (Note: cop movies are instantly disqualified as running after the bad guy is a job requirement.)

Even Daniel Day-Lewis, of the recent alleged retirement from acting, spanked the woods with his super sexy foot work as unshorn cause fighter in “Last of the Mohicans” (1982). DLLRunM17Which brings us to Kevin Costner, if he wasn’t running enough in “Field of Dreams,” which is disqualified as a romantic movie on Love of Baseball grounds, he sure as hell ran for his life in “Dances with Wolves,” though a lot of it was on horseback, granted. But Costner comes roaring back as a running coach in “McFarland USA,” where he teaches a bunch of kids to run on the screen as a way to find their way in life — so it’s not really a running movie, so much as a Why Men Run movie.CostnerRun17

Old Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks himself, is a showcase of Man Running Moments, a literal narrative thread throughout the chocolate-box themed movie.

The new generation of actors, like the out-of-shape “Superbad” era dudes even did their marginally skilled part in the man’s movement. Think of Jonah Hill running with Russell Brand in “Get Him to The Greek.”

But in 2012, Bradley Cooper reinvented the Men Run for Personal Reasons in Movies trope in “Silver Linings Playbook.” He made running from Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany character all about the testosterone.BCoopRun17 Since this is not technically a pure love story, because the man is mostly in love with himself, Silver Linings gets a pass even with that heart-crunching romantic big bang BO ending.

So, who do we have so far? Yes, Brad Pitt also runs in his movies, but he’s such a mellow guy, he is almost disqualified on stoner grounds, and relegated to a shelf. But, along comes Pitt’s “War Machine,” and damn skippy if he doesn’t run like a weirdo.BPittRun17

We’re leaving out Brad Pitt doppleganger Robert Redford from the much-hightailing on foot “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” with Paul Newman, also Steve McQueen, Dustin “Marathon Man” Hoffman, and other 70’s icons, as we are really starting with the 80’s.

Why the 80’s?

Because despite all those A-Listers above, it’s an 80’s movie star who holds the top spot for Men Running in Movies.

And the winner is…Tom Cruise.

If you watch nearly every Tom Cruise vehicle: TC always breaks into a sprint. (Caveat: “Born on the Fourth of July,” for obvious reasons.)Cruise3run17

Freakish “Minority Report,” is where the stocky A-Lister runs for his life. Not like “Days of Thunder” where he ran into Nicole Kidman, lol, which is disqualified for romantic reasons in the running.

“Vanilla Sky” works and you can view his ankle-jamming sequence on YouTube.

In“Tropic Thunder,” not so much as Cruise has body padding and a bald pate with artificially fat hands even. But “The Last Samurai” is perfect because even his hair is running long in this exhausting horseback and on-foot sword epic.

The First Billion Dollar movie star, true stat, doesn’t even have to break a sweat on foot in “Interview with a Vampire” because he is mostly undead and airborne.

“Far and Away” is sadly DQ’d for romantic reasons, again with Kidman, but there’s some awesome underclass drudge running in that one.

“Rain Man” has him fleet-of-foot again, but not like the awesome white-collar deviant sprinting in “Eyes Wide Shut,” which is not disqualified for romantic reasons because it’s really Stanley Kubrick’s clinical essay on human sexuality in secret societies.

“Jerry Maguire” is almost disqualified for romantic reasons with Renee Zellwegger, but let’s face it, Cameron Crowe was really writing about lead Jerry, so Tom cracking a 100-meter dash now and again in that one is all about Cruise control, a self-love story.TCWowRun17

Which leads us to the bell-ringer that pushes Top Gun’s Maverick over the top of the egg here for Most Running Man in the Movies — the Mission Impossible franchise. No, we’re not saying Daniel Craig doesn’t have the Most Kick-Ass Man Running Movie, as James Bond in the “Casino Royale” opener, but TC bests him on quantity.

Every single big-tent-pole Tom Cruise movie, all the MI movies, “Jack Reacher,” “Collateral,” even “Magnolia” show him picking up speed. Especially “War of the Worlds” where he is both apocalyptic and stylish, and running.

Having broken into a full gallop onscreen in nearly every Cruise picture 35 years since “Risky Business” saw him slide across the floor and onto American multiplexes, Tom Cruise is our number one pick for The Men Running in Movies Top Dog. And we’re sure he can handle the truth about what all this running is about. It’s a man thing.TCVsky17

Hey, this is how female critics cover the Industry, ps, that’s why no one ever did a list like this before, in case you’re wondering. Fight or flight, watch your next movie with an eye to which man breaks into a sprint, it’s a fun stat to keep track of, as running will never go out of style in male-driven big-budget Hollywood releases.

RUNNER-UP?

Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale” which could be considered a cop movie, but he is so debonaire as 007, his opening run in that movie deserves a nod.

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See you in the audience soon, and Happy Summer Blockbuster Season.

