Movies | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

A Man With True Grit

Jan 11th, 2011 | Categories: ACL Endorses, Books, Movies | by Michael Williams

Better late than never…
Three word movie review: Go see it.

Charles Portis did something that few of us have the stones to do. He gave up a well paying job as a journalist and left the city to move to a cabin and write the great American novel.

A few months back when I heard the news of the Coen brothers remake of True Grit, it was exciting. Mostly because — unlike the 1969 version starring John Wayne — the new True Grit would very closely follow the original Portis story. In fact, Ethan and Joel Coen instructed Matt Damon not to watch the original film, they told him to read the book. And the book is truly great.

I can identify with what Portis did by giving up his job and life in the city by moving back home (to Arkansas) to follow his true passion. It is at least a feeling I can appreciate. It takes a lot of guts and the fact of the matter, change is almost always difficult.

Both True Grit and Charles Portis’ first novel Norwood both became popular movies. John Wayne ended up winning an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, which is the same thing I can see happening to Jeff Bridges, who is magnificent in the role. But the real star here is the story. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do so. Going to see the new True Grit after having read the book made it all that much more enjoyable. The Coens executed the film perfectly, in my opinion. Even Jason Bourne, er, Matt Damon was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because, prior to this, I couldn’t see Damon as much of a Western guy. But Matt Damon is terrific, as is the whole cast.

All that said, none of it could come close to being as great as the book. I suggest you own it and read it.

Sweet Smell of Success Revisted

May 10th, 2010 | Categories: Movies | by Michael Williams

Soon after getting hired by J. Press to do their public relations in 2005, I went by the store on 44th Street to introduce myself to the manager and the salesmen there. I got a chance to meet some of the old timers and so began the relationship with one of my most memorable clients. One particularly entertaining salesman — a gent named David Wilder, (who actually still works in the New York store) — was always amusing. When I introduced myself to David as the new PR guy he says to me: “Just like Sidney Falco” and I couldn’t help but to laugh. Only at J. Press would someone make that connection. Over the two and a half years I worked with J. Press David also famously (in my mind) said that “21 Club is the J. Press of restaurants” and that “Mad Men was the J. Press of TV shows.”

LIFE Archive | Marlon Brando in The Men

Dec 17th, 2009 | Categories: LIFE, Movies | by Michael Williams


There is a great photo set (by Edward Clark) in the LIFE archive of Marlon Brando preparing for his 1950 film debut The Men. The story was based on a group of returning WWII vets that had to cope with the mental and physical injuries of war. After coming off of his role in Broadway’s Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando spent a lot of time at a VA hospital preparing for movie.

Have Gun — Will Travel

Dec 1st, 2009 | Categories: Movies, TV | by Michael Williams


Thinking about getting that written on a calling card, “Have Gun — Will Travel” just like Paladin in the late 50s, early 60s Western TV and radio show of the same name. I obviously wasn’t around to see any of this show on TV, but I was watching Stand by Me over Thanksgiving and the fellas were singing the theme song throughout the movie. Interestingly enough, the theme song was also sung as a cadence in the movie Full Metal Jacket, one of my all time favorites. I have been watching Have Gun Will Travel on DVD via Netflix and the series has become some sort of a guilty pleasure. The Western genre really has some gems and this series does not disappoint. Hell, Charles Bronson even shows up in the first season.

Shuron Ltd. Eyewear

Nov 25th, 2008 | Categories: Americana, Made in the USA, Movies | by Michael Williams

An ACL reader and frequent tipster sent in a suggestion for The American List that I thought deserved a little more attention than a simple listing. Greenville, South Carolina based Shuron Ltd, is an eye wear manufacturer that has been turning out frames since the time of the Civil War. The company is most well known for their sixties style frames, but Shuron is also famous for being a sunglasses supplier for the U.S. military in WWII. These iconic sunglasses — now called the “MacArthur” after the famous Army General Douglas MacArthur — are still offered today. (Thanks to Michael for the tip)


Could this be the Preppiest Movie Ever?

Oct 15th, 2008 | Categories: Movies, Philadelphia, Preppy | by Michael Williams

Not Metropolitan or Wall Street, I’m talking about Trading Places. The 1983 comedy set in old-money Philadelphia is a perfectly costumed dose of 1980s Prep / Wasp goodness. The subject matter may be tongue-in-cheek, but you would be hard pressed to find a more preppy styled movie.

Independent Spirit Awards | Pajamas, Vests, Spectacles and Suede.

Feb 23rd, 2008 | Categories: Movies, Style | by Michael Williams

My business partner Ali always says that the Independent Spirit Awards are by far her favorite awards show. “They are just so casual, so fun and relaxed” she says. The guys came out dressed just like Ali said, casual and comfortable. Definitely how I would want to dress for an awards show.