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Van der Valk (1972–1992)
9/10
Highly-Recommended Amsterdam intrigue...
30 November 2015
In between the TV showings of the original series of "Special Branch" (1969) and "The Sweeney" (1975), Thames Television delivered a classic piece of Detective fiction in the form of "Van Der Valk" - Commissaris Piet (Simon) Van Der Valk of the Dutch CID based in Amsterdam. It was a very good updated take on the character from a series of best- selling novels by Author Nicolas Freeling and a superlative characterisation by actor Barry Foster in the lead role. Furthermore, it was the marrying of Foster's performance with the intelligent and gritty realism of the scripts and location that made this a must-see of the time (the entire five series - 32 Episodes in total - was made over a twenty-year period). As a youngster, I was more familiar with the third series (1977) which was made by Euston Films for Thames, but watching the episodes of the original series from 1972 and 1973 (2nd series) was most enjoyable too as it not only gave us an insight into how the character of Van Der Valk was originally conceived for television, but also allowed us to experience the production process of the time - a mix of VT (studio) and film (location) work that assisted in the unfolding of the drama. The city of Amsterdam is beautifully captured in each and every overcast shot of period detail - trams, bikes, canals, cars and bars all add to the realistic take on a glorious setting. There was a gap of almost 14 years before the decision was finalised to commence work on the fourth series (screened 1991) and by this time the episodes were produced for a longer format: a two-hour time slot (the trend of the time). However, it was wonderful to see the older Barry Foster continue his memorable characterisation all those years on, and I felt that the series had lost none of that gritty style and intelligence that gave it an endearing quality almost two decades previously. In these longer early '90's episodes there is obviously an emphasis on the changing face of culture and environment, and a new face is added to the Van Der Valk family - namely an adopted daughter called Ruth who has a young child. The Van Der Valk's eldest son, Wim is also in the employ of the Amsterdam Police as an Inspector, and he plays a considerable part in some of the case-cracking proceedings of these later episodes, and reference is also given to his brother in the final series (1992) although he never makes an appearance. Overall, 'Van Der Valk' is a highly-recommended viewing experience especially for those entertained by the crime fiction genre.
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8/10
The grippingly-nominated sequel...
21 July 2014
The gripping sequel to the award-winning television mini-series 'Rich Man, Poor Man' stands the test of time, and also is a stand alone representation of a well-produced piece of drama. Peter Strauss returns in fine form as Senator Rudy Jordache (the original 'Rich Man' of the title) as the story continues to chronicle his life, career and family. The story proceeds to 1968 and is transfixed to this period of time as opposed to relaying the action over a period of years as per the mini- series. The introduction of Rudy's nephew, Wesley and stepson, Billy adds a new entertaining dimension to the elements over 22 episodes. The series features some very good acting performances in support which includes Susan Blakely, Van Johnson, Ray Milland, Peter Haskell, Susan Sullivan, John Anderson and Kay Lenz. However, it is the portrayal of the psychotic 'Falconetti' by William Smith that illuminates the on- screen chills in his ongoing vendetta with anything connected with the name 'Jordache'. The young guns of the cast also shine with notable turns from Gregg Henry, James Carroll-Jordan, Penny Peyser and Kimberly Beck. The series received two Emmy-Award nominations and upon viewing the cliff-hanging courtroom scenes in Washington it's not difficult to understand why, as Rudy attempts to bring to justice the corrupt billionaire, Charles Estep; the dramatics are wonderfully executed. 'Rich Man, Poor Man - Book II' was never going to hit the heights of the classic status of the preceding mini-series, but it has achieved popular worldwide recognition as a welcome, and most enjoyable, sequel of a great story.
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Charro! (1969)
8/10
A Beard and A High-Starched Collar
27 February 2008
This is a wonderfully unique experience to watch 'The King' in this western-story setting as an ex-outlaw turned good. Elvis plays it straight equipped with a beard to fight his former gang of 'friends' - the leader of which is Victor French in a tour-de-force performance. A fine supporting cast which includes Ina Balin and Solomon Sturges turning in two admirable screen performances, helps to give Elvis' movie career a boost at this point in the 'Comeback' era of his musical oddyssey. "Charro!" is a fresh and uplifting western and is a welcome change to hear EP only sing one song in a movie, and this one is over the opening credits. Elvis delivers a good character portrayal of Jess Wade, and isn't as stereotyped as some of the previous characters from the other films from his mid-60's celluloid repertoire. I think any western/Elvis fan would view this as more than just a 'curiosity piece' because it does turn out to be quite an engaging 94 minutes. You almost forget that it's the man himself on screen who we are so used to watching being surrounded by Girls, Bikini's, Cotton Candy, and racing cars. The movie also features some beautiful Arizona cinematography. Recommended.
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Girl Happy (1965)
8/10
Entertainingly Girl Happy about it!
29 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I recently obtained the newly-remastered DVD of "Girl Happy" and I must admit that I was surprisingly taken aback at how much I enjoyed this rather entertaining 'beach' movie.

I first viewed "GH" on TV back in 1986 and suffice to say that it didn't really make a great impression on me due to the somewhat lacklustre material of songs that Elvis performed in it. However, even a few of these managed to charm my tastebuds this second time around.

