Saturday, December 31, 2022

Goodbye, 2022

Buster Keaton
I have to be honest. In many ways 2022 was a rough year, but not necessarily an entirely bad one. More so than most years, it seemed as if we lost several beloved stars. The world of classic film blogging lost one of its most popular bloggers. As for myself, I lost my beloved cat Malcolm and then this month, December, I came down with the flu for the first time in years. Still, there were a few bright spots in the year, so that I cannot say that 2022 was all bad.

Of course, many classic film bloggers are still grieving the loss of Patricia Nolan, known as Paddy Lee to her friends. Paddy wrote the blog Caftan Woman and was very prolific when it came to commenting on other classic film and television blogs. Her knowledge of classic movies and classic television was encyclopaedic. What is more, Paddy had a sunny disposition and could cheer up anyone, no matter how bad things may be going. She truly loved classic movies and classic TV shows, and she loved her fellow fans as well. She died on March 7 2022.

My cat Malcolm died in September. He arrived on our porch as a kitten one hot summer day. He couldn't have been more than three months old. We kept him and he quickly became one of the family. He was possibly the most loving, most cuddly cat I ever had. He always slept with me and loved sitting on my lap. When Vanessa died, he would not leave my side, even as I was crying my eyes out. He loved being groomed and petted. I don't know that I ever loved any cat more than Malcolm, and I am still grieving him three months later.

Of course, many celebrities died this year. Perhaps the most famous person to die was Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Regardless of what one thinks of the British monarchy, there is no denying the impact that she had on the United Kingdom and the world. The world of film also lost royalty this year. Sir Sidney Poitier died not long after 2022 began. Later in the year Dame Angela Lansbury died. The legendary Marsha Hunt also died this year. I cannot begin to list every actor that died this year, but here is a list of some that did. Please forgive me if I have left your favourite out, as so many actors died this year it is hard to include all of them. Any, here they are: Dwayne Hickman,  Howard Hesseman, Veronica Carlson, Robert Morse, Joe Turkel, Larry Storch, L. Q. Jones, Lenny Von Dohlen, David Warner, Nichelle Nichols, Bernard Cribbins, Paul Sorvino, Pat Carroll, Clu Gulager, Robbie Coltrane, and Robert Clary. We also lost the esteemed directors Peter Bogdonovich, Bob Rafelson, Jean-Luc Godard, and Mike Hodges. Many people from the world of music died this year, including Don Wilson of The Ventures, Bobby Rydell Ronnie Hawkins, Alan White of Yes, Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode, Manny Carlton of Nazareth, Olivia Newton John, Dan Mcafferty of Nazareth, and Terry Hall of the Specials. The world of comic books lost legendary artists Neal Adams and George Pérez, as well as writer Alan Grant. Artist James Bama, known for the covers of the Bantam reprints of the Doc Savage novels, the illustrations on the boxes of Aurora's classic movie monster model kits, and Western art, also died this year.

For once this year I actually watched new movies and new television shows. I watched  Guillermo del Toro's new adaptation of Nightmare Alley and I was impressed. I can't say it is as good as the 1947 adaptation, but it is almost as good. It was a very fine adaptation of the novel. I also watched Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story. West Side Story (2021) is a well done movie, although I do not think it is quite as good as the 1961 film, even with Latinos playing the roles of the Puerto Rican characters. I also watched The Batman (2022), which may be the best movie featuring the Caped Crusader short of The Dark Knight (2008). One of the things I love about the movie is that, unlike other Batman movies, we actually get to see Batman function as a director. The cast did an excellent job, with Robert Pattinson ranking among the best Batman actors in my opinion. Prey (2022) is the first Predator movie I have loved since the first. The movie is set in the 18th Century and features a young Comanche woman battling a predator. It treated the Comanche with dignity and, near as I can tell, was accurate to their culture.

As far as television shows go, I got caught up on Reservation Dogs. The show is the first to have a writing and directing staff that is entirely Native American. It centres on four Native American characters living on a reservation in rural Oklahoma. The show is well written and notable for the accuracy with which it portrays life on a reservation. I also watched Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. It is the best new Star Trek series since Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (which itself was the best new Star Trek series since the original). It follows the adventures of Captain Pike, the captain of the Enterprise before Captain Kirk, and his crew (which includes a young Mr. Spock). They did a very good job of capturing the feel of the original series, and I must admit I am a big fan of Strange New Worlds.

With regards to 2023, I will continue writing A Shroud of Thoughts, which will turn 19 this coming June. I also hope to get more books out next year. I am also hoping that 2023 will be better than 2022. I hope as few beloved celebrities die as possible, and I lose no dear friends or pets. I also hope your 2023 will be a happy one.

