Monday, January 8, 2007

This Week In Video History: August 23, 1999

30BC. Cleopatra offs herself when she and boytoy Marcus Antonius get their Egyptian-Roman alliance ass kicked by Octavio. Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ Cleopatra starred Liz Taylor as the queen of Egypt and Richard Burton as Mark Anthony in an unprecedented $60 million worth of over-inflated Hollywood epic that was also $60 million worth of over-inflated Hollywood flop. It all added up to suicides aplenty at 20th Century Fox in 1963. But for all the hullabaloo, Cleopatra is a spectacle to behold and Liz Taylor is gorgeous.

1305. Scotland’s William Wallace of Elerslie is hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered for his insurrection against England. In 1995, Mel Gibson won the Oscar for William Wallace’s insurrection against England by producing, directing and starring in Braveheart.

1718. New Orleans is founded by persecuted French dissidents with horrible speech impediments from the Canadian island of Acadia. Their froggy mispronunciation of Acadians sounds like “cajuns” and thus a whole race of Southerners who sound funny when they talk and eat fish entrails in hot sauce is born. For a taste of New Orleans and a look at a very sultry Ellen Barkin, take a gander at the steamy 1987 Dennis Quaid film, The Big Easy.

1883. The Indonesian Island of Krakatoa erupts in a spewing stream of volcanic fury that engulfs the island and kills thousands of Javanese. Bernie Kowalski’s infamous disaster flick, Krakatoa: East Of Java (aka Volcano) boasts a contrived story, an outstanding cast and marvelous special effects and Maximillian Schell.

1892. The Metropolitan Opera House in NYC is almost completely destroyed by fire. Firefighters valiantly attempted to extinguish the blaze, but flames had already consumed the stage and auditorium before a fat lady could be found to finish singing. In Milos Forman’s screen version of the rock opera Hair, fat lady Nell Carter sings.

1920. The 19th Amendment is ratified, granting women the right to vote. Seventy-two years later, all that suffrage paid off when boxer-wearing studmuffin Bill Clinton was elected as President Of The United States, his ascension carried on the shoulders of women voters. His good deeds go unpunished in President Clinton’s Grand Jury Testimony.

1961. The Hockey Hall Of Fame, home of the Stanley Cup, opens in Toronto. The NHL’s Greatest Goals documents the best of the best, including Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe and The Great One, himself, Wayne Gretzky.

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