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, 22 March 2017

Pets headline Brighton Pride !

I was delighted to see that The Pet Shop Boys were the main act at this year's Brighton Pride here on Saturday 5th August, doing a full 90 minute show.
Much as I like The Pets - still going strong after 30+ years - and their innovative, stylish shows, on reflection we will be giving it a miss - it would not be a good venue for us to see them, as they will attract a huge crowd and one may well be stuck in the middle of a throng, unable to move. Now that we are getting on a bit, comfort is a necessity, I demand a seat and a good view. 

Thankfully I have seen the Pets several time before, as per label - their Savoy Theatre residency in 1997, London Pride that year, and on tour in Brighton in 1999 and also at The Tower Of London in 2006 etc. I am sure they will have other tour dates lined up too. 
But good luck for Brighton on Pride Day. I could always play their Glastonbury or O2 concert dvds instead ,,, Years and Years are terrific too...

Brighton Pride is one of the UK's main Pride events, I have been to several and know the city well having lived there for several years, on the south coast in Sussex. Its a great day out for everyone and events and clubbing continue all weekend.  

Sixties rarity: Nine Hours To Rama, 1963

Another of those long-unseen 20th Century Fox Cinemascope "prestige" films, benefiting from exotic locations and a tense story, even if we know the outcome, from a popular bestseller of the time. I caught it at the time before it vanished ...

NINE HOURS TO RAMA depicts the life of Nathuram Godse the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. How Godse planned the assassination is shown in the film. How he became a Hindu activist who (unfairly) blamed Gandhi for the killings of thousands of Hindus by Muslims is revealed in a series of flashbacks.

Directed by Fox veteran Mark Robson (he had more success with the thriller THE PRIZE that year) with a polyglot cast browned up as Indians and set in India, it features German Horst Buchholz as the assassin, and Jose Ferrer as the weary police inspector on his trail, trying to catch him before it is too late. It is startling now to see the likes of Robert Morley, Harry Andrews, Diane Baker, Valerie Gearon, Francis Matthews etc as Indians, alongside Marne Maitland and other natives, J.S. Casshyap is an effective Mahatma as the film tries to make sense of those violent years. 
It is though colourful and tense, and Buchholz more or less looks authentic. It took several decades though for a more realistic picture of Gandhi to emerge, in Attenborough's 1982 film. 
1963 was the year of the Kennedy assassination, and like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, NINE HOURS TO RAMA was taken out of circulation for a while,. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

1962: year of the long titles ....

We love 1962 here at The Projector. It may be the last great classic Hollywood year, with so many absorbing films (I've listed over 40)  : dramas, musicals, and great British and European films too. I was 16 then and just getting into them all ... seeing them on big screen. That great era too of black and white films ...

1963 and 1964 had their share of great movies too, but not as many as 1962, after that new decade began in 1960 with PSYCHO and L'AVVENTURA, and 1961 had classics like BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and THE MISFITS, ditto 1965, while the New Hollywood was coming into shape in 1966 (Lumet's THE GROUP, MGM bankrolling Antonioni's BLOW-UP), and arrived with BONNIE & CLYDE in 1967,while 1968 brought forth 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY and solid entertainments like OLIVER! and THE LION IN WINTER, while 1969's best film was MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

