Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Coming soon: Carol

We have posted before about CAROL, the new Cate Blanchett, from the Patricia Highsmith novel "The Price of Salt" (its a great read), finally opening soon, after its Festival showings to whet our appetites. 
This new Todd Haynes film is it seems from the reviews totally dreamy and we will all love it. It was only shot last year (Cate has had 5 other projects since), but not long to go now - expect lots of chatshow and red carpet exposure for Cate and Rooney ..... then there is BROOKLYN, another must see from a super novel (by Colm Toibin). Then there is Ben Whatley's version of J.G Ballard's HIGH RISE, and the Alan Bennett THE LADY IN THE VAN, with of course another nomination for Dame Maggie Smith, should be an interesting Award Season! Below: Todd Haynes and Cate. 

French rugby ...

More gratuitous almost-nudity? Good to see French rugby player Frederic Michalak still playing for the French team in the recent Rugby World Cup. He is still fit but is only in his early 30s. It is several years though since those "Diex De Stade" calendars and videos when the French team stripped off, tastefully .... here Frederic wears that striking tattoo ... he has since got married and has two children.  He plays for RC Toulon and previously for Toulouse - and still has the tattoo.
Of course the Irish and Italian teams are pretty nifty and fit too ... though its New Zealand v Australia in the Final on Saturday 31.
These poses somehow remind me of Nijinksy and that "L'Apres-Midi D'un Faune" ballet from the Ballet Russes in 1912 ...

More Matt ...

Wasn't Matt Bomer meant to be playing Montgomery Clift in some new biopic? Wonder if that will happen. Meanwhite, lots of Matt out there - heres some moments from the new AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL - I caught an episode last night - Lady Gaga and Kathy Bates keep one watching agog the blood-splattered activites. Plus the latest MAGIC MIKE - we didn't bother seeing that, the first one was bad enough .... Matt also scored of course in THE NORMAL HEART ... as per review Bomer label.

Monty with .....

Marilyn in THE MISFITS / Elizabeth in A PLACE IN THE SUN / Lee Remick in WILD RIVER / Donna Reed in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, and visiting Jack and Tony on SOME LIKE IT HOT ...

Coming back: Rocco and his brothers ....

1960. Black and white. Italian. Glamour. Luchino Visconti.Alain Delon. Annie Girardot. Renato Salvatori. Claudia Cardinale ...
Its coming back in a restored print - one of the big 3 that revived Italian cinema in that 1959-1960 era, the others of course being Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA and Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA

Saturday, 24 October 2015

RIP continued

Maureen O'Hara (1920-2015), at the grand age of 95. See my post on her from last week, below, for an appreciation ....  
I was watching THE PARENT TRAP on a cable channel just yesterday, bringing back so many childhood memories.

Chantal Akerman (1950-2015, aged 65, Belgian filmmaker, a leading light in experimental European cinema,  best known perhaps for JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DE COMMERCE, 1080, BRUXELLES, one I keep meaning to re-see. 

Philip French, aged 82. For 50 years he was the influential film critic for the London "Guardian" and also author His top 50 films from the last five decades are on this Guardian website:

Geoffrey Howe (1926-2015), aged 88 - a week after the death of his old political colleague and foe Denis Healey (RIP label). Howe was a likeable Conservative politician who famously brought down Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whom he had served for years as Foreign Secretary and Chancellor, with his resignation speech in 1990, when he rebelled against her leadership style. His opposite number Denis Healey famously compared a Howe broadside to being “savaged by a dead sheep” – his ponderous, monotone exterior concealed a subtle wit, a profound legal intelligence and a dogged bravery.

Illtyd Harrington (1931-2015), aged 84. British Labour politician who was deputy Mayor of London in the 1980. The flamboyant (newspeak for gay) and Welsh Harrington was often in the news for us Londoners, An old-fashioned Labour man, he later wrote about the arts, books and politics for "The Camden News Journal" newspaper and was a board member of The National Theatre.

Friday, 23 October 2015

New Dr Zhivago trailer

A confession: I have never seen DR ZHIVAGO at the cinema, or all the way through on television - though I have the DVD for all those extras, including those interviews with Lean and Christie. I have though seen bits of it lots of times from various screenings 
The film has now been restored by the BFI (British Film Institute) and is the centrepiece of their latest big season, on Love. So perhaps its time to finally see it as Lean intended ...

Image de jour: Antoine et la mer ...

