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.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Marilyn - Cannes, 2012

Following on from their tribute to Monica Vitti in L'AVVENTURA in 2009, and Faye Dunaway in PUZZLE OF A DOWNFALL CHILD last year, the Cannes Film Festival has announced it will pay tribute to Marilyn Monroe, who has been selected as the “icon” of the festival for its 65th anniversary. The event’s offical poster shows the star blowing out a birthday cake. In a statement, the festival said: “Fifty years after her death, Marilyn is still a major figure in world cinema, an eternal icon, whose grace, mystery and power of seduction remain resolutely contemporary. Each of her screen appearances sparks the imagination. The festival poster captures Marilyn by surprise in an intimate moment where myth meets reality — a moving tribute to the anniversary of her passing, which coincides with the festival anniversary. She enchants us with this promising gesture: a seductively blown kiss. The festival is a temple of glamour and Marilyn is its perfect incarnation. Their coming together symbolises the ideal of simplicity and elegance.” The Cannes Film Festival runs May 16-27 this year.

Monday, 27 February 2012


Done and dusted for another year ... and all very predictable. Delighted Woody got another one for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, but I still don't want to see THE IRON LADY. Harvey Weinstein scores again!

Best female performance not
nominated: Charlize Theron YOUNG ADULT.

Most over-looked male performance: Dominic Cooper in THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE - perhaps the film just was not good enough or not enough support behind it.

My star of the night: Glenn Close looking absolutely sensational ! She won on the red carpet ...

Surely for consideration next year: Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Tilda Swinton ... and Michelle Williams will be another contender ...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Mr Grant and Mr Scott at home ... / Ewan & Jude lark about

We are surely all familiar with those classic photos from the mid-'30s of Cary Grant and Randolph Scott living and playing together, two classic Hollywood bachelors who shared a house in beween all their marriages [as did Erroll Flynn and David Niven]. I have now though come across another batch of these pictures, which I had not seen before. So, following on from Scotty Bowers' book which has quite a bit about them, it really begs the question: were people really that naive back then that they saw nothing odd in these photographs - if any two rich and famous actors (who could clearly afford their own establishments) did shots like these today people would automatically assume they were a couple and think nothing more of it, so were Cary and Randy just play-acting or were they, as they say, hiding in plain sight? Whatever! It certainly makes for fascinating photos though!

It seems Grant and Scott remained friends into their old age (Cary got to 82, Randolph 89) with Scott wealthy from real estate after his later screen years as that tough cowboy in those Budd Boetticher films in the 50s; while Cary (always a notorious tightwad, so perhaps he was just saving on rent money?) - after his 30s and 40s hits - perfect with Hepburn and Bergman to name just two, had that great run in the '50s, ideal for Hitchcock and those leading ladies like Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Sophia Loren, Eva Marie Saint, Ingrid Bergman (again), Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day etc. and it seems he really was smitten with Sophia ...

Now for 2 more lads around town: Ewan McGregor and Jude Law have teamed up for photos lots of times - but no rumours to quash about their sexuality - though they have played gay more than a few times (like Colin Firth)... good to see the boys larking around and at those various events actors have to force themselves to attend ... at least Cary and Randy never posed in the bathroom !

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Drive he said

DRIVE certain delivers! To all those other classic iconic cinema loners (think Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER, that other Ryan (O'Neal) in Walter Hill's THE DRIVER (1978) with the suitably enigmatic Isabelle Adjani, Julian Kaye in AMERICAN GIGOLO (any Schrader hero will do!) or Heath Ledger's Ennis Del Mar locked into himself eating his solitary meal in the diner in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - there are echoes of them all here (as well as those lone killers Alain Delon in Melville's LE SAMURAI, Lee Marvin in Boorman's POINT BLANK, Walter Matthau in Siegel's CHARLEY VARRICK) - now there is Ryan Gosling's nameless driver in this character-driven, slow-burn thriller of the first order that features elements of some of the finer works from directors like Scorsese, Michael Mann, Tarantino, Walter Hill and Sam Peckinpah, as directed here by a director new to me, Nicolas Winding Refn. It will be interesting to see what he does next...

