Willow (1988) rewatch – Part 2

Watching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! Today we’re looking at a whole bunch of credits and one monster attack, 2:35-5:45 on the Blu-ray.

The music continues to get more hopeful and inspirational-sounding as Ethna sits with the baby by a frozen lake, snow-capped mountains in the background. (Could these be the snowy areas we visit later in the movie?) The title then comes up on screen in a fancy font. All the credits are navy blue, which doesn’t quite match the nature-y setting. I guess the navy blue helps the credits stand out no matter what is behind them.

Ethna walks through more snowscapes during the credits. Let’s do this:

Val Kilmer (as Madmartigan). Kilmer’s surfer-boy good looks combined with his many eccentricities made him a familiar yet unconventional movie star, known for roles in Top Secret, Top Gun, Tombstone, Batman Forever, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and many more.

Joanne Whalley (as Sorsha). Originally an English new wave singer for Cindy and the Saffrons, Whalley broke into acting on English TV before being cast in Willow, and had a variety of movie and TV roles since. She and Kilmer married after meeting during the making of Willow. They divorced in 1996.

Warwick Davis (as Willow). Davis was barely a teenager when cast as Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, kicking off an acting career and friendship with George Lucas, who created the role of Willow with him in mind. Davis also appeared the Harry Potter films, and both starred in and co-produced the Leprechaun franchise. He’s also the co-founder of Willow Management, talent agency for actors under five feet tall and over seven feet tall.

Ethna crosses from the snow to tree-lined pastoral setting for the next bunch of credits.

Patricia Hayes (as Fin Raziel). An English actress who has worked in film and TV since the 1940s. She won a BAFTA award in 1971 for the TV movie Edna the Inebriate Woman.

Gavan O’Herlihy (as Airk). A familiar face for sci-fi/action/B-movie fans, O’Herlihy had memorable supporting roles in Never Say Never Again, Death Wish 3, Lonesome Dove, and Superman 3. He played the oft-forgotten other Cunningham brother, Chuck, from the first season of Happy Days.

Phil Fondacaro (as Vohnkar). Another former Ewok performer, Fondacaro worked consistently since Willow, appearing in various TV roles and a lot of horror movies. He played the “elf” who fought Will Ferrell in Elf.

Pat Roach (as General Kael). The six-foot-five Roach got his start in pro wrestling before breaking into acting when we was cast in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. He appeared in the first three Indiana Jones movies, as three different characters, and also appeared in Conan the Destroyer, Clash of the Titans, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. As of January 2018, Roach’s IMDB photo is him as General Kael.

Rick Overton (as Franjean). Mostly known as a standup comedian, Overton has a list of comedy bit parts he’s done in movies and TV. He also plays blues harmonica with various blues groups. He can currently be seen on the Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here.

Kevin Pollak (as Rool). Pollak went on to have an enormously successful career in both comedic and dramatic roles, such as The Usual Suspects and A Few Good Men. He’s currently the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and he hosts his own internet talk show, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show.

Special Appearance by Billy Barty. A TV star during the 1950s heyday of live television, Barty gruff voice and expressive face landed him a ton of roles from the ’60s through the ‘80s as wisecracking, sarcastic characters. The internet is trying to convince me that when Barty was a baby he appeared in Bride of Frankenstein. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Jean Marsh as Queen Bavmorda. Mostly a television actress, March is perhaps best known for both starring in and co-creating the landmark English series Upstairs Downstairs, for which she won an Emmy. She was also in Cleopatra, The Changeling, and Hitchcock’s Frenzy. Guest spots on The Twilight Zone and classic Doctor Who no doubt helped prepare her for Willow.

The credits then take a break so the movie’s story can continue. We can tell that some time has passed (Weeks? Months? A year? Hard to tell) because the baby now has a big puff of orange-red hair atop her head. Ethna reacts to howling in the background, and we the audience know it’s those dogs from the castle. Then we see dogs with big bear-like heads running through the trees. These are the Death Dogs. The official canon has a lot to say about these dogs, but we’ll wait for a future scene to get through all these credits.