A vivid memory from 1959 (I was 13) was seeing Truffaut's THE 400 BLOWS at my local cinema in Ireland. That ending was astonishing as Antoine Doinel, that neglected child (about my own age) drifting into petty crime, runs away from his remand home and keeps running until he reaches the sea, as the image freeze frames ....
Jean-Pierre Leaud made his name as Truffaut's alter-ego, and returned to the role of Doinel several times as we followed the misadventures and romances of the adult Antoine, in those agreeable Truffaut films like STOLEN KISSES (BAISERS VOLES) and LOVE ON THE RUN (L'AMOUR EN FUITE). 
A year after THE 400 BLOWS he played the 15 year old living on his own in a room in Pigalle, overlooking Paris, is Duvivier's enjoyable BOULEVARD. He was also of course the spoiled movie brat star of Truffaut's DAY FOR NIGHT in 1973.  Other movies included LAST TANGO IN PARIS, and Truffaut's ANNE AND MURIEL  - he is still working now. 
1959 was a pretty good year for French movies: there were also Chabrol's LES COUSINS, Mocky's LES DRAGUEURS, Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE, while Rene Clement was shooting PLEIN SOLEIL, and Godard was shooting BREATHLESS ... to join that new cinema world of  Hitchcock and Antonioni in 1960.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Ingrid, Gary, Flora - still of the day

Its SARATOGA TRUNK of course, filmed in 1943 but not released until 1945 when Ingrid Bergman was at the height of her 1940s popularity. She and Gary Cooper reteamed here have a lot of fun with this one, and Dame Flora Robson plays her Creole maid in blackface. Its still a delirious treat now. 

Coming up: some treats from Jerry, and a new consignment of rare dvds from raredvdsforsale:
Pola Negri and Basil Rathbone in the 1932 A WOMAN COMMANDS; Evelyn Brent as THE PAGAN LADY, 1931; Vadim's 1960 lesbian vampires BLOOD AND ROSES  - not seen that since I was a kid and remember how impressed I was; The Montands and Mylene Demongeot in the 1957 WITCHES OF SALEM; the 1949 FABIOLA - the peplum of peplums in a perfect print, with Henri Vidal; and that holy grail of lost movies: a marvellous looking Jean Seberg in BIRDS IN PERU in 1968, Tashlin's 1961 comedy BACHELOR FLAT: Terry-Thomas coping with American college, and a two part documentary on and by Dirk Bogarde. Oh , and Faye Dunaway as THE COUNTRY GIRL - yes, that Country Girl, sometime in the 80s. Plus Pier Angeli in PORT AFRIQUE, Ava Gardner's 1970 oddity TAM-LIN, and another copy of one of our favourites here: Rene Clement's THE SEA WALL (THIS ANGRY AGE) from 1957 -  the French TV version introduced by Alain Delon; plus that recent French wartime drama SUITE FRANCAISE, and the Hardy Boy and Cherlize in that new MAD MAX. Lots to talk about then ....

Cate at the BFI

Cate Blanchett receives her BFI Fellowship from LOTR co-star Ian McKellen, marking the climax of the LFF London Film Festival junketing. Not too long now then before CAROL finally graces our screens as the next Awards Season hots up - we trust La Blanchett has some more splendid fashion creations lined up for those red carpets ...

Strictly 2015, a progress report ...

Its that time of the year again here in the UK - as the BBC flagship programme STRICTLY COME DANCING gets into its stride as this year's intake up their game and the duds are voted off one by one, there will be some fabulous dances between now and Christmas....
We all love this number from PULP FICTION and there have been several hommages to it - but nothing tops last week's with Jay McGuinness and Aliona Villani, which got the first perfect 10 vote and in week 3! Aliona won in 2011 with Harry Judd, (see previous posts - Dance label) so we expect her and Jay to be in the final at least. 
Also shaping up nicely are Anita and show-off Gleb (here he is ripping his shirt off), 
And Georgia and Giovanni, and Anton with Katie, and Helen and Aljaz - all terrific last night and likely finalists. 
Co-presenter Claudia runs away with the show and had a hilarious moment with Aljaz .. she and judge Darcey Bussell must be the two most stylish, slinky women on television, and Natalie looked a dream in that pink ballgown, and we love weather-woman Carol and Pasha ... 12 finalists left so lots of dancing coming up ! 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Its a serious charge boys

Some more deliciously old-fashioned British movies from the late Fifties and early Sixties, time capsules to a vanished world now: SERIOUS CHARGE, 1959; THE BOYS, 1962.