Obviously, it's not one of Elvis' best overall movies but is certainly in the category of one of his best (and much-loved) 60's musicals - it is really entertaining. Elvis is in fine form along with a good supporting cast that includes leading lady, Shelley Fabares along with Bing Crosby's son, Gary plus the sultry Mary Ann Mobley and Harold J. Stone.

A particular scene that I found fascinating was the action-packed fight in the club, Elvis appears to be doing so well fending them off with some karate moves and all when suddenly he takes a bottle over the back of the head! An unusual and unpredictable happening in one of his movies at this point.

"Girl Happy" is not one of my favourite Elvis movie soundtracks but the title track is OK, albeit somewhat faster in speed. There's also the catchy "Cross My Heart, Hope To Die", a duet of "Spring Fever" which wasn't featured on the original album, and the sweet ballad "Puppet On A String".

It's worth checking out, and if it doesn't grab you the first time then maybe it will on a second viewing.
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8/10
The Edge of Reality
18 September 2007
I recently viewed this underrated gem for the first time in many years and almost forgot what an entertaining ride it is - especially in that 'speed buggy' at the start of the opening sequence.

I very much prefer the movies Elvis was churning out towards the end of his movie career as opposed to the likes of "Harum Scarum", "Clambake" and "Easy Come, Easy Go".

"Live A Little..." gave us a more mature Elvis in his first adult-type comedy film role, and even though the script engages a series of weird scenarios that border on the insane, it's great to see EP make his mark in this type of movie. Elvis looks great physically and his wardrobe too has got to be admired - check out the scene were he is wearing those shades...so cool! The film boasts only four songs but they appear to be of a higher standard than most of his mid-60's vehicles. The two stand-out numbers are the No. 1 smash hit "A Little Less Conversation" and the dramatic dream sequence of "Edge of Reality".

The tag line of the movie is "Watch Elvis click with these chicks!" and that he most certainly does especially in the form of leading lady Michelle Carey and Co-Star, Celeste Yarnall ('Miss Little Less Conversation'). Elvis' pet Great Dane, 'Brutus' also gets a co-starring role and almost steals the show - his character is called 'Albert'! A fine male cast helps the proceedings too in the form of Dick Sargent, Don Porter and veteran singing 'heartthrob', Rudy Vallee. So, "Live A Little, Love A Little" is entertainingly weird and wonderful and along with "Charro", "The Trouble With Girls" and "Change of Habit" was the slight departure from his typical sixties musical that Elvis needed at this point in his career.

Finally, if you're only viewing this as just a curiosity piece then be curious enough to check out that amazing fight scene in the Newspaper printing warehouse - this has got to be the best fight scene in an Elvis movie ever staged!
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Thriller (1973–1976)
10/10
Thriller is a Killer!
21 March 2007
Classic Seventies VT Drama at it's suspenseful best from one of Television's best-ever writers - Brian Clemens.

Many a youngster who was embarking on their early growing-up years in the mid-70's will no doubt have either vague or very fond memories of this series. These memories will no doubt be of the eerie opening/closing titles and theme music which added to the atmosphere of the stories. "Thriller" does have a vast cult following across the globe and with the lavish 16-Disc DVD Boxed Set now available to buy at a bargain price online, this following will continue to grow. If you're a fan of "Thriller" then you can re-live the magic of what it was like when first watching this on a Saturday night way back when.

The production is certainly of it's time with a combination of VT studio and filmed location footage, along with at least one American Guest Star in, more or less, every episode. Brian Clemens really pulled out the stops with his venture into the supernatural, murder and mystery genre's and kept us on edge with each weekly installment. You'll have your favourites and not-so favourites, but basically there is something for everyone in this British Anthology series. There are plot twists a-plenty in each episode and some less obvious than others, along with some great acting performances from the likes of Robert Powell, Diana Dors, Norman Eshley, Brian Blessed, Hayley Mills et al.

Don't miss out on this one - "Thriller" provides you with a wonderful piece of British Television history that you won't find being shown on Terrestrial TV anymore.
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Fleetwood Mac: The Dance (1997 TV Movie)
10/10
The Chain of Dreams
9 March 2007
This concert is what all musical dreams are made of and it's just fabulous. I first viewed this 10 years ago (the year it was filmed) and it's a wonder I haven't outplayed the CD and Video/DVD! From the opening chords of "The Chain" through to Christine's beautiful encore of "Songbird", the chills and thrills will run up and down your spine just like Lindsey's fingers run up and down his guitar fretboard.

This is a live musical masterpiece and is very addictive viewing and listening. The fabulous five are in fine form throughout, and it appears to be a total reinvention of sorts. The wonderful arena of the Warner Bros. Studios compliments the occasion with it's lavish stage set.

There are so many highlights in this great concert including "Dreams", "Everywhere", "Gold Dust Woman", "Landslide", "Over My Head", "Go Your Own Way" and Mick's drumming! However, it's the lead guitar-driven performances of Lindsey Buckingham that steals the show from the hard-rock blues of "I'm So Afraid" (which is a passionately orgasmic experience to behold!) to the acoustically fresh "Big Love" and "Go Insane" both of which illustrate wonderful grace and beauty.

