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.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Midge's place ...

Looking at VERTIGO once again on Blu-ray is  a revelation - like those other Hitchs on Blu, its the music that grabs one - those great scores by Bernard Herrmann - here, and in PSYCHO particularly, they add so much more to the film ....  but now VERTIGO has something else for me: another Apartment We Love - Midge's place - is it  studio? is there a bedroom? overlooking San Francisco. Its just too divine and like Kate Hepburn's fancy New York apartment in DESK SET, or the Harrisons' swish London one in THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE or Jack Buchanan's so tasteful  (pure Minnelli) town house in THE BANDWAGON or of course the perfect mid-50s house created for NORTH BY NORTHWEST - we want to live there. 
I particularly like the ideal little kitchen area where Jimmy Stewart's Scottie makes some coffee - so compact with those ideal shelves and all one would need ...... Barbara Bel Geddes too creates one of Hitch's most sympathetic second female leads as Midge, just like Suzanne Pleshette in THE BIRDS or Diane Baker in MARNIE.
Even reading how the scene where Kim jumps into the bay was shot does not spoil the mood - it was actually a stand-in for that shot, and he jumped into parachute material, and the shot of Kim in the water was a tank shot, so nobody was actually in the ocean - movies, how we love them ! 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How not to do Agatha Christie ?

Another AND THEN THERE WERE NONE - from the BBC shown three nights after Christmas. Reviewers and some bloggers have liked it (hello Mark), but am I the only one who found it excruciating? - dragged out to three hours, the life seemed sucked out of it. I have not read Christie' original or seen the 1945 film version, but my sister assures me it followed the book faithfully, with everyone dead at the end, leaving a puzzle for the police when they finally get to that deserted island with 10 bodies, off the coast of Devon, in 1939.

Well I much prefer the glossy 60s and 70s versions: TEN LITTLE INDIANS in 1965 where Hugh O'Brien and Shirley Eaton are the main young couple, Fabian and Daliah Lavi provide the glamour and the oldies are Wilfrid Hyde White as the judge and Dennis Price as the doctor, plus Stanley Holloway and Leo Genn. That was a zippy Harry Alan Towers production set in a Swiss mountain top fortress. 
The 1974 AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was a very glossy international production with the bonus of being filmed in Iran, with leads Oliver Reed and Elke Sommer, French stars Stephane Audran and Charles Aznavour (who croaks one of his hits before being the first to expire), Richard Attenborough and Herbert Lom were judge and doctor, and we had not one but two Bond villains: GOLDFINGER Gert Frobe and Adolfo Celi. (see Christie label for more on these).

SPOILERS AHEAD: Both of the above had the main young leads surviving at the end, as that gun had some fake bullet - so they were able to spoil to real killer's plot ...... This new BBC version is very dark and gloomy, cue lots of bad weather and thunderstorms,  but also lots of unnecessary flashbacks, but the casting is the thing here: POLDARK's Aidan Turner shows how to wear a towel - as a low-slung sarong, Douglas Booth - he of the cheekbones one could grate cheese on - is the first to go, Toby Stephens looks very dashing, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, and Charles Dance ..... but in all it a long way from those glossy 80s all-star Christie adaptations one can enjoy any time.

Now for the BBCs new WAR AND PEACE, in 6 hours (their previous one in 1972, with a young Anthony Hopkins) ran for 20 episodes .... and includes sex scenes which Tolstoy "forgot to write" according to veteran adapter Andrew Davies ..... we have been warned!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

1960s: Armchair Theatre


The blurb for Volume 4 of dvd pack (4 disks containing 12 plays and reasonably priced) of ARMCHAIR THEATRE says: "Pioneering, immensely influential and often challenging, ARMCHAIR THEATRE was (English) ITV's flagship drama anthology series. Bringing high-quality drama to the viewing public (back in the era when there were just two television channels and in black and white) the series easily demonstrated the network's potential to rival the BBC's drama output, with diverse and powerful plays showcasing some of Britain's most gifted writers and directors. This set comprises 12 plays featuring performances by some of the era's most celebrated and accomplished actors - including Susannah York, Colin Blakely, Ian Holm, Billie Whitelaw, Donald Pleasence, Terry-Thomas, Irene Handl, Patrick Macnee, Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier, among many others, including American import Carroll Baker (my pal Jerry will love this!). This volume includes early plays by both Jack Rosenthal, Ted Willis, Angus Wilson, Alun Owen, Len Deighton and John Hopkins, as well as Terry Southern." 

