Friday, August 17, 2018

The Late Great Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul

It would be difficult to find a female music artist who was more successful than Aretha Franklin. She was the most charted female music artist in Billboard's history, with a total of 112 singles charting. She sold over 75 million records worldwide. She has been inducted to multiple halls of fame, and was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There is probably no modern genre of music, from rhythm and blues to rock, that has not felt Aretha Franklin's influence. Sadly, Aretha Franklin died yesterday at the age of 76. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Aretha Franklin was born on March 25 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father was Baptist minister and civil rights activist C. L. Franklin. Her mother was a talented pianist and singer. When Aretha Franklin was only two years old the family moved to Buffalo, New York. It was not long before she turned five that the family moved to Detroit, Michigan. Aretha Franklin's mother died not long before Miss Franklin turned ten. It was not long afterwards that she began singing solos in church. By the time she was twelve she was performing in churches around the country. As a gospel singer she was singed to J.V.B. Records and her first album, Songs of Faith, was released in 1956. She was only 16 years old when she went on tour with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was 18 years old when she made the decision to pursue a career in pop music.

In 1960 Miss Franklin signed with Columbia Records. Her first secular single, "Today I Sing the Blues", was released that same year. In 1961 her first secular album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo, was released in 1961. While with Columbia Records, Aretha Franklin had a few singles chart on the Billboard R&B charts. "Won't Be Long" peaked at no. 7 on the chart, while "Operation Heartbreak" peaked at no 6 on the chart. Others reached the top forty of the Billboard R&B chart.

Aretha Franklin spent six years with Columbia Records, after which she elected not to renew her contract. She signed with Atlantic Records. It was there that she had her first major hit. "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" hit no. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and no. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her next single, a cover of Otis Redding's "Respect", did even better. It hit no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard R&B chart. It peaked at no. 3 in Canada and no. 10 in the United Kingdom. In the late Sixties she would have several other hits: "Baby I Love You", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone", "Think", "I Say a Little Prayer", and "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)", among others. Her first album with Billboard, Lady Soul, peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard album chart. It was followed by several more successful albums in the late Sixties.

Aretha Franklin began the Seventies with more major hits, including "Spanish Harlem", "Rock Steady", "Day Dreaming", and "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)". Unfortunately in the mid-Seventies, Miss Franklin's career went into a slight decline. After 1975 her highest charting single was "Something He Can Feel", which went to no. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. None of her other singles even reached the top 40. She left Atlantic in 1979 and signed with Arista.

It was during the Eighties that Aretha Franklin's career rebounded. In 1982 her single "Jump to It" peaked at no. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was followed by much bigger hits during the decade. "Freeway of Love" peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985. It was followed by "Who's Zoomin' Who" (which went to no. 7) and "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves", recorded with Eurythmics (which went to no. 18). Miss Franklin continued to do well in the Eighties, even hitting no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (recorded  with George Michael). She did less well in the Nineties, although her song "A Rose Is Still a Rose" peaked at no. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998.

While Aretha Franklin would have only a few hits from the Nineties onwards, she continued to record albums until last year. Throughout her career she recorded over forty studio albums and seven live albums. Her best selling album was actually one of her live albums, Amazing Grace, which consisted of gospel tunes performed by Miss Franklin at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. It was also the best selling live gospel album of all time. Her last album was Brand New Me, released last year.

Over the years Aretha Franklin gave several notable performances. She performed at the Royal Command Performance in the United Kingdom in 1980. She also performed at the funerals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, as well as the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Aretha Franklin also appeared in the movies The Blues Brothers (1980) and The Blues Brothers 2000 (2000), as well as guest starring on the TV shows Room 222 and Murphy Brown.

In addition to her career as a music artist, Aretha Franklin was active in the Civil Rights Movement. Her father organised the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom, and Miss Franklin toured with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she was only 16. After she met with success as a recording artist, she was known to pay for civil rights tours and to help with fundraising. Her version of "Respect" became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement almost immediately upon its release.

It was in 1967 that  WVON radio personality Pervis Spann proclaimed Aretha Franklin the "Queen of Soul" after a performance at the Regal Theatre in Chicago. There can be no doubt that Aretha Franklin deserved the title. She numbers among the most successful recording artists of all time. As mentioned earlier, she reached the Billboard charts more times than any other female artist. Including special awards, she won twenty Grammys and was nominated many more times. The list of the many honours Miss Franklin received over the years would be a very long one indeed.

Indeed, it is impossible to fully measure the influence of Aretha Franklin. Her songs became part of the soundtrack of America in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. She was also an artist who transcended genres. She may have been the Queen of Soul, but her influence could be felt on genres from rhythm and blues to rock music and even to country and hip hop. Artists as diverse as Annie Lennox and Alicia Keys were influenced by her. Aretha Franklin had a powerful voice and she sang with feeling in such a way that few singers have before or since. When Aretha Franklin sang, people felt it. Aretha Franklin was a singular performer, and we will never see her like again.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Three Songs From Aretha Franklin

I am sure most of you know that Aretha Franklin, forever the Queen of Soul, died today at the age of 76 from pancreatic cancer. Tomorrow I will publish a eulogy in her honour, but for now I would like to leave you with three of my favourite songs that she recorded.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

What the Hell is a Millennial Anyway?

Today Vox published an article titled "Stop calling teenagers millennials". I have no doubt this confused many older people who tend to think of the term "Millennial" as only referring to kids in their teens and twenties. For those of you who don't know, the term "Millennial" technically refers to members of what we once called (and some of us still call)  "Generation Y". The term was coined by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe in 1987 to refer to the generation following Generation X. Messrs. Strauss and Howe treat Generation Y as beginning in 1982. That having been said, many (including myself) begin the generation earlier. MetLife treats Generation Y as lasting from 1977 to 1994. Nielsen Media Research sets the dates for Generation Y as being from 1977 to around 1995 or 1996. Personally, I always thought of Generation Y as lasting from 1978 to around 1994.

If the term "Millennial" was originally meant to refer to people born in the late Seventies, throughout the Eighties, and into the Nineties, why is it still being used of teenagers to this day? I think the confusion over the meaning of Millennial rests with the term itself. Speaking for myself, "Millennial" sounds like it refers to someone born shortly before, at, or shortly after the start of the Millennium. Given this, it makes no sense to refer to someone born in 1992, let alone 1977, as being a "Millennial". In fact, when I first heard the term "Millennial", I thought that it referred to people born, at the earliest, in 1994 or 1995. In other words, I thought it referred to kids. What is more, I used it that way too.

This confusion is made all the more worse by the stereotypes the media decided to attach to "Millennials". According to the media, Millennials grew up with digital media instead of CDs (they never knew vinyl), are obsessed with their smart phones, take endless selfies, and are active on social media. This does not fit any member of Generation Y I know. My oldest Gen Y friends grew up at a time when vinyl was still common place, cassettes were the dominant means of listening to music, and CDs were rapidly overtaking both vinyl and cassettes. Some of my Gen Y friends don't even own smart phones and those who do are on them no more than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (going by my brother and my older sister, Xers and Boomers might just be on their phones more...). They certainly didn't have them (or any other mobile phone, for that matter) as children. My Generation Y friends also don't take a lot of selfies. In fact, I have one Gen Y friend who hasn't changed her Facebook profile picture in about 8 years and, it isn't even her--it is her old Mad Men avatar! While the stereotypes the media have applied to Gen Y don't seem applicable to any mid-twentysomethings and thirtysomethings I know, they seem perfectly applicable to many teenagers I know, individuals who just happened to be born at (yes, that's right) the start of the Millennium.

Of course, such confusion over generations is nothing new. William Strauss and Neil Howe always treated Generation X as taking place between 1961 and 1981, but many insist on treating Generation X as starting in 1965 and ending around 1979 or 1980. Speaking as a Gen Xer myself, I always think of Gen X as starting in either 1961 or 1962 and ending in 1977. I certainly do not identify as a Baby Boomer! Sadly, there are some who will insist on calling me one, so I can fully understand Gen Yers' frustration with the term "Millennial" being used of both themselves and today's current crop of teenagers.

Personally, I think the best idea would be to simply go back to calling those born from the late Seventies to the early Nineties "Generation Y". As to the kids born after that, I fear that calling them "Millennials" would simply continue the confusion. Given 2001 saw the start of the third millennium, perhaps we can simply call them "Trimillennials".  Okay, I don't like the term either, but given the confusion over the term, we probably shouldn't continue calling them (or anyone else, for that matter) "Millennials" either.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

John and Lionel Barrymore on The Rudy Vallee Sealtest Show

Yesterday I wrote about Lionel Barrymore's radio career, which included appearances on The Rudy Vallee Sealtest Show on which his brother John was a regular. This is the first episode of The Rudy Vallee Sealtest Show on which Lionel Barrymore guest starred. It aired on May 1 1941.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lionel Barrymore on the Radio

 (This post is part of the Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood)

Lionel Barrymore & Agnes Moorehead,
the stars of Mayor of the Town
Today when people think of radio in the United States, music or talk shows likely to come to mind. That having been said, there was a time when scripted dramas and comedies were regularly heard on American radio. It was the era of Old Time Radio, when the radio networks (NBC, CBS, Mutual, and later ABC) aired a wide variety of programmes, from dramas to game shows. From the early Twenties to the early Fifties, radio was the dominant mass communications medium in the United States. It should then come as no surprise that some of the biggest stars of stage and screen had very extensive careers in radio. Among these was Lionel Barrymore.