Friday, December 30, 2022

The 50th Anniversary of The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) premiered in New York City on December 12 1972. It was released to the rest of the United States the following day, December 13 1972. The movie proved to be a huge hit at the box office. It would ultimately earned $42,000,000, making it the second highest grossing film of 1972 following The Godfather (1972). Hollywood certainly took notice of its success. Along with Airport (1970), it sparked the cycle towards all-star disaster films that dominated much of the Seventies. The song "The Morning After" from the film not only won the Oscar for Best Song, but a version of the song performed by Maureen McGovern went to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) centred on the ageing luxury liner the SS Poseidon, which capsizes on New Year's Eve after an earthquake beneath the ocean. The Reverend Frank "Buzz" Scott (Gene Hackman) then has to lead a group of survivors to safety. Among the survivors are Detective Lieutenant Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), singer Nonnie Parry (Carol Lynley), store owner Manny Rosen (Jack Albertson) and his wife Belle (Shelley Winters), and yet others.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Paul Gallico. The novel was inspired by an experience Mr. Gallico had in 1937. He was going back to England from the United States aboard the Queen Mary when an enormous wave struck the ship and knocked it hard to port. Fortunately the Queen Mary righted itself and none of the passengers died. Still, the experience stayed with Paul Gallico, who eventually used it as inspiration for the novel The Poseidon Adventure.

While the novel The Poseidon Adventure did not sell particularly well, Hollywood did take notice of producer Irwin Allen, then perhaps best known for such sci-fi television shows as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. He had signed a three movie deal with AVCO Embassy and convinced them to buy the rights to the novel. AVCO Embassy would ultimately cancel the project, Irwin Allen found another production company in 20th Century Fox. 20th Century Fox was nervous about what could be a very expensive movie, so Mr. Allen offered to raise half of the movie's budget. Additional money was provided by Steve Broidy, former president of Monogram Pictures, and cinema owner Sherill C. Corwin. 20th Century Fox then approved of the production.

The cast that Irwin Allen initially had in mind was somewhat different from the cast that ultimately appeared in the movie. Mr. Allen wanted George C. Scott to play Reverend Scott, Petulia Clark as Nonny, and Esther Williams as Belle. Shelley Winters, who was a skilled swimmer, was ultimately cast as Belle. Burt Lancaster was offered the role of Reverend Scott, but turned it down. Gene Wilder was cast as shy bachelor James Martin, but dropped out of the project. Red Buttons played James Martin in the movie.

Largely out of necessity, The Poseidon Adventure (1972) used state-of-the-art special effects. A scale model, based on the Queen Mary, was constructed, and used in the scene where the Poseidon capsizes. 20th Century Fox built the sets for the ship inside a large gimble that would give the actors the sensation of an actual rolling ship. The famous scene of a passenger falling from the floor (now rightside up) through a skylight was a practical special effect using famed stuntman Ernie F. Orsatti (whose father was Ernie Orsatti, former outfielder and first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals). For the most part the cast did their own stunts, including a scene requiring Shelley Winter to swim through a flooded corridor.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) received largely positive reviews from critics, who gave high marks to the film's special effects. The Poseidon Adventure was the no. 1 movie at the box office by Christmas Day and would remain at no. 1 through New Years. The Getaway (1972) displaced The Poseidon Adventure (1972) for a week, after it which retook the number one spot and kept it for eight full weeks.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) made its television debut on ABC on October 27 1974. It did very well in the ratings, become the sixth highest rated movie to air on television at the time. ABC had paid $3.2 million for the rights, which given its ratings was well worth it.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was followed by a sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979), which not only bombed with the critics, but also with audiences. In the Naughts there would be two new adaptations of the novel The Poseidon Adventure was a made-for-TV movie that aired on NBC on November 20 2005. Poseidon (2006) was a feature film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It received negative reviews and bombed at the box office.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) has become a cult film and remains popular, particularly as a movie to watch on New Years Eve. It also remains influential. As stated earlier, with Airport (1970), it started the cycle towards all-star disaster movies that lasted for much of the Seventies. Arguably, it would have an influence on every disaster movie made ever since. While its characters may not be well developed and its dialogue banal, the realistic special effects and well-executed sequences make it well worth watching.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Female Detectives on TCM Fridays in January 2023

Bonita Granville as Nancy Drew

Each Friday next month, January 2023, Turner Classic Movies will show movies centred on female detectives. The first Friday of the month is devoted to films featuring amateur sleuth Nancy Drew, played by Bonita Granville. The second Friday of the month TCM will be showing movies featuring Torchy Blane, the reporter played by Glenda Farrell. The third Fridas features yet other female detectives.

Below is the schedule of movies featuring female detectives this January. All times are Central. .