There are also some new songs in there too namely "Temporary One", "Bleed To Love Her", "My Little Demon" and "Sweet Girl". Stevie Nicks' crowning moment comes in the form of the beautiful "Silver Springs" - wonderful! The finale is something to behold too, complete with the accompaniment of the USC Marching Band - "Tusk" and "Don't Stop", which leads us to Christine's heartfelt encore at the piano - Fabulous!

If you don't own this on CD and DVD then where have you been for the past ten years - go out and buy tomorrow!!!
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10/10
A Civil War Sequel!
27 February 2007
Book One of this great mini-series ended on the brink of the Civil War, and now with Book Two, based on John Jakes' novel "Love & War", we are thrown dramatically into the unfolding of the proceedings.

The North and the South are greatly divided in this full scale war which is beautifully staged on the screen with some very tense battles of hatred and prejudice.

However, throughout all the warfare that is taking place we are taken on a further journey of the Pennsylvanian Hazard family and the South Carolina Main family. The story not only unfolds through the eyes of best friends, George & Orry but includes the trials and tribulations of other members of their families. We have a fine supporting cast once again, even though we have a couple of new players they appear to enhance their character's stories - Parker Stevenson as Billy Hazard and Mary Crosby as Isabell Hazard.

Book Two also features the great acting mimicry of Hal Holbrook as Abraham Lincoln, and also a big congratulations to the make-up department in aiding with his portrayal.

North & South: Book Two is a must-see and a must-buy for any Civil War enthusiast, as well as any fan of the Hazard and Main families. This mini-series must be regarded as one of the best TV sequels of all-time!
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Blue Suede Shoes (1985 TV Special)
10/10
The 30th Anniversary
27 January 2007
A truly great TV Special performance form a truly professional and genuinely nice Rock 'n' Roll pioneer - Carl Perkins.

It's great that this classic show has finally got it's DVD release so that it can be savoured by future generations to experience the origins of 'Rockabilly' music from a legend from the Sun Records era. An all-star musical ensemble including Dave Edmunds, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and two of the members of the 'Stray Cats' ignite this celebration of what would have been the 30th Anniversary of Carl's classic hit "Blue Suede Shoes".

This show was recorded at Limehouse Studios in London in 1985 and is a wonderful record of just how great a musician and performer Mr. Perkins was. It's fabulous to see the adulation that the likes of Dave Edmunds and especially George Harrison bestow upon the man whilst performing at his side. All his classic hits are here including the very first song he recorded at Sam Phillips' Sun Studios in Memphis. The other great highlights include a rousing version of "Honey Don't" by Ringo Starr, a foxy performance by Rosanne Cash - Johnny's Daughter, some wild drumming from Slim Jim Phantom and some double-bass beating licks from Lee Rocker. And that's Carl's son, Greg on guitar too!

A great segment during the show has everybody seated on stage with their relevant instruments and taking part in what Carl refers to as his 'School of Rock'. We are then taken on another trip down Rock's memory lane as the group pay homage to the sound of the man who made Rockabilly music an art form in itself - Carl's ol' buddy, Elvis Presley.

"Carl Perkins & Friends" is an emotional event and will have you cheering and dancing in the aisles just like the TV audience at the finale - Long Live the music of Mr. Perkins!
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9/10
The Forerunner!
16 December 2006
The forerunner to the most historical concert ever performed by a single artist - "Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii Rehearsal Concert" was performed two days prior to the actual satellite telecast that was beamed to over 30 different countries on January 14th, 1973.

This concert was performed at 8:30pm on January 12th, 1973 at the Honolulu International Center Arena, and was performed as a dress-rehearsal in case anything went wrong with the transmission of the concert on the 14th.

A lot of fans prefer this actual show stating that Elvis is a lot more 'loose' and is in better vocal shape than the concert 2 days later. Elvis drops a few numbers from the official set-list but it certainly doesn't suffer for it. The show still has it's fair share of adrenalin and excitement through Elvis' dramatic arrangements of such classics as "You Gave Me A Mountain", "Steamroller Blues" and "An American Trilogy". Some fans claim that his performance of the latter song is the best version ever.

The Aloha Rehearsal concert is part of the deluxe 2-disc DVD set of "Aloha from Hawaii" and is a welcome addition of a concert that is very rarely viewed these days.

So, whether you watch the telecast show from the 14th or the rehearsal show from the 12th either way you won't really be disappointed.

Long Live 'THE KING'!
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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1983–2004)
10/10
Get It Right!
13 December 2006
Get It Right - this must be the best TV Comedy-Drama of all-time! From the origins of it's classic first series in 1983 and it's equally enjoyable and 'troublesome' second series through to the welcoming third and fourth series after a 16-year gap, and the final special in 2004 - it's all such glorious stuff from a cast and crew of brilliant writers, directors and actors.

The characterisations are superbly crafted and it's very hard not to love these guys who at one point represented the turmoil of Maggie Thatcher's working-class Britain. There are many wonderful episodes to be viewed throughout the series that not only will have you rolling off the couch, but also reaching for the odd hankie or two.