I just had to get this when I saw it included a production of Oscar's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST which I had not heard of before, from November 1964 (I was 18 then, new in London, in my bedsitter but with no television, so I missed it) with, for me, a dream cast to equal the 1952 Asquith film which of course had the definitive Lady Bracknell in Edith Evans, and with Joan Greenwood and Margaret Rutherford. 
Here in 1964 we have Pamela Brown (whom I like so much in I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING) who is a formidable Bracknell, with the fabulously camp Fenella Fielding (CARRY ON SCREAMING etc) as her daughter Gwendolyn and young Susannah York is a perfect Cecily. Then theres Irene Handl as Miss Prism and Wilfrid Brambell as the Canon. The boys are Patrick Macnee (THE AVENGERS) and Ian Carmichael. Perfect 1964 casting! and it all works a treat - they certainly do Oscar justice. Lovely art nouveau set too for Algernon's apartment. The script had to be tailored to fit a 90 minute slot, but the BBC did the same with their Oscar productions in that OSCAR WILDE COLLECTION, but al the lines we know and love are here ....
Susannah York also features in another play here. I may have to investigate the other 3 volumes as well!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A NEW Sound of Music ....

THE SOUND OF MUSIC was one musical I never wanted to see and I successfully avoided it until New Year's Day 1996 when I had to give in and watch it with my then ill partner (he died 2 weeks later) and his mother ..... and ok, I enjoyed it, but it is not my favourite or even favourite Oscar & Hammerstein musical (that would be SOUTH PACIFIC). Far too saccharine - I relished Pauline Kael's famous review at the time, where she muses "Wasn't there one little Von Trapp who did not want to sing on cue with the others or who threw up before having to go on stage?" - or words to that effect; or as "Films and Filming" said: "THE SOUND OF MUSIC is 179 minutes, and the first minute is rather good".  Eleanor Parker was marvellous as the Baroness, she could do a lot with very little.

I also saw the London Palladium production some years ago which starred television discovery Connie Fisher, who was an ideal Maria too. The O&H show was first staged in 1959 with Mary Martin. The 1965 film air again here also on new Year's Day. But now our ITV commercial channel has aired a new production, done 'live' and as my current partner (of 13 years) also loves the show and has done the whole Salzburg thing, I had to sit down and watch it again, and actually liked it a lot, it may be the best production yet. Obviously it could not be opened out like the Robert Wise film with location shooting, but it was nicely done and included the songs, mainly for the Baroness, which were not included in the film. 
Kara Tointon was an ideal Maria - she is a television actress here (EASTENDERS)  and won a series of STRICTLY COME DANCING so is well versed in show business and is quite charming, particularly as her Maria matures. The children were all ok, TV regulars Alexander Armstrong was Max, Mel from the BAKE-OFF was the housekeeper, Katherine Kelly (CORONATION STREET, MR SELFRIDGE) as the Baroness, but Julian Ovendon seemed a tad too young for Von Trapp, though he too matures into the role - he sings at the Proms, was in FOYLES'S WAR and one of Lady Mary's suitors in DOWNTON ABBEY (final episode screens here on Christmas Day - there will be a report) and he stripped for that scene in that revival of MY NIGHT WITH REG at the Donmar, which we saw last year. Maria Friedman is a great mother superior at the convent and sings a convincing "Climb Every Mountain".  So in all, we quite liked it and it adds a new dimension to the well-known show. With David Bamber and Paul Copley. Directed by Mel's sister Coky Giedroyc and Richard Valentine. It is due to be repeated soon.

Getting back to SOUTH PACIFIC, I was wondering why it did not do more for Mitzi Gaynor - its really her last film of note, after that came that dreadful SURPRISE PACKAGE (reviewed a while back, Stanley Donen label), then a forgettable David Niven comedy and her final screen credit in 1963 in a long-forgotten comedy with Kirk Douglas. 
Mitz was a talented hoofer and comedienne who arrived just as musicals were going out of fashion, but she scores in the 1954 THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS (above, relaxing with Marilyn and Ethel), and ANYTHING GOES and she was one of the LES GIRLS with Kay Kendall and Taina Elg in Gene Kelly's dance troupe for Cukor in 1957, one of our favourites here, see label - and then her Nellie Forbush in SOUTH PACIFIC, where she seems ideal - I loved the movie as a kid and it was one of the first soundtrack albums I got. I would not have bought the more well known Doris Day in the role. Mitzi then had a good television career with all her musical specials and, like Debbie Reynolds, is still a game gal now.  
Below: those guys on the island, including muscle boy Ed Fury - ideal rainy day viewing.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Christmas treats

