Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Late Great Trini Lopez

Trini Lopez, the musician and singer known for such hits as "If I Had a Hammer" and "Lemon Tree," died on August 11 2020 at the age of 83. The cause was complications from COVID-19.

Trini Lopez was born Trinidad Lopez III on May 13 1937 in Dallas, Texas. His father, Trinidad Lopez II, had been a singer, dancer, and actor in his native Mexico, but earned a living as a manual labourer. He was a teenager when he married Petra Gonzalez in their hometown of  Moroleón, Guanajuato. They later moved to Dallas and would have six children, including Trinidad Lopez III. Trini Lopez grew up in the area of Dallas known as Little Mexico. He was eleven years old when his father bought him a guitar and taught him how to play it. Young Mr. Lopez began playing on street corners for a few coins. He played tradition Mexican songs, as well as songs by such artists as T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly. He formed his first band, The Big Beats, when he was 15. The band played at the upscale Cipango Club in Dallas.

In 1958 Trini Lopez met Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly introduced Trini Lopez to his producer, Norman Petty. Unfortunately, both Mr. Lopez's relationship with Norman Petty, as well as his own band, were strained at the time. They released two instrumentals for Columbia Records before Trini Lopez left the band.

Trini Lopez recorded this first single, "The Right to Rock," as a solo artist for Volk Records in Dallas. The label tried to persuade Trini Lopez to change his last name in order to hide the fact that he was Mexican American, but Mr. Lopez refused to do so. It was the next year that he signed with King Records. Trini Lopez recorded around a dozen songs for King Records for the next three years including "Rock On" and "Sweet Thing," but none of them charted.

It was a few months after Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens were killed in a plane crash five miles northwest of Mason City, Iowa on February 3 1959 that The Crickets asked Trini Lopez to be their new lead singer. Mr. Lopez went to Hollywood to join The Crickets, but ultimately it did not work out.

Trini Lopez's big break came when he started playing at P.J.'s, a club frequented by many dignitaries, among them Frank Sinatra. Mr. Sinatra had Trini Lopez signed to his own label, Reprise Records. His first album on Reprise Records, Trini Lopez at PJ's, proved to be a hit, going to no. 2 on the Billboard album chart. Taken from the album was the single "If I Had a Hammer," which peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would be followed by further hits in the Sixties, including "Kansas City" (which went to no. 23 on Billboard Hot 100), "Lemon Tree" (which went to no. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100), and "I'm Comin' Home, Cindy" (which went to no. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. His albums did better than his singles, regularly charting throughout the Sixties. Some even broke the top twenty of the Billboard album chart, including More Trini Lopez at PJ's (which peaked at no. 11), The Latin Album (which peaked at no. 18), and The Folk Album (which peaked at no. 18).

Trini Lopez's last single to chart was "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying", which peaked at no. 113 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. He continued to release singles until 1978. Trini Lopez continued to release albums until the Teens, with his last album, Into the Future, being released in 2011. He continued performing well into the Teens.

Trini Lopez was a talented guitarist and in 1964 designed two guitars for the Gibson Guitar Corporation. He designed the Trini Lopez Standard, a guitar for rock and roll, and the Lopez Deluxe, a guitar for jazz.

Trini Lopez also had an acting career. He made his acting debut playing himself in Marriage on the Rocks (1965). He again appeared as himself in Poppies Are Also Flowers (1966). He played Pedro Jiminez in the classic The Dirty Dozen (1967). He also appeared in The Phynx (1970) and Antonio (1973). Mr. Lopez also appeared on television, guest starring on Adam-12 and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and the TV movie The Reluctant Heroes. In addition to numerous variety shows and talk shows, he also appeared in his own TV special, The Trini Lopez Show, in 1969.

Trini Lopez was truly a force to be reckoned with. He blended such diverse styles as folk, blues, rockabilly and Mexican music. He provided upbeat arrangements for songs that usually aren't upbeat, such as "If I Had a Hammer." He was a virtuoso with the guitar. In addition to his talent as a guitarist and singer, Mr. Lopez also displayed talent as an actor. He shined as Pedro Jiminez in a cast full of stars in The Dirty Dozen. In the Adam-12 episode "Log 115: Gang War," he was impressive as Father Xavier Rojas. Here it must also be mentioned that Trini Lopez was a pioneer with regards to Mexican Americans in popular culture. He refused to change his name, telling the Dallas Morning News in 2017, "You know how many [Latino] artists in America that changed their name? Vikki Carr and Freddy Fender. I insisted on keeping my name Lopez. I'm proud to be a Lopez. I'm proud to be a Mexicano." At a time when images of Mexicans in American pop culture were usually stereotypes, Trini Lopez refused to be anything but himself, paving the way for other artists of Mexican descent. He was a true pioneer and an enormous talent.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Raymond Allen Passes On

Raymond Allen, who played Aunt Esther's alcoholic husband Woodrow on the classic sitcom Sanford and Son, died on August 10 at the age of 91.

Raymond Allen was born March 5 1929 in Kansas City, Kansas. He made his film debut in 1946 in a small part in the film Fight That Ghost. In the Seventies he appeared in the movies Mean Mother (1973) and Darktown Strutters (1975). He first appeared on Sanford and Son as Uncle Woodrow in 1974 and continued to appear on the show until it went off the air in 1977. He reprised his role of Woodrow on the spinoff Sanford Arms. While he was on Sanford and Son, he also appeared in the recurring role of Ned the Wino on Good Times. In 1976 he began appearing on Starsky and Hutch as mechanic Merl the Earl. He guest starred on Insight, The Love Boat and The Jeffresons. He appeared in the TV movie Gus Brown and Midnight Brewster in 1985.

Mr. Allen retired from acting in 1985, although he continued to make personal appearances.

Raymond Allen was a wonderful actor with a real talent for comedy. He stood out as Uncle Woodrow in a cast that included Redd Foxx and LaWanda Page. He stood out on other shows as well, and remains memorable as Ned on Good Times and Merl the Earl on Good Times.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Wayne Fontana Passes On

Wayne Fontana, the British singer who had hits with both The Mindbenders and as a solo artist, died on August 6 2020 at the age of 74.

Wayne Fontana was born Glyn Ellis in Manchester on October 28 1945. He took his stage name from Elvis Preley's drummer D. J. Fontana. In 1962 he formed his backing band The Jets. After various line-up changes to The Jets, in 1963 Wayne Fontana signed to the label named, by total coincidence, Fontana Records. Mr. Fontana's backing band was then renamed The Mindbenders, after the Dirk Bogarde movie The Mind Benders (1963).

Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders' first single, "Hello Josephine," peaked at no. 46 on the British single chart. Their next two singles did not chart. Their first album, the eponymous Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders, was released in 1964. Their next single, "Stop Look and Listen," peaked at no. 37. It was followed by their first major British hit, "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um," which peaked at no. 5 on the British singles chart. It would be their next single that would prove to be Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders' biggest hit. "The Game of Love" peaked at no. 2 on the British singles chart and at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The success of the single would lead to their first American album, The Game of Love.

Unfortunately, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders were unable to capitalize on the success of "The Game of Love." "It's Just a Little Bit Too Late" did relatively well in Britain, peaking at no. 20, but only went to no. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. "She Needs Love," Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders' final single together, only went to no. 32 on the British singles chart. One last album, Eric, Rick, Wayne and Bob – It's Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders was released in 1965.

Wayne Fontana left The Mindbenders in October 1965, reportedly in the middle of a concert. Still under contract to Fontana Records, his first single as a solo artist, "It Was Easier To Hurt Her," was released in 1965. It went to no. 36 on the British singles chart. Wayne Fontana had a few hits in 1966. "Come On Home" went to no. 16 on the British singles chart, while "Pamela Pamela" went to no. 11. Despite the success of "Pamela Pamela," continuing to release singles through 1969, "Pamela Pamela" would be his last single to chart. Wayne Fontana was one of the first performers to play at the now legendary Glastonbury Festival in 1970.

After the Glastonbury Festival, Wayne Fontana took a break from music. He signed to Warner Bros. and released the single "Together" in 1973, but it failed to chart. After signing to Polydor, his final single "The Last Bus Home," was released in 1976.  Afterwards he retired from the music industry. He would later perform on the Sixties revival circuit.

Wayne Fontana had his share of problems ever since the Seventies, but that does not erase his contribution to popular music. Both with The Mindbenders and as a solo artist, he recorded a number of memorable songs. In the United States, "The Game of Love" remains one of the best known British songs from the Sixties and still receives a good deal of radio airplay. His contemporaries certainly respected him. Among the tributes to Wayne Fontana were ones from Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits and Terry Sylvester of The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Hollies.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Wilford Brimley and Reni Santoni Pass On

Wilford Brimley

Wilford Brimley, who had a recurring role on the TV show The Waltons and a regular role on Our House, and appeared in such movies as The Thing (1982) and Cocoon (1985), died on August 1 2020 at the age of 85. 
Wilford Brimley was born on September 27 1934 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Brimley dropped out of school at age 14 and worked as a cowboy in Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. During the Korean War he joined the United States Marines and served in the Aleutian Islands. After his service he worked as a ranch hand, wrangler, and blacksmith. For a short time he was a bodyguard for Howard Hughes. He started shoeing horses for both movies and television series.

