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, 8 May 2013


Bryan Forbes (1926-2013), actor, director, writer, producer - another British titan of cinema gone. I re-saw KING RAT only last week (review below), and also caught Bryan in one of his acting roles in a re-run of THE COLDITZ STORY. He was also amusing as Rock Hudson's pal in the '53 SEA DEVILS among other acting roles. He was a major force in international cinema since 1960 when he and Attenborough produced THE ANGRY SILENCE and his directing starting with WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, THE L-SHAPED ROOM etc. and those nice comedies like THE WRONG BOX.

Like Schlesinger he was great with actors: Edith Evans in THE WHISPERERS, Kim Stanley in SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, Leslie Caron in L-SHAPED ROOM (with its early fair treatment of gay characters) - all 3 Oscar-nominated as Best Actress; and his pal Katharine Hepburn leading that great cast in THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT, a terrible flop at the time in 1969, but an amusing oddity now.
Masina, Hepburn, Evans, Leighton in CHAILLOT

The original STEPFORD WIVES remains terrific, probably the best of his later films, review at '70s label, (lets draw a veil over INTERNATIONAL VELVET and THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, entertaining enough but doomed efforts to re-capture that family audience back in the '70s). THE RAGING MOON, 1970, has its admirers too, with his wife "the lovely" Nanette Newman, who was in all his films, and KING RAT in 1966 is a terrific war movie - no Nanette there though!

He also wrote novels later and ran a book-shop, and had been ill for some time. A man of many talents then (like his friend Richard Attenborough), going from being an attractive young jobbing actor to the saviour of the British Cinema, as he was called in the '70s, when he was in control of Elstree Studios which produced  successes like THE RAILWAY CHILDREN and Losey's THE GO-BETWEEN, before he resigned in 1971. His scripts for THE ANGRY SILENCE and THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, both 1960, were well-crafted too. He certainly knew how to engage the audience. Perhaps someone like Kenneth Branagh would be his modern equivalant. A theatrical venture, directing Peter O'Toole as HAMLET was such a disaster in 1980 that it became a must see ... 
He also wrote "Ned's Girl" a nice biography of Edith Evans, who was a personal friend. He also wrote a nice piece on Katharine Hepburn back in 1969...

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) - RIP indeed, to another maestro of cinema who lived to a good age, 92 (like ace photographer Jack Cardiff aged 94 in 2009, Cardiff label). Ray was cinema's undisputed master of stop-motion animation and the man who brought the impossible to life for audiences worldwide for two generations and continues to do so now with dvds of his creations.
I only recently discovered his Kerwin Matthews films, THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER being particularly brilliant, and 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (Fantasy label). Every holiday season here the original 1981 CLASH OF THE TITANS is aired, and we enjoy it all over again - that Medusa is a terrific creation. 1961's MYSTERIOUS ISLAND is terrific too, with the giant crab and insect .... those films marvellously mixed great casts with those terrific effects, ok some of them look a bit cheesy now in this CGI age, but for their time were ground-breaking - how kids of all ages loved JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, and the later Sinbads, not to mention THE VALLEY OF GWANGI and ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.!

As my friend PEPLUM put it: His creations inspired an entire generation of moviegoers AND fx aficionados movie-makers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg whom went on, on their own terms, to change the face of cinema as we know, for better or for worse.

Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013) - the of-Norwegian-descent graphic designer best known for his work on album covers, creating those timeless iconic images for groups like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Genesis and others. 
The prism and pyramids poster inserts (I had them on the wall) for "Dark Side of the Moon" and the man on fire for "Wish You Were Here" and the Battersea Power Station of "Animals" were in so many record collections back in the '70s, the great era of gatefold albums and album cover art, as designed by Thorgerson and Hipgnosis, the graphic group he co-founded in '68, later diversifying into music videos. Pink Floyd called him "a graphic genius". 

Taylor Mead (1924-2013) lived to be 88 and was an actor, beat poet, and performance artist who (according to Harvard Film Archive) "was at the furiously beating heart of the American avant-garde and counterculture for over sixty years". Part of New York's bohemian scene in the 1940s he was also part of the Andy Warhol factory in the 60s - being one of those LONESOME COWBOYS (he and Viva are amusing among the pretty cowboys) or starring in TAYLOR MEAD'S ASS, as well as THE FLOWER THIEF, COFFEE & CIGARETTES, and popping up in MIDNIGHT COWBOY, UNION CITY and others ... having survived the Aids crisis and drugs, which took a heavy toll on a lot of his contemporaries, his later years "as a lonely old barfly fighting eviction from a squalid Lower East Side apartment and feeding stray cats" saw him as a latter-day Quentin Crisp ....RIP to a true original.

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