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Top ten films;-(in no particular order)
Laurel&Hardy's Big Business
Ride the High Country
A kind of loving
Follow the fleet
Red Rock West
A night at the opera
Much ado about nothing
Top 10 albums:-
Thr Atomic Mr Basie
Such Sweet Thunder
The Magic Flute
The Goldberg Variations
Yoyoma plays the Bach cello suites
Sacre du printemps
Virtuoso :- Joe Pass
Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins
Louis Armstrong 1947 NY Town Hall concert.
Gary does Dallas....
There is something feline - almost feminine - in the way Mr G.Cooper walks to his first - reel showdown with Wild Bill Hickock(a piece of theatre put on in order to get the law off his back) that bodes well for those who like slightly anarchic Westerns. When Mr Cooper is killed everybody in the cinema knows exactly what has gone on but it seems to fool those whom it was intended to fool,in direct contradiction to Barnum's proposition. In "Dallas" it seems that not everybody knows they are appearing in a slightly camp send - up of the big Technicolor horse operas that were Hollywood's early riposte to the television age. Miss R.Roman seems to take her role seriously,that's for certain. Mr L. Ericson plays his part as a dime store Liberace. This is the sort of film Mr A.Dwan would have delighted in. The dialogue is brilliantly anachronistic,confirming that a few tongues were in cheeks at the production office. Entertaining and amusing,"Dallas" would have been well worth my one and nine in 1950.
There is a deep flaw in this tale of a man out of his time...
Mr Jeffries is presented as an almost comic old school academic figure.Fastidious/borderline OCD, precise,even prissy,pedantic,perhaps slightly patronising to those he considers less intelligent than himself terribly posh and a man for whom the 21st century is a foreign land. To say he is unworldly is to make an understatement. It was his misfortune to be the landlord of a young woman who mysteriously disappears and is later found murdered. As soon as he opens his mouth to scold the media outside his house he condemns himself in their eyes and like a wounded beast they turn on him making him their no.1 suspect. Unable to avoid patronising the police who come to interview him,Mr Jeffries - in truth a gentle and compassionate soul - becomes an idee fixe in the minds of the detectives investigating the case. And right here the huge flaw in this programme presents itself. The viewer knows Mr Jeffries to be innocent.From the start we know that the police are barking up the wrong tree.However,not gifted with 20/20 hindsight vision,the detectives try to build a case against him and make themselves appear incompetent and tunnel - visioned,unable to see what the viewer knows to be true. Far less excusable is the conduct of the media from the Guardian to the Currant Bun all of whom seize on his eccentricities as an excuse to crucify him. The debate about Press Freedom and Public Interest takes on new legs
here,with genuine victims of press intrusion,like Mr Jeffries being forced to share the stage with self - publicists and egomaniac filmstars in order to get recognition. "The lost honour of Christopher Jeffries" is a fine production,laudable and well - acted.My one caveat as you will have guessed by now - is that
it is rather like one of those detective stories where vital facts are concealed from the start,thus misleading the reader making them unable to get a full overview of the events. Sympathetic as one must be to Mr Jeffries,there remains that feeling that the programme makers were not dealing from a full deck.
Rough Night in Jericho (1967)
even pan and scan can't ruin George and Dino
5 USA showed "Rough night in Jericho"yesterday evening in pan and scan that is generally the kiss of death to any movie and certainly the big fight between Mr Peppard and Mr Pickens loses much of its impact,but generally the whole piece held up reasonably well. Good old pros in front of and behind the camera do their stuff very professionally and Mr McIntyre is particularly good as a retired sheriff turned stage driver. Mr D.Martin plays Flood as "Dude" in "Rio Bravo" might have turned out if MrJ.Wayne had ridden away and left him after the closing titles. He has the veneer of charm and bonhomie but it is stretched pretty thin by Mr G Peppard as a former deputy who involves himself in what Flood considers to be his town and with Miss J.Simmons who he considers to be his woman. "Rough night in Jericho" would have been a very good TV Western but doesn't quite reach the heights on the big screen. Nonetheless it is pleasing enough and well cast enough to be worth your time.
