Robin’s Underrated Gems: Street Smart (1987)

It’s always fun to study the filmography of an iconic actor and discover that the role which originally put them on the map is a complete 180 from the roles they normally play. Case in point: in the long and storied career of Morgan Freeman, would you believe that the breakout role which garnered him his first Academy Award nomination was playing a psychotic pimp nicknamed “Fast Black”?! Not only, but Freeman has cited it as the personal favourite of all his Oscar-nominated performances. Freeman first entered the spotlight during when he became a performer on the PBS children’s show, The Electric Company. However, since he had much higher aspirations for his acting career, Freeman eventually became disillusioned with playing the same children’s characters over and over again and it even sent him on a downward spiral into alcoholism. When The Electric Company was cancelled, Freeman transitioned into film, but success eluded him and he was forced to take a recurring role on the soap opera, Another World. It was not until Freeman was cast in a 1987 thriller called Street Smart that he finally garnered mainstream recognition and soon became one of Hollywood’s most respected actors. Street Smart is a solid enough thriller on its own merits, but it might have been completely forgettable without Freeman’s acclaimed performance, which elevates the material. In fact, the actor’s post-Street Smart career only makes the film extra-fascinating to watch today since it’s rare to see Morgan Freeman come across so scary.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 53: The Delta Knights

The Delta Knights has got to be one of the worst fantasy movies ever made, and it appears to have been filmed at a Renaissance Faire. Yikes. But hey, you get twice the David Warner for one low price!

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 52: Mitchell

Here’s another classic MST3K episode featuring one of the most grotesque attempts at a sexy, manly hero in…Mitchell!

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Before They Were Stars: Lea Thompson in a Murder Mystery Game

Here’s a very unique project which happens to be the first acting job on Lea Thompson’s filmography. MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? was an interactive murder mystery game released in 1982 on a new format called laserdisc and was pretty ahead of it’s time in that it featured live-action cutscenes with actors which provided clues to help the players solve the game’s mystery. In addition to Thompson, you might also recognize the detective in this scene as character actor Paul Gleason, best known as the asshole principal in The Breakfast Club and the asshole deputy chief in Die Hard.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 51: Space Mutiny

This is one of the very best MST3K episodes. You’ll find yourself doing the David Ryder name gag to all your friends. If they’ve seen this episode, they’ll get it. If not, they’ll look at you like a weirdo. Fridge Largemeat!

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Before They Were Stars: Oprah Winfrey in a Promo for “Dialing for Dollars”

A popular staple of local television from the 1950s until the 80s was Dialing for Dollars. The format of involved a host drawing up a random’s person phone number and calling them at home live on the air. If the viewer happened to guess the show’s secret password, they’d win money. For decades, several different television markets had their own local version of Dialing for Dollars and during the late 1970s, the version broadcast by WJZ-TV in Baltimore just happened to be hosted by an up-and-coming television personality named Oprah Winfrey.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 50: Silent Running

This awesome sci-fi classic was the basis for Mystery Science Theater 3000, and you know what that means? The rest of the movies that I post this week will be Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies! We got movie sign!

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Before They Were Stars: Stephen Amell in “Degrassi: The Next Generation”

Even though he’s the star of Arrow, I honestly had no idea who Stephen Amell was until a few weeks ago when he got himself involved with World Wrestling Entertainment and actually competed in a tag team match last night during their annual pay-per-view, Summerslam. Anyway, given that Amell is Canadian, it’s only appropriate that one of his earliest roles was in a 2004 episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation as “Doorman”, a bit part that consisted of guarding the door to a party.

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Gill’s On Vacation – Part 49: Dazed and Confused

Summer movies don’t get much better than this classic.

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Before They Were Stars: The Undertaker Teams with The Midget Warrior

Tonight, The Undertaker will facing Brock Lesnar in the main event of the annual World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-view, Summerslam. Yes, in spite of recently turning 50 years old, Undertaker is still active and is only a few months away from his 25th anniversary with WWE. Before joining the company, Mark Calaway had a stint wrestling in Memphis as “The Master of Pain” and at one point, teamed up for a match with a masked dwarf named the Midget Warrior. No, I am not making this up!

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