Ethna runs from the dogs during the next batch of credits:

Production Designer Allan Cameron. A graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, Cameron did art design for a variety of well-known movies, such as Highlander, Starship Troopers, The Mummy (1999), The Da Vinci Code, and (wa-hey!) Showgirls.

Visual Effects, Industrial Light and Magic, Dennis Muren, Michael McAlister, and Phil Tippett. Hardcore Star Wars fans know these names as the brains who gave the original trilogy its eye-popping effects. ILM and this trio share credits on the Indiana Jones films, the first three Robocop films, Jurassic Park, and many more.

Special Effects Supervisor John Richardson. Not sure what Richardson did that ILM didn’t do, except that he is clearly more England-based, and not a regular part of the Lucas/Spielberg camp. He worked on effects for several James Bond films, Aliens, and all eight Harry Potter films.

Costume Designer Barbara Lane. I couldn’t find much information about Lane online. She provided costumes for a number of TV movies and miniseries from the ’70s through the ‘90s, mostly period films.

Then more story. Ethna reaches a river, and runs right into the water, to where it’s almost up to her knees. She finds a piece of driftwood that is pretty much perfectly shaped to be the size of a baby basket. Later in the movie, we’ll meet Cherlindrea and the Brownies. Could Cherlindrea have commanded the Brownies to construct this basket, knowing what will happen? Given how little we know about Cherlindrea, this will have to remain mere speculation.

Ethna checks to see whether the basket will float, and then places the baby in it. With a gentle push, the baby goes full-on Moses and floats down the river. The dogs run across the water, which is not as deep for them as it was for her. Just as the first dog reaches Ethna and jumps at her, we cut away to a shot of the baby floating away, sparing the audience any bloody violence. (Gotta save the blood for the final act.)

Back to the names:

Director of Photography Adrian Biddle B.S.C. Cinematographer for several of Ridley Scott’s films, as well as Aliens. He was nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar for Thelma and Louise. “B.S.C.” stands for British Society of Cinematographers.

Film Editors Daniel Hanley and Michael Hill. These two are Ron Howard’s regulars, editing most of Howard’s films. Hanley got his start working on Laverne and Shirley, and Hill first worked with Howard on the comedy Night Shift.

Associate Producer Joe Johnston. After working on visual effects and production design on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, Johnston has since become a successful director, helming The Rocketeer, October Sky, Jurassic Park III, and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Executive Producer George Lucas/Story by George Lucas. Beloved by fans for creating Star Wars, and despised by those same fans for creating the Star Wars prequels. See also THX-1138, American Graffiti, Howard the Duck, Radioland Murders, Strange Magic.

Music Composed by James Horner. With both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in music from UCLA, Horner went on to score more than 150 films. He was nominated for ten Oscars, winning two — both for Titanic.

Screenplay by Bob Dolman. A comedy writer best known for SCTV, Dolman later re-teamed with Ron Howard to write and co-produce Far and Away. He produced, wrote, and directed the 2006 comedy How to Eat Fried Worms.

Producer Nigel Wooll. An England-based assistant director and producer, there’s not a lot of info about him available. The list of movies he’s worked on is a huge variety, everything from G.I. Jane to Year of the Comet to Die Die My Darling to Ishtar.

Directed By Ron Howard. A former child star, Howard became a mega-celebrity thanks his starring role on Happy Days. He went to become one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, with films including Cocoon, Parenthood, Far and Away, and Apollo 13. He won a Best Director Oscar for A Beautiful Mind.

Finally, after traveling some distance and even going over some small rapids (!), the baby’s makeshift basket comes to a stop at one of bank of the river, now a light stream at this point. We get a shot of the baby looking around nervously as birds can be heard chirping. We’ll see who finds the baby… next time.

Next: My father the hero.


Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.


About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH. amazon.com/dp/B00859NDJ8
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