The blurb says: Cliff Richard makes his sensational debut in SERIOUS CHARGE, and sings 3 songs including his first UK Number One smash hit “Living Doll”.
Directed by Terence Young, SERIOUS CHARGE sees Cliff (in a small role) playing teddyboy Curley Thompson, a young tearaway in a small English town, looking for kicks. Everyone thinks he is bad – except local vicar Revered Philips (Anthony Quayle) who sees the good in Curley and stands up for him in court. Unfortunately Curley’s older brother Larry (Andrew Ray) is an out-and-out hoodlum, with a switchblade in his hand, and nothing but contempt for his hometown of “DeadsvilleEngland”.
When Reverend Phillips first humiliates him in the local young club and then confronts him about his pregnant girlfriend, Larry snaps and accuses of Reverend of sexual assault – a serious charge that seems to have been witnessed by respected church-worker Hester (Sarah Churchill). Suddenly the vicar finds himself on the receiving end of a bitter hate campaign ….  

Hester is the spinster daughter of the previous vicar and has designs on Reverend Quayle and sees herself as the vicar's wife. His wise pragmatic mother sees how dangerous this could be and so it proves when Hester sides with the town's bullies and bigots against the beleagured vicar. Will he prove his innocence and turn the tables on his tormentors? Terence Young makes the most of this drama - he would soon go on to those first two James Bonds, and of course directed treats like ZARAK
We are left with the idea that the vicar and Hester may have a future - but perhaps there is a doubt over his sexuality - but if so surely the sulky pouting Curley (Cliff) would be a better bet than the nasty Larry ... Regular familiar faces here include Wilfrid Brambell, Judith Furse, Jean Cadell and again (see below) pop singer Jess Conrad. The surprise is that the young David Hemmings is not among the gang, as he was doing so many small parts then. He is in 1962's SOME PEOPLE, which would be a good companion piece to SERIOUS CHARGE  as both deal with bored wayward teenagers and well-meaning vicars with their church halls. Cliff (or Sir Cliff as he is now is still touring at 75, after surviving some serious charges of his own) had another good role that year in that 1959 treat EXPRESSO BONGO.

Canadian Sidney J Furie had an interesting career, directing dramas like this and THE LEATHER BOYS in England, and that interesting first feature DURING ONE NIGHT in 1961, before moving onto spy fare and hits like THE IPCRESS FILE and LADY SINGS THE BLUES, and films with Brando and Sinatra, and is still directing now, 

THE BOYS begins well as we see a court case unfold with the four boys in the dock, accused of murder after the robbery of a garage goes wrong. Richard Todd and Robert Morley are the opposing barristers and Felix Aylmer the judge. The boys are Dudley Sutton, pop singer natty Jess Conrad, Ronald Lacey and Tony Garnett (soon to go on to producing films like KES).
The supporting cast is an endless parade of familiar faces: Patrick Magee, Roy Kinnear, Wilfrid Brambell (a lavatory attendant), Allan Cuthbertson, David Lodge, Rita Webb, Betty Marsden, Colin Gordon, Kenneth J Warren, barmaid Mavis Villiers (she was on the other side of the bar in VICTIM) and young Carol White, and music by The Shadows to boot. Tedium sets in eventually as we see the boys' night out from each point of view, taking in their dismal homelife with parents in that grungy block of flats and their night out 'up west' without much money. Finally we arrive at the truth .... its an interesting time capsule of that early black and white Sixties era, before the arrival of The Beatles and the explosion into sixties pop culture. 
More B-movie British thrills: Anthony Quayle, one of the UK's busiest stage and screen actors (THE WRONG MAN, WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN, ICE COLD IN ALEX, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, OPERATION CROSSBOW) also leads THE CHALLENGE, a nice little B-movie British thriller with Jayne Mansfield in 1960 and is sadistically evil in TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE in 1959. Peter Sellers is the nasty villain in 1960's NEVER LET GO where he terrorises car salesman Richard Todd; another pop star of the time Adam Faith pops up here, along with Carol White again. 

Susan: still of the day

Susan Hayward - I WANT TO LIVE! - 1958. One of our favourite 1950s dramas ...