But some of those 1962 titles are so long:
  • WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
  • LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
  • DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES
  • EXPERIMENT IN TERROR
  • SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
  • THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALLANCE
  • TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN
  • LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA
  • HEMINGWAY'S ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN
  • THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER
  • TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
  • THE MIRACLE WORKER
  • ADVISE AND CONSENT
  • THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
  • ALL FALL DOWN
  • BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ
  • WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
  • THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
  • LOLITA
  • BILLY BUDD
  • L'ECLISSE
  • JULES ET JIM
  • SUNDAYS AND CYBELE
  • A KIND OF LOVING
  • THE CHAPMAN REPORT
  • LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
  • SODOM AND GOMORRAH
  • BOCCACCIO 70
  • THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL
  • FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT
  • THE CONDEMNED OF ALTONA
  • THE LONGEST DAY
  • HOW THE WEST WAS WON
  • CAPE FEAR
  • DR NO
  • THE MUSIC MAN
  • GYPSY
  • JUMBO
  • HATARI!
  • THE TRIAL
  • PHAEDRA
  • KNIFE IN THE WATER
  • CLEO FROM 5 TO 7
  • REACH FOR GLORY.
Lots on these at 1962 label ..... maybe only 1959 has as many noteworthy movies?
I now feel like digging out my 1962 "Films and Filming" magazines and re-live them all.

Sixties rarity: Hemingway's Adventures Of A Young Man, 1962

Another of those 1962 dramas, another 20th Century Fox literary adaptation, produced as usual by Jerry Wald and this one is directed by dependable Martin Ritt. Is a little turgid and long-winded though, as we follow Nick Adams on his adventures around rural America and into World War I in Italy, a tepid re-run of A FAREWELL TO ARMS. I have not read Hemingway's stories, but the episodic nature of the film takes us from Nick's typical Hemingway life in rural Michigan, hunting, shooting and fishing with his father and evading his icy, controlling mother, until he runs away, encountering various characters like that broken-down boxer The Battler (a Paul Newman cameo), Fred Clarke, Dan Dailey and others, and Eli Wallach as another ambulance driver in Italy as the First World War rages. Pallid Susan Stransberg is the nurse he loves and loses (Beymer and her are not quite Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones in the 1957 film). Arthur Kennedy scores as the doctor father, who eventually kills himself  (very Hemingway) no doubt to escape from or punish his controlling wife. Jessica Tandy is terrific as ever here, a dry run for her equally controlling mother for Hitchcock in THE BIRDS the next year. Diane Baker gets one scene as the obligatory girlfriend who does not understand our hero ...

Young and restless Nick Adams, the only son of a domineering mother and a weak but noble doctor father, leaves his rural Michigan home to embark on an eventful cross-country journey. He is touched and affected by his encounters with a punch-drunk ex-boxer, a sympathetic telegrapher, and an alcoholic advancement for a burlesque show. After failing to get a job as reporter in New York, he enlists in the Italian army during World War I as an ambulance driver. His camaraderie with fellow soldiers and a romance with a nurse he meets after being wounded propel him to manhood
Rural America of the early 20th century is nicely caught, as in EAST OF EDEN. It ends as Nick returns as a war hero, to confront his mother and make his way as a writer, a coming of age story, similar to the climax of our 1962 favourite ALL FALL DOWN, or that other literary Fox film of D H Lawrence's SONS AND LOVERS.

Richard Beymer has to carry the film, but is not really strong enough -another James Dean would be required or the young Warren Beatty then, but it has the required 20th Century Fox plush look, one to file along their other 'literary' works like Faulkner's THE SOUND AND THE FURY or SANCTUARY, Steinbeck's THE WAYWARD BUS, Inge's THE STRIPPER  or those PEYTON PLACE potboilers. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Sixties rarirty: The Pleasure Of His Company, 1961

A clutch of '60s rarities we have re-visited, before moving on to some current releases like NOCTURNAL ANIMALS and DR STRANGE

THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY. This 1961 release is perfectly Paramount, another of those smooth Perlberg-Seaton plush comedies, with a leading role for Fred Astaire as the wayward playboy Pogo who returns to San Francisco for his daughter's wedding. He has not seen her since she was a child but his visit causes all kinds of repercussions for his ex-wife, Lilli Palmer, as elegant as ever, and her current husband Garry Merrill (a decade after his Bill Sampson in ALL ABOUT EVE). The young folk are Debbie Reynolds and Tab Hunter, Add in Charlie Ruggles as grandfather and the stage is set - another mansion overlooking San Francisco bay, rather like the location for the rather similar GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER?. 

