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.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

"I can't get no ..."

Some week in the city: starting with The Beatles back from 1965 with HELP! on Blu-ray (see below) to The Rolling Stones headlining at Glastonbury - add in Wimbledon and the city full of gay Pride revellers, and finally the weather is right as we head into the second half of the year ... (my best Pride nights were '95, '96 & '97 - but those are other stories).
I particularly remember the moment of buying The Stones' single "Satisfaction" in 1965, when 19, and handing over my 6 shillings and 8 pence, the price of a single record then, in just a plain paper cover. A few minutes of music on each side on vinyl. "Satisfaction" of course became the song of that summer - little did we think we would still be grooving to it practically 50 (well, 48) years later - after midnight as the Stones played Glastonbury.  Right: a previous Jagger incarnation for the 1971 film of GIMME SHELTER .....
It seemed to begin on a duff note with the sound balance not right as Jagger's vocals seemed to get lost in the mix for "Miss You" - but the hits kept coming "Midnight Rambler", "Tumbling Dice", "Sympathy for the Devil", "Brown Sugar", "Gimme Shelter" etc - they were in amazing form by the time of "Satisfaction" which went on and on with Jagger a dervish on the stage - how do they do it, approaching 70. The others were laid back too and seemed to be enjoying it all, as did the crowd - 
this guy was really into it ! In all they did about an hour, It seemed the Stones wouldn't give away a complete free concert to television viewers, but what we saw last night will certainly get the back catalogue selling again, fill the coffers for any more tours ... have a look at the Glastonbury footage though, you will like it; when it gets it right the vibe is all-persuasive. 
The papers now say they did a two and half hour set in all, so tv viewers did not get their "Jumping Jack Flash", "Wild Horses", "Glastonbury Girl" (a new song), "Start Me Up", "Its only rock & roll" or Keith's "You Got The Silver" - but we did get "2000 Light Years From Home" and that "You Can't Always Get What You Want", so it looks like the iconic band's brand just got bigger ...  Its on YouTube (at the moment):

I liked their late 60s/early '70s stuff  - classic albums all, on vinyl - now on cd and iPod -- and had some of their later stuff too: ITS ONLY ROCK & ROLL, GOAT'S HEAD SOUP, SOME GIRLS ... my best friend Stan gave me the LET IT BLEED new stereo (blue sleeve) vinyl album for my 24th birthday.

Thursday, 27 June 2013


James Gandolfini (1961-2013) died aged 51, in Rome. best known of course as crime boss Tony Soprano in the long-running THE SOPRANOS, yes I too have a few box sets of the series still to see... movie roles included TRUE ROMANCE and I have just got THE MEXICAN to watch soon ...

Slim Whitman (1923-2013), aged 90. I remember Slim being very popular and on the radio a lot when I was a kid in '50s Ireland. Once known as America's favourite folk singer, he was very popular in the UK and Europe with those hits like "Rose Marie" (Number One in the charts for 11 weeks)  and "Indian Love Call". He was also quite useful in the film of MARS ATTACKS!

Diane Clare (1938-2013) charming British actress, has died aged 74. Her career just spanned a decade from 1958 to '68, her best known roles being the other nurse in ICE COLD IN ALEX and Angela Lansbury's debutante daughter in one of our favourite Minnelli's THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE - Lansbury was actually only 12 years older than her. Right with fellow debutante Sandra Dee, and Kay Kendall and Rex Harrison, and below with Angela Lansbury and cast. . She was also in THE HAUNTING, THE WRONG BOX, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES etc, and various tv roles in series like Z CARS. A second string female leading lady then, but she had retired when she married writer Barry England.
Bert Stern (1929-2013) - Photographer Bert Stern, most known for his library of Marilyn Monroe photographs, and who helped redefine advertising and fashion art in the 1950s and ’60, has died at age 83.
“It was a one-time-in-a-lifetime experience, to have Marilyn Monroe in a hotel room,” Mr. Stern said in the 2010 documentary “Bert Stern: Original Madman,” “even though it was turned into a studio, where I could do anything I wanted.”  
Many of the photos showed Monroe unclothed, or posing behind transparent scarves. “She was so beautiful at that time,” Mr. Stern told Newsday. Stern certainly packaged and re-packaged his Monroe photographs from that LAST SITTING. He also directed the marvellous jazz film JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY, a record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. His death and that of Eve Arnold last year leaves George Barris as the last great Monroe photographer ...(of course Arnold and Barris repackaged their Monroe prints several times too with those various books and posters I like). He also shot that iconic shot of Sue Lyon in the red sunglasses used to publicise Kubrick's LOLITA.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Garde A Vue