Thursday, 15 October 2015


With Holloween coming up before too long, and those October horror movie challenges (over at IMDB) here is one horror film to track down and savour, if one does not know it already. It is of course DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, Harry Kumel's stylish essay into ageless vampires, from 1971, and now a cult item. Let's see how they put it:  

Another European slice of lesbian vampirism, this time influenced by a real-life monster – Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian countess who allegedly slaughtered hundreds of young women and bathed in their blood to retain her youth. Belgian director Harry Kumel sets his dark tale in Ostend, transforming an off-peak holiday destination into a landscape of perpetual menace. In this modern setting, a mysterious countess, with female sexual companion in tow, becomes obsessed by a couple of newlyweds, with gruesome results.
Grande dame Delphine Seyrig (in Marlene Dietrich mode) gives a performance of great wit as the bloodthirsty aristo, pitching the role perfectly between sinister and comical. It’s an elegant and constantly surprising flirtation of a film, featuring lashings of nudity and sadism, not to mention death by salad bowl.
Then there is that aged hotel porter who remembers seeing the ageless Countess arrive there when he was young - and that strange telephone call the husband makes to "mother" back home .... stylish thrills don't get much better. See Delphine label for more on this stylish treat 
Having said that, I am soon going to re-see Roger Vadim's 1960 BLOOD AND ROSES another lesbian vampire tale which impressed me a lot at the time, let's see if it still works.

Delphine Seyrig (1932-1990) remains one of the most stylish actresses in movies, and collaborated with the likes of Bunuel, Losey, Resnais, Duras.  We will soon be re-discovering her in the late Chantal Akerman's mesmerising JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DE COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES, and I like her lilac fairy godmother in Demy's PEAU D'ANE.


It was nice watching a new Sky Arts documentary on Maureen O'Hara, the latest of an occasional series, reminding one of much much we like the veteran actress who often seems overlooked in the pantheon of movie greats.
Maureen, now all of 95, is still going and received an honorary Oscar last year. She will of course be forever linked to those John Ford-John Wayne films, but has a great body of work, starting with those early films with Charles Laughton: Hitch's JAMAICA INN and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME in 1939. Born in Dublin in 1920, she was soon in America. 
I particularly liked her and Lucille Ball as showgirls in Dorothy Arzner's DANCE GIRL DANCE in 1940. Maureen then became "The Queen of Technicolor" with that flaming red hair and all those pirate and adventure movies she did in the 1940s and into the '50s: THE SPANISH MAIN, AGAINST ALL FLAGS, THE BLACK SWAN, SINBAD THE SAILOR, THE FLAME OF ARABY, TRIPOLI, LISBON where she was teamed with the likes of Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, John Payne, Ray Milland, and Rex Harrison in THE FOXES OF HARROW, as well as playing perfect wives for James Stewart and Henry Fonda in the Sixties. She and John Wayne were first paired in Ford's RIO GRANDE in 1950, then came their classic THE QUIET MAN where her Mary Kate Danaher is the spirited centre of the film. She and Wayne were also in Ford's THE WINGS OF EAGLES in 1957, and they were both in McLINTOCK! and BIG JAKE in 1971. She and Tyrone Power headed Ford's THE LONG GREY LINE in 1955.
Two of her late 1940s classics are the imperishable THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET in 1947, where she has great rapport with the young Natalie Wood, and SITTING PRETTY in 1948 where she is the mother of the children being babysat by Mr Belvedere (Clifton Webb). She was in good company too in OUR MAN IN HAVANA in 1959, with Alec Guinness, and Disney's THE PARENT TRAP was an enormous hit in 1961 with Hayley Mills as those twins. 
She was teamed again with Brian Keith in that early Peckinhah western THE DEADLY COMPANIONS in 1961. It seems impossible to see her THE BATTLE OF THE VILLA FIORITA, a Delmar Daves romance from 1965, One of her last roles was as John Candy's Irish mother in ONLY THE LONELY in 1991, before a long retirement in County Kerry, Ireland. She ran an airline for 10 years as well, when her third husband, Charles Blair, a pilot, died in a plane crash in 1978, so she took over their Antilles Airboats, a commuter seaplane service in the Carribean, scene of her many swashbuckling adventures. So she was the first woman president of a scheduled airline in the United States, Her autobiography "Tis Herself" is an enjoyable read too. 
Maureen had a good singing voice too and did some recordings and cabaret appearances. She would have been an ideal Mrs Anna in THE KING AND I, but it seems Oscar & Hammerstein would not consider "The Queen of Technicolor" ..... but we will always have Mary Kate and her QUIET MAN. I've just had to pre-order the Blu-ray out in November, as there are so many ropey prints of it out there ...