Written by / 9/14/2014 / No comments /

POP CULTURE CONTRABAND: MOVIE MARQUEE SPOTTING

"Take all the money, but no wire hangers."
When you're watching a movie, especially an older one, it's fun to spot a marquee in the background, which, for pop culture fanatics, is like archeology... Marquee hunting provides a backdrop into pop culture history, serving as a time capsule within a time capsule: The best marquees to discover are the real thing, yet there are other examples where they're created specifically for the film... Both types are included in the list below...

MOMMIE DEAREST IN BLUE THUNDER: In the 1983 Roy Scheider action flick BLUE THUNDER, two bad guys are about to rob a store... And if you glance to the far right you can see that MOMMIE DEAREST is playing... Although the marquee is blurry you can also see part of Faye Dunaway's name...
SO WELCOME TO THE FIRST JOURNEY OF FINDING MARQUEES IN MOVIES

Stallone saving Dolly from Leibman
THE RIGHT STUFF & TO BE OR NOT TO BE IN RHINESTONE:

The late Bob Clark's RHINESTONE is one of the worst movies of all time, but it's a guilty pleasure too. Sylvester Stallone is a cab driver who's taught to be a country singer by Dolly Parton...

If he can't win over an unruly crowd, Dolly has to sleep with Ron Leibman...

In this scene, as a lovestruck Sly rides a horse to rescue his damsel, a marquee for THE RIGHT STUFF and Mel Brook's TO BE OR NOT TO BE is visible. Also included is DC CAB, THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN, TWO OF A KIND, and something that ends with NEVER...
"We can walk down the street, or see my ex girlfriend in a movie."
Stacey Nelkin in H3
HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH IN BROADWAY DANNY ROSE: Here's a marque spotting with some significance of the romantic nature, and involves robbing the cradle... Anyone who's seen Woody Allen's MANHATTAN will remember that Mariel Hemingway played a seventeen-year old girl that Woody dates...

The character Hemingway plays is named Tracy, and her subtle performance garnered Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter a best supporting Oscar nomination. But this isn't about Mariel, it's about another young, beautiful actress named Stacey Nelkin, whom the MANHATTAN ingenue Tracy is based on...

Woody, in his forties, had an affair with the sixteen-year old Nelkin, who'd later star in HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH with Tom Atkins... And as Allen crosses the street in his subtle masterpiece, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE, you can see the marquee of his ex-girlfriend's new flick (this being 1983) along with Larry Cohen's monster movie Q: THE WINGED SERPENT, snake logo and all.
"Forget the double feature, let's get stalked and hunted by Stephen McHattie instead."
THE BLUE LAGOON & CHINA SYNDROME IN DEATH VALLEY: In the cult horror/suspense flick DEATH VALLEY, poor Peter Billingsley has to move from New York to Arizona, and as soon as the plane lands, he and mom joins mom's boyfriend (Paul LeMat) on a road trip towards the Grand Canyon...

Before that, they pass a theater marquee where THE BLUE LAGOON is playing with THE CHINA SYNDROME... An exploitation and a political thriller to fill up the afternoon... But they have other things to do: The movies would have been a lot safer...
"I'll come back once the first movie is finished..."
HIS GIRL FRIDAY & FREAKS IN THE WORLD'S GREATEST DAD: This post is important to difarinciate two kinds of movie marquees spotted in motion pictures, as teased upon in the intro...

The best to find are actual marquees caught on film, but there are the contrived marquees made especially for the movie... Not as vintage but still kinda cool...

Like in the case of Bobcat Goldthwait's THE WORLD'S GREATEST DAD starring the late Robin Williams, a creative indie flick... And here, Robin walks by a very eclectic double bill...
"Gonna fly into the theater..."
ROCKY II & ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ IN HERO AT LARGE: In the John Ritter comedy HERO AT LARGE, where John plays an actor who takes a gig playing a superhero outside a theater, and then winds up fighting crime and becomes a, you know, hero...

During one shot several marquees are visible: one for ROCKY II and an Oliver Reed flick called THE BROOD, and below is a marquee Clint Eastwood feature ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ...
Marquee for ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
"You talkin' to me, blurry marqee? Are you talkin' to me?" 
BUSTIN' LOOSE IN THE KING OF COMEDY: In KING OF COMEDY, Martin Scorsese and once partner in creativity Robert De Niro's most underrated and bizarre movie, De Niro's Rupert Pufkin is arguing with Sandra Bernhardt on the streets of NEW YORK...

