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Kurt Russell

AKA “The Man”

By Jarrod Sarafin     March 18, 2007

Kurt Russell
© N/A

You would have to be living under a rock the last week to fail noticing that New Line has acquired the rights to remake Escape From New York this week and they already have a casting for Snake Plissken (300’s Gerard Butler). This announcement has thrown gasoline on a fire in the realm of internet water cooler discussions everywhere. Right here at Mania.com, there are people from both camps. 

Camp 1: There is NO Snake Plissken without Kurt Russell.

Camp 2: That’s cool, remake it! 

Our news editor KJ has recently said something to stir my inner fan-boy self into a feeding frenzy. What did he say? He said he doesn’t mind Escape From New York being remade and he likes the casting. Obviously he belongs in Camp 2. I will come right out and say it. Those of us who think Kurt Russell is a god among men in the movie culture of the “man’s man” category would like to smack those of Camp 2 upside their skulls with our Mania ManSense Stick. Those of us whom can never think of characters such as RJ MacReady, Jack Burton or Snake Plissken without the tough dirty visage face of Kurt “The Man” Russell has something to say to KJ and his posse in Camp 2. In fact, why bother saying anything? I tell you what needs to be done. We should barb wire the area around Camp 2, dig a nice deep moat, and then stock said moat with man eating sharks with lasers mounted on top of their heads. Then we could think about what to put in the immediate area around the shark infested moat. I’m thinking a nice field of hungry lions with the words “You know what ol' Jack Burton says at a time like this? “branded on their hides. This would insure their infectious evil thoughts would never corrupt us in any conceivable way.  

Perhaps, that is the only insurance policy against Camp 2. At the very least we could send in ole Jack Burton to shake the pillars of heaven and bury that ill mannered Camp up to their heads with fan boy wrath.  

There’s a reason this subject is touchy to me and perhaps to others. If you grew up on Carpenter films, you will have one particular actor emblazed on your popcorn chewing cult induced brain. That would of course be “The Man” Kurt Russell who’s celebrated his birthday yesterday on March 17. Talk about good timing for this Star Spotlight. When talking about actors these days in industry conversations, it tends to always be about box office success. I’ll say that while I do the box office report every week here and put a lot of stock into B.O. numbers, box office success doesn’t always elevate an actor into the pop culture icon status. 

Sometimes, that actor will perform absolutely horrendous at the whole studio profit game in theater runs but the characters the actor plays propel them to pop culture king (depending on sex). Kurt Russell & Bruce Campbell have loyal followings without the box office numbers to back them up. Is there a person out there that can honestly say that Jack Burton isn’t a “man’s man”? Is there someone willing to get smacked down by saying Russell’s “Wyatt Earp” yelling “You tell 'em I'M coming... and hell's coming with me, you hear? HELL’s COMING WITH ME!” didn’t chill their adrenaline driven hearts. Putting is as purely as I can say it; Kurt Russell is “The Man” because his characters have always been considered past cool status and closer towards the Iconic Kick-Ass & Take No Name category. 

Who here wouldn’t want RJ MacReady around them when faced with the ultimate survival situation? Who here wouldn’t want Jack Burton and his nearly perfect motivational quotes when facing the forces of evil and the Nine Hells of Burning Oil!? Who here wouldn’t want Snake Plissken around them when going into the deep underdark of the inner city against warring factions? Hell, who wouldn’t want Captain Ron for a captain on their pleasure cruise?  

Sure, there have always been cool characters in any given decade of great cult films but this guy brought great quotable lines, wonderful ass kicking extravaganzas and manly attitude to a whole other stratosphere on the pop culture scale. 

Memorable Kurt Russell scenes: 


Wyatt Earp: All right, Clanton... you called down the thunder, well now you've got it! You see that?  
[pulls open his coat, revealing a badge]  
Wyatt Earp: It says United States Marshal!  
Ike Clanton: [terrified, pleading] Wyatt, please, I...  
Wyatt Earp: [referring to Stilwell, laying dead] Take a good look at him, Ike... 'cause that's how you're gonna end up!  
[shoves Ike down roughly with his boot]  
Wyatt Earp: The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin' it!  
[lets Ike up to run for his life]  
Wyatt Earp: So run, you cur... RUN! Tell all the other curs the law's comin'!  
Wyatt Earp: You tell 'em I'M coming... and hell's coming with me, you hear?...  
Wyatt Earp: Hell's coming with me! 

