Sunday, July 14, 2024

Shannen Dohtery Passes On

Shannen Doherty, who starred on the shows Beverly Hills, 90120 and Charmed, as well as the movie Heathers (19/88), died yesterday, July 13 2024, at the age of 53. The cause was cancer. She had been first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

Shannen Doherty was born on April 12 1971 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her mother operated a beauty parlour. Her father was a financial advisor. She was only ten years old when she appeared in Pepsi commercial. It was about the same time that she made her television debut in a two-part episode the short-lived show Father Murphy. She made her movie debut as a voice in the animated movie The Secret of NIMH (1982). She appeared in the movie Night Shift (1982) the same year. She guest starred on the short-lived shows The Phoenix and Voyagers! before having a regular role on the final season of Little House of Prairie.  In the Eighties she had a regular role on the show Our House. She began her stint as Brenda on Beverly Hills, 90120 in 1990 Shannen Doherty appeared as Kathleen Kennedy in the mini-series Robert Kennedy and His Times. She guest starred on the shows Magnum, P.I.; Airwolf; Highway to Heaven; Still the Beaver; Outlaws; 21 Jump Street; and Life Goes On.. She appeared in the movies Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), and Heathers (1988).

In the Nineties Shannen Doherty continued to appear on Beverly Hills, 90120. Later in the decade she began her stint on the TV series Charmed. She appeared in such TV movies as Jailbreakers, Gone in the Night, Sleeping with the Devil, and Satan's School for Girls. She appeared in the movies Mallrats (1995), Nowhere (1997), and Striking Poses (1998).

In the Naughts she continued to appear on Charmed. She also had regular roles on the shows North Shore and 90210. She was the lead voice on the animated series Mari/Kari. She guest starred on the shows Gary & Micke and Love, Inc. She appeared in the mini-series Category 7: The End of the World. She appeared in such TV movies as Another Day, The Rendering, and View of Terror. She appeared in the movies Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and Burning Palms (2010).

In the Teens she had a regular role on BH90120. She guest starred on the shows Suite 7, Rock in a Hard Place, Heathers, and Riverdale. she appeared in such TV movies as Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys and All I Want for Christmas. She appeared in the movies Bukowski (2013), Back in the Day (2016), Bethany (2017) and Undateable John (2019). In the 2020s Shannen Doherty appeared in the movies Fortress (2021), Hot Seat (2012), and Darkness of Man (2024).

Beverly Hills, 90120 debuted when I was in my Twenties, so I never watched it, but I remember Shannen Dohtery well from Our House, Charmed, and the movie Heathers. She could play a wide variety of roles, often quite different from each other. She played Kris Witherspoon on Our House, the eldest daughter trying to adjust to live in California. On Charmed she played the eldest of the Haliwell sisters, who is also the most powerful witch of the three. In the movie Heathers she played Heather Duke, the opportunistic high schooler who takes over as her clique's leader following the death of Heather Chandler. Shanen Dohtery was a very talented actress, so it's little wonder she starred on multiple TV shows and in multiple TV movies.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

IMDB Should Keep the Full Credits (Text Only) Page for Actors, Directors, and Other Crew

In December 2022 IMDB introduced its redesign for Name Pages for actors, writers, filmmakers, and other crew members. Many IMDB users were not happy with the redesign and made their displeasure known on IMDB's support forum and elsewhere. Users' anger was only mollified by the fact that IMDB still had what they now called a "Full Credits (Text Only)" page, which resembled a simplified Old Name Page.

Unfortunately, it appears that IMDB may be doing away with the Full Credits page. On Thursday I wrote my eulogy for Shelley Duvall. I did a Google search so I could go to her Full Credits page on IMDB. Sadly, when I clicked on the search result, I found that the Full Credits page was redirected to the New Name Page. I tried to find some way of circumventing this, but I couldn't find any way to do so. A search revealed an announcement of a redesigned Full Credits (Text Only) page. From the way I look at it, it doesn't look so much like a redesign of the Full Credits (Text Only) page as simply forcing people to use the New Name Page. Fortunately, the Full Credits (Text Only) Page appears to still be available on Chrome on mobile and Vivaldi on desktop (I wound up using my phone for Shelley Duvall's eulogy).