Not only did Lionel Barrymore make many guest appearances on radio shows, but he even starred in his own radio shows. From 1942 to 1949 he starred as the mayor of the title on the comedy-drama Mayor of the Town. Mr. Barrymore was hardly the only big name star in the cast of the show. Agnes Moorehead played his housekeeper Marilly. Of course, Lionel Barrymore was much more than the star of Mayor of the Town. Mr. Barrymore composed the theme for the show and acted as something of a story editor.

Following Mayor of the Town, Lionel Barrymore starred on a syndicated radio show based on a property with which he had already long been associated. Lionel Barrymore had played Dr. Kildare's mentor Dr. Gillespie in MGM's series of "Dr. Kildare" movies. After Lew Ayres (who played Kildare) left the series, Lionel Barrymore continued in a series of films in which Dr. Gillespie was the main character. It was then natural that Mr. Barrymore should reprise his role as Dr. Gillespie for the syndicated radio show The Story of Dr. Kildare. Lew Ayres returned in the role of Dr. Kildare. It appears that The Story of Dr. Kildare debuted on September 27 1949 on Chicago station WGN. The series ran until 1952.

In addition to Mayor of the Town and The Story of Dr. Kildare, Lionel Barrymore also starred in a radio adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol that aired each year on CBS on Christmas Day from 1934 to 1953. There would only be two years in which Lionel Barrymore did not play Scrooge on the broadcast. The first was in 1936 when Mr. Barrymore's wife had died. His brother John Barrymore played the role of Scrooge that year. The second time was in 1938 when Lionel Barrymore was ill and the role of Scrooge was taken over by Orson Welles. Lionel Barrymore was so popular in the annual broadcasts of A Christmas Carol that he was MGM's first choice to star in their 1938 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately Mr. Barrymore's arthritis flared up and the part was ultimately played by his friend Reginald Owen.

Lionel Barrymore also appeared on a regularly scheduled radio show that aired on the Armed Forces Radio Service. Mr. Barrymore had wanted to do something for those in the military during World War II. At the same time he loved classical music. It was then that Mr. Barrymore hosted Concert Hall on the Armed Forces Radio Service. The show debuted on August 17 1944 and aired until 1949.

Lionel Barrymore not only hosted Concert Hall on the Armed Forces Radio Service, but he also hosted the radio version of The Hallmark Hall of Fame. The Hallmark Hall of Fame was in some respects a continuation of Hallmark's earlier radio show, Hallmark Playhouse. It debuted on February 8 1953 and ran until March 27 1955. It would be on The Hallmark Hall of Fame that Lionel Barrymore would play Scrooge for the last few times.

Of course, over the years Lionel Barrymore made numerous guest appearances on various radio shows. In fact, he made multiple appearances on such shows as Lux Radio Theatre, Command Performance, Screen Guild Theatre, Family Theatre, and The Cavalcade of America. Not all of Mr. Barrymore's guest appearances were on radio dramas, as he appeared on variety shows as well. He guest starred on The Rudy Vallee Sealtest Show (on which his brother John was a regular) multiple times. He also appeared on Kraft Music Hall and Mail Call.

In the Thirties and Forties Lionel Barrymore was nearly as well known for his work in radio as he was his work in film. In fact, Mr. Barrymore has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One is for his work in motion pictures. The other is for his work on radio. Fortunately, much of Lionel Barrymore's work in radio has survived to this day, so that individuals can still enjoy episodes of Mayor of the Town and The Story of Dr. Kildare, as well as his many guest appearances on radio shows.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

TCM Backlot's 50 Fans in 50 States

In connection with TCM Spotlight's 50 Movies in 50 States, TCM Backlot held a contest called "50 Fans in 50 States". 50 Fans in 50 States would have one winner per state. To enter one simply had to tell about the connections to movies one's state has. I am proud to say that I won the contest for the state of Missouri. In a way I feel lucky to be from Missouri, in that we have more connections to movies than some states. Indeed, I live only twenty minutes away from the hometown of legendary camera man Elgin Lessley and  an hour a way from the hometowns of Walt Disney, Cliff Edwards, and Steve Mcqueen (I also live an hour away from Mary Astor's hometown of Quincy, but it is in Illinois...). And, of course, Vincent Price, Virginia Mayo, and Ginger Rogers were all born here! Anyway, if you want to read my entry, you and you are a member of TCM Backlot, it will be under "50 Fans in 50 States, Round 2".

By the way, I don't know what I have won. TCM Backlot simply said we will receive a prize in the mail, not what it is!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Films I have Watched Since December 8 2011

One of the things I love about the website Letterboxd is keeping track of the films I have watched. The site has a diary where one can enters the movies one has watched and it also has a list of the films one has watched by their release dates. Among other things, one can learn how many films one has watched in any given decade.

I joined Letterboxed in December 2011, so it hardly includes every single film I have seen in my life. That having been said, I have used it faithfully ever since I joined, so it includes every film I have watched since December 8 2011. The breakdown of the decades is then accurate. I am only including the decades up to the Eighties here, as I think a film has to be thirty years old before it is considered a classic. As to why there are so few films from the Twenties, sadly, I haven't watched much in the way of silent films the past several years. Every year I think I will watch more and I never get around to it. When 9th Street Video in Columbia was open I watched many more silent films! It doesn't help that TCM only seems to show them on Sundays and the DVDs tend to be pricey! As to why there are so few films from the Seventies and Eighties, well, I really don't care much for movies from those decades! Obviously my favourite decade for film is the Sixties.

1920s: 4 films
1930s: 35 films
1940s: 83 films
1950s: 77 films
1960s: 110 films
1970s: 22 films
1980s: 8 films''

I was going to break the films down by genre as well, but Letterboxd seems very inaccurate with regards to classifying films by genre. For example, they include the Pixar film Inside Out, under drama! I fear to get an accurate count of the different films in the various genres I would have to do so manually.

Anyway, if you don't have a Letterboxd account, by all means create one. I have enjoyed using Letterboxd over the years and it is very interesting to look back at what I have watched.

Update: I was just looking over Letterboxd and noticed that The General,, Nosferatu, and Sherlock Jr. are not listed among the movies I have watched. I then have to question the accuracy of their films they list me as having watched for the Twenties! I know I have watched both The General and Nosferatu multiple times.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Robert Dix R.I.P.

Robert Dix, who appeared in movies from Forbidden Planet (1956) to The Rebel Rousers (1970), died on August 6 2018 at the age of 83.

Robert Dix was born on May 8 1935 in Los Angeles, California. He had a twin brother, Richard Dix Jr., who died in a logging accident when they were 18. His father was movie star Ricahrd Dix, who died when Robert Dix was only 14. Robert Dix studied acting at National Academy of Theatre Arts in Pleasantville, New York. He was signed to a seven year contract with MGM when he was only 18, by way of a family friend (MGM executive Tom Tannenbaum).

Robert Dix made his film debut in an uncredited role in Athena in 1954. He appeared in uncredited roles in such films as The Glass Slipper (1955), Love Me or Leave Me (1955),  and The Scarlet Coat (1955). His first credited role was in The King's Thief in 1955. Robert Dix's last role with MGM would be the classic Forbidden Planet (1956), in which he played Crewman Grey. He finished out the Fifties appearing in such films as Forty Guns (1957), Frankenstein's Daughter (1958), 13 Fighting Men (1960), and Young Jesse James (1960). He made his television debut on an episode of Lux Video Theatre in 1956. In the Fifties he appeared on such shows as Studio 57; Richard Diamond, Private Detective; Highway Patrol; Mike Hammer; Death Valley Days; Sky King; Frontier Doctor; and The Rifleman.

In the Sixties Mr. Dix guest starred on Gunsmoke and Rawhide. He appeared in such films as Air Patrol (1962), Deadwood '76 (1965), Las Vegas Strangler (1969), Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969), Satan's Sadists (1969), Wild Wheels (1969), Hell's Bloody Devils (1970), Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970), and The Rebel Rousers (1970). In the Seventies he appeared in The Red, White, and Black (1970) and he had a cameo in Live and Let Die (1973). He is slated to appear in the upcoming film The Last Frankenstein this year.

Robert Dix was a capable actor who played a diverse number of roles. While many of his films would hardly qualify as classics (at least not classics in the way that Casablanca or Citizen Kane are), his performances were always fairly solid. Over the years he played everything from Frank James to military officers to psychopaths.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Charlotte Rae Passes On

Charlotte Rae, who played Officer Leo Schnauser's wife Sylvia on the classic sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?, and starred on the shows Hot L Baltimore, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life, died on August 5 2018 at the age of 92.

Charlotte Rae was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky on April 22, 1926 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her family later to moved to Shorewood, Wisconsin. As a teen she worked in radio and at 16 was an apprentice with the Port Players, a local Milwaukee theatre company. She attended Northwestern University in Evanston, University, but did not graduate. She moved to New York City in 1948 and performed in both theatres and clubs.

