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.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

6 lesser-known '60s dramas + a treat ...

Following on from the lesser-known '50s dramas (see below), lets turn to the '60s: 

SONS AND LOVERS. D.H. Lawrence seems back in vogue again, with that new underwhelming BBC version of LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER screened recently, and the BFI are screening a restored WOMEN IN LOVE at the forthcoming London Film Festival, but the only version I know of his monumental novel SONS AND LOVERS is this 1960 version directed by Jack Cardiff, with great CinemaScope black and white images of those Nottingham coal pit communities by Freddie Francis, and co-scripted by Gavin Lambert. 
Young American actor Dean Stockwell plays Paul Morel the sensitive lead trying to become a writer, but the film is dominated by two great performances from Wendy Hiller and his fiercely protective if domineering mother and Trevor Howard as her embittered husband, a coal miner. Their battles form the backbone of the film, as Paul tries to establish his independence and his relationships with with pious Miriam (Heather Sears) and the worldly older married woman Clara Dawes (Mary Ure). It may be rather forgotten now, but was a ‘prestige’ picture (one of 20th Century Fox’s literary classics little seen now) and was nominated for seven Academy Awards including best film and best director.

ALL FALL DOWN. Another pair of embattled parents (Karl Malden and Angela Lansbury as Ralph and Annabel) feature in John Frankenheimer’s lyrical 1962 drama scripted by William Inge from a book I loved at the time; James’s Leo Herlihy’s novel about 16 year old Clint (Brandon De Wilde) who idolises his wastrel older brother Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty in one of his early eye-catching roles) . I was 16 myself and identified totally with Clint, as we see him initially in Key West in Florida tracking down his brother, who finally comes home for Christmas. This is an amusing sequence as Ralph brings home three tramps for the festive season, to spite Annabel's plans, but she soon manoeuvres them out of the house, aided by some dollar bills. 
The arrival of Echo O’Brien, the “old maid from Toledo” (Eva Marie Saint in another stunning performance) upsets the balance of the house, Clint becomes infatuated with her but she and Berry-Berry embark on a doomed romance and she gets pregnant, but he cannot handle the responsibility and reverts of his mean nature beating up women, as Clint finally sees how shallow and empty and hate-filled he is. I have written about this here before, as per the labels. It remains a pleasure from that good year for Frankenheimer – he also turned out THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ that year. De Wilde also had a good role in HUD the following year, but died in a traffic accident when 30 in 1972. Gay writer Herlihy went on to write "Midnight Cowboy" and did some acting too, he appears with Jean Seberg (see below) in the 1963 IN THE FRENCH STYLE, another favourite.

REACH FOR GLORY. Another book I loved back then when 16 in 1962 was “The Custard Boys” by John Rae, which was a highly-regarded novel about British teenagers in wartime. This is what I wrote back in 2011:
Hardly ever seen now, Philip Leacock's 1962 film REACH FOR GLORY is the film version of a highly praised 1960 novel "The Custard Boys" by John Rae, a headteacher at Westminster College. The blurb said: "During World War II, teenage boys in a small English town are consumed with jingoism and brutal war games, hoping dearly that the war won't end before they can fight in it. John, one of the younger members, is increasingly torn between these peer group values and his deepening homoerotic friendship with Mark, a gentle Jewish refugee whom his gang has ostracized as a sissy and a coward." It is rather suggestive of LORD OF THE FLIES, leading as it does to tragedy, and starts with the boys chasing and killing a cat. The main adults are the estimable Harry Andrews and Kay Walsh as hero John Curlew's parents, and Michael Anderson as Lewis Craig, the bullying leader of the gang, as the boys are encouraged in their war games, but love and affection are very suspect - life during wartime! 
The worst thing here is to be a coward, as John realises, coping with his blustering father (Andrews) and his deepening friendship with the Jewish boy Mark Stein. But there is a real bullet among the blanks in their training exercises …
Leacock was a very prolific director, very good with children, who in the '50s directed films like THE SPANISH GARDENER [review at Dirk Bogarde label], and later went on to a successful career in American television with the likes of THE WALTONSDYNASTY and FALCON CREST. This though is a nice small little back and white film, and an early 'gay interest' title, which I managed to catch once as a supporting feature, but have now got a dvd copy. It's been well worth the wait.

THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES & I WAS HAPPY HERE:

Two perfect mid-60s British black and white romantic dramas set in Ireland - both from Edna O'Brien stories, and both directed by Desmond Davis are 1964's THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES and I WAS HAPPY HERE in 1966, starring Sarah Miles (a world away from her other overblown Irish romance for David Lean). I have written about these here before (Sarah, Rita, Edna O'Brien, Ireland labels). They do though make a perfect double bill. O'Brien's theme in both is the passage of love as her Irish country girls love and lose and set up new lives in London.
This was very relevant for me being Irish and new in London too then, as Miles' Cass goes back to her Irish village [Liscanor and Lahinch in Co Clare, where Cyril Cusack runs the hotel she used to work at, and which is closed for the winter, and Marie Kean presides over the local pub] while Rita and Lynn (wonderful as the feckless Baba) have their adventures in '60s Dublin as Tush is romanced by wordly older man Peter Finch (sterling, as ever); Marie Kean is his housekeeper, handy with a rifle. It ends with the girls on the night ferry from Dun Laoghaire to England - a trip I did myself many times - and shows us Rita's new life in London - she works at the WH Smith shop in Notting Hill Gate just across from the Classic Cinema (above) - an old haunt of mine! whereas Sarah also ends up wiser as her boorish husband comes to reclaim her, and her fisherman lover has found a new love .... both are perfect small films that pays re-viewing. I particularly liked Sarah's london bedsit with its great view of that '60s icon The Post Office Tower. Sarah went on to Antonioni's BLOW-UP (which according to her memoirs was not a happy experience for her) and then back to Ireland - Kerry this time - for the protracted shoot on RYAN'S DAUGHTER, released in 1970. Rita had the smash hit of Lester's THE KNACK among others, and she and Lynn teamed again to great comic effect in Desmond Davis's SMASHING TIME, great fun in 1968,as per reviews at labels. See Sarah and Rita labels for more on these treats. 


SANDRA or OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS. Visconti's operatic melodrama from 1965, VAGHE STELLE D'ORSA (its from a poem) or OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS or simply SANDRA - which I have written about here before [Visconti, Cardinale, Sorel, Craig labels]. 
It is a small film in the Visconti canon, overshadowed by those big operatic productions like ROCCOTHE LEOPARDTHE DAMNEDDEATH IN VENICE or LUDWIG. I first saw it when I was 19 in 1965 and then it became unobtainable for a long time. It was great to catch up with it again last year, and it was as powerful as I remembered. The stunning black and white photography by Armando Nannuzzi show Claudia Cardinale at her zenith, along with Jean Sorel as her brother and English actor Michael Craig as her husband.

Sandra and her husband return to the family home, one of those sprawling Italian mansions, in the Etruscan city of Volterra, where family secrets are slowly uncovered, as Sandra has to confront her brother who wants to resume their once-incestous relationship, her mentally ill mother and the crumbling estate and the secret about their father and the war ... Visconti builds it to a powerful climax,and the images still resonate. Good to see this back in circulation again, it is certainly one to seek out and keep.

And now, after all these moody black and white dramas, a burst of sunshine and colour and romance as we head off to the South of France, for a delicious mid-60s romantic drama/thriller, of the old school.
MOMENT TO MOMENT in 1966 is a glossy romantic thriller by old hand Mervyn Le Roy (his last film) set in the South of France and is a fabulous treat to see now at this remove. It was part of a double-bill on release initially.
The first half is lushly romantic as Jean Seberg drives around Nice in her snazzy red sports car, sporting a Yves St Laurent wardrobe that would still be the height of chic today - she is a bored wife whose (dull) husband Arthur Hill is away on business, and she gets romantically involved [as one does] with a naval officer on the loose - Sean Garrison, a bit wooden but does what is required of him, ie - he fills out his uniform nicely. Jean resists at first but ... add in Honor Blackman [just after her stint as Pussy Galore with James Bond] as the mantrap next door and the stage is set for some fireworks.
Then it turns into a Chabrol-like thriller with a missing body, police on the prowl, the return of the husband and the missing body (very much alive).  It is though all nicely worked out, a lot of it studio bound, but nice locations too. Jean is perfect here and its a perfect mid'60s treat. Great Henry Mancini score too .... it deserves to be much better known and would be a much better chick flick now than some of the current examples. There is a lovely moment at the well-known Colombe D'Or restaurant (still going strong at St-Paul-de-Vence - I read a recommendtion on it last week) with the doves flying into the sun .... perfectly romantic then with a few Hitchcockian twists and Seberg is in her lovely prime here. What's not to like? My pal Jerry loves it as well and thanks to him for sourcing a copy. 

