Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Friday treat

With thanks to Martin. I really must watch Vincente's under-cherished BELLS ARE RINGING again ("I have the dvd/blu-ray so can watch it anytime" as Martin always says), with the heartbreakingly wonderful Judy Holliday. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

RIP, continued ....

Jimmy Perry (1923-2016), aged 93.  Another stalwart of the golden age of BBC television, Perry was the co-scriptwriter (with David Croft) and creator of those immortal hit series DAD'S ARMY, IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM, HI-DE-HI and more. They will continue to be watched as long as we watch television, He was actually a Butlins redcoat himself, which must have provided a wealth of material, as did his stint in Burma during the war; and his 25 year writing partnership with Croft was rich indeed.

Pierre Etaix (1928-2016), French comedian, actor, director, clown, almost he French Buster Keaton?. I remember his hit from 1964, YO YO. A lot of his work was unseen for years due to legal tangles. He worked with Tati, Bresson and even Jerry Lewis. 

Bobby Vee (1943-2016), aged 73. The almost impossibly cute Bobby Vee was one of those popular singers of the early sixties (like Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Tommy Sands etc) until the arrival of The Beatles and the British Invasion, though he remained popular in the UK till the mid-60s, Vee, at 15, got his start stepping in for the late Buddy Holly in 1959. leading to his 6 gold singles. We kids liked those hits like "Rubber Ball", "The Night Has A 1000 Eyes", "Take Good Care Of My Baby", "Run To Him" etc.. He continued touring until 2011 and the onset of Alzheimers. 

Pete Burns (1959-3016) aged 57. Another music legend departs. It was impossible to escape from Burns's "You Spin Me Around" by his band Dead Or Alive, back in 1985. He later developed, in /Boy George's words, into "a great English eccentric", with all his cosmetic surgery and reality TV appearances. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Evening, 2007

A drama exploring the romantic past and emotional present of Ann Grant and her daughters, Constance and Nina. As Ann lays dying, she remembers, and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life 50 years prior, when she was a young woman. Harris is the man Ann loves in the 1950s and never forgets.

Yes, EVENING sounds like one of those nauseatingly soppy afternoon tv movies for the home audience, not suitable for us trendy folk. We avoided it at the time, but seeing it was on telly we had to look it, if only for that cast. One way - the only way? - of jazzing up a story like this is to make it look good and pile in the names, thats what they did here, as directed by Lajos Koltai.

The dying woman is Vanessa Redgrave, and also popping in are Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and the great Eileen Atkins. Add in Vanessa's daughter Natasha Richardson, plus Toni Collette and Claire Danes (as the younger Vanessa). The men, including Patrick Wilson and Hugh Dancy, barely get a look it. It all looks terrific too, Rhode Island in the 1950s .... all those seascapes. 

The grand dames all get their moment with Vanessa, as the memories keep piling up and colliding with the present. It's a deliberately paced, visually gorgeous meditation on real life issues, and you can cry at it and not feel like you're being manipulated too much.

Till The End Of Time, 1946

Here's a doozy - another 1940s dream factory product - see SINCE YOU WENT AWAY below - and also featuring Guy Madison, here in the lead (as opposed to the minute or two of his debut as the marine in SINCE YOU WENT AWAY in 1944). This one, by Edward Dmytryk, is another about soldiers returning from the war and settling into civilian life, but is a lighter version of THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, also 1946

Three former marines have a hard time readjusting to civilian life. Perry can't deal with the loss of the use of his legs. William is in trouble with bad debts. And Cliff can't decide what he wants to do with his life, although he gets encouragement from war widow Pat Ruscomb.

Here we have Guy, Robert Mitchum and Bill Williams (sans legs). I like that perfectly Californian Spanish style home Guy returns to, showing that comfy Forties California middle-class milieu - dig those automobilies!- and the film focuses on him a lot - we see him in bed quite a bit, he jitterbugs with the girl next door, and tries to help his buddies, though his parents get annoyed at his lack of direction and choosing a career to settle in, but hey, he's a young hunky ex-marine. 
Dorothy McGuire is ideal (apart from smoking a lot) as the war widow he falls for. She was later the perfect wife and mother in FRIENDLY PERSUASION, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, A SUMMER PLACE, SUSAN SLADE etc). Mitch doesn't have much to do here. More Guy at label. 
As a 2003 review on IMDB put it: I would make the case that Guy Madison may be the best-looking young man to ever star in a feature film, and this is his best one. There are moments where his totally unselfconscious looks are just jaw-dropping. His acting, on the other hand, can be described charitably as "natural"; but I wasn't expecting Lawrence Olivier. Guy was an early find of legendary Hollywood agent Henry Willson, who would later "discover" a tall young man whom he renamed Rock Hudson.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Tab Hunter Confidential