Friday, January 6:
7:00 PM Nancy Drew: Detective (1938)
8:15 PM Nancy Drew...Reporter (1939)
9:30 PM Nancy Drew...Trouble Shooter (1939)
10:45 PM Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939)

Friday, January 13:
7:00 PM Smart Blonde (1936)
8:15 PM Fly Away Baby (1937)
9:30 PM Torchy Blane, the Adventurous Blonde (1937)
10:45 PM Blondes at Work (1938)
12:00 AM Torchy Blane in Panama (1938)

Friday, January 20:
7:00 PM Lured (1947)
9:00 Wanted! Jane Turner (1936)
10:15 PM Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)
11:30 Deadline at Dawn (1946)

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Jewish Experience on TCM on Thursdays in January 2023

Topol as Tevye in
Fiddler on the Roof
Next moth, in January 2023. the special on Turner Classic Movies is the Jewish Experience. Every Thursday night TCM will show movies that seek to portray the Jewish experience. The various movies address such themes as assimilation, antisemitism, family life, religion, and the Holocaust. The films range in genres from a musical to a Western to a comedy.

Following is a schedule for TCM's special theme on the Jewish Experience next month. All times are Central. (Here I have to point out that the schedule is not yet complete, as Turner Classic Movies doesn't have the schedule for January 26 onwards up yet. I will update this page when they update the schedule)

Thursday, January 5:7:00 PM Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
10:15 PM Gentleman's Agreement (1947

Friday, January 6:
12:30 AM Crossfire (1947)
2:25 AM I Accuse! (1958)

Thursday, January 12:
7:00 PM Bye Bye Braverman (1968)
9:00 PM The Angel Levine (1970)
11:00 PM Annie Hall (1977)

Friday, January 13:
1:00 AM Soup for One (1982)
2:45 AM Set Me Free (1999)

Thursday, January 19:
7:00 PM Crossing Delancey (1988)
11:00 AM Girlfriends (1978)

Friday, January 20:
12:45 AM The Frisco Kid (1979)
3:00 AM Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)

Thursday, January 26:
7:00 PM Biloxi Blues (1988)
9:00 PM The Chosen (1981)
11:00 PM Portnoy's Complaint (1972)

Friday, January 27:
1:00 AM The Last Metro (1980)
3:15 AM Tevya (1939)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Godspeed Mike Hodges

Mike Hodges, who directed such movies as Get Carter (1971), Pulp (1972), and Flash Gordon (1980), died on December 17 2022 at the age of 90.

Mike Hodges was born on July 29 1932 in Bristol. He qualified as chartered accountant before his two years of national service aboard a British minesweeper. Following his service, he worked as a teleprompter operator in British television. The job allowed him to observe television production and learn about writing scripts for television shows. He wrote a script for Armchair Theatre that was not produced, but led him to get writing commissions.

In the Sixties Mike Hodges served as a producer on the TV movie Sound??, as well as the TV shows World in Action, Tempo, The Tyrant King, and ITV Playhouse. For television he wrote two episodes of ITV Playhouse. He directed episodes of the TV shows World in Action, Tempo, The Tyrant King, and ITV Playhouse.

In the Seventies he wrote an episode of The Frighteners. He also wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for the films Get Carter (1971), Pulp (1972), The Terminal Man (1974), and Flash Gordon (1980). He was the original director on the film Damien: Omen II (1978), but received no credit for his work. He also directed the Queen video for the song "Flash" (the theme song for the movie Flash Gordon).

In the Eighties Mike Hodges directed the movies Morons from Outer Space (1985), A Prayer for the Dying (1987), and Black Rainbow (1989). He directed the music video for the Queen song "Body Language," and the TV movies Missing Pieces and Squaring the Circle.

In the Nineties Mike Hodges directed the movie Croupier (1998). He directed episodes of the television mini-series Dandelion Dead. He directed the TV movie The Healer. In the Naughts he directed the movie I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2004) and the documentary Murder By Numbers (2004).

Mike Hodges also wrote plays for the theatre, including Soft Shoe Shuffle (1985) and Shooting Stars and Other Pursuits (2000). He also wrote for radio and wrote the novel Watching the Wheels Come Off and the collection of novellas Bait, Grist, and Security.

Mike Hodges was a very talented director and one who was also very versatile. Each of his films had their own particular style. Get Carter was a tough, edgy neo-noir. Pulp was a comedy thriller that sent up pulp fiction and Old Hollywood. Flash Gordon was a camp science fantasy that had the look of a comic strip on film. Black Rainbow was a psychological thriller. Croupier was another rough-edged neo-noir. Mike Hodges was comfortable in a number of genres and always produced great work regardless of the type of film he was directing. He really should make any list of the great directors of the later half of the 20th Century.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Godspeed Diane McBain

Actress Diane McBain, who starred on the TV show Surfside 6 and appeared in such movies as Spinout (1966) and The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968), died on December 21 2022 at the age of 81. The cause was liver cancer.