Wilford Brimley appeared in bit parts in the movies True Grit (1969) and Lawman (1971) before he was cast in the recurring role of Horace Brimley on seasons 2 through 6 of The Waltons. He guest starred on the TV shows Kung Fu, The Oregon Trail, and How the West Was Won. He appeared in the mini-series The Awakening Land and the TV movie The Wild Wild West Revisited. Mr. Brimley appeared in the movies The China Syndrome (1979), The Electric Horseman (1979), Brubaker (1980), and Borderline (1980).

In the Eighties Wilford Brimley had the regular role of grandfather Gus Witherspoon on the television show Our House. He guest starred on the TV show The Firm and appeared in several TV movies. Mr. Brimley appeared in the movies Absence of Malice (1981), Death Valley (1982), The Thing (1982), High Road to China (1983), Tender Mercies (1983), 10 to Midnight (1983), Tough Enough (1983) Harry & Son (1984), The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), The Stone Boy (1984), The Natural (1984), Country (1984), Cocoon (1985), Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), Jackals (1986), Shadows on the Wall (1986), End of the Line (1987), Cocoon: The Return (1988), and Eternity (1990).

In the Nineties Wilford Brimley appeared in the movies The Firm (1993), Hard Target (1993), Heaven Sent (1994), Mutant Species (1995), A Place to Grow (1995), My Fellow Americans (1996), Chapter Perfect (1997), In & Out (1998), Progeny (1998), Summer of the Monkeys (1998), Lunker Lake (1998), All My Friends Are Cowboys (1998), and Comanche (2000). He appeared on the TV shows The Boys of Twilight; Homicide: Life on the StreetWalker, Texas Ranger; and Seinfeld. He appeared on the mini-series OP Center

In the Naughts Mr. Brimley appeared in the movies Brigham City (2001), The Round and Round (2002), The Road Home (2003), and The Path of the Wind (2009). He appeared in the TV movies Crossfire Trail and The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. In the Teens he appeared in the movies Masque (2012), Timber the Treasure Dog (2016), and I Believe (2017).

Wilford Brimley was known for playing gruff, rustic, older, yet congenial characters. As hard as it is to believe, he was only 51 years old when he played Ben Luckett in Cocoon, a character who was portrayed as a contemporary of characters played by Don Ameche and Hume Cronen, actors who around a quarter of a century older than Mr. Brimley. So convincing was Wilford Brimley playing older characters that many people honestly thought he was older than he really was. Of course, this is not to say that Wilford Brimley did not play other sorts of roles. He played Blair, the biologist in The Thing (1982) and President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisited. In most of his movies Wilford Brimley was a trustworthy, reassuring presence, which is probably why he appeared in commercials for Quaker Oats, Liberty Medical, and the American Diabetes Association. He certainly will be missed.

Reni Santoni

Reni Santoni, who played David Kolowitz in Carl Reiner's movie Enter Laughing (1967), Harry Callahan's partner in Dirty Harry (1971), and had recurring roles on several TV shows, died on August 1 2020 at the age of 82. The cause was complications from throat and lung cancer.

Reni Santoni was born on April 21 1938 in New York City. He began his career off-Broadway. In 1962 he wrote the play Raisin' Hell in the Son. He also appeared off-Broadway in The Mad Show, a revue based on Mad Magazine that began in 1966. He had bit parts in Strangers in the City (1962) and The Pawnbroker (1966) before playing the lead in Enter Laughing  (1967). For the remainder of the Sixties he appeared in such films as A Great Big Thing (1968), Lo sbarco di Anzio (1968), Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969), and The Student Nurses (1970). He guest starred on the TV shows East Side/West Side; The Trials of O'Brien; Look Up and Live; Hawk; and Love, American Style.

In the Seventies Reni Santoni had a recurring role on the TV show Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law. He guest starred on such shows as The Odd Couple, The Bold Ones: The Senator; The Psychiatrist; Bearcats!, The F.B.I., Barnaby Jones, The Rookies, Jigsaw John, Delvecchio, Lou Grant, Hawaii Five-O, The Rockford Files, and Charlie's Angels. He appeared in the movies Dirty Harry (1971), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), and They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978).

In the Eighties Reni Santoni was a regular on the TV show Manimal. He played the lead role on the short lived show Sanchez of Bel Air. He had a recurring role on Midnight Caller. He guest starred on the shows CHiPs, Lottery!, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, 227, Hardcastle and McCormick, Joe Bash, Hill Street Blues, Moonlighting, Miami Vice, Murphy Brown, Life Goes On, and Equal Justice. He appeared in the movies Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), Bad Boys (1983), Brewster's Millions (1985), Radioactive Dreams (1985), Summer Rental (1985), Cobra (1986), The Pick-Up Artist (1987), and The Package (1989).

In the Nineties Mr. Santoni had a recurring role on the TV series Murder One and Seinfeld. He guest starred on the shows Quantum Leap; Dream On; The New WKRP in Cincinnati; Murder, She Wrote; Dave's World; Hudson Street; Renegade; Walker, Texas Ranger; NYPD Blue; Dangerous Minds; The Practice; The Tony Danza Show; Jesse; Love Boat: The Next Wave; and Judging Amy. He appeared in the movies Only You (1992), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Private Parts (1997), Can't Hardly Wait (1998), and 28 Days (2000).

In the Naughts he guest starred on the TV shows V.I.P., According to Jim, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Grey's Anatomy, Four Kings, and Raising the Bar. He appeared in the movies Gang Warz (2004) and Irene in Time (2009). In the Teens he guest starred on the TV show Franklin & Bash.

Reni Santori was an incredible actor with a very wide range. He was the movie loving delivery boy and machine shop assistant in Enter Laughing. He was the right-wing, unhygienic  restaurant owner Poppie on Seinfeld. He was Dirty Harry's rookie partner Chico Gonzalez. On Sanchez of Bel Air he played clothing company owner Ricardo Sanchez. Over the course of his career Mr. Santori played everything from legal assistants to police officers to priests to medical doctors. What is more, he always gave a good performance.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Godspeed Jacqueline Scott and Alan Parker

Jacqueline Scott

Jacqueline Scott, a frequent guest star on American television from the Fifties to the Naughts, who played Richard Kimble's sister Donna on The Fugitive, died on July 23 2020 at the age of 89.  The cause was lung cancer.
Jacqueline Scott was born on June 25 1931 in Sikeston, Missouri. Because her father worked for the State of Missouri, her family moved frequently before finally settling down in Neosho, Missouri. Miss Scott took to performing while very young. She won a tap dancing contest when she was three years old. When she was five years old she performed with a travelling tent show. As a child she attended movies frequently. Her first professional work on stage occurred when she was 17 years old in St. Louis. There she worked for a local theatre company before she moved to New York City to pursue acting there. 

Jacqueline Scott made her debut on Broadway in 1955 in The Wooden Dish. She made her television debut in an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1956. That same year she appeared in an episode of Omnibus.  In 1957 she appeared on Broadway in Inherit the Wind. In 1958 she made her film debut in the William Castle movie Macabre. In the late Fifties she appeared on such TV shows as Robert Montgomery Presents; The Kaiser Aluminum Hour; Mike Hammer; The Loretta Young Show; Matinee Theatre; State Trooper; Steve Canyon; 77 Sunset Strip; Perry Mason; Zane Grey Theatre; Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; Bat Masterson; Have Gun--Will Travel, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; Goodyear Theatre; Gunsmoke; and U.S. Marshal

In the Sixties Jacqueline Scott appeared on the TV show The Fugitive as title character Richard Kimble's sister Donna. She guest starred on such shows as Dante, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Detectives, Route 66, Alcoa Premiere, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Have Gun--Will Travel, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone, Laramie, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Outer Limits, Run for Your Life, Lassie, Insight, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Judd for the Defense, Mission: Impossible and The Immortal. Miss Scott appeared in the movies House of Women (1962), Firecreek (1968), and Death of a Gunfighter (1969).

In the Seventies Jacqueline Scott appeared on such TV shows as The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Gunsmoke; Cannon; Insight; Owen Marshal, Counsellor at Law; The Rookies; Ironside; The F.B.I.; The Streets of San Francisco; Medical Center; Planet of the Apes; Marcus Welby, M.D.; Starsky and Hutch; The Wonderful World of Disney; Barnaby Jones; CHiPs; Police Woman; How the West Was Won; and Salvage 1. Miss Scott also appeared in the famous TV movie Duel. She appeared in the movies Charley Varrick (1973), Empire of the Ants (1977), and Telefon (1977). 

In the Eighties Jacqueline Scott appeared on the shows Trapper John, M.D.; Vega$; Code Red; Lottery!; Riptide; Crazy Like a Fox; The Bold and the Beautiful; and L.A. Law. She appeared in the movie Jinxed! (1982). In the Nineties she appeared on the TV shows Equal Justice and Switched at Birth. In the Naughts she appeared on the TV show Cold Case and in the movie Sugar Boxx (2009).

