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, 27 June 2014

1957 Royal Film Perf.

Another Royal Film Performance - this time the 1957 one. We covered the 1966 one recently (Showpeople label). This is another of those Pathe Newsreels now on YouTube ..... lots of happy browsing there!
This time the film is that 1957 favourite of mine, Cukor's LES GIRLS, but none of the stars are featured in the newsreel or in the Royal line-up. Surely Kay Kendall was there with maybe Mitzi and Taina and surely Gene Kelly would be there? Kay was delayed in America doing some TV shows ...
But we do have Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield (very demure here - unlike, also that year when Sophia arrived in Hollywood and there was reception for her at Romanoffs when Jayne who was not invited gatecrashed and bent over Sophia showing her very low cut dress .... which caused a sensation at the time, but did not do Jayne much good, as her studio (whom Sophia was doing BOY ON A DOLPHIN for) took a dim view of her antics and it really spelled the end of Mansfield's era in American films, as the rest of her films were made in Europe ...).
Also on hand here, are favourites like Michael Craig and Yvonne Mitchell, our recent re-discovery Anne Heywood, and Royal show regulars Kenneth More and Jack Hawkins, plus William Holden and Cecil B De Mille.
There are plenty other Royal Performances available on YouTube.

Coming up here: a Euro-feast, with about 10 Romy Schneider titles (LA CALIFFA, A SIMPLE STORY, VIEUX FUSIL, FANTASMA D'AMORE from 1981 with Marcello Mastroianni (finally a sub-titled print), and MONPTI from 1957 with Horst Buchholz, along with MADO, A WOMAN AT HER WINDOW, THE LADY BANKER, LOVE IN THE RAIN and more, 
plus a few Catherine Deneuve: APRES LUI, LE VOLEURS, MY FAVOURITE SEASON, HOTEL AMERICA. Then there's Jayne Mansfield's TOO HOT TO HANDLE ! 
plus more Jean Sorel, Belinda Lee, and finally a sub-titled print of Delon & Belmondo's BORSALINO from 1970, and Gabin and Signoret in LE CHAT ! Then there's 2 Tati's: PLAYTIME and TRAFFIC, and all those HAMLETs of stage and screen. How I spoil you.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

RIP continued

Eli Wallach  (1915-2014). Its a cause for celebration if someone reaches the grand age of 98 ! What a long and varied career he had. For me he will always be the mean and resentful Guido in THE MISFITS (above, left) - and he certainly outlived that cast! It was also fun seeing him pop up in items as diverse as HOW TO STEAL A MILLION or GENGHIS KHAN, and much later in THE GHOST, and of course those baddies in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN or HOW THE WEST WAS WON. He was also good with Jeanne Moreau in their episode of THE VICTORS in 1963. I really will have to re-see BABY DOLL now. Eli turned up in the most surprising places, after films with Marilyn Monroe and Jeanne Moreau, it was odd but fun seeing him as the comic villain in Disney's THE MOONSPINNERS in 1964  with Hayley Mills and Pola Negri, not to mention Irene Papas and Joan Greenwood - Eli worked with them all! - right up to Kate Winslet in THE HOLIDAY. Not to mention his career in the theatre, and with his wife Anne Jackson, who survives him. 

Ruby Dee (1922-014), aged 91, was an acress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and activist. She is best known for films like A PLACE IN THE SUN in 1961, DO THE RIGHT THING in 1989 and AMERICAN GANGSTER in 2007 for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress. She was married to Ossie Davis until his death in 2005 She began her illustrious theatre career working with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. Her other films include Mankiewicz's NO WAY OUT in 1950 (review at Mank label), THE BALCONY in 1963 and THE INCIDENT. On television she did everything from PEYTON PLACE and POLICE WOMAN to THE GOLDEN GIRLS

Gerry Goffin (1939-2014), aged 75. He wrote (writing intially with his wife Carole King) the songs we grew up with: "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", "Take Good Care Of My Baby", "Go Away Little Girl", he penned over 50 Top 40 US hits, and 21 UK hits. I particularly like his lyrics for "Up On The Roof",  and "It Might As Well Rain Until September", "One Fine Day", "Halfway to Paradise" (a UK hit for Billy Fury), Dusty's "Some Of Your Loving" and Rod Stewart's "Its Not The Spotlight".

Francis Matthews (1927-1986) aged 86, British actor, successful in the Hammer Horror films like THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS, and RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK. He played PAUL TEMPLE for the BBC and was the voice of CAPTAIN SCARLETT.

Alan Bestic, (1921-2014), aged 92. Irish Journalist and author, his 1969 THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IRISH is still a very droll read. 