Inspector Gallien is investigating the rape and murder of two little girls. The only suspect is attorney Jerome Martinaud, but the evidence against him is circumstantial. As the city celebrates New Year's Eve, Gallien calls Martinaud to his office and interrogates him for hour after hour while Martinaud continues to maintain his innocence. We learn all about the evidence; we meet Martinaud's wife and learn all about the rift between the two; but will we, and Gallien, finally learn whether Martinaud is guilty?

I had been waiting to get this 1981 stunning drama by French director Claude Miller (1942-2012, RIP label), for some time, finally it is available again. It is mainly a double act between tough detective Lino Ventura who is questioning a suspect Michel Serrault, on a rainy New Years Eve. Romy Schneider also appears, for about 15 minutes, as the suspect's estranged wife. It is her second last role and she certainly makes an impression here. We follow the twists and turns of the investigation. Serrault is terrific as the slippery suspect .... the wife too thinks she has evidence .... what does our detective and his crew make of it? The ending is certainly a surprise!

This is a very topical subject now - child murders have been in the news here a lot lately. This is niftly slow burn movie, coming in about 80 minutes. and well worth seeking out. The two main leads are brilliant here - Serrault in particular will be a revelation for those who only know him from the CAGE AUX FOLLES films.

Miller directed that 1976 THE BEST WAY TO WALK (gay interest label), and THIS SWEET SICKNESS with Depardieu in 1978 from the Highsmith story - nice, well crafted movies. His last, a new THERESE DESQUEYROUX with Audreu Tatou, played in London only recently. I also have Miller's 1983 MORTELLE RANDONEE (which never played here) to watch, with Serrault again and the intriguing combination of Adjani, Audran, Genevieve Page and Macha Meril. Looking forward to that ...
Romy & Ventura, GARDE A VUE
Romy of course is a long-time favourite of mine (since I saw those SISSI films as a kid). I have actually about 12 of hers still to see now, from that prolific career of 60 or so titles - I must have over half of them. We liked those Claude Sautets we saw a while ago (LES CHOSES DE LA VIE, CESAR & ROSALIE and MAX AND THE JUNKMEN). She did 4 with Trintignant which I have lined up to see: LE COMBAT  DANS L'ILE, THE LAST TRAIN, LE MOUTON ENRAGE and THE LADY BANKER, then there's THE INFERNAL TRIO, LOVE IN THE RAIN, THE LADY AT HER WINDOW; her first with Delon CHRISTINE in 1958, AN ANGEL ON EARTH in '59 where she is an air hostess, which also features the young Belmondo, FANTASIA D'AMORE with Marcello, also 1981, which I have only in Italian, and her last LE PASSANTE DE SANS SOUCI. 1982, and now there's 2  more available: MADO, another Sautet, and LA CALIFFA. I must try and see several a week to do a full report. Others are as per reviews at Romy label.

1965: movies, magazines & Sylvia

My 900th post !  I can go on if you want - shall we aim for 1,000 ? !

I was down in the garage and pulled out my bound copies of "Films & Filming" magazine for 1965, along with some other magazines from then, and suddenly I am 19 again, living in my room in North London, going to the cinema a lot, these magazines were my companions then, but that was the year I met new friends and began to move around the city a lot .... 

As per other posts here (Magazines label) "Films & Filming" was that essential magazine, not as lowbrow as "Photoplay" or as highbrow as "Sight & Sound" that was well just essential for us then - I even worked there in the '70s for a year and got to know the owner, editor and staff, and had a review or two published myself. Its glory years though was from 1954 when it began through the '60s and '70s, it was a spent force by 1980 but limped on for a while, after the suicide of the owner. 