Jacqueline Scott was an enormous talent. In her career she played everything from a saloon girl to a nun. It was because she could play nearly anything that she was a favourite of television director Leo Penn, who directed many of the TV shows in which she appeared. She told Rick Armstrong of the blog Classic Film & TV Café, "Once I'd be the good girl and once I'd be the bad girl. … One director, Leo Penn — who is Sean Penn's father — would call me for anything. We had worked together when we were kids in New York, and he was fabulous." Jacqueline Scott was very much a chameleon and played a wide variety of roles throughout her career. She was, quite simply, one of the best character actors to work in television in the late 20th Century.

Alan Parker

Sir Alan Parker, who directed such movies as Midnight Express (1978), Fame (1980), and Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982), died July 31 2020 at the age of 76 following a lengthy illness.
Alan Parker was born on February 14 1944 in Islington, London. He left school when he was 18 to pursue a career in advertising. He worked as a copywriter at various agencies, including Collett Dickenson Pearce in London. By 1968 he had moved to being a copywriter to directing television commercials. In 1970 Mr. Parker founded Alan Parker Film Co., a company that created commercials for various companies. His first screenplay was for the movie Melody in 1971. In 1975 he directed the BBC television movie The Evacuees, which won a BAFTA Award. The following year he directed another TV movie, No Hard Feelings.

It was that same year that Alan Parker made his feature film directorial debut with Bugsy Malone (1976). The spoof of gangster movies was also written by Mr. Parker and starred an all-child cast. Although it did poorly at the box office, it has since become a cult film. Alan Parker followed Bugsy Malone with Midnight Express (1978). The film received positive notices and did well at the box office. It was also nominated for several Academy Awards and won the Oscar for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. He ended the Seventies with the highly successful film Fame (1980).

The Eighties would see the release of Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982). Based on Pink Floyd's 1979 concept album The Wall, the film had modest success at the box office. It has since become a cult film. It was during the decade that he also directed Mississippi Burning (1988). The film received mixed reviews and and been criticised for its fictionalizing historical events. Regardless, it was nominated for several Academy Awards and won the Oscar for Best Cinematography. In the Eighties Alan Parker also directed the movies Shoot the Moon (1982), Birdy (1984), Angel Heart (1987), and Come See the Paradise (1990). 

Alan Parker opened the decade of the Nineties with The Commitments (1991), which won the BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing. It also did modestly well at the box office and has since become a cult film. In the Nineties Alan Parker also directed The Road to Wellsville (1994), Evita (1996), and Angela's Ashes (1999). His last film was The Life of David Gale (2003). 

As a director Alan Parker's output was certainly diverse. He directed everything from musicals to psychological horror movies to comedies to thrillers. A recurring theme in his movies was music, which played a big role in Bugsy Malone, Fame, Pink Floyd: The Wall, The Commitments, and Evita. Alan Parker was also not afraid to push the envelope creatively. Pink Floyd: The Wall contained a good deal of surreal, often disturbing imagery, including animated sequences. Angel Heart proved controversial for its sexual content. Not only was Alan Parker capable of directing movies in a diverse array of genres, but most of his movies were of a high quality. While Alan Parker did direct his share of bad movies, they are few and far between. He certainly directed several films that continued to be enjoyed to this day.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Justice for Vanessa Marquez

"When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something." John Lewis

"You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty." Jessica Mitford

Vanessa Marquez was an actress best known for playing Ana Delgado in the classic movie Stand and Deliver (1988) and Nurse Wendy Goldman on the hit television show ER. She appeared in such movies as Twenty Bucks (1993) and Blood In, Blood (1993), as well as such television shows as Wiseguy, Culture Clash, Seinfeld, and Nurses. Vanessa also happened to be the dearest friend I ever had. We were in daily contact on various social media sites, and regularly talked on the phone and texted. Sadly, on August 30 2018 Vanessa was shot in the back and killed by Gilberto Carrillo and Christopher Perez, officers of the South Pasadena, California Police Department.

It was on March 2 2020 that the Los Angles District Attorney's Office released their report on Vanessa Marquez's death in which it was concluded that the officers acted in self defence. To say that I have serious issues with that report would be an understatement. It was on June 24 2020 that a Complaint for Damages was filed with the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Central District on June 24, 2020 on behalf of Vanessa's mother. The complaint has brought to light further facts regarding Vanessa's death and sheds further doubt in my mind that the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office's report was fair or unbiased.

To begin with, I have to question why armed police officers were sent to Vanessa's apartment to begin with. On August 30 2018 I called Vanessa Marquez and when I didn't receive an answer I texted her, thinking she could answer when she wanted. Vanessa texted right back and she asked me to call the paramedics as she was having severe seizures. I then called the paramedics at 11:48 AM Pacific Time. In the Los Angeles District Attorney Office's report it claims that a woman from Alabama. who identified herself as a friend of Vanessa, called the paramedics and said that Vanessa was "not acting right." It has since come to my attention that apparently they were confused and this "woman from Alabama" is actually me. Now I don't think my voice sounds the least bit feminine and, given the fact that I had to give them my home address (which is in Missouri), I don't understand how they could get that I am from Alabama, but what upsets me is that at no point did I say that Vanessa was "not acting right." I stated in no uncertain terms that Vanessa was having severe seizures and asked that they send paramedics over to give her medical assistance. I did not ask for police officers to perform "a wellness check." I would have protested if I had known that they would send police.

It is for that reason that I want to stress that at no point was connected to the South Pasadena Police Department and at no point did I ever speak to a police officer. Despite the fact that I had asked for paramedics to be sent to Vanessa's apartment,  my call was apparently referred to the South Pasadena Police Department. According to the Los Angeles District Attorney Office's report, the officers arrived at 11:49 AM Pacific Time. I find this curious as I had made my call at 11:48 AM Pacific Time. I can only guess one of two things. Either someone called before I did and that call has yet to be acknowledged by the City of South Pasadena, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, or the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, or their timeline is wrong. Anyway, you can see from this screenshot from my phone's call log exactly when I called (the times here are in Central Time). For obvious reasons, I have blurred my bank's name.

If someone else had not called before me, not only do I have to question when the police officers arrived at Vanessa's door, but why they were sent there at all. I stated that she was having severe seizures and I asked that they send paramedics. Given Vanessa was having a medical emergency, it seems fairly obvious to me that she needed paramedics, not cops. Obviously paramedics have training to deal with medical emergencies, whereas the average police officer does not. Even if I had asked for a welfare check to be made on Vanessa, it would have made more sense to have sent paramedics than police officers. Indeed, I believe that if paramedics had initially been sent to Vanessa's apartment instead of police officers, she might still be alive today.

Here I must digress and discuss Vanessa's mental state at the time of her death. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report on the death of Vanessa Marquez seems written to give the impression that she was suicidal. Let me say this as adamantly as I possibly can--Vanessa was not suicidal. In our last conversation Vanessa and I discussed an X-Files marathon that BBC America was holding in conjunction with that show's 25th anniversary, a John Williams concert that was being held in Los Angeles County, and the day that I could one day visit her. With another friend she discussed a sale at Sephora that weekend. People who are suicidal do not discuss the future, because as far as they are concerned they do not have a future. Vanessa was still very much enthusiastic about life and still maintained her sunny disposition, despite having been ill much of the summer of 2018. Vanessa had refractory coeliac disease and regularly had seizures, among other medical problems, yet she was cheerful more often than not.

This brings me to the matter of how the police officers in Vanessa's apartment on August 30 2018 comported themselves. It is my firm belief that they behaved neither professionally nor appropriately. To begin with, they entered Vanessa's apartment without her consent, and they were heavily armed when they did so. Vanessa had committed no crime and did not present a danger to herself or others. She was having a medical emergency that none of them were qualified to treat. Vanessa was quite naturally startled, as anyone would be who was expecting paramedics instead of heavily armed police officers.

As further proof of the police officers' unprofessional conduct, they remained in the apartment even after Vanessa had declined to be taken to the hospital, as is her right under California law. They did this even after a paramedic had informed Vanessa that it was her right to refuse medical treatment. The moment that Vanessa declined to be taken to the hospital, the police officers were then obligated to leave. That they remained shows to me that their conduct was not only unprofessional and inappropriate, but in violation of California law.

As if the police officers remaining in Vanessa's apartment after she refused to be taken to the hospital was not bad enough, apparently someone at the South Pasadena Police Department, who was not present in her apartment and had not even spoken to her, placed Vanessa on a 5150 hold. For those of you wondering what a 5150 hold is, it refers to Statute 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code whereby  a peace officer or other professional so designated under the law can involuntarily place someone in a mental institution for 72 hours for evaluation and treatment if they believe that person to be a danger to themselves or others. The person  placing an individual under a 5150 hold must have spoken to the individual in person and at length. This means that the 5150 hold placed upon Vanessa was entirely unlawful, as it was applied by someone who had not spoken to her in person and was not even in her apartment at the time. Furthermore, the 5150 hold was unlawful because Vanessa was not a threat to herself nor anyone else. I would be willing to swear to that under oath in a court of law.

As if the police officers remaining after Vanessa refused to be taken to the hospital and the unlawful 5150 were not enough, it seems to me that the police officers showed little interest in de-escalating the situation. According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report, Vanessa informed two of the police officers that in her last stay at the hospital she had been sexually assaulted. While the report does not say so, it seems to me that the officers must have dismissed her claim. Knowing Vanessa as I did, I have no doubt that Vanessa's claim was true. Earlier in the summer she had gone to the hospital to be treated for heatstroke. Her experience was such that afterwards she refused to go to the hospital, even after I begged her to go to the hospital if she ever had another instance of heatstroke. While Vanessa never told me that she had been sexually assaulted, it would explain why she did not want to go to the hospital. That the police officers present in her apartment that day apparently did not seem to take her claim of being sexually assaulted seriously shows to me that they had little concern in de-escalating the situation.

As further proof that the police officers present in Vanessa's apartment that day showed little concern in de-escalating the situation I also have to point out that at no point did it occur to any of the police officers to call one of Vanessa's friends to talk to her. I would think that they would have the phone number of her emergency contact and, having called the South Pasadena Fire Department, I would think they would have my number as well. I do not know if one of Vanessa's other friends or I could have accomplished anything in talking to her, but I know I would have liked to have at least had the opportunity to do so. It would have been much better than having her simply gunned down by police officers.

According to the Complaint for Damages filed on June 24 2020, Gilberto Carrillo falsely claimed that Vanessa pointed a BB gun at the officers and used that as a pretext to open fire on her. I find it notable that in the Los Angles District Attorney Office's report on Vanessa's death that while other individuals present in Vanessa's apartment that day heard Carrillo yell, "Gun! Gun! Gun!, " Carrillo is the only person who claims to have had actually seen Vanessa point a gun. As far as I am concerned, if Carrillo's claim that Vanessa pointed a BB fun a officers is indeed false, not only does it bring the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office's claim that the officers acted in self defence into question, but every single thing that Carrillo has said regarding Vanessa's death. Curiously, in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office's report, Carrillo also claimed that Vanessa told him that she was having suicidal ideation, a claim that no one else made, not even the paramedics or the mental health professional present that day (whom one would think would be the most likely people Vanessa would have told if she was having suicidal thoughts, given they are medical professionals).

As I pointed out above, if the claim that Vanessa pointed a BB gun at the officers is indeed false, then it would put the conclusion that the officers acted in self defence in serious doubt. Putting this further in doubt is the fact that the Los Angles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner's autopsy report as of September 3, 2018 makes it clear that Vanessa was shot in the back. Both the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report and the Complaint for Damages make it clear that she was shot at from a distance. Given Vanessa was shot in the back and from a distance, I then find it incredulous to claim that the officers acted in self defence and in defence of others.

Not only do I find it impossible to believe that the officers acted in self defence, but I firmly believe that they used excessive force in dealing with Vanessa. Vanessa was only 5'3" and weighed all of 87 pounds at the time of her death. As near as I can tell, the officers shot fifteen times, six of those shots going into Vanessa and nine of them into the wall. I seriously have to question why the officers saw fit to fire so many times at a petite, disabled, non-threatening woman. Of course, for that matter, if the officers truly felt threatened by Vanessa, then why did they not use non-lethal measures to deal with her? Today's police officers have access to more non-lethal weapons than ever before. They could have used pepper spray. They could have used a Taser. They could have used BolaWrap.  Now many of these non-lethal alternatives could have seriously injured Vanessa or may have even killed her, but they would have shown that the police officers were trying to preserve Vanessa's life. As it is, it looks to me as if the officers had absolutely no concern for Vanessa's life, that they were intent on killing her.

Here I want to say that even if the police officers present in Vanessa's apartment that day felt threatened by her, that is insufficient reason for them to have opened fire on her. Quite simply, being "scared out of one's mind" is not sufficient reason to shoot someone. If a civilian shot someone and used the excuse that they were "scared out of their mind," that civilian would find themselves arrested and charged with murder. Given they should have the training to deal with such situations, police officers should be held to a higher standard than civilians. "I was scared out of my mind" is not sufficient grounds for a police officer to even draw their weapon, let alone fire upon someone with it.

Of course, this points to one of my many problems with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report on Vanessa's death. Quite simply, it relies too much upon the words of police officers who would have a lot to lose if it were decided that they did not act in self defence, while omitting evidence that would contradict one of the report's foremost claims. Quite simply, it appears to me that a good deal of effort was put into the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office's report on Vanessa's death to make it appear that she was suicidal. Despite this, I know for a fact that in the course of their investigation the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department interviewed some of Vanessa's friends. Insofar as I know, not a one of them said that Vanessa was suicidal. On August 31, 2018 at 6:12 PM Central Time and again at 8:26 PM Central Time, I was interviewed by a sergeant with the Los Angles County Sheriff's Department. Among the questions he asked me was whether Vanessa had ever expressed a desire to kill herself and whether she had ever expressed a desire to harm herself. In each instance I said, "NO," so strenuously that the sergeant was taken aback.  Curiously, none of these interviews are referenced in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office report. Here I have to point out that if Vanessa had truly been suicidal, she could have simply taken an overdose of her seizure medication at any time  She would not have chosen "suicide by cop." I also have to point out that if Vanessa had intended to commit suicide, she would have told someone first, if not me, then someone else.

While the Los Angles County District Attorney's Office's report does not include interviews with Vanessa's friends who denied that she was suicidal, it does include specifically chosen social media posts (apparently all from Facebook) taken entirely out of context to give the appearance that she wanted to end her life. With the exception of one I cannot deny that Vanessa made these posts, but I can explain them. As noted above, Vanessa was not a very physically healthy woman. On those days when she felt particularly unwell and she was having seizures, she might well complain. Most people complain when they are feeling unwell. They might even say something to the effect of "I just want to die."  I have done exactly that when I've had a severe toothache or a severe case of the norovirus. Did I want to kill myself? No. And neither do most people.  Neither did Vanessa. As I pointed out above, Vanessa was not suicidal, and I would be willing to state that under oath.

This brings me to a Facebook post that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's report claims Vanessa made that I do not believe that she in fact did. The report claims that at 1:48 PM Pacific time, right before the officer involved shooting began, Vanessa posted, "there shooting me pour ashes over Hollywood sign." Now on Facebook I had it set so that I received a notification any time Vanessa posted. I also have to point out that on the afternoon of August 30, 2018 I was frequently checking Vanessa's Facebook profile as I was worried about her. Somehow I never saw this alleged post. Furthermore, none of Vanessa's other friends I have talked to remember seeing this post either. It is not now nor has it ever been visible on Vanessa's profile. Now it seems very unlikely that any of Vanessa's other friends or I would not have seen this post. Furthermore, I find the post's grammar rather curious. Even under duress I am convinced Vanessa would have written the correct, "They're shooting me" and not "there shooting me."

Because I, nor Vanessa's other friends to whom I have talked, ever saw this post and because of its improper grammar, I find the claim that this was Vanessa's final Facebook post very dubious. Now I know some might question how the actual author of this post would have known that Vanessa wanted her ashes scattered at the Hollywood sign. Quite simply, this was pretty much public knowledge. I had known about it for years, as had many of Vanessa's other friends. I do believe she even posted about it to social media, so it would not take much research for someone to discover this. At any rate, until I see a screenshot of that post and can have it definitively verified as not being a forgery, I am always going to have serious doubts as to whether she posted it at all.

Ever since her death, I have written a great deal about Vanessa Marquez. It is no secret that Vanessa and I were very close, and that I have very strong feelings for her. She was both my dearest friend and a woman I adore. For that reason there may be those that would argue that I am so consumed by grief and anger that I cannot see things clearly. That having been said, I think the evidence of misconduct on the part of the City of South Pasadena and the police officers present in Vanessa's apartment is so great that anyone can see.

Indeed, it seems very clear to me that the City of South Pasadena and the South Pasadena Police Department showed very little concern for the life of Vanessa Marquez. When I called and asked for paramedics to be sent to Vanessa's apartment because she was having seizures, they sent police officers instead, individuals who are not qualified to deal with a medical emergency. Once there it appears that those police officers showed little concern for Vanessa's life and made no real effort to de-escalate the situation. Sadly, one of those officers decided to yell "Gun! Gun! Gun!" and fire upon Vanessa, after which another officer fired upon her as well. They killed Vanessa Marquez by shooting her in the back. In sending police officers instead of paramedics to respond to a medical emergency and afterwards taking no responsibility for those officers' actions, the City of South Pasadena should be held accountable. As for the officers who killed her, it is my firm belief that Gilberto Carrillo and Christopher Perez belong in prison. It is my firm belief that they did not act in self defence.

