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 June 2017

Susan's centenary ....

Susan Hayward, one of our favourites here, would be 100 on June 30. (She died aged 57 in 1975). Here, as tribute is the trailer for one of her '50s hits: I'LL CRY TOMORROW .... we will have to see it again. Its up there with her WITH A SONG IN MY HEART or I WANT TO LIVE!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A treat: Lee and Dirk in The Vision, 1987

A thousand thanks to Colin for finding this - one of my Holy Grails - a 1987 BBC film with two of my top favourites, which was only ever shown once by the BBC and since unavailable. It is now on dvd, so thanks again Colin - just what I needed after a few days in hospital. 
Dirk Bogarde and Lee Remick head an outstanding cast (including Eileen Atkins and Helena Bonham Carter) in this powerful drama from the creative team behind SHADOWLANDS. Originally screened (in January 1988) as part of BBC2’s acclaimed Screen Two strand, THE VISION is a disturbing reflection on an era of televangelists, burgeoning satellite channels and ruthless media manipulation – quite timely then for 30 years ago.
Bogarde plays James Marriner, a faded, unhappily married for TV presenter, reduced to margarine commercials and opening supermarkets, who is persuaded to front The People Channel – a right-wing, evangelical satellite network poised to launch in Europe. Determined to recruit “Gentle Jim” as a reassuringly familiar anchorman, the network’s steely, seductive boss Grace Gardner (Remick) proves hard to refuse.
As the network’s first live transmission looms, Marriner – whose personal life is now under surveillance – has become deeply uneasy about its aims. Garner, however, makes it clear than any attempt to alert viewers to her organisation’s true agenda, will bring about a devastating retribution. 
Written by William Nicholson and directed by Norman Stone. 
Eileen Atkins (in another of her then Mrs Glum roles) is Bogarde's unhappy wife, and Bonham Carter their daughter, Dirk and Lee play perfectly together, at this late stage in their careers - almost their final work. I met them both (separately) at the BFI in 1970 (I was 24) and got to talk to them both, as per other posts on them (see labels). Its a great role for Remick, which she plays with relish and looks great here in her early fifties, a few years before her death in 1991. (We also saw Atkins on stage then as Elizabeth I in Bolt's VIVAT REGINA with Sarah Miles as Mary Queen of Scots).
I suppose it now too much to expect to get Lee's other BBC productions, SUMMER AND SMOKE in 1972 and Henry James' THE AMBASSADORS, with Paul Scofield, in 1977, finally on dvd too? - in the meantime, great to see THE VISION again, and it is so timely, even if the 80s technology looks so dated now.  Then there are Bogarde's other TV productions, like THE PATRICIA NEAL STORY with Glenda Jackson ...

Friday, 23 June 2017

People we like: Janet Leigh

When I was doing those "People We Like" profiles here a few years ago (see label), one I somehow omitted was Janet Leigh - one of our perennial favourites, and always a pleasure in any movie. Janet (1927-2004) was a blonde California girl who famously got discovered when Norma Shearer saw her photograph at the ski lodge where Leigh's parents worked and, as legend has it, she was soon signed to MGM being one of their ingenues in the late '40s, in a variety of films. She was one of the LITTLE WOMEN in 1949, when HOLIDAY AFFAIR with Mitchum is a delightful Christmas classic. WHEN WINTER COMES was interesting too. The '50s though was her main era.

She is gorgeous in some costumers: SCARAMOUCHE in 1952, and cardboard castle time in comic strips like PRINCE VALIANT and THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, with her then husband Tony Curtis. She is a '20s flapper in PETE KELLY'S BLUES, and good in a tough cop drama ROGUE COP with Robert Taylor, both 1954. I somehow missed her and Curtis in HOUDINI
She also excels out west in Mann's THE NAKED SPUR in 1953. She was MY SISTER EILEEN in the delightful 1955 musical and gets to dance with Bob Fosse.  We like it a lot, as per review. 1956 saw her in Africa in a routine jungle saga SAFARI with Victor Mature. 1958 was maybe her peak year: with Heston in TOUCH OF EVIL, directed by Orson at his most flamboyant, a modern noir classic where she gets terrorised in a motel, hiding her broken arm most of the time; then the Boys-Own classic THE VIKINGS, filmed in Norway and looking great as photographed by Jack Cardiff, where we love her Princess Morgana, its a perennial that boys of all ages still tune into. There was also a comedy I like, THE PERFECT FURLOUGH (or STRICTLY FOR PLEASURE) in Paris, with Curtis, for Blake Edwards. The marriage to Curtis made them one of the star couples of the era. Then Alfred Hitchcock came calling .... 

I have written about PSYCHO a lot here. Janet may only have been in the first forty minutes, but her Marion Crane dominates the rest of the film, and it is surely a leading performance, and she looks great here. She will always be the girl in the shower at the Bates Motel ... Hitchcock told her he knew she could act and left the role up to her as long as he got what he needed for his camera setups. That long scene with Perkins at the motel is particularly effective.