Escape From New York:

Bob Hauk: You going to kill me, Snake?  
Snake Plissken: Not now, I'm too tired.  
Snake Plissken: Maybe later. 

Bob Hauk: You go in, find the President, bring him out in less than 24 hours, and your're a free man.  
Snake Plissken: Bullshit!  
Bob Hauk: I'm making you an offer.  
Snake Plissken: Get a new president.  
Bob Hauk: Is that your answer?  
Snake Plissken: I'm thinking about it.  
Bob Hauk: Think hard. We're still at war. We need him alive.  
Snake Plissken: I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president. 

Big Trouble in Little China:

Jack Burton: Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big old storm right in the eye and says, "Give me your best shot. I can take it." 

Jack Burton: Okay, I get the picture White Tigers, Lords of Death, guys in funny suits throwing plastic explosives while poison arrows fall from the sky and the pillars of heaven shake, huh? Sure, okay, I see Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu and a hundred howlin' monkey temples, and that's just for starters, right? Fine! I'm back! I'm ready, goddammit let me at 'em! 

Jack Burton: and go off and rule the universe from beyond the grave...  
Lo Pan: Indeed  
Jack Burton: or check into a psycho ward, which ever comes first huh. 

The Thing:

MacReady: I dunno, it's like this: thousands of years ago this spaceship crashes, and this thing, whatever it is, jumps out or crawls out and gets entombed in the ice.  
Garry: So, the Norwegians find it, and they dig it out of the ice...  
MacReady: That's right, Garry. They dig it up, they cart it back to their base. Somehow it gets thawed, it wakes up, probably not in the best of moods, and... I don't know, I wasn't there! 

Childs: You're gonna have to sleep sometime, MacReady.  
MacReady: I'm a real light sleeper, Childs. 

These are just a few memorable scenes. I bet you readers have your own fan favorites that blow through your skulls every time you think back to the good ole days of the 80’s. When you think of a time when action and comedies were sometimes one and the same and yet that fact is a good thing. When action movies had grittier realistic settings set in the snowcaps of Antarctica (The Thing) , the deep dark sublevels of the inner city (Big trouble in Little China), or the open wilds of the western frontier (Tombstone).  

Kurt Russell as Jack Burton

Ah, the wonderful popcorn munching memories embedded in this fanboy’s brain. Awesome moments of cult classic happenstance with great character and quotetastic lines! Kurt Russell may have been in some box office bombs that didn’t amount to many historical money making news boxes but he has still etched his own calling card on movie lovers everywhere. Any man who plays icon characters as he has will always be remembered for such glorious moments in cinematic history.  

There’s a reason Russell has such loyalist backup from half of us ready. His characters transcend the passage of time for us who can never get enough Jack Burton cheese with our popcorn…Or those of us who can never get enough smart ass Snake Plissken remarks in our vocabulary …Or those of us who have a little RJ MacReady attitude in our style. Kurt Russell has always played a “real man’s man” character and as such, he is shown love for it by the lot of us who remember these characters so well.  

Basically, it all comes down to one simple phrase; 

Kurt Russell is “The Man”! 

Time to give you Maniacs some facts on Russell: 

Kurt Russell was born on March 17, 1951 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Kurt made his film debut in the Elvis Presley film, It Happened at the World's Fair (1963). He later went on to play him in Elvis and to provide his voice as Elvis in Forrest Gump (1994). He was also in Tombstone obviously and costarred with Val Kilmer whom also portrayed Elvis in True Romance (1993). In another strange connection, he costarred with Kevin Costner in 3000 miles from Graceland and both of these actors played historic lawman Wyatt Earp around the same time period in the mid 90s.  

Russell is much like John Carpenter (last week’s Star Spotlight feature) in being known for so many great cult films but never translating to box office success.  