San Francisco debutante, Jessica Poole, is marrying Napa Valley cattle rancher, Roger Henderson, and hopes her peripatetic father, "Pogo" Poole, whom she hasn't seen for years, comes to the wedding. He arrives, disrupting the household of his ex-wife, Katharine, and her long-suffering husband, and befriending their cook, Toy. At first it seems that Pogo is set on breaking up the engagement, making up for years of neglect by wining and dining Jessica, showing up Roger as a hick, and enticing her to come to Europe with him. Then it seems his real goal is to win back Katharine's heart: why else would he have two tickets to Paris booked on a plane leaving right after the reception?

We are also in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER territory as Pogo is a monster - with no regard for anyone, he takes over the house, ejecting Merrill from his study, and is determined to sabotage the wedding as he now wants his daughter for himself and to take her travelling with him as he circles the globe. Will Debbie fall for it? Will Tab erupt? Will Lilli see through his plans, and who is Pogo taking with him on the plane at the end?  It is fitfully amusing but rather predictable, I last saw it when I was a kid, good though to see Astaire again and the ever radiant Lilli - one of our favourites here - after her good roles then in BUT NOT FOR ME in 1959 and CONSPIRACY OF HEARTS in 1960, we also saw her in another Perlberg-Seaton THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR in 1962, where she gets shot by the Nazis, and in the German ADORABLE JULIA, then her other supporting roles in THE ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS and that very determined secret agent in OPERATION CROSSBOW

RIP, continued ...

Chuck Berry (1926-2017), aged 90. Indeed one of the pioneers of rock'n'roll whose electric rhythm'n'blues guitar paved the way for those who followed, like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones who covered his songs, like "Roll Over Beethoven" in their early days. His guitar licks, duck walk, brash self-confidence, and those songs about teenage life: cars, girls, dance parties created it all. There was always though, as per some lurid reports, a touch of sleaze about Chuck, but he kept on going decade after decade, Who is left from that era? Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino ....

Joni Sledge (1957-2017), aged 60. One of the Sledge Sisters who were huge disco stars in the late 70s and early 80s. We know and love those songs: "We Are Family", "He's The Greatest Dancer", "Lost in Music" indeed,

Robert Osborne (1932-2017), aged 84. Film historian, writer and television presenter, We did not really know him here in the UK, but Osborne was the face of and host for TCM - American version - with his informed and affectionate comments on Turner Classic Movies and all the seasons and stars he interviewed. I got some of his introductions and interviews on disks sent from friends in New York. We could have done with him over here, 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

An omelette and a glass of wine ...

Its a pleasure to discover Elizabeth David's books on French and Italian food and cooking, originally published in the 1950s and early 60s, when mediterranean food was rare and considered exotic in postwar England, after the age of rationing and wartime shortages.

Long before Mary Berry and Delia, Nigel and Nigella, Jamie Oliver, James Martin and Rick Stein, Rachel Allen and Rachel Khoo, the Chiappa Sisters and The Hairy Bikers and and all the rest with their TV series and books (I won't even mention the ones who annoy me and whom we ignore)  - Elizabeth David (1913-1992) trod a solitary path with her cool prose extolling the virtues of European cuisine in her books and articles for "Vogue" and "The Sunday Times" and other magazines, at a time when now everyday items like olives, figs, garlic, pasta were scare even in London, so she became a major influence on the evolution of British cooking. She was wise to retain her copyrights so was able to republish her writings for her various books. 

AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE is a perfect compilation of these articles, covering her travels in France and also Italy - which led to her books ITALIAN COOKING, FRENCH PROVINCIAL COOKING, A BOOK OF MEDITERRANEAN FOOD, SUMMER COOKING, and a little Penguin I first got some decades ago, I WILL BE WITH YOU IN THE SQUEEZING OF A LEMON - included in AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE

I like this paragraph: "Let's just have an omelette and a glass of wine. Perhaps first a slice of home-made pate and a few olives, afterwards a fresh salad and a piece of ripe creamy cheese or some fresh figs or strawberries.... How many times have I ordered and enjoyed just such a meal in French country hotels and inns in preference to the set menu of truites meuniere, entrecote, pommes paille and creme caramel which is the French equivalent of the English roast and two veg, and apple tart and no less dull when you have experienced it two or three times," 

Viva Elizabeth David - may her books long continue in print to delight us. They also convey that sense of living in postwar London in areas like Kensington and Chelsea, a vanished world now. 
David was following by those other food writers and columnists like Jane Grigson, and Katharine Whitehorn at "The Observer" whose writings became that invaluable book for us young bedsitter folk: COOKING IN A BEDSITTER, and then the young Delia and Lindsey Bareham ... then Mary Berry took over. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

For the weekend ...

only the greatest song from the greatest musical drama ever.  The 3 alternative versions on the dvd are just as marvellous. See posts on Judy and Cukor ...

Stills of the day

Irene Dunne and Cary in THE AWFUL TRUTH, 1937 - I just love them, they also did MY FAVOURTE WIFE and PENNY SERENADE, as per Cary & Irene labels. 
Thanks to Colin for this shot of Antonioni and Vitti during THE RED DESERT in 1964. We love Monica as a blonde but she looks great here too ..... Richard Harris at his most monotonous disliked working with them and walked off the picture. No loss. Lots more at Antonioni, Vitti labels ....
We always like another look at THE BIRDS here, I like this particular scene, where socialite Melanie Daniels meets Mitch's mother for the first time in the cafe, after that gull swoops down to peck her ... See Hitch, Rod & Tippi labels for lots more.
The previous year, 1962, Jessica Tandy had played another controlling mother in HEMINGWAY'S ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN, driving son Richard Beymer away and her husband, Arthur Kennedy, to suicide - to get away from her. We will be re-viewing that again soon. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Greatest Story Ever Told

This 1965 epic biblical is oddly fascinating now, I like it a lot, not having seen it for decades, but its getting screenings on our Sky Movies at the moment. It is of course George Stevens' retelling of the story of Jesus and it is an oddly sedate version, avoiding the flamboyance of items like KINGS OF KINGS or BARABBAS

The look of the film is astonishing - no biblical lands here, it was shot in the wilds of the USA, mainly in Utah and Arizona and those western landscapes look ideal. Then there is the cast - Max Von Sydow is a dignified Jesus, Charlton Heston is John The Baptist, 
the aged Claude Rains glitters with menace as Herod, Jose Ferrer is Herod Antipas, Dorothy McGuire is Mary, Sidney Poitier is Simon of Cyrene who helps Jesus with his cross, Carroll Baker is Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus. I did not even spot Shelley Winters or Angela Lansbury, while others in the vast cast, some for just seconds include Van Heflin, Sal Mineo, John Wayne as that centurion at the foot of the cross, Pat Boone as an angel, Donald Pleasance as the Satan figure. The disciples include Gary Raymond, Michael Anderson Jr, David McCallum as Judas, Roddy McDowell and Telly Savalas as Pilate. 
IMDB says that David Lean and Jean Negulesco were also uncredited directors, I wonder what input they had? In all, it is not as majestic as BEN HUR or as crowded as QUO VADIS? or as mad as Huston's THE BIBLE, it is like a dignified bible lesson, but it has great visuals and it all looks impressive, and as visually stunning as those weird sets in THE SILVER CHALICE