TV is awash at the moment with Christmas movies - glutinous, sentimental TV movies - there are even whole channels devoted to them. I ignore all these -we will always want to see IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE or MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET or even WHITE CHRISTMAS or MEET ME IN ST LOUIS (not a Christmas movie as such, as it covers all 4 seasons, but it does have that great Christmas song sung by Judy...). There are though one or two movies I discovered that are worth seeing, and starring some of our favourites here at The Projector.
I nominate CHRISTMAS EVE, starring Loretta Young and Trevor Howard, and THE GIFT OF LOVE: A CHRISTMAS STORY with Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury. And for a real movie, Spence and Kate in DESK SET (above) - which has a great long Christmas party scene. Roll them ...
Loretta was the great depression waif back in the 1930s and very prolific - 7 or 8 movies in 1933 alone. I love her in those Pre-Codes like MIDNIGHT MARY or the 1936 LADIES IN LOVE - as per revews at Loretta label. (The later Loretta became an Iron Butterfly and was less interesting). Here she is Amanda, a beautiful old lady in CHRISTMAS EVE, in 1986. Amanda is a wealthy widow at loggerheads with her banker son who is trying to remove her from control of the family firm as she persists in using real money to give to the poor and not tax-deducting it. Then it turns out Amada has a fatal illness [no sniggering at the back Martin Bradley!] with not much time left. When her doctor tells her, her reaction is "Well I never thought I was immortal". 
Her faithful butler is none other than Trevor Howard, also touching and frail here after his hell-raiser days. When she tells him of her condition and how he has to help her, as they go out every night helping the poor and homeless, is perfectly played by the two veterans. She decides to use her remaining time to re-unite her grandchildren with their father and bring the whole family together for Christmas Eve. Does it happen? It may sound gruesomely sentimental but it is anything but in the seasoned hands of veterans like Young and Howard and a good supporting cast. Directed by Stuart Cooper. Howard died 2 years later in 1988, aged 74 Young died aged 87 in 2000. 

Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury are paired again in the 1983 telefilm THE GIFT OF LOVE. (They were previously in THE LONG HOT SUMMER in 1958, and that 1964 Sondheim musical ANYONE CAN WHISTLE). 
After experiencing several stressful situations within a short time --including the failure of the family business and the loss of her mother-- Janet Broderick becomes ill. Falling into a deep sleep, she dreams of returning to her hometown, taking her children with her to meet her deceased loved ones. Perhaps, during a Christmas reunion with her beloved family, she will find the answer to coping with her troubles.
This is a glutinously sentimental story mainly in soft focus about a family facing hard times and the intervention perhaps of family ghosts... Lee is wonderfully attractive and fascinating as usual as the disillusioned wife whose mother Angela Lansbury dies after two scenes, but returns as Lee dreams most of the following with a visit to her old family home where mother and father and spinster aunt are all present. Its nicely resolved with her children and husband, and expertly put together by old hand Delbert Mann (MARTY, SEPARATE TABLES etc). It remains a superior telemovie though, we can watch Lee and Angela in anything. 
DESK SET is a pleasure now, as I posted here a year or so ago.. I like it a lot, maybe the best of the Tracy-Hepburns after WOMAN OF THE YEARADAMS RIBPAT & MIKE .... its from a talky play (by Phoebe and Henry Ephron) and the subject must have been topical back in the 50s - those new big computers coming in taking over office jobs. Like Fox's WOMAN'S WORLD it is also another great New York movie, and Kate and her office girls, led by Joan Blondell, are a great gang. Spence is amusing and droll too as they suspect he (and his new computer) is going to make them all redundant. Theres reams of dialogue, including that nice long scene on the cold office roof, and that one at Kate's apartment - another Apartment We Love - with its cosy fire, chairs and bookshelves. We want to live there!
Gig Young is Kate's on-off boyfriend - a task he previously played for Bette and Joan. There is a great long Christmas scene as the office party gets underway and Kate plays drunk nicely - she and Joan Blondell get nicely tipsy together, and Kate even sings "Night and Day". She is for once given a decent wardrobe of nice dresses and coats and looks great, particularly in that red coat and gloves.. DESK SET, directed by Fox regular Walter Lang, is a pleasure any time, and Leon Shamroy makes it look good. (As I mentioned before, the young Lee Remick was up for the small part played by Dina Merrill, as her first movie role, but she wisely opted for A FACE IN THE CROWD instead, making a sensational debut there). Its a Christmas treat, put it on. 