Vanessa Redgrave interview

A fascinating new interview with Vanessa Redgrave in London's "Evening Standard" this week, as at link:

She had a near-fatal heart attack back in April, when alone in her apartment, but managed to get help just in time, she describes all this and her life now in the interview. She blames her heavy smoking. Now78 she may be slowing down a bit, but is still a vital presence. She was luckier than that legendary smoker Joni Mitchell who also collapsed when alone in her house in May and was not found for several hours, suffering a brain aneurism and may be making a slow recovery. 

Its been quite a year all round - I was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in June after being unwell since April, but luckily it was Stage 0, and the Royal Marsden hospitals in Chelsea and Sutton have been wonderful. After various tests, scans, endoscopies etc and two cycles of chemotherapy I am now eating and drinking properly again, and a further CT scan next week should show how the tumour has shrunk and we can decide on the next stage of treatment, so I expect to make a full recovery and be fine for Christmas and next year for that move back to Ireland ..... 

Friday, 25 September 2015

More weekend grooves

Its the weekend, lets groove a bit, while its still a warm September ...
Here's one I love from that 80s pop era:   We had King ("Love & Pride"), Queen, and Prince - but did you know there was a Princess as well - she was one of the Stock Aitken Waterman stable and had a great hit with "Say I'm Your Number One" anticipating those later club classics. Princess was really Desiree Heslop from North London who had a successful album and some pop hits. Take it away, Princess ...
And we loved this in 1984, its a timeless classic: Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan ....
and this is a later 90s club classic from those great clubs I used to know: Substation South, Queer Nation, Heaven, Crash ....
Then there were tracks by Gwen Guthrie, Rosie Gaines, Jennifer Holiday, Ce Ce Peniston, Joyce Sims, and more .... we will cover them eventually.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

RIP continued

Jackie Collins (1937-2015), aged 77.  The rather sudden death of novelist Jackie has come as rather a surprise - she was on British television only 2 weeks previously cheerfully plugging her latest bonkbuster and, as usual, giving good interview. Jackie was a witty, erudite, popular novelist who tapped into what her readers wanted and gave it to them in spades. It seems her 32 novels sold over 500 million copies. Although she had stage 4 cancer for over 6 years she kept her illness to herself until the end. Right: she and sister Joan back in their 1980s "lucky bitches" personas capturing all that 80s glitz and ersatz glamour. 

Franco Interlenghi (1931-2015), aged 83. Maybe not as well known as the Delons or Sorels, Interlenghi was an essential European actor with a long career, starting as one of the boys in De Sica's SHOESHINE in 1946, and graduating to the lead in Fellini's classic  I VITELLONI which I like a lot, in 1953. He also starred in one of the segments of I VINTI, also '53, and was one of the layabouts in Bolognini's LA NOTTE BRAVA in 1959, another Italian favourite. He also had roles in films as varied as THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, FABIOLA, A FAREWELL TO ARMS, and lots of Italian films and series like ROMANZO  CRIMINALE and kept working to 2010. 

Brian Sewell (1931-2015) aged 84 - affectionate notices for London's "Evening Standard" art critic Brian Sewell, he of the plummy voice and manner, a latter day Quentin Crisp or Kenneth Williams? He was also, like Gore Vidal, a sexual revolutionary who often spoke of having 1,000 sexual partners a year. His acerbic weekly art reviews were highly regarded, and he also loved dogs (and rescued several) and vintage cars and also did some fascinating television documentaries. He waged witty, unwavering and vitriolic battle against what he what he regarded as the posturing inanities of modern British conceptual art. His readers were at once amazed and gratified to discover that this seemingly effete highbrow, whose outrageously camp voice (“Lady Bracknell on acid”) they knew from radio and television, should reflect all their own prejudices as he delivered his withering putdowns on he likes of Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George, Tracey Emin and even David Hockney.

