Watch Peter Falk in the Oscar-winning Doc “Scared Straight!” and “A Constant Forge”

“These teenagers are going to prison.”

That’s the first line (excluding a warning about language) spoken by Peter Falk, who passed away yesterday, in the Oscar-winning 1978 documentary “Scared Straight!” Out of context it would sound like “Columbo” had solved a case involving youths, and Falk’s famous TV role is likely why he was hired to narrate (and momentarily appear in) the introductory part of Arnold Shapiro’s legendary film. Really the teens are going to Rahway State Prison for a three-hour “sentence” to be, yes, “scared straight” by a number of threatening, foul-mouthed (hence the language warning) inmates.

Even if you haven’t seen the original doc, you’ve likely seen any one of the many parodies it inspired, such as a recent one on “Saturday Night Live.” And if you have seen the doc, you might have seen the Apted-like revisited version hosted by Danny Glover which shows us what’s happened to those teens in the 20 years since the film was made. I would embed this version as it’s on YouTube, but due to copyright issues the video is silent, which means you can only see Falk, not hear him. But you can check it out with sound now at LiveLeak.com or rent the whole DVD from Netflix.

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Watch Gil Scott-Heron in “Black Wax”

Gil Scott-Heron, who died yesterday at the age of 62, is best known for the spoken-word single “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” His influence on black culture, political poetry and music is tremendous, but what about documentary film? Well the title of his most famous track has been borrowed for the title of one prominent non-fiction film: Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain’s 2003 film on Hugo Chavez, which unintentionally/fortuitously documented the attempted coup in 2002.

And then there is Robert Mugge’s “Black Wax,” a 1983 music doc focused on Scott-Heron as he performs in and walks around D.C. and hangs out with wax figures of political and historical figures. You can’t rent it from Netflix as it appears to be out of print, with new DVDs selling for about $80 on Amazon — VHS copies are only $3, though. There are at least a few clips here and there on the web, one of which — I think it’s the beginning — you can check out after the jump.

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Watch Tim Hetherington’s Short Documentaries “Diary” and “Sleeping Soldiers”

It’s extremely upsetting to hear about the death of Tim Hetherington, photojournalist and co-director of the Oscar-nominated “Restrepo,” as well as cinematographer for “The Devil Came on Horseback.” It was made known via a fellow journalist’s Facebook page that Hetherington and photographer Chris Hondros were killed while covering the conflict in Libya and has since been confirmed.

“Restrepo” was one of the best documentaries of 2010 and its embedded-journalism format certainly shows the kind of danger Hetherington would put himself in for the sake of great cinema and journalism. His bravery was to our benefit and his death is a great loss in that regard, as well as with the obvious and direct tragedy of the situation.

Let’s remember him through his work. First, here’s a short, personal film he made last year about what he does and why he does it, titled “Diary”:

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Watch Farley Granger in “Celluloid Closet”

We lost the actor Farley Granger a couple days ago, to natural causes, and of course it means people will be revisiting his films in memory. The likely top picks will be his Hitchcock classics, “Strangers on a Train” and “Rope,” but for me “Celluloid Closet” was the immediate place to go. It’s a brief appearance, I think his last on screen, as he talks about “Rope,” a scene from which is also featured.

He shows up around the 0:45 mark in the clip below:

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Watch Jane Russell in “Hollywood on Fire” and “Hollywood Uncensored”

I’m bringing something I used to do at Spout over to this blog, as it is more appropriate here. Rather than write up a full tribute for someone and reference the same old classic fiction films, I like to spotlight documentaries featuring the late celeb or film talent. Today we lost actress Jane Russell, whose last screen appearance may well have been a new short doc about ugly dogs titled “Worst in Show.” Directed by John Beck and Don R. Lewis (of Film Threat), the film is currently circulating the festivals and I really do need to review it here asap (sorry, Don!). Here’s a link to the trailer, which I’d embed if there was a shot of Russell in it.

What I can share is a short clip of the screen legend in “Hollywood on Fire,” a recent feature by “Kimjongilia” producer Kyle Saylors about faith in the film industry. Russell of course founded the “Hollywood Christian Group,” which she talks about in the clip below, including an anecdote about inviting Marilyn Monroe to the Bible study.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

She’s also prominently featured in the trailer, which you can see after the jump.

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