A much-deserved Award-winner!
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Star Trek (1973–1975)
9/10
Terrific Trek!
6 December 2006
I was an avid fan of the Original live-action TV series when I was a boy which was being re-run at the time - unrealistic 'Jelly' Monsters and the like were fascinating viewing for a 6 or 7 year old.

But, "Star Trek: The Animated Series" offered something a little more believable, in a sense, because we were able to view more realistic 'Jelly-type' monsters in a true cartoon fashion. The series itself, which is not considered as part of the 'canon' for the franchise, stands out remarkably well on it's own merits and I am of the opinion that all age groups will be fascinated by it's concept and unique format.

For starters, it is the original cast members who are providing the voice-overs for their own characters, and also aboard the enterprise are some of the original series best-loved writers. The main plus-fact is that it is a Gene Roddenberry project. 'Filmation' are the company who produced this animated series - a company who have come into criticism because of it's lacklustre quality of cartoons throughout the years. But, surely with "ST: TAS" this is one of it's true exceptions.

There are some very good half-hour episodes in this series, beautifully written and designed and it's a crying shame that a number of 'Trekkies' don't give this series the praise and recognition it deserves. I, for one, am not a 'Trekkie' but I am a big fan of this animated classic of which I would prefer to sit down and watch an episode of as opposed to the original series. This so-called cartoon is not strictly a 'kiddies' production - a fabulous factor indeed.

I've just recently purchased the well-packaged DVD release of this series and it is the only piece of 'Trek - related' merchandise I own, and I am likely to own forever.

"Star Trek: The Animated Series" should be spoken about in the same context as the Series' and the feature films. It has been, and still is, so undervalued.

A true EMMY AWARD WINNER - no joke!
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Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii (1973 TV Special)
10/10
Aloha Forever!
23 November 2006
The most historical concert showcase by a single performer could only have been achieved by one man who was, initially, known by one name: ELVIS.

"Aloha from Hawaii" was the TV Special that combined both Entertainment and modern technology at the time - beamed live via Globecam Satellite to over thirty-five countries worldwide. This was the first televised concert of this genre. What made the event a more special occasion too was the fact that Elvis was doing this in aid of the Kui Lee Cancer Fund. The late Kui Lee, an Hawaiian composer, who wrote the ballad "I'll Remember You" which Elvis had recorded in 1966, had been a victim of the disease.

It was truly a morning to remember - Sunday, 14th January, 1973 12:30AM Hawaii time - The Honolulu International Center with an audience of nearly 6,000 packing out the venue, and Elvis looking every bit as 'handsome as ten movie stars'. This was the pinnacle performance of Elvis' career and his renditions of classic material such as "My Way", "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "I Can't Stop Loving You", "What Now My Love", and "Welcome To My World" are all sung with consummate skill and filled with that wonderful 'Presley Passion'.

The oldies, but goodies, are also in the set-list too including "Love Me", "Johnny B. Goode", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Hound Dog", and "Fever". But it's in another 3 song performances, that immediately spring to mind, when Elvis delivers the goods - "You Gave Me a Mountain", "Steamroller Blues" and one of his hits of the time, "An American Trilogy" - and this is a truly inspired adaptation of the Mickey Newbury song. Elvis proves he is most worthy of wearing the white American Eagle jewel-encrusted jumpsuit equipped with both cape and belt.

This is one of Elvis' most inspired concert performances and is recognised as a Worldwide triumph in entertainment. Sadly, after this there didn't appear to be many more events that could challenge Elvis both on a personal and professional level...it did usher in the declining years...

Aloha Forever!
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10/10
Beautifully Riveting!
18 October 2006
Here is the 'King of Romance' live in concert at the L.A. Forum in 1995 singing the songs from his classic "Love Unchained" album plus many, many more.

This is a performance that is both beautiful and riveting and nobody can do it this way other than Engelbert himself. There have been so many venues around the globe that have been touched by his sheer magic and showmanship through the years and these include The London Palladium, The Greek Theatre and The Riviera. However, it is on this DVD at The Forum that Enge completely makes it his romantic realm.

Accompanied by a fabulous orchestra conducted by the late Bebu Silvetti we are treated to some beautiful renditions of most of the tracks on his "Love Unchained" album including "Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing", "Too Young", "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay", and "Unchained Melody". And, of course, a couple of his classics from yesteryear are in there too, namely "Release Me", the haunting "Shadow Of Your Smile" and "After The Lovin'".

There is a special treat in store from the backing singer and 'front woman' the lovely Michaelina who also duets on a couple of numbers with Enge, and their finale is really something else! Another bonus includes Engelbert being filmed in the recording studios singing "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" which isn't featured in the actual concert.

So, a wonderful show that hits the right spots and there is also a bonus interview on the DVD with the man from his home in Leicestershire...you're not going to be disappointed!
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North and South (1985–1994)
10/10
Beautifully Crafted
16 August 2006
"North & South" the television mini-series is to the 80's what "Rich Man, Poor Man" (the first-ever TV mini-series) was to the 70's.