Diane McBain was born on May 18 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family moved to Glendale, California in 1944. As a teenager she did modelling for magazine ads and appeared in television commercials. It was not long before she graduated from high school that she was spotted by a talent scout for Warner Bros. She signed the contract with the studio on her 18th birthday. She made her television debut in 1959 on an episode of Maverick. She played Richard Burton's daughter in her film debut in Ice Palace in 1960. In the late Fifties she guest starred on various Warner Bros. shows in addition to Maverick, including The Alaskans, Sugarfoot, Lawman, and Bourbon Street Beat. It was also in 1960 that she began a two year run playing Daphne Dutton on Surfside Six.

In the Sixties Diane McBain continued to star on Surfside 6 as Daphne. She guest starred on Burke's Law four times and guest starred in two episodes of Batman. She also guest starred on Hawaiian Eye; 77 Sunset Strip; Arrest and Trial; Wendy and Me; Valentine's Day; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre; Vacation Playhouse; The Wild Wild West; The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; Love, American Style; Mannix; To Rome with Love; and Land of the Giants. She played the title role in the movie Claudelle Inglish (1961), and also appeared in the movies Parrish (1961), Black Gold (1962), The Caretakers (1963), Mary, Mary (1963), A Distant Trumpet (1964), Spinout (1966), Thunder Alley (1967), Maryjane (1968), The Mini-skirt Mob (1968), Five the Hard Way (1969), and I Sailed to Tahiti with an All Girl Crew (1969).

In the Seventies Miss McBain guest starred on the shows The Mod Squad; The Wide World of Mystery; Police Story; Barbary Coast; Marcus Welby, M.D.; The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams; Hawaii Five-O; and Charlie's Angels. She appeared in the movies Temporada salvaje (1971), Huyendo del halcón (1973), Wicked, Wicked (1973), and The Deathbed Virgin (1974).

In the Eighties Diane McBain had a recurring role on the soap opera Days of Our Lives from 1982 to 1984 and the soap opera General Hospital in 1988. She guest starred on the shows Charlie's Angels; Eight is Enough; Dallas; Matt Houston; Airwolf; Crazy Like a Fox; Knight Rider; and Jake and the Fatman. She appeared in the movies Legend of the Wild (1981) and The Red Fury (1984).

In the Nineties she guest starred on the shows Sabrina the Teenage Witch; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; and The Young and the Restless. She appeared in the movies Puppet Master 5 (1994), The Christmas Path (1998), and The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000). In the Naughts she appeared in the movie Besotted (2001) and guest starred on the show Strong Medicine.

Diane McBain wrote two novels, The Laughing Bear in 2020 and The Colour of Hope in 2021.

Diane McBain was a very fine actress. She played a number of bad girls in her career, a fact about which she complained in the book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema by Tom Lisanti. In the book she said, "I wanted to play the ingenue. I could never understand why everyone wanted to play the bitch." While in real life Miss McBain was a kind, gentle woman and nothing like those characters, she did do a good job playing them. She played Dean Jagger's spoiled daughter in Parrish, the vixen of the title of the movie Claudelle Inglish, a snobbish society girl in Mary Mary, and the brutal leader of The Mini-Skirt Mob. While Miss McBain did a good job at playing bad girls, she was also quite capable at other roles. After all, among her best known roles is the eccentric Daphne on Surfside 6. She also played socialite Pinky Pinkston, owner of the Pink Chip Stamp Factory and a rare love interest for Bruce Wayne, on Batman. In The Caretakers she played a caring, gentle nurse. She played a farm owner on whose land oil is found in the movie Black Gold. Diane McBain played these roles as well as, enough better than, her many bad girl roles. Diane McBain was a remarkable actress who could play a wide variety of roles and play all of them well.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas 2022

I want to wish all of you who celebrate the holiday a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you are like me, you have had a long year and I think all of us deserve a break, filled with everything we love. Of course, here at A Shroud of Thoughts I realize that there are many who appreciate a bit of cheesecake with their turkey or ham, sugarplums, and eggnog. As is the tradition at this blog then, here are some vintage Christmas pinups for you.

First up is the lovely Joan Leslie, ring a bell at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II.

Next is Phyllis Coates, who has a hit a snag while delivering her Christmas packages!

The lovely Shirley Anne Field is reminding everyone to get their Christmas mail out early!

Annette Funicello is dressed for both Christmas and the winter weather.

Ann Rutherford is trimming her tree.

And last but not least, it wouldn't be Christmas without the lovely, leggy Ann Miller!

Merry Christmas!