Friday, June 8, 2018

The 100th Anniversary of Robert Preston's Birth

This week I contracted a particularly vicious strain of of the norovirus, which is why I did not make a post Wednesday or yesterday. I am still feeling under the weather, but I wanted to observe the 100th birthday of Robert Preston. He has always been one of my favourite performers. Early in his career he appeared in such films as Beau Geste (1939) and This Gun for Hire (1942). His everlasting fame would come with the stage musical The Music Man in 1957. He would reprise his role as Professor Harold Hill in the 1962 film adaptation. Later in his career he would play Carole "Toddy" Todd in Victor Victoria (1982), for which he was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Gen Xers might remember him best for his final film role, playing Centauri  in The Last Starfighter (1984).

Here in honour of Mr. Preston's centenary are two videos. First up is "(Ya Got) Trouble", from The Music Man.

Next up is "Chicken Fat", a song that requires a little bit of explanation. "Chicken Fat" was written by Meredith Wilson of The Music Man fame. It was commissioned by President John F. Kennedy's President's Council on Physical Fitness. Two versions were recorded: a shorter version for radio airplay and a longer version that would be sent to schools where it would be played while students performed callisthenics. I am guessing that if you are a Baby Boomer, you might remember it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The 5th Annual Rule, Britannia Film Blogathon (formerly the British Invaders Blogathon)

Okay, I know what you are thinking. "You have never held a Rule, Britannia Film Blogathon, so how can this be the 5th annual one?" Well, the Rule, Britannia Film Blogathon is essentially my old British Invaders Blogathon with a new name. I have never really cared for the name "British Invaders" as it really would not be applicable to those living in the United Kingdom. When I finally realised there has never been a "Rule, Britannia" blogathon, I simply decided to rename the blogathon with something much cooler!

Anyway, beyond the new name the blogathon is pretty much the same. It is a celebration of British films. While many people think of Hollywood when they think of classic movies, 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 Rule, Britannia Blogathon  for August 3, August 4, and August 5 2018.

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 take. 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 1993. 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 another James Bond movie or even 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 August 3, August 4, or August 5.

5. On August 3 I will set up the page for the blogathon. I ask that you link your posts to that page.

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

Below is a roster of participants and the topics they are covering. Come August 3 I will make a post that will include all of the posts in the blogathon:

The Stop Button: Stormy Monday

Realweegiemidget Reviews: Withnail and I (1987) 

 Caftan Woman: The Mudlark

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood: The Elephant Man 

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)

The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog: The Ghoul (1933)

Moon in Gemini: The Crying Game

Taking Up Room: Chariots of Fire 

The Stop ButtonBrief Encounter

Cinematic Scribblings: The Go-Between

The Midnite Drive In: Morons from Outer Space

Cinematic CatharsisYellow Submarine 

A Scunner Darkly: Universal Soldier

The Wonderful World of Cinema: The Rocky Horror Picture Show 

Liberal EnglandThe Magnet

Wadswords: "Movie Crash Course: Blackmail
Crítica Retrô: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Silver Scenes: Turn the Key Softly (1953)

Movierob:  Sink the Bismarck (1960), Time Bandits (1981), and The Sound Barrier (1952)

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

The 14th Anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts

It was 14 years ago today that I launched A Shroud of Thoughts. At the time I had no idea I would still be writing this blog 14 years later. And in that time things have changed a great deal. In 2004 mobile phones were rather common, but the vast majority of them were feature phones. Smartphones existed, but they were well out of reach for the average person and I doubt most people at the time even knew they existed. Streaming media existed in 2004, but given most Americans still accessed the World Wide Web through dial-up, it really was not practical. Television was still dominated by the broadcast networks, with HBO producing some notable contributions. The era of such cable shows as Mad Men and Breaking Bad was still a few years away.

As to A Shroud of Thoughts, blogs were a bit of a fad in the years from 2003 to 2005. The news was all abuzz about them and it seems as if everyone and his or her brother had his or her own blog. It was a lady friend of mine who had her own blog that led to the creation of A Shroud of Thoughts. Looking at her blog I thought writing a blog might be fun and so I decided to launch my own blog. As to the title, at the time it was popular to give one's blog a title containing variations on the word "thoughts", "musings", and so on. I took the phrase "a shroud of thoughts" from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage canto iii stanza 113 (I won't quote it here, but you can look it up). I later thought seriously about changing the name to something more fitting a blog dedicated to popular culture and nostalgia, but by that time the blog already had a few readers and I feared a title change might confuse them!

Over the years A Shroud of Thoughts has changed a bit. In the early days, in addition to posts about popular culture and nostalgia, I also included posts of a more personal nature. I soon cut those out, as I figured people were much interested in my personal life (not to mention I am a fairly private person). In the first many years of the blog I also wrote reviews of and articles about more recent movies and TV shows. I never made a conscious decision to stop writing such posts. It was simply a case that I am much more interested in older movies, TV shows, and so on.

Here I should point out that A Shroud of Thoughts is not the only old blog around, as there are several that over ten years still being published. Among these are Immortal EphemeraInner Toob, The Stop Button, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings, The Rap Sheet, Thrillling Days of Yesteryear, and Out of the Past, among others. While it might be unusual for a blog to be 14 years old (the vast majority of blogs last only a few months, sometimes only a day), A Shroud of Thoughts is hardly unique in having been around for several years!

Every year on the blog's anniversary I post what I think were the best blog posts of the past year. Here then are what I consider my best posts from 2017-2018.

"The 100th Anniversary of Dean Martin's Birth" June 7 2017

"Richard Boone: A Knight Without Armour..." June 18 2017

"Les Diaboliques (Diabolique to We English Speakers)" July 21 2017

"Rural Variety Shows of the Late Sixties" August 10 2017

"WKRP in Cincinnati" August 18 2017

"The 50th Anniversary of He & She" September 6 2017

 "The 60th Anniversary of Have Gun--Will Travel" September 14 2017

"The TV Show Perry Mason Turns 60" September 21 2017

"The 60th Anniversary of Maverick" September 22 2017

"The Cisco Kid Was a Friend of Mine" October 7 2017

"Mad Monster Party? (1967)" October 27 2017

"The Devil and Daniel Mouse: A Canadian Made Halloween Special" October 30 2017

"The 50th Anniversary of The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed" November 10 2017

"The 130th Anniversary of Sherlock Holmes" November 21 2017

"The 50th Anniversary of The Who Sell Out" December 15 2017

"William Schallert: A Man of Many Faces" December 16 2017

12/17/2017-12/23/2017 (A week of Yuletide posts and Audrey Tooter's 100th Birthday

"The 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour" December 26 2017

"The Military Sitcoms of the Sixties" January 30 2018

"The 100th Anniversary of Ida Lupino's Birth" February 4 2018

"The Planet of the Apes Craze Remembered" February 8 2018

"The Hazel Scott Show" February 21 2018

"The Monkees: 'The Devil and Peter Tork'" March 24 2018

"Planet of the Apes (1968) Turns 50" April 3 2018

"Flash Gordon (1980)" April 13 2018

"The Superman Phenomenon in the Late Thirties and Early Forties" April 19 2018

"Our Miss Brooks" April 30 2018

"The Band Wagon (1953)" May 17 2018

"The Road to Hope & Crosby" May 19 2018

"The 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner's Debut in the United States" June 1 2018

"Captain Kronos--Vampire Hunter (1974)" June 2 2018