The film is an electric mixture of beautiful lingering cinematography, a pulsating soundtrack, lean dialogue and short bursts of graphic, bloody violence. It's tense and involving; almost impossible not to get immersed in.

Ryan Gosling is the embodiment of cool, as the well-intentioned but unstoppable force who works as stunt driver, garage hand and occasional driver for robberies. His solitary life is interrupted when he slowly gets involved with the girl down the hall and her little son, while her husband is in prison. Once the husband is out, the driver is drawn into a heist which of course goes wrong, putting him, the girl and the boy in danger. We are dealing with terrifying men here and the action is suitably graphic for the various slayings. One memorable scene is in an elevator with the driver and the girl as he realises the other guy has a gun and is after them, as time slows down ... and then speeds up. I love the look of the film, all those night scenes, the often dark and dream-like LA setting, the driving, the music, Carey Milligan is marvellous again and suggests so much with so little dialogue, as does Gosling. I am now looking forward to seeing him in CRAZY STUPID LOVE and THE IDES OF MARCH. That ending too is perfect ... In all, a movie I want to sit my friends down in front of and make them love it too. And you can cut out and dress up Ryan too ...

Friday, 24 February 2012


Hockney's "The Arrival of Spring"
The power of art to heal and change us is well shown by the popularity of the big London exhibitions - the recent one on Leonardo da Vinci, with people getting up in the middle of the night to join the early morning queues for tickets to see 15 of his major pictures together for the first time; and now the current sell-out David Hockney exhibition focusing on his recent paintings back in the north of England, a joyful celebration of nature in all it's finery during the changing seasons, full of happiness and joy. Compare with his 1967 A BIGGER SPLASH, so splendid in its simplicity, when he was the painter of the L.A. scene. No matter how familiar one is with reproductions there is something marvellous about standing in front of the original and seeing the paint strokes - in the digital world where everything is available at a mouse click or two, attending a live event is indeed a novelty. There is nothing like great art to stimulate the emotions - whether painting, music, theatre, cinema ... attending a gallery is just not something to do on a rainy afternoon ! Hockney's "The Arrival of Spring" gives one a marvellous glimpse of nature and spring just around the corner ... ditto the other rooms at the exhibition full of those giant new paintings. What work from someone in their 70s!

Plus now there is a new auction coming up causing quite a stir, with the sale of the only copy of Edvard Munch's THE SCREAM still in private hands. Some reports say it will fetch at least £50 million! It is of course one of the most recognisable art images anywhere - you can even buy a blow-up balloon of the person screaming - and despite being painted in the 1890s it is the very essence and defining image of modernity - one could almost see it as a scream at all the horrors of the last century ... and what is going on today.

Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik, R.I.P.

Here at the Projector we try to keep out of political stories as others' opinions will differ, but sometimes one cannot ignore what is going on in the world (as with the tsunami in Japan last year) and one simply has to salute astounding courage and bravery. So it is with reporting the deaths of war correspondent Marie Colvin, 56, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, 28, who were covering the bombardment of Homs in Syria, where the regime there were determined to remove the foreign press.

I had been aware of Marie Colvin's by-line for years as one of the principal journalists of "The Sunday Times" as she reported from war zones all over the world, losing an eye in the process. Colvin worked for "The Sunday Times" for 20 years and twice won the British press award for Foreign Correspondent of the Year. Today's press reports the appalling danger they were in by still sending out news reports from Homs, as those determined to silence them could lock on to satellite signals and home in accordingly.... One can only salute their bravery and that of all the others following the recent changes in Egypt and Libya.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour ...

