Saturday, May 18, 2024

Jurassic Park: Six Degrees of Steven Spielberg and Charlie Chaplin Make the Latest Installment a Winner


If you’re thinking, how in the world to connect Steven Spielberg to Charlie Chaplin, then here it is at last, their six degrees (actually two).

The “Jurassic Park” movies are produced by Spielberg, who invented the whole franchise with the 1993 original film. We might love Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, but it was Spielberg– who also released “Schinfler’s List” the same year– who started it all.

Now, the Charlie Chaplin connection: co-starring in the new movie “Fallen Kingdom,” is the great actress Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie and Oona O’Neill. Oona was herself the daughter of famed playwright Eugene O’Neill. So that also connect O’Neill (Long Day’s Journey into Night) to Spielberg.

People of my generation became aware of Geraldine when she was featured, hilariously, by Robert Altman in his 1975 Oscar nominated classic, “Nashville.” Who will ever forget her as a send up of a loony BBC journalist, wandering around a sea of old cars in a wrecking yard, musing about American culture. “What are you trying to tell me, cars? is one of the best movie lines of all time.

Chaplin has worked pretty steadily over the years. She has three Golden Globe nominations and dozens of others from around the world. Altman also used her in his great movie, “The Wedding,” and she played her own grandmother in “Chaplin.”

You might think “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” would make Charlie Chaplin blanch, but maybe not. “Fallen Kingdom” has some of the best editing and special effects I’ve ever seen. It’s also a total entertainment, a great popcorn movie, a rollercoaster ride. Bryce Dallas Howard is outstanding, Pratt is obviously having fun. The door is left open for at least one more chapter, but maybe two as the dinosaurs are now out on their own.

PS James Cromwell appears as a wealthy magnate who wants to give sanctuary to the Jurassic dinos. Cromwell is seen in a wheelchair and a bed, never standing. This may be a result of a bad biking accident he had last year. Also, an aside: Cromwell has been married since 2014 to soap opera star Anna Stuart, of “Another World” fame. They were introduced by a mutual friend, the late actor Charles Keating, who starred with Stuart on the soap and was pals going to back to their 20s with Cromwell.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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