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||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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WB’s “Lost in Space” Update: Pilot to Film in March, Producers Now Casting

By ChrisFaile

December 14th, 2003

“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” Fans of the 1965 television series were ecstatic to hear that these famous words would again be uttered in a new version of the fantasy-adventure series “Lost in Space,” possibly as soon as this fall.

Now, further details are surfacing for the WB’s forthcoming pilot, thanks to FilmJerk.com sources. Filming on the one-hour drama will begin in March 2004, with John Woo confirmed to direct the series’ initial episode, as was speculated about in the Hollywood Reporter. In addition, producers are currently looking to cast the lead characters in the series, including the entire Robinson family and pilot Don West. The show is in consideration for the 2004 fall season.


According to the Reporter in an October story, the series is a modern account of the Robinson family, their robot and evil Dr. Zachary Smith. The idea piqued the interest of several networks, setting up a competition between CBS, ABC and the WB for the project.

The lead characters are described in casting notes, obtained by FilmJerk.com through sources, as:

  • John Robinson: In his 40’s and attractive, John Robinson is not the Dad you had— he's the Dad you wish you had. A former war hero now approaching middle-age, John's looking forward to putting his fighting days behind him, and to the family days ahead. John is strong, gruff, but kind (imagine an NFL player in his first year of retirement). He may not always do the most sensitive thing – he does not know how to talk to his kids yet – but he always listens and he always tries. Every decision John makes, he makes for the good of his family. Yet for all his strength, both physically and emotionally, John is no Superman. His back aches, he needs bifocals (but will never admit it). And while he can fight and defeat men half his age, he knows it'll cost him. His wife always knows what he's feeling. The kids love to tease their dad for being out of touch, but deep down they love him, because they know he'll always protect them.

  • Maureen Robinson: In her late 30s to mid 40s, she is also described as attractive. Maureen is a career woman who's smashed through the glass ceiling, had a family, and is now fully ready to get back to work. She's grown into the role of "Mom," but she's still a vibrant and sexual woman. Though she's never been in a physical fight, Maureen is brightly athletic, and in the toughness department, she's John's match in every way. Maureen simply does not know how to back down from a fight. She loves her kids, and speaks to them like they're adults, while still giving them the unconditional love all children need— she’s a momma lion. But to be honest, dealing with the boys is easier for her. Maureen's secret dilemma is this: she knows her teenage daughter Judy will be a woman soon. Maureen loves Judy, but there's a rivalry there, as all mothers and daughters must have.

  • Judy Robinson: Producers are looking for an actress to pass for 16 years old. Described as pretty, Judy's a teenage girl that is a genetic combination of her father's warrior spirit (a gifted soccer goalie) and her mother's inability to back down from a fight. She's also a motormouth. Judy has a huge vocabulary, impressible smarts, and once she gets started, she will never shut up. She's also a slave to her hormones, which are all racing through her. She's also described as boy-crazy and not being able to stand still; she's an emotional roller coaster with no brakes. In her mind, Judy is the center of the universe and no one understands her. Her mom, most of all, can't imagine what she's going through. When lost in space, her father lays down the law, Judy complies (mostly) but she knows how to manipulate him. When her mother applies the tough love, the fighting never stops. Her greatest nemesis is her little brother Will, whom she calls "The Worm." She mocks the Worm mercilessly - but if anyone else comes near her little brother - she'll protect him to the death.

  • Will Robinson: At 9 years old, the often-smiling Will Robinson looks like he's just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. But, inside, his heart is always broken. Will loves people and he hates being alone. But he's alone almost all of the time because the other kids won't go near him. It's not Will's fault he was blessed with a genius-level IQ. This makes him a freak to the other kids, and he is a genius. At five he impressed MIT laboratories with his designs for a pulse quasar drive system. At seven, he lectured in Japan. But none of this interests him. He wants to be a regular kid, with regular friends, eat peanut butter sandwiches (his favorite) and read comic books. His mother loves him without effort; his father tries to help Will be "normal" but it always backfires. They (almost literally) speak different languages, but they’ll both keep trying to find one another.

  • Don West: “Remember Fonzi?,” asks the casting notes. “This guy is Fonzi. Not the late-season, family-friendly cuddly Fonzi, but the early one. The dangerous one.” Don West knows how to fix any engine, seduce any daughter and win any barroom fight (and if he has to fight dirty, it’s an added bonus). Don's got nothing to lose— He's the youngest member of the elite Pilot Corps Squadron, the "Top Gun" of space programs. They'd love to kick him out for his show-boating and attitude, but Don can fly anything, and he's not modest about it. To him, the flying squadron is just another gang he can lord over. He pretends not to know that he is the most handsome guy a girl's ever seen - but he works it. Everyone knows this guy. Judy's (not so) secretly in love with him. David thinks he's a jerk riding for a fall. Will's scared sh**less of the mention of his name. His father looks down on him, but secretly - he reminds him of who he used to be, years ago. So there's jealousy there. Mom thinks he's bad news - and wants him nowhere near Judy. That's a turn-on to Don. And he thinks Mom's a MILF.

    Sounds marginally better than the 1998 feature film that remade the series. “Space” purists might be a little alarmed by the Don West description more than anything else.

    Six executive producers are overseeing the pilot, including Douglas Petrie (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), along with Jon Jashni and Kevin Burns through the Synthesis Entertainment banner that the duo formed in 2001 to oversee revivals of the TV and film properties controlled by the late “Lost in Space” creator Irwin Allen's estate.

    The Scorecard
    Executive Producers: Kevin Burns, Jon Jashni, John Woo, Terence Chang, Suzanne Zizzi and Doug Petrie
    Writer: Doug Petrie
    Director: John Woo
    Casting Directors: Nikki Valko & Ken Miller
    Start Date: March 2004
    Location: Vancouver or Los Angeles
    Production Company: 20th Century Fox / Regency Television
    Network: The WB