The book "Tab Hunter Confidential" was a fascinating read some years ago, as Tab took us through his career as that Fifties heart-throb with a secret - he was gay. It is now a film, with a wealth of clips and interviewees from that Fifties Golden Age. 
Tab, now in his mid-80s, is still fit, busy with his horses, and comes across as a man of integrity. He does not dish any dirt needlessly, and unlike some (Rock) he did not do the usual marriage of convenience for a year or two to put off the newshounds. He was genuinely friends with those girls he dated: Natalie, Debbie, Venetia Stevenson, Terry Moore etc. The survivors are all here, plus Robert Wagner, Clint Eastwood, Mother Dolores Hart, Rex Reed and more.

The clips show what a big deal he was then - I liked him in ISLAND OF DESIRE, BATTLE CRY, the two with Natalie - her dark looks complementing his blonde - and with Sophia Loren in Lumet's under-rated THAT KIND OF WOMAN in 1959. Pity he never got that main role that defined him (unlike his pal Tony Perkins), perhaps his best role now is in DAMN YANKEES in 1958, with that Fosse choreography. 
Tab also had a go at singing and had some top ten hits and albums, but he got tired of all that and bought out his Warner Bros contract, so Jack Warner replaced him with the manufactured Troy Donahue - another of gay agent Henry Willson's boys (as was Tab, plus Guy Madison, Rory Calhoun and of course Rock) while Elvis, Ricky Nelson and Fabian were also hitting the movies. It was though the cusp of the 1960s with a new breed of new guys emerging like the young Warren Beatty and Robert Redford who were able to parlay their looks into enduring careers. Other '50s hunks like Jeff Hunter and Robert Wagner had similar career problems. 
Tab was soon old hat, despite a surfing movie and some European cheapies. But he kept going, with smaller roles and guest appearances, as in THE LOVED ONE in 1965. He was also into figure-skating and horse-jumping, and did a lot of dinner theatre. He was also in that short-lived first production of Tennessee Williams' THE MILK TRAIN DOES NOT STOP HERE ANYMORE with Tallulah Bankhead - one of those productions that has passed into legend (it later became the Burtons' BOOM!).  Then of course he was re-discovered by John Waters for POLYESTER and LUST IN THE DUST with bombshell Divine. 
Lots of fascinating stories here, including his relationship with Tony Perkins (a very ambitious actor, who managed to get Tab's television role in FEAR STRIKES OUT to film for himself) and how Tab had to look after his mother and brother, who did not survive Vietnam. 
Tab now seems a contented man, well-liked and respected as the later generation of gays find his story fascinating and how he handled it during that closeted time. Tab is a Hollywood blonde who has endured; like the books by Michael York and John Fraser, Tab's shows how actors keep going once the initial limelight fades ... 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Ingrid Bergman in her own words

A fascinating insight into the life and times of Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) , her stardom and the toll it imposed. The film follows Bergman’s extraordinary successful Hollywood career in the 1940s, her VOYAGE TO ITALY with neo-realist director Roberto Rossellini, and her return to respectability in the 1950s, after that marriage and several films with Rossellini, after their child was born outside wedlock, causing that scandal of the time. It dives deep into the life of this beautiful and endlessly determined actress, indulging in a rich archive of Bergman’s life with photos (her father in Sweden had photographed her regularly as a child growing up) , home movies and letters on display. Her allure seeps through the entire film, revealing “a woman who was able to "subtly combine the noble and the carnal” (according to critic Roger Ebert).
The letters are read by Alicia Vikander, music by Michael Nyman, directed by Stig Bjorkman. 