Monday, 21 September 2015

A new go-between

THE GO-BETWEEN, 2015: Yes, it begins with that famous first line: "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there" .... as the older Leo Colston (Jack Broadbent) returns to Norfolk 50 years after that fateful summer he spent there in 1900 as guest of the wealthy Maudsley family as 12-year old Leo is a school friend of their son. This of course is the famous L.P.Hartley novel originally filmed by Joseph Losey in 1971 - it was an award winner at Cannes, with a razor-sharp script by Harold Pinter and a score by Michel Legrand, as Losey and Pinter dissect once again the British class system. 
It is also a ravishing period piece, with Julie Christie as Marian, the wilful daughter of the family having a clandestine relationship with tenant farmer Ted Burgess (Alan Bates). Margaret Leighton is marvellous as her mother who is determined her daughter shall marry Lord Trimingham - Edward Fox. Young Leo, too infatuated with Marian to realise how shallow and manipulative she is,  soon gets caught up in their deceit as he becomes their go-between, carrying message back and forth .... It all comes to grief before too long, it seems everyone knows what is going on but it cannot be mentioned until the cold mother has had enough.  Left: Dominic Guard as Leo and Julie Christie as Marian in 1971.
This new BBC version looks great capturing that lazy hazy summer at the end of the Victorian era with croquet on the lawn, tea parties, the toffs playing cricket on the village green against the locals, and the suspicious mother keeping an eye on her daughter .... The new version (directed by Pete Travis and scripted by Adrian Hodges) plays like a retread of the Losey film but with subtle differences - the wealthy family are now portrayed in a more human light.  Young Leo is delightfully played by Jack Hollington, and Ben Batt (more naked swimming) is not quite the equal of Bates, while  Joanna Vanderham is a younger Marian. Above: Margaret Leighton and Lesley Manville as Mrs Maudsley.
Lesley Manville (so good in Mike Leigh's ANOTHER YEAR) is absolutely marvellous as the mother, certainly the equal of Margaret Leighton, and a shrewd piece of casting has Vanessa Redgrave as the older Marian confronting Broadbent - as her father Michael Redgrave played the older Leo in the Losey film, which brings it to a nice conclusion. That final sequence worked better though in the Losey film. In all much better than the BBC's by all accounts tepid and dismal retelling of LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER which I did not bother with, all part of their current new versions of classic British literature, and now for the final series of DOWNTON ABBEY. Right: Vanessa Redgrave and Jim Broadbent.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Happy birthday, Sophia!

She is 81 today !  and has collaborated with Dolce & Gabbana on a new lipstick: Sophia Loren No. 1 Red - a shade of raspberry.  Here's the promo clip: https://youtu.be/EdeqIsNuFng
Below: Sophia at Cannes last year, and below, taking a break on LEGEND OF THE LOST in 1957, and photographed by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1969 (right).
She has been in my life ever since I was a kid in 1954, seeing those early movies. I got to see her up close in 1979 when she was signing that first autobio, at Selfridges crowded department store in London - as per other posts at label.. Perhaps she is the most enduring superstar of all ...
Some old style glamour for a rainy afternoon then.
Favourite Lorens? How about 15:
TOO BAD SHE'S BAD / WOMAN OF THE RIVER / SCANDAL IN SORRENTO / BOY ON A DOLPHIN / LEGEND OF THE LOST / HOUSEBOAT / IT STARTED IN NAPLES / THE MILLIONAIRESS / TWO WOMEN / EL CID / FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE / YESTERDAY TODAY & TOMORROW / MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE / ARABESQUE / MORE THAN A MIRACLE.  She is terrific too in MAN OF LA MANCHA in 1972 and sings her own songs, if only the film was as good. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Joni and Tom ... and Aretha, Dusty and Janis too

I did not realise Joni Mitchell had appeared on our UK "The Tom Jones Show" back in January 1970, but while browsing the revamped Joni website (looking for an update on her health situation) I came across these. She also did some BBC recordings about the same time. I first saw her later that year at the Royal Festival Hall, in November, when she was the reigning hippie princess. Then (as per my other Joni posts) I got to meet her in 1972, and saw her again in 1974 when she was the new jazzy Joni.
Tom of course had them all on his shows - here he is with Janis Joplin, also 1970, her last year - and Dusty Springfield, and also with Aretha Franklin in 1970 Gosh, wouldn't it marvellous to see these again now - and here they are ! Sorry, no Tom and Joni clip.
Sir Tom of course is one of our elder statesmen of musc now, he has been great on the BBC series of "The Voice" adding some necessary gravitas and he is still rocking in his 70s. Way to go,

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

6 lesser known '50s dramas

We are all familiar with those great Fifties dramas, mentioned often here - from SUNSET BOULEVARD to SEPARATE TABLES or IMITATION OF LIFE, taking in those Kazans, Wylers, Douglas Sirks, Tennessee Williams adaptations etc. Here are 6 lesser known ones I like and are worth seeking out ...