Fenella

A moment to celebrate the beyond marvellous Fenella Fielding, 90 this year. The fabulous Fenella is still working, in London theatre, and is not a relic of those CARRY ON films, She only did two in fact, the priceless CARRY ON SCREAMING and CARRY ON REGARDLESS. She, like Barbara Windsor and Shirley Eaton, Dilys Laye and the equally individual Rosalind Knight seem to be the only survivors of the CARRY ON gang, along with Jim Dale of course and Sheila Hancock and Amanda Barrie both from CARRY ON CLEO. She was a scream of course as the vampire in 1966's CARRY ON SCREAMING

Fenella's deep husky voice and languid, beyond-camp manner ensures that she will be long remembered and not only by CARRY ON fans. She also popped up in DOCTOR IN LOVE in 1960 and as another vamp with Dirk in DOCTOR IN DISTRESS in 1963, and was an amusing Gwendolen, teasing out Oscar Wilde's lines in a 1964 television THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (see Fenella label) and also did a Tony Curtis comedy and other television roles, and was the Loudspeaker Announcer in THE PRISONER series. She was a delightful Lady Eager in LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS in 1969. Its good to see Fenella is still around, with her voice as individual as Joan Greenwood's or Glynis Johns' or Babs Windsor. Long may she last. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

White Feather, 1955

WHITE FEATHER is a perfect mid-'50s western, which somehow I never saw at the time. I was 10 or so then and seeing all those early 50s westerns with my father: JOHNNY GUITAR (the first film I saw aged 8, what a vivid introduction to cinema), SHANE, THE COMMAND, DRUM BEAT, SITTING BULL, THE GAMBLER FROM NATCHEZ, GARDEN OF EVIL, CATTLE QUEEN OF MONTANA, THE MAVERICK QUEEN, THE LAST WAGON, RIVER OF NO RETURN, BROKEN LANCE etc. We kids loved anything with covered wagons and Indian attacks on forts, and heroes like Dale Robertson, Clint Walker, Audie Murphy or Guy Madison, or as teamed several times, Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter. 
My father also took me to all those John Wayne and James Stewart westerns, like NIGHT PASSAGE and Ford's THE SEARCHERS, where Hunter had his immortal moment as half-breed Martin Pawley (Wagner had tested for that for Ford would not cast him, it would have been Wagner's first teaming with Natalie Wood if he had).  

WHITE FEATHER: The story of the peace mission from the US cavalry to the Cheyenne Indians in Wyoming during the 1870s. The mission is threatened when a civilian surveyor befriends the chief's son and falls for the chief's daughter.
Wagner is the  lead here, and Jeff is Little Dog, the Indian brave, with Hugh O'Brien as his sidekick.  Debra Paget is the indian princess and stodgy John Lund also features. 
We have covered Jeff Hunter several times before - he is one of "People We Like" - he of course died aged 42 in 1969, Wagner is still here and writing entertaining books, at 86, while Hugh died last year aged 91. Wagner and Hunter appeared in at least 5 films together, as well as the all-star THE LONGEST DAY, while Hunter also did five with Debra Paget - we are very partial to their 1954 PRINCESS OF THE NILE where Deb does one of her torrid dances, and Jeff wears a turban and harem pants, in old Cairo, right. Debra was back out west with Elvis in his first film LOVE ME TENDER in 1956.
WHITE FEATHER though is well done, scripted by western maestro Delmar Daves, but directed by one Robert D. Webb.  

Postcards from the edge

Another visit to La La Land with a return to 1990's POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, Mike Nichol's satisfying comedy drama from Carrie Fisher's book, all the more poignant now after her recent passing and that of her mother Debbie Reynolds. Shirley McLaine - never a favourite of ours - does maybe her best work here, outside of THE APARTMENT, as Suzanne Vale's movie star mother, who drinks a lot and can't help upstaging her daughter.

