Tag Archives: A Few Good Men

Director: Rob Reiner

When Harry Met Sally is typical of Rob Reiner's films - hugely popular with audiences, not critically acclaimed. See Misery, The Princess Bride, The Bucket List. Only A Few Good Men received an Oscar nod. Uploaded by moviemobsters.com.

It’s kind of sad that after all he’s accomplished as a writer and director, my first thought of Rob Reiner is to call him “meathead.” That role on All in the Family gave Reiner the credibility he needed to make his move in show business. (Being the son of the great Carl Reiner didn’t hurt, of course.)

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His directorial debut came with the brilliant This Is Spinal Tap (Great American Things, November 21, 2010), which he also co-wrote.  Among the movies he directed:

  • Stand by Me (1986)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • Misery (1990)
  • A Few Good Men (1992)
  • The American President (1995)
  • Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
  • The Bucket List (2007)

As an actor, he won two Emmy Awards for his part in All in the Family. He’s maintained his acting skills, performing mostly character roles in such movies as Postcards from the Edge, Sleepless in Seattle, and The First Wives Club. Most of his movies resonated more with audiences than critics, though I’m not sure Reiner would appreciate that point of view. Even so, only one of his films (A Few Good Men) has been nominated for an Oscar. But that filmography demonstrates conclusively why he belongs in the list of Great American Things.

TV Show: The West Wing

Through its run, The West Wing produced Emmys for Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Stockard Channing, and John Spencer. Martin Sheen won a Golden Globe and a SAG award, but never the Emmy. Uploaded by newswire.ca.

I’ll start by saying that I love the work of Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing’s creator and principal writer. He wrote one of my favorite movies, A Few Good Men (Great American Things, October 11, 2009), and his first short-lived TV series was Sports Night, a great show that never captured the public’s attention, probably because it’s title made it seem unappealing to women.

The West Wing ran on NBC from 1999 to 2006, and documented the fictional presidency of Democrat Josiah Bartlet. Though it no doubt appealed more to those on the left side of the political spectrum, its characters were so well drawn and it did such a good job of creating a sense of realism, it was a delight to watch no matter what your political persuasion.

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The show featured an exceptional cast. Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Stockard Channing, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, and Richard Schiff all handled Sorkin’s rapid-fire scripts with veteran aplomb. Perhaps best of all was John Spencer as chief of staff Leo McGarry. If I were president, I’d have wanted Spencer as my chief of staff, actor or not. Sadly, he died of a heart attack near the end of the show’s run.

The West Wing earned nine Emmy Awards – in its first season. It was named Outstanding Drama Series in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. Virtually the entire cast received nominations for acting during the show’s run, and Channing, Janney, Schiff, Spencer, and Whitford won. Emmys were also won for directing, writing, and theme music…

Actor: Jack Nicholson

Jack got a busted nose in Chinatown. Uploaded by cinemaisdope.com.

Jack got a busted nose in Chinatown. Uploaded by cinemaisdope.com.

Jack Nicholson has played some of the most fascinating roles in movie history. He’s been the Joker in Batman… J.J. Gittes in Chinatown… Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest… Jack Torrance in The Shining… and Colonel Jessep in A Few Good Men. And that’s just some of the high points.

H-e-e-e-re's Johnny! Uploaded to Flickr by stephen-kingdotch.

H-e-e-e-re's Johnny! Uploaded to Flickr by stephen-kingdotch.

One of the ways we know an actor is truly great is that he makes each part so distinctively his own that we can’t imagine anyone else in the role. And with Nicholson, there’s an edge about him that helps make his every character unpredictable.

I don’t consider Five Easy Pieces a highlight of his career, but the diner scene is quintessential Nicholson. He wants breakfast made his way, and the waitress won’t allow any substitutions. Look at how Jack controls every moment of this scene:

While it seems that Nicholson dominates most of his movies, in each of his movies for which he’s won Academy Awards, his co-star also won Best Actress: Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Great American Thing No. 140), Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets, and Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment. In addition to the three wins, he’s been nominated nine additional times. He received a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1994.

Oh, and he also played the President of the United States in Mars Attacks! Ack ack. Ack ack ack.