I have had a few very late nights in Paris myself, back in the '80s (when one of my oldest friends was married and living there for a decade), so its nice to go back there with Woody in his latest outing MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and yes, its his best in some long time. As previously posted here, his "Spanish one" VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA seemed a return to form, and of the "London ones" YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER had a great cast and some good comic moments, but MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is just simply perfect, and again a neat 86 minutes ... also, with Woody, no extras on the dvd - presumably he only shoots what he needs for his script so there are no deleted scenes, outtakes, commentaries.

Owen Wilson is Gil, a scriptwriter in Paris with his girlfriend and her family (who are on a business trip) as he slowly realises how little he has in common with them. She is not interested in walking in the rain and much prefers to go shopping, the parents are rightwing reactionaries obsessed about money and the price of things. Then that midnight taxi turns up as Gil gets away for a late night walk ... and suddenly he is back in the 1920s to the Paris of the Jazz Age. We share his bemusement as he encounters the Fitzgeralds (thats Scott and Zelda), Cole Porter at the piano, the young Hemingway, and soon the salon of Gertrude Stein - a no-nonsense Kathy Bates; Adrian Brody is perfect too as Dali, and Gil also encounters surrealists Man Ray and Luis Bunuel (to whom he gives the idea for EXTERMINATING ANGEL!). Then too there is Adriana (Marion Cottilard) the muse to Picasso and other painters ... On his return visits Gertrude Stein agrees to look at his new manuscrpt and he begans to fall for Adriana but she is dissatisfied with the 1920s she is living in, so by another time warp they go back to the 1890s Belle Epoque and encounter who else but Toulouse Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge sketching all those can-can dancers! Meanwhile, back in the present, there is another girl in Paris Gil gets to know, whom we just know will be perfect for him .... good to see Woody back in Paris practically 50 (well 47) years after WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT where he was chasing Romy Schenider and those other girls (above)... and of course the French scenes in EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU.

Woody Allen's latest then is beautifully written and a charming story that belongs in the top ten of his all-time greats - up there with "the early funny ones" and ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN, INTERIORS, STARLIGHT MEMORIES, HANNAH & HER SISTERS, CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS. From the opening montage of lush picturesque Parisian scenes by day and night and in the rain, the film is a love letter to the city of light. Owen Wilson is for once perfectly cast as the young Woody type, Michael Sheen is ideal too as the ex-lover of Inez, Gil's girlfriend, whom it turns out she is still sleeping with (trust Hemingway to notice that...) and there is the nice scene at the art gallery where Gil puts the pompous pedant in his place; Carla Bruni turns up in the nothing role of the tourist guide, and it all ties up nicely together. The best laugh out loud moment is provided by the detective hired by Inez's father to see where Gil goes at night - boy does he he get into a time warp!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Downton Dolls

I just have to share this: paper dolls of some of the DOWNTON ABBEY cast: cut out and dress your favourites from The Dowager Countess (with a range of expressions!), Matthew and Lady Mary, or the evil Thomas and O'Brien below stairs. What no snooty Lady Edith, well-meaning Mrs Crawley, The Earl or Lady Cora or those running the house: Carson, Bates, Mrs Hughes and cook Mrs Patmore ?

More dolls and DOWNTON at Costume Drama label ...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Its all Too Much ... / People We like: Dorothy Malone

1958's TOO MUCH TOO SOON is a delirious piece of trashy cinema, nice to relish now, purporting to tell the true story of Diana Barrymore - of the Barrymore dynasty, as played by Dorothy Malone. Its main interest of course is the casting of Erroll Flynn as Diana's father the great John Barrymore who dissipated his talent in drink and god knows what else - as Erroll was in fact doing at this stage of his life - he would of course die the following year 1959, ravaged by the excesses of his wayward life, looking a lot older than his 50 years - a long way from the glory years of the mid-30s when he was perfect for CAPTAIN BLOOD, ROBIN HOOD, ESSEX and all the rest.