Me in front of a OZ graphic in 1967
Felix Dennis (1947-2014), aged 67. Felix was one of the 1960s movers and shakers, a founder of the notorious OZ magazine, which led to a court trial on charges of "conspiracy to corrupt pubic morals" due to a sexually expicit Rupert Bear cartoon - the counterculture magazine was influential in other areas too with its psychedilic graphics and design - one had to buy it every month. The court case was defended by John Mortimer and Dennis and his colleagues Richard Neville and Jim Anderson, were acquitted, but convicted of minor charges. He was also a publisher, poet and philantropist, who became very wealthy with his publishing company with ground-breaking computer titles. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Dusty time again ...

How we listened to music then - a nice shot of Dusty in 1965, used to promote a new biography on her, recycling all the gossip and myths. 
Britain's greatest pop diva, Dusty Springfield was also the finest white soul singer of her era, a performer of remarkable emotional resonance whose body of work spans the decades and their attendant musical transformations with a consistency and purity unmatched by any of her contemporaries (Lulu, Sandie Shaw, even Mariane Faithfull, or dear old Cilla); while remaining a camp icon of glamorous excess in her towering beehive hairdo and panda-eye black mascara.

I have done several items on  Dusty already, as per label - including seeing her record one of her 1969 tv shows for the BBC, when I was 20, at the old Golders Green Hippodrome. She was in a bad mood that day and was having a diva moment, as she had to re-record her first song. I can still picture her stomping around the stage. 

For when you have a spare hour, this compilation
 of her BBC appearances is worth watching, particularly the later ones, and that last sad final one on the Jools Holland Show. I also like her doing "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" with The Pet Shop Boys at the Royal Albert Hall Brits Awards in 1987 see below - the only time they did it apart from the pop video. In their later shows the Boys used a back projection of Dusty for the number. She remains though for me up there with Joni, Barbra and Aretha, and her "Dusty In Memphis" remains an essential album. 

Song writer Gerry Goffin who died recently, is featured on the album too, as four Goffin-King songs are included:  the wonderful "No Easy Way Down" plus "Don't Forget About Me", "So Much Love" and "I Can't Make It Alone". There will always be so much love for Dusty - if only her last years had been better. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Photo of the day ...

Lea Massari, Michelangelo Antonioni and Monica Vitti on the set of L'AVENTURA, filmed in late 1959, one of the sensations of 1960. Plenty more on Antonioni and Monica at labels ...
I am on a break now, more big reviews when I am back.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Caipirinha time ...

The World Cup marathon is about to start, with the opening ceremony in a few hours. Those Brazilians sure know how to party and put on a show, so expect to be dazzled, even if you are into interested in the footie.

I first had a caipirinha over a decade ago, when it was a rare hip new drink in clubland. Now I am ready to make my own, as have got a bottle of that sugar cane spirit, cachaça , and the necessary limes and golden castor sugar. Cut a lime in segments, and bash in a strong glass to release all the juice and mix with the sugar, then top up with a measure of cachaça and ice. To simplify things I have just got an ice crusher and a cocktail muddler, a little tool ideal for bashing the fruit - otherwise one may have to use the end of a rolling pin!

My pal Jorge in Sao Paulo sends me this recipe for a peach caipirinha and says be sure to use a ripe peach in this tart, refreshing spin on the classic drink. 

Half a very ripe peach / 
3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed juice from 1 to 2 limes /
1 teaspoon sugar / 
2 1/4 ounces cachaca
1/2 a lime cut in 4 wedges. 

Slice peace in quarters and place in cocktail shaker. Add lime, juice and sugar, and muddle well. Add cachaca and lime wedges, fill shaker with ice and shake until very cold, about 15 seconds. Pour into a rocks glass. Well, its a change from Peach Bellini ! 

As a change from the football how about some movies set in Rio and Brasil - lets start with BLACK ORPHEUS which I loved last year, and my old favourite: Belmondo and Francoise Dorleac in THAT MAN FROM RIO, very 1964 - or Jean Dujardin zippy spoof OSS 117 LOST IN RIO.
Alternatively, one could fly down to Rio with Fred and Ginger, or Gary and Ingrid in NOTORIOUS

RIP continued ...

Martha Hyer (1924-2014), aged 89, Martha from Forth Worth, Texas, was a fixture in '50s Hollywood, her usual persona was the chic, country club princess who does not get the guy at the end, which she perfected in SABRINA, HOUSEBOAT, MISTER CORY and others. She was also a tough dame out west (I have her NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY with Clint Walker from 1966 to see this week). She also scored in Minnelli's SOME CAME RUNNING as Sinatra's love interest, for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress. Martha married producer Hal B Wallis in 1966 until his death in '86. She was also effective in THE CHASE, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THE CARPETBAGGERS and many others - like Vera Miles, Ruth Roman, Dorothy Malone or Viriginia Mayo she was a top rank second-tier star. 