NO SAD SONGS FOR ME – Margaret Sullavan’s last film in 1950 is curiously unregarded now, but is a nice little drama set in a mining town where she is the suburban wife who goes to the doctor and finds she has terminal cancer, which seems untreatable back then. She goes into denial but eventually comes to terms with it and plans her husband's and daughter’s future without her. Husband though is dependable Wendall Corey (dull as ever) - enter the young Viveca Lindfors as hubby’s new assistant and Margaret sees they are attracted to each other and she also gets on with Margaret's incessantly chattering daughter, young Natalie Wood. 
It’s a weepie then, but not in your face and the ending is rather nice. In accordance with films of this era she has a large comfy house and a black servant, husband and wife of course have separate beds. A curious choice for action director Rudolph Mate. Margaret Sullavan seems rather neglected now but was one of the great stars of her day, we like her a lot here, as per the label.



THE LUSTY MENNick Ray’s 1952 drama about rodeos (produced by Jerry Wald, with authentic rodeo locations) has not been seen for a long time, I thought this was a Fox film, but its RKO Radio.  It may be one of Ray’s best films, with certainly among the best work of the three leads: Robert Mitchum is Jeff McCloud a rootless, broke rodeo star, Susan Hayward and Arthur Kennedy are the married couple who want a ranch. He teaches Kennedy how to become a rodeo champion, to the disquiet of Hayward, giving a solid, reined-in performance, as she and Mitchum fight their attraction. This is nicely downbeat – seeing Mitchum crossing a wind-strewn rodeo arena brings THE MISFITS to mind, particularly Montgomery Clift playing that other rootless rodeo rider. Also that sequence when Mitchum returns to his childhood home … Lee Garmes’ camerawork makes it all look authentic, and the final scenes are deeply affecting. This is one film that deserves rediscovery.

Mitchum tries to be a ranch hand (to be close to Louise - Hayward)  and passes on his rodeo fever on to Kennedy, whose success alienates his wife as he now hangs around with the rodeo crowd. Kennedy initially took up rodeo riding to make enough money for their ranch, but now has money to spend, drink, with hangers-on and the attention of bar-room floozies. The film creates an exciting atmosphere with wild horses, bucking broncos and leisure time spent carousing in the bars where a day's prize money could be lost in drinking and gambling, then there is the inevitable tragic ending ... It really is a nice companion piece to THE MISFITS, and both Hayward and Mitchum do some of their best work here. Perhaps it might have benefited from being in colour.

WILD IS THE WIND. Another good discovery is this long unseen George Cukor/Anna Magnani item from 1957. Magnani is magnetic as the sister from Italy brought to America to marry her late sister's husband, Anthony Quinn in very gruff mode here. Quinn's protege young Anthony Franciosa is the only one to show her affection as she struggles with life on their bleak ranch, which rapidly escalates to a doomed romance. I did not care for Magnani's over the top performance in the acclaimed ROSE TATTOO when I saw it a while ago, but I love her here, as reined in by Cukor. She has a wonderful scene at the outdoor party when she sings a lovely little song, and has a nice scene with young Dolores Hart too. There is also another great theme tune (by Johnny Mathis - Nina Simone and David Bowie did great later versions of it too) and, surprisingly for Cukor, the scenes of capturing wild horses is as forceful as Huston's in THE MISFITS. Anna is of course marvellous in Renoir's THE GOLDEN COACH, and its fascinating seeing her with Brando in THE FUGITIVE KIND, and in Visconti's BELLISSIMA. 