Flynn is very touching here as the sozzled father trying to re-connect with his adoring daughter - but he exits the film half way through, leaving an hour more of Diana's descent to the gutter and her ultimate redemption (a year before her demise too, as the end credits tell us ...). The very under-rated Malone is marvellous here, ageing from a teenager to a mature woman - and the guys are ok too: Martin Milner as the reliable old beau, Efrem Zembalist Jr as the first husband and Ray Danton as the sleazy tennis pro who knows when he sees a dame to latch on to and exploit and abuse.

Booze, drugs and an endless string of bad lovers put her career on the rocks from which she never really recovered. Ms. Barrymore's story is sad and morose and this movie does its best to sensationalize it. Her fast rise is chronicled here as well as her even faster fall from grace. So its a downbeat movie really, not as trashy as those later Lana Turner epics, but theres a lot to interest here. Good to see it finally available. Directed by one Art Napoleon.

Now for Dorothy's WRITTEN ON THE WIND, a Sirk classic and her Oscar-winning best supporting actress role in 1956. Dot Malone is indeed one of those great gals we like (and she is still here too ...), review of her and Liberace in SINCERELY YOURS at Dorothy Malone label - a change for her from being out west a lot in all those oaters, she also pops in FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964) as another ritzy society dame, before she went into the tv series of PEYTON PLACE. I am catching her seduction of Tab Hunter in Warners' BATTLE CRY (1954) on again this weekend ... Dot too is terrific in all those westerns like WARLOCK ('59), THE LAST SUNSET ('61), FIVE GUNS WEST ('55), and in Sirk's TARNISHED ANGELS with Rock again in 1957 and back to Hawks' THE BIG SLEEP in '46 where she has that memorable scene in the bookshop with Bogie.

Scotty's services

Its certainly a fascinating read! - the book they are all up in arms about ... Scotty Bowers' story of the sexual services he provided for the in-crowd of Hollywood during the 1940s and later, from his gas station in downtown L.A. - the biggest stars turned up ...

I feel I am the only one in on the joke - this is surely Gore Vidal's last throw of the dice, a gigantic spoof, on the lines of his novels MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and MYRON - that pansexual world he advocates where everyone can have sex with everyone else regardless of gender or age, and may be his final revenge on people he doesn't like ...

I can well believe Scotty really exists (he is now 88) and was pimping out not only himself but also other guys and gals at the gas station in L.A. back in the '40s - Gore certainly knew him and has taken his story and added all the star stuff - "spilling the beans" on Hepburn, Tracy and the rest. Scotty seems to get his dates mixed up quite a bit - just after the war in about 1946 he describes a lunch meeting with Hepburn and Cukor and hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff (another happy client of Scottys of course) and they are arguing over Kate's hair style in ADAMS RIB, which is a 1949 film !

Also rich famous and goodlooking stars like Cary Grant and Randolph Scott would surely have to be very careful if they needed hunky marines to spice up their relationship between all those marriages of theirs. And then there is the peculiar story of Spencer Tracy and Scotty - and Walter Pidgeon (who knew? my mother's favorite actor!) outed as an early client of Scottys! Of course closeted stars back then couldn't be seen hanging out in bars, cruising the seafront or attending George Cukor's or Rock Hudson's exotic parties - not after Tab Hunter was caught at a "pyjama party". Also a lot of these actors had lines to learn for the next day, and could not be out late at night - so a discreet service set up by a hunky ex-marine who kept his mouth shut would have been ideal.

Despite my fascination with this tawdry side of hollywood it is not gossip as such I am after, but the truth of things - it is always the work that is important to me, and they certainly worked in those days, with 2 or 3 films a year !

I don't know how the lesbian scene works but would one of hollywood's top stars like Kate Hepburn want (or trust someone to get) young girls sent to her ? Supposing they talked afterwards ... why have none of them come forward, some must still be alive. And I think Vivien Leigh was quite adept at picking up truck drivers on her own, without Scotty's help ...

