Saturday, 30 April 2011

Remembering George Raft: 1901 - 1980

George Raft was an American film actor identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. Today George Raft is mostly known for his role in Billy Wilder''s 1959 comedy Some Like it Hot and also Scarface (1932), Bolero (1934), and They Drive by Night (1940).

Raft was born George Ranft on September 26, 1901 in Hell's Kitchen, New York City to German immigrant Conrad Ranft and his wife Eva Glockner. His parents were married on November 17, 1895 in Manhattan, and his sister, Eva, known as "Katie" was born on April 18, 1896. Although Raft's birth year has been reported to be 1895, the 1900 Census for New York City lists only his sister, Katie, as his parents' only child with two children born and only one living. On the 1910 Census, he is listed as being 8 years old, and his birth record can be found in the New York City birth index as being 1901. A boyhood friend of gangster Owney Madden, he admittedly narrowly
avoided a life of crime.

As a young man he showed aptitude in dancing which, with his elegant fashion sense, enabled him to gain employment as a dancer in New York City nightclubs. He became part of the stage act of Texas Guinan and his success led him to Broadway where he again worked as a dancer. He worked in London as a chorus boy in the early 1920s.

Vi Kearney, later a dancer in shows for Charles Cochran and Andre Charlot, was quoted as saying:

Oh yes, I knew him (George Raft). We were in a big show together. Sometimes, to eke out our miserable pay, we'd do a dance act after the show at a club and we'd have to walk back home because all the buses had stopped for the night by that time. He'd tell me how he was going to be a big star one day and once he said that when he'd made it how he'd make sure to arrange a Hollywood contract for me. I just laughed and said: 'Come on, Georgie, stop dreaming. We're both in the chorus and you know it.' [Did he arrange the contract?] Yes. But by that time I'd decided to marry... [Was he (Raft) ever your boyfriend?] How many times do I have to tell you ...chorus girls don't go out with chorus boys.

In 1929, Raft relocated to Hollywood and took small roles. His success came in Scarface (1932), and Raft's convincing portrayal led to speculation that Raft was a gangster. Due to his life-long friendship with Owney Madden, Raft was a friend or acquaintance of several other crime figures, including Bugsey Siegel and Siegel's old friend Meyer Lansky. When Gary Cooper's romantic escapades put him on one gangster's hit list, Raft reportedly interceded and persuaded the mobster to spare Cooper.

He was one of the three most popular gangster actors of the 1930s, with James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. Raft and Cagney worked in Each Dawn I Die (1939) as convicts in prison. Raft advocated for the casting of his friend, Mae West, in a supporting role in his first film as leading man, Night after Night (1932), which launched her movie career. Raft appeared the following year in Raoul Walsh's period piece The Bowery as Steve Brodie the first man to jump off Brooklyn Bridge and survive, with Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Fay Wray and Pert Kelton.

Some of his other films include If I Had a Million (1932; in which he played a forger hiding from police, suddenly given a million dollars with no place to cash the check), Bolero (1934; in a rare role as a dancer rather than a gangster), an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key (1935) (remade in 1942 with Alan Ladd in Raft's role), Souls at Sea (1937) with Garry Cooper, two with Humphrey Bogart: Invisible Stripes (1939) and They Dive by Night (1940), each with Bogart in supporting roles, and Manpower (1941) with Edward G Robinson and Marlene Dietrich. Although Raft received third billing in Manpower, he played the lead.

The years 1940 and 1941 proved to be Raft's career peak. He went into a gradual professional decline over the next decade, in part due to turning down some of the famous roles in movie history, notably High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon; both roles transformed Humphrey Bogart from supporting player to a major force in Hollywood in 1941. Raft was also reported to have turned down Bogart's role in Casablanca (1942), although according to Warner Bros. memos, this story is apocryphal.

Following the release of the espionage thriller Background to Danger (1943), a film intended to capitalize on the success of Casablanca, Raft demanded termination of his Warner Brothers contract. Jack Warner was prepared to pay Raft a $10,000 settlement, but the actor either misunderstood or was so eager to be free of the studio that it was he who gave Warner a check in that amount.

During the 1950s he worked as a greeter at the Capri Casino in Havana, Cuba, where he was part owner along with Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante. In 1953, Raft also starred as Lt. George Kirby in a syndicated television Police Drama titled I'mn the Law, which ran for one season.

He satirized his gangster image with a well-received performance in Some Like it Hot (1959), but this did not lead to a comeback, and he spent the remainder of the decade making films in Europe. He played a small role as a casino owner in Ocean's Eleven (1960) opposite the Rat Pack. His final film appearances were in Sexette (1978), reunited with Mae West in a cameo, and The Man with Bogart's Face (1980).