As per label reports, we like Ingrid a lot here at The Projector, and I met her a few times (when I was  teenage autograph hound), and saw her on the stage twice, in London, and a few times at the BFI as well. I saw her in A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY in 1966 when I was 20, and then in 1971 in the Shaw comedy CAPTAIN BRASSBOUND'S CONVERSION, with none other than Kenneth Williams. She also attended a screeing of CASABLANCA at the old BFI, the NFT, when she was telling us about the making of the film, which was regarded as just another wartime potboiler then, and I can picture her mixing with and recognising people she knew. Another time she was sitting there and stating how the Rossellini films were finally being recognised as being so influential. They were not really available then, but are now on disk and we love VOYAGE TO ITALY from 1953. I actually saw this as a child at the time, and remember being fascinated by those chalk figures at Pompeii. Its certainly a forerunner of those Italian classics by Antonioni & Co. 
NOTORIOUS is still a key Hitchcock, and it was good to see her back in Hollywood too. She was always very pleasant to meet and chat to, and comes across perfectly here, as the film follows her from early days in Sweden, to Hollywood, Italy, France, Sweden and those final years in London, Her biography, written with Alan Burgess (author of the book that became INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS) captures her final night in the theatre (at the Theatre Royal Haymarket) and her final time in front of the camera at the end of GOLDA. Its a very affecting book.
Ingrid had a lot of humour too, as evident in CACTUS FLOWER, THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE, and oddly, GOLDA when she was seriously ill. The home movies are fascinating here, focusing on the woman as opposed to the career, though we get a lot of that too, with her children commenting, and also interviews with Sigourney Weaver (who worked with her as a young actress) and Liv Ullmann, her co-star from AUTUMN SONATA.
Time I think to dig out INTERMEZZO, ELENA ET LES HOMMES,  DR JECKYLL & MR HYDE, GOODBYE AGAIN, AUTUMN SONATA etc. About the only of her major films I have not seen are THE VISIT from 1964 and 1969's A WALK IN THE SPRING RAIN, both with Anthony Quinn. Anyone seeing this documentary will want to go back to the movies where she reigned supreme. Fascinating extras on the dvd too, and lots more on Ingrid at label.

Monday, 17 October 2016

RIP, continued ....

Andrzey Wadja (1926-2916), aged 90. The venerable Polish director whose ASHES AND DIAMONDS was an international arthouse sensation in 1958, as successful as those early Fellini and Bergman classics. He won  awards like an Honorary Oscar and the Palm D-Or, A GENERATION and KANAL were also early films, and his later films included MAN OF MARBLE, MAN OF IRON, DANTON among his extensive credits in that long career. Another of the great European directors departs ....

Jean Alexander (1926-2016), aged 90. The veteran British actress who was a mainstay on television's CORONATION STREET for decades as the busybody Hilda Ogden, complete with her hair in curlers, a turban and a pinny as she cleaned the Rovers Return pub, and berated her workshy husband Stan, a role she played from 1964 to 1987. She later did a long stint in LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE from 1988 to 2010. The extensive tributes show how well-loved she was. We always relied on Hilda for a laugh among the ongoing drama on the cobbles, Jean's creation was the equal of those other great Northern Women who dominated CORRIE in its Golden Age; Vera Duckworth, Annie Walker, Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner, Bet Lynch, Rita and Mavis etc. and dare one say Ivy Tilsley. Now we are stuck with the endless sagas of the boring Platts, Steve McDonald et al. At least Mary and snobby Sally and fab Tim provide some relief. Ta ra chuck, as Hilda would say. 

Peggy Spencer (1920-2016), aged 95. For decades the doyenne of ballroom dancing, Perhaps the current hit STRICTLY COME DANCING would not exist without her laying the groundwork through her dance competitions and ballroom teaching. She also choreographed a video for The Beatles ("Your Mother Should Know") and for Nureyev in VALENTINO. Her formation dance teams were often on television and danced for royalty and all those years of the earlier COME DANCING television shows.

Vintage Magazine Shop. We are sad to see the demise of another London legend, Brewer Street in Soho is certainly falling to the developers with a vengance. This massive store was a marvellous place to browse, buy current movie memorabilia, and their basement held an incredible stock of vintage movie and fashion magazines, (Thanks again Colin, for finding a 1959 number of "Films & Filming" which I needed to complete my colletion). The shop is continuing on line, Here are some comments:
This is one of the most unusual shops in London. Perfect if you want to get a quirky gift.
As its name suggests, this is a shop selling vintage stuff but it doesn't just stop at magazines. You'll find posters, books, music, mugs and little gifts. The shop is a slightly messy treasure trove and you can lose yourself just browsing. 
It is with serious regret that on Thursday, 29-September-2016 that this Soho gem has finally closed down their doors for good. It has become yet another causality for independent shops in central London, due to the landlords obviously increasing rents, which go up every year.      
The Vintage Magazine shop will be missed immensely, and I have to say it had quite a few interesting things on offer for film fans, cinema goers and media & arts researchers, and people who simply browsing.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Nina by Langston, 1965

I have had this Nina Simone EP (thats an Extended Play, 4 track 45rpm record, 2 tracks each side, for any new kids who never know vinyl records) since I was a teenager in 1965. 
We loved Nina back then, particularly her "I Put A Spell On You" which hit the charts, and this title track: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood") as per my recent post on her, see label. The other tracks are "The Laziest Gal In Town (a Marlene Dietrich classic), "Don't Take All Night" and "Nobody". 