I like browsing through the back copies, so evocative of those days, a fascinating record of that time, and they are crammed with interesting features and photos - like that interview with Delon (above) on his first years in cinemal and those articles like "Joan Crawford, 40 years a queen" or "Susan Hayward, the Brooklyn Bernhardt" .... and the new pop movies like HELP!, below. essential for young movie buffs then!

 Ditto MOVIE and some Sight & Sound issues ....see Magazine label for the contents of this terrific 1965 issue of MOVIE.
Julie & Roland Curram in DARLING

Here is a delicious piece of Hollywood product from 1965: SLYVIA, one of Joe Levine's efforts to make another Monroe out of Carroll Baker.

SYLVIA – One of those Joe E Levine [the Mogul of the Mediocre] mid’60s melodramas which the studios were turning out in a desperate attempt to get with it as the Swinging 60s took off, but ended up looking more dated than ever. Thank heavens the like of BONNIE AND CLYDE were just around the corner. 
Here, old hand Gordon Douglas directs Carroll Baker (in her Harlow phase) as the poetess Sylvia West who is engaged to Peter Lawford (playing a sleazeball as usual) who hires private eye George Maharis to track down the background of the mysterious Sylvia. This is quite enjoyable actually as cue cameos from Edmund O’Brien, Joanne Dru as an ex-hooker who married well, Ann Sothern hilariously overblown, Aldo Ray as Sylvia’s abusive father, Viveca Lindfors as a possibly lesbian librarian, Nancy Kovack as a brassy showgirl and Lola Diamond, a very scary drag queen. Baker is quite nice here as the rose-growing poet untouched by her sordid past, and there is a perfect theme song by Paul Anka. Ok, its trash but in a good way. Its in black and white with that nice mid-60s feel, but maybe should have been in colour. Maharis & Baker look good together, it was one of the last gasps of the old Hollywood studios before that new mid-60s came in. SYLVIA is not as bad as Carroll's HARLOW or THE OSCAR or THE LOVE MACHINE - all at Trash label. Carroll, over 80 now, had a long career, we like some of her European giallo thrillers, particularly with Jean Sorel - she wrote some racy novels too!  THE CARPETBAGGERS is a great Trashy pleasure too now. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Beatles HELP! on Blu-ray ....

From 1964 (below) to '65: HELP! just out on Blu-ray is exactly the same as on dvd - same graphics, artwork, booklet, and the same extras as on the 2007 dvd (see Beatles label), just in the different package size. I wish I had checked my dvd before I ordered the Blu-ray. There is the same introduction by Richard Lester and the same appreciation by Martin Scorsese ... it is just an exact duplicate apart from being in Blu-ray.
I am only a recent convert to Blu-ray, and have not bothered to re-buy too many films in the new format (ok, HELP! is the sixth so far .... at least the Blu-rays of films like 2001, THE SERVANT, BILLY LIAR have new material, interviews etc.) and I won't be shelling out for too many if they are just putting out the same stuff with nothing new. Its brilliant but lazy marketing to put out exactly the same stuff, not even new graphics, for the Blu-ray people to buy again. Chutzpah or what !  
(Left: Films& Filming August 65 issue on the new pop films, I wonder why I cut a picture out of the cover ....).

I was actually going to write about Scorsese's appreciation of the film, but its not new, he did it back in 2007. Just how many others has Marty introduced? I already have his for editions of JOHNNY GUITAR and EL CID, and I have an an audio commentary he did on BLACK NARCISSUS with Michael Powell.. He makes good points though bracketing Lester with Antonioni and Resnais as an important '60s director "inventing new narrative techniques and re-defining the vocabulary of cinema as he went along - everyone was experimenting around this time, Antonioni with BLOW-UP, Truffaut with FAHRENHEIT 451, Fellini and Godard with every movie - HELP! was just as exciting".