Behind Rupert the marquee for the Richard Pryor comedy BUSTIN' LOOSE can be seen...
And now some marquees from ANGEL... starting with OCTOPUSSY
BLUE THUNDER MARQUEE
FLASHDANCE POSTER
"Why walk the streets with so many great movies playing?"
RANDOM MARQUEES IN ANGEL: The 1984 cult classic ANGEL... starring Donna Wilkes and centering on an honor student moonlighting as a hooker... takes place on Hollywood Blvd where there's plenty of marquees...

These include, as you've already witnessed: OCTOPUSSY, BLUE THUNDER, RETURN OF THE JEDI and a poster of FLASHDANCE.
"Put down that speed... Let's watch a terrible sequel!"
STAYING ALIVE IN REPO MAN: A marquee for SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER sequel STAYING ALIVE is visible... Very ironic mixing two opposite genres...

REPO MAN is a movie about a punk rocker, and STAYING ALIVE is not only a sequel to a disco staple, but is the most famous disco song: and punkers detest that kind of music...
"The movie to the left seems a lot more exciting, least judging by the title..."
LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH IN PRIME CUT: As Lee Marvin leaves Chicago in the crime flick PRIME CUT we can spot, on the left, a marquee for the horror/suspense LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH...

And the marquee on the right reads EDGAR ALLEN POE'S MURDER IN THE RUE MORGUE staring Jason Robards.
The lady on the swing below the Chevy ad...
PEPSODENT GIRL IN THE ORIGINAL KING KONG: The 1933 blockbuster KING KONG is known for iconic imagery, like prehistoric dinosaurs and of course a giant gorilla and biplanes flying around the Empire State Building and a lot more, but what always stands out, before any of the other stuff, is the Pepsodent Advertisment with the girl on the swing. (For nostalgia's sake, Peter Jackson even used it in his reboot.)

And below, an ad from the James Cagney melodrama TAXI for good measure...
"You dirty rat... Let's go to the pictures."
A handsome, contrived marquee to serve the time period
THE BIRDS IN TIN MEN: Forget RAIN MAN... Director Barry Levinson's best movie is TIN MEN, a comedy/drama about aluminum siding salesman Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss battling each other, but there's a lot more to the character-driven story set in the early 1960's...

1963 to be exact as this marquee of the famous Hitchock movie clues us.
"We can stare at pizza, or go see THE EVIL DEAD."
THE EVIL DEAD & LONE WOLF McQUADE IN SPLASH: In director Ron Howard's hit rom-com SPLASH, Daryl Hannah's mermaid is given her name Madison since she and Tom Hanks are standing on that particular street corner, and that's the first thing she reads... But imagine if she'd seen the marquee for LONE WOLF McQUADE first... A double bill along with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

And as shown above, when the couple watch a pizza maker, an EVIL DEAD marquee is visible in the background, along with XTRO.
"Forget about streetlights, you dizzy mermaid... Let's watch some Chuck Norris!"
This marquee looks timeworn-blended into the urban neighborhood...
ENTER TH DRAGON IN BLOODBROTHERS: In the Robert Mulligan drama BLOODBROTHERS, starring Paul Sorvino, who'd later rule the local mob in the Martin Scorsese GOODFELLAS...Tony La Bianco, the white rabbit leading Gene Hackman to the big bust in THE FRENCH CONNECTION...

And a young and edgy Richard Gere, who takes his little brother to the movies. And what a movie!

DRAGONSLAYER poster
RANDOM MOVIE POSTERS IN SUMMER RENTAL: Okay so we'll finish up with posters inside the theaters. Sure, they're not marquees, but it's all in the same family... Speaking of which, the 1985 family comedy SUMMER RENTAL was John Candy's first starring role...

His daughter, played by the lovely Kerri Green from LUCAS and THE GOONIES, stands in a movie theater where posters of UNCOMMON VALOR, FOOTLOOSE, DRAGONSLAYER... And outside the theater, a poster of TOP SECRET! (and again FOOTLOOSE) can be spotted in the rain. And two connections for Candy's RENTAL wife, Karen Austin, who was on NIGHT COURT with John Larroquette, and John was in STRIPES with Candy.
A winder shot of Kerri Green against a DRAGONSLAYER poster, directed by the CORVETTE SUMMER guy
John Larroquette, the foil for John Candy in STRIPES, seems to move in on his wife and family
Karen Austin, a really cute kid and son Joey Lawrence with UNCOMMON VALOR and FOOTLOOSE posters
Over to the right, hard to see, is a FRIDAY THE 13TH poster where it says JASON and then words beneath
With so many of Green, here's a close-up on a beautiful starlet Karen Austin
John Larroquette and Karen Austin spent a year doing NIGHT COURT together
 UNCOMMON VALOR and FOOTLOOSE
STAY TUNED FOR MORE MARQUEES SPOTTED IN MOVIES...
Just added, June 4th 2017... Another from Prime Cut, the William Holden flick, THE REVENGERS
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