Substance-addicted Hollywood actress Suzanne Vale is on the skids. After a spell at a detox centre her film company insists as a condition of continuing to employ her that she live with her mother Doris Mann, herself once a star and now a champion drinker. Such a set-up is bad news for Suzanne who has struggled for years to get out of her mother's shadow, and who finds her mother still treats her like a child. Despite these problems - and further ones to do with the men in in her life - Suzanne can begin to see the funny side of her situation, and it also starts to occur to her that not only do daughters have mothers, mothers do too.
Meryl Streep has one of her best early roles here as the drug-addled actress Suzanne tries to get her life back on track, and Mike Nichols fills the film with a great cast: not only Dennis Quaid, but Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Annette Bening and even the great Mary Wickes (from 40s and 50s classics like NOW VOYAGER and WHITE CHRISTMAS, she also went on to SISTER ACT). 
But the film boils down to those encounters between Meryl and Shirley, and both shine, Shirley in her hospital scene getting ready to face her public - the gays love her - and belting out a version of Sondheim's "I'm Still Here". Meryl too sings up a storm in that final country music scene. 
It all certainly works now and is a film to savour for many fine moments.
Maybe its time for another look at Carrie's THESE OLD BROADS telemovie with not only Debbie and Shirley but Dames Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Collins - which we covered before. see Debbie label.

Back to La La Land

A return visit to LA LA LAND was nice this week, for a rainy afternoon, as my partner had not seen it, and yes, he loved it - the music and dancing and the jazz and all those bright colours. I liked it a lot too again, but it seemed a tad too long, and maybe shallow. 
But hey, we like Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone is a big discovery for me and some sequences just sang for me, recalling moments from the Cukor 1954 A STAR IS BORN (walking around the movie sound stages), AN AMERICAN IN PARIS,  SINGING IN THE RAINTHE BANDWAGON's "Dancing In The Dark"- Minnelli is a big influence here as is French director Jacques Demy - echoes of UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG and particuarly THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT, that 1967 delight and of course Scorsese's NEW YORK NEW YORK with that other driven, more intense couple both finding their individual careers but having to separate to do so - LA LA LAND is not quite in that league, but has so many blissful moments we don't care, thanks to Damien Chazelle's flair. He captures the spirit of those films and recreates it in present day Los Angeles - Joni's "city of the fallen angels", taking in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE's Griffith Park Observatory along the way. 
More on Scorsese, Demy, Minnelli and Ryan at labels. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Some '70s gals ...

Some of our favourite 1970s actresses who provided lots of amusing goofy moments - so no Jane, Faye, Julie, Diane or Jill, instead its Madeline, Terri, Barbara, Karen and Sandy !
The late great Madeline Kahn: Eunice in WHATS UP DOC?, Trixie Delight in PAPER MOON, Lili Von Shtupp in BLAZING SADDLES, Kitty O'Kelly in Bogdanovich's bomb AT LONG LAST LOVE, the monster's bride in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
Terri Garr: TOOTSIE, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS ...,  her great line in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN: "He vould have an enormous schwanzstucker" ... (There's also of course Cloris Leachman's immortal Frau Blucher ...).
Barbara Harris, so deliously amusing in PLAZA SUITE, touching in NASHVILLE, perfect in Hitch's last FAMILY PLOT.
Karen Black, if only for her air hostess flying the plane in AIRPORT '75, her country queen in NASHVILLE, also in FAMILY PLOT, and another Altman: 1982's COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN, which also featured:
Sandy Dennis (1937-1992) who of course started in the Sixties with WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE, A TOUCH OF LOVE, THE FOX etc and delighted us in the Seventies with THE OUT OF TOWNERS and her ditzy turn in NASTY HABITS

Plus we have to mention Melinda Dillon, so wonderful in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS... and Eileen Brennan, particularly in THE CHEAP DETECTIVE,

Soon, maybe, the '70s guys: Caan, Dern, Devane, Burt Reynolds, Segal, Gould, Sutherland, and the big hitters Nicholson, Redford, Newman, Hackman, De Niro, Pacino and more  ... or maybe not,

Monday, 6 March 2017

Lee in London, continued ....

