Friday, 24 June 2011

Elton John - Rocket Man

ELTON JOHN Rocket Man - Elton John From A-Z (1996 US 9" by 6" Praeger published was a 280-page softback book, an encyclopeadic A-Z and comprehensive exploration of Elton's life in music, pieced together by Claude Bernardin and Tom Stanton.
Elton John,Rocket Man - Elton John From A-Z,USA,Deleted,BOOK,497334

Peter Falk R.I.P.

I am saddened this evening to hear of the passing of the great Peter Falk aka Columbo.
Peter Falk as Columbo(Rex)

According to reports, he died on Thursday night at his home in Beverly Hills.

Family members have so far declined to discuss the cause of death.

However, he had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to his adopted daughter, Catherine Falk.

The archetypal man in a raincoat, Lieutenant Columbo is a creation that straddles the hard-boiled private detective genre of the 1930s and the modern-day TV investigator.

In terms of influence, there are few other TV detectives that can hold a candle to him, and none that can crack a case as thoroughly.

He remains utterly unique. ITV continues to air Columbo and millions continue to enjoy.

The man behind the shambolic, yet steely Lieutenant was actor Peter Falk. Born in New York City.

It's fair to say that throughout his life, Peter Falk built his career on his innate acting skills rather than his looks. Depression was starting to exert its grip, Falk's father was Hungarian-Polish and his mother was Russian. Peter Falk fell into acting at an early age, appearing in a stage production of The Pirates of Penzance before reaching his teenage years. This course was perhaps first set for him when, at just three years of age, he had to have his right eye removed due to a malignant tumour. However at Ossining High School, the young actor became better known for his sporting prowess than his stage presence.

After leaving school, Falk was knocked back for service in World War II due to his glass eye. But undeterred and with an appetite for action, he served as a cook in the United States Merchant Marine.

After a year or so in what turned out to be a less exciting job than imagined, he returned to the US and tried unsuccessfully to join the CIA. Instead, he had to settle for the job of management analyst with the Connecticut State Budget Bureau.

And there he stayed until his 29th year, all the while performing in his spare time with community theatre group the Mark Twain Masquers.

Eventually, the momentous decision was made to quit the day job. As the 1950s drew to a close, Falk prepared to join the breadline with all the other aspirant stage actors.

Just one more thing, Peter Falk - wherever there are TVs, there will be Columbo.

Peter Falk, actor, born 16 September 1927; died 23 June, 2011

Whistle Down the Wind (1961)

Mary Hayley Bell, wife of actor John Mills, used their three children, Hayley, Juliet and Jonathan as the inspiration for the main characters in her 1957 novella Whistle Down the Wind. It was probably inevitable that the film version directed by Bryan Forbes in 1961 would star Hayley Mills: not only was she at that point the most popular child star in the world, but the film's producer Richard Attenborough was also a good friend of the family. In it she gives perhaps her subtlest and most naturalistic performance, although Alan Barnes, playing her brother Charles, steals every scene he's in.
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Originally set in Sussex, the story was relocated to North Lancashire after Attenborough asked writers Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse, in their words, to 'northernise' it. This helps to make the simple and delicate story more plausible by grounding it in a more harshly realistic setting. But the more overtly Christian parallels, such as the playground denial of Christ and the stranger standing in the shape of the cross while being searched, are less well integrated.
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Forbes, making his directorial debut, deftly handles both the adult and child performers, with Bernard Lee giving an understated and nuanced portrayal of the gruff but loving father. Filming mostly on location, with some interior scenes shot at Pinewood, Forbes contrasts location shots of the children dwarfed in the vast countryside with scenes filmed in the cramped studio barn. This is particularly effective in the film's climactic dialogue scene between Kathy and the stranger. The alternating shots of Hayley Mills and Alan Bates - she outside the barn and he inside, with only a small high window to communicate through - help make the sense of disappointment and vanquished innocence almost palpable.
A major part of the film's charm lies in the score composed by Malcolm Arnold, which features a jaunty arrangement of the traditional carol 'We Three Kings' which he humorously links to the three children. For the original soundtrack recording, the memorable theme tune was actually whistled by Richard Attenborough. Having already inspired a music video in the 1980s, in 1998 the novel and the film were turned into a West End musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Published by