Needless to say, this has once more made IMDB users unhappy. The plain truth is that the New Name Page is much more difficult to use than the Full Credits (Text Only) page. While they have made changes to the New Name Page since its introduction in December 2022, the problem is that they are not enough and the Full Credits (Text Only) page remains far superior. To wit, on the Full Credits (Text Only) Page, in an actor, writer, director, or other crew member's credits, when a television series appears, every single episode that person worked on is listed below it. On the New Name Page, it simply lists the number of episodes the person worked on. The user has to click on that, after which a pop-up appears. Even then, in the pop-up the episodes are listed by season, so that one must do yet more clicking. Quite simply, with the Full Credits (Text Only) page one has no clicks to see what episodes of a TV show a person worked on, while with the New Name Page, one has multiple clicks.

I still honestly do not know why IMDB created the New Name Page to begin with. It is less user-friendly than the Old Name Page. I also do not know why they would want to get rid of the Full Credits (Text Only) page, as the New Name Page is also inferior to it. Users have made it clear that even after about two and half years they still hate the New Name Page and they want the Full Credits (Text Only) to be page kept. The sensible thing would then be to keep the Full Credits (Text Only) page. I have a feeling that if they don't, then people will turn to other sources for filmographies of actors, writers, directors, and so on, such as The Movie Database or even Wikipedia. I know I will. The New Name Page on IMDB is simply too user-unfriendly and too time-consuming to use.

Friday, July 12, 2024

ALF Actor Benji Gregory Passes On

Benji Gregory, best known for playing Brian Tanner on the sitcom ALF, died on June 12 2024 at the age of 46. His official cause of death is still pending, but his sister posted on Facebook that he died from "vehicular heatstroke" in a Chase Bank Parking Lot in Peoria, Arizona. He was found dead in his car, along with his dog.

Benji Gregory Hertzberg was born on May 26 1978 in Los Angeles. He made his television debut on an episode of The A-Team in 1984. That same year he guest starred on T.J. Hooker. He also guest starred on the shows Punky Brewster, Amazing Stories, The Twilight Zone, The Disney Sunday Movie, and Murphy Brown. He was a voice on the animated television shows Fantastic Max and Back to the Future. He was a guest voice on the animated series Pound Puppies. He appeared on ALF for the entirety of the show's run, from 1986 to 1990. He appeared in the movie Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986). He was a voice in the animated film Once Upon a Forest (1993).

Benji Gregory served in the United States Navy, where he eventually became an aerographer's mate.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Late Great Shelley Duvall

Shelley Duvall, who starred in such movies as The Shining (1980) and Popeye (1980) and worked a good deal with director Robert Altman died today, July 11 2024, at the age of 75. The cause was from complications from diabetes.

Shelley Duvall was born on July 7 1949 in Fort Worth, Texas. Her family moved to Houston when she was five years old. She attended South Texas Junior College. There she studied nutrition and diet therapy. While in college she threw a party for her fiancé, artist Bernard Sampson. At the party she met crew members of Robert Altman's movie Brewster McCloud, then filming in Houston. The crew members took her to meet casting director Lou Adler, who offered her a role in the movie. Shelley Duvall then made her film debut as Suzanne in Brewster McCloud. She made enough of an impression on director Robert Altman that he her cast her as mail order bride Ida Coyle in McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971).

In the Seventies she appeared in the movies Thieves Like Us (1974), Nashville (1975), Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976), Annie Hall (1977), 3 Women (1977), The Shining (1980), and Popeye (1980). She made her television debut in 1973 in a guest appearance on Cannon. In the Seventies dhse also guest starred on Love, American Style; Baretta; American Short Story, and Saturday Night Live. She appeared in The Paul Simon Special.

In the Eighties Shelley Duvall was the narrator on the TV show Faerie Tale Theatre, which she also produced. Later in the decade she narrated and produced the show Tall Tales & Legends and she produced the show Nightmare Classics. She guest starred on the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone.  She appeared in the movies Time Bandits (1981) and Roxanne (1987). She appeared in the short subject Frankenweenie (1984).