The book seems very disjointed - it begins with him being an innocent arriving in hollywood in 1946 after the war - Gore's golden age, as he often wrote about - and starting work at the gas station - as if he was an innocent and knew nothing about the goings on of the early 40s ... but as he tells his story in the following chapters he is the new kid in town in the early 40s on a weekend pass from the marines, and the first guy who picks him up turns out to be Orry-Kelly ! the famous dress designer (and a close pal of Cary's - who is not mentioned then). Then George Cukor turns up and invites him to his pool party the next sunday ! Then he is having threesomes with Cary and Randy - whom I thought lived together in the mid-30s - but this was the early 40s when they were at the height of their carrers and married to women, so they were hardly living together then, so maybe Scotty is getting his wires crossed - and he says he also bartended at a party/orgy of theirs in 1950!

Oh, and he meets Katharine Hepburn at the first Cukor pool party he attends, where she comes across as a very mannish lesbian ... so was Kate a regular at George's famous pool parties then? and it turns out George hates Garland ! It seems too that these guys like Cukor and Cole Porter are only interested in oral sex -maybe back then famous gays always paid for every sexual encounter and never wanted a relationship or to live with someone, but just to suck off an endless parade of johns - what a way to live!

And it seems every man Scotty ever met wanted to have sex with him, even when he was a kid, even all the married ones! Its a great read but one can hardly believe some of it! - plus no notes or index. Trash, then - utter trash, but try putting it down ... Scotty comes across as a saint, he never charged for his services, and didn't even want a cut on the sale of (then hard to get) pornographic pictures he posed for! Of course gay liberation and the gay lifestyle did not exist back in that post-war 1940s golden era, so young guys (and gals presumably) could sleep with or provide tricks for either sex without thinking about it too much or having to label themselves ... and there wasn't that 24 hour news media, mobile camera phones, or internet or inquisitive press to spoil things - as long as the fan magazines were kept happy!

Then of course in the '50s he helps out Roddy, Rock, Monty, Tony Perkins et al, (and later in the '60s Brian Epstein when The Beatles hit America) but he certainly didn't like Jimmy Dean! (who could get his own pickups) - his view on Rock's sham marriage is certainly interesting too - she, Phyllis, was of course a lesbian. How did they get away with it?, with all the PR people and fan magazines colluding in the fantasy; that couldn't still happen today could it? An interesting companion too to that William K Mann's tome on KATE a few years ago ... which also mentions Scotty. Plus if you read it you won't ever see Charles Laughton in the same light again!
(Coming soon: all those photos of Cary and Randolph ...)

Titanic, 1953

Fanscination with The Titanic rolls ever onward - in its centenary year. We will soon have a new 4-part series written by Lord Julian Fellows (DOWNTON ABBEY), and of course whatever one thinks of James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster, the second half after the iceberg hits is stunningly well done as one really feels the ocean invading and sinking the ship ... so it was interesting to catch Jean Negulesco's 1953 version. Winner of three Academy Awards, the 1953 TITANIC holds up well, even on a much smaller budget - as does the 1958 A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, with Kenneth More, perhaps the best all-round version of events without silly stories at the forefront.

Fascination with the fate of the huge and opulent liner is as strong as ever, especially since improved technology has led to more breathtaking visits to the ship's resting spot on the floor of the Atlantic where state-of-the-art robots with cameras explore the crumbling interiors of the still eerily majestic but rapidly decaying wreck.

20th Century's contribution to the story hold the interest with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck heading the cast as an ill-matched couple; she is in fact leaving him and returning to America with their children as he joins the ship at the last minute to reason with her. Webb and Stanwyck bring their expertise to this soap opera story and it remains very affecting. Add in young Robert Wagner, more like a 50s teenager than a 1912 one, and Thelma Ritter as the famous Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Brian Aherne as the captain and the stage is set for some dramatics. Negulesco keeps it going nicely and it has that early 50s 20th Century Fox look in spades.

The tempestuous exchanges between Webb and Stanwyck are strongly and believably acted, and then we have the sinking of the vessel - not as graphically done as in the later versions, but suitably stiff upper lip to the end. Interesting to compare these versions this anniversary year, we shall be hearing more about them.