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, 11 March 2016

Rock & Captain Lightfoot

Rock Hudson had some great hits in the 1950s: We all remember and like re-watching GIANT, those Sirk classics like ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, and of course PILLOW TALK which set him and Doris up as a great box office team for the early '60s. A lot of his other movies - routine adventures and romances - are barely seen or remembered now: SOMETHING OF VALUE set in Africa with a young Sidney Poitier in 1957, NEVER SAY GOODBYE, TWILIGHT OF THE GODS with Cyd Charisse, THIS EARTH IS MINE with Jean Simmons etc. George Stevens' GIANT certainly put him in the major league, as before that he was just another Universal hunk ... He was certainly the actor of choice for Douglas Sirk, who apart from his melodramas, also did some westerns (TAZA, SON OF COCHISE, which featured Rock) and period films like SIGN OF THE PAGAN in 1954 and CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT in 1955. 
CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT is an enormously entertaining comic adventure filled with revolutionary skirmishes in 1815 Ireland. It was fun seeing it again, I barely rememered it but recall a photo of Rock in Ireland posing at an Irish road sign. It was the first Hollywood feature film to be entirely shot in the Emerald Isle (It seems THE QUIET MAN just shot exteriors there). Sirk's film glories in the rolling hills and elaborate period finery for the color ‘Scope frame - it was the first Universal-International film shot away from the studio, AND its a Ross Hunter production. Rock plays young rebel Michael Martin, a small-time hood taken under the wing of Captain Thunderbolt (Jeff Morrow), a legendary Robin Hood resistance fighter and bon vivant, whose daughter Barbara Rush causes romantic complications. Rock has some amusing scenes learning how to dance and wearing his new finery. The likes of Finlay Currie, Hilton Edwards, Denis O'Dea and Kathleen Ryan are also involved.  (The scenario was lifted for Michael Cimino’s THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT in 1974. CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT’s screenwriter W.R. Burnett was not kind to the remake: “He stole it. Son-of-a-bitch. I’m glad HEAVEN'S GATE flopped.”). 
Soon: Another film we like shot in Ireland, in 1959: SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL.

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