It's a fabulous adaptation of the first classic novel in the trilogy from author John Jakes. The story itself covers the two decades leading up to the years of the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the imminent proclamation of the Civil War - North versus South. The intertwining stories evolve around the families of the Hazards (the 'North' in the title) and the Mains and their two central figures of George and Orry who form a friendship whilst embarking on their West Point training in 1842.

"North & South" is a wonderful historic timeline and as I have grown older (and wiser!) it very much interests me to learn about the contrasting attitudes to such controversial aspects as 'Slavery' and 'Abolitionists', and how these attitudes originated.

The series also portrays some great characterisation development as we get to know about the friends and enemies in George and Orry's lives, and also the women that stole their hearts as young men. This aspect of the story also uncovers a romantic tale that is set to the turbulent backdrop of the American Civil War.

"North & South", along with "Rich Man, Poor Man" is overshadowed by 1977's "Roots" as the greatest mini-series of all-time. However, it does come a close second/third and also shares the same kind of timeline and themes as "Roots". But, don't let this one get away, even if it's just to see the great scenery, costumes, and brilliant all-star cast including Gene Kelly, Johnny Cash, Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart, Olivia De Havilland, Lesley-Anne Down et al.

The series is beautifully crafted and is firmly tied to actual historic events and it's a pity the Emmys and Golden Globes didn't honour a lot more of the actors and actresses for their portrayals. Patrick Swayze and James Read, the two virtual unknown lead actors at the time, turn in compelling performances as Orry Main and George Hazard respectively. However, it's Kirstie Alley's riveting performance as George's 'Abolitionist' sister Virgilia that steals the show many times. Plus, Terri Garber, David Carradine and Philip Casnoff as Elkanah Bent are the delicious villains of the piece you just love to hate.

"North & South" Books 1 & 2 are now available on two DVD sets.
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9/10
Beautifully Bold in Bolton!
10 August 2006
A Beautifully filmed docu-series forming the basis of the everyday lives of 'characters' portrayed by comedy writer & actor Peter Kay. This series gives us a great chunk of modern northern comedy film-making at it's best.

From characters as diverse as a seedy Bingo Hall host to Ice-Cream seller Mr. Softy Top, from local would-be Popstar Marc Park to the heartwarming, but funny, tale of Leonard - the oldest paperboy in Bolton...this is all truly magical stuff that put Mr. Kay on the map forever. This series also gave us the first taste of the greatest collaboration between Peter, Dave Spikey and Neil Fitzmaurice - the characters of the future Phoenix Club.

Don't miss a chance to own a copy of the DVD which includes the pilot that launched 'That Peter Kay Thing' entitled 'The Services', and look out for a young long-haired Patrick McGuinness in this one! Priceless and Timeless.

* Winner of the Best New TV Comedy Award at the British Comedy Awards 2000.
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7/10
A Welcome Return
21 July 2006
The original Mr.Connery takes up his post where he left it in 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever" in this likable and entertaining kind of remake of 1965's "Thunderball". It is also classed as the controversial unofficial Bond film.

Kevin McClory, who wrote the original story along with Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming, excorsized his rights to make his own big screen version of the James Bond classic, and in the long run it appears to work. "Never Say Never Again" can't hold a torch to "Thunderball", but to have Sean Connery back in the role of 007 is a great bonus for this movie.

It is quite unique in the fact that Bond is portrayed as an ageing operative for Her Majesty's Secret Service who hasn't been 'out in the field' for a long time. The disappearance of two nuclear warheads that have fallen into the hands of 'S.P.E.C.T.R.E.' soon gets our man back in the field. There are some nice stunts and set-pieces along with that usual mix of action, thrills and humour plus some great exotic locales.

A fine cast is in support of Connery especially where the villains are concerned - Klaus Maria Brandauer and the sexy Barbara Carrera also make this a more than amicable movie to view. It's a fine updated take (at the time) on one of the biggest grossing Bond films in the franchise, and it's a shame that "Never Say Never Again" gets all the heavy criticism because of the nature of the movie and the nature in which it was made.

I certainly feel that a couple of the Bond movies of recent times deserve more criticism for being too OTT compared to this movie, and I also feel the 'unofficial' tag should be dropped from this one.

So, love it or hate it - he's back, it's Bond, deal with it!
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Stardust (1974)
10/10
"Look what they've done to the Rock 'n' Roll clown..."
1 June 2006
"Stardust"...the continuing story of young Jim Maclaine (David Essex) from "That'll Be The Day" is an excellent 'must-see' sequel.

The story not only portrays the development of Maclaine's aspiring musical ambitions, but is a very insightful depiction of how the music business can be unpredictably cruel and coarse.

Ray Connolly is at the helm as writer once again along with David Puttnam and Sanford Lieberson producing. But, it is Michael Apted taking the reigns as Director in this second movie.