Charlotte Rae made her television debut in 1951 in an episode of Once Upon a Tune. In the Fifties she appeared on such shows as The United States Steel Hour, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, The Philco Television Playhouse, The Phil Silvers Show, and Play of the Week. She made her debut on Broadway in Three Wishes for Jamie in 1952. In the Fifties she appeared on Broadway in a revival of Threepenny Opera, The Golden Apple, The Littlest Revue, and Li'l Abner.

In the Sixties she played Sylvia Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You?. She guest starred on such shows as Way Out, Look Up and Live, The Defenders, and ABC Stage 67. She made her film debut in Hello Down There in 1969 and appeared in the film Jenny (1970). She appeared on Broadway in The Beauty Part; Pickwick; Morning, Noon and Night; and The Chinese and Dr. Fish.

In the Seventies Charlotte Rae played Molly the Mail Lady on Sesame Street and starred on Hot L Baltimore, The Rich Little Show, and Diff'rent Strokes. She guest starred on Temperatures Rising, The Partridge Family, McMillan & Wife, Love American Style, The Paul Lynde Show, All in the Family, Good Times, Phyllis, Barney Miller, Our Town, CPO Sharkey, and Hello Larry. She appeared in the films Bananas (1971), The Hot Rock (1972), Sidewinder 1 (1977), Rabbit Test (1978), and Hair (1979). She appeared on Broadway in Boom Boom Room.

In the Eighties Charlotte Rae reprised her role as Edna Garrett on the Diff'rent Strokes spinoff The Facts of Life. She guest starred on The Love Boat; St. Elsewhere; Murder, She Wrote; and 227. In the Nineties she provided voices for the television cartoon series The Itsy Bitsy Spider, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, and The Brothers Flub. She guest starred on such shows as Baby Talk, Sisters, Can't Hurry Love, and Diagnosis Murder. She provided a voice for Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) and appeared in the film Nowhere (1997). From the Naughts to the Teens she appeared in the films You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), Christmas Cottage (2008), Love Sick Love (2012), and Ricki and the Flash (2015).  She guest starred on the shows Strong Medicine, The King of Queens, ER, Life, Pretty Little Liars, and Girl Meets World.

I have state here that I have never been a fan of either Diff'rent Strokes or The Facts of Life, but I always thought Charlotte Rae was a wonderful actress with a particular gift for comedy. She was the perfect Sylvia Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You? and she made many memorable guest appearances over the years. From The Partridge Family to All in the Family, she appeared on a number of different shows.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Thank You for a Successful Blogathon!

I just wanted to thank all the participants for making the 5th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon a success. This year we had a wide array of posts spanning British film history from the 1930s to the 1990s. Several different genres were covered as well, everything from comedies to musicals to science fiction films. If you want to read all the posts, you can access them here.

Thanks to all the participants again!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Evergreen (1934)

(This post is part of the Rule, Britannia Blogathon hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts)

When Americans think of British cinema, they are inclined to think of Gainsborough melodramas, Ealing comedies, Hammer horrors, spy dramas, and war films. What might not come to Americans' minds when they think of British cinema are musicals. Despite this, the British have produced many movie musicals through the years, many of which date to the early years of the Talkie Era. In fact, it was in the Thirties that the British produced their first bona fide movie musical star: Jessie Matthews. Beautiful, shapely, a talented singer, and a fairly good dancer, Jessie Matthews was a superstar in 1930s Britain.

Jessie Matthews was already a star of the stage when she made the transition to film. She had appeared on the London stage in This Year of Grace and Wake Up and Dream before her breakout, starring role in the Rogers and Hart musical Ever Green (1930). With such success on stage, Miss Matthews made the transition to movies. Her first major role came in 1931 with Out of the Blue. It was followed by The Midshipmaid (1932) and There Goes the Bride (1932). It would be the 1934 movie adaptation of Ever Green, retitled simply Evergreen, that would make Jessie Matthews a film star.

Directed by Victor Saville for Gaumont British, Evergreen was changed substantially from the original stage musical. The original stage play centred on Edwardian music hall star Harriet Green, who returns to London after living in South Africa for many years and then masquerading as her twenty-something daughter. The film version centred on Harriet Green's daughter, who masquerades as her mother (an Edwardian music hall star who died years ago in South Africa). The film version also jettisoned most of Rogers and Hart's songs, retaining only "If I Give in to You", "Dear Dear", and "Dancing on the Ceiling". Victor Saville turned to songwriter Harry M. Woods to write new songs for the movie: "When You've Got a Little Springtime in Your Heart" and "Over My Shoulder" (which would become Jessie Mattthews's signature tune). Rogers and Hart were apparently happy with the changes, as Miss Matthews later said that Victor Saville received a telegram from them which read, "Wish we'd thought up this story."

While there was no doubt that Jessie Matthews would play the dual role of Harriet Green and her daughter, Evergreen could have had a very different leading man from young Barry MacKay (for whom Evergreen would be his first major role). Gaumont British wanted Fred Astaire, then appearing in London in a stage production of The Gay Divorcee, for the role. Mr. Astaire even wanted to star in the movie. Unfortunately RKO, to whom Fred Astatire was under contract, refused to loan him to Gaumont British.

As to Jessie Matthews herself, in many ways the production of Evergreen was not a particularly happy time for her. Always a fragile woman, Jessie Matthews was close to a nervous breakdown at the time, and she only did Evergreen because she believed it could be her breakout film role. Her experiences with director Albert de Courville on the sets of There Goes the Bride and The Midshipmaid had been particularly unpleasant. Fortunately, Victor Saville was the exact opposite of Albert de Courville, and offered Jessie Matthews all the support she needed to make it through filming. Amazingly enough, the beautiful Jessie Matthews worried that she was not photogenic enough for film. In particular, she worried about her nose. Victor Saville actually thought her nose was one of her best features. He told her once during filming, "You're a hell of a good actress, just act as though you knew you were a very attractive female."

Evergreen received overwhelmingly positive reviews on both sides of the Pond. What is more, it also proved to be a box office hit in both the United Kingdom and the United States. In the wake of the success of Evergreen, MGM reportedly approached Jessie Matthews with an offer, but Gaumont British refused to release her from her contract. Other Hollywood studios would follow MGM in wooing Miss Matthews, including RKO (home of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), who offered $50,000 for her to co-star with Fred Astaire. Each time Hollywood was rebuffed, either because Gaumont British would not release Miss Matthews or because of her ill health and personal problems. Jessie Matthews would remain an exclusively British star.

Seen today it is not enough to say that Evergreen compares favourably with Hollywood musicals of the era, as it actually surpasses many of them. Jessie Matthews gives a good performance as Edwardian music hall star Harriet Green and her daughter of the same name. Miss Matthews was also a very good singer and a very good dancer, often better than some of the American musical stars of the period. What is more, Miss Matthews simply oozes sex appeal--I have to wonder that many British men of the era didn't fancy her. This is helped not only by the fact that Evergreen was a pre-Code film, but by the fact that it was made in Britain (the British Board of Film Censorship was less uptight about sex than the Hays Office). The film features some brilliant musical sequences, including those for "Dancing on the Ceiling" and "Over My Shoulder".  While these sequences might not match those created by Busby Berkeley, they are impressive on their own (and let's face it, very few musical sequences ever match those created by Busby Berkeley). The songs are all quite good, particularly "Dancing on the Ceiling" and "Over My Shoulder". Early in the film Jessie Matthews even gives a charming rendition of the Victorian standard "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow". The film also benefits from impressive set design, a perfect example of Art Deco in the Thirties.

Although a huge hit upon its initial release in the United States, today Evergreen has largely been forgotten by most Americans. It certainly is not as famous as some Hollywood musicals of the era, such as 42nd Street and Top Hat. That having been said, there is every reason Evergreen should be better known. It is one of the best musicals of the Thirties and proof that the British could easily compete with Hollywood when it came to make movie musicals.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The 5th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon is Here!

The Fifth Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon (formerly the British Invaders Blogathon) has arrived! The Rule, Britannia Blogathon is meant to celebrate classic, British films. While many think of Hollywood when they think of movies, the fact is that many classic films originated in the United Kingdom. From the Gainsborough melodramas to the Ealing comedies to the Hammer Horrors, the United Kingdom has made many contributions to classic film. The British Invaders Blogathon will last from today (August 3 2018) to Sunday (August 5 2018).

This year we have a wide range of posts lined up that span the history of British cinema. We also have a wide range of genres covered, from comedy to science fiction. For those participating in the blogathon, simply let me know in a comment here, a message on Twitter, or an email and I will add it to the list. And please remember to link to this page using one of the images from the introductory post! I want to thank everyone who is participating!

Anyhow, without further ado, here are the posts:

WadsWords: "Movie Crash Course: Blackmail"

The Midnite Drive-In: "Is That a Ray Gun in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?"

