Short Cuts

Say hello to two Patric(k)s, and goodbye to some recently departed film greats.

On to Bolivia, Butch Dept.: Here at the Chronicle we used to have a great poster hanging in the office for Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker! I thought of it the moment I heard James Coburn had died. I guess the poster had been there forever -- like Coburn -- because it was there when I came onboard 13 years ago. I hadn't seen the film (or even heard of it) at the time, but I sought it out and loved it madly, like I love all Leone films. It's been a God-awful holiday season as far as the Reaper goes, in case you hadn't noticed: Coburn, cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, director George Roy Hill, actor Kenneth Tobey, actor Jonathan Harris, and last but not least (though possibly the bloodiest), Italian legend Antonio Margheriti, the assistant director behind Andy Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula (and the director of the infamously not-so-good Cannibal Apocalypse). Hall was one of the most gifted cinematographers of all time -- he did Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (for which he won his first Oscar) and more recently American Beauty (second Oscar), as well as the perpetually underrated Marathon Man. Hill directed -- oh, the irony! -- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Hall, as well as The Sting and that classic exercise in vulgarity, Slap Shot. Tobey was perhaps not the most famous of the lot, but his roles in the classic Ray Harryhausen films The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and It Came From Beneath the Sea put the fear of water into me long, long before Bruce the Shark took to the Spielbergian wakes. Finally, Harris was, lest we forget, manic panic incarnate on television's Lost in Space, as Dr. Zachary Smith ("I told you not to go out there -- now look what you've done! Oh, the ignominy!") and the voice of A Bug's Life's Manny. Like I said, it's been a rough holiday season for film fans. Suffice it to say each and every one of those mentioned above made me (us, at the Chronicle) who I am today. They'll all be missed and remembered, right down to the last goofball line, you silly robot, you, on video and DVD... Speaking of movies, you're probably saying, "Hey, what's up with The Alamo?" Glad you asked. Semi-newcomer Patrick Wilson, a Broadway thesp who'll next appear in Mike Nichols' upcoming HBO production of Angels in America, has signed as William Travis according to Reuters, taking over for the previously unengaged Russell Crowe. And Variety reports that Jason Patric (Narc, The Lost Boys) has just signed for the plum part of Jim Bowie. The pair joins the already-secured Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, and director John Lee Hancock. The list grows longer, production date sooner...

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Patrick Wilson, John Lee Hancock, Jason Patric, Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, The Alamo, George Roy Hill, Jonathan Harris, Conrad Hall, Antonio Margheriti, James Coburn

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