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19 items from 2011


Notebook Soundtrack Mix #2: "Sleep Little Lush"

26 December 2011 8:33 AM, PST | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

Above: Image from Maurice Binder's title sequence for Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

Sleep Little Lush

This follow-up to the previous soundtrack mix, Hyper Sleep, is very much the same animal: a chance gathering of mesmerizing music tracks, carefully arranged to focus on the interstitial character of film music—its ability to distill into hallucinatory moments, the most sensual or emotional qualities of a film’s nature, and amplify these sensations to increase their temporal impact. With this idea of music as intoxicant in mind, the passing this year of John Barry was a loss of one of the great “perfumers” of film composing (for more on music as perfume, see Daniel Kasman’s “Herrmann’s Perfume”). The beautiful themes that Barry scored for the world of 007 that open this collection set the spell for a kaleidoscopic (largely) 60s and 70s sample of some of the best film music written by Ennio Morricone, »

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'Training Day' Flashback & Double Oscar Wins

4 October 2011 4:08 PM, PDT | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

Ten years ago tomorrow, the bad cop / good cop drama Training Day debuted in theaters. It was a relatively inauspicious debut (for our purposes) in that, though the film was an instant hit, Oscar fanatics weren't really breathlessly awaiting its debut like it was a 'prestige picture' per se. The film surprised and wound up with two nominations for its leading actors, one in lead (Denzel Washington) and one in supporting (Ethan Hawke) because that's how Oscar do.

All it took was a couple of awesome soundbites and a sense that Denzel Washington was peaking as a movie star with that loss for Malcolm X still a regularly discussed Academy embarrassment and *Boom* Julia Roberts was all

I love my life!"

.... and it was Oscar Number Two for Denzel!

Were you watching? 

King Kong ain't got shit on him.

Oscar #2 let Denzel into the slim ranks of actors with two competitive gold men. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Elizabeth Taylor's luxury items go on show in London

23 September 2011 4:09 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Cavalcade of bling owned by late film-star makes UK stop on world tour that finishes with an auction in New York in December

Even in death, it seems, Elizabeth Taylor knows how to put on a show. Her legacy rolled into Britain on the second leg of a world tour to regale fans via the medium of diamonds, pearls and outrageous haute-couture.

Inside auctioneers Christie's London HQ, reporters jostled with photographers and the dignitaries tripped over the TV cables. It was part showcase and part circus. All that was missing was the woman herself.

Highlights from the Elizabeth Taylor collection plays to the public this weekend before moving on to Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong before a grand, everything-must-go auction in New York in December. The collection includes paintings by Degas, Renoir and Van Gogh and dresses by Valentino and Versace. All in all, it paints a vivid picture of »

- Xan Brooks

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Kate Winslet Poses as Elizabeth Taylor on V Magazine

23 September 2011 2:00 PM, PDT | Alt Film Guide | See recent Alt Film Guide news »

Kate Winslet (Titanic) as Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra) Kate Winslet just recently played Joan Crawford — well, if you want to be technical about it, she played the title role in Todd Haynes' Mildred Pierce, a remake of Michael Curtiz's 1945 noirish melodrama starring Joan Crawford. Now, with the assistance of thick black eyebrows, Academy Award winner Kate Winslet (The Reader) plays two-time Academy Award winner Elizabeth Taylor (Butterfield 8, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) in the latest issue of V magazine. Winslet may look sort of drag-queenish in the above photo, but so did Taylor after starring in the mammoth Cleopatra — what with on-screen roles in overblown fare such as The Sandpiper and Boom!, and off-screen roles as Richard Burton's (two-time) wife and the bearer of iceberg-sized diamonds. And speaking of diamonds … Taylor's jewelry, valued at $30 million, will be auctioned at Christie's in New York on December 13-14. In »

- Zac Gille

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Kate Winslet Talks Sex Scenes, Raising Sophisticated City Kids, and Oscar Pride in V

