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, 19 August 2017

Follies concert, 1985

A group of showgirls from the Weismann Follies in the 1940s reunite in the 1970s. Originally produced in 1971 where it was a critical success but not a financial one, Stephen Sondheim's musical may well be his masterpiece. In 1985, a staged concert of his musical directed by Herbert Ross has taken on near legendary proportions - purely for that cast.

Lee Remick and Barbara Cook are the two leads  and both are sensational. Lee, sleek and gorgeous, does a marvellous "Could I leave You", and that delicious "The Story of Lucy and Jessie", while Cook, who died last week but at her peak here, does that amazing "Losing My Mind".
Add in Carol Burnett, and a rather irritating Elaine Stritch, who rather murders "Broadway Baby", plus veterans like Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
The first half is rather bitty but its interesting seeing the players rehearse and mingle, and then do the actual Concert. It took 4 days in all for a cast recording. 
I saw FOLLIES last a decade or more ago, it will be great seeing the new National Theatre production next month.  It is being broadcast live to cinemas on November 16.  

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Odd man out?

Thanks once again to Colin for finding this rarity: Alain, Marianne and a rather put-out Mick Jagger, for once not the centre of attention  - presumably to launch GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE in 1968 - if only the film had been better .....

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Summer re-views: Payroll - 1961

PAYROLL. A tough, tense thriller which I had enjoyed as a young teen in 1961, PAYROLL is a real treat now. Sidney Hayers film shows the exciting robbery and its aftermath as thieves fall out.

Ever since THE ASPHALT JUNGLE and RIFIFI this is the standard gangster robbery drama and it works again here. Nicely set around Newcastle, Johnny Mellor’s band of ruthless criminals plot and carry out a payroll robbery, with the help of crooked company employee Pearson (William Lucas) whose dissatisfied French wife Francoise Prevost soon realises what he is up to. She and Mellor (Michael Craig) are soon plotting to escape together, but had not reckoned on the grieving wife (Billie Whitelaw, excellent as ever) of the van driver who got killed in the robbery. She begins to track them down herself …. 

With Tom Bell and Kenneth Griffith as other gang members who soon fall out over the money and come to sticky ends. As the police close in, the gang begins to fall apart, with each desperately seeking a way out, and in their panic no one realises there is one adversary they have all overlooked. Pearson’s wife thinks she has the money, but is in for a surprise …. Mellor escapes to his boat but nemesis in the shape of Whitelaw waits for him.

Like 1960's THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN where Jack Hawkins' gang of gentlemen thieves also fall foul of a robbery gone wrong, PAYROLL is now a delicious time capsule of that long vanished British crime caper. Craig and Whitelaw are favourites of ours here and both excel in different roles for them.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Start the revolution without me - 1970

Here's a forgotten, over-looked treat for a dull afternoon - I saw it in 1970 but it seems we all forgot about it. 

START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME is a mostly hilarious farce sending up the French Revolution, as directed by Bud Yorkin, starring Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland (before their 70s peaks) as the mixed up twins - one rather dim (thats Gene) and the other terribly snooty. 

A great cast of farceurs are lined up: Hugh Griffith as Louis XVI, Jack McGowran, Murray Melvin, Victor Spinetti (as Count D'Escargot), Helen Fraser, Rosalind Knight, and best of all Billie Whitelaw as Marie Antoinette! AND Orson Welles narrates. Its  all a weird mix of Monty Python, A Tale of Two Cities etc. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

RIP, continued ....

Barbara Cook (1927-2017),  aged 89.  Barbara was one of the legendary Broadway divas and remained much-loved to the end. She starred in several musicals (starting with Bernstein's CANDIDE and as Marian the librarian in the original THE MUSIC MAN ("Till there was you"), and later re-invented herself as a top solo artist, after weight and alcohol problems, filling out Carnegie Hall, and also did several appearances in London. Sondheim insisted on her for that 1986 Concert version of FOLLIES, where in an all-star cast (Lee Remick, Elaine Stritch, Carol Burnett) her versions of "Losing My Mind" and "In Buddy's Eyes" are standouts. Thank goodness its on dvd. I must now check out her available recordings. 