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Why Sylvester Stallone Could Take Oscar, Thanks to Ryan Coogler’s CREED

by Quendrith Johnson, Awards Intelligencer (Feb.10, 2016) — awfj.org

Maybe it’s a little-known fact that a deep bond exists between Hollywood icon Sylvester Stallone and a newly minted phenom, Creed director Ryan Coogler. Coogler, who turns 30 in May, was also homeless once and had to fight his way to the big leagues in movies. Deadline’s reporter Pete Hammond, on hand to present Stallone with the Montecito Award in Santa Barbara, prods Stallone on this, skipping the connection with Coogler who lived in his car on-and-off while attending USC Film School. The “legend in the house,” as Hammond has introduced him, wags his head and looks toward the floor at this question. “I lived in my coat — you call it coat, I call it a house.” CreedJordanSly16In typical Rocky fashion, “Sly” Stallone, takes this loaded question and just detonates it to reveal something breathtakingly human. He recounts “living in the port authority bus station, outside a post office. My coat became my buddy, my house. But there’s something to be said about struggle.”

Later he will segue into one of the most beautiful and telling John Huston (Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, Asphalt Jungle) stories ever, from the 1981 film Victory with the unlikely cast of Stallone and a youngish Michael Caine in a politically charged soccer match against Nazi players, with Max von Sydow playing a heavy in jackboots. It even has a cameo by Pelé.

“He was a great storyteller,” Stallone exhales, before watching a clip of Victory. “So John Huston. You get two alpha dogs together. He’s like ‘hmm who’s this guy? We were in Hungary.” To make a long story short, Stallone quickly rattles off all the directions Huston gave him, hard ones, as in a whole list of physical demands: “go through the barbwire… down a hill… crawl through the grass… in one take. So ‘(Camera) Rolling.’”

Next thing, “I zip down, dip, zing… dogs are barking — I’m in grass crawling, crawling. I’ve gone 50 yards. No camera in the world can follow, unless it is connected to a lawn mower — the grass is five feet high. I stand up. No one around. They’re all leaving (up the hill).” A much younger Stallone is incensed, feels the humiliation. He goes to air his grievances with Huston. How does the wry John Huston react? SlyPeleCaineJH16

“He says, ‘If you have a problem with me, Mr. Stallone, put it in a letter. And I will read it in the morning.’ He had a sense of humor that was a little weirder than mine.” The “Italian Stallion” as he once was known in the 70’s from his blue film period, does a pitch perfect impersonation of Huston, complete with condescending pauses, as he recalls those words.

And while all the focus is on Creed right now, which is notable for being the first “Rocky Balboa” movie with Stallone in it, not penned by the actor, Sylvester Stallone’s history in show business can not be overlooked in thinking about Award Season. Another gem is when he tells of auditioning for Woody Allen for Bananas, where “Woody didn’t find us intimidating enough,” to be “muggers on a subway.” So he and a friend got Allen to “freak out,” when they came back “with Vaseline in our hair, soot, looking really ugly,” and scared Woody Allen into casting them. StalloneFB16

As for John Rambo franchise that began with First Blood, Stallone tosses off a shocking statistic. “We were losing 20,000 vets a month (men and women) by their own hand,” when they returned from Vietnam. His whole persona drops for a moment. That number rings in the air. Stallone invokes slogans of the period, saying he’d hate to come back from defending the country only to be “spit on,” and called a “Baby-killer.”

The most hair-raising story is from Rocky IV, where Swede Dolph Lundgren who plays the Russian villain who pulled no punches on set. “Next thing I know, I’m on a low attitude flight to St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica. Seriously they had nun, actually nuns around the bed.” The doctors said “he hit you in the heart so hard, he made your pericardial sac swell. Its like you have been in a car accident. (Dolph) is like a Swedish truck.”

Carl Weathers,” who is here tonight to do the honors for the trophy presentation, “is by far the finest athlete I’ve ever worked with in the ring. He was so super. He is a world class athlete… It’s been a privilege to get punched out by these guys.” CarlWSlyStalloneSo the tribute clips, which Stallone claims “you’re killing me with this” each time he sees himself in early career, finally flicker to Creed starring Michael B. Jordan, directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler.

Coogler did the wildly acclaimed movie Fruitvale Station, “but he hadn’t even done that,” when he first approached a reluctant Stallone with an Apollo Creed-son storyline. In the old days, 2011, they used to list Coogler’s agent’s email as a contact, he was that unknown. Now that he has coached Rocky’s originator to raw heights as trainer to eponymous Creed’s son Adonis Johnson (Jordan), you won’t see his contact info anymore. But you will see woven into this tale, bits and pieces of fathers and sons on both sides. Which is why Sylvester Stallone — against all odds, meaning fellow noms Mark Ruffalo, Christian Bale, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy — could walk away with the gold this year.

Coogler has his own father-son story, but the fact that Stallone lost his son Sage Stallone, 35, under tragic circumstances in 2012. Michael B. Jordan, who also was in Coogler’s Fruitvale, becomes Stallone’s son here, and the tears aging Rocky holds back on screen just rip your heart out when you know the backstory on Sage. JennFlavinSo can Sylvester Stallone best heavily favored Ruffalo, perennial favorite Bale, a breakthrough by Rylance, and the mighty Tom Hardy? The answer might be “yes,” because the ‘heart wants what it wants,’ even among Academy members. This just might be seen as an Unforgiven, a movie that turns a genre on its head as Clint Eastwood did in that remarkable late-career defining Western.
As for tonight, accompanied by his very adoring wife Jennifer Flavin who laughingly admits “we’re praying” about the 88th Oscar presentation results, Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone who turns 70 in July, sums it all up with “I’m grateful,” and “life is pretty good.” On Sunday, Feb. 28, we’ll know just exactly how good.

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