Caftan Woman: "The Rule Britannia Blogathon: The Mudlark (1950)"

Realweegiemidget Reviews: "Withnail and I (1987)" 

The Stop Button: : " Stormy Monday (1988)"

MovieRob: "5th Annual Rule Britannia Blogathon--Sink the Bismark! (1960)"

The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog: "The Rule, Britannia Film Blogathon--The Ghoul (1932)

Crítica Retrô: "As Oito Vítimas/Kind Hearts and Coronets"

 Silver Scenes: Now and Forever (1956)

Taking Up Room: "Wings on Our Heels"

A Shroud of Thoughts: "Evergreen (1934)"

MovieRob: "5th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon--Time Bandits (1981)"

Liberal England: "The Magnet (1950): Enjoying the Ealing Apocrypha" 

Silver Scenes: 'Turn the Key Softly (1953)"

Moon in Gemini: "Rule, Britannia Blogathon: The Crying Game (1992)"  

MovieRob: "5th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon--The Sound Barrier (1952)"

Cinematic Catharsis: Yellow Submarine 

Cinetmatic Scribblings: "A Foreign Country: The Go-Between (1971)" 

A Scunner Darkley: "Universal Soldier (1971, Cy Endfield)--Rule Britannia Blogathon" 

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood: "John Hurt is Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man (1980)"  

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Doug Grindstaff Passes On

If you have watched very many episodes Star Trek or Dallas, then chances are good you have heard the work of Doug Grindstaff. Doug Griandstaff was the sound effects maestro responsible for many of the sounds one heard in several classic TV shows, everything from the beeps on the communicators of the crew of the Enterprise to the "whoosh" of the starship's lift doors. Mr. Grindstaff died on July 23 at the age of 87.

Doug Grindstaff was born on April 6 1931. He grew up in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the California Institute of Arts. During the Korean War he served in the United States Army and saw combat.

Mr. Grindstaff's first credit was the TV movie Three Wise Boys in 1963. He worked on the films One Potato, Two Potato (1964) and Destination Inner Space (1966). In the mid-Sixties he began a very successful career working on various television studios. He served as sound effects editor for three classic shows that originated at Desilu: Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix. In the Sixties he also worked on the TV shows Love, American Style; The Immortal; The Young Lawyers; The Odd Couple; and The Brady Bunch, as well as the TV movies Seven in Darkness and Weekend of Terror.  In the Seventies he worked on such TV movies as Medical Story (1976), A Killing Affair, Kill Me If You Can, and The Last Hurrah. He worked on the TV shows Police Story, Quark, and Beulah Land. He did uncredited work on the movie Cabaret (1972) and also worked on the film Sextette (1978).

In the Eighties Mr. Grindstarff worked on the night-time soap operas Dallas, Knot's Landing, and Falcon Crest, as well as such shows as Max Headroom, Our House, and Midnight Caller. He worked on the films St. Helen's (1981), Death Valley (1982), Mother Lode (1983), Tough Enough (1983), and Cross Creek (1983).

Doug Grindstaff served as the head of sound departments at Paramount, Columbia, and Pacific Sound. He also served as a vice president at Lorimar Pictures, and as president of the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Doug Grindstaff was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards, including one for his work on Star Trek. He won Emmys for his work on the TV show The Immortal, the TV movie Medical Story, the TV show Police Story, the TV movie Power, and the TV show Max Headroom.

There can be no doubt that Doug Grindstaff was a master of sound. He not only created the many unusual sounds heard on Star Trek, but sounds for classic shows from The Odd Couple to Knot's Landing. He was a master at creating sounds through means that might not occur to others. For example, he created the sound of Dr. McCoy's hypospray using an air compressor. He created the sound of one of Star Trek's most popular alien creatures, tribbles, by manipulating the sound of the coos of doves. Although he worked on many different shows, he seemed to have a particular gift for science fiction shows, creating sounds not only for Star Trek, but for Quark and Max Headroom as well. Few men were as talented at creating sounds as Doug Grindstaff was.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Late Great Mary Carlisle

Mary Carlisle, the beautiful actress who played opposite such leading men as Bing Crosby, Lew Ayres, and Gene Autry and who was the last of the WAMPAS Baby Stars, died today. She was believed to be 104.

Mary Carlisle was born Gwendolyn Witter February 3 in either 1912 or 1914 in Boston, Massachusetts. It was after her father's death that her family moved to Los Angeles, California. Her uncle was film editor and producer Robert Carlisle, through whom she learned of a casting call for chorus girls at MGM. She hurriedly took dance lessons and was surprised when she was hired. Once the truth came out that she didn't know how to dance, she was made a substitute, someone to step in if one of the chorus girls couldn't perform.

Mary Carlisle made her film debut in an uncredited part in Long Live the King in 1923. She spent the late Twenties and very early Thirties appearing in similar uncredited roles (including one as Little Bo Beep in the notorious pre-Code film Madam Satan). Her first credited role was as Cassandra Phelps in This Reckless Age in 1932. Miss Carlisle would prove to be very busy during the Thirties. She played opposite Bing Crosby in three films: College Humour (1933), Double or Nothing (1937), and Doctor Rhythm (1938). She appeared as a young honeymooner in Grand Hotel (1932). During the Thirties she was very prolific, appearing in such films as The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (1933), Should Ladies Behave (1933), Palooka (1934), Murder in the Private Car (1934), Kentucky Kernels (1934), One Frightened Night (1935), The Old Homestead (1935), Hotel Haywire (1937), Hold 'Em Navy (1937), Hunted Men (1938), Illegal Traffic (1938), Beware Spooks! (1939), Rovin' Tumbleweeds (1939), and Dance, Girl, Dance (1940).

In the Forties Mary Carlisle appeared in the films Rags to Riches (1941), Torpedo Boat (1942), Baby Face Morgan (1942), and Dead Men Walk (1943). In 1942 she married actor James Edward Blakeley and retired from acting not long afterwards. Mr. Blakeley later became a 20th Century Fox executive and served as production manager on Batman and other shows. The two remained married until his death, a full 65 years. For years she was the manager of an Elizabeth Arden salon in Beverly Hills.

For her whole career Mary Carlisle was generally cast as ingénues. There should be little surprise why. Blonde and possessing a delicate beauty, Miss Carlisle certainly looked the part. That having been said, she possessed more talent than many young actresses who played ingénues during the era. Miss Carlisle was always convincing in the roles she played and showed a particular gift for comedy. While most of her roles were in low budget programmers, she remained very much in demand. She acted for multiple studios, from MGM to Republic. She also played opposite an impressive array of leading men, including Lew Ayres, Joe E. Brown, Ralph Byrd, Leo Carillo, Bing Crosby, and Wheeler and Woolsey. Charming and remarkably pretty and possessed of a good deal of talent, Mary Carlisle was always a delight to see on screen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Yale Udoff Passes On

Screenwriter and playwright Yale Udoff died on July 19 at the age of 83. The cause was cardiac arrest.

Yale Udoff was born in 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in history and served in the United States Army in the infantry. He later took a job as one of ABC's East Coast executives. While legend often credits Mr. Udoff with coming up with the initial idea for the Sixties TV show Batman after watching the Forties "Batman" serials at a Playboy Club, in truth the show was in development well before they were shown at the Playboy Club in Chicago. That having been said, it seems possible that the Playboy Club's showings of the serials and Columbia's subsequent re-released of the serials to theatres probably helped propel the TV show Batman to success. While at ABC Yale Udoff worked with producers Douglas Cramer and Edgar Scherick, and executive Roone Arledge.

Yale Udoff came up with the story for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Pieces of Fate Affair". He wrote the screenplays for the TV movies Hitchhike! and Third Degree Burn, as well as episodes of Against the Law and Tales from the Cyrpt. He wrote the films Bad Timing (1980) and Eve of Destruction (1991).

Mr. Udoff also a playwright who wrote the full lengh plays A Gun Play, The Example, Magritte Skies, First Draft, Bring Back Doris Day, Favourite Photos, The Invitation, Exiles, and A New Life. He also wrote the one act plays Shade, The Academy of Desire, The Little Gentleman, The Club, Nebraska, and Flowers for Marilyn. He won Stanley Drama Awards for The Little Gentleman and The Club, and a McArthur Award for Magritte Skies.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The 200th Anniversary of Emily Brontë's Birthday

It was 200 years ago today that Emily Brontë was born in the village of Thornton, a small village now on the outskirts of the city of Bradford that was then in the West Riding of Yorkshire. While Miss Brontë's name might not sound familiar to many, most people have probably heard of the one novel she wrote: Wuthering Heights. Published in 1847, it would become one of the most influential novels of the 19th Century.

Very little is known about Emily Brontë. She was one of the famous Brontë siblings, which included fellow authors Charlotte and Anne and artist Branwell. For a time she was a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax until her health failed due to the school's heavy workload. She wrote a number of poems, many of which were published in the anthology Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, which included poetry by Charlotte (who was Currer Bell) and Anne (who was Acton Bell). Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under Emily Brontë's pen name of Ellis Bell. Initially receiving mixed reviews, Wuthering Heights would later be hailed as a classic.