"Who exactly is this.. Geraldo.. fellow?"Mr A.Newley
In "Stagecoach" the late Mr T.Post treads a difficult line between the original Ernest Haycox story "Stage to Lordsburg" with it's frontier values and the rather more liberal views of a mid 1980s audience to some of whom Geronimo might appear to be a freedom fighter rather than a brutish savage. His voice is articulated by Mr W.Nelson,one of the most significant Country artists of the 20th century who appears slightly uncomfortable as "Doc" Holliday,a man plucked from history to be the conscience of the movie. Having appeased contemporary sensibilities,Mr Post goes pretty much down the traditional Western road with a brave if not very bright lawman (Mr J.Cash),a bar girl (Miss E.Ashley),a gambler(Mr W.Jennings) and that most revered of American figures a pregnant lady(Miss M.Crosby) amongst others travelling on a stagecoach through Apache territory. It's a pleasing enough picture that lovers of TV Westerns should enjoy. There are some funny lines,many of which are deftly handled by Mr A.Newley as an itinerant whisky salesman,a role in which he was allowed to retain his English accent.Half - hearing a conversation about Geronimo,he says.."Excuse me..who exactly is this ..Geraldo.. fellow?" a line which,if spoken in American would have been meaningless but as he says it immediately brings to mind that most determinedly English of English bandleaders. Unfortunately,Mr Newley is whisked away in such haste as to almost appear rude,and the picture is rather diminished by his going. Nonetheless the second half is enlivened by the appearance of Mr K.Kristofferson as the Ringo Kid and he is twinkly but determined to get his vengeance on those who murdered his brothers. This is all good TV Movie stuff and my generation can sigh at the appearance of Mr L.Larue whose adventures at the Saturday Morning Pictures set many an 8 year - old heart a - flutter. You don't have to love Country Music to enjoy "Stagecoach" but it sure doesn't harm in any either.
Smug satire for smug people.............
If satire is what closes on Wednesday night then Channel Four is taking a bit of a punt by presenting "Babylon" as satire on an already self - parodic institution that has been satirised so many times before that there can scarcely be an aspect of it that has escaped the corrosive pens of the smug circle of media types who write for a relatively small onanistic clique of other smug media types,Students' Union members and Guardian readers . We are used to seeing the Met as an organisation of racist,misogynistic bullying,violent lying homophobes - that's non - negotiable for the metropolitan elite and those with axes to grind. Now for the first time we see the bosses portrayed as craven media whores led by a psychopath with anger management issues. Ho Ho - very satirical. And coppers swear a lot - good Lord,I would never have guessed. One of the basic precepts of satire,one would have thought,is that it should be funny.Here,"Babylon" fails miserably.There are a few pathetically unfunny lines that would have been rejected in a Christmas Cracker factory and some of Mr J.Nesbit's dialogue might just have been written by Mr B.Elton and Mr R.Curtis on a day they were staring idly out of the window looking for inspiration,but mostly it's pretty plodding - and that represents the standard of wit on display I'm afraid. Mr Nesbit is such a pantomime villain that one almost expects him to disappear in a puff of smoke to the "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" of the audience. The ladies and gentlemen of our highly - esteemed Press,guardians that they are of Free Speech are also predictably beasted. So there's nothing new there,either. The relationship between coppers and journalists has always been contentious,even when "Press Bureau" was the only department of the Met permitted to deal with the media,and there will always be those on both sides who are happy - nay,anxious - to subvert due process for a few quid.With the "News International" debacle still limping on there can be few who are unaware that those particular arms of the Establishment remain happily intertwined. So it's yesterday's news that "Babylon" is re - hashing. Hardly the cutting - edge satire it purports to be. Still,it will probably win some award voted for by the same smug elite that produced it in the first place so that they can all stagger home feeling good about themselves. Let's hope they don't get stopped by Old Bill on the way.
The Passing Bells (2014)
Heavy on symbolism and irony - light on context.