Frankenheimer's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE was another classic in 1962, though her part was not major in it and she continued throughout the early Sixties: another musical: BYE BYE BIRDIE in '63, a comedy WIVES AND LOVERS, Paul Newman's estranged wife in HARPER in 1966. There was a Jerry Lewis comedy I saw around that time too, purely because she was in it. 
Lesser roles followed but she had more or less retired after a long happy second marriage (she and Curtis divorced in '62). John Carpenter lured her back with a role in THE FOG in 1980, starring her daughter scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. She also did a good COLUMBO episode in 1975. Janet also wrote some novels and a charming autobiography and seems to have been well liked by everybody. 
Howard Hughes liked her a lot, with her perfect figure, she did his JET PILOT with John Wayne in 1951, directed by Von Sternberg, but it was 1957 by the time Hughes stopped tinkering with it and released it. She looks marvellous emerging from that flying suit in that white tee-shirt, but says in her book that she had to arrange to never be left alone with Hughes, till he eventually found more willing actresses .... 
She will always be one of the essential actresses of the 1950s, along with Kim, Doris, Debbie, Lee, Jean, Deborah, Susan, Ava, Natalie etc. and did sterling work with Hitchcock, Welles, Von Sternberg, Mann etc. (above: Janet in a 1969 "Sight & Sound" interview).

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Hot summer reads

The Pictures / Conclave - Two unputdownable thrillers ideal for summer travels ... and this current heatwave.
  
THE PICTURES by Guy Bolton. Who would have thought a novel set in Hollywood's Golden Age in 1939, just as MGM and Louis B Mayer prepare for the premiere of THE WIZARD OF OZ would be so gripping?

World-weary Jonathan Craine is a detective at the LAPD who has spent his entire career as a studio ‘fixer’, covering up crimes of the studio players to protect the billion-dollar industry that built Los Angeles. When one of the producers of The Wizard of Oz is found dead under suspicious circumstances, Craine must make sure the incident passes without scandal and that the deceased’s widow, the beautiful starlet Gale Goodwin, comes through the ordeal with her reputation unscathed.
But against his better instincts, Craine finds himself increasingly drawn to Gale. And when a series of unsavoury truths begin to surface, Craine finds himself at the centre of a conspiracy involving a Chicago crime syndicate, a prostitution racket and a set of stolen pictures that could hold the key to unravelling the mystery.

It seems the studios ran a high-class call girl racket, for their stars, to avoid unnecesary complications, but the mobs and the gangsters are also involved. Add in a sadistic killer who likes torturing his victims before despatching them; an idealistic young Irish detective Patrick O'Nell who helps Crain regain his conscience, and assorted shoot-outs at the end which leaves almost everyone dead, and this is a fascinating page turner by a writer new to me, Guy Bolton. Real stars dot the narrative too, as we spot Gable and Cooper, Astaire, Crawford etc. 

CONCLAVE: Robert Harris is another terrific thriller writer (I love his POMPEII) and his latest is well up to scratch. It takes us behind the scenes as a new pope is elected in Rome as we are locked in the Sistine Chapel with all the cardinals as the ballots get underway. 
The Pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and twenty Cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world's most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals ...
Fascinating stuff for the layman, though Catholics will be familiar with the process. It emerges there are four main candidates and a surprise outsider. Our narrator Cardinal Lomeli is a main candidate too and we see it all through his eyes as the intrigue and blackmail surfaces. There is a perfect surprise ending too.  One could say Harris has given us back the power and majesty of The Vatican and its history, after those trivial Dan Brown capers.

RIP, continued

Barry Norman (1932-2017, aged 83. Another long standing BBC broadcaster departs - their regular film pundit from FILM 72 right through to 1998, plus presenting other film related programmes like THE HOLLYWOOD GREATS and THE BRITISH GREATS, and until last week writing a weekly film column in "Radio Times" and also publishing books. Whatever one's view of avuncular Norman and his rather middle-of-the-road views, his shows were essential then, for reviews and comments on film in those film-starved years, before internet comment. He really knew his Hollywood and British films, even if not so interested in foreign language movies, but that was not his shows' remit then. 
  
Adam West (1928-2017), aged 88. The original 1960s BATMAN. How we enjoyed those shows then. Kapow!

Anita Pallenberg (1942-2017),  aged 73. The original rock chick is proof indeed that one can live a life of excess and still get to 73. The Italian-German actress and model almost began the Swinging Sixties by herself, being there at the start. We know her best from BARBARELLA and especially PERFORMANCE, but she was also in the now forgotten CANDY, and assorted other movies, as well as being that muse for the Rolling Stones. Her life certainly makes colorful reading, no need to re-hash it here. 
Pallenberg, like Nico, Jim Morrison and her friend Marianne Faithfull, came to represent the dark side of the swinging decade, and played an unusual role in the male-dominated world of rock music in the late 1960s, acting as much more than just a groupie or partner of a band member.  (more on PERFORMANCE at James Fox label). 