Mona Freeman (1926-2014), aged 87. Mona was an attractive ingenue in lots of films, including THE HEIRESS, FLESH AND FURY, BATTLE CRY and lots of television. 

Barbara Murray. Stylish English actress Barbara Murray, died on May 20, aged 84. A Rank Organisation girl in the 1950s, she was a student of their famous Charm School, and had several good roles before moving into television. She was Dirk Bogarde's love interest in the 1957 CAMPBELL'S KINGDOM, and she was also in DOCTOR IN DISTRESS, and other films she appeared in were PASSPORT TO PIMLICO, BOYS IN BROWN, Bette Davis's ANOTHER MAN'S POISON, MEET MR LUCIFER, DOCTOR AT LARGE, and THE PUNCH AND JUDY MAN in 1962. 
On television she scored in THE PLANE MAKERS and its follow-up THE POWER GAME from 1965-69, as the wife of tycoon Patrick Wymark, as well as various series like UP POMPEII (as Ammonia), THE PALLISERS, and Peter Davison's DR WHO. She retired to Spain after some theatre work. 

Rik Mayall (1958-2014) aged 56. Prolific actor, writer, comedian, alternative comedy and  "post-punk" star of THE YOUNG ONES, THE NEW STATESMAN, BOTTOM, BLACKADDER and films like DROP DEAD FRED and GUEST HOUSE PARADISO. A brilliantly funny comedian with a unique stage presence he died far too young. He and Ade Edmondson began at The Comedy Store, and was soon part of the COMIC STRIP gang with their hilarious send-ups of Enid Blyton and the like.  

Kevin Elyot(1951 - June 2014) aged 62. British playwright and screenwriter. His most notable works include the play MY NIGHT WITH REG and the tele-film CLAPHAM JUNCTION, a highly controversial work which at least re-united several of the cast of MAURICE: James Wilby, Rupert Graves and Pheobe Nicholls. 
I saw MY NIGHT WITH REG on the stage, its a fascinating tragi-comedy about the affects of the Aids crisis on a group of friends. It was filmed by the BBC. Elyot also did that BBC adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND, with DR WHO Matt Smith as the Isherwood figure here (review at gay interest label). There is apparantly a new production of MY NIGHT WITH REG opening in London this summer, which Elyot was working on. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Top 5: Five beautiful screen actors

Another of the "Sunday Telegraph"'s Critical Lists was "Five Beautiful Screen Actors", and critic/columnist Anne Billson chose:

1 - Paul Newman in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF / 2 - Christopher Walken in THE ANDERSON TAPES (1971) / 3 - Keanu Reeves in BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE / 4 - James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE ("Prettier than Brando, he never had a chance to grow bored with his own beauty")  and 5 - Tony Leung Chiu Wai in IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, 2000.
Well, that is a female perspective. Now I love IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, but maybe not in this context.

I would keep Paul Newman in CAT - and Keanu, but for SPEED in 1994 where he is buffed up as every gay's fantasy boyfriend. Dean I would certainly keep, but for EAST OF EDEN, or looking moody in GIANT. So, lets add in two Euro-boys: 

Alain Delon as Tom Ripley in Clement's endlessly fascinating PLEIN SOLEIL shot in 1959, and Jean Sorel at his moodiest in Visconti's 1965 SANDRA (OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS - where Claudia Cardinale was also at her zenith).

Another day, it might be Dirk Bogarde (at his prettiest in CAMPBELL'S KINGDOM in 1957); Montgomery Clift; Tyrone Power; Erroll Flynn as CAPTAIN BLOOD or THE SEA HAWK; and Gary Cooper - endlessly fascinating and beautiful even as he aged. Cary Grant too at his zenith in NOTORIOUS ... 
and Gregory Peck, maybe Rock in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS ? or John Gavin. 

Back in the '60s/'70s we liked Michael York and Terence Stamp (Willie Garvin in MODESTY BLAISE
and ... Robert Hossein is a relatively new discovery too. 
now there's Matt Bomer .... and Joseph Fiennes, Tom Hollander ... 

plus here, Guy Madison letting rip on the dance floor - there are lots of interesting pictures of Guy around; and Jeffrey Hunter, and the fabulous Kerwin Matthews ... then of course there's Tony Perkins and Tab Hunter and Fabian and ...

Top 5: Five disco divas ...