8 September 2011 6:02 AM, PDT | Popsugar.com | See recent Popsugar news »

Kate Winslet covers the new V magazine, which is out on newsstands today. It's the publications heroes issue, featuring photos shot by Mario Testino and styled by Carine Roitfeld. Kate channeled her own personal style icon, Elizabeth Taylor, and spoke about how they're similar. The Contagion star, who skipped last night's NYC premiere with Matt Damon, also touched on her children growing up in the city, the awkwardness of sex scenes, and her hopes for more challenging roles in the future. On her similarities to Elizabeth: "She was very strong in her head and in her heart, not just in the exterior and I suppose I am. To me she hid vulnerability pretty successfully, and I do that too. We all have vulnerable sides. I think for a long time I pretended I didn't have one, and I definitely do. The last couple of years I really had to pay attention to that. »

- Allie Merriam

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Music in the movies: the scores of John Barry 1968-1979 part 1

8 August 2011 5:14 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Our detailed look back over the non-Bond scores of John Barry continues with a look at his work between the years 1968 to 1979…

In the third part of our John Barry retrospective, we enter the late 60s and a surge of activity that would typify the composer’s output for nearly two decades. Despite the exacting nature of his commissions, he continued to build on his reputation with a succession of quality scores that stockpiled brilliant and unexpected surprises on top of unprecedented new ground. But all the while, he continued to strive for authenticity of arrangement and sincerity of expression. This phase demonstrates his broadening outlook but also reflects, in a profound way, the diversity of his musical influences.

His early output took inspiration from both the rhythm and blues of The Barry Seven and the popular rhythms of the time, such as Gene Vincent and American guitarist Duane Eddy, »

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Music in the movies: the scores of John Barry 1968-1979

8 August 2011 5:14 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Our detailed look back over the non-Bond scores of John Barry continues with a look at his work between the years 1968 to 1979…

In the third part of our John Barry retrospective, we enter the late 60s and a surge of activity that would typify the composer’s output for nearly two decades. Despite the exacting nature of his commissions, he continued to build on his reputation with a succession of quality scores that stockpiled brilliant and unexpected surprises on top of unprecedented new ground. But all the while, he continued to strive for authenticity of arrangement and sincerity of expression. This phase demonstrates his broadening outlook but also reflects, in a profound way, the diversity of his musical influences.

His early output took inspiration from both the rhythm and blues of The Barry Seven and the popular rhythms of the time, such as Gene Vincent and American guitarist Duane Eddy, »

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DVD Playhouse--July 2011

6 July 2011 5:09 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Interview | See recent The Hollywood Interview news »

DVD Playhouse—July 2011

By Allen Gardner

The Music Room (Criterion) Satyajit Ray’s 1958 masterpiece looks at the life of a fallen aristocrat as a metaphor for an India that is not only becoming Westernized, but modernized technologically and culturally beyond recognition. When the beloved music room, where he has hosted lavish concerts in the past, starts falling into disrepair as attendance drops steadily, the man realizes his way of life is vanishing. Stunningly shot in black & white, one of Ray’s finest works. Bonuses: Documentary on Ray from 1984 by Shyam Benegal; Interviews with Ray biographer Andrew Robinson and filmmaker Mira Nair; Excerpt from 1981 roundtable discussion between Ray, critic Michael Ciment, director Claude Sautet. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Full screen. Dolby 1.0 mono.