The nature of the story calls for another strong supporting cast and this is achieved with not only Essex maturing very well in the lead role, but with the addition of 60's pop idol, Adam Faith and future "Dallas" star, Larry Hagman. Faith's portrayal of Mike Menary, the manager of Maclaine's rock band, "The Stray Cats", cuts a brutally shrewd and dark figure. Hagman, in the role of Porterlee Austin, portrays a flamboyant personality as his character name suggests. Both of these characters eventually have one thing in common - money. But, it's Messrs. Faith and Hagman who virtually steal the whole film together because of their 'meaty' characterisations.

To add authenticity to the role of the rock band in the movie, Dave Edmunds is on hand in a supporting role along with writing and producing the band's songs. Keith Moon reprises his role from "That'll Be The Day" as the drummer and Paul Nicholas cuts a fine 'jealous' figure in the form of 'Knee-tremble Johnny'. And, Rosalind Ayres once again portrays Jim's wife, Jeanette.

The story takes up three years later where "That'll Be The Day" left off, and is a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll sixties-style. The film covers a wide canvas between England, Spain and the USA and is beautifully filmed. It was made in 1974 and even then comes across as controversial for the time with some very memorable scenes. One of the scenes I particularly remember is when the band meet up in a Vegas showroom and during a heated discussion Jim Maclaine points to Stevie (Karl Howman) and matter of factly points out: "If it weren't for me you'd still be catching crabs in Oldham!". This certainly puts the place of my birth on the map. Finally, there is an equally enjoyable soundtrack that oozes the changing styles of Rock and Pop music from a distant time. Also, the ending is a killer...but won't really leave you in a state of shock.

"Stardust" is a wonderful piece of cinema that the British film industry should be very proud of.
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9/10
Wonderfully Nostalgic Timeline.
31 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A very enjoyable piece of good ol' British cinema at it's best with a mighty fine cast, story and soundtrack.

David Essex in his first big screen role portrays delinquent Jim Maclaine who holds a deep passion for Rock 'n' Roll music and a care-free lifestyle in 1950's England. After he drops out of school and heads to the seaside he eventually ends up working in a holiday camp where he experiences the many temptations on offer to him including girls...and more girls...as well as soaking up the sounds of the time.

Jim, along with his friend Mike (Ringo Starr), heads for all the fun of the Fair - literally. Unfortunately, things go somewhat awry for Mike as he is badly beaten-up by some local thugs and Jim can only watch helplessly. Soon after, the boss of the Fairground offers Jim the prestige position of working one of the main ride attractions of the fair, but a meeting with old school friend Terry (Robert Lindsay) and an encounter with a young Mother suddenly make Jim question his current lifestyle.

Things are about to change for Jim as the prospect of family life beckons, but his passion for music still shines bright within him and he is now faced with a terrible dilemma in his life.

The end of the 1950's sets the scene beautifully for this film's thoroughly insightful sequel not to be missed, which is a very rare example of a second movie being just as good, if not better, than the original.

Do not miss the continuing story of Jim Maclaine in "Stardust"...'Look what they've done to the Rock 'n' Roll clown...'
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The Sweeney (1975–1978)
10/10
Best slice of British TV ever!
12 May 2006
"The Sweeney" is one of the best, if not THE best, British Television crime drama ever made.

The scripts, directors, producers and not forgetting the actors are all of the highest calibre especially Messrs. Thaw & Waterman with their great characterisations of Regan & Carter.

"The Sweeney" portrayed the real 'Flying Squad' as it apparently was in real life, and thus caused the controversy that it did in the mid-70's. The guys didn't always catch the villains either, so it never held that fantasy element like every other series of the time.

It was the seventies equipped with flared trousers, kipper ties, dodgy hairdos and moustaches along with Ford Cortinas and all. But, it is the most entertaining hour from the seventies produced in the most hard-hitting way.

There's A Pilot feature entitled "Regan", Four glorious TV series and 2 Award-Winning Feature Films - ENJOY!!!
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Elvis on Tour (1972)
10/10
A further retrospective
1 March 2004
This is Elvis at his total peak as a stage performer and ultimate 20th Century musical icon. The King has often been criticised at this point in his private life and career for one aspect or another - the separation from Priscilla, the reliance on prescribed medication, the extra pounds added to his waistline, the abundance of cover versions in his stage act, etc., etc. But what people fail to realise - here was a man who naturally was suffering with a certain amount of stress at this particular phase of his showbiz and personal life, especially having contracted glaucoma and having to cope with a gruelling touring schedule. Elvis might have been carrying a few extra pounds since MGM filmed him on and off stage in his previous documentary, but he still looked in peak physical condition and could certainly move and shake better than any would-be contender to his throne - check out 'Polk Salad Annie', the opening credit montage of 'Johnny B. Goode' and the energetic displays of on-stage Karate routines. Elvis had just recorded some future classic hits at this point when the movie was being filmed namely 'Always On My Mind' and 'Burning Love'. The other songs that had been certified global hits just before filming commenced for "On Tour" were 'An American Trilogy' and 'Until It's Time For You To Go'. The inspirational album 'He Touched Me' had just given Elvis his second grammy award in five years, and three of the gospel numbers on the album were to be featured rehearsal performances in "Elvis On Tour". A couple of months later The King embarked on another concert performance milestone with a full weekend of sell-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden - John Lennon, George Harrison, David Bowie and Paul Simon were in attendance. The album recording of the Saturday night concert at The Garden achieved gold status. Before the pinnacle of the record-breaking 'Aloha From Hawaii' Satellite Concert in January 1973, "Elvis On Tour" had been nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Documentary - it ended up as the winner. So, as anyone can see here, there were so many high points that are frequently overlooked in the year Elvis1972. And, as for performing such covers as 'Proud Mary', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and 'I Can't Stop Loving You' - he did them His way!
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Elvis (1968 TV Special)
The Polished Crown
7 August 2002
Magical, Mystifying and Memorable - These words describe Elvis and the whole Production of what came to be known as 'The King's' Television Comeback. But it was more than just that - it was 'The Comeback' full stop!