Indeed, the influence of Wuthering Heights can be seen not only in other works of literature, but movies, television shows, and even songs. Sylvia Path wrote a poem titled "Wuthering Heights" in 1961, the poem drawing upon the novel's imagery for inspiration. Albert Camus referenced Heathcliff, the anti-hero of Wuthering Heights, in his essay "The Rebel". Wuthering Heights would inspire yet other novels. Lin Haire-Sargent's 1974 novel H: The Story of Heathcliff's Journey Back to Wuthering Heights detailed Heatcliff's time away from Wuthering Heights. In the 1995 novel Heathcliff and the Great Hunger, author Terry Eagleton put forth the idea that young Heathcliff had survived the Irish potato famine. Alice Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth updated Wuthering Heights to modern times. This is only a short list of works inspired by Wuthering Heights, and the novel is referenced in works from Anne Carson's poem "The Glass Essay" to V. C. Andrews's novel Flowers in the Attic.

Of course, there have been numerous film and television adaptations of Wuthering Heights, so many that it would be difficult to list them all. The first film adaptation was made in 1920. Sadly it is believed to be a lost film. Perhaps the most famous adaptation is the 1939 version directed by William Wyler and starring Lord Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. The film adapted only the first part of the novel. The first television adaptation of the novel was made as an episode of the anthology series Studio One in 1950. Charlton Heston starred as Heathcliff. Since then the novel has been adapted several times to film and on television, with the most recent version being a film adaptation released in 2011. Even Monty Python's Flying Circus used Wuthering Heights as the source for a skit, "The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights" (in which Heathcliff and Cathy communicate through semaphore flags).

Even music has drawn inspiration from Wuthering Heights. The most famous song inspired by Wuthering Heights may well be Kate Bush's 1978 single "Wuthering Heights". The song has since been covered several times by other music artists. Interestingly enough, Kate Bush shares her birthday with Emily Brontë (July 30). Ten's song "Alone In The Dark Tonight" was inspired by Heathcliff's loss of Cathy. Among other songs inspired by Wuthering Heights are "Cath..." by Death Cab for Cutie, "Total Eclipse of the Heart"(performed by Bonnie Tyler and written by Jim Steinman), and "A Dark Congregation" by The Hush Sound.

Through the years several authors have been inspired by Wuthering Heights, including V. C. Andrews, Margaret Atwood, Sally Green, Ernest Hemingway (who included on a list of books he "..rather read again for the first time ... than have an assured income of a million dollars a year"), Henry Miller, and Kate Mosse.

Never particularly healthy, Emily Brontë died at the extremely young age of 30 on December 19 1848. It was only about a year after the publication of Wuthering Heights. While Miss Brontë's life was short, she left behind a legacy more lasting than some authors who lived to old age. Wuthering Heights would prove to be one of the most influential novels of its era. What is more, its influence is still being felt 200 years after Emily Brontë's birth.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Composer Patrick Williams Passes On

Composer Patrick Williams, who worked on such TV shows The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart and worked on such movies as Don't Drink the Water (1969) and Shampoo (1975), died on July 25 2018 at the age of 79. The cause was complications from cancer.

Patrick Williams was born on April 23 1939 in Bonne Terre, Missouri, but grew up in Connecticut. He attended Duke University, where he received a degree in history. He later went to Columbia University, where he music composition. In New York City he soon had a thriving career as an arranger. It was in 1968 that he moved to California.

Mr. Williams' first work in television was as music director for the documentary A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House in 1967. He served as music director on the show Music Scene and composer on San Francisco International Airport. In the Seventies he served as composer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The Bob Newhart Show, The Magician, The Streets of San Francisco, and Lou Grant. In the Sixties he was the composer on the movies How Sweet It Is! (1968) and Don't Drink the Water (1969). In the Seventies he served as composer on such movies as The Deadly Trackers (1973), Harrad Summer (1974), Shampoo (1975), The Cheap Detective (1978), and Used Cars (1980).

In the Eighties Patrick Williams worked on such shows as Mr. Smith, After MASH, Fathers and Sons, Heart of the City, and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. He worked on such movies as The Toy (1982), Swing Shift (1984), The Slugger's Wife (1985), and Cry-Baby (1990). From the Nineties onward Mr. Williams's work in television was primarily on TV movies. He worked on such films as The Cutting Edge (1992), Big Girls Don't Cry... They Get Even (1992), The Grass Harp (1995), and Julian Po (1997).

Mr. Williams won several Emmys and was nominated many more times. He won Emmys for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for Lou Grant, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Limited Series or a Special (Dramatic Underscore) for The Princess and the Cabbie, Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special (Dramatic Underscore) for Jewels, Outstanding Music and Lyrics for the song "A Dream That Only I Can Know" from Yesterday's Children.

Patrick Williams also composed outside of television and film, composing such works as An American Concerto, Gulliver, Earth Day, and August. He also recorded several record albums and produced albums for artists from Steve Lawrence to Patti Austin.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Five Books on Film That Influenced Me

Most classic film buffs not only enjoy watching classic movies, but they also enjoy reading about them. I am no different and over the years I have read dozens of books on classic films. A few of these number among my favourite books I have ever read. Here are five books on classic film that had the most impact on me. I read all of them while I was still very young and all of them helped fuel my interest in classic movies. I am sure many of you haver read some of them as well.

I really could not say which one is my absolute favourite, so I am listing in order of their publication date.

An Illustrated History of the Horror Film by Carlos Clarens (1967):

If you are a fan of classic horror you have probably read this book. In fact, I believe it was the first book to treat horror movies with any seriousness. In the Sixties, horror movies (and genre films in general) were often not considered worthy of critical evaluation. Although considered classics today, such classic horror movies as Frankenstein (1931) and King Kong (1933) were often dismissed at the time. Carlos Clarens's An Illustrated History of the Horror Film helped changed attitudes towards the classic horror movies. Carlos Clarens gives us a history of the horror movie all the way from the earliest years of the Silent Era to the mid-Sixties. In doing so he treats the films with the serious consideration they long deserved. Having been a horror fan since I was a lad, I was delighted when I discovered An Illustrated History of the Horror Film when I was in college. I already knew about the classic Universal horror movies, the Val Lewton movies, and the classic Hammer Horrors, but An Illustrated History of the Horror Film introduced me to all new horrors spanning decades.

The Parade's Gone By by Kevin Brownlow (published 1968):

I am guessing the vast majority of classic film buffs have read this book, and there is a good reason for that. Not only is The Parade's Gone By one of the earliest books on silent movies, but is also still the best book on silent movies. Indeed, The Parade's Gone By helped revitalise interest in silent films. For those who haven't read it, don't expect a history book in the conventional sense. Instead what Kevin Brownlow gives us is a book that combines a critical survey of silent movies with photographs, the recollections of those who worked in silent film, historical accounts, and trivia. Among those whose anecdotes appeared in The Parade's Gone By are such names as Louise Brooks, Buster Keaton, William Wellman, and many others. I checked The Parade's Gone By out from one of our local libraries when I was only a teen and I had not seen much in the way of silent movies (not even Nosferatu). This book helped spur my interest in them.

From Sambo To Superspade: The Black Experience in Motion Pictures by Daniel J. Leab (published 1975):

Along with Donald Bogle's excellent 1973 book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks: An Interpretative History of Blacks in Films, From Sambo To Superspade: The Black Experience in Motion Pictures by Daniel J. Leab was among the first books on African Americans in the movies ever written. It covers a period from the early days of the Silent Era to the Blaxploitation Era (which was just winding down as the book was published) and addresses the many stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood throughout the decades. I checked this out from one of our local libraries when I was in college and it taught me a lot about the history of African Americans in film. At the time I had no idea who Oscar Micheaux was and I had never heard of Million Dollar Pictures. This book was a real eye opener.

The World of Entertainment! Hollywood's Greatest Musicals by Hugh Fordin (published 1975):

This book was later republished under the name MGM's Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit. Under any title it is a must read for fans of MGM musicals. It is a book that goes behind the scenes of MGM's musicals, giving an account of the many musicals made by MGM movie by movie. It covers a period from 1940 to 1970 and includes accounts of such classics as The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, Singin' in the Rain, and practically every musical made by MGM from 1940 to 1970. I have been a fan of musicals ever since my father talked me into watching My Fair Lady (I believe I had seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers before that, but somehow it was more palatable to a little boy...), so naturally I had to check The World of Entertainment! Hollywood's Greatest Musicals out from my college's library. I don't think any fan of MGM musicals would be disappointed by it.

Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons  by Leonard Maltin (published 1980):

I would imagine most animation fans have read this book. It is quite simply the definitive history of American animation, from the early days of the Silent Era to modern times. Mr. Maltin not only discusses the key creative personnel involved in the creation of classic cartoons, but also how American animated films evolved over the years. Mr. Maltin even interviewed many of the animators behind some of America's most beloved cartoons. When I found Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons in my college library I was already familiar with Leonard Maltin from the TV show Entertainment Tonight. I had also long been an animation fan and had seen many of the key classic films beyond those made by Disney and Warner Bros. I had even seen the Fleischer brothers' Gulliver's Travels. That having been said, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons taught me a lot, to the point that I used to joke that everything I learned about animation I learned from Leonard Maltin. That is not quite true now, but it is definitely a must read book for any student of animation history.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Why Twitter Should Not Display "Likes" in One's Timeline

Many months ago when I visited Twitter I noticed something that rather annoyed me in my timeline. Quite simply, Twitter was displaying "likes" (what was once called "favourites") there. As to why this annoyed me, it is because to me Twitter's timeline should consist of only two things: tweets and retweets. "Likes" are neither tweets nor retweets, so to my mind they have no business being there.