"Passing Bells" is The Great War seen as a fifth form project. It's undoubtedly a good thing to try to engage children's interest in the Conflict that destroyed the flower of Europe's youth and changed the map of that benighted continent for ever,but at least have the courage to present it as something other than a pastel - shaded commercial for a TV special about the below - stairs staff of Downton Abbey. If you're going to tell young people about the war do them the courtesy of treating them as intelligent beings. "War is hell" isn't just a phrase uttered by a General during the American Civil War - it is a statement of fact. I was waiting for Biggles or Bulldog Drummond to make an appearance. Children aren't spared the sight of hideously wounded soldiers coming back from Afghanistan - they know the cost of war today. Don't hold back from showing it multiplied a thousand - fold. The ending of "Passing bells" was telegraphed in the first ten minutes of the first episode,I doubt if it came as a surprise to any viewer over the age of eleven. Sadly,despite all the media coverage given to the centenary of the start of the war,there was only one person under 70 at the Remembrance Service in my local church yesterday.
Vinnie Jones and that bird from the knicker factory in Corrie..
...are doing exactly what in a Steven Seagal movie?Well,it's certainly not acting that's for sure - but that's nothing new.And I certainly hope they're not taking themselves seriously because there is only one actor in "Submerged" and that is the mighty Stevester himself. He appears to be suffering from the reverse of Michael Jackson syndrome and changing into a 20 - odd year old black gangsta instead of a 50 - odd year old white movie star whose best days are sadly some way behind him. But he's only got to grin - which he does rather a lot in this film - and I can still see the old Steve shining through the extra few pounds. Many of his later films certainly seem directed at the wannabe gangsta market certainly and he usually has some cool young black chap to back him up and enhance his street cred. Here his gang includes Mr Vinnie Jones,who,as a footballer was most famous for squeezing another footballer's testicles.Mr Jones now does TV adverts for CPR - well,it's a living,I guess.He is yet to appear as a pundit on "Sky"(that refuge for sad unemployables)but I wouldn't rule it out. "Submerged" is everything a Seagal movie should be - flashy,jerky and with a frankly indecipherable plot.And very,very funny. The director is like a kid with a new toy and everybody seems to be having a great time in Bulgaria - and why not,it's a lovely country. And I expect the Brits flew out by "Easyjet". Vinnie probably worked his passage by acting as a bouncer. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it,fully aware I was watching a complete nonsense but unable to turn it off. That is Big Steve's magic and his appeal to many of the less po - faced of us.
In Love with Alma Cogan (2011)
Eccentric,warm - hearted,gently funny...if you can find it.
The Pier Theatre,Cromer,an Edwardian English seaside town on the bleak North Norfolk coast is about as far from the glamour the West End as it is possible to get in Show Business terms,but Norman(The late Mr Roger Lloyd Pack)has produced shows here for thirty years and they have always been in the black,financially speaking, but the Town Corporation are after closing him down and trying more modern forms of entertainment. They bring in his former friend Eddie with the hope that Norman's pride will force him to resign but all it does is make him even more determined to carry on. With the help of his long - suffering assistant Sandra,(the lovely Miss N.Cusack),he and Eddie rub along and decide to book an Alma Cogan tribute act,a serendipity that helps save all three of them. It is revealed that Norman as a young stagehand had a brief romance with Miss Cogan at the peak of her career and has held a torch for her ever since. "Were you in love with Alma Cogan?" Sandra asks gently as they sit in a wind - swept shelter on the seafront. "I was obsessed with Alma Cogan",says Norman sadly. The story of how Norman and Sandra discover what has been obvious to the rest of us from the start- that they are made for each other - and Norman's courage as a member of the Cromer Lifeboat crew is beautifully revealed by Mr T.Britten,the Norfolk - based director whose next project "Chick Lit" also set in that county is in production. In these days of TV spinoffs,CGI,youth - based Sci Fi and vampire movies there seems little place for gems like "In love with Alma Cogan" made for little money for a grown - up audience who like to see people of their own age portrayed on screen.And that is very sad,because,given the chance,they might well flock to it.