After a full Seven years without ever straying from within the confines of a movie set to perform for his public, the opportune moment finally arrived and it came crashing in at the top of the heap of a formula that had already began to show slight signs of improving itself. The non-movie songs that Elvis had recorded of recent times such as 'Guitar Man', 'The U.S. Male' and 'Big Boss Man' had already made their dents on the charts worldwide and two of these were to be featured in the TV Special in Burbank. The ballads were much classier as well: 'You Don't Know Me', 'We Call On Him' and 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. Dare I say it, but the movies appeared to be taking a somewhat different direction as well since the amicably-casted "Speedway", for "Live a Little, Love a Little" was the man's first venture into then modern day adult comedy in which he only sings four songs, all of which are total quality recordings especially the upbeat numbers of 'Edge of Reality' and 'A Little Less Conversation' (which was to be re-recorded for the TV Show, and the rest is history!). The next film "Charro!", a western, offered another adult role for a bearded Elvis who sings only the title song over the opening credits and the emphasis once more was on the man's acting ability.

Then on June 22nd, 1968 the tape machine was switched on in the recording studios and the camera's got ready to roll like never before in the Burbank soundstages and witnessed Black Leather, Gold Lame, Denim, Neckerchieves, Wrist-bands, Guitars, Music, Laughter, Acting and 'If I Can Dream'.....It wasn't the 1950's anymore but it was certainly the next best thing. All these things were rolled into this one handsome, tanned, side-burned, slim, tall and nervous human being who was Rock's first iconic legend....ELVIS....and he was back!....
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10/10
ELVIS- That's The Way It Should Have Been!
14 April 2001
I want this review to combine both the efforts of the famous 1970 film and the new 2000/01 release with a new perspective.

After viewing the Special Edition of this classic Rockumentary for the first time, I must say that the original version doesn't do Elvis the justice that this one seems to do in all the right places. A classic quote from the first 'T.T.W.I.I.' is "You could just feel the love in the room..." states a female fan in one of those many interrupted scenes to accommodate those kind of quotes. Well, this particular saying was true at the end of the screening I attended as people/fans in the cinema started to applaude what they had just witnessed-just like the folk in Vegas at that time I suppose. But, another dimension of this was the kind of love that generated from Elvis and his Showroom Internationale audience that was so much in evidence in this new version of the film.

You certainly get a new outlook on Elvis' very own persona aswell as his undying love of working his music-making technique to produce a show that was not only to be his, then, new Vegas repertoire, but was to be taken out on the road for the first time in thirteen years. You no doubt thought Elvis was a likeable person in the original documentary, but you really can get behind his skin with this second attempt and realise that he was more than a likeable person. It's great to feel that chemistry between Elvis and the band in the recording studios that no doubt brought out the best in all of them which was wonderfully perceived on film. Some fine examples here include joking with Charlie Hodge during the fascinating representation of 'Twenty Days & Twenty Nights', James Burton and Glen Hardin already at work as Elvis enters the Hollywood Soundstage that morning, and Elvis' frustration at creating his version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' in the hotel suite.

In the first edition of 'T.T.W.I.I.' we see an Elvis that is not content with singing his own hits that made him what he was, but rather expanding on those golden oldies to make him a then-modern day stage performer who wasn't afraid to try out variations of other artiste's repertoires e.g. 'I Just Can't Help Believin'', 'Sweet Caroline', 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'' and the aforementioned 'Bridge'.

In the new edition of 'T.T.W.I.I.' I feel we are treated to more of the Elvis of yesteryear, most certainly on stage at the International, where the rock rythmns are belted out in abundance-'That's All Right Mama', 'I Got A Woman', 'Blue Suede Shoes' et al-and it's wonderful to see and hear that era being represented in this way. The ultimate performance of 'Suspicious Minds' appears to be a little different than in the original documentary, but it's still as mindblowing!(The original LIVE version is currently at No.15 in the UK Music Charts).

'Elvis-That's The Way It Is' Special Edition is certainly a breath of fresh air to view as it is somewhat of a departure from the classic Denis Sanders' film of that wonderful Elvis year of 1970-just check out those different camera angles!