In the Nineties Shelley Duvall produced and hosted the TV show Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories. She guest starred on the show The Ray Bradbury Theatre, L.A. Law, Adventures from the Book of Virtue, Aahh!!! Real Monsters, Wishbone, The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, Maggie Winters, and The Hughleys. She appeared in the movies Suburban Commando (1991), Underneath (1995), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Changing Habits (1997), Twilight for the Ice Nymphs (1997), ShadowZone: My Teacher Ate My Homework (1997), RocketMan (1997), Tale of the Mummy (1998), The 4th Floor (1999), Big Monster on Campus and (2000). She appeared in the movie Manna from Heaven in 2002. It was following Manna in Heaven that she went on hiatus from acting. She played one final role in The Forest Hills (2023).

Shelley Duvall was a remarkable actress capable of playing a wide variety. Chances are good that many people will remember her best as Wendy Torrance, Jack Torrance's much put-upon wife in The Shining. Many will also remember her as Olive Oyl in Popeye, a role she was seemingly born to play. In Thieves Like Us she played Keechie, a garage owner's daughter who falls in love with bank robber Bowie (Keith Carradine). In Nashville she played groupie Martha, who insists on being called "L.A. Joan." Over the years she played everything from Grover Cleveland's wife in Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's History Lesson to an attendant at a health spa for the elderly.

Of course, Shelley Duvall was also a great producer. She was responsible for such classic TV shows as Faerie Tale Theatre, Tall Tales & Legends, and Bedtime Stories. These were shows that were meant for children, but were done in such a way that adults could enjoy them as well. It is little wonder that they were nominated and won awards. Shelley Duvall as a great actress and a great producer, and she will be remembered for both.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

TCM Summer Under the Stars 2024

Turner Classic Movie has released its schedule for the 2024 edition of Summer Under the Stars. For those who are unfamiliar with TCM Summer Under the Stars, it is a programming block takes place every August on TCM in which each day is devoted to a classic star. Many fans look forward to Summer Under the Stars each year, including myself.

This year sees a few stars who have never been featured on TCM Summer Under the Stars before. Among these are Julie Andrews, Gordon McRae, Peter Ustinov, Eleanor Powell, Meryl Streep, Anita Page, Jean Paul Belmondo, Jerry Lewis, Jose Ferrer, Robert Shaw, Grace Kelly, Ossie Davis, and Leo Gorcey. If you're like me, you might be surprised that some of these stars are new to TCM Summer Under the Stars. Given the programming block has been around for 21 years, I would have thought at some point Julie Andrews, Gordon McRae, Eleanor Powell, Jerry Lewis, and Jose Ferrer would have been featured at some point!

This year has a fairly solid line-up of films being aired this August. As usual, there are some films I wish they would show during this year's TCM Summer Under the Stars. During Bette Davis's day on August 22, Now, Voyager (1942) is notably missing. And given this is Julie Andrews's first year for TCM Summer Under the Stars, it would have been nice if they would show Mary Poppins (1964), although I realize they may not have been able to get the rights. For the most part, however, I can't complain with TCM's choices. I would have scheduled some days differently. Given how often TCM shows Some Like It Hot (1959), I think I would have shown it earlier and scheduled The Great Race (1965) at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central. For Grace Kelly's day on August 24, I would have flipped To Catch a Thief (1955) and Rear Window (1954), so that Rear Window would be at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central and To Catch a Thief at 10:00 PM Eastern/9:00 PM Central. For Jose Ferrer's day, I would have scheduled The Caine Mutiny (1954) far earlier than 2:00  AM Eastern/1:00 AM Central.

Anyway, below are my picks for each day as to the movies you really don't want to miss. All times are Central.

William Powell (Thursday, August 1):
2:00 PM Libeled Lady (1936)
4:00 PM The Thin Man (1934)
7:00 PM Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)
8:45 PM My Man Godfrey (1936)
10:30 PM Love Crazy (1941)

Ida Lupino (Friday, August 2):
2:15 PM The Sea Wolf (1941)
4