Looking at it now, the sleeve notes by Langston Hughes capture it all perfectly, even now, 50 years later.....
"She is strange. So are the plays of Brendan Behan, Jean Genet, LeRoi Jones, and Bertholt Brecht.
She is far-out, and at the same time common. So are raw eggs in Worcestershire and The Connection.
She is different. So was Billie Holiday, St Francis, and John Donne. So in Mort Sahl. She is a club member, a coloured girl, an Afro-American, a homey from Down Home. She has hit the Big Town, the big towns, the LP discs and the TV shows – and she is still from down home. She did it mostly all by herself. Her name is Nina Simone.
She has a flair, but no air, she has class but does not wear it on her shoulders. Only chips. She is unique. You either like her or you don’t. If you don’t, you won’t. If you do – whee-ouuu-eu!  You do!
Why should one like Nina Simone because she sings a song differently? Plenty of singers sing songs differently. But many singers strain so hard to be different, pay arrangers so much money to make their songs sound different, but have no convictions themselves about what they are singing, and so seem hollow, artificial, fake, and wrong when they sing a song. Nina Simone is as different as beer is from champagne, crackers from crepes suzettes, Eastland from Adam Powell, Houston from Paris – each real in their way, but oh! how different – and how fake it is if it is not Houston you want, but the “city of light”.
The letters l-i-v-e that spell LIVE mean exactly the same as the letters N-i-n-a that spell NINA. As for that word SIMONE, be cool Jack, be cool! And listen to this record." 

Hughes (1902-1967) was a well known  poet, activist, novelist and playwright, who ticked all the boxes: black and gay (like James Baldwin or Billy Strayhorn, also popular at that time). He died aged 65 in 1967, 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Jeanne and the perfect guy

Another French flick we had not heard of here in the UK, as presumably it never played here. I would have heard of it or read about it and would have wanted to see it. Well, better late than never. It crossed me radar as being a previous film of the team behind the current THEO & HUGO, another highly praised gay romance. 
Directed in 1998 by the duo Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY fascinates on several levels. The perfect guy is Mathieu Demy, son of French directors Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda - favourites of ours here at The Projector, see labels. Jeanne is Virginie Ledoyen (of THE BEACH and Ozon's 8 WOMEN).  The blurb puts it nicely:
"Only France could have produced a charmingly eccentric bonbon like JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY, In its heart and soul its a direct descendant of UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG and THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT, one thing that distinguishes it is its sexual candour The sight of the young lovers cuddling in bed and singing sweet nothings gives the movie a jolt of romantic heat!" says the New York Times.
Always in a hurry, Jeanne is a beautiful young woman with a profusion of boyfriends, Then one day she meets Olivier the true love she has been searching for. When Olivier tells Jeanne that he is HIV positive, she refuses to get upset. Her devotion to Olivier is intense and unswerving. 

I can't begin to say how much I liked this, its delightful and with those resonances of Demy's father's films. (Demy senior in fact did die of HIV complications in 1990).  It covers gay issues, aids, sex, love, and compassion; pity though the score isn't by Demy regular Michel Legrand ...
We will now be looking forward to Ducastel & Mathie's THEO & HUGO, and I am going back for their COTE D'AZUR, another comedy of manners from 2006 ...

Two Bosie's ....

Interesting for us theatre folk to see two actors who have played Lord Alfred Douglas in David Hare's THE JUDAS KISS, together in a new revival of Tom Stoppard's TRAVESTIES, currently a sell-out at London's Menier Chocolate Factory, hopefully it will get a west end transfer. The witty play features wordplay on Oscar Wilde and dialogue from his THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Tom Hollander was Bosie in the 1998 original production, with Liam Neeson, as Oscar, which I enjoyed back then, Tom was a very petulant Bosie, as was Freddie Fox in the Rupert Everett version a couple of years ago, which was brilliant too (more on that at Oscar, Rupert labels). They must have had a lot to talk about the part ... Busy year for young Fox - that recent CUCUMBER and PRIDE, and also Romeo this summer in that recent ROMEO AND JULIET, reviewed recently (Shakespeare label). Tom of course also also been very busy with THE NIGHT MANGER and DR THORNE,

