The Name Game

Dr. A and I saw Fruitvale Stationlast weekend. It’s an account of a day in the life of Oscar Grantwho was, of course, the poor bastard who was murdered by BART cops on New Year’s Day in 2009. It’s *that* day obviously. It’s an excellent film that portrays young Oscar warts and all, trying to be a better person before his life was snuffed out by a stupid transit cop.

Oscar Grant is played by Michael B. Jordan best known, to me at least, as Wallace the lovable young member of the Barksdale gang’s crew in the projects in The Wire. Wallace’s life was snuffed out prematurely as well, but in his case by his friends and “business associates.”

You’re probably wondering why I called this post the name game. Seeing Fruitvale Stationgot me pondering film titles and show biz name changes.Fruitvale Station is a weak title for an excellent film. It’s the Oakland BART station where Oscar Grant was killed but unless you’re from Oakland, or super familiar with the incident, it’s meaningless and not terribly memorable. They obviously couldn’t call the movie Oscar because everyone would have assumed it was about my cat…

Speaking of bad titles for good movies, we recently saw a 1956 Cornel Wilde film called Storm Fear on TCM.Wilde not only starred in the picture, he was the director and did a excellent job in both roles. The title, however, is from hunger, even I though I *really* liked this noir thriller, I kept forgetting the title. If anything, it’s a much worse title than Fruitvale Station, but neither does a good job of describing or representing the films. Do I have a better title for either? Nope. I’m a critic, not a flack and I hope I don’t take any flack for liking Fruitvale Station and disliking the title…

One more name related note inspired by my little trip to the movie theatre. Why do fewer show people change their names nowadays? Using his middle initial is a good start, but a movie star should stand out and there’s only one Michael Jordan. A British actor named James Stewart faced the same issue back in the day. His solution was to become Stewart Granger. The other recent movie name that causes me confusion is the film director, Steve McQueen. There is only one king of cool and using the McQueen name causes brand confusion. Again, I understand wanting to use one’s own name but where the hell would Archie Leach be if he hadn’t changed his name to Cary Grant?

One thought on “The Name Game

  1. The movie was called “Fruitvale” when it was shown at Sundance. Not sure why it was changed to the more precise, but to my ears more mundane, “Fruitvale Station”–maybe because they don’t want the whole area of Fruitvale to be associated with the injustice. (By the way, Fruitvale, aka Fruit Vale, did use to have orchards).
    One of these days I will have the stomach to watch that movie.
    And yes, there is something to be said about memorable stage names.

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