I will just be pleased to revel in the surreal comedy (the boys pulling up to the four houses which open into one inside, as Dandy Nichols says how unchanged they are; the brilliant farce of Spinetti, Cargill, Kinner, McKern and the delicious Eleanor Bron, and the great songs shot like first pop videos
- in the Alps for "Ticket to Ride" and the Bahamas for "Another Girl". If you were a teenager then, and I was 19, to be able to see them in colour on the large screen was bliss. George's "I Need You" was always sheer perfection for me. So now its in Blu-ray even if everything else in the package is just the same. 
A year after THE LEATHER BOYS, below, that grim black and white look at 1964, England suddenly burst into colour with HELP! everywhere ... as it was now the new mod era. Leather boys and rockers were suddenly old hat ... it had started of course with A HARD DAY'S NIGHT in '64, suddenly zaniness and the new music were in. Before that British pop movies were those Cliff Richard spectaculars or Billy Fury in the oddity PLAY IT COOL, courtesy of Michael Winner. Richard Lester though upped the ante with the Beatles and THE KNACK ... 
Next: more 1965 magazines ...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Forgotten '60s movies: The Leather Boys, 1964

Reggie and Dot are a young South London couple who get married before they really get to know each other. After the marriage, they quickly begin to drift apart. Dot seems content to pursue her own interests, until Reggie meets Pete, a fellow cyclist, and begins to explore his own identity.

Coming in at the tail end of the kitchen sink dramas of the black and white early '60s in England, Sidney J. Furie's offbeat litle drama plays like a real period piece now - two years after VICTIM, this is another look at homosexual relations in that pre-Wolfenden Britain, from producer Raymond Stross (that lesser Carlo Ponti). Furie was a Canadian filming in England (and he is still working now), his credits include a 1962 courtroom drama THE BOYS about misunderstood youth, Cliff's SUMMER HOLIDAY and WONDERFUL LIFE, Caine's THE IPCRESS FILE, plus a 1960 oddity I would like to see: DURING ONE NIGHT. Later he directed Brando, Sinatra, Redford and LADY SINGS THE BLUES (with some help I presume from Berry Gordy)!, a Superman film and tv series like LONESOME DOVE - an all-rounder then.  Like the American Richard Lester (I am gettting the Blu-ray of HELP! tomorrow!)  he had his finger on the pulse of British youth during that early '60s period, as indeed like Michael Winner (WEST 11, THE SYSTEM - British label), Clive Donner and others.

THE LEATHER BOYS sports a terrific cast: a blonde Rita Tushingham is ideal as Dot, the shrewish young wife - a contrast to her other roles like in A TASTE OF HONEY, A PLACE TO GO, GIRL WITH GREEN EYES, THE KNACK); newcomer Colin Campbell is naive Reggie (he had a long career in tv and in movies like Bogarde's THE HIGH BRIGHT SUN and SATURDAY NIGHT OUT - also revieved here, Bogarde/British/London labels). Dudley Sutton, as Pete, too had a long career and is still working, (Ken Russell used his odd looks well in THE DEVILS, as he did with that odd-looking Michael Gothard).  Add in Avice Landon (Avis Bunnage must have been busy that week) as Reggie's mother, Gladys Henson as his gran, and Betty Marsden as Dot's mother, plus Ronnie Briggs (who became Mike Baldwin in CORONATION STREET) as Dot's new fella  and the stage is set ...
Early '60s London is nicely caught in those black-and-white Scope images, with all those bikers on the North Circular and at that Cafe. Marriage does not work out for our young couple; Reggie is soon disenchanted, particuarly after that gruesome honeymoon at Butlins holiday camp in the rain - no foreign travel then! Dot has no interest in housework or getting Reg's dinner or keeping their room clean. Pete, a flamboyant and extroverted biker, becomes Reggie's best mate. The boys move in with Reg's widowed gran after Dot serves up baked beans once too often! Despite Pete's constant mothering, possessiveness, and jealousy (even at that desulotary seaside visit Reg cannot see that Pete is less than keen to chat up those 'birds'), naive Reg only figures out his friend's inclinations and feelings for him when Pete is outed in a dockside bar at the end of the film, with some very stereotyped clientele. There could be no happy endings for gay men in 1964, as Reg finally walks away from everyone to find his own identity - 
yes, its our old friend the coming-of-age drama but it feels right at this time and place. Poor Reg striding away alone into the future looks as forlorn as BILLY LIAR as that train pulls away carrying Julie Christie off to Swinging London. A year or two later England would be swinging, BLOW-UP and The Beatle's SGT PEPPER album would define a new era as mods dressed up and homosexuality was de-criminalised and younger gays could lead more open lives ... A great London film then, I'll bet my then biker friend Guy Tremlett would have liked it, as would Stan and others.