Indeed, I don't particularly care what others might like on Twitter and, what is more, I suspect many Twitter users are like me in that regard. Indeed, a Google search reveals various articles full of tricks to hide "likes" on one's Twitter timeline. There is even a Stylish userstyle that was designed to hide "likes", but sadly it has not been updated in ages and no longer seems to work. It seems clear to me that many, perhaps most Twitter users don't want to see "likes" in their timelines.

Sadly, for the moment there seems to be very little one can do about "likes" in one's timeline. The only means I have found of reliably dealing with them on Firefox is to click the little down arrow in the corner of the "like" and mark it "I don't like this tweet". Eventually "likes" will stop displaying in one's timeline, but only for about a month. They will then reappear and one will have to go through the whole process again.

As it is, I rather suspect most people have some expectation of privacy when it comes to their "likes". They certainly don't expect for those "likes" to be displayed for all of Twitter to see. While others knowing I liked a particular tweet doesn't bother me, I do sympathise with those who don't want their "likes" known to the whole world. I have to wonder that many of these people have stopped liking Tweets entirely. I am sure that was probably not Twitter's intention.

It seems to me given many people don't want "likes" displayed in their timelines and many probably would rather their "likes" be somewhat more private that Twitter should entirely cease displaying "likes" on individual's timelines. Short of that, Twitter should give users the option of hiding "likes" in their timeline. I rather think they would be surprised at how many people would choose that option! Until such time, I suppose I will be manually hiding "likes" on my timeline at least once a month...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

TCM's Summer Under the Stars 2018

August is a month that most Turner Classic Movies fans look forward to. Quite simply, it is the month of Summer Under the Stars, the month long event in which TCM devotes each whole day to a single star. Like most TCM fans I always look forward to Summer Under the Stars, even though I do wish they would continue to air Noir Alley during the month!

Anyway, this year's Summer Under the Stars looks to be a particularly good one. One thing I like about the 2018 edition of Summer Under the Stars is that they are featuring stars that have not often been seen during previous Summers Under the Stars. An example of this is Lionel Atwill, best known for playing a mad scientist in such films as Doctor X (1932). The entire day of August 3 is devoted to his films. Another star not often seen during Summer Under the Stars is Queen of Noir Audrey Totter, whose films will air on August 6. On August 14 TCM will air the films of Lupe Vélez. Although best known for the "Mexican Spitfire" movies, Miss Vélez starred in many other films. Other stars TCM are honouring this year include Dorothy Malone, George Brent, Peter Finch, Miriam Hopkins, Anita Louise, Carroll Baker, Lew Ayres, and Marcello Mastroianni. It is nice for this year's Summer Under the Stars TCM is honouring more than the usual suspects.

Of course, most years I am sometimes puzzled by the movies that Turner Classic Movies chooses to air during Summer of the Stars. For me this is particularly true in the case of Frank Sinatra, whom they will honour on August 1. On that day TCM is airing neither Ocean's 11 (1960) nor The Manchurian Candidate (1962), which I consider to be Mr. Sinatra's two best films. To me this would be something akin to devoting a day to Harrison Ford and airing neither Star Wars (1977) nor Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Another bit of strange programming for me occurs on August 23, when Turner Classic Movies honours the lovely Virginia Mayo. They are showing none of the films she made with Danny Kaye, many of which number among my favourite movies Miss Mayo ever made.

That having been said, there are probably some good reasons for TCM not airing some films during Summer Under the Stars. I know that there are simply many films to which TCM does not own the rights. Timer Warner (TCM's parent company) owns the Warner Brothers library, the MGM library prior to 1986,  much of the RKO library, and various other film properties. Time Warner does not own most of the Paramount library (much of which is now owned by Universal Studios), the 20th Century Fox library (most of which is still owned by 20th Century Fox), or the various films produced by the British studios. In other cases I think Turner Classic Movies might avoid films that it airs often during other times of year (this might be why The Manchurian Candidate and Ocean's 11 are missing from the schedule for Frank Sinatra).

Of course, the fact that TCM doesn't show some films during Summer Under the Stars is a minor quibble. Turner Classic Movies generally does a sterling job programming for the event, and I always look forward to it every year. I have no doubt that many TCM fans' DVRs will be doing overtime during the month! I won't even mind missing Noir Alley (well, not much anyway).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Robert Wolders Passes On

Robert Wolders, who was one of the stars of the TV Western Laredo and appeared in the film Beau Geste (1966), died on July 12 2018 at the age of 81.

Robert Wolders was born on September 28 1936 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He made his television debut in  an episode of the TV show Flipper in 1965. He was a regular starting in its second season on the TV show Laredo, playing the role of Erik Hunter. In the Sixties he guest starred on such shows as Run for Your Life, Daniel Boone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Name of the Game, The F.B.I., Dan August, and Bewitched. He appeared in the movies Beau Geste (1966), Tobruk (1967), and Kemek (1970).

In the Seventies, he guest starred on the shows Banacek, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and McMillan & Wife. He appeared in the films Raid on Rommel (1971) and Interval (1973).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Godspeed Roger Perry

Roger Perry, who guest starred on many television shows from the Fifties to the Nineties, died on July 12 2018 at the age of 85. The cause was prostate cancer.

Roger Perry was born on May 7 1933 in Davenport, Iowa. In the early Fifties he served in intelligence in the United States Air Force. He signed with Desliu, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's legendary studio that produced I Love Lucy and would go onto produce The Untouchables, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix. He made his television debut in an episode of Westinghouse Desliu Playhouse in 1959. In the late Fifties he guest starred on such shows as December Bride, Whirlybirds, The Texans, and U.S. Marshal. He was one of the stars of the short-lived show Harrigan and Son. He made his movie debut in The Flying Fontaines in 1959.

In the Sixties Mr. Perry was one of the stars of the short-lived drama Arrest and Trial, a show that could be seen as a forerunner of Law & Order. He guest starred on such shows as Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, Sam Benedict, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Broadside, The Munsters, 12 O' Clock High, The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, Combat!, The Invaders, The Felony Squad, Judd for the Defence, Lancer, Adam-12, Dan August, The New Doctors, and Insight. He appeared in the movies Follow The Boys (1963), The Cat (1966), You've Got to Be Smart (1967), Heaven with a Gun (1969), and Count Yorga, Vampire (1970).

In the Seventies Roger Perry guest starred on such show as Alias Smith and Jones; Nanny and the Professor; Love, American Style; Ironside; Tenafly; The F.B.I.; The Bob Newhart Show; Mannix; Marcus Welby M.D.; Hawaii Five-O; The Six Million Dollar Man; Wonder Woman; Quincy M.E.; and Barnaby Jones. He appeared in the movies The Return of Count Yorga (1971), The Thing with Two Heads (1972), and Roller Boogie (1979).

In the Eighties Roger Perry was a regular on The Facts of Life and Falcon Crest. He guest starred on the show B.J. and the Bear, Here's Boomer, and The Fall Guy. He appeared in the movie Operation Warzone (1988). He later appeared in the movies Dirty Love (2005) and Wreckage (2010).

Roger Perry was also a composer. He wrote the song "A Kid Again" and composed the scores for Make a Promise, Keep a Promise and a musical version of Shaw's You Never Can Tell. He appeared on stage with then wife Jo Anne Worley in such productions as The First Hundred Years, Hanging by a Thread, and The Happiness Bench.

There should be little wonder that Roger Perry made so many guest appearances on television as he was a marvellous actor. He could play a wide variety of roles, from a young man who develops an interest in Marilyn on The Munsters to Captain John Christopher, the 1960s Air Force pilot who is inadvertently beamed aboard the Enterprise on Star Trek to corrupt  Tuscany Valley Board of Supervisors member John Costello on Falcon Crest. Over the years he played everything from lawyers to police officers to military officers to criminals, and he did all of them well. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Late Great Shinobu Hashimoto

Shinobu Hashimoto and Akira Kurosawa
Shinobu Hashimoto, the screenwriter known for his collaborations with Akira Kurosawa (including Rashômon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and The Hidden Fortress) as well as his work with other directors, died on July 19 2018. He was 100 years old.

Shinobu Hashimoto was born in in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan on April 18 1918. He enlisted in the Japanese army in 1938, but contracted tuberculosis while still training. He spent the next four years recuperating in a veteran's sanitarium. It was while he was recuperating that another patient gave him a film magazine, spurring his interest in film. He corresponded with director Mansaku Itami, who became his mentor. Mr. Hashimoto was working for a munitions company when one of his screenplays, Rashômon (1950), found its way to director Akira Kurosawa. This began a series of collaborations that would span the next twenty years.

In the Fifties Mr. Hashimoto wrote or co-wrote the screen plays for such films as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Hidden Fortress (1958), The Chase (1958), Summer Clouds (1958), and The Bad Sleep Well (1960). He directed his first film, I Want to Be a Shellfish (1959), for which he also wrote the screenplay.

In the Sixties Shinobu Hashimoto wrote or co-wrote such films as Zero Focus (1961), Seppuku (1962), Brand of Evil (1964), Revenge (1964), The Sword of Doom (1966), Samurai Rebellion (1967), Tenchu! (1969), and Dodes'ka-den (1970). He also wrote and directed the film Minami no kaze to nami (1961).