Monday, 12 June 2017

America, America, 1963

Having covered those American dramas we like recently, see below, here is one that slipped through the net, so it seems appropriate to finally see it now. Elia Kazan's AMERICA, AMERICA (also known as THE ANATOLIAN SMILE), filmed in 1963 - after his successes WILD RIVER and SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, this though is a small, black and white drama, which seems to not have made much impact at the time. It it the story of Kazan's uncle who left Anatolia in Turkey and was determined to make his way to America and it covers all the pitfalls he met along the way ...

Elia Kazan, ethnic Greek but Turkish by birth, tells the story of the struggles of his uncle - in this account named Stavros Topouzoglou - in emigrating to America. In the 1890's, the young, kind-hearted but naive Stavros lived in Anatolia, where the Greek and Armenian minorities were repressed by the majority Turks, this repression which often led to violence. Even Stavros being friends with an Armenian was frowned upon. As such, Stavros dreamed of a better life - specifically in America - where, as a result, he could make his parents proud by his grand accomplishments. Instead, his parents, with most of their money, sent Stavros to Constantinople to help fund the carpet shop owned by his first cousin once removed. What Stavros encountered on his journey, made on foot with a small donkey, made him question life in Anatolia even further. Once in Constantinople, his resolve to earn the 110 Turkish pound third class fare to the United States became stronger than ever.

The 1950s of course was Kazan's prime time, and he continued well into the 1960s but but that kind of overwrought drama was going out of style by then .... his THE ARRANGEMENT in 1969 was more of the same (where the now older uncle character is played by Richard Boone) and it did not really work then.  

The film is fascinating in lots of ways and the lead, Stathis Giallelis, while no new Brando or Dean or Beatty, acquits himself well (In his 70s now, he was recently a guest at the annual TCM movie season in New York). I imagine first or second generation Americans would relate to it more than us Europeans. Some comments on IMDB refer to it as a lost American masterpiece, on a par with THE GODFATHER .... well, that may be a bit extreme, but its certainly worth seeking out and is finally on dvd, it barely got released here in England at the time, I was 18 then and desperately trying to see it. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Eighties nights ...

The Jewel In The Crown / Your Cheatin' Heart / Wish Me Luck

How did I ever miss THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN back in 1984? Well, I was moving around and out a lot .... This 14 part series is one of the best British television productions ever, up there with BRIDSHEAD REVISITED. It is a fascinating saga of the British in India in the 1940s, as adapted from Paul Scott's four novels "The Raj Quartet". 
The British Raj: though their position seems secure, thoughtful English men and women know that "their" time in India is coming to an end. The story begins with an unjust arrest for rape, and the consequences of this echo through the series. Questions of identity and personal responsibility are explored against a background of war and personal intrigue.

Television moved at a slower pace then, long scenes unfold, which would be edited quickly now, and we have time to take in all the details of the many strands of narrative and all that fascinating scenery. The first two-hour episode draws one in, as one wants to see what develops between Daphne Manners, new in India and local boy Hari Kumar (Susan Wooldridge and Art Malik) and that rather sadistic army man Ronald Merrick (superlative Tim-Pigott Smith, who died recently).  After episode three, the story changes gear and we follow the aftermath. The casting again is the thing here. with a great array of British thespians: 
Peggy Ashcroft superb as ever as Barbie, Geraldine James, Judy Parfitt (in superbitch mode), wonderful Fabia Drake and Rachel Kempson, Anna Cropper, Rosemary Leach, Wendy Morgan, and good to see veteran Marne Maitland too, from all those 1950s films. plus Charles Dance, Warren Clarke and Eric Porter among the huge cast. 
We are now half-way through this 14-episode saga, seeing an episode a night. Bring them on, Directed by Christopher Morahan and Jim O'Brien.
More India coming up too: I never saw Lean's A PASSAGE TO INDIA then either, I can record it tonight - more Dame Peggy and Malik and that great cast in Lean's Indian epic, which has to be seen finally. 

YOUR CHEATIN' HEART: We loved this six-episode series back in 1990, its quirky and off the wall. Super to get it on dvd now, as we return to that late 80s country music scene in Scotland, with a young Tilda Swinton and John Gordon Sinclair, with great music from Eddi Reader. Ken Stott shines too, as we follow the misadventures of Cissie Crouch (Tilda) and Frank McClusky as they go on the run from some weird gangsters .... its full of Scottish humour, as written by John Byrne and directed by Michael Whyte.