Movie Screens Opening $ Domestic $ Worldwide $ Released on
Used Cars NA NA 11.7 mil 11.7 mil 07/18/80
Escape from New York NA NA 25.2 mil 25.2 mil 07/10/81
The Thing 840 3.1 mil 13.7 mil 13.7 mil 06/25/82
Silkwood 257 1.2 mil 35.6 mil 35.6 mil 12/16/83
Swing Shift 710 2.2 mil 6.6 mil 6.6 mil 04/13/84
The Mean Season 876 1.5 mil 4.3 mil 4.3 mil 02/15/85
The Best of Times 872 2.4 mil 7.7 mil 7.7 mil 01/31/86
Big Trouble in Little China 1,053 2.7 mil 11.1 mil 11.1 mil 07/04/86
Overboard 1,126 1.8 mil 26.7 mil 26.7 mil 12/18/87
Tequila Sunrise 1,115 6.3 mil 41.2 mil 41.2 mil 12/02/88
Winter People 298 $743,032 2.0 mil 2.0 mil 04/14/89
Tango & Cash 1,409 6.6 mil 63.4 mil 63.4 mil 12/22/89
Backdraft 1,852 12.6 mil 77.8 mil 152.3 mil 05/24/91
Unlawful Entry 1,511 10.0 mil 57.1 mil   06/26/92
Captain Ron 1,414 4.8 mil 22.5 mil 22.5 mil 09/18/92
Tombstone 1,504 6.4 mil 56.5 mil 56.5 mil 12/24/93
Stargate 2,033 16.6 mil 71.5 mil 196.5 mil 10/28/94
Executive Decision 2,232 12.0 mil 56.5 mil 121.9 mil 03/15/96
Escape from L.A 2,312 8.9 mil 25.4 mil 25.4 mil 08/09/96
Breakdown 2,108 12.3 mil 50.1 mil 50.1 mil 05/02/97
Soldier 2,507 6.4 mil 14.5 mil 14.5 mil 10/23/98
3000 Miles from Graceland 2,545 7.1 mil 15.7 mil 18.7 mil 02/23/01
Vanilla Sky 2,742 25.0 mil 100.6 mil 203.3 mil 12/14/01
Dark Blue 2,176 3.8 mil 9.2 mil 11.9 mil 02/21/03
Miracle 2,605 19.3 mil 63.3 mil 64.4 mil 02/06/04
Sky High 2,905 14.6 mil 63.9 mil 86.3 mil 07/29/05
Dreamer 2,007 9.1 mil 32.7 mil 38.5 mil 10/21/05
Poseidon 3,555 22.1 mil 60.6 mil 181.6 mil 05/12/06
Grindhouse NA NA NA NA 04/06/07

As it says above, Kurt Russell will next be appearing in the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez film Grindhouse. Russell’s character is named Stuntman Mike and he’s appearing in the “Death Proof” segment of the film. 

That’s going to do it for this week’s edition of Star Spotlight. Talk to you later, Maniacs!