Shinobu Hashimoto continued writing screenplays into the Seventies and Eighties, including the screenplays for Yellow Dog (1973) and Tidal Wave (1973). He directed Lake of Illusions (1982)His last work was for a new version of I Want to Be a Shellfish released in 2008.

Shinobu Hashimoto was one of the greatest screenwriters of all time. While best known for his work with Akira Kurosawa, he was very much in demand and worked with many other directors, including Ishirō Honda, Masaki Kobayashi, and Mikio Naruse. His work, whether it was jidai-geki, Japanese noir, or straightforward drama, was always characterised by strong, fully realised characters. If Rashômon, Seven Samurai, Summer Clouds, and Seppuku are regarded as classics today, it is largely because of Mr. Hahsimoto's contributions to them. To this day his influence is still being felt on international cinema. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

AMC's Mad Men Marathon Ten Years Ago

I can say without reservation that 2008 was one of the worst years of my life. The company for which I worked at the time transferred me to what was widely considered the worst division in the corporation. As a result I experienced increased stress, anxiety attacks, and even depression. Quite simply, I was suffering from an adjustment disorder. Worse yet, it was on July 19 2008, after going to see The Dark Knight, that I developed the worst case of the norovirus I have ever had in my life. For several days I simply could not keep anything down. That Sunday, July 20 2008, I then stayed in bed. Even if I had not been predisposed to do so, I had little choice but to remain in bed and watch the Mad Men marathon on AMC that day.

For those of you who don't remember, the second season of Mad Men debuted on debuted on July 27 2008. To promote the new season, AMC then showed every episode from the first season on July 20, starting at 11:00 AM Central. Now I had seen a few episodes from later in the show's first season, enough that it intrigued me. Even if I had not been sick, I probably would have watched the whole marathon. Regardless, by the end of marathon I was hooked on Mad Men. I became a fan of the show and it remains the only show from the 21st Century to rank in my top ten favourite shows of all time.

Of course, anyone who knows me would understand why Mad Men would fascinate me. Ever since my teens, I have been fascinated by the Golden Age of Advertising. Even before Mad Men, David Ogilvy and Leo Burnett numbered among my heroes. What is more, the Sixties have always been my favourite decade for popular culture. A number of my favourite TV shows, movies, music artists, and fashions all emerged from that decade.

While the Sixties is my favourite decade for popular culture, it was by no means perfect. In fact, for many it would have been a miserable decade in which to live. Racism was even more prevalent than it is now. Sexism was even more prevalent than it is now. About half of all Americans smoked and drinking to excess was not unknown among businessmen such as the ad men who worked at Sterling Cooper. As the decade progressed the United States would become more and more embroiled in the Vietnam War. Fortunately, Mad Men acknowledged all of these things to some degree or another. The show definitely did not offer a romanticised, sanitised view of the Sixties.

In keeping with a show that presented a realistic view of the Sixties, Mad Men featured realistic characters as well. There were very few characters who were purely good and bad. Perhaps no better example could be found than Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm), who was in many ways not a very nice guy. He was a serial adulterer who drank a bit too much and had something of a temper, which he sometimes displayed in front of clients. His wife at the start of the show, Betty (played by January Jones), was not any better. She could be downright abusive to her children, had a bit of a temper, and seemed to put more importance on a woman's looks than anything else. Even other characters who might seem purely bad (such as Pete Campbell, played by Vincent Kartheiser), occasionally displayed good qualities. What is more, Mad Men was very well acted and very well written. There should be no surprise that Mad Men won several Emmy Awards and was nominated for many more.

Ultimately, watching the Mad Men marathon on July 20 2008 and then watching the second season made my life a little bit more bearable during what was one of the worst periods of my life. The marathon would also introduce me to a show that I have watched faithfully ever since and one that would become one of my favourite shows of all time. To this day if I am feeling unhappy or stressed out, I can always guarantee on an episode of Mad Men to bring me out of it. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Late Great Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko, the legendary comic book artist and writer who created the Silver Age Blue Beetle, The Question, and Shade the Changing Man, who co-created Captain Atom with writer Joe Gill, and who co-created Doctor Strange and Spider-Man with Stan Lee, died on June 29 2018 at the age of 90. The cause was a myocardial infarction.

Steve Ditko was born on November 2 1927 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He took an interest in comic strips while still young. particularly Prince Valiant by Hal Foster, the comic book character Batman, and Will Eisner's newspaper insert The Spirit. Mr. Ditko graduated from high school in 1945 and then joined the United States Army. While in the military he drew cartoons for a military newspaper. In 1950 he enrolled in the Cartoonist and Illustrator School (now the School of Visual Arts) in New York City.

It was in 1953 that Steve Ditko's first professional work was published in Daring Love no. 1 (October 1953), a romance title published by the imprint Gillmor Magazines of the minor publisher Key Publications. He worked for three months in the studio of comic book legends Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Afterwards he worked with another comic book legend, Mort Meskin, from whom he learned a good deal.

It was not long before Steve Ditko's first work for the company with which he was most closely associated would be published. While Mr. Ditko would work for many other companies, throughout his career he would return to Charlton time and time again until the company folded in 1986. His first work for the company was published in the horror comic book The Thing! no. 12 (February 1954). Unfortunately, Steve Ditko would contract tuberculosis and had to take a break from the comic book industry in order to recuperate.

It was after Steve Ditko returned to comic books that he did his first work for the company that would become known as Marvel Comics. He worked on the company's giant monster and sci-fi titles, including Journey into Mystery, World of Fantasy, Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, and Amazing Adventures. It was during this period that Steve Ditko co-created the superhero Captain Atom with Joe Gill at Charlton. The character first appeared in Space Adventures no. 33 (March 1966). 

Mr. Ditko would later make important contributions to two Marvel superheroes. Stan Lee had created Spider-Man after publisher Martin Goodman had requested that he create an ordinary, teenage superhero. Initially Mr. Lee approached Jack Kirby, with whom he had created The Fantastic Four, to illustrate the new character. While Mr. Kirby's work was good, however, Mr. Lee did not think it fit the character. He then turned to Steve Ditko. It was Mr. Ditko who gave Spider-Man his web-shooters and designed his costume. Steve Ditko would illustrate the character's debut in Amazing Fantasy no. 15 (August 1962) and the first issues for The Amazing Spider-Man from 1963 to 1966.

While Stan Lee was the original impetus for the creation of Spider-Man, it was Steve Ditko who came up with the initial idea for Doctor Strange. In addition to coming up with the initial idea for Doctor Strange, Mr. Ditko also illustrated the feature and co-plotted his adventures. Eventually he plotted the Doctor Strange feature on his own. He continued to work on Doctor Strange until 1966.

Steve Ditko left Marvel in 1966 for reasons that are not entirely clear. He had already done some work for Charlton in 1965, returning to the character he had co-created, Captain Atom. In 1967 Mr. Ditko created the Silver Age Blue Beetle. While Fox Feature Syndicate had published a character of that name during the Golden Age and Charlton had published a revamp of the character in 1964, Steve Ditko's Blue Beetle was an entirely new creation that owed very little to the earlier character. During this period with Charlton, Mr. Ditko also created The Question. In addition to his work at Charlton during this time. he also illustrated stories, most of them written by Archie Goodwin, for Warren Publishing's magazines Creepy and Eerie. It was also during this period that Steve Ditko created Mr. A, who first appeared in Wally Wood's underground comic book witzend. Mr. A expressed Steve Ditko's ideas on Objectivism.

In 1968 Steve Ditko moved to DC Comics. There he created The Creeper, who first appeared in Showcase #73 (Mar-April 1968) and then in six issues of Beware The Creeper. He also created the characters of Hawk and Dove, who also first appeared in Showcase before appearing in their own magazine. Afterwards Steve Ditko worked exclusively for Charlton Comics in addition to various independent publishers. He created and wrote the backup features Liberty Belle (not to be confused with the DC character of the same name) and Killjoy for Charlton's E-Man in the Seventies.

It was in 1975 that Steve Ditko returned to DC Comics, where he crated Shade the Changing Man (who would later be revived under DC's Vertigo imprint without Mr. Ditko's involvement). He also co-created the short-lived sword and sorcery title Stalker, and he worked on the first two issues of Man-Bat. He created a new version of Starman with Paul Levitz, who appeared in Adventure Comics.

Steve Ditko left DC for Marvel in 1979, where he took over Jack Kirby's title Machine Man. In the Eighties he would also work on Rom Spaceknight and Speedball. In the Eighties he also worked for various independent publishers, including Pacific Comics (for whom he created the characters Missing Man and The Mocker), Eclipse Comics (for whom he created the character Static--not to be confused with the later Milestone Comics character), and First Comics. He worked briefly on Archie Comics' revival of their superhero line in 1983 and 1984, illustrating stories featuring The Fly, Fly Girl, and The Jaguar.

In the Nineties Steve Ditko did his last work for Marvel. He co-created Squirrel Girl with Will Murray and worked on the titles Phantom 2040 and Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, among others. In the Naughts He also did his last work for DC, illustrating a New Gods story. From the late Naughts onwards, Mr. Ditko's work was with Robin Synder, who had been an editor at Charlton. These included new Mr. A material.