WISH ME LUCK. More conventional stuff - another series of wartime resistance in Occupied France, as the plucky Brits parachute in female volunteers to help the Allies defeat the Hun. This ran from 1987 to 1990, three series. Cool Kate Bufffery is marvellous the main character Liz, with rather annoying Susannah Hamilton as the annoying Matty, 
Jane Asher is perfect of course as Faith Ashley, running the department back in London, with Julian Glover, and another agent is young Jeremy Northam. Warren Clarke is the German commandant who begins to suspect ......  We get thrill and spills as the agents try to keep ahead of the Germans, as the those radio broadcasts have to get made .... who will get caught? The 40s period flavour is well done,.

Lists: those American dramas ...

Final List of the season - we are all listed out! After covering British, French and Italian favourites its now a return look at those great American dramas from the Golden Age of the 1950s and 1960s - the heyday of Kazan and Kramer,  Wyler and Wilder, Huston, Mankiewicz, Cukor, Minnelli, Nick Ray, Preminger, Brooks, Ritt, etc. and when American drama was ruled by the likes of Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill, William Faulkner, William Inge etc. We have covered them in detail here before, so this is a quick roundup. Lots more at labels - particularly Tennessee Williams ,,, (below: NIGHT OF THE IGUANA)
We have to begin of course with those early Kazans; 
  • A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
  • ON THE WATERFRONT
  • EAST OF EDEN
  • A FACE IN THE CROWD
  • Nicholas Ray's THE LUSTY MEN in 1952, a strong rodeo drama bringing out the best in Mitchum and Susan Hayward.(right) 
  • More baroque Ray with his 1954 JOHNNY GUITAR - the first film I saw, aged 8. 
  • Ray's REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE of course, and Stevens' GIANT to complete the Dean hat-trick. 
  • Cukor's 1954 A STAR IS BORN, the best musical drama ever
  • THE BIG COUNTRY in 1958 is really a William Wyler drama which just happens to be set in the west. 
  • CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
  • SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
  • BONJOUR TRISTESSE
  • SEPARATE TABLES
  • THE NUN'S STORY
  • ON THE BEACH.
Those 20th Century Fox literarary adaptations came thick and fast:
  • THE LONG HOT SUMMER - Faulkner, 1958
  • THE SOUND AND THE FURY in 1959 - Faulkner, Good cast: Brynner, Woodward, Leighton
  • THE WAYWARD BUS - a long unseen Steinbeck from 1957, Jayne Mansfield and Joan Collins! Its a fascinating mess or Trash Classic
  • SONS AND LOVERS - D H Lawrence gets the Fox treatment in 1960 ...
  • SANCTUARY - another Faulkner misfire, from Tony Richardson in 1961 - Lee Remick and Yves Montand make the oddest team, but Lee shines ...
  • HEMINGWAY'S ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN - 1962, as per recent review. 
The 1960s upped the ranks with those new directors like John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn, Robert Mulligan, while John Huston went on and on ....
  • THE MISFITS
  • ONE EYED JACKS - Brando's brooding western, 1961
  • ALL FALL DOWN - a perennial favourite
  • THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
  • SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
  • THE MIRACLE WORKER
  • TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
  • DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES
  • LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
  • THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS
  • TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN 
  • THE STRIPPER
  • NIGHT OF THE IGUANA 
  • WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
  • REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE
  • SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
  • SUMMER AND SMOKE
  • THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED
  • INSIDE DAISY CLOVER
  • THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS STONE 
  • MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Lists: Those Trash Classics ....