Friday, 7 October 2016

Since You Went Away, 1944

This perfect wartime drama was never on my radar or never showed up on television in the decades I have been watching, so seeing it or the first time is rather good now. Another perfect 1940s Hollywood Dream Factory creation, by producer David Selznick and directed by John Cromwell, shot by Lee Garmes and music score by Max Steiner; it really showcases Jennifer Jones (soon to be Mrs Selznick) after her success in THE SONG OF BERNADETTE in 1943. 
Like MRS MINIVER in '42 about those plucky Brits, this one focuses on the American home front and those women left at home (it starts with a closeup of those home fires burning) while their menfolk are overseas, some will not return ....

Plucky wife Claudette Colbert tries to hold it all together for her daughters Jennifer and teenage Shirley Temple (rather endearing here). 
Of course she has the requisite large comfy home (as in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES) and the married folk have single beds, and a devoted black maid/housekeeper/cook - yes, its Hattie McDaniel. Theres Agnes Moorehead as a bitchy neighbour - a stretch for Agnes - and the great silent star Nazimova too. The grumpy paying guest is none other than Monty Woolley (THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER) and sterling Joseph Cotton is the family friend and ex-beau of Claudette's Anne. No extra-marital shenanigans here! 

Two young guys stand out: Robert Walker plays Monty's nephew who is shipped overseas and has a lot of screen time with Jennifer (they were married then..., their son Robert Walker Jr became an actor too, popular for a while in the 1960s)  and just for a minute or two, Guy Madison - a real marine - as a marine here who certainly makes an impression, it launched his career after the war. (See my main post on him, below, or at label). 
Walker went on to that other perfect '40s  wartime romance, Minnelli's THE CLOCK with Judy, in 1945; his other standout role being Bruno in Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN in 1951 (the year he died aged 32, one of Hollywood's sadder stories,).      .
Its emotional and compelling and overlong, and you may require a hanky to wipe away a tear or two - there may be rather too many lush close-ups of Jennifer (one of the few stars who did not appeal to me). Its a great Hollywood creation from that Golden Age, up there with MRS MINIVER and MEET ME IN ST LOUIS.  I liked the cutaway shots of the two cats watching the humans too. 
What is fascinating now is how these wartime dream factory creations create such a cosy glow at a terrible time where dreadful things were happening in Europe with the concentration camps in full swing .....

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

RIP, continued ...

George Barris (1922-2016) at the grand age of 94. The uninitiated may wonder who, but Barris was maybe the last of those those great photo-journalists from the Golden Age - check Eve Arnold and Bob Willoughby, labels below, and like them he too took some amazing photographs of Marilyn Monroe. I have lived with Barris's pictures since the '60s, and had some good prints, and like Arnold he also did a book of them. He was also good friend with MM and captures her nicely in his writings on her, He later moved to Paris. 

He of course took those final pictures of her in July 1962 on the beach at Mailibu and also at a house, showing that new sleek radiant Marilyn - who only had a month more to live .... so here's one or two of them again .... 
(lots more at MM label).

Rod Temperton (1949-2016) aged 66. Surprisingly the British songwriter and musician from Cleethorpes wrote those massive hits for the Michael Jackson albums OFF THE WALL and THRILLER, due to his association with Quincy Jones, as Temperton was part the funk band Heatwave in the '70s. I particularly liked his "Love Is In Control" and others for Donna Summer in '82, and George Benson's "Give Me The Night", James Ingram's "Yah Mo B There" as well as hits for Patti Austin and Herbie Hancock, and Quincy's THE DUDE and BACK ON THE BLOCK albums. We need to replay them.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Helen Lawson at home

We LOVE this casual pose of Broadway legend Helen Lawson at home. The gay boys over at were discussing her legendary career and all those stories. It seems the indestructible Helen is still going and planning a super reunion show with those other Broadway gals, some of whom she tangled with over the years: Margo Channing, Eve Harrington, Lora Meredith, Vicky Lester, and Helen's nemesis from their VALLEY OF THE DOLLS one Neely O'Hara - thats, of course if Neely is not back on the bottle, and Lora not away filming with Felluci in Italy (as she was in IMITATION OF LIFE), but at least Vicky - who was born in a trunk - knows that the show must go on ..... If only they could bring it to London. 
Speaking of which there is a new major production of Sondheim's FOLLIES opening at the National Theatre here in London late next year, should be as good as their A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC a decade or more ago - but which legend will sing "I'm Still Here" ... ? 
Helen of course wears that pant suit created for Vicki who was initially cast in VOTD.