Beauty And The Beast (Criterion) Jean Cocteau’s sublime adaptation of the classic fairy tale become a beloved classic upon its 1946 release, and hasn’t faded since. »

- The Hollywood Interview.com

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Elizabeth Taylor remembered by Philip French | Feature

26 March 2011 5:08 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Philip French remembers the child star turned Oscar-winning actress, who was as celebrated as much for her tempestuous relationships as her movies

For people like myself, born in Britain in the inter-war years and growing up during the second world war, Elizabeth Taylor will always be thought of as the youngest of four British evacuees who brought their immaculate English accents to Hollywood and became an essential part of a corner of Tinseltown that was forever England. She and Peter Lawford were transported across the Atlantic by their parents as war clouds gathered over Europe and were put under contract by MGM in the early 1940s. Roddy McDowall followed when bombs began to fall on Britain, as did Angela Lansbury who was also signed by MGM. McDowall was the first to attain stardom, playing the Welsh miner's son in How Green Was My Valley and then appearing in MGM's children's classic, »

- Philip French

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Elizabeth Taylor obituary

24 March 2011 3:10 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Child actor who became a Hollywood film star known for her dazzling beauty and her eight marriages

The film star Elizabeth Taylor, who has died of heart failure aged 79, was in the public eye from the age of 11 and remained there even decades after her last hit movie. She managed to keep people fascinated, by her incandescent beauty, her courage, her open-natured character, her self-deprecating humour, her eight marriages (two of them to the actor Richard Burton), her many brushes with death, her seesawing weight, her diamonds and her humanitarian causes, all of which often obscured the reason why she was famous in the first place – she had a tantalising screen presence, in films including A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Butterfield 8 (1961), Cleopatra (1963) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).

Taylor was born in Hampstead, north London, of American parents. Her mother, Sara, was »

- Ronald Bergan

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The Blue Bird (1976) and Violet Links

23 March 2011 1:30 PM, PDT | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

The news of Liz Taylor's death derailed me this morning as Twitter exploded. Though I am less nostalgic as a person than I appear to be on the web  (I think it's that love of Oscar history and "anniversary" post-fetish that makes me seem like a weepy 'they don't make 'em like they used to' type.), this month has been admittedly nostalgia-saturated. We shall return to stuff in theaters very soon.

As I was posting about Liz and sharing reader of the day "first movie" memories I began to wonder when my Liz fandom began? I have no specific recall like I do with some stars. My earliest vivid pop culture memories  from childhood are mostly bunched around the axis of The Muppets, Star Wars and Natalie Wood (television airings of her old movies) in the late 70s. So I was looking at Liz's filmography and realized the first »

- NATHANIEL R

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A career in clips

23 March 2011 10:51 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The actor Elizabeth Taylor has died aged 79. Here we look back over her work, from early roles in National Velvet and Little Women to her defining appearances opposite Richard Burton

News: Elizabeth Taylor dies at 79

Gallery: A career in pictures

It's difficult to think of a better argument for the separate-but-equal value of the terms "actor" and "film star" than the career of Elizabeth Taylor. If that reads as a slight on her ability, it shouldn't. Taylor was a sporadically marvellous performer, one who rarely superseded her director or material but who could, with those factors working in her favour, surpass some of her more gifted peers' capacity for reckless emotional danger.

She was the rare actor who was as interesting on a bad day as on a good one, and not just for her mesmeric physical beauty: like any great film star, she was as compelled by her own screen presence as we were, »

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Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

23 March 2011 10:07 AM, PDT | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

The Queen is dead. Elizabeth Taylor, who died today at the age of 79, was officially a Dame of the British Empire. She was also Hollywood royalty. That phrase is wheeled out regularly by unimaginative broadcasters every time a Hollywood octogenarian — or even nonagenarian – departs for that dressing room in the sky. But though Taylor didn’t even make it to 80, her fame and (at times) her notoriety really did transcend all boundaries. With eight husbands, two Oscars, more than 50 movies and several premature obituaries to her name, she was rarely out of the news.