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mckracken 3/18/2007 12:47:20 AM
the only reason why KJ resides firmly in camp #2 is that he's never even SEEN Escape from New York. (Not that I have anything against KJ or anything, but I think thats a really lame argument to BE in camp #2 in the first place) GO RENT Escape from New York my friend. You'll be digging a tunnel to Camp #1 soon enough... but the natives might not like you when you arrive.
MercurialHyperbole 3/18/2007 1:41:34 AM
Does this movie really need to be remade? With a bigger budget and some MTV editing will it really make it any better? Some may say that remaking Escape is not like tainting Citizen Kane, but is there anything they can really bring to the project. The original Fog isn't great but compared to the remake it's Gone with the Wind. Will Butler try to make Snake his own or will he simply try to mimic Russel's performance? Now that Carpenter and Russel are both getting long in the tooth Escape from Earth will probably never happen, but I think would rather see a sequel or how about a prequel? Gerard could be young Snake before everyone thought he was dead maybe before the eye patch.
mckracken 3/18/2007 12:58:34 PM
I plan on seeing Grindhouse on Day #1... hopefully on Day #0 at Midnight would be cool... although thats how I saw Sin City and by 2am was falling asleep. LOL! Russell originally got his start by working for Disney as their family man father role so its no surprise he'd go and do Sky High... and having Bruce Campbell in there was a treat too but lets fact facts.... Fog to Fog it didnt improve any. Psycho to Psycho it got worse. House on Haunted Hill to House on Haunted Hill ...Mehh. House of Wax to House of Wax... abysmal. "CLASSIC" Coke vs "NEW Coke" LOL! Escape from New York to Escape from L.A. a laughable joke. Escape from New York to Escape from New York... only time will tell, you cant slap a new face on a classic. (why in the hell am I writing this inside a two and a half inch little box when I have the whole length of the table and its not EVEN BEING USED?????) Grrrrrr...
jppintar326 3/18/2007 1:02:31 PM
I liked Kurt Russell as Snake in Escape From New York and Escape From LA even though I wasn't crazy about either film. He did hold Poseidon together in the underrated remake. Used Cars was one of my favorite comedies ever. (Remember 50 bucks doesn't kill anyone.) Russell is one of the more underrated actors in Hollywood.
Pkazmania 3/18/2007 1:06:58 PM
Some movies should be left alone. I think there should be new movies with fresh ideas. I'm tired of the studios that bought the rigths to some flick and decide to put in the "it" guy/gal of the hour and try to make a buck. There are maybe a handful of remakes that actually worth the time to watch. But unfortunatly I can only think of the shitty remakes.
bjjdenver 3/18/2007 2:13:34 PM
This seems to be a four pronged discussion, 1) John Carpenter 2) Kurt Russell 3) Remakes 4) Escape From NY. 1) JC is a great director, and has left an undiputed mark on film and the sci-fi/horror genre. Some of his films have been better than others, but most leave us with a memory of the time or climate when we saw it. His films definitely have their own "feel" and whether or not you like them, that is a great compliment. 2) KR...he is the man. Time to come clean, I am almost 38 years old (old by internet standards??), and my life has been met with many different incarnations of Kurt. As a child, I watched his Disney movies, back when Disney movies were actually pretty fun (and had some adult undertones). KR played the kind of guy you wanted to be like when you got older. As I got older, he moved on to Used Cars, a freakin' classic, definitely an underrated comedy. The Thing, EFNY, BTiLC, on and on. These have become cult classics of the best kind, true fun. Then you hit the times of Tombstone, Breakdown, Soldier and such. Some great films, some not so much, but KR always had the ability to carry a movie even if it is bad. Unfortunately he has kind of hit that in between age where actors play the dad or adult figure in family films, whatever it is work. Now Grindhouse hits and man, I really think this could be a peak time in his career. How much fun does this movie look like? Damn, I can't wait!! The great thing about Kurt is he is 56, but he can play a guy in his 40's no problem. I see the GH trailers and all I think is man that is Snake Plisken. 4) Sorry but my 2 leads to 4, so 3 will be next! My problem with an EFNY remake is not only is it not needed, but it isn't even the best idea for the franchise. Picture GH Kurt as Snake in Escape from Cleveland (Although they might have to make it somewhere more exotic than Cleveland to put butts in the seats). I have to say, seeing this come around would be far more interesting to me than a remake. I'm not talking EFLA type movie, but an actual good movie with its own storyline. While we are at it, let's roll out a BTiLC sequel and a follow up to The Thing instead of all the redo talk. 4) I don't have a problem with most remakes, but the 2 that I do have are these...studios keep making really, really BAD movies and just bank on the name recognition or curiosity. The Fog remake could have been a good movie, but instead they threw in a few CWBUPNFOX faces and made a crap movie. What a waste of a great ghost story. Second, Hollywood has no recognition of the fact that many times, a film's success can be related to the social climate and the time frame it was made in. Why can't these well paid execs see what most of us can? Remaking movies and backing them with Iraq instead of Vietnam doesn't make a good movie, remaking a movie and mentioning the internet doesn't make it a good movie. Lastly, we also need to take some responsibilty. We pay the $$$ to see the crap they put out. Those of you with kids, show them some of these old movies, but don't just sit them in front of the TV, explain what drew you to the movie, explain who these actors are that they may not know, teach them an appreciation for what we see as classics that they just don't get.
jamesdalton 3/18/2007 3:42:40 PM
Remake EFNY, I don't give a shit. I won't be going to see it, so they won't be getting my $8 - $10. Just don't remake "Tango and Cash" -- that's Russell's ultimate masterpiece.
Scribe 3/19/2007 5:27:43 AM
My question is where is this film going to be set? In New York? What era? n the light of 9/11, setting a movie in a post apocalyptic NY seems like bad taste really.
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