We have been here before - call them what you will: Bad Movies We Love, Guilty Pleasures, Trash or Utter Trash ... those delirious melodramas and just plain bad movies that are so enjoyable - most of the great ladies did some: Lana and Susan and Joan and Bette specialised in them later in their careers, while other great ladies like Olivia and sister Joan dipped their toes in the muddy waters too. 
I have covered them in more detail in my earlier reviews - click on Trash-A label to read on ...http://osullivan60.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/trash-favourites.html
Right now, I list them:
  • PORTRAIT IN BLACK - Lana's crowning epic, from 1960 (whereas IMITATION OF LIFE is a cult classic)
  • LOVE HAS MANY FACES - Lana does Acapulco, with Ruth Roman and those beach boy bums in speedos in 1966
  • WHERE LOVE HAS GONE - Susan and Bette go head to head in this 1964 stinker 
  • I THANK A FOOL - Susan and Finch should have been a great team but not in this weird meller shot in Ireland ...
  • ADA - Susan in fighting form
  • BACK STREET - the best of the Susan's ?, 1961
  • STOLEN HOURS - love Susan's British remake of Bette' DARK VICTORY, in 1963
  • SERENADE - Fontaine is stupendous in this Mario Lansz sudser, 1956
  • ISLAND IN THE SUN - Joan 'romances' Harry Belafonte ... 1957
  • LADY IN A CAGE - sister Olivia is trapped
  • THE SINGING NUN - Debbie's worst in 1966, a travesty of the real Nun's Story
  • A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME - Shelley chomps the scenery. 1964.
  • SYLVIA - a Carroll Baker epic, its delirious, its delovely 
  • SINCERELY YOURS - Liberace's sickly starrer, with Dot Malone and Joanne Dru competing for him ... a 1956 howler.
  • MAMBO - a 1954 discovery, torrid saga with Silvana Mangano and Shelley Winters, in Italy.
  • FOUR GIRLS IN TOWN - the perfect 1957 Universal-International meller, as is:
  • THE FEMALE ANIMAL - thats Hedy Lamarr in 1957 with Jan Sterling, splendid as ever.
  • GO NAKED IN THE WORLD - Gina ! 1960.
  • THE CHAPMAN REPORT - Shelley, Glynis, Claire, young Jane Fonda ... we love Cukor's starry drama, The Higher Trash.
  • THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER - Jane Russell ! with Agnes Moorehead as the madam, 1956.
  • A GIRL NAMED TAMIKO - one of Laurence Harvey's worst 
  • WALK ON THE WILD SIDE - ditto, but with Stanwyck, Capucine, Fonda, Baxter ...
  • THE LOVE MACHINE - a scream with gay David Hemmings and Dyan Cannon both wanting John Philip Law
  • THE CROWDED SKY - best of the airline disasters?, 1960
  • DORIAN GRAY - Helmut ! in 1970s London 
  • GOODBYE GEMINI - one of the terrible British flicks of the era, 1970 - as was:
  • MY LOVER, MY SON - why Romy. why did you make this terrible film?
  • 10.30 PM SUMMER - fake arty 1966 Eurofare, but it does have Melina, Romy and Peter Finch
  • POPE JOAN - Liv may have been great in those Bergman films but made some stinkers in English, none worse than this in 1972.
  • Glenda made some stinkers too, none worse than THE INCREDIBLE SARAH in 1976, where she flounces around as Bernhardt in a Readers Digest travesty. Its a scream. 
  • BLUEBEARD - Edward Dmytryk helmed some Trash Classic favourites like THE CARPETBAGGERS, WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, WHERE LOVE HAS GONE, but came a cropper here, aided by Burton's worst performance, in 1972
  • THE SQUEEZE - rather good Brit gangster flick, from 1977, with down on their luck Boyd, Hemmings, Carol White ...  BRANNIGAN (John Wayne) and HENNESSEY (Rod Steiger and wasted Lee Remick) were amusing mid-70s British thrillers too ...
We don't bother with the insultingly bad, like THE OSCAR or HARLOW ..... then there are the Troy Donahue and Ann-Margret clunkers, and you know how we love those Bette and Joans: TORCH SONG, HARRIET CRAIG, FEMALE ON THE BEACH, QUEEN BEE, AUTUMN LEAVES, THE STORY OF ESTHER COSTELLO, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, BERSERK! or two Bettes in DEAD RINGER.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Lists: 30 great male performances ...

Almost over with the Lists. Here's roughly 30 actors' performances we like a lot (again, not necessarily leading performances, maximum two each, not in any particular order, discussed previously at labels):

  • Dirk Bogarde & James FoxTHE SERVANT (left)
  • James Mason A STAR IS BORN /  LOLITA
  • James Stewart VERTIGO / ANATOMY OF A MURDER
  • Cary Grant BRINGING UP BABY / NOTORIOUS
  • Jack Lemmon & Tony CurtisSOME LIKE IT HOT
  • Robert De NiroTAXI DRIVER / NEW YORK NEW YORK
  • Ralph Fiennes - THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL / A BIGGER SPLASH
  • Gary Cooper & Anthony PerkinsFRIENDLY PERSUASION
  • John Wayne & Jeffrey Hunter - THE SEARCHERS
  • Humphrey Bogart & Claude Rains - CASABLANCA
  • Peter FinchSUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY / THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE
  • David Hemmings BLOW-UP
  • David WarnerMORGAN A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT
  • Malcolm McDowell A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
  • John Hurt - THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT / LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND
  • Heath LedgerBROKEBACK MOUNTAIN / THE DARK KNIGHT
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
  • Alfred Molina & Gary Oldman - PRICK UP YOUR EARS
  • Maurice Ronet LE FEU FOLLET (right)
  • Alain DelonPLEIN SOLEIL
  • Giancarlo Giannini - SEVEN BEAUTIES
  • Bruno GanzKNIFE IN THE HEAD
  • Melvil Poupaud TIME TO LEAVE
  • Richard GereAMERICAN GIGOLO
  • James DeanEAST OF EDEN / GIANT
  • Marlon Brando A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE / ON THE WATERFRONT
  • Montgomery CliftFROM HERE TO ETERNITY / WILD RIVER
  • Rod Steiger - IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT / NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY 
  • Jack Hawkins & Stephen BoydBEN HUR
  • Burt LancasterTHE LEOPARD
  • Gregory PeckTHE BIG COUNTRY
  • Robert Mitchum HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON
  • Robert Redford - THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (his most charismatic performance?)
  • Claude Rains - NOTORIOUS
  • Liam Neeson & Peter Sarsgaard - KINSEY
  • Joseph Fiennes - SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
  • Tom Courtenay BILLY LIAR / 45 YEARS
  • Alan Bates -  A KIND OF LOVING
  • Albert Finney TOM JONES / UNDER THE VOLCANO
  • Laurence OlivierRICHARD III / SPARTACUS
  • Ralph Richardson LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
  • Max Von Sydow - THE SEVENTH SEAL / THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR
  • Clifton Webb - LAURA / WOMAN'S WORLD
  • Peter O’Toole & Alec Guinness LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. (Guinness is perfect as Prince Feisal, as he is as Marcus Aurelius in FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE)