Another Top 5: Disco divas .... not the Disco superstars, but those divas whose club classics and huge tunes (or choons) kept us bopping through the '90s and into the new millennium - literally, in the case of Adeva,who was in de club that Millennium night back at Crash in 2000, or that night at Heaven when she appeared with Rosie Gaines and Ultra Nate ...

We loved Soul II Soul and "Back to Life" with Caron Wheeler ..

Shara Nelson and that marvellous video for Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy".

Donna Allen's versions of Maze & Frankie Beverly's "Joy and Pain" ...

German uber-diva Billie Ray Martin and those mixes for her "Running Around Town" and her first album "Deadline For My Memories" ...

sweet Joyce Sims with her "Come Into My Life" album, with "All and All", "Lifetime Love" etc

Regina Belle's "You Got The Love" album ...

Jennifer Holliday's "Hard Time For Lovers" - and Alison Limerick's "Where Love Lives" ...
Angela Bofill's "Too Tough" ....   
Jody Watley's mixes on "When A Man Loves A Woman"....
Eve Gallagher's "Love Come Down"
and CeCe Peniston's "Finally" (below) ... then there is Paris Gray from Inner City, 

There must be lots more, must check my iPod playlists ... 

and Sade's live version of "Paradise" from her Live concert tour. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top 5: Five Essential Joni Mitchell Songs

One of our weekend papers here, "The Sunday Telegraph" has a nice new feature tucked away in their magazine - various people choosing a Top 5 list. Recently it was Top 5 Joni Mitchell Songs, and James Lachno (?) chose:  

1 - Carey / 2 - Help Me / 3 - Don Juan's Reckless Daughter / 4 - Chinese Cafe / 5 - Both Sides Now, the original 1969 version.
Naturally, as a Joni fanatic, I had my own Joni favourites, but a top 5 is impossible out of over 200 songs of hers, (allowing 10 each on over 20 albums).

I began with: 
Be Cool / Man to Man / Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (the live version on "Shadows and Light"), The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Car On A Hill, and Let The Wind Carry Me - which has been in my system for over 40 years since the 1972 "For The Roses" album (that year I met her in Chelsea - as per previous posts here,, Joni label).

But then theres: Chinese Cafe / Chelsea Morning / Night In The City / Marcie / Tin Angel.   or:
A Strange Boy / Court and Spark / Down To You / My Secret Place / Off Night Back Street / Talk To Me / Cotton Avenue /  Songs to Ageing Children Come / Urge For Going / All I Want / A Case Of You / The Last Time I Saw Richard / Night Ride Home - or those delightful numbers like: You Turn Me On I'm A Radio, or Barangrill, or the different versions of Woodstock

Sometimes one is in the mood for jazzy Joni, or that early folkie of the first three albums, I love her piano too on tracks like For Free. There is "Ladies of the Canyon" Joni, or "Hejira" or "Don Juan" Joni ... and sometimes one wants to play all of "Blue'" or "Court and Spark" or the happy "Wild Things Run Fast", so its an impossible task just to select 5 ! Then, there's her 2000 "Both Sides Now" set ...
Next list: Five Beautiful Screen Actors ! 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Showpeople: more candids of stars at work and play ...

A Monroe and Brando shot I had not seen before, from 1954: he is in his Napeoleon outfit for DESIREE and she is wearing one of her THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW-BUSINESS dresses, and smoking!; those LES GIRLS relax between takes in 1957: divine Kay Kendall, Taina Elg and Mitzi Gaynor in those Orry-Kelly costumes; Faye Dunaway in her goddess period with Kazan on THE ARRANGEMENT, 1969; James Dean holding court with his EAST OF EDEN co-stars: Julie Harris, Richard Davalos, Lois Smith and Harold Gordon; Marilyn again with Robert Mitchum, Rock Hudson and Terry Moore at a party at Jean Negulesco's house in 1953 - her breakout year, this is the Marilyn I first got to know from those '50s magazine covers. That could be Negulesco in the background. Mitchum had been in the marines with MM's first husband, and they went on to star in RIVER OF NO RETURN in '54. Bette Davis visits Audrey Hepburn on THE NUN'S STORY in 1959, left, and right: Rock and Marilyn again, in 1962 when he presented her with an Italian award. And again: that fascinating shot of Montgomery Clift visiting Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon on SOME LIKE IT HOT!
Sophia and Ingrid in 1958 on set of INDISCREET. See Showpeople label for more candids,including Marilyn with Marlene, and with Gina Lollobrigida, and Marlene meeting Elizabeth Taylor, or Sophia meeting Audrey, Dirk meeting Rock, or ....