While Steve Ditko was an adherent of Ayn Rand's Objectivism, fortunately for me and many others not much of his Objectivist views found their way into his mainstream work (not counting Mr. A, of course). Regardless of Mr. Ditko's philosophical views, there can be no doubt that he was a very talented artist. His style was certainly unique. It was slightly cartoony, very surreal, and often filled with detail. The vistas he created for his Doctor Strange stories in the Sixties were moody and have been described as psychedelic. Mr. Ditko's style was fluid and often idiosyncratic. His work on Spider-Man and Doctor Strange offered a sharp contrast to the more traditional work being done by Jack Kirby at Marvel at the time. No artist drew quite like Steve Ditko.

What is more, Steve Ditko would leave behind a legacy that only a few comic book artists and writers could match. He co-created two of Marvel's best known characters, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. While they would not gain the fame of the Marvel characters, he also created some of Charlton's best known characters: Captain Atom, The Blue Beetle, and The Question. He would have a lasting influence on comic books that is still being felt to this day. Indeed, Steve Ditko's impact can be seen in everything from DC's animated shows and features to Marvel movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and, naturally, Doctor Strange. Few comic book artists and writers ever had the impact that Steve Ditko did.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The 50th Anniversary of Yellow Submarine

On July 5 1974 CBS aired the animated feature film Yellow Submarine (1968) on The CBS Friday Night Movies. Even at eleven years old I was a huge Beatles fan, and so I was naturally looking forward to the movie. And even though it was the American version of the film (more on that later), Yellow Submarine did not disappoint me. Not only did it feature some of my favourite Beatles songs, but the animation was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was a far cry from the Warner Bros. theatrical cartoons and Disney animated features I had seen throughout my childhood. It became my favourite animated feature film of all time and it remains so to this day. It was fifty years ago today that Yellow Submarine premiered at the London Pavilion. 

As odd as it might sound, Yellow Submarine emerged from an American Saturday morning cartoon, namely The Beatles. It was in 1965 that King Features Syndicate obtained the rights to produce a cartoon based on The Beatles for American television. The Beatles proved to be a hit and aired on ABC from 1965 to 1969. Despite the cartoon's popularity with the younger set, The Beatles themselves were not initially pleased with it. John Lennon in particular complained that it made them look like "the bloody Flintstones."

It was Al Brodax, the head of King Features' motion picture and television development at the time, who proposed making an animated feature film based on The Beatles' songs. He suggested to Brian Epstein, The Beatles' manager, that such a film could satisfy The Beatles' agreement with United Artists for a third film after A Hard Days Night and Help!. Having gotten the go-ahead to make the film, Mr. Brodax turned to TVC London to produce the movie itself. TVC London was founded in 1957 as TV Cartoons by animator George Dunning. Initially TVC London produced commercials for British television, although they eventually expanded into producing such animated shorts as "The Wardroble" and "The Apple". The success of TVC London led King Features Syndicate to contract TVC London to make the Saturday morning cartoon The Beatles in 1965. George Dunning himself would direct Yellow Submarine, while Jack Stokes of TVC served as the film's animation director.

Al Broadax would have been happy with a feature film that simply expanded on The Beatles Saturday morning cartoon, but TVC London had something different in mind.  The Beatles animated TV series utilised the extremely limited animation common to Saturday morning cartoons of the time. On the other hand, Yellow Submarine utilised what can best be described as stylised full animation. Yellow Submarine even departed from earlier animated feature films, particularly those produced by Disney. It was the first animated feature to draw upon the Pop Art of the day, psychedelia, Op Art, and many other modern artistic styles. It was also the first animated film with a rock soundtrack and the first animated feature with characters based upon real people (The Beatles).

While Yellow Submarine turned out to be something very different from The Beatles TV series, it may have owed something to the Saturday morning cartoon. The episode "Strawberry Fields Forever", produced for the cartoon's third and final season, featured a plot superficially similar to Yellow Submarine. Quite simply, The Beatles used the song "Strawberry Fields Forever" to make a drab orphanage a happier and more colourful place for the children there. What is more, it included some psychedelic imagery. In the end the episode is more than a little reminiscent of the sequence in which The Beatles bring colour back to Pepperland through use of their songs.

The original story for Yellow Submarine was written by Lee Minoff. The screenplay itself would ultimately be the product of multiple writers, including Jack Mendolsohn (who had worked for King Features on their "Krazy Kat" and "Beetle Bailey" television shorts, as well as The Beatles cartoon) and Eric Segal (who later wrote the novel Love Story, upon which the 1970 movie was based).  Reportedly, the screenplay for Yellow Submarine went through 14 drafts. The plot for the movie that ultimately involved The Beatles being recruited by Old Fred (voiced by Lance Percival) to save Pepperland ("an unearthly paradise 80,000 leagues under the sea...") from the Blue Meanies, who hate anything happy and hate music more than anything else. The Blue Meanies not only rob Pepperland of any of its colour, but all of its music as well.

Given how The Beatles viewed the Saturday morning cartoon, it should come as no surprise that initially they were not enthusiastic about Yellow Submarine. Even if their busy schedules had permitted them to do so, The Beatles probably would not have provided their own voices for the film. It was actors John Clive who voiced John, Geoff Hughes who voiced Paul, Peter Batten who voiced George, and Paul Angelis who voiced Ringo. It was only after The Beatles saw the rushes for Yellow Submarine and saw that it was very different from the Saturday morning cartoon that they developed any enthusiasm for the project. Ultimately, they agreed to the live-action cameo that appears at the end of the film.

While George Dunning directed Yellow Submarine and Jack Stokes served as the film's animation director, the film's art director came from outside TVC London. For the art director on Yellow Submarine TVC London hired German illustrator Heinz Edelmann. At the time Mr. Edelmann was known for his work on theatrical posters and the youth magazine twen, using a psychedelic style similar to contemporary Milton Glaser (here it must be noted that artist Peter Max did not work on Yellow Submarine and in fact Mr. Edelmann was working in psychedelia before Mr. Max was). Originally Heinz Edelmann was only supposed to work eight weeks during which he would design the look of the movie. In the end Edelmann worked an entire year on Yellow Submarine, often sleeping only four hours a night to complete the project. He was in charge of over 200 artists. In the end, Yellow Submarine would take a toll on Edelmann's health. It took him two years to recover from working on the film.

Of course, at the core of Yellow Submarine are the songs of The Beatles. The film utilised eleven full-length Beatles songs, as well as shorter snatches of yet other songs. The vast majority of the full-length songs had been previously released, the oldest being "Nowhere Man" from the album Rubber Soul. The Beatles provided Yellow Submarine with four, never-before-released songs. "Only a Northern Song" was written by George Harrison and recorded during the sessions for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "All Together Now" was written by Paul McCartney during the sessions for Magical Mystery Tour. "It's All Too Much" was written by George Harrison and had been considered for inclusion in the TV special Magical Mystery Tour. "Hey Bulldog" was written by John Lennon, and was the one song written specifically for the movie Yellow Submarine.

When Yellow Submarine was released in the United States on November 13 1968, it was a slightly shorter film than had been released in the UK and Europe. Al Brodax felt that the film ran too long and as a result the "Hey Bulldog" sequence was cut from the American release, as was a sequence in which The Beatles met their Pepperland doppelgängers Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Fortunately the original British release was restored for its 1999 release on DVD, so that Americans have been able to see the same movie that the British and Europeans had seen since the Sixties.

Sadly, Yellow Submarine did not initially do well at the British box office. In fact, according to an August 14 1968 article in Variety, the film had been dropped by several Rank Organisation theatres because of poor box office sales. Fortunately, it performed much better in the United States, where it became a box office hit. On both sides of the Pond Yellow Submarine received generally positive reviews, and has since come to be regarded as a classic. Time magazine included it in their list of "The 25 All-Time Best Animated Films". The film boasts an impressive a 96% percent rating on the web site Rotten Tomatoes.

Yellow Submarine would be briefly released on VHS and Laserdisc in the Eighties. As mentioned earlier, the British release would be restored and released on DVD. More recently, Yellow Submarine has been restored again and released on DVD and Blu-Ray for its fiftieth anniversary. It has also been re-released to theatres throughout the United States and Europe.

Ultimately, Yellow Submarine would prove to be a pioneering effort in animated films. It was the first animated feature film with a rock soundtrack, as well as one of the earliest animated films to break with the Disney's more naturalistic style of animation. A January 9 1974 article in Variety gave credit to Yellow Submarine for bringing about a "graphic revolution". In many respects Yellow Submarine was revolutionary. It was the first animated film to utilise a diverse array of styles, from Pop Art to psychedelia to Op Art and yet other styles. Yellow Submarine also used a number of different animation techniques, from the time honoured technique of rotoscoping to the incorporation of live action photographs. It was a far cry from the animated features of Disney or even the Fleischer Brothers.

Today, fifty years after its premiere, Yellow Submarine is considered a classic. It is often counted among the greatest animated films of all time. It revolutionised animation and paved the way for animated features that departed from the Disney model and that appealed to teens and adults as much as (if not more than) they do to children. In the end, animation would never be the same again.