Volume 28,No.332,September 1961,pages 126-7


Kathy Bostock, her younger sister Nan and brother Charles, their ages ranging from about fourteen to six respectively, live on a lonely Lancashire farm. Their father is a busy widower; his sister Dorothy, who runs the household, is a cross-patch. Deprived of unstinting affection, the children live a private life of their own; they rescue three kittens from drowning and a Salvation Army girl tells Charles that Jesus will look after his kitten if only Charles believes in Him. They hide the kittens in a barn and during the night Kathy returns to see if they are safe. Entering, she stumbles upon an injured man. Taking his startled cry of "Jesus Christ" as proof of the stranger's identity, she quickly recruits Nan and Charles to share her belief. The bearded man is in fact a murderer, hunted by the local police; and while he is glad to have the children's help with food and drink (bread and a bottle of Bostock's wine), he is perplexed when one of them gives him the Bible and calls it "his book". Soon the secret leaks out to all the neighbouring children and the barn is besieged by little Magi. Charles gives the man his kitten to look after, but it dies and Charles's faith is badly shaken. Finally, during Charles's birthday party, Nan unwittingly betrays the man's presence to Aunt Dorothy and the game is up. He surrenders to the police and is seen by Kathy being frisked in a crucified posture against the skyline. "He'll come again", Kathy assures a child who has arrived too late to see "Jesus".

There are two themes here. One, an embarrassingly explicit allegory of Christ's betrayal, comes straight from Mary Hayley Bell's novel. The other is the film's own illustration of a childhood world, secret and fantastic and sufficiently sturdy to withstand the intrusion of a good deal of pretentious symbolism (the identification of the village children with the disciples; the three betrayals with their echo of the apostle Peter). Fortunately, these complications emerge quite late in the film; while the first hurdle, Kathy's belief that the fugitive is Jesus Christ, appears logical enough in context, the way being neatly prepared by a series of credibly related incidents clear of all possible whimsy and offence. In addition there is some tough, laconic dialogue by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall; the adults come in for an invigorating dose of castigation, notably the pretty Sunday school teacher without a clue how to communicate her opinion on the eventuality of a Second Coming, and the smug vicar obsessed with the theft of lead from his church roof; above all, most of the scenes shared by the three children are observed with insight and vivid humour.

Though Bernard Lee and Elsie Wagstaffe are excellent as the father and the aunt, the best moments are provided by Alan Barnes as the six-year-old with a bleak, firm line in scepticism; and by Diane Holgate as his snootily unshakable sister. Hayley Mills, caught half-way between the child's faith and the adult's disillusion, fails, through no fault of her own, to bridge the gap. The split is in the script, and she conceals the tedium which must have accompanied the brilliant coaching of the younger children with a potent, concentrated professionalism. Arthur Ibbetson's photography endows the hedges, ditches, ponds and muggy weather of the moorland locations with a beauty all their own. Bryan Forbes, directing for the first time, reveals a painstaking, often incisive talent for behaviour rather than a marked personal style. But he knows the texture of North Country life, and only becomes paralysed into inaction or overstatement where the exigencies of the scriptural parallels put too great a strain on his and his audience's belief.

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.

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) - Episode Five: That's How Murder Snowballs!

That's How Murder Snowballs is the fifth episode of the classic 1969 ITC series, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre. Directed by Paul Dickson and written by Ray Austin, the episode was first broadcast on 19 October 1969 on ITV.
Jeff and Jeannie find themselves in the audience of "The Fabulous Fernandez and Abel" at the Palace Theatre. While performing a stage act that involves a loaded gun, the Mind Reader Fernandez is killed by his assistant Abel (David Jason), causing Jeff to go undercover to try to track down the murderer.
Joining forces with the police, Jeff adopts a mindreading act (with Marty's help) and is hired by the theatre. Jeff discovers that one of the performers, Gloria Marsh, was the wife of Fernandez, aka Ronay Thompson. Some years ago she had been involved in a drunken car accident whereby she had killed someone and Fernandez took the blame to save her from prison. With this hold over her, he refused to allow her a divorce when they grew apart, and demanded money from her while cheating on her with a string of other women. When Gloria takes a lover of her own, choreographer Kim, in order to remove the obstacle of her husband, he plots to kill Fernandez by dressing as a woman in the audience and placing a loaded bullet in the gun's chamber during the act. When Gloria is about to spill the beans under the force of Randall, Kim kills her to try and protect his secret. In trying to escape detection, the choreographer goes on a murderous rampage attempting to kill the ticket booth operator, one of the show girls and then Randall several times. Finally he is apprehended by police, performers and an intrepid Randall who is injured falling from a stage rope and confined to a hospital bed as a result.

In this episode themes of morality are raised when after Fernadez is murdered Jeff tips off a newspaper contact named Barry Jones who pays him well for story information. Jeannie on the other hand shows some moral compunction by questioning Jeff's ethics in selling a story. "Well, did you get your blood money?" she demands of Jeff.

We also learn that Jeff once paid Jeannie with a gold earring "in lieu of salary" again revealing his financial difficulties.

Jeff is hit many times in this episode. He is coshed over the head, shot at four times, nearly hit with a large sandbag and a thrown revolver, and worst of all is knocked out by a shelf tipped on him in the basement as he is searching for clues.