Born in Hampstead, North London, to American parents, Taylor relocated to Los Angeles during World War II. She made her screen debut in 1942′s There’s One Born Every Minute, but her real breakthrough came at MGM with Lassie Come Home (1943), in which she ignored that famous maxim about never working with animals and Roddy McDowall. »

- Susannah

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79 Ways To Celebrate The Life of Elizabeth Taylor

23 March 2011 9:31 AM, PDT | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

In lieu of a traditional obituary, and because I'm still working on two other Taylor posts that were started before this sad news, I thought a major revision of a two year-old birthday post was in order. If you're in need of comfort today, wrap yourself up in this legend's grandiosity on this disheartening day. Take Taylor's life as inspiration. Survive Everything... but for death, of course, which will come for us all. But leave a legacy behind you and you've got that beat, too.

79 Ways to Celebrate Liz Taylor's Legacy in 2011

How many can you do this year?

Be great. Be beautiful. Be ambitious. Quoth Liz "It's not the having, it's the getting." Be a legend in your own mind, and in others. Get married. Or divorced. Or remarried. Or all three. Or several times. Let your passions rule you. Act like a diva. (But back it up with substance. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Elizabeth Taylor, a true screen legend

23 March 2011 8:35 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Philip French looks back on the career of Elizabeth Taylor, one of the few actors to successfully move from child star to genuine cinema icon

Born in London to well-off American parents, Taylor was taken to America when war broke out and was in show-business from the age of 10. She became a major child star, giving one of her finest performances as Velvet Brown, the farmer's daughter and Grand National winner, in National Velvet (1944). Her steady development from charming child to alluring adult star culminated in Vincente Minnelli's Father of the Bride (1950). (Twenty one years later, Peter Bogdanovich used a clip from this in The Last Picture Show to present her as the belle idéale of the postwar years.)

At this point, the 5ft 2in, violet-eyed beauty's career became inextricably bound up with a much publicised private life, when her idyllic screen marriage coincided with her disastrous real-life marriage »

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Philip French's screen legends

23 March 2011 7:56 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

• News: Elizabeth Taylor dies

• Elizabeth Taylor: a life in clips

Born in London to well-off American parents, Taylor was taken to America when war broke out and was in show-business from the age of 10. She became a major child star, giving one of her finest performances as Velvet Brown, the farmer's daughter and Grand National winner, in National Velvet (1944). Her steady development from charming child to alluring adult star culminated in Vincente Minnelli's Father of the Bride (1950). (Twenty one years later, Peter Bogdanovich used a clip from this in The Last Picture Show to present her as the belle idéale of the postwar years.)

At this point, the 5ft 2in, violet-eyed beauty's career became inextricably bound up with a much publicised private life, when her idyllic screen marriage coincided with her disastrous real-life marriage to the hotel heir Nicky Hilton, first of her seven husbands. From then on, »

- Philip French

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Elizabeth Taylor: 1932-2011

23 March 2011 7:51 AM, PDT | IMDb News

Elizabeth Taylor, one of the last great screen legends and winner of two Academy Awards, died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles of complications from congestive heart failure; she was 79. The actress had been hospitalized for the past few weeks, celebrating her birthday on February 27th (the same day as this year's Academy Awards) while at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with friends and family. Her four children, two sons and two daughters, were by her side as she passed.

A striking brunette beauty with violet eyes who embodied both innocence and seductiveness, and was known for her flamboyant private life and numerous marriages as well as her acting career, Taylor was the epitome of Hollywood glamour, and was one of the last legendary stars who could still command headlines and standing ovations in her later years. Born to American parents in England in 1932, Taylor's family decamped to Los Angeles as World War II escalated in the late 1930s. Even as a child, her amazing good looks -- her eyes were amplified by a double set of eyelashes, a mutation she was born with -- garnered the attention of family friends in Hollywood, and she undertook a screen test at 10 years old with Universal Studios. She appeared in only one film for the studio (There's One Born Every Minute) before they dropped her; Taylor was quickly picked up by MGM, the studio that would make her a young star.