THIS IS MY LOVE, 1954 - Linda Darnell is Vida, the unmarried sister of the more vivacious Faith Domergue married to crippled ex-dancer Dan Duryea who is very jealous of his young attractive wife. Vida lives with the mismatched couple and works in their diner and is engaged (or stringing along) a very dull boyfriend, until one day his friend, Rick Jason, walks in and seems the answer to Vida’s dreams. He is merely leading her along however until he meets the vivacious Faith, thus setting in motion a tale of rage, murder and revenge, played out in lurid colours as the girls sling hash in the diner. 
'50s lurid melodramas don’t come much better than this, as directed by Stuart Heisler. Unlike the glossy melodramas of Minnelli or Sirk, this is a gritty, downbeat affair. Linda is as terrific here as she was in A LETTER TO 3 WIVES
A friend of mine, Jerry, loves it too, and his IMDB review is perfect:
As soon as Franz Waxman's lush score swelled up over the credits I knew this one would deliver - and I wasn't disappointed. Vida (Linda Darnell) is a "spinster" who slings hash in her Brother in Law's diner and is engaged to the world's most boring man. Into the diner wanders her fiancĂ©e's army buddy - foxy Rick Jason - a "gas station casanova", and when left alone together Rick comes on to her... she plays hard to get - so hard to get in fact that Rick turns to her married sister Evelyn (Faith Domergue) for comfort, and the stage is set for resentment, deceit, adultery, jealousy, sibling rivalry.. and murder. 
This one really deserves to be better known. I'm not sure whether the lurid greens and purples that dominate the colour scheme are symbolic of the jealousy and anger simmering below the surface, and mark out Stuart Heisler as an neglected auteur... or it was just a lousy print. Connie Russell sings the title tune with lyrics as Darnell and Jason go out dancing. Dan Duryea is a bitter cripple. and Darnell is absolutely heartbreaking here - never knew she had it in her. Its everything I wanted from Douglas Sirk or late period Minnelli and never got. Absolutely delicious from start to finish and highly recommended. 9/10
[Rick Jason was also back in the '50s diner milieu in the downbeat '57 Fox film of Steinbeck's THE WAYWARD BUS as the bus driver married to shrewish diner owner Joan Collins (which Linda has tested for and would have been ideal casting, but Fox discarded their old star in favour of the new English girl) and with down-on-her-luck stripper Jayne Mansfield also on board the bus].

Two 1954 mellers with those new Italian girls Sophia Loren and Silvana Mangano:
MAMBO is a film I had never heard of until recently, but its a fascinating puzzle. Its a Paramount film directed by Robert Rossen (an odd choice for him) but its also a Carlo Ponti-Dino De Laurentiis production set mainly in Venice and Rome with two Italian stars, Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman – if only it had been in color with that great scenery and Venetian masked balls and the colourful Katherine Dunham dance group, which Silvana joins. She looks terrific here and in the dance numbers (the mambo must have been big about then as Loren does a terrific one in her ‘working in the river in shorts’ film WOMAN OF THE RIVER). MAMBO’s convoluted plot features Shelley Winters (Mrs Gasssman at the time) in what is surely one of the first clearly implied lesbian roles as she has a major crush on Silvana. Michael Rennie completes the odd quartet. Silvana's numbers are available on YouTube, as is MAMBO in full.

WOMAN OF THE RIVER. I have now re-seen the 1954 WOMAN OF THE RIVER for the first time since I saw it as a kid, and I am amazed at the 19 year old Sophia here in 1954, a very busy year for her - as Nives the proud canning factory girl who falls for hunk Rik Battaglia she does a sensational mambo dance and is just wonderful - no wonder it was her calling card to international films. She also goes cane cutting in the Po river, and it ends in drama with her young child. Its a film for the Italian market and Pasolini had a hand in the script, but its certainly vivid 50+ years later.I loved this and Sophia when I saw it as a kid in Ireland. 

Plus a rom-com treat: 
BUT NOT FOR ME is a neglected gem from that great year 1959 and was a treat to catch recently. Its one of Clark Gable's last films [he had just done TEACHER'S PET with Doris Day, and would next go to Italy for IT STARTED IN NAPLES with Sophia Loren (30 years his junior, but its great fun) and then finally to that fatal MISFITS location]. Here he is guying his older image as the Broadway producer falling for his ambitions young secretary Carroll Baker who also wants to be an actress. Its a comedy set in the theatreland of the '50s and has some nice views of New York back then, particuarly as his car glides through Manhattan in the morning, as Ella sings that great theme song. Best of the cast though is Lilli Palmer enjoying her role as his ex-wife watching on the sidelines. Will she get him back at the end? It's nicely worked out and there is also Lee J Cobb in scenery-chewing mode as a drunken playright, and pretty Barry Coe as Carroll's boyfriend. A nice Perlberg-Seaton production from Paramount.