James A. Martin

''The Waterboy's'' theatrical tradition

The Waterboy may look like just another boneheaded Adam Sandler farce to you, yet in his role as a ”water distribution engineer” who always minds his mama (the indomitable Kathy Bates), Sandler carries on in a theatrical tradition that dates back to Oedipus and Hamlet. Here, a field guide to a few other movie sons who loved their mothers not wisely but too well. And vice versa.

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''Carrie'' changed the face of horror flicks

Think your high school days were hell? Consider Sissy Spacek in Carrie. As painfully shy teenager Carrie White, she’s ridiculed in the locker room and jeered in class. She moves things when she thinks, and she has a religious-fanatic mother (Piper Laurie) who swoops about in a dark cape. Even when she’s crowned prom queen, it’s just a ploy to dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her.

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Famous ladies of the silver screen

In Hush, Jessica Lange revives the What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? tradition of respected actresses who, after their mid-40s, decide to play maniacal or diabolical harridans in schlocky thrillers. Is this yet another sign of Hollywood’s rampant sexism? Or, on closer inspection, are these shrill melodramas so different from the sublime films that turned their female stars into movie legends? As Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) said to terrorized daughter Christina in Mommie Dearest: ”You figure it out.”

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Al Pacino in 'Cruising': A Look Back

They were gay and very unhappy: hundreds of angry homosexual men and women gathered at a San Francisco theater on Feb. 15, 1980, to protest the opening of William Friedkin’s Cruising, a steamy crime drama starring Al Pacino as a cop hunting a killer who stalks gay leather clubs. Demonstrators picketed and distributed leaflets. Local police, fearing violence, were out in force. “This is the kind of movie the KKK would make about blacks,” Harry Britt, a gay city supervisor, shouted to the crowd.

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Rock Hudson's day of revelation

It had been four years since the first reports of AIDS, yet it took a dying movie star to awaken the world to the epidemic. On July 15, 1985, Doris Day was holding a press conference in Carmel, Calif., to announce her return to TV. It was also to be a reunion between Day and Rock Hudson (Send Me No Flowers, Lover Come Back), close friend, and the first guest scheduled for the cable talk show Doris Day’s Best Friends.

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