Her second film was Lassie Come Home (1943), co-starring Roddy McDowall, who would become a lifelong friend. She assayed a few other roles (including a noteworthy cameo in 1943's Jane Eyre) but campaigned for the part that would make her a bona fide child star: the young Velvet Brown, who trained a champion racehorse to win the Grand National, in National Velvet. The box office smash launched Taylor's career, and MGM immediately put her to work in a number of juvenile roles, most notably in Life With Father (1947) and as Amy in 1949's Little Women. As she blossomed into a young woman, she began to outgrow the roles she was assigned, often playing women far older than her actual age. She scored another hit alongside Spencer Tracy as the young daughter preparing for marriage in Father of the Bride (1950), but her career officially entered adulthood with George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), as a seductive rich girl who bedazzles Montgomery Clift to the degree that he kills his pregnant girlfriend (Shelley Winters). The film was hailed as an instant classic, and Taylor's performance, still considered one of her best, launched the next part of her career.

Frustrated by MGM's insistence at putting her in period pieces (some were hits notwithstanding, including 1952's Ivanhoe), Taylor looked to expand her career, and took on the lead role in Elephant Walk (1954) when Vivian Leigh dropped out after suffering a nervous breakdown. As her career climbed in the 1950s, so did Taylor's celebrity: she married hotel heir Conrad "Nicky" Hilton Jr. in 1950, and divorced him within a year. She then married British actor Michael Wilding in 1952, with whom she had two sons, though that marriage ended in divorce in 1957, after she embarked on an affair with the man who would be her next husband, producer Michael Todd (who won an Oscar for Around the World in 80 Days). As her personal life made headlines, she appeared alongside James Dean and Rock Hudson in Giant (1956), and received her first Academy Award nomination for Raintree County in 1957. Roles in two Tennessee Williams adaptations followed -- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly Last Summer (1959), both considered two of her best performances -- earning her two more Oscar nominations, just as tragedy and notoriety would strike her life.

Todd, whom she married in 1957 and had a daughter with, died in a plane crash in 1958 in New Mexico, leaving a bereft Taylor alone at the height of her stardom. Adored by millions, she went from lovely widow to heartless home-wrecker in the tabloids after starting an affair with Eddie Fisher, Todd's best friend and at the time husband of screen darling Debbie Reynolds. The relationship was splashed across newspapers as Fisher left Reynolds and their two children (including a young Carrie Fisher) for Taylor. The two appeared together in 1960's Butterfield 8, where Taylor played prostitute Gloria Wandrous in a performance that was considered good but nowhere near her previous films, and earned her another Oscar nomination. As the Academy Awards ceremony approached, Taylor was thrust into the headlines again when a life-threatening case of pneumonia required an emergency tracheotomy, leaving her with a legendary scar on her neck. Popular opinion swung yet again as newspapers and fans feared for her life, and the illness was credited with helping her win her first Oscar for Butterfield 8.

Taylor was now the biggest female star in the world, in terms of film and popularity, and her notoriety was only about to increase. Twentieth Century Fox, making a small biopic about the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, tried to offer Taylor the part; she laughed them off, saying she would do it for $1 million, a then-unheard of sum for an actress. The studio took her seriously, and soon she was signed to a million-dollar contract (the first for an actress) and a movie that would soon balloon out of control as filming started. Initially set to film in England with Peter Finch and Rex Harrison as Marc Antony and Julius Caesar, the movie encountered numerous problems and after a first shutdown was moved to Italy, with director Joseph L. Manckiewicz at the helm. Finch left and was replaced by acclaimed stage actor and rising movie star Richard Burton.

The rest was cinematic and tabloid history, as Taylor and Burton, whose electric chemistry was apparent to all on set, embarked on quite possibly the most famous Hollywood affair ever, while the filming of the epic movie took on gargantuan proportions and its budget increased exponentially. After the dust settled, Fox was saddled with a three-hour-plus film that, despite starring the two actors whose every move was hounded by photographers and reporters, was considered a bomb. The 1963 film almost sunk the studio (which only rebounded thanks to the megahit The Sound of Music two years later), while Burton and Taylor emerged from the wreckage relatively unscathed and ultimately married in 1964.