Elsa Martinelli (1935-2017), aged 82. Italian actress, Eurobabe and model. Elsa was one of our Italian favourites, the slim fashion model stood out from the usual statuesque beauties. She was a top model by the mid-fifties and was spotted for the Kirk Douglas western THE INDIAN FIGHTER, where she certainly looked the part. She alternated between American and Italian films (such as my favorite, LA NOTTE BRAVA in 1959), and Vadim's dreamy vampire film BLOOD AND ROSES. Her best known role is probably that of Dallas in Howard Hawks' 1962 African saga HATARI! where she has that delightful sequence with the baby elephants "Baby Elephant Walk" as scored by Henry Mancini. She also squared up nicely to John Wayne. There was also a little seen Charlton Heston comedy, and we like her in the swinging London spy saga MAROC 7 in 1967, and slinky euro-thrillers like THE 10TH VICTIM. She was also in Welles' THE TRIAL and his bored companion in THE VIPs. Also in FOUR GIRLS IN TOWN in 1957, MANUELA, RAMPAGE and more.  
Robert Hardy (1925-2017), aged 91. The splendid Robert Hardy was another long-standing veteran of British theatre, film and television. I seem to have been watching him almost all my life .... his most famous role must be of the country vet in James Herriot's ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, a long runner in the 1970s and 80s. He also played Churchill several times. Other tv roles included THE TROUBLESHOOTERS, Sir Tobt Belch and other assorted Shakespeare roles, and he did CORIOLANUS with Olivier in 1959. I remember him as the Earl of Leicester in a 1967 BBc series KENILWORTH, and of course he was also in the HARRY POTTER films,
My employers engaged him to host a prestigious evening event at the Tower of London in the 90s, and he was a great success, despite it raining.

Sam Shepherd (1943-2017) aged 73. The acclaimed Pulitzer-prizewinning American playwright and actor, who captured aspects of American life perfectly with plays like FOOL FOR LOVE. His film career began with DAYS OF HEAVEN, and THE RIGHT STUFF and more routine fare with BABY BOOMSTEEL MAGNOLIAS etc. 

Hywel Bennett (1944-2017), aged 73. Popular British actor of his era, who later found success on television as SHELLEY and of in EASTENDERS etc. His film career though in the late 60s and early 70s was typical of the tatty fare the British cinema descended into then: that dreadful film of LOOT (review at Orton label) , PERCY, PERCY'S PROGRESS (about penis transplants), THE BUTTERCUP CHAIN, etc THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS was fitfully amusing in 1969. I never liked THE FAMILY WAY with that grotesque role of the father as played by John Mills, and his other two with Hayley Mills, TWISTED NERVE and ENDLESS NIGHT were rather unpleasant too. At least he progressed to Dennis Potter plays like PENNIES FROM HEAVEN.

Ty Hardin (1930-2017), aged 87. Ty was quite a busy guy what with 8 wives and 10 children, and fitting in playing BRONCO on tv and assorted movie roles in tough guy movies like BATTLE OF THE BULGE, CUSTER OF THE WEST, MERRILL'S MARAUDERS etc, but we have fond memories of him here in THE CHAPMAN REPORT in 1962 in those spray-on shorts, getting Glynis Johns all in a tizzy, or in BERSERK!, a circus cheapo made in England in 1967 where he is Joan Crawford's love interest.

Glen Campbell (1936-2017), aged 81. Another titan of American popular country music, The Rhinestone Cowboy's work with Jim Webb will endure, also in movies since TRUE GRIT in 1969

5th August 1962

I suppose we should mention that Marilyn Monroe departed on this date 55 years ago, in 1962. I remember it well, being 16 at the time, and we had seen her BUS STOP that Saturday night, 4th August, at our small town cinema in Ireland - while events must have been unfolding in Los Angeles.
Sunday the 5th I was sitting in a deck chair in the garden with the radio on, when a newsflash came on air ... it was hard to believe at the time, and course there were no rolling news channels or internet then, so we had to wait for the papers next day.

The first of the Marilyn features began unrolling that year - I loved (and still have) this late 1962 magazine, the swish upmarket London magazine TOWN, the first to feature those beach pictures by George Barris and a nice appreciation by David Robinson. This issue fetches quite a price now, as per my previous posts on it - MM labels.  