Next forgotten '60s movie: American 1965 schlock classic SYLVIA .... then the 'higher trash' of 1962's SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH ! before sinking my teeth into THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY and CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN ...

Saturday, 22 June 2013

More '40s/'50s British bad girls ...

PASSPORT TO SHAME & GOOD TIME GIRL .. We reported on the Italian WHITE SLAVE TRADE, an early Loren from 1952 recently, see below ... here's the British view in 1958, a white slavery expose,  - but first a delicious slice of '40s moralising ...

GOOD TIME GIRL. This essentially British post-war (1947) lurid melodrama is a rich treat now. Told as a cautionary tale by social worker Flora Robson to wayward teenager Diana Dors, it tells the story of Gwen, a nice girl initally who goes bad, it reads like one of those Hollywood movies starring Lana Turner or Susan Hayward in which they go spectacularly bad - and then pay and pay for it. MADAME X or I WANT TO LIVE have nothing on Jean Kent, 27 here playing a 16 year old. 
Dame Flora & Diana
Kent had a long career, her best role maybe as the unfaithful wife in the 1951 film of Rattigan's THE BROWNING VERSION, and in those Gainsborough dramas like CARAVAN and MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS). Here she is at the BFI in 2011 when she was 90. ...

Gwen is from a poor home with a downtrodden mother and violent father,  she likes nice things like that brooch she borrows and gets caught returning. After a final beating from her father on being fired from a job in a pawn shop, she runs away and gets an apartment in London. Soon she is working as hat-check girl in Herbert Lom's jazz nightclub. Among the men pestering her is Peter Glenville (who later turned director of films like BECKET). Poor Gwen is soon on a descent into a world of booze and sleazy men. She ends up in a reform school after being framed for a robbery, despite fairly nice guy Dennis Price trying to help her. Now she has to be really tough, as she tangles with head girl Roberta (Jill Balcon - so obviously Daniel Day Lewis's mother, with that profile...). Everything goes wrong as she escapes and falls in with more bad company, back with Herbert Lom and his new nightclub in louche Brighton. Soon she is running around with a local gang, and then with 2 GI's on the make who will stop at nothing, including murder .... as poor Gwen is framed again and dragged off for a longer sojurn inside. Suitably warned off a life of crime, young Diana heeds Dame Flora's advice, and heads for home. Boy, how they must have enjoyed that back then ...
Reform school girls
Jean Kent is terrific and totally believable as the willful teenager and party girl. She's as good as any tough girl in any Hollywood film. Supporting cast offers a few great roles here: Griffith Jones, Herbert Lom as the nightclub owner; Bonar Colleano, Beatrice Varley is good as the hapless mother, and Amy Vaness (the spiteful mother-in-law in THIS HAPPY BREED) as the landlady.  Its a delicious panorama of 1940s British moviemaking, as directed by David McDonald, and written by Ted Willis and Muriel Box, and it should be as well-known as BRIGHTON ROCK or IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY (see 1940s label). 