Meanwhile in this episode Marty acquires a taste for dining at the finest restaurants, remarking that he had recently dined at the Savoy with Harold Wilson.

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Fabulous 208 (November 4th 1967)

Another classic cover from Fabulous 208. This cover dates back to November 4th 1967 and on its cover were, George Harrison & Pattie Boyd. Inside were pin-ups of, The Flowerpot Men, Lulu, Sonny & Cher & Mike Nesmith.

Whisky Galore! (1949)

When a Scottish island falls prey to a whisky shortage, the islanders are desolate. But when by chance a ship is sunk with a cargo of 50,000 cases of whisky, they see their salvation. But first they must outwit the English Home Guard commander who is determined to protect the cargo at costs.

Whisky Galore! was the second of three films released in 1949 - the others were Passport to Pimlico (d. Henry Cornelius) and Kind Hearts and Coronets (d. Robert Hamer) - which forever linked 'Ealing' and 'comedy' in the public imagination. It also marked the directorial debut of Alexander Mackendrick, previously a screenwriter and storyboard artist on several Ealing films.

Whisky Galore! was adapted by Compton Mackenzie and Angus MacPhailfrom Mackenzie's novel, itself based on the true story of a famous incident in 1941, in which the SS Politician - whose cargo included 22,000 cases of whisky - was wrecked near the Hebridean islands of Eriskay and South Uist. Dozens of boats from every nearby island soon set upon the wreck, rescuing some 7,000 cases from a watery end.

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The novel, and Mackendrick's film, relocates the story to the fictional island of Todday, and is not only a celebration of the islanders' single-mindedness, but a homage to the restorative powers of Scotch, which magically restores a community in deep depression for want of a 'wee dram'. Producer Monja Danischewsky called the film "the longest unsponsored advertisement ever to reach cinema screens the world over."

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Despite a difficult production beset by often appalling weather, and a slow start at the English box-office, it became a worldwide hit and Ealing's most profitable film. It is also one of its most fondly remembered, particularly in Scotland. Its success owes much to its remarkable feeling of authenticity: with the exception of Basil Radford and Joan Greenwood most of the cast were Scots, with the extras coming from among the islanders of Barra where much of it was filmed. The constant attentions of the islanders helped the cast to perfect their accents.

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Unlike the gentle comedy of Passport to Pimlico, Whisky Galore!'s humour has an often cruel bite, most of it at the expense of the pompous English Home Guard commander, Waggett (Radford), whose efforts to frustrate the islanders' pursuit of whisky result only in his own undoing.

Waggett's qualities - innocent, decent, not too clever - would have chimed perfectly among the Burgundians of Passport to Pimlico (in which Radford also appeared). But it's exactly these qualities which mark him out as the victim of the wily Todday islanders. The hapless Waggett is comprehensively defeated, and his final humiliation absolute - even his wife bursts into laughter at his fate.



Published by


Volume 16, No.187, July 1949, page 117


Hebridean Comedy. The island of Todday lies off the west coast of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides. It is 1943 and the islanders are plunged in gloom; there is no whisky, or, as they call it in Gaelic, the water of life. Paul Waggett, an Englishman in command of the local Home Guard, cannot understand the listlessness of his troops. Sergeant Odd, another Englishman, comes to help him instruct them. Joseph Macroon at the post-office, his daughters Peggy and Catriona, his friend the Biffer, and George Campbell all feel the loss most keenly. Then a ship carrying a cargo of 50,000 cases of whisky is wrecked off Todday. It is the Sabbath and the islanders cannot begin to salvage, but after twenty-four hours of suspense - for Captain Waggett has plans to defend the looting - the whisky is landed and the dawn breaks on a new island. A double betrothal ceremony is held, with a seven-gallon jar of whisky as a centrepiece, to celebrate the forthcoming marriages of George Campbell and Catriona, Sergeant Odd and Peggy. But Captain Waggett discovers the main supply of whisky hidden in a cave and reports to the nearest Excise Officer. When the Excise men appear, however, the whisky has vanished, and only Captain Waggett is implicated.

The story is adapted from the novel by Compton Mackenzie, who is also part author of the screen play and who plays a small part in the film. It was filmed entirely on the island of Barra, and has been produced and directed with a refreshing sense of comedy and an understanding of Anglo-Scots relationships. The central joke may soon be tired of, but the situations it illuminates have a variety of their own. and a talented cast sees to it that no island character study shall go unnoticed. Basil Radford as Captain Waggett, Jean Cadell as Mrs. Campbell, Gordon Jackson as George, and Joan Greenwood as Catriona make the most of their opportunities. There is some beautiful outdoor photography.

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.