The horny - handed sons of toil meet the sensitive,artistic and creative classes thus proving that indeed,politics makes strange bedfellows - if I may use such an expression without seeming homophobic. The problem for me with "Pride" is that you can't fight hatred with hatred. Much as you may abhor the late Margaret Thatcher and her "thug police" as one reviewer so nicely puts it,you cannot ignore the fact that hatred only begets hatred. I have rarely read so much vitriol in ten years of visiting this site. And some of the most hate - filled comments end with the writers inviting me to visit their websites to read their other comments.Er,I think I'll give that a miss,thanks. I was already middle- aged at the time of the 1984 miners' strike and the alliance between parts of the Gay Community and some of the strikers did not surprise me particularly as I was brought up in a seaside town with a strong gay connection(Brighton)and my experience of meeting gay men and women had led me to recognise their strong pragmaticism(as in "my enemy's enemy is my friend"). It is simply not true to say or imply that gays were hated by the country at large.They were not understood,certainly,and tended to keep a low profile (except in certain pubs and clubs in town) but no,they were not hated. So "Pride" smacks just a little of a rather unattractive self - pity. It visits two of The Left's Grand Causes of the 1980s and uncritically accepts both their agendas. The facts about the Strike are simplistically stated and brook no argument. The Gay Pride movement is shown to consist of saintly types,warm - hearted,tolerant(except towards Mrs Thatcher and her "thug police",natch),creative,artistic etc.etc.to an uber - stereotypical extent. Miners are often homophobic,inarticulate,heavy - drinking skirt - chasers(think Richard Harris in "This sporting life") to an uber - stereotypical extent. The cast makes whoopee with the script and doubtless they all went home feeling solidarity with everybody. The Miners' Strike has created its own myths and legends but the antagonists are still so deeply entrenched I doubt an unbiased fair - minded account will emerge in my lifetime. If "Pride" hadn't been so determinedly "right on" it might have been a start,but sadly,it had its chance -and missed it.
wriggle your toes and bring out the hot chocolate......
...because "Grantchester" is ideal winter viewing on your favourite sofa.Beautifully photographed,nicely acted,with two sympathetic main characters who will no doubt grow on us as the series progresses. If you're looking for envelope - pushing stuff then you need to go elsewhere,but for reassuring English detective fiction,"Grantchester" fills the bill nicely. An attractive couple are swimming in Byron's Pool(he was an undergraduate at Trinity College where he allegedly kept a bear in his room).Afterwards they sit on the riverbank ,talking gaily.When they leave,the girl gets on a train back to London and the man rides his bicycle to Grantchester where he changes his clothes whilst listening to Sidney Bechet playing "Indian Summer" and it is apparent that he is a vicar about to conduct a funeral.The deceased is a suicide,and in the 1950s when the show is set,it was considered a sin to take one's own life and almost impossible to find a clergyman to officiate at such a service. Clearly,then,this is no ordinary vicar. After the ceremony a mysterious woman tells him that the deceased did not take his own life but was murdered. And so the first episode begins in a not unfamiliar fashion. It transpires that "Indian Summer" was very appropriate because his girl dumps him for someone richer,leaving him a Labrador puppy in her stead. He informs the police(in the shape of the excellent Mr Robson Green who eases up on his stroppy Geordie schtick a bit and is all the better for it).His suspicions are dismissed at first but gradually as he digs deeper a dastardly plot is revealed and justice prevails. There are a couple of period details that jar - England vs Hungary did result in a 6 - 3 defeat but was not played in the evening and "Wasting police time" was not created as an offence until at least thirty years later ,but otherwise the dialogue and mise - en - scene is pretty near perfect. "Grantchester" is written with love by James Runcie - a Cambridge man - and performed with affection by an excellent cast. Of course it could have been written any time in the last sixty years but in these troubled times that is not necessarily a bad thing. Lovers of nosey vicars and gruff but kindly coppers will love it.