PASSPORT TO SHAME. Totally lurid 1958 melodrama about the evils of prostitution in London, this is a delirious trash classic now. A decade on from GOOD TIME GIRL Herbert Lom has graduated to the role of Nick Biaggi, the local Mr Big, a super-pimp controlling his street girls, as aided by the wonderful Brenda de Banzie. Among their girls is Diana Dors again, now in her late '50s prime, a day-glo blonde poured into some amazing costumes - it seems she did not follow Dame Flora's advice after all; street girls surely didn't look this good? Diana is Vicki, a good-natured girl whose kid sister fell foul of Biaggi and his cohorts as she bides her time to take her revenge on them.  Enter Odile Versois, as a very naive French girl Malou who is soon in Biaggi's grip after going through a fake wedding with a taxi driver in trouble - Eddie Constantine.  Odile is rather homely, Mylene Demongeot may have been a better choice ...
Highlights include Malou's drug-induced dream or nightmare, and all the taxi-drivers (Joan Sims is the radio controller) going to the rescue of Malou from the swish residence of Herbert, who is soon dangling on the roof as a fire takes control ... 
Another Dors treat?
the firemen attempt a rescue, will our hero Eddie reach Herbert first? Lets just say there is a happy ending for our two couples - yes Vicki finds a regular guy who will love her too - leaving poor Brenda to wail on the street as the money flies around her. This is simply a genuine British Trash Classic, as helmed by the prolific Alvin Rakoff, and has to be seen to be believed. The other couple being married (left, above) when Malou and Eddie turn up are only the young Michael Caine and Anne Reid - before she went into CORONATION STREET as Ken Barlow's first wife, soon to be electrocuted, and now one of our senior actresses.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Forgotten '50s British movies: Miracle in Soho

Plus a selection of Belinda Lee posters ...

MIRACLE IN SOHO, 1957, another colourful Rank Organisation drama is so rare now there is only one comment on it at IMDb. Produced by veteran Emeric Pressburger and directed by one Julian Amyes (later a prolific tv director), it also had a perfect theme song sung by '50s star Ronnie Hilton.

In London's colourful Soho Michael Morgan is working mending the road. Morgan operates a pneumatic drill with a road resurfacing crew. He also operates on the girls in whatever street he happens to be working on. When a job takes him to London's Soho he is soon up to his usual games, but starts to realise there is something special about Julie, who is preparing with her Italian family to emigrate to Canada
This is a very interesting look at mid-50s London. The clever set, if it is one, covers the street for 'St Anthony's Way', a regular Soho street with shops, restaurant, a church even, where our heroine fetchingly prays. She is Belinda Lee is one of her last movies for Rank before becoming that Peplum star in Italy, before her untimely death in 1961, aged 25 .... as per other posts on her here, Belinda Lee label
If one was casting the lothario who loves them and leaves them (young Billie Whitelaw was his last girl, at Moorgate - she accepts her fate, as he now moves on to Soho) then regular chap John Gregson would hardly top the list, but here he is, after romancing Diana Dors in VALUE FOR MONEY, and those hits like GENEVIEVE .... 

The colourful cast includes Rosalie Crutchley as Belinda's pragmatic sister, Cyril Cusack as the all-knowing postman, Brian Bedford, John Cairney, and Ian Bannen as the volatile brother. Like those other London dramas like IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY, POOL OF LONDON, A KID FOR TWO FARTHINGS it shows the city in its '50s mode, and Soho in all its diversity, a post-war melting pot of races and religions, and which incorporates a great many minor characters and subplots and is all the more amusing for it. Belinda looks lovely here and has some nice moments. Here are some of her others we have reviewed here ...

I will have to get back to re-seeing her comedy THE BIG MONEY and that torrid romance NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT again soon too .... 
'50s glamour girl Belinda also starred in the French New Wave LES DRAGUEURS in 1959, and showed what an actress she was in the Loren/Mangano role in the Italian drama THE LONG NIGHT OF '43, as per my rave at Italian, Belinda labels, as well as her APHRODITE, MESSALINA and others, you could say she was the British Anita Ekberg ... ? She was amusing too with Marcello Mastroianni in the delightful GHOSTS OF ROME.

Next Forgotten '50s British movies: PASSPORT TO SHAME, another British "classic" with Diana Dors ... and the 1950 DANCE HALL with Di Dors, Petula Clark, Kay Kendall and more ... its delirious ! 

Next gay interest: The 1991 BBC production THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES.