Friday, June 5, 2015

Announcing the 2nd Annual British Invaders Blogathon

Last year A Shroud of Thoughts hosted the British Invaders Blogathon, a celebration of the best in British classic films. The British Invaders Blogathon was such a success that I decided to make it an annual event. While many people think of Hollywood when they think of classic movie, the fact is that the United Kingdom made many significant contributions to film over the years. From the Gainsborough melodramas to Hammer Films to the British New Wave, cinema would be much poorer without the British.  I've scheduled this year's British Invaders Blogathon  for July 31, August 1, and August 2.

Here are the ground rules for this year's blogathon:

1. Posts can be about any British film or any topic related to British films. For the sake of simplicity, I am using "British" here to refer to any film made by a company based in the United Kingdom or British Crown dependencies. If you want to write about a film made in Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man, then, you can do so. Also for the sake of simplicity, people can write about co-productions made with companies from outside the United Kingdom. For example, since 2001: A Space Odyssey is a British-American co-production, someone could write about it if they chose.

2. There is no limit on subject matter. You can write about any film in any genre you want. Posts can be on everything from the British New Wave to the Gainsborough bodice rippers to the Hammer Horrors. I am also making no limit on the format posts can make. You could review a classic British film, make an in-depth analysis of a series of British films, or even simply do a pictorial tribute to a film. That having been said, since this is a classic film blogathon,  I only ask that you write about films made before 1990. I generally don't think of a film as a classic until it has been around for thirty years, but to give bloggers more options I am setting the cut off point at twenty five years ago.

3. I am asking that there please be no duplicates. That having been said, if someone has already chosen to cover From Russia with Love (1963), someone else could write about the James Bond series as a whole.

4. I am not going to schedule days for individual posts. All I ask is that the posts be made on or between July 31, August 1, or August 2.

If you want to participate in the British Invaders Blogathon, you can get a hold of me either on Twitter at mercurie80 or at my email:  mercurie80 at, or you can simply comment below.

Below is a roster of participants and the topics they are covering. Come July 31 I will make a post that will include all of the posts in the blogathon.

The Hitless Wonder Blog: Where Eagles Dare

Defiant Success: Four Queer Films--Victim; Sunday, Bloody Sunday; My Beautiful Laundrette; and Maurice

Moon in Gemini: A Fish Called Wanda
The Wonderful World of Cinema: The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

Crítica Retrô: Zulu

CineMaven's: ESSAYS from the COUCH: Night and the City

Outspoken & Freckled: Room With a View

Ramblings of a Cinephile: Room at The Top
Cinephilia: I Know Where I'm Going!

MovieMovieBlogBlog: A Hard Day's Night and Help!

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) and Go On Singing

Girls Do Film: Blue Scar
Speakeasy: The Damned (1963)

Bubblegum Aesthetics: Quadrophenia

The Stop Button: Hope and Glory 

Love Letters to Old Hollywood: The Tales of Hoffmann 

Noirish: Whistle Down the Wind 

Back to Golden Days: The End of the Affair 

litlover12: The Scapegoat

The Joy and Agony of Movies:  Get Carter (1971), The Long Good Friday, The Hit, and Mona Lisa

portraitsbyjenni: The Wicked Lady 

Once Upon a Screen: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Sacred Celluloid: Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Pop Culture Reverie: The Lion in Winter

Movies Silently: The Lad From Old Ireland (1910)

Sister Celluloid: The Holly and the Ivy

A Shroud of Thoughts: The Ladykillers (1955) 

Bnoirdetour: It Always Rains on Sunday
 Voyages Extraordinaires: "The Edwardian Scientific Romances of Amicus Productions"

Almost Ginger: Hell is a City (1960) and A Taste of Honey (1961)

Below are several banners for participants in the blogathon to use (or you can always make your own):

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Shroud of Thoughts 11th Anniversary

It was eleven years ago today that I launched this blog, A Shroud of Thoughts, with the "Famous First Post". At the time I had no idea that I would still be writing the blog eleven years later. The simple fact is that I have been writing A Shroud of Thoughts longer than I was most of the jobs I have had and romantic relationships in my life! It is hard to believe that 2599 posts after that first post A Shroud of Thoughts is still going.

Here, as I usually do on this blog's anniversaries, I have to explain the origins of its name. In 2004 it was the fashion of the time to name blogs with some variation of the word "thought" in them. For that reason I took the title for this blog from a phrase in Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage canto iii stanza 113:

I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd
To its idolatries a patient knee,
Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

A Shroud of Thoughts was dedicated to pop culture from the very beginning, although I would also write things of a more personal nature in the early days. Finally deciding that people would probably be more interested in pop culture than they would be my own rather dull personal life, those personal posts fell by the wayside. It did eventually occur to me that I should perhaps change the title of the blog to something more fitting a pop culture blog, but by that time it already had a regular readership. It has then remained A Shroud of Thoughts  ever since.

Every year I post links to what I feel were the best posts of A Shroud of Thoughts in the past year. For last year's 10th anniversary I posted what I thought were the best posts of the past decade  as well. Anyhow, without further ado, here are what I feel to be my best posts of 2014-2015.

"1954: Film's Other Great Year" (June 16 2014) 

"Torchy Turns 110: The 110th Birthday of Glenda Farrell" (June 30 2014)

"The Tingler: So Bad It's Good or So Good It's Bad?" (July 14 2014)

"Billy Liar: Kitchen Sink Surrealism" (August 2 2015)

"Shared Universes Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe" (August 22 2014)

"WWI in Classic Film: Sergeant York" (September 7 2014)

"The 50th Anniversary of Bewitched" (September 17 2014)

September 21 2014-September 27 2014 (The Week of the 50th Anniversaries of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gilligan's Island, and My Living Doll)

"Rock & Rule: Canada's Animated Masterpiece (October 4 2014)

"From Stage to Screen: Arsenic and Old Lace" (October 18 2014)

"Terror on the Newsstands Part One: The Horror Pulps" (October 26 2014)

"Terror on the Newstands Part Two The Shudder Pulps" (October 27 2014)

"The Flash Turns 75" (November 10 2014)

"Tony Randall, What a Character!" (November 16 2014)

Santa Claus on Film (December 22 2014)

"British Shows on American Network Broadcast Television in the Fifties and Sixties Part One" (January 23 2015)

"British Shows on American Network Broadcast Television in the Fifties and Sixties Part Two" (January 24 2015)

British Shows on American Network Broadcast Television in the Fifties and Sixties Part Three" (January 25 2015)

"British Shows on American Network Broadcast Television in the Fifties and Sixties Part Four" (January 26 2015)

"The Wicked Lady: The British Film Censored by Americans and How It Changed the English Language" (February 10 2015)

"The Avengers: 'A Touch of Brimstone'" March 28 2015

You Only Live Many Times: James Bond's Archenemy--Ernst Stavro Blofeld (April 17 2015)

Laurel & Hardy in "The Music Box" (May 2 2015)

"Farewell to Mad Men" "May 18 2015" 

"Green Lantern's 75th Anniversary" (May 21 2015)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Pictorial Tribute to Paulette Goddard

Today is Paulette Goddard's birthday. As to what year that blessed event occurred, that is anyone's guess. Some sources say 1910, others day 1911, and yet others claim 1914. Ronco sopra Ascona, Ticino, Switzerland, where she died, claimed 1905, although that seems entirely too early. She would have been 31 years old when she made Modern Times (1936)!  Regardless, I have always had a bit of a crush on Paulette Goddard ever since I first saw her in The Ghost Breakers (1940) with Bob Hope. She was both beautiful and talented. Indeed, many people don't realise that she was almost cast as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. As much as I love Vivien Leigh, I think Paulette Goddard would have delivered a very good performance as Scarlett. Of course, film history would have unfolded very differently if she had!

In tribute to Paulette Goddard on what is her birthday, here are a few photos of one of my all time favourite actresses.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Costume Designer Julie Harris R.I.P.

Costume designer Julie Harris, who worked on such films as Swiss Family Robinson (1960), A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), and Darling (1965), died on May 30 2015 at the age of 94.

Julie Harris was born on March 26 1921 in London. She attended the Chelsea School of Art. She started her career at Gainsborough Pictures. The first film upon which she worked was Holiday Camp (1947). In the late Forties she worked on such films as Broken Journey (1948), Good-Time Girl (1948), Quartet (1948), The Lost People (1949), and Trio (1950).

The Fifties saw Miss Harris continue to work steadily. In the Fifties she worked on such films as Another Man's Poison (1951), Made in Heaven (1952), South of Algiers (1953), You Know What Sailors Are (1954), Cast a Dark Shadow (1955), It's a Wonderful World (1956), The Story of Esther Costello (1957), Sapphire (1959). and Swiss Family Robinson (1960).

The Sixties marked the height of Julie Harris's career, the period when she worked on what were probably her most famous films. She worked on The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help!. She won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White for Darling, and she won the BAFTA Award for Best British Costume (Colour) for The Wrong Box (1966). She was nominated for BAFTA Awards for Psyche 59 (1964) and Help! (1965). She also worked on such films as The Greengage Summer (1961), All Night Long (1962), The Chalk Garden (1964), Carry on Cleo (1964), Casino Royale (1967), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).

In the Seventies Miss Harris was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design for The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976) . She also worked on such notable films as Frenzy (1972), Live and Let Die (1973), Rollerball (1975), The Land That Time Forgot (1975), and Dracula (1979).

Julie Harris's last feature film was The Great Muppet Caper (1981). Afterwards she worked in television on such productions as The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983), The Sign of Four (1983). and A Hazard of Hearts (1987), as well as the mini-series The Perfect Hero in 1991.

Julie Harris was simply an incredible costume designer. There can be little doubt that she was largely responsible for the way we view Swinging London today. It is not simply a case that she designed the costumes for both A Hard Day's Night and Help!, but she also designed costumes for such films set in Swinging London as Darling and Casino Royale (1967) as well.