Lists: 50 great female performances ....

Here's those favourite great female performances we can return to any time:  (in no particular order, two maximum for each, not necessarily leading roles, all covered at labels for each. No Meryl or ... Cate Blanchett may be the most recent, )
  • Jane Fonda KLUTE / THEY SHOOT HORSES DON’THEY?
  • Bette Davis ALL ABOUT EVE  / THE LETTER
  • Katharine HepburnTHE LION IN WINTER / SUMMERTIME
  • Vivien Leigh A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
  • Judy GarlandA STAR IS BORN     
  • Joan FontaineREBECCA
  • Olivia De HavillandTHE HEIRESS
  • Lee RemickDAYS OF WINE AND ROSES / WILD RIVER
  • Julie HarrisEAST OF EDEN
  • Susan Hayward I WANT TO LIVE! / WITH A SONG IN MY HEART
  • Kay KendallLES GIRLS / THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE
  • Faye DunawayCHINATOWN (Its as much her film as Jack’s ....)
  • Janet LeighPSYCHO 
  • Joan CrawfordJOHNNY GUITAR / MILDRED PIERCE
  • Barbara StanwyckDOUBLE INDEMNITY
  • Geraldine Page - SUMMER AND SMOKE / SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
  • Genevieve Bujold - OBSESSION
  • Garbo MATA HARI / QUEEN CHRISTINA
  • Dietrich THE SCARLET EMPRESS / THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN
  • Marilyn Monroe THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL / THE MISFITS
  • Elizabeth Taylor CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
  • Sophia LorenWOMAN OF THE RIVERMARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE
  • Monica VittiL'AVVENTURA / L'ECLISSE
  • Jeanne Moreau BAY OF ANGELS / LA NOTTE
  • Anna MagnaniBELLISSIMA / WILD IS THE WIND (I hate THE ROSE TATTOO)
  • Ingrid Bergman & Liv UllmannAUTUMN SONATA
  • Deborah Kerr & Ava Gardner NIGHT OF THE IGUANA
  • Romy Schneider DEATHWATCH / LUDWIG (right)
  • Isabelle Adjani HISTORY OF ADELE H.
  • Catherine Deneuve - POTICHE (Great Catherine is an endless delight in Ozon's charmer).
  • Cate Blanchett - CAROL / THE AVIATOR (Cate does Kate perfectly).
  • Kate Winslet - TITANIC
  • Gloria Swanson - SUNSET BOULEVARD
  • Rosalind Russell - THE WOMEN / GYPSY
  • Maureen O'Hara - THE QUIET MAN (Mary Kate Danagher rules)
  • Kim NovakVERTIGO / BELL BOOK & CANDLE
  • Natalie Wood - THE SEARCHERS / THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED
  • Mary Astor - THE GREAT LIE 
  • Barbra StreisandFUNNY GIRL / THE OWL & THE PUSSYCAT
  • Liza Minnelli - NEW YORK NEW YORK / CABARET
  • Julie Christie - DARLING / AWAY FROM HER
  • Tilda Swinton - I AM LOVE / A BIGGER SPLASH
  • Claire Bloom - THE CHAPMAN REPORT
  • Wendy Hiller & Pamela Brown & Nancy Price I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING
  • Ingrid Thulin THE SILENCE
  • Patricia NealHUD
  • Glenda JacksonSTEVIE
  • Sarah MilesTHE SERVANT /  I WAS HAPPY HERE
  • Rita Tushingham & Lynn RedgraveGIRL WITH GREEN EYES / SMASHING TIME
  • Stephane Audran LA FEMME INFIDELE
  • Audrey HepburnSABRINA / THE NUN'S STORY
  • Maggie Smith & Celia Johnson THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE
  • Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL / PHILOMENA
  • Tippi Hedren & Suzanne Pleshette & Jessica Tandy THE BIRDS
  • Deborah Kerr & Kathleen Byron - BLACK NARCISSUS.
One could go on and on: 
  • Ida Lupino - ROADHOUSE
  • Kathleen Turner - BODY HEAT
  • Lauren Bacall - DESIGNING WOMAN
  • Jean Simmons - THE BIG COUNTRY / HILDA CRANE
  • Ava Gardner - THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA / BHOWANI JUNCTION
  • Alida Valli - SENSO
  • Anne Baxter - THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
  • Linda Darnell - A LETTER TO THREE WIVES
  • Vanessa Redgrave - THE BOSTONIANS / ISADORA
  • Gladys Cooper - NOW VOYAGER / SEPARATE TABLES
  • Flora Robson - TWO THOUSAND WOMEN / HOLIDAY CAMP
  • Edith Evans & Joan Greenwood - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST / TOM JONES
  • Celia Johnson & Kay Walsh - THIS HAPPY BREED
  • Geraldine McEwan & Prunella Scales - MAPP AND LUCIA
  • Sian Phillips - I, CLAUDIUS
  • Eileen Atkins, Francesca Annis, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton - CRANFORD
  • Peggy Ashcroft & Judy Parfitt - THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN
  • Beryl Reid & Susannah York & Coral Brown - THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
  • Paula Prentiss - MAN'S FAVOURITE SPORT / THE STEPFORD WIVES
  • Capucine - NORTH TO ALASKA / WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?