Strictly 2016 ...

Its that time again, when our annual television dance marathon begins for the autumn months, every weekend for the run up to Christmas. 15 hapless "celebrities" are lined up, with one already axed. We always start wondering who half of them are, but then get used to them. Its the professional dancers I like, there are some interesting new ones too. We also like a charleston, and here are two doozies from last weekend.
EASTENDERS actress Tameka Empson - we like her character Kim, though I don't watch it any more - and new boy Gorka. Boy, can they dance.
I never thought I would see ex-politician Ed Balls, who lost his seat in the last election - doing a camp burly cowboy routine, but hey, its enormous fun, and he has been kept in another week. Go, Ed. Now for some more super routines as the weeks go on, and all those ritzy costumes and glitter and fake tans. Like Anita Rani last year, BBC breakfast girl Naga Munchetty has been transformed too; she's one to watch particularly as paired with Pasha, along with Danny Mac (me neither, apparantly he was in HOLLYOAKS), Ore Oduba (another BBC presenter) and leggy Natalie Cole can do no wrong either. Lets hope her celebrity, olympic athlete Greg Rutherford, can go the distance ... previous years' highlights are at Dance label

Take 2 men - French style.

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I had never heard of the Delon and Gabin starrer TWO MEN IN TOWN (DEUX HOMME DANS LE VILLE), from 1973. It can't have even opened here or I would have heard or read about it at the time. We like their teaming in MELODIE EN SOUS SOL, that snazzy casino heist by Verneuil in 1963 with its widescreen black and white and jazzy score and that killer final scene by the pool .... both guys were the epitome of French cool (like Alain and Belmondo in BORSALINO in 1970); their 1969 THE SICILIAN CLAN is a nice caper movie too, not to be taken seriously. More on these and other French gangster flicks at labels .... Here is what they say about the two guys in town:

A hard-boiled crime drama and an impassioned indictment of capital punishment, this is the third and final on-screen collaboration between Jean Gabin, France's pre-eminent film star, and the '70s Gallic anti-hero Alain Delon.
After an early release arranged by prison reformer Gabin, ex-safe cracker Delon is devastated by personal tragedy and makes a new start in the South of France, finds honest work and a new love. But a vengeful cop begins to stalk him and his ex-gang are eyeing up the bank where his girlriend (Mimsy Farmer) works, so his determination to go straight is pushed to the breaking point. 
Written and directed by Jose Giovanni (LE TROU),  a real pardoned death row inmate, TWO MEN IN TOWN fuses the two-fisted social commentary of Warner Bros 1930s heyday with the naturalistic storytelling of 1970s French noir cinema, and has an evocative score by Phillipe Sarde.

Well that sums it up nicely, its engrossing, the two leads are fine as usual, there is also a young Gerard Depardieu, and the marvellous Michel Bouquet (LA FEMME INFIDELE, THE BRIDE WORE BLACK etc). 
Its actually part of an Alain Delon Collection on Kino Video and the extras include trailers of 10 other Delon flicks in the collection - nothing essential from what I have got already. This one though is worthwhile. Gabin of course is as effortlessly watchable as ever, as is Delon, maturing nicely here, hard to think he is over 80 now. For lots more Delon (and Gabin) check labels. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Take 3 girls - Italian style

Here's an oddity: despite my affection for British and Italian cinema I had never heard of SOUVENIR D'ITALIE (or IT HAPPENED IN ROME) a 1957 confection about 3 girls travelling in Italy - its sort of a romantic comedy with lots of scenery, a fascinating view now. But why it is so unknown, ok its just a bit of fluff, but maybe it never even played here - I checked my 1957 "Films and Filming" magazines and there is no review or ads for it (ditto another '57 one filmed in Italy: Diana Dors and Vittorio Gassman in THE GIRL AT THE PALIO set at the famous Palio race in Sienna). 