Sadly, the death of Vanessa Marquez at the hands of police is not an isolated case. Latinos, Native Americans, and African Americans are killed at disproportionately higher rates by police officers than whites or Asian Americans. And while some of these cases have generated a great deal of outrage on a national level, as of yet Vanessa's death has not. As far as I am concerned, it is time for people nation-wide to begin speaking out about the death of Vanessa Marquez. It is time for people to boycott the City of South Pasadena, California until they assume responsibility for her death. It is time for people to protest that Vanessa Marquez, a petite, non-threatening Latina who had committed no crime, was shot in the back and killed by heavily armed police officers in her own home. It is time for people to write the Attorney General of California, the Governor of California, and anyone else willing to listen so that those who killed her might be held responsible for her death. Vanessa was a warm, loving, kind-hearted, intelligent, and beautiful woman who was dealt an injustice by the very people sworn to serve and protect her. It is time that Vanessa Marquez received justice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Film Noir During TCM Summer Under the Stars 2020

Like most Turner Classic Movies fans, I love Summer Under the Stars, the annual, month long programming block in which each day is devoted to a different star. That having been said, like most Noir Alley fans, I don't like being without Noir Alley for a whole month. Fortunately, during most Summers Under the Stars TCM shows a good number of film noirs, and this Summer Under the Stars is no different.

I went through the schedule and found every film noir that is airing next month. Please let me know if I have missed any! Also, August 31 is devoted to French star Alain Delon. While I wouldn't consider any of his films to be purely noir, some of his movies are close enough that most film noir fans will probably enjoy them

All times are Central.

Saturday, August 1
10:00 AM Crime of Passion (1957)
1:00 PM East Side, West Side (1949)
9:00 PM Double Indemnity (1944)

Monday, August 3
7:00 PM The Lady from Shanghai (1948)
9:00 PM Gilda (1947)

Thursday, August 6
12:15 PM Brute Force (1947)

Wednesday, August 12
12:00 AM The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Saturday, August 15
9:15 PM My Name is Julia Ross (1945)
10:30 PM Illegal (1955)

Friday, August 21
10:30 AM Man Bait (1952)
11:00 PM The Unholy Wife (1957)

Monday, August 24
8:30 AM Johnny Angel (1946)
10:00 AM Race Street (1948)
1:30 PM Red Light (1949)
3:15 PM A Dangerous Profession (1950)
10:45 PM Nocturne (1946)

Friday, August 28
11:15 AM Hollow Triumph (1948)

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Late Great Olivia de Havilland

Dame Olivia de Havilland was not the last star remaining from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Ann Blyth, Rhonda Fleming, Norman Lloyd, June Lockhart, Margaret O'Brien, and a few others are still alive. That having been said, she was the last major star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, the last one whose name the average person might recognise. And there is little wonder why. Even when one does not count Gone with the Wind, she starred in movies that in their day were the equivalent of Star Wars (1977) or Titanic (1997) in terms of their success. Captain Blood (1935), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), and To Each His Own (1946) were box office hits, and critically acclaimed as well. Even after she retired Olivia de Havilland remained very much in the public eye. Sadly, Olivia de Havilland died yesterday, July 26 2020, at the age of 104.

Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1 1916 in Tokyo to British parents. Her mother, Lilian Fontaine, had studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and had appeared on stage. Her younger sister, Joan de Havilland, was born on October 22 1917 and would gain fame as Joan Fontaine. Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine remain the only sisters to have both won major Academy Awards.

It was in 1919 that Olivia de Havilland's parents decided to return to England because of both of their daughters' health. They sailed from Japan to San Francisco where they stopped in order to have Olivia treated for tonsillitis. While in San Francisco, Joan developed pneumonia, after which Lilian Fontaine persuaded her husband to let them remain in California. Their father eventually deserted the family.

From an early age Lilian Fontaine raised her daughters in the arts. Olivia began ballet lessons at age four and piano lessons at age five. Olivia learned to read before she was six years old. Lilian divorced Olivia and Joan's father. She later married George Fontaine, who managed an O. A. Hale & Co. department store in San Jose, California. Olivia de Havilland attendd Los Gatos High School, where she took part in school plays. She attended attended Notre Dame Convent in Belmont, California as well.

It was in 1933 that Olivia de Havilland made her stage debut in a production of Alice in Wonderland by the Saratoga Community Theatre. She later appeared in the theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as Puck. Not long afterwards legendary director Max Reinhardt was in California staging a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Hollywood Bowl and he offered Miss de Havilland the position of second understudy for the role of Hermia. When  Gloria Stuart, set to play Hermia, and then the first understudy, Jean Rouverol, quit, the role then went to Olivia de Havilland. Afterwards Max Reinhardt and film producer Henry Blanke convinced Olivia de Havilland to sign with Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland made her film debut in the Joe E. Brown comedy Alibi Ike in 1935. It was a little over a month later that she appeared in the James Cagney comedy The Irish in Us. While it was in production before both comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, was released later in 1935. Late in the year Olivia de Havilland starred with Errol Flynn in Captain Blood. The film catapulted both Miss de Havilland and Mr. Flynn to stardom, and in the next several years they would be frequent co-stars. Olivia de Havilland would see a good deal of success in the late Thirties, appearing in some of the biggest films of the era, including The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), and, the biggest of them all, Gone with the Wind (1939). In the Thirties, she also appeared in the films Anthony Adverse (1935), Call It a Day (1937), It's Love I'm After (1937), The Great Garrick (1937), Gold Is Where You Find It (1938), Four's a Crowd (1938), Hard to Get (1938), Wings of the Navy (1938), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Raffles (1939), My Love Came Back (1940), and Santa Fe Trail (1940). It was with Call It a Day in 1937 that Miss de Havilland first received top billing.

Olivia de Havilland would continue to have success in the Forties. She appeared in such films as The Strawberry Blonde (1941), Hold Back the Dawn (1941), The Male Animal (1942), In This Our Life (1942), Princess O'Rourke (1943), and Government Girl (1943).  She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Hold Back the Dawn.  It was in 1943 that Miss de Havilland's contract with Warner Bros. ended. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. decided to extend her contract by six months to make up for those times when she had been suspended for refusing certain roles. While many actors would have simply accepted the situation, Olivia de Havilland mounted a lawsuit against Warner Bros. In 1943 the Superior Court decided in Miss de Havilland's favour. Warner Bros. immediately appealed. A little over a year passed before the California Court of Appeal for the Second District ruled in her favour, making Olivia de Havilland the first actor to take a major studio on in court and win. The court's opinion of California Labor Code Section 2855 would afterwards become known as the de Havilland Law.

While the lawsuit was underway, Olivia de Havilland was unable to make movies. She returned to film with To Each His Own in 1946 for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for To Each His Own. She would see a good deal of success in the late Forties. She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for  The Snake Pit (1948) and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Heiress. She also appeared in the films Devotion (1946), The Well Groomed Bride (1946), and The Dark Mirror (1946).

Olivia de Havilland gave birth to her son Benjamin in 1949 and took a break from making movies. She made her Broadway debut in Romeo and Juliet in 1951 and appeared the following year in Canada. She returned to film with My Cousin Rachel in 1952. In the Fifties she appeared in such films as That Lady (1955), Not as a Stranger (1955), The Ambassador's Daughter (1956), The Proud Rebel (1958), and Libel (1959).

Miss de Havilland began the Sixties by appearing on Broadway in A Gift of Time in 1962. This would lead to her television debut when a scene from the play was performed in The Ed Sullivan Show that same year. She appeared in the movies Light in the Piazza (1962), Lady in a Cage (1964), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), and The Adventurers (1970). Olivia de Havilland appeared on television in episodes of the TV show The Big Valley, ABC Stage 67, and The Danny Thomas Hour. She appeared in the TV movie The Screaming Woman.

In the Seventies Olivia de Havilland appeared in the films Pope Joan (1972), Airport '77 (1977), The Swarm (1978), and The Fifth Musketeer (1979). She appeared on television in the mini-series Roots: The Next Generations. In the Eighties she guest starred on the TV show The Love Boat and the mini-series North and South, Book II and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. She appeared in the TV movies Murder is Easy, The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, and The Woman He Loved. She retired in 1988.

While Olivia de Havilland had retired from acting, she remained very active in the film community. She did many interviews in the next several decades. She was a presenter at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003. In 2004 she appeared in the Turner Classic Movies documentary Melanie Remembers in which she was interviewed about Gone with the Wind. She also appeared at tributes to her on the occasion of her 90th birthday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2006. In June 2016 she was appointed appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. Olivia de Havilland became the oldest woman to ever have the honour bestowed upon her.

As mentioned above, Olivia de Havilland appeared in some of the biggest movies of all time, but that is not the only reason she has remained one of the most beloved actresses of all time. Miss de Havilland was an actress of immense talent, talent that was obvious even early in her career. What is more, she could play a wide variety of roles and was equally adept at comedy as she was at drama. While she is best known as Melanie in Gone with the Wind and Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood, she gave a number of great performances in her career. She shined as heiress and starstruck fan Marcia West in the comedy It's Love I'm After.  Her Oscar for her turn as Jody Norris in To Each His Own was well deserved. Olivia de Havilland also deserved to win the Oscar for which she was nominated for The Snake Pit, in which she played Virginia Cunningham, a woman whose descent into schizophrenia leads to a stay in a mental hospital. The movie was so influential that it led to changes in the conditions of mental hospitals throughout the United States. I have no doubt that Olivia de Havilland's powerful performance was much of the reason for the film's impact. Throughout her career Olivia de Havilland gave a number of great performances, including It's Love I'm After, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Gone with the Wind, Hold Back the Dawn, To Each His Own, The Snake Pit, The Heiress, and more.

While I never had the opportunity to meet Miss de Havilland myself, I know plenty of people who have met her, interviewed her, and corresponded with her. They have all said the same thing, that Olivia de Havilland is one of the kindest, warmest most gracious people one could meet. She was clearly an actress who appreciated her fans. Of course, while Miss de Havilland was among the nicest of people, she also had a will of steel. Olivia de Havilland succeeded at something that even James Cagney and Bette Davis had failed at, she fought Warner Bros. and won. Olivia de Haviland's lawsuit against Warner Bros. was instrumental in breaking the power of the major studios and forever changed the relationship actors had with studios ever since. While many might remember Olivia de Havilland best as Melanie in Gone with the Wind, her legacy is so much greater than a single performance in a single movie. Olivia de Havilland leaves behind many great performances and broke the power of the major studios.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Godspeed John Saxon

John Saxon, who appeared in movies from Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) to Enter the Dragon (1973) to Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), made numerous guest appearances, and was a regular on the TV show The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, died yesterday, July 25 2020, at the age of 83. The cause was pneumonia.

John Saxon was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York on August 5 1936. As a teenager he worked as a barker for a Coney Island archery concession. He soon became very skilled as an archer. It was while he was attending New Utrecht High School that he was discovered by an agent for male models. John Saxon then found himself appearing on the covers of such magazines as True Romance. One of his photo shoots attracted the attention of Hollywood agent Henry Wilson, the legendary Hollywood agent who had discovered Guy Madison, Tab Hunter, and Rock Hudson, among others.

John Saxon was only 17 years old when he signed with Henry Wilson. He studied acting under Betty Cashman at Carnegie Hall for six months before flying to Hollywood. There he was signed to Universal. He attended the studio's workshop for 18 months before receiving his first credited role in Running Wild (1955), starring Mamie Van Doren.

John Saxon was very busy in the Fifties. He appeared in The Unguarded Moment (1956) before receiving his breakout role in Rock, Pretty Baby! (1956). Although it was a low budget movie, Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) proved very successful. He reprised his role in the sequel, Summer Love (1957).  John Saxon was established as a teen idol, receiving around 3,000 fan letters a week. Mr. Saxon appeared in the films This Happy Feeling (1958), The Reluctant Debutante (1958), The Restless Years (1958), The Big Fisherman (1959), and Cry Tough (1959). In the late Fifties John Saxon found himself increasingly cast in Westerns and other genre films. He appeared in the Western The Unforgiven (1960), the thriller Portrait in Black (1960), and the Western The Plunderers (1960). During the Fifties, John Saxon also made his television debut in an episode of Medic in 1955.

In the Sixties, John Saxon had the recurring role of Dr. Theodore Stuart on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. He guest starred on the TV shows General Electric Theatre, The Dick Powell Show, Another World, Burke's Law, Gunsmoke, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Dr. Kildare, The Time Tunnel, Cimarron Strip, Garrison's Gorillas, The Viriginian, It Takes a ThiefThe Name of the Game, Bonanza, and Ironside. He appeared in the TV movies Doomsday Flight, Winchester 73, and Istanbul Express. He appeared in the movies Posse from Hell (1961), War Hunt (1962), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), Agostino (1963), La ragazza che sapeva troppo (1963),  The Cardinal (1963), Sette contro la morte (1964), The Ravagers (1965), The Night Caller (1965), Queen of Blood (1966), The Appaloosa (1966), For Singles Only (1968), I tre che sconvolsero il West (Vado, vedo e sparo) (1968), and Death of a Gunfighter (1969).

In the Seventies John Saxon continued to appear in The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. He also appeared in the mini-series Once an Eagle. He guest starred in the TV shows Kung Fu, Banyon, Norman Corwin Presents, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Police Story, Banacek, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gunsmoke, Petrocelli, The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man,. The Bionic Woman, Starsky and Hutch, Wonder Woman, Most Wanted, Quincy M.E., Hawaii Five-O, and Vega$. He appeared in the television pilots Planet Earth and Strange World. John Saxon appeared in some significant movies in the Seventies, including the classic Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon (1973), the early slasher movie Black Christmas (1974), The Electric Horseman (1979), and the cult sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He also appeared in such films as Mister Kingstreet's War (1971), House Made of Dawn (1972), Joe Kidd (1972), Mitchell (1975), The Swiss Conspiracy (1976), Moonshine County Express (1977), The Bees (1978), Shalimar (1978), Fast Company (1979), Beyond Evil (1980), Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), and Running Scared (1980).

In the Eighties John Saxon has recurring roles on the shows Dynasty and Falcon Crest. He guest starred on such shows as Hardcastle and McCormick, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Magnum P.I., Masquerade, Fantasy Island, Finder of Lost Loves, American Playhouse, The A-Team, Half Nelson, Glitter, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hotel, and The Ray Bradbury Theatre. He appeared in such movies as Wrong is Right (1982), Desire (1982), Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983), The Big Score (1983), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Fever Pitch (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), Death House (1988), Criminal Act (1989), My Mom's a Werewolf  (1989), The Last Samurai (1990), and Crossing the Line (1990).

In the Nineties John Saxon had a recurring role on the TV show Melrose Place. He guest starred on such shows as Monsters; Matlock; In the Heat of the Night; Murder, She Wrote; Kung Fu: The Legends Continues; and California. He appeared in such movies as The Arrival (1991), Maximum Force (1992), Hellmaster (1992), The Baby Doll Murders (1993), No Escape No Return (1993), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), The Killers Within (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Party Crashers (1998), and Criminal Minds (1998).

From the Naughts into the Teens, John Saxon appeared in the movies Night Class (2001), Outta Time (2002), The Road Home (2003), The Craving Heart (2006), Trapped Ashes (2006), God's Ears (2008), Old Dogs (2009), The Mercy Man (2009), Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen (2010), Genghis Khan: The Story of a Lifetime (2010), and The Extra (2017).  On television he guest starred on the shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Masters of Horror.

John Saxon was very much a part of my childhood. When I was growing up, he seemed to everywhere. If he wasn't guest starring on a then current television show, he was appearing in a movie aired by one of the local stations. John Saxon may not have numbered the biggest stars of the late 20th Century, but I would be surprised if every single member of Generation X does not know who he is.

If John Saxon was so prolific in his long career, it was because he was just so very good. He started his career as a teen idol, playing two musicians (Jimmy Daley in Rock, Pretty Baby and Summer Love and David Parkinson in The Reluctant Debutante) and a juvenile delinquent in Cry Tough. He matured into an action star, appearing in such films as The Plunderers and War Hunt. Over the years he played everything from medical doctors to police officers to journalists. He also appeared in a wide variety of movie genres, including comedies (Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation), horror movies (La ragazza che sapeva troppo), science fiction movies (Battle Beyond the Stars), and dramas (The Cardinal). He played both heroes and villains. Ruggedly handsome, John Saxon appealed to men and women in equal measure. While he may be best known for his work in television and B movies, there can be no doubt that John Saxon will always be remembered.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Great Peter Green

Peter Green, co-founder of Fleetwood Mac and legendary guitarist and songwriter, died today, July 25 2020, at the age of 73.

Peter Green was born Peter Allen Greenbaum in Bethel Green, London on October 29 1946. By the time Peter Green was eleven, his older brother Mike had taught him some guitar chords. Peter Green progressed so quickly that he was able to teach himself guitar. By age fifteen he was playing professionally. He played bass guitar for a band called Bobby Dennis and the Dominoes and then a rhythm and blues band called The Muskrats and another band called The Tridents. In October 1965 Peter Green substituted for Eric Clapton John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for four performance dates. In late 1965 the joined Peter Bardens's band Peter B's Looners, where he met drummer Mick Fleetwood. It was while Peter Green was with Peter B's Looners that he first appeared on a recording, Peter B's Looners' instumental cover of the Jimmy Soul song "If You Wanna Be Happy." The single was released in 1966.

It was in July 1966 that Peter Green permanently took Eric Clapton's place as lead guitarist in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He appeared on the John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers album  A Hard Road (1967), which featured two of his original compositions: "The Same Way" and "The Supernatural." He also appeared on their albums Crusade (1967) and Bare Wires (1968). It was in 1967 that he left John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers to form his own band.

In July 1967 Peter Green founded Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer with Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer. The name was soon shortened to Fleetwood Mac. Their self-titled, debut album was released on February 24 1968. While none of their initial singles charted, their first album, Fleetwood Mac, went to no. 4 on the UK album chart. With Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green soon established himself as a songwriter as well as a guitarist. His song "Black Magic Woman" went to no. 37 on the UK singles chart and was later covered by Santana. The instrumental "Albatross" went to no. 1 on the UK singles chart and charted in other countries as well. His song "Man of the World" went to no. 2 on the UK singles chart and also charted in other countries. The single "Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)" went to no. 10 on the UK singles chart and went to no. 16 in Germany, no 14 in Ireland, and no. 6 in the Netherlands. It would later be covered by Judas Priest.

Fleetwood Mac's albums with Peter Green also did very well. Mr. Wonderful went to no. 10 on the UK album chart. English Rose was a compilation album released only in the United States and became the first to chart in the US, peaking at no. 184 on the Billboard pop album chart. Then Play On went to no. 6 on the UK album chart and no. 109 on the Billboard album chart.

Unfortunately, while Fleetwood Mac was experiencing a good deal of success, Peter Green's mental state began to degenerate. He ultimately left the band after one last performance on May 20 1970. His first solo album, The End of the Game, was released in December 1970. He would fill in for Jeremy Spencer with Fleetwood Mac after the had left the band, performing under the name "Peter Blue" and allowing them to complete a 1971 tour of the US. Unfortunately, Peter Green's mental health also continued to decline. Eventually he was diagnosed as having schizophrenia and spent time in various mental hospitals. It was not until the end of the decade that Peter Green would begin to re-emerge professionally.

His second solo album, In the Skies, was released in May 1979. It would be followed by the solo albums Little Dreamer (1980), Whatcha Gonna Do? (1981), White Sky (1982), and Kolors (1983). He contributed to Katmandu's album A Case for the Blues (1984). In the mid to late Eighties Peter Green once more faded back into semi-obscurity.

He re-emerged in the late Nineties when he formed The Peter Green Splinter Group. Their first, self-titled album was released in 1997. It would be followed by seven more albums from 1998 to 2003. He took another break, but resumed touring in 2009, performing as Peter Green and Friends.

Although he might not be as well known as some of his contemporaries today, Peter Green ranks among the greatest guitarists of all time. His style was informed by such blues legends as Robert Johnson and Elmore James. He often used minor chords, that not only gave his music an ominous sound, but also set him apart from such guitarist as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Peter Green was also known for his use of vibrato and string bending. B. B. King himself once said of Mr. Green, "He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats."

Of course, beyond being a virtuoso at guitar, Peter Green was also an incredible songwriter. His songs would be covered multiple times by other artists. "Black Magic Woman" was covered by Santana. "The Green Manalishi (with a Two-Pronged Crown)" was covered by Judas Priest. Both Justin Hayward and Ian Anderson would later cover "Man of the World." His song "Oh Well" would be covered multiple times, by artists ranging from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to Ratt. Peter Green's songs were always distinctive, featuring not only sophisticated music, but sophisticated lyrics as well. He would have a lasting impact on rock music, and there is every reason he should be better known.

Friday, July 24, 2020

"Let Me" by Paul Revere & The Raiders

This week has been a long and trying one for me, so tonight I don't find myself up to a full blog post. This Wednesday I rewatched Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood (2019). The movie makes extensive use of the music of Paul Revere & The Raiders, so naturally I have Paul Revere & The Raiders songs stuck in my head. The song "Let Me" does not appear in the movie, although given it was released in 1969 (the year when most of Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood is mostly set), it could have. The song was released on April 22 1969 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 on May 17 1969.  It peaked at no. 20 on July 5 1969.

Here is clip of Paul Revere & The Raiders from 1969 performing "Let Me" on the German show Beat Club.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Alternate Reality of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Anyone who has seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood knows that it is set in an alternate reality and that it is set in the same universe as Quentin Tarantino's other movies. There is one big event in the film that makes it clear that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set a universe other than our own, but even before that event is clear that it is not our reality. Furthermore, the differences between our reality and the one in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood go well beyond the fact that a show named Bounty Law starring an actor named Rick Dalton never aired here. Anyway, if you haven't seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I have to warn you: there will be some minor spoilers here.

Some Shows Had Longer Runs in the Reality of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Than They Did Here: Early in the film, actor Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) meets with his new agent, Marvin Schwarz (played by Al Pacino) in February 1969. In discussing the state of Rick's career, Schwarz brings up many of the actor's guest appearances on television shows on which Rick played the heavy. Of course, because he plays the heavy Rick is always defeated at the end of the episode. Schwarz then references various shows on which Rick could also play the heavy and get his butt kicked.

Curiously, of the shows Schwarz references, only two actually aired in the 1968-1969 season in our reality. One of these is The Wild Wild West. Now The Wild Wild West was cancelled by CBS in mid-February 1969 as a scapegoat in the then current outcry over television violence. That having been said, the meeting may have taken place before Rick and Schwarz's meeting or Schwarz may not have heard the show had been cancelled. The other show that was still on the air in our reality was Mannix. Mannix was then in its second season and doing respectably well. It ranked no. 30 in the Nielsen ratings for the season.

Beyond The Wild Wild West and Mannix, Schwarz names one show that never aired in our reality (more on that later) and several shows that had ended their network runs well before February 1969. Now Marvin Schwarz may not be the best agent in Hollywood, but he is probably well aware of what TV shows are still in production. It would seem that some shows that ended their runs in our world before the 1968-1969 season continued in Tarantino's universe. The first of these is Tarzan, on which Ron Ely played the title role. Tarzan debuted  in 1966 on NBC and ran two seasons. It aired it last new episode on April 5 1968. Never particularly a hit in the ratings, one can only assume it did better in the ratings in the Quentin Tarantino universe.

The second show that Schwarz mentions that did not air in the 1968-1969 season in our reality is The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It had been the smash hit of the 1964-1965 and something of a cult phenomenon. Unfortunately, in its third season The Man From U.N.C.L.E. took a turn towards camp that was probably responsible for a dramatic drop in its ratings. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. then ended its run on January 15 1968. In Quentin Tarantino's reality once can only assume that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. never took a turn towards camp in its third season and so it continued to get solid ratings or somehow it recovered in the ratings with its fourth season. Either way, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. apparently had a fifth season in the Tarantino universe. Schwarz also mentions The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s spinoff The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Never a hit in our reality, it apparently did better in Tarantino's reality.

The final show that Schwarz mentions that went off the air in the 1968-1969 season in our reality was one of the biggest hits not only of the Sixties, but of all time. Batman debuted on ABC on January 12 1966 and immediately became a phenomenon. Stores could not keep Batman merchandise in stock. Unfortunately, its ratings dipped in its second season. Batman was renewed for a third season, but with some changes to the show. Originally airing twice a week, ABC cut the show back to once a week. The character of Batgirl (played by Yvonne Craig) was also added to the show. Unfortunately its ratings did not recover and ABC ultimately cancelled the show. It last aired on ABC on March 14 1968.

Now, unlike Tarzan and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., there was a possibility that Batman could have continued in our universe. Following its cancellation on ABC, NBC offered to pick up Batman for a fourth season. Unfortunately, the extremely expensive Batcave set had already been torn down and as a result NBC decided not to pick the show up. It seems likely that in Quentin Tarantino's universe that NBC made the offer to pick Batman up before sets had been torn down and as a result the show had a fourth season.

There Was Another Show Besides Bounty Law That Did Not Air in Our Reality: Central to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the fact that Rick Dalton played bounty hunter Jake Cahill on the hit TV show Bounty Law. While people in our reality have compared Bounty Law to the hit show Wanted Dead or Alive, there is one significant difference between the two shows beyond the fact that Bounty Law was a Screen Gems production aired on NBC and Wanted Dead or Alive was Four Star Television production that aired on CBS. Quite simply, while Josh Randall on Wanted Dead or Alive tried to bring his bounties in alive, Jake Cahill simply killed them (in a clip from the show, Jake says, "Amateurs try to bring men in alive. Amateurs usually don't make it.").  We can be assured that Wanted Dead or Alive aired in Quentin Tarantino's universe by the fact that Steve McQueen is a major star there.

That having been said, in his meeting with Rick Dalton, Marvin Schwarz mentions a show that aired in Quentin Tarantino's reality that starred an actor who doesn't exist in our reality. The show is Bingo Martin, which starred "new guy" Scott Brown. Unfortunately, we don't know much more about Bingo Martin beyond the fact that it starred Scott Brown and Rick guest starred on the show as a villain. From the filmography Quentin Tarantino created for Rick Dalton, we do know the show debuted in 1967. Given the 1967-1968 season saw the debut of several Westerns (The High Chaparral, The Guns of Will Sonnett, and so on) and crime shows (Ironside, Mannix), it seems possible that Bingo Martin was either a Western or a detective show.

Some Shows That Aired Here May Not Have Aired in the Tarantino Reality or, At Least, in Different Time Slots: Promos for Bounty Law establish that it aired at 8:30 PM Eastern on Thursday on NBC. Of course, it is possible it aired in different time slots during its run, as NBC had a habit of moving its shows around in the Fifties and Sixties. That having been said, both a promo at the start of the show and a later material in the movie seem to hint that Bounty Law occupied that time slot during its entire run.