While Julie Harris will forever be linked to Swinging London, however, she did notable work on many other films as well. In fact, her talent as a costume designer seemed to be to create the perfect designs for the mood and milieu of any particular film. She created some great designs for period pieces, as born out by The Wrong Box and The Slipper and the Rose. At the same time she could create convincing costumes for the futuristic Rollerball. Her costumes for Cast a Dark Shadow were perfect for a film that could almost be considered British film noir. She was even created some of the best designs ever for a Bond film, Live and Let Die. Julie Harris was extremely versatile and talented as a costume designer. It is little wonder that she won awards for her work. She really should have won more.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Godspeed Betsy Palmer

Actress and television personality Betsy Palmer died on May 29 2015 at the age of 88. She starred in such films as The Long Grey Line (1955), Mister Roberts (1955), Queen Bee (1955), and The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958). She appeared on the legendary panel show I've Got a Secret for nearly a decade.

Betsy Palmer was born Patricia Betsy Hrunek in East Chicago, Indiana. She studied theatre at DePaul University in Chicago before moving to New York City to pursue a career in acting. She had only been in New York City for less than a week when she was offered her first job, appearing in the television soap opera Miss Susan, at a party held by fellow actor Frank Sutton (who would later become famous as Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.) in 1951.

Miss Palmer would appear frequently on television in the Fifties. She was one of the hosts of the game show Wheel of Fortune from 1952 to 1953 (here it must be pointed that this game show bears no relation to Merv Griffin's later game show of the same name). She served as an assistant on the game show I'll Buy That. She joined the panel of I've Got a Secret in 1958, replacing original panellist Faye Emerson. Miss Palmer remained with the show until the end of its original run in 1967. She was also a regular on The Today Show from 1958 to 1959. Throughout the Fifties Betsy Palmer guest starred on such television shows as Danger, Inner Sanctum, The Web, Lux Video Theatre, Armstrong Circle Theatre, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Alcoa Hour, Goodyear Playhouse, Studio One, Kraft Theatre, Playhouse 90, and The United States Steel Hour. She appeared on such game shows and talk shows as Masquerade Party, What's It For, What's My Line, and The Tonight Show.

In the Fifties Betsy Palmer also had a thriving film career. She made her film career in Death Tide in 1955. That same year she appeared as Kitty Carter in The Thin Grey Line,  Lt. Ann Girard in Mister Roberts, and Carol Lee Phillips in Queen Bee. In the late Fifties Miss Palmer starred in such films as The Tin Star (1957), The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958), It Happened to Jane (1959), and The Last Angry Man (1959).  Miss Palmer also had a career on Broadway in the Fifties. She appeared in the productions The Grand Prize and Affair of Honour.

In the Sixties Betsy Palmer continued her stint as a panellist on I've Got a Secret. She also appeared on such game shows, talk shows, variety shows, and reality shows as The Price is Right, Password, Th Ed Sullivan Show, Candid Camera, The Tonight Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and Girls Talk. She starred in the 1968 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation "A Punt, a Pass, and a Prayer". She appeared in Broadway in Roar Like a Dove and Cactus Flower.

In the Seventies Betsy Palmer was the co-host of The New Candid Camera. She had a regular role on the soap opera Number 96. She appeared on the game show The $25,000 Pyramid. She guest starred on Love, American Style; Ryan's Hope; and CHiPs. She appeared on Broadway in Same Time, Next Year and The Eccentricities of a Nightingale. She appeared in the movie Friday the 13th (1980).

In the Eighties Betsy Palmer had a regular role on the night-time soap opera Knot's Landing. She guest starred on The Love Boat; Maggie; T. J. Hooker; Charles in Charge; Newhart; Out of This World; and Murder, She Wrote. She appeared in the TV movies Windmills of the Gods and Goddess of Love. She appeared on the game show Family Feud.

In the Nineties Betsy Palmer guest starred on the shows Columbo, Just Shoot Me, and Hang Time. She appeared in the films The Fear: Resurrection (1999). In the Naughts she appeared in the films Penny Dreadful (2005), Waltzing Anna (2006), and Bell Witch: The Movie (2007).

I have to admit that I have always had a bit of a crush on Betsy Palmer. In her many game show appearances she always seemed so beautiful, intelligent, witty, funny, and charming. There is little wonder why she was on I've Got a Secret for most of its run and she was in so much demand for appearances on other panel shows and game shows. In many ways Betsy Palmer was the perfect television personality.

Of course, while Betsy Palmer may be best known for her long stint on I've Got a Secret, it must be kept in mind that she was also an actress, and a fairly good one at that. She played the nurse Lt. Girard, the lead female character in Mister Roberts. That same year she played the ill-fated Carol in the movie Queen Bee. She played the lead role of a housewife turned  undercover narcotics agent in The True Story of Lynn Stuart. While Miss Palmer appeared in many notable films in the Fifties, she also had a thriving career on television in the many anthology shows during the decade. As an actress Betsy Palmer was versatile and played a variety of different roles, particularly on television. Indeed, in the Fifties television dramas she played everything from Marty Piletti' cousin-in-law (in the classic teleplay "Marty") to a prostitute (in the teleplay "The Time of Your Life").   Whether as a witty panellist on game shows or an actress in films and television shows, there is a good deal for which Miss Palmer will be remembered.