As with James Dean, one wonders what might have been - both Doris Day and Jeanne Moreau turned down Mrs Robinson in THE GRADUATE - could Marilyn have done it? or those 70s Ellen Burstyn roles in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW or ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE ... she might have been ideal if she could face getting older and being in her forties. THE MISFITS shows she was moving into black and white dramas, away from the fluff Fox was still casting her in ...

Next: Marlon in ONE-EYED JACKS - brilliant or bizarre?

Gina & her photos ...

My friend Martin came up with one of his cheap typical cracks on reading my piece on Gina at 90 - he had to wonder what she looked like now.

Well surprise surprise Martin, she looks fine. Here she is with some of her photos, including that one with Marilyn back in 1955. MM has been gone 55 years today, but I think Gina is going on for a while yet ....

I hope Martin's picture will be fit to be published when he hits 90 - just saying!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Imelda rehearsing Follies

She never stops!
Imelda played Mama Rose in GYPSY all last year ("Sing out, Louise"), and played Martha in the recent London revival of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? ("I do not bray") until recently - now she leads the cast of the new FOLLIES at the National Theatre this autumn - thankfully I have got my tickets for September ..... she's just a Broadway Baby. 
I dare say having Carson The Butler at home to run things helps.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jeanne Moreau, RIP

We are sad indeed to read that French icon Jeanne Moreau has passed away at age 89. Moreau (1928-2017) also sang, directed and wrote screenplays and worked with an impressive roster of directors from her early days through the New Wave to the glory days of the 1960s: Malle, Truffaut, Demy, Antonioni, Losey, Bunuel, Duras, several collaberations with Orson Welles (THE TRIAL, CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, THE IMMORTAL STORY), and Tony Richardson, and in popular films like THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCETHE TRAIN, etc,
 We particularly like her in Demy's BAY OF ANGELS in 1963, and Malle's LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD in  '58 and VIVA MARIA in 1965 with Bardot,
 theres also of course LA NOTTELES AMANTSEVETHE VICTORS, Ozon's TIME TO LEAVE, and many more in a long,illustrious career., as well as JULES ET JIM and THE BRIDE WOREO BLACK with Truffaut, and LES LIAISONS DANGEROUSES with  Vadim in 1959. Reviews at Moreau label.
 She was also a rather glum MATA HARI in '64. 
Often referred to as "the  French Bette Davis" she could  look beautiful or ravaged at will, her mother was English but after her parents separated she could have grown up in Hove rather than Paris ...
More on these at label, including Fassbinder's QUERELLE - Jeanne was nothing if not adventerous! - not to mention LES VALSEUSES, while Marguerite Duras's 1972 NATHALIE GRANGER is mesmerising. We will remember her long walks around Paris and Milan in those Malle and Antonioni classics, and saw her 1976 director debut LUMIERE at the Film Festival that year, its a surprising charmer.

actors and actresses again ...

Perhaps only another list obsessive would get my compulsion for compiling lists, particularly of favourite actresses and stars - the kind of thing one does in the middle of the night when trying t get back to sleep ... here are my top 30 actresses, and maybe 100 in all, and a lesser amount of actors, but I am not listing everybody - there are some major omissions!

Sophia Loren / Monica Vitti / Lee Remick / Romy Schneider / Marilyn Monroe / Katharine Hepburn / Bette Davis / Judy Garland / Garbo / Dietrich / Ingrid Bergman / Susan Hayward / Audrey Hepburn / Anouk Aimee / Julie Christie / Faye Dunaway / Deborah Kerr / Jean Simmons / Elizabeth Taylor / Ava Gardner / Janet Leigh / Kim Novak / Anne Baxter / Ruth Roman / Joan Fontaine / Olivia De Havilland / Catharine Deneuve / Francoise Dorleac / Kay Kendall / Maggie Smith.