This one - SOUVENIR D'ITALIE - features prim English girl June Laverick (she wears spectacles!) driving her snazzy sportscar and giving a lift to hitchers Isabelle Corey (the headstrong one) and German Ingeborg Schoner (the sensible one). The car zooms zooms over the cliff into the sea at Portofino, so the gals have to hitch. We see them in Florence,Venice and Pisa before they head to Rome, so yes lots of Italy as it was 50+ years ago. 
An amusing sequence sees British grand dame Isabel Jeans (in a dry run for her role in GIGI) posing by that statue of David, with Alberto Sordi as her companion. He soon joins the girls through. Other men are Gabrielle Ferzetti and Massimo Girotti and Vittorio De Sica - for it is he - as a Count who offers the girls some hospitality in Venice. The men of course are dubbed but it does not matter in a slight trifle like this. I liked it a lot, directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. The girls of course all end up with their particular guy. 
June Laverick was a British starlet of the era, who did a few trifles (THE DUKE WORE JEANS with Tommy Steele, a Norman Wisdom film, and a good role in Losey's THE GYPSY AND THE GENTLEMAN in 1958, last credit in 1970). 
This was Italy before the LA DOLCE VITA era took off, Corey went on to Bolognini's GIOVANI MARITI while Ferzetti was on that island with Antonioni and Vitti for L'AVVENTURA filmed in late 1959.  Vittorio clocked up 10 acting credits in '57 - he probably just spent a few days on this one. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Take 4 girls - American style

Another delirious 1957 treat: (which I reviewed back in 2011)
FOUR GIRLS IN TOWN. I had totally forgotten this 1957 Universal-International item though I know I saw it at the time, it is perhaps, like AWAY ALL BOATS, the quintessential U-I flick. We have 4 girls arriving in Hollywood, all up for an important part in a new biblical epic.
They are: Julie Adams [with her fearsome mother Mabel Albertson], Italian go-getter Elsa Martinelli, from France Gia Scala [who has a secret husband and child] and from Austria Marianne Cook (or Koch – she was the mentally ill wife in Sirk’s INTERLUDE) who is recovering from losing her beloved in a car accident]. There is also one Rita Holloway, the studio's main star who is only ever seen from the rear and looks uncannily like Jayne Mansfield in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT as she sways around the studio lot.
The girls are nicely depicted and the guys they meet include director George Nader (ideal for Julie), actor-on-the-make John Gavin, playboy Grant Williams [that INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN] and composer Sydney Chaplin. The very attractive Gia (who got the GUNS OF NAVARONE gig but later commited suicide) has the least role here. Julie is as attractive as ever and Elsa (right) is the most eye-catching, she really is the most under-rated of the Italian sirens.

It plays out nicely with a surprise ending and is SO Fifties! The girls are not complete of course until they each have a new man, and the scene where they gleefully catch fish coming ashore to lay their eggs would horrify today's sensibilities. Written and directed by one Jack Sher.

Guy & Kerwin, a few movie choices ....

My friend Martin has caught up with THE GARMENT JUNGLE, a 1957 thriller with Kerwin Matthews and the lovely Gia Scala. He likes Guy Madison as well (see post below) so for you Martin, here's Guy and Kerwin AND a young Kim Novak in FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE, that nifty 1955 thriller (a prototype for OCEANS 11, which I reviewed a while back. Guy/Kerwin/Kim labels), plus the trailer for THE GARMENT JUNGLE .... and a moment from THE LAST FRONTIER in 1955 with Victor Mature; and his SLAVE OF ROME with Rosanna Podesta in 1961 ....

Girls & guitars, 2 . . .

Three of our favourite girls - since the 1960s - and their guitars. They go on, decade after decade ...

Marie Laforet  (our favourite from PLEIN SOLEIL/PURPLE NOON) in ST TROPEZ BLUES, 1961
Francoise Hardy  (my teenage crush) 

Joni Mitchell - evergreen.     More on all them at labels. 
I remember watching Joni waiting to go on at The Royal Festival Hall in 1970, the hippie princess with her guitar, standing at the side of the stage, not thinking I would be talking to her 2 years later in Kings Road, Chelsea .... as detailed previously. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Sophia - happy birthday

Happy 82nd to Sophia Loren, still going strong. 
Here she is back in 1962 in a slight thriller FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT, with Tony Perkins. Any film that begins with La Loren at her peak dancing the twist in a Paris nightclub, before Tony Perkins comes in and slaps her face, has to be watchable ... (its directed by Anatole Litvak, and scripted by Peter Viertel. Litvak had already done Tony in Paris with Ingrid in GOODBYE AGAIN). 

RIP, continued ...