Fred Astaire, in his autobiography Steps in Time (1959), says Raft was a lightning-fast dancer and did "the fastest Charleston I ever saw." Ray Danton played Raft in The George Raft Story (1961), which co-starred Jayne Mansfield.

In the 1991 biographical movie Bugsy, the character of George Raft was played by Joe Mantegna.

Raft has two stars on the Hollywod Walk of Fame, for contributions to Motion Pictures at 6150 Hollywood Boulevard, and for Television at 1500 Vine St.

George Raft married Grayce Mulrooney, several years his senior, in 1923, long before his stardom. The pair separated soon thereafter, but Grayce, a devout Catholic, refused to grant Raft a divorce, and he remained married to and supported her until her death in 1970. A romantic figure in Hollywood, Raft had love affairs with Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West. He stated publicly that he wanted to marry Norma Shearer, with whom he had a long romance, but his wife's refusal to allow a divorce eventually caused Shearer to end the affair.

In 1965, Raft was indicted for, and pled guilty to, income tax evasion and could have ended his life behind bars, but the court proved merciful when he wept before the judge, begging that he not be sent to prison, and he was sentenced to probation.

In 1967 he was denied entry into the United Kingdom (where he had been installed as Casino Director at a casino known as "The Colony Club") due to his underworld associations.

Raft died from Luekaemia at age 79 in Los Angeles, California, on November 24, 1980. He was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetary in Los Angeles.

The Too good to hurry Mints!

Murray mints, Murray mints - The too good to hurry mints! Why make haste? When you can taste the hint of mint in Murray Mints (1955). Jingle was recorded by The Stargazers. Cliff Adams and the Stargazers appeared on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, about three months after the start of commercial television.
MURRAY MINTS,gelatine-free gelatin free wrapped Boiled   Crunchy  Mint  Boiled & Crunchy  sweets,retro sweets,retro sweetshops,liquorice sweets,toffees,toffee sweets,boiled sweets
They took a chance and ended their act on what they called their 'latest recording'. They came on in bearskins and re-enacted the commercial on the stage. Then they pulled off the bearskins and inside them they had packets of Murray Mints which they threw to the audience. It caused a sensation, and showed the power that commercials had, even within three months.

Classic Bond - From Russia With Love: 1963

The massive success of Dr No (d. Terence Young, 1962) led to a significantly increased budget for the second James Bond film. The result,From Russia With Love (1963) saw the first unveiling of the full Bond formula was unveiled: the largely irrelevant pre-credits sequence, elaborate titles featuring semi-clad women, the spin-off title song (though not yet performed over the credits), the first appearance of a recognisable Ernst Stavro Blofeld (called 'Number One' for now) with trademark white cat, the first appearance of 'Q' (Desmond Llewelyn) with his endless supply of gadgets, Bond's callously witty one-liners, exotic locations, a full-blown John Barry score... the list goes on.

It also had advantages not enjoyed by many later Bond films, notably an intelligent script that retained the substance of Ian Fleming's novel while toning down the overt Cold War politics (the Cuban Missile Crisis had only occurred the previous year). The villains are still Russians, but are dissidents working for the stateless crime organisation SPECTRE, as opposed to the explicitly Soviet SMERSH in the novel.
Compared with Joseph Wiseman's anaemic Dr No, this film boasts the first major Bond villains in the form of Blofeld, the spike-shoed Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and man-mountain Red Grant (Robert Shaw). Grant in particular is one of the most effective heavies in the whole canon, with Shaw's obvious intelligence letting him convey as much menace through dialogue as he does in the scenes when he's trying to beat Bond to a pulp.
If Daniela Bianchi has less impact as the main love interest, she has the historical drawback of being chronologically sandwiched between Ursula Andress (Dr No) and Honor Blackman (Goldfinger), two far more memorable Bond girls. But she has genuine chemistry with Sean Connery, who recommended her for that reason. Connery himself now fitted the role like a well-tailored glove - Fleming had already shown his approval by retrospectively giving the character Scottish ancestry in the final novels.
The plot revolves around Bond's attempt at acquiring a Lektor decoding machine, effectively a McGuffin-style excuse for trips to exotic locations (Turkey, Yugoslavia, Venice) and expertly-staged suspense and action sequences involving speedboats, helicopters and the Orient Express. Later Bond set-pieces would be far more elaborate, but the quality of the script and acting set From Russia With Love apart from its predecessor and many successors: even today, it's regarded as one of the series' high points.

Eon Productions / United Artists

116 minutes

Directed by Terence Young

Title theme sung by Matt Monro



Published by


Volume 30, No.358, November 1963, page 155


SPECTRE, the all-powerful international crime organisation, devises a plan to lay its hands simultaneously on James Bond, the British intelligence agent, and on the Lektor, a top-secret Russian coding machine. Bond is to be killed, painfully, by Red Grant, one of SPECTRE's trained assassins, and the Lektor to be held to ransom. Rosa Klebb, former head of SMERSH, the Soviet spy network, and now a recruit to SPECTRE, orders Tatiana Romanova, a code clerk at the U.S.S.R. embassy in Istanbul, to contact British intelligence and offer to defect to the West with the Lektor provided that Bond will come in person to collect her and it. Suspecting a trap, British intelligence still cannot turn down the offer. Helped by Kerim Bey, British agent in Istanbul, Bond goes to work, surviving such diversions as a pitched battle in a gypsy encampment, and gets Tatiana and the Lektor out of the embassy under cover of a tear-gas explosion. Grant, who has kept constant track of Bond, boards the Orient Express with them, murders the British agent who was to have helped Bond cross the Yugoslav-Italian border, and takes his place. Having killed Grant after a savage fight on the train, Bond and Tatiana still have to undergo chases by helicopter and fast motor launch, and a final encounter with Rosa Klebb in person, before the adventure ends where it began, in Venice.

The success of Dr. No has no doubt given the James Bond team added confidence, if that was necessary, and From Russia with Love is made by people who clearly know that they now have a gilt-edged formula to play with. Money has been spent, sensibly, where it shows on the screen; and in contrast to many British thrillers, this one has a fine range of sets and locations, from a chess tournament in a Venetian palazzo, through the streets and underground lakes of Istanbul, to the Orient Express and the Gulf of Venice, to move around in. A pre-credits sequence, of a night stalking-match around the box hedges and fountains of a formal garden, ending with the light coming up on a row of dark figures lining the terrace of a Marienbad chateau, is brilliantly conceived and shot with enough precision to promise something really out of the way in thrillers. The credit titles, following the curves of a belly dancer, add to the air of high-powered insolence.

In fact, nothing that comes later is quite as effective, chiefly because the director, Terence Young, achieves speed without style, and blunts the sharper edges of personality except in cases where the script gives him a clear lead. Ian Fleming's vintage blend of brand-name expertise and sadistic adventure still eludes the film-makers, and the screen's James Bond, although leaving behind him the appropriate trail of girls and corpses, remains a trifle undernourished in terms of the Fleming myth.

All the same, From Russia with Love is a rattling adventure, getting quite enough drive into its scenes with helicopters, speedboats, cars, trains, bombs, guns, venom-coated knives, hidden cameras, and exploding suitcases, to ensure a proper state of breathlessness in the audience. Clever casting, particularly on the side of the villains, gives us Robert Shaw as a stony-faced blond killer, and Lotte Lenya, splendid in her final Venetian escapade. The head of SPECTRE, photographed at boot-level, fondling a white cat and brooding over his fighting fish, survives to fight another day. With a super-confidence which one can only regard as justified, the film ends with an announcement of the next Bond adventure: Goldfinger.

The Monthly Film Bulletin was published by the British Film Institute between 1934 and 1991. Initially aimed at distributors and exhibitors as well as filmgoers, it carried reviews and details of all UK film releases. In 1991, the Bulletin was absorbed by Sight and Sound magazine

Riding high on the success of playing in the hit TV show Starsky and Hutch, David Soul returned to one of his early career choices as a singer. His debut, the Tony Macaulay written and produced "Don't Give Up on Us" was a worldwide smash, spending four weeks at No1 on the UK Singles chart in January and February 1977 and a single week at No1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1977. In addition, the song spent one week at No1 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart

"Don't Give Up on Us" was rated No93 in VH1's 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders (though Soul had several more hits, including a second no.1, in the UK). Soul recorded a new version of the song in 2004, allegedly after being embarrassed when hearing it by chance in an elevator as sung by Owen Wilson in the film version of Starsky and Hutch.

Zsa Zsa Padilla revived this in 1998, making it the first Filipino revival. Piolo Pascual also covered this song for the soundtrack of the same movie title in the Philippines.

Preceded by
"When a Child Is Born (Soleado)" byJohnny Mathis
UK Singles Chart number one single
January 15, 1977 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Don't Cry for Me Argentina" by Julie Covington
Preceded by
"Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single
April 9, 1977
Succeeded by
"Right Time of the Night" by Jennifer Warnes
Preceded by
"Dancing Queen" by ABBA
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
April 16, 1977
Succeeded by
"Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston

The Kenny Everett Video Show: It was all done in the best possible taste!

At a time when the British televisual comedy scene was happily basking in an entertainingly rich suburban rut of crowd-pleasingly play-it-safe comedy, one man arose. A man whose innate, highly individualistic sense of humour coupled with his total lack of anything remotely resembling recognised good taste took the comedic sensibilities of the nation by the scruff of their collective necks and proceeded to shake them until they either laughed out loud or penned "Disgusted of...fill in your location here" letters to Points of View, and all post-boxes pointing towards Fleet Street.

That man’s name was Kenny Everett, and he arrived brandishing a big spangly new TV toy to dazzle and amaze us with. A toy called...his Video Show.

Kenny Everett, or 'Cuddly Ken' as we affectionately came to know him, was born Maurice Cole on 25th December 1944 in Liverpool, and was first heard on the airwaves of British radio when he joined pirate broadcaster Radio London in 1964, where he remained (apart from a brief stint on Radio Luxembourg) until 1967, when he joined the BBC's new pop station, Radio One, where, through his creative use of sound effects and Goonish of-the-wall humour, he continued to almost single-handedly revolutionise pop radio presentation in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Kenny Everett Video Show was by no means his first attempt to transfer his particular brand of quick-fire zany humour from radio to television, but it was beyond a doubt his most successful. Arguably Everett's sense of humour was so far advanced that for it to have the biggest impact on TV he actually had to wait for video technology to catch up with him! By 1978 it mercifully had, and Everett, in only the way that Everett could, grasped it with both hands, turned it inside out, upside down and on its head and used it in a way that no one had before to produce truly groundbreaking comedy of the highest order. Mainly the show centred round him, filmed in front of a bank of TV monitors with a minimal audience comprised of his own production crew who were encouraged to break their silence and laugh. Cuddly Ken with his irrepressible personality introduced an assortment of quick-fire sketches that predicted the attention deficit disorder mode of television by a good two decades, while still effortlessly managing to maintain a comedy quotient of the scatalogically bizarre highest order.

Together with co-writers Barry Cryer and Ray Cameron, Everett reinvented himself as the leather-clad greaser Sid Snot, the outrageously conceited womanising Frenchman Marcel Wave, the punk Gizzard Puke, the huge-handed gospel minister Brother Lee Love, Angry of Mayfair (seemingly a respectably dressed city gent who faced the camera to complain about all of societies ills until he turned to walk away -only to reveal that he was wearing knickers, stockings and suspenders), and the wonderfully named Cupid Stunt, a Dolly Parton caricature of similarly mountainous d├ęcolletage. Each show also featured Everett's buxom assistant Cleo Rocas (as Miss Whiplash) and the scantily dressed dance band Hot Gossip, who would girate their 'naughty bits' to a newly released pop song. Guest musical acts were also encouraged to join in the odd sketch or two. And sometimes groups unwittingly took part in his sketches, as in one of Everett's most celebrated video gags, in which he dressed up in a white suit, donned long-haired wigs, false teeth and an impossibly false suntan to play all three Bee Gees brothers. Interviewed by Everett, these 'Bee Gees' answered all his questions musically, with lines from their songs: Everett: "How do you sell so many records?" Bee Gees: "Cos were living in a world of fools..."

One character from his Capitol Radio show was transferred to television courtesy of the animators of Cosgrove Hall Productions. Captain Kremmen followed the same five-minute radio format in which the eponymous space captain, his busty cadet Carla, and the brilliant scientist Gitfinger (all voiced by Everett) fight to protect the Universe from the Krells (a type of evil alien blancmange). This was one cartoon that was definitely not for the kids. Carla: "Captain, can I use your dictaphone?" Kremmen: "No Carla, use your finger like everyone else!" The Kremmen episodes proved popular enough for Cosgrove Hall to produce Kremmen - The Movie, a half hour b-movie for cinema distribution in 1980.

Viewers at the time could opt to either love it or loathe it, but never remain indifferent to it. It raised the moralistic hackles of the clean-up TV brigade but won a BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Series in 1979. Gaudy, anarchic, irreverent, or just plain hilarious, the Kenny Everett Video Show reflected the very core personality of the man himself. It was all at once ahead of its time and yet very much a part of its time. It was paradoxical and it was constantly was also very, very...VERY funny, which at the end of the day, was exactly what Kenny himself wanted it to be, and it was all done "in the best possible taste!"