According to the filmography Quentin Tarantino created for the show, it ran from 1959 to 1963, and ended its run only because Rick Dalton wanted a film career. Of course, different shows aired in that time slot in our reality, meaning these shows did not air in Tarantino's reality or aired in a different time slot, perhaps even on a different network. The first of these was Johnny Staccato, starring John Cassavetes. It was a detective show which made extensive use of jazz music. It debuted on September 10 1959 and ran only one season.

In the 1960-1961 the 8:30 Thursday night time slot on NBC was occupied by Bat Masterson in our reality. Bat Masterson would have then been in its third season. We can only assume that Bat Masterson was cancelled at the end of its second season or that NBC scheduled in a different time slot. In the 1959-1960 season Bat Masterson aired in the 8:00 PM Thursday slot, so it seems possibly that it could have remained there if it was not cancelled in Tarantino's reality. Of course, this would mean that the hour-long Western Outlaws would have to occupied a different time slot, if it aired at all in the reality of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

It is the 1961-1962 schedule that presents the biggest problem in terms of scheduling. In our reality the smash hit Dr. Klidare aired on NBC in the 8:30 Thursday night time slot. While it is possible that NBC did not pick up Dr. Kildare in the Tarantino reality, it seems likely that it simply aired in a different time slot. Of course, given Bounty Law was a half hour show and Dr. Kildare was an hour-long show, it begs the question as to what aired after Bounty Law.

For what was the final season of Bounty Law, the 1962-1963 season, Dr. Kildare once more occupied the 8:30 Thursday night time slot on NBC in our reality. Again, provided NBC had picked up Dr. Kildare and provided it was a hit, it seems likely it aired in another time slot.

Bruce Lee May Be Different in Tarantino's Reality: One of the big controversies over Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is its portrayal of Bruce Lee. On the set of The Green Hornet, Rick Dalton's sidekick and stuntman Cliff Booth faces off against Bruce Lee. In the scene Bruce Lee is portrayed as a pompous, arrogant egoist who believes that he can beat Cassius Clay (now known as Muhammed Ali). The scene upset not only Bruce Lee fans, but Mr. Lee's daughter Shannon as well. Although certainly confident, from all reports Bruce Lee was a man who deeply cared about people and did not go around picking fights.

Given what I know of Bruce Lee and having been a Bruce Lee fan since childhood, I must admit that initially I was put off by the scene. Like many, I thought it was disrespecting Mr. Lee. That having been said, after I had thought it out, I came to two conclusions. The first is the fact that the scene plays out as a memory/daydream that Cliff has while repairing the television antenna atop Rick Dalton's house The scene is then being told from Cliff's eyes. While Cliff is an easy going guy, he also seems a big overconfident at times. It seems possible then that Cliff was seeing something in Bruce Lee that just wasn't there. It seems possible that Cliff was projecting his own overconfidence onto Bruce Lee. This means that in Quentin Tarantino's reality, Bruce Lee may be the same nice guy that he was in our reality.

The second conclusion is that the reason the Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is different from the Bruce Lee of our reality is, quite simply, the movie is obviously set in an alternate reality. That people can vary from reality to reality has been well established in books, movies, and television shows. In It's a Wonderful Life, in the reality in which George Bailey was not born, his Uncle Billy is in an insane asylum and his mother is an old, bitter woman. In the mainstream reality of It's a Wonderful Life, Uncle Billy works at the Bailey Building and Loan while Mrs. Bailey is a relatively happy, well-adjusted woman. The differences between characters is even more pronounced in the Star Trek episode "Mirror Mirror." Quite simply, with the possible exception of Spock, every single character is evil. While Bruce Lee was a kind, gentle man in our reality, perhaps in the reality of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bruce Lee was a pompous jerk.

Of course, here I want to stress that I can understand why Shannon Lee and Bruce Lee's many fans were offended by the scene. I was myself until I thought about it. Even now I wish Quentin Tarantino would have written the scene differently. It seems to me that Bruce Lee and Cliff Booth could have sparred without Mr. Lee looking like arrogant and overconfident. I don't think it would be too far from reality to simply have Bruce Lee and Cliff Booth engage in a bit of friendly sparring. In this way Cliff's fighting skills could have been established, while the reality of Bruce Lee as a nice guy would be maintained.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been commended for its recreation of Hollywood in 1969, but it is also a movie in which Quentin Tarantino has built his own universe. More so than any of his other films, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a film with a rich reality that serves as a background for its plot. One of the things that I have no doubt that television and movie buffs enjoy about the movie is not just noticing the many pop culture references, but also the ways in which the reality of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood differs from our own.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Peacock: NBCUniversal's New Streaming Service

Yesterday Peacock, the new streaming service ran by NBCUniversal, launched nationwide. It had been available to Xfinity subscribers since April 15 of this year. Peacock is unusual in that it has different tiers of service. The  Free tier allows one to watch a good deal of content for free, although one must sit through commercials to do so. The Premium tier is $5.00 a month and gives the user access to more television shows and movies, including Peacock Original programming. Also, with the Premium tier one does not have to watch commercials.

Now there are some downsides to Peacock. One downside to Peacock  for many is that one cannot watch the service on either Roku or Amazon Fire. Right now Peacock is available on Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Xbox One, Vizio SmartCast TVs, and LG Smart TV.  It will be available on Playstation 4 some time next week. As might be expected, one can also watch Peacock on their computer using the service's web player. 

Another downside with Peacock is that one cannot download shows and movies to watch later. This is a feature that Amazon Prime and Netflix have long offered, and is also available on such newer streaming services as Disney+ and HBO Max.

Of course, one downside of Peacock is one that it shares with many other streaming services. Quite simply, it can sometimes be hard to find what one wants to watch. Netflix breaks down its library into a wide variety of genres, as does Hulu. HBO Max breaks it library down into the various WarnerMedia properties (that is, DC Comics, HBO, Turner Classic Movies, and so on). In contrast, Peacock breaks down its library into such broad categories as "Free Laughs" and "Timeless Classics." Ultimately, if one wants to find a particular TV show, it might be easier to perform a search or to browse TV shows from A to Z.

While Peacock does as its downsides, it has one big upside. Namely, Peacock has an incredible library of classic NBC shows, Universal shows, and Universal movies to watch. As a classic movie fan who has been consistently been disappointed by the selection of classic films on other streaming services, I was somewhat pleased with the classics Peacock has to offer.  As might be expected, Peacock has a large selection of Universal Monster movies, including Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931),  Werewolf of London (1935), and yet others. Peacock even has a few of the Hammer Horrors to which Universal has the distribution rights, including The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and The Evil of Frankenstein (1964). Peacock also has several Alfred Hitchcock movies, including The Birds (1963), Psycho (1960), Rear Window (1954), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), The Trouble with Harry (1955), and others.

Even beyond horror and Hitchcock, Peacock has a good selection of classic movies.  Among the classics available on the service are All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Charade (1963), Destry Rides Again (1939), Do the Right Thing (1989), Going My Way (1944), Monkey Business (1931), My Man Godfrey (1936), Pillow Talk (1959), Remember the Night (1940), Stella Dallas (1937), and others. In fact, so far the only thing that really disappoints me about Peacock's selection of classic movies is that they are missing a good number of key Abbott and Costello films. Where is Buck Privates (1941)?

Of course, I realise a lot of people will be more interested in the recent movies that Peacock has to offer. In that regard, Peacock's selection is respectable. The service includes such films as American Psycho (2000), the Bourne Trilogy, Jackie (2012), Jurassic Park (2001), Phantom Thread (2017), Ted (2012), The Matrix Trilogy, and others. If there is one complaint to be had about Peacock's recent movies, is that none of them seem to be very recent (nothing from 2018 or 2019 that I could find).

Strangely enough given Peacock is named for NBC's mascot, the streaming service is weaker with regards to TV shows than it is movies. While its selection of classic TV shows is better than many streaming services (especially HBO Max), it could be better. Among the classic shows on Peacock are Airwolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents/The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Carol Burnett Show, Cheers, Columbo, Leave It to Beaver, The Munsters, and The Rockford Files. Conspicuously missing are any of the NBC Mystery Movie shows beyond Columbo (McCloud, MacMillan & Wife, and so on), as well as such classic Revue/Universal Television shows as Adam-12, Ironside, Night Gallery, The Virginian, Wagon Train, and yet others. Strangely enough, while Peacock has both of the McHale's Navy feature films (1964's McHale's Navy and 1965's McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force), they don't have the TV series McHale's Navy itself.

Of course, while Peacock may not have as many classic TV shows as I would like it to have, they do have a rather large selection of TV shows. One can watch most of the USA Network shows, from Monk to Royal Pains to Suits. Similarly, Peacock has most of the NBC shows produced in the 21st Century, including 30 Rock, A.P. Bio, The Blacklist, the various "Chicago" shows, Parks and Recreation, Superstore,  and so on.

Over all Peacock is not a bad streaming service, particularly when compared to similar streaming services such as CBS All Access. If they could make it easier to find TV shows and movies with  sections for various genres, as well as add some classic television shows, I think it would be one of the better streaming services out there. For anyone thinking of subscribing, I would say they should simply go with the Free tier unless they really want to see Peacock's original shows.