Dance dance dance

The behemoth is over for another year - BBC's STRICTLY COME DANCING ended with three worthy finalists - but we all knew Jay and Aliona were going to win after their sensationa jive some weeks back - check Dance label for video - Shame though that Anita and Gleb did not make the cut - BBC presenter Anita Rani worked so hard and was fearless in her routines - again, check Dance label - with new Russian guy Gleb - but it seems the judges were more keen to get Anton into the final, he had been in all previous series. seems Gleb's choreography was too modern for traditionalist head juge Len. Then there were Helan and Aljaz ..... here are some dazzling charlestons and Anita & Gleb's fierce take on the salsa.  
This was a great series overall with a great team - now for next year's ..... even now are various 'celebs' on the phone to their agents trying to get a slot on the show?, even though its signing up for 4 months hard slog, but some people transform themselves and their careers - who knew Georgia, who had a small part in UK soap CORONATION STREET a year or so ago - was so adorable, she should soon be a west end star.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

A midwinter treat ...... I simply love this movie, as per reiews - Deneuve, Dorleac, Demy labels. 
Click the full-screen icon to see it widescreen.
Jacques Demy's films are awash with that particular type of French glamour, as we have noted here before, see labels. Here he dresses up Deneuve and Dorleac in those pastels for LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHFORT in 1967, turns Jacques Perrin into a blonde sailor in a sailor suit, gets George Chakiris and Grover Dale into tight trousers, and makes Danielle Darrieux a very glamours mother to the singing and dancing sisters, then there is an older Gene Kelly!
LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT is now on the BFI list of '10 Best Gay French Films" .... it may not be gay as such, but there is a definite gay sensibility here. Bliss is assured watching it in mid-winter. 
As the BFI put it: "File this one under ‘queer aesthetic’. In the most excessive of Jacques Demy’s films, he creates an infectiously cheery musical in which everyone has a ball. Catherine Deneue and Francoise Dorleac are the damsels of the title, looking for love in the sunny seaside town of Rochefort. But will any of the attractive men on offer fall for their charms?
There’s nothing explicitly gay here, but any film that shoves Jacques Perrin in a sailor suit, squeezes George Chakiris into tight white trousers and decorates itself with lavish, lurid sets definitely has a queer eye. Its relentless good nature isn’t for Scrooges, but it’s a hard heart that can’t enjoy Gene Kelly’s surprise cameo, or the vision of Deneuve in elbow-length gloves, chain-smoking while removing a chicken from the oven (trust us, it’s amazing)".

Sophia's Human Voice

I had been waiting to see that short film (20 minutes) which Sophia Loren made last year, aged 80, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti - THE HUMAN VOICE. Its the old Jean Cocteau play about a woman on the telephone to her lover who is deserting her, which was done previously by the likes of Anna Magnani and Ingrid Bergman. Now, here is Sophia doing it.   It had no screenings here but then I found out that it is a dvd extra on the Criterion Collection new issue of A SPECIAL DAY - Sophia's highly-regarded 1977 film with Marcello, directed by Ettore Scola (who also directed that terrific comedy THE PIZZA TRIANGLE with Marcello, Vitti and Giannini).

This A SPECIAL DAY turns out to be a perfect package for Loren completists - not only HUMAN VOICE but also a new interview with Scola and with Loren recorded this year (she is wearing red as usual) AND an hour long Dick Cavett interview (in two parts) from 1977 with both Sophia and Mastroianni (left, at the '77 recording) - we never saw those Cavett shows here so this is a rarity indeed.
Set against the backdrop of Naples, Italy, in 1950, this romantic drama tells the story of Angela, (played by Sophia Loren), a woman in the twilight of her years who rides the emotional roller coaster of her last telephone conversation with the man she loves as he is leaving her for another woman.
It is an enthralling little film, as Loren talks on the phone while her maid makes the weekly parmigiana dish for the lovers, only this time he is not turning up. The woman's desperation is obvious until she finally accepts the reality. Sophia rises to the occasion splendidly and is as compelling as ever. 
If it is her last performance it is a fitting cap to one of the great international careers. It is a nice gift too from a son to his mother, the one setting is intercut with snatches of happier times and seeing the older Loren looking out over the bay of Naples has its own resonance. 