Edward Albee (1928-2016), aged 88, surely America's greatest dramatist after O'Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? remains his masterpiece (there is a major new production in London next year), but we also rate his A DELICATE BALANCE, a super film in 1973 by Tony Richardson with Paul Scofield, Katharine Heburn and Lee Remick (right). I also saw his ALL OVER at the RSC in 1973 with the powerhouse duo of Peggy Ashcroft and Angela Lansbury. His other acclaimed plays include THREE TALL WOMEN and THE LADY FROM DUBUQUE.  Three of his plays won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and two of his other works won the Tony Award for Best Play. He was a Senior Gay too, though he did say "I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay".

Richard Neville (1941-2016), aged 74. Australian writer who moved to London in those Swinging Sixties and became the celebrated editor of the counterculture magazine OZ - I had several of their op art psychedelic posters on my walls then. OZ was the hippie bible - its issue 'Skoolkids OZ' in May '70 caused a famous prosecution case for obscenity. Neville later returned to Australia and continued his publishing ventures. 

Charmian Carr (1942-2016), aged 73, but she will always be "sixteen, going on seventeen" as Liesl, in THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Monday, 19 September 2016

Back to the Sixties at the V&A ....

We will have to trek up to South Kensington shortly to see this new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum: YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: RECORDS & REBELS 1966-1970. Thats a mouthful .... The V&A site says:

This major exhibition will explore the era-defining significance and impact of the late 1960s, expressed through some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism.

I have not been to the V&A for a long time, its such a massive place - but this sounds our kind of show, it runs until February next year. 1966-1970 was a crucial era for me, being 20 to 24 then, and living the London life, going to the Roundhouse (to see The Doors, Jefferson Airplane etc), the NFT, hippie underground clubs like the UFO, seeing 2001 in Cinerama and on acid, loving BLOW-UP etc  - I even lived off the Kings Road in Chelsea for a year or so then. 

It was not only the fashions, music, movies of the time that were so relevant, but that counterculture era in full swing. Perhaps the political significance of that time is too immense for a mere exhibition to encompass, as it will have to cover quite a lot, from the Paris revolutionaries to the US civil rights protests and the dawning of gay lib.
That perceptive critic Philip Hensher says there is little space given in it to feminism and the nascent gay rights movements: "The curious effect is to make it seem as if the revolutions of the late Sixties were a matter of most concern to heterosexual white people, and only at the margins were black and other non-traditional members of society allowed grudging admission". 
It does though capture some of the excitement and the liberation of that era. Being a young gay then I lived through it all, so will be able to see for myself before too long. 

As per the attached review, it seems a massive exhibition
headphones and all - well, at £16 a ticket ....
Steve Dinneen of CITY AM says:
The V&A’s David Bowie Is follow-up isn’t concerned with challenging stereotypes so much as celebrating them. Mannequins in Austin Powers getup blink with giant eyes; quotes form and disintegrate on the walls; psychedelic posters and record sleeves clutter every available surface.
It uses the same audio guide as David Bowie Is, detecting where you’re standing and fading in the appropriate music or speech, allowing the curators to micro-manage your personal soundtrack; Martin Luther King blends into advertising muzak blends into The Doors. There are objects of historical significance – the jacket John Lennon wore in the video for Imagine, the battered high-backed chair on which Christine Keeler posed naked for Lewis Morley – but Records and Rebels isn’t aimed at cultural trainspotters. Where it impresses most is in capturing the breakneck speed at which ideology, music and fashion shifted over these years, how a perfect storm of influences created a period of change unlike any before or since.
The first room looks at possible causes for the “revolution”; the erosion of trust in the establishment (evidenced here by the Profumo affair), the rise of the civil rights movement, the increasing popularity of LSD. The exhibition then races through various cultural movements – fashion, music, protest, consumerism – relying on punchy visuals rather than display cases and captions; one room features a Vidal Sassoon salon with a real-life model getting a hair cut, another recreates Woodstock, complete with faux-grass and beanbags. London is heralded as the capital of the world, with Carnaby Street its beating heart (hard to imagine now, with its rows of bland American chains).
The protest section is a highlight, a cacophony of recorded speech and angry music, divided into sections on Women’s Lib, the Black Panthers, Mao’s Cultural Revolution (illustrated with a Little Red Book and a creepy under-lit bust), France’s May 68 protests and, of course, Vietnam.

Everything is painted in broad strokes and primary colours – those hoping for nuanced discourse will leave disappointed. But nobody does mixed-media exhibitions like the V&A. Records and Rebels seamlessly fuses fashion, music, art and history into a dazzling, chaotic experience that will leave anyone under 60 with the distinct impression they were born into the wrong generation.