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Normal Heart

It starts as we join the ferry from New York to Fire Island that summer weekend in 1981, as we see the gays and the party people enjoying themselves, as Roxy Music's "Angel Eyes" blares out - on the beach, in the pines, all those houseparties, soon they are all dancing to Sylvester at that disco on the beach (that fantasy gay lifestyle that we aspired to here in the UK). Our focus is on Ned Weeks, who observes but does not seem part of it all. Suddenly, a friend (Jonathan Groff) collapses on the beach, and is ill again later .... soon he is dead.

THE NORMAL HEART is Larry Kramer's fascinating, contentious Tony-award winning play, first staged in 1985, about the early days of the AIDS pandemic decimating the New York gay community and the rage and bewilderment of those trying to cope with it and find a solution, as the government does not want to know .... Kramer wrote that very funny and outrageous novel "Faggots" in the late 70s, detailing the hedonism of gay life then - people loved or hated it in equal measure, and he also scripted Ken Russell's film WOMEN IN LOVEIts taken 30 years for THE NORMAL HEART to reach the screen, is it too late? Today's gays see themselves as the post-Aids generation, having achieved equality. Its  a paean then to that lost generation and that lost time. The hedonism of the gay lifestyle then - endless disco, worship of the body beautiful - was for a lot of people what it meant to be gay then (before equality, civil partnerships, marriage and kids) and then it all came crashing down ...

Mark Ruffalo as Ned is the Kramer figure here, a writer who combats the silence about this new disease with his own brand of fighting back, as he becomes an AIDS activist accusing the Mayor of New York and Reagan's presidency of neglecting the health crisis, and antagonising the very group he helped to set up - The Gay Mens Health Crisis, who feel they have to force him out. Ned sees the pain and toll the disease is taking in those early years, as more and more fall victim to those lesions and start to waste away. It was that frightening time when people were afraid, not only to have sex, but to touch or assist those afflicted. One horrifying sequence shows a friend taking his dying boyfriend home on a plane, he dies en route and is left out with the garbage, wrapped in bin-liners as hospital workers refuse to touch the body, so the family have to collect the body themselves. 
Julia Roberts is Dr Emma Brooker, at first the only doctor treating these patients, from her wheelchair. Matt Bomer shines as Felix, Ned's partner, who starts off healthy but he too gets the lesions all over his body and wastes away before our eyes - Bomer lost 40 lb. to play the role, and deserves an Emmy at least, for his terrific portrayal (seeing as actors who lose or gain weight now automatically get awards for their dedication) - he and Ruffalo have some great scenes together as their relationship deepens. Alfred Molina shines as ever, as Ned's estranged brother. It takes the dying Felix to bring the brothers back together as they continue the fight against ignorance. There is no denying this is a devastatingly sad film, particularly for those of us who lived through that era. (It was the mid-'80s here in London when this was happening over here - I remember a particular Sunday morning in 1985 in Brighton by the sea,  when we gathered with the papers after a good night out, and began reading about these lesions ..... some of the gang vowed to stop having sex with Americans and to stop using amyl nitrate which it was thought caused these skin lesions; I also remember an afternoon with the gang sunbathing on Hampstead Heath near the men's pond, and a passer by yelling out  to the serried ranks of sunbathers "You are all going to die"... By the early '90s the death toll was rising as most of the gang died, with the then treatments (like AZT) being as toxic as the disease, as one witnessed friends and then one's best friend, and then one's partner all succumb ....).

There is no happy ending here, as we leave Ned, alone again, crying and watching the dancers .... as Paul Simon's "The Only Living Boy In New York" plays - part of the terrific soundtrack. Its a very affecting moment (and is so me, circa 1996-2003).
THE NORMAL HEART is directed by Ryan Murphy of GLEE fame, and thankfully has not been Glee-ified (well maybe apart from that "The Man I Love" rendition). 
The script is by Larry Kramer from his play. Barbra Streisand held the rights for 10 years, and had a public falling out with Kramer over the proposed film. One could imagine if she had played the doctor, it would have been all about her, helping the Aids victims. Roberts downplays nicely. The film shows how prejudice thrived and yet love survived, as the Gay Mens Health Crisis tackled government indifference. Like PHILADELPHIA this is accessible to everyone who wants to know what it was like back then, and is even more essential now as gay rights and equality are still not available to all in some parts of our world. THE NORMAL HEART (which I did not see on the stage) is a key work on the AIDS crisis, along with LONGTIME COMPANION, PARTING GLANCES, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, ANGELS IN AMERICAAN EARLY FROST, OUR SONS, MY NIGHT WITH REG, THE LINE OF BEAUTY, etc. More on those later ...