Another bonus is the fact that we don't have to endure any of those 'Famous for Fifteen minutes' fan interviews that were very much a part of the first movie. But as one fan did state amongst all the footage in the original-"You could just feel the love in the room..."
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Blue Hawaii (1961)
8/10
Pineapples, Peaches and Pearls!
9 April 2001
The ultimate Elvis Presley musical of the 1960's-and the biggest box office success of his entire Hollywood career. 'Blue Hawaii' is the one that certainly hit the highs with it's blend of comedy, romance, music, scenery and a bevvy of beauties!

This film laid down the blueprint for the majority of Elvis' other 60's musicals that each and every Company, writer, producer and director, tried to recapture and remake time and again. But, artistically, it never quite happened.

The water was tested with Presley's first post-army movie, the critically acclaimed 'G.I. Blues', the year before, that introduced us to the new Elvis look and feel. The family audience were captured by Tom Parker's crafty, but clever, plans to make his boy appeal to a much wider spectrum of tastes and trends. And, 'Blue Hawaii' established firmly which route 'The King's' film career path was going to take.

It is an absolute must-see for a number of things including the fine direction of Norman Taurog and the beautiful Hawaiian paradise that unfolds like a travelogue. But, most importantly we are treated to a more mature Elvis Presley who handles his character's script with notable impressive comic timing when feeding off the intimidating characterisation by Angela Lansbury who plays his domineering mother.

Elvis seemed to gain a lot of enthusiasm and incentive by working with a fine supporting cast e.g. 'Jailhouse Rock', 'King Creole', 'Flaming Star', 'Wild In The Country', and 'Blue Hawaii' is no exception to the rule. The immediate screen chemistry between himself and his beautiful co-star, Joan Blackman, portraying the couple in love, is quite in evidence here and they both play off each other amicably. Although, rumour had it, it was a different ball game off camera.

An Elvis movie wouldn't be an Elvis movie if he didn't chant his way through a number of songs and with 'Blue Hawaii' this culminated in a total of fourteen that made up a soundtrack that was to become one of his biggest selling albums ever. These songs blended the local islands traditional themes('Aloha-oe', 'Ku-u-i-po', 'Island of Love'), with silly production tunes('Ito Eats' and 'Almost Always True') and a taste of the new movie-style rock 'n' roll numbers ('Rock-A-Hula Baby' and 'Slicin' Sand') through to the beautiful ballads that Elvis' remarkably crafted operatic voice of this time, handles with consummate skill and ease ('Blue Hawaii', 'No More' and 'Can't Help Falling In Love'). The film's finale is a cinematic classic and beautifully filmed with Elvis once again in tremendous form with those golden vocal chords-Wonderful!

This film was made at the start of a different era of the Rock music phenomenon, and afterall it was Hollywood, so not all of the Hawaiian flavoured ditties will suite everyone's taste. But, it just went to prove no matter what kind of song Elvis sang and released it would still boost sales to the point of gold record certified!

Elvis' performance as homecoming G.I. turned 'beach bum', Chad Gates, is flawless in this movie and obviously shows us that he has a flair for this kind of comedy setting. The film itself when viewed today is still as fresh and feel-good as it ever was which is more than can be stated of the much later so-called sequel-'Paradise Hawaiian Style' and other such Presley vehicles as 'Girl Happy', 'Tickle Me', 'Harum Scarum', 'Easy Come, Easy Go', 'Double Trouble' and 'Clambake'. All of which try to recreate the 'Blue Hawaii' formula albeit in a bad way with Elvis displaying his acting and singing talents in a mediocre sort of way.

But, finally, for all it's class and high points, 'Blue Hawaii', in the long run, was certainly the 'Kiss of Death' for 'The King', and his acting ability and enthusiasm for the big screen would never be portrayed as consistently ever again.
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Loving You (1957)
8/10
This is Rock 'n' Roll!
8 April 2001
Elvis(now with dyed jet black hair) in his second feature is wonderful and this film is very much a testament to his early acting ability and the raucous sound that was Rock 'n' Roll.

Whether it was the title ballad or 'Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do' or 'Party' or 'Teddy Bear'-they were all golden hits in their own right. It's fantastic to see Elvis perform these numbers in this film, and one might say heartbreaking to watch as we witness that innocence of youth that was at the start of a roller-coaster ride of centuries worth of adulation and respect(at last).

Unlike, his previous debut film, 'Love Me Tender', the 'Loving You' story isn't too demanding as we are treated to a semi-autobiography about a working class boy who hits the big time with those good looks, golden voice and shaky leg. The young Elvis handles the dramatic scenes very well as he did in 'Love Me Tender', he's no James Dean but the makings are there. Wendell Corey is great as the band leader and future Nun, Dolores Hart plays it nice in her film debut.

Another aspect of this movie falls into place in the form of Lizabeth Scott's character who wheels and deals the fate of the travelling show band and gives us an insight into the canny manipulation of publicity that is forever part of an unpredictable business. Did she take lessons from Tom Parker for this one?

This is truly a great Rock 'n' Roll movie that was beautifully filmed and well-directed, and for any fan of that era has got to be amongst their favourites. On the other hand, if you're not a fan of Elvis or that kind of music, just sit back and enjoy the ride because it's such a feel-good kind of thing, especially watching 'The King' portray a young man very similar in character to himself and goes by the name of an equally distinguished name-Deke Rivers.
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