I could do A LOT more …

Barbara Stanwyck / Julie Harris / Wendy Hiller / Cate Blanchett / Tilda Swinton / Sarah Miles / Lauren Bacall / Ida Lupino / Mary Astor / Kathleen Turner / Genevieve Bujold /  Jeanne Moreau / Simone Signoret / Maureen O’Hara / Lilli Palmer / Joan Greenwood / Jane Fonda / Vivien Leigh / Uma Thurman / Julianne Moore / Annette Bening / Capucine / Cyd Charisse / Linda Darnell / Gene Tierney / Loretta Young / Irene Dunne / Margaret Sullavan / Gladys Cooper / Celia Johnson / Edith Evans / Flora Robson / Peggy Ashcroft / Angela Lansbury / Natalie Wood / Doris Day / Debbie Reynolds / Ingrid Thulin / Stephane Audran / Marie Laforet / Claudia Cardinale / Silvana Mangano / Gina Lollobrigida / Brigitte Bardot / Isabelle Adjani / Elsa Martinelli / Lana Turner / Vera Miles / Jan Sterling / Jo Van Fleet / Patricia Neal / Anne Bancroft / Dorothy Malone / Shirley Knight / Kay Walsh / Pamela Brown / Glynis Johns / Susannah York / Billie Whitelaw / Vanessa Redgrave /  Lynn Redgrave / Claire Bloom / Ann Todd / Rosamund John / Dinah Sheridan / Virginia McKenna / Anna Magnani  / Fanny Ardant / Isabelle Huppert / Delphine Seyrig / Alida Valli / Gena Rowlands / Genevieve Page / Geraldine Page / Jessica Tandy / Shelley Winters / Gloria Graham / Eleanor Parker / Ann-Margret / Glenda Jackson / Jean Seberg / Thelma Ritter/ Eve Arden / Agnes Moorehead / Belinda Lee / Rosanna Podesta / Paula Prentiss / Melina Mercouri / Suzanne Pleshette / Tippi Hedren / Eva Marie Saint / Lauren Hutton / Margaret Leighton / Charlotte Rampling / Jane Asher / Jane Merrow / Eileen Atkins / Vivien Pickles / Ruth Gordon.

Better stop there ….
Omissions? Where are Meryl, Glenn, Shirley, Joan, Joanne, Judi, Nicole, Julia, Diane, Kate, Barbra, Liza, Julie etc? Don't look for Leo, Al, Jack, Dustin, Daniel, or any of the current popular names either ...

My Top 10:  Dirk Bogarde / James Mason / James Stewart / Cary Grant / Gary Cooper / Humphrey Bogart / Montgomery Clift / Robert De Niro / Ralph Fiennes / Peter Finch.

The heavyweights:  Olivier / Alec Guinness / Marlon Brando / Rod Steiger / Burt Lancaster / Gregory Peck / Robert Mitchum / Heath Ledger / Mark Ruffalo / Charlton Heston / Robert Redford / Warren Beatty / Donald Sutherland / George Segal / Farley Granger / Robert Walker / James Garner / Rod Taylor / Colin Farrell / Lee Marvin / Charles Laughton / George Sanders / Claude Rains / Clifton Webb / Vincent Price / Charles Bickford / Jack Carson / and Jack Lemmon for SOME LIKE IT HOT.

The Europeans:  Alain Delon / Jean-Paul Belmondo / Jean-Claude Brialy / Jean-Louis Trintignant / Maurice Ronet / Jacques Perrin / Robert Hossein / Buno Ganz / Raf Vallone / Renato Salvatori / Marcello Mastroianni / Gerard Blain / Gerard Philipe / Jean Gabin / Max Von Sydow.

The British:  Albert Finney / Peter O’Toole / Alan Bates / Tom Courtenay / Ralph Richardson / John Gielgud / Trevor Howard / Harry Andrews / David Hemmings / David Warner / John Hurt / Michael York / Terence Stamp / Michael Craig / Stanley Baker / Stephen Boyd / Jack Hawkins / Nigel Patrick / James Fox / Peter McEnery / Tom Hardy / Tom Hollander / Alfred Molina / Ben Whishaw / Andrew Scott / Alan Cumming / Stewart Granger.

The lookers:  Jeffrey Hunter / Tab Hunter / Guy Madison / Fabian / Jean Sorel / Henri Vidal / Richard (AMERICAN GIGOLO) Gere /  Keanu (SPEED) Reeves / John Gavin / Channing Tatum.