Lists: 20 Costume films

We love a good costume or period drama here at The Projector: Here's 20 of the best to continue our Lists: (we are not including biblicals or epics)
  • THE SCARLET EMPRESS - 4 from the 1930s. Dietrich stuns in 1934 in Von Sternberg's amazing sets.
  • MATA HARI - Garbo ideal and looks dazzling, 1931
  • MARIE ANTOINETTE - MGM's opulent 1938 retelling with a perfect Norma Shearer. Kitsch classic.
  • JEZEBEL - Bette got the kudos in 1938 through with this classic Wyler - and that red dress in black and white.   
  • 4  by Luchino Visconti:  THE LEOPARD. No-one does classic costume drama like Visconti (until Kubrick came along with BARRY LYNDON). This 1963 epic is sheer bliss, particularly that long ballroom sequence at the climax, as Burt and Claudia dance to that Verdi waltz .... sheer cinema, (as per my many comments at Visconti label)
  • DEATH IN VENICE. Even if one does not like the film much one has to admire how stunning it recreates the Venice lido, and Dirk's performance. I met him in 1970 at the BFI when he was promoting it. 
  • LUDWIG. The new full version on 4-disk bluray is long overdue, as per recent review. Romy and Helmut are sheer perfection. 
  • L'INNOCENTE. Luchino's final, directed from a wheelchair in 1976, looks so stupendous, as per review Visconti label. 
  • MOONFLEET and QUENTIN DURWARD (below) both 1955, are the height of 1950s MGM costume dramas,  I love them both. Stewart Granger, Joan Greenwood, George Sanders ideal here. 
  • QUENTIN DURWARD - as are Robert Taylor and Kay Kendall among those French chateaus.
  • THE VIKINGS - Jack Cariff shot this in Norway and its still fantastic now. 
  • TEMPEST - An Italian spectacle from De Laurentiis and Lattuada in 1958, Silvana Mangano shines as does Viveca Lindfors as Catherine The Great. I liked it as a kid. 
  • EL CID - Anthony Mann's timeless saga set in medieval Spain, Heston and Loren at their peaks.
  • TOM JONES - Tony Richardson's 1963 romp looks perfectly 18th Century, with great roles for Finney, York, Greenwood, Evans, Griffiths etc. 
  • DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES. Polanski makes this 1967 vampire comedy look perfectly period too, as per recent review below. 
  • THE LION IN WINTER. We love this view of medieval England as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II go head to head in 1968. 
  • BARRY LYNDON. THE Kubrick classic? I can watch it over and over, particularly that scene at the gaming tables by candelight as the Countess of Lyndon locks eyes with Barry, as the music throbs ....
  • THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. Scorsese's perfect costume drama from 1992.
  • A ROOM WITH A VIEW and MAURICE: We have to include Merchant-Ivory's best, great performances and period detail. 
  • MARIE ANTOINETTE. Sofia Coppola's very modern take on the doomed French queen has a lot of great moments too and some perfect casting.
  • Zeffirelli too with ROMEO AND JULIET and BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON.
  • And on television: Working our way through all 14 episodes of the 1982 classic series THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN, mesmerising stuff set in India in 1942 and 1943. 
  • Those Jane Austens: the BBC's impresive PRIDE AND PREJUDICE from 1996, the lovely 1995 film of PERSUASION and Ang Lee's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and the tv remake .... as per reviews, 
  • And the BBC's smouldering Mr POLDARK returns for 9 episodes of Series Three on Sunday. Ideal Sunday night stuff to relax with a G&T as 'Poldark and handsome' rides his trusty steed Seamus over those 18th Century Cornish cliffs, with Demelza and all the usual characters, Again, most of these covered in detail at labels. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Vote for Britain

A crucial week here in the UK, with our election on Thursday and terror attacks escalating - lets return to the glory years of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s and all those British movies we love, part of our current Lists season, and no, I may not be able to stick to 20 each - but then, my blog - my rules. Reviews of lots of these at British label.