However, despite carte blanche to do whatever they wanted, the newly married couple made two marginally successful films, The V.I.P.s (1963) and The Sandpiper (1965), both glossy soap operas that made money but hardly challenged their talents. That opportunity would come with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), the adaptation of the Edward Albee play directed by first-time filmmaker Mike Nichols. As the beleaguered professor George and his shrewish wife Martha, whose mind games played havoc one fateful night with a younger faculty couple (George Segal and Sandy Dennis), the two gave perhaps their best screen performances ever, tearing into the roles -- and each other -- with a gusto never seen in their previous pairings. They both received Oscar nominations, but only Taylor won, her second and final Academy Award.

A successful adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew (1967) followed, but the couple's next films were a string of notorious bombs, including Doctor Faustus, The Comedians, and the so-bad-it's-good Boom. Though still one of Hollywood's biggest stars, Taylor's cinematic output in the 1970s became somewhat dismal, as her fraying marriage with Burton took center stage in the press, as did her weight gain after Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The couple divorced in June 1974, only to remarry briefly in October 1975; by then, Taylor was more celebrity than movie star, still appearing occasionally onscreen and in television, but to less acclaim.

Taylor married U.S. Senator John Warner at the end of 1976, and during the late 1970s and 1980s played the politician's wife, and her unsatisfying life led her to depression, drinking, overeating and ultimately a visit to the Betty Ford Center. After TV and stage appearances during the 1980s (including a reunion in 1983 with Burton for a production of Private Lives), Taylor found another, surprising role, that of social activist as longtime friend Rock Hudson died of complications from AIDS in 1985. She threw herself into fund-raising work, raising by some accounts $50 million to fight the disease, helping found the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR).

Though later generations only saw Taylor on television in films like Malice in Wonderland, and the mini-series North and South, and in her final screen appearance as the mother of Wilma in the live-action movie adaptation of The Flintstones, she remained a tabloid fixture through her marriage to construction worker Larry Fortensky (her eighth and final husband), her friendship with singer Michael Jackson, and her continual charity work, which was only sidelined by hospital visits after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004. She is survived by four children -- two sons with Michael Wilding, a daughter with Michael Todd, and another daughter adopted with Richard Burton -- and nine grandchildren.

--Mark Englehart »

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Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

23 March 2011 6:40 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Elizabeth Taylor, the iconic Hollywood star whose tumultuous romances and precarious health challenges often played out as larger-than-life Elizabethan dramas, died of congestive heart failure at Los Angeles's Cedars-Sinai Hospital. She may have been 79, but with more than 65 years of screen time preserved for all time, she will remain a glorious, glamorous and full-blooded image. Revered for her generous charity work but sometimes controversial for her turbulent personal life, the three-time Oscar honoree, fragrance and jewelry mogul and tenacious AIDS activist possessed many talents, including a remarkable gift for self-appraisal. Just before turning 60 in 1992, she summed herself up for Life magazine, »

- Stephen M. Silverman

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John Barry: The composer who was as pop as the Beatles

31 January 2011 4:49 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

John Barry's soundtracks often outstripped the films for which they were written. And despite a prickly reputation, when I met him he was the perfect host

While it would be a little outlandish to say that John Barry lived a James Bond lifestyle, it wasn't hard to imagine him in the world of The Persuaders, driving an open-top E-type to the south of France, immaculately turned out, eloping with the au pair. He was, more than many familiar faces, a movie star.

The theme from The Persuaders was – ignoring the James Bond theme, which existed like air – my introduction to the John Barry sound. The opening notes of its electric harpsichord matched high-contrast screen images of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore and created great excitement. It was the soundtrack to many Sunday lunchtimes in the early-70s.

Theme from the Persuaders on the CBS label was one of the first records I owned, »

- Bob Stanley

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19 items from 2011


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