Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chevy Chase turns 70

I was looking through today's birthdays, in lieu of writing a full-length post about anything coming up on TCM since I've either not seen them or already blogged about much of the upcoming lineup. I notic4ed that today is the 70th birthday of comic actor Chevy Chase. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, since he's been reasonably prominently woring since at least the beginning of Saturday Night Live back in 1975.

I was a bit more surprised at how prolific Chase has been, appearing in something like 40 movies since he left Saturday Night Live and made what first big movie appearance in Foul Play back in 1978. Quite a few of them are more recent stuff that I barely remember if at all; the 80s stuff, when Chase would have been at his most successful, is stuff I remember. That having been said, though, I probably haven't seen most of those 1980s films in at least 15 years.

One other thing that surprised me is looking at Chase's most recent credits on IMDb. IMDb goes in reverse chronolgical order, with #1 on a person's list being the last movie they made (at least for dead pepole), or stuff that hasn't been released yet for many actively working people. (One thing that bothers me is that TV seriers are inserted by the date of most recent appearance, which can be a problem in the case of something like Saturday Night Live where Chase has been a guest host several times.) In Chase's case, that includes playing Clark Griswold one more time in another movie in the Vacation franchise, which started off 30 years ago. The Vacation franchise also included a straight-to-DVD release. There's also apparently a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 in production, in which Chase again plays the part of "Repairman". (I didn't see the original Hot Tub Time Machine, so I don't know how small a part it is.)

Film franchises are of course nothing new to Hollywood; they've been going on at least since the Hildegarde Withers mysteries in the early 1930s, or the shorts written by SS Van Dine, if not earlier, since recurring characters were a very common feature of silent shorts. It seems to me, however, as though most fo the franchises back in the day were either shorts or B movies; look at all those detective series TCM has been running on Saturday mornings and early afternoons. Sure, The Thin Man was a big series, although I believe that was never actually meant to be a series. It's just that athe first one was so popular that even back then the studios couldn't resist trying to milk characters for all they were worth. There's also the Andy Hardy movies, although those don't seem to me to be quite the prestige movies as the other stuff MGM was putting out at the same time. I think we'd have to fast forward to James Bond in the 1960s, or am I missing something in between?

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