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 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!
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!
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).
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|
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!