Many thanks to Colin for sending me these scans of a 1970s magazine feature on our favourite, Lee Remick, when she was living and working in London. Nice picture too of her with her (second) husband Kip Gowans (1930-2011).  Lots more on Lee (whom I had a nice meeting with in 1970, as discussed in previous Remick posts) and her time in London. She was on the cover of "Radio Times" three times for her work with the BBC. She met Kip when he was assistant director on her 1969 film HARD CONTRACT, a fascinating oddball thriller. They were married until her death in 1991, aged 55.

Movie stars play records too!

Sophia. Rock. Alain & Romy. Dusty ... I had a Dansette record player just like Dusty's.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The original boys in the band

Fascinating going back to the original BOYS IN THE BAND now, after seeing the recent theatre revival in London the other week (review below, & at Theatre, gay interest labels). William Friedkin's 1970 film features the original cast of nine who played it in New York and London in the late sixties. Its been interesting and sad too finding out what happened to them.

The play and film had long been unseen, and seen as a cliche of early gay stereotypes, but its a fascinating drama by Mart Crowley (still here now) showing how self-loathing some gays were then, before Stonewall and the 1970s gay liberation shook things up. Then of course in the 1980 the Aids spectre arrived ....

There's neurotic Michael who hosts the birthday party for Harold, "a 42 year old pock-marked Jew", his birthday present of the midnight cowboy hustler, then there's uncomplicated nice guy Donald, the screaming queen Emory, coloured guy Bernard, the couple Hank and Larry with their own problems of fidelity, and straight guy Alan who drops in .....
Five of the cast died of Aids-related illnesses: Kenneth Nelson (Michael) aged 63 in 1993, who had a theatre career in London; Frederick Combs (Donald) aged 56 in 1992; Leonard Frey (Harold) aged 49 in 1988 - he was also the tailor in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF; Robert La Tourneaux (cowboy) aged 45 in 1986, and Keith Prentice (Larry) aged 52 in 1992. Cliff Gorman (Emory) had a long career, starting in JUSTINE and LENNY on stage (but lost the film to bigger name Dustin Hoffman) died aged 65 in 2002 of leukaemia. Reuben Green (Bernard) seems to have vanished, while Laurence Luckinbill (Hank) and Peter Green (Alan) are both still here and are interviewed on the 2008 German dvd I got of the film, where director Friedkin enthusases about the cast and the film, as does writer Mart Crowley. 
Its fascinating to see it again as originally staged and made cinematic by Friedkin, as the cast use all those props and the food and lots of drink. Its as savage as Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (also having a London revival at the moment), and it remains a great play, capturing a decisive moment in gay evolution. 

Beatles for sale - in vinyl

Now that vinyl records are back again - and a lot pricier than they used to be, a new collection of The Beatles albums in vinyl caught my attention, now that I can play vinyl again. Its so satisfying dropping the needle on the long-playing album, the way listening to music used to be, rather than pressing 'play' on a cd or streaming music.

The Beatles on vinyl collection starts with that classic ABBEY ROAD, at a decent price of £9.99, and there is a new album every two weeks, retailing at £16.99 - cheaper than buying them at a record store. The next one is SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND - I will have to get that one too, though I have the CD, as I do of most of the fab's albums, and I may also have to get HELP, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, REVOLVER and all their main albums again on vinyl. These may have been originally released as a box set, but this new collection allows one to just get the albums one wants, There are really a dozen original Beatles albums (if one includes THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR,, originally a double EP), the rest of the 23 here are those compilations and anthologies. 
I will be back in 1967 with flatmate Stan and Linda, the girl upstairs, as SGT PEPPER unfolds again. All are in facsimiles of the original albums, with magazines and notes. We Beatles fanatics will be pleased (though of course back then in the late Sixties I also loved The Rolling Stones, Cream, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, The Pink Floyd, some Who, The Band, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Lovin Spoonful, and those early Joni, Neil Young, Tom Rush, Aretha Franklin albums....).