1940s:
  • Lets start with 7 David Lean, all essential: IN WHICH WE SERVE / THIS HAPPY BREED / BLITHE SPIRIT / BRIEF ENCOUNTER / GREAT EXPECTATIONS / OLIVER TWIST / THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS
  • 4 Michael Powell, even more essential: A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH / I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING / BLACK NARCISSUS / THE RED SHOES
  • 2 Carol Reed: THE FALLEN IDOL / ODD MAN OUT
  • 2 Basil Dearden: SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS / THE BLUE LAMP
  • Asquith; THE WAY TO THE STARS
  • Annakin - HOLIDAY CAMP - the post war boom starts with those new holiday camps, 1947.
  • Hamer – IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY - the grim side of postwar London / KIND HEARTS & CORONETS
  • Crichton – WHISKEY GALORE.
Let's throw in some Gainsborough melodramas which brightened up the war years: THE WICKED LADY, MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS, CARAVAN, BLANCHE FURY, and some Anna Neagle epics: I LIVE IN PARK LANE, MAYTIME IN MAYFAIR

1950s:
Often seen as a bland decade for English movies, but lots of pleasure for those of us growing up then:
  • Dearden – POOL OF LONDON / THE GENTLE GUNMAN  / VIOLENT PLAYGROUND
  • Crichton – DANCE HALL (by Godfrey Winn - the leisure time of factory girls, as much a social document as SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING would be at the end of the decade)
  • Hurst – DANGEROUS EXILE (ditto Belinda Lee in this 1957 costumer about the son of Marie Antoinette..)
  • Box – CAMPBELL’S KINGDOM (Dirk and very tough guy Stanley Baker in the Canadian Rockies (actually the Dolomites in Italy), we loved it in 1957.
  • Fregonese - SEVEN THUNDERS (Boyd leads a terrific cast in 1957 wartime thriller set in occupied Marseilles - one I enjoyed as a kid)
  • J Lee Thompson - NO TREES IN THE STREET / TIGER BAY / NORTH WEST FRONTIER (all 1959)
  • NO TIME FOR TEARS - 3 Anna Neagle classics:
  • MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER 
  • THE LADY IS A SQUARE
  • THOSE DANGEROUS YEARS
  • WONDERFUL THINGS
  • SIMON AND LAURA 
  • AN ALLIGATOR NAMED DAISY
  • NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT
  • OUT OF THE CLOUDS
  • JET STORM - Stanley Baker pilots the plane, Richard Attenborough has the bomb, all star cast in 1959. Love it 
  • HELL DRIVERS
  • ALIVE AND KICKING
  • THE WEAK AND THE WICKED. Glynis Johns is sent to prison and shares a cell with Diana Dors, in this delicious 1954 meller, from J Lee Thompson.
  • TURN THE KEY SOFTLY. More ex-jailbirds with Yvonne Mitchell and young Joan Collins in 1953
  • PASSPORT TO SHAME 
  • EXPRESSO BONGO
  • SERIOUS CHARGE
  • ROOM AT THE TOP.
1960s:
The new boys and girls and directors hit town:
  • VICTIM
  • A TASTE OF HONEY
  • A KIND OF LOVING (above right)
  • THE L-SHAPED ROOM (Leslie Caron joins the seedy Notting Hill bedsit set, 1962)
  • WEST 11 (Di Dors also in Notting Hill bedsit land with gay Alfred Lynch, in early Winner 1963)
  • TWO LEFT FEET (Young Hemmings and Michael Crawford shine)
  • SOME PEOPLE, 1962 charmer about Bristol teenagers, with Hemmings again.
  • THE BOYS - fascinating 1962 time capsule
  • THE LEATHER BOYS - another early gay British saga, 1964, below)
  • BILLY LIAR
  • THE SERVANT
  • DARLING (above right) - Julie and gay pal eye up the waiter .... both get him.
  • THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES
  • I WAS HAPPY HERE
  • THE KNACK
  • THE SYSTEM - perfectly 1964 as England began to swing ...
  • THE WORLD TEN TIMES OVER - 1963 Soho saga
  • A HARD DAY'S NIGHT
  • HELP!
  • THE PLEASURE GIRLS - 1965 Kensington girls, gays too!
  • SATURDAY NIGHT OUT
  • NOTHING BUT THE BEST
  • REPULSION
  • ACCIDENT.
SWINGING 60s:
  • TOM JONES
  • WHATS NEW PUSSYCAT?
  • MODESTY BLAISE
  • BLOW-UP
  • SMASHING TIME
  • HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH
  • DEEP END
  • PERFORMANCE.
All covered in detail at British/London labels.