A SPECIAL DAY too looks great here, I had not seen it for some time, both stars are wonderful here, Marcello playing a gay persecuted journalist and she the dowdy housewife, both are left behind in their apartment block as everyone goes to see the Mussolini parade - in 1930s Rome. A fascinating period piece. 
This Criterion issue is both Blu-ray and DVD, but only available for Region 1 - I had to order it from Barnes & Noble in New York. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Once more: The Leopard, 1963

We have blogged about Visconti's THE LEOPARD from 1963 a lot here, check label - I had another look at it, it is even more staggering on Blu-ray particularly that long ballroom sequence at the climax, which goes on for about 45 minutes. as Burt Lancaster's Prince of Salina and Claudia Cardinale's Angelica (was she ever more resplendant?) dance to that Verdi waltz as Alain Delon's Tancredi watches, as does the other guests. I was watching a documentary on Silicy the other day and the presenter, Alex Polizzi, visited the palazzo which contained that ballroom and adjoining chambers - its all exactly as it was then. I love Lampedusa's book too and have to return to it every few years, which again makes me want to see the Visconti epic once more ... it was of course a huge influence on Scorsese (check out THE AGE OF INNOCENCE), Coppola and others. 
Claudia of course was at her zenith too in Visconti's 1965 operatic melodrama: SANDRA (or OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS). Thankfully thats available again now, I loved it when I was 19. She and Jean Sorel are another jaw-droppingly beautiful couple ...  

2001 time again ...

Its on television again tonight - 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY: I can't wait, despite having the Blu-ray and seen it so many times since that first time in 1968 in Cinerama, with my hippie friends, and yes, we were all on acid. It remains for me maybe the best film of all time, I simply never tire of it. At least now with widescreen HD it still looks good on TV. 
Kubrick's seminal sci-fi classic is nearly half a century old, but its eerie voyage through the galaxies of human experience remains timeless. And that soundtrack ...... total perfection.  The core of the film of course is that long voyage to Jupiter with astronauts Bowman and Poole and the HAL 9000 computer .... "Open the pod doors, Hal" - "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that ...." The ending still mystifies us but leaves us with a feeling of awe ... 
Astronauts do age though .....

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

RIP, continued

Holly Woodlawn (1946-2015), aged 69. Warhol Superstar and "transgender Puerto Rican actress" best known for her role in Warhol's TRASH with Joe D'allesandro (directed by Paul Morrisey), and WOMEN IN REVOLT. Immmortalised too of course in Lou Reed's 1972 classic "Walk On The Wild Wild Side" as the 'he who became a she'. Now that transgender is everywhere, Holly was indeed a trailblazer. Her memoir was titled "A Low Life in High Heels". 

Shirley Selfox (1941-2015), aged.74. English character actress with striking looks, with a vast range of TV roles, including all the soaps: she had several stints in CORONATION STREET, plus BROOKSIDE, CROSSROADS and EASTENDERS, and lately from 2001 a leading role in EMMERDALE as Edna Birch, a classic soap opera harridan. She was also a Z CARS graduate, and appeared in KEEPING UP APPEARANCES, MAKING OUT, THE BILL, BERGERAC, INSPECTOR MORSE and did a lot of theatre too. She is terrific in Terry Jones's PERSONAL SERVICES, the 1987 film about Cynthia Payne (also also died recently). 

Nicholas Smith (1934-2015), aged 81. English actor best known now for his role as the pompous, smug Mr Rumbold in the classic BBC series ARE YOU BEING SERVED? where he skewered the pomposities of the manager of Grace Brothers department store. He was the last surviving member of the main cast. He was with the show for its run from 1972 to 1985.Later work included GRACE AND FAVOUR and Pasolini's THE CANTERBURY TALES, plus WORZEL GUMMIDGE, LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE and the musical FOR ME AND MY GIRL on stage.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Very 1964

Jane Asher at home in Wimpole Street, London, in 1964 - the year 18 year old me arrived in London, and saw her that year in Roger Corman's wonderful MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. I saw her on the stage too in '67 (or was it '68?) in The Bard's A WINTER'S TALE with Laurence Harvey. I only went to it as Jane was in it. One marvellous fact about Jane: she has never traded on her Beatles connection, and is still just as fascinating and still working now, and married to cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, Thanks to Colin again for finding the photo. 
Right: Jane as Lady Bracknell in 2011. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

1962 again: Experiment in Terror

Back to one of our favourite years (I was 16 and seeing all these movies on the big screen) for a terrific, taut thriller: Blake Edwards' EXPERIMENT IN TERROR.  It has that early '60s vibe, its in glittering black and white (lensed by Philip Lathrop), it has a great Henri Mancini score, and it stars two dependables: our favourite, Lee Remick, and Mr Dependable - the oddly undercherished (these days) Glenn Ford. 

It starts with Kelly Sherwood (Remick) driving her thunderbird (or is it a cadillac?) though dark San Francisco - then she arrives home and is terrorised in her garage by the Mystery Man .... Kelly is a bank cashier and he wants her to steal $100,000 from the bank for him, or else she and her kid sister (Stephanie Powers) gets it, and she must not contact the police. He ups his game of terror but Kelly contacts the FBI - enter Glenn Ford as agent Ripley. 
There is no romance here - he is the guy on the case and she is the terrified victim. The plot twists and turns for all of its 1.58 running time to the exciting climax at a basebal game when the killer (who has managed to kidnap the sister) is finally cornered ..... Remick of course is marvellous and Glenn is his usual solid self. I liked it a lot. Lee said in her 1988 "Films In Review" interview, where she looked back at her career: "That movie still looks good. It's well made, tightly knit."

Lee, Blake and Mancini teamed again that year for the even better DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES - more on that at Lee labels 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

1950s boys ...

That screen test James Dean and Paul Newman did when both were testing for Kazan's EAST OF EDEN. Paul would soon be replacing Dean on celluloid ...

1930s boys

Cary and Randolph with Irene Dunne in MY FAVOURITE WIFE - 1940 actually - but Cary and Randy seemed to hang out a lot in the 1930s - as per previous posts on them. Interesting how Randolph has no visible "bulge" in that swimwear, presumably everything was strapped down ...

RIP, continued

Gabriele Ferzetti (1925-2015), aged 90. Ferzetti, while not having the high profile of a Mastroianni,  was also one of Italy's greatest actors, good to see he got to a good age. I saw him as the paterfamilias in I AM LOVE a few years ago. He will be immortal of course for his Sandro in Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA in 1960, (right with Monica Vitti), he also starred in Vancini's THE LONG NIGHT OF '43 that year, which deserves to be better known (review at Italian label). He clocked up a lot of credits, also notably in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Draco in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, and THE NIGHT PORTER. I will be catching him in two rarities, A ROOM IN MANHATTAN and Minnelli's A MATTER OF TIME, before too long.

Anthony Valentine (1939-2015), aged 76. A great British TV 'baddie', Valentine had a long career, clocking up 123 credits, without ever becoming a major name, but being a working actor is more important. His major credits include CALLAN and COLDITZ (where he was the hissably evil Nazi) in 1974; other series included Z CARS, RAFFLES, BERGERAC, MINDER, THE BILL, CORONATION STREET and more, He was a cartoon Nazi in ESCAPE TO ATHENA, and a chilling gangster in that memorable scene with James Fox in PERFORMANCE,  

Penelope Houston (1927-2015), aged 88. Editor of "Sight and Sound" film magazine from 1956 to 1990, (having taken over from Gavin Lambert), Houston saw the magazine through the changes of the 1960s and 1970s and the great era of international cinema, championing directors like Godard. "S&S" was always the 'highbrow' film magazine for serious film buffs who only saw "important" films - it was essential then; it is still going now, I like the December issue with reports on all those current movies I have been commenting on. Unlike my favourite "Films & Filming" (1954-1980) which was a commercial enterprise, "S&S" was the house magazine of the BFI (British Film Institute) so did not have to struggle to survive.  Houston's own criticism was informed, impassioned and she was a memorable presence on the film festival circuit. Her private passions were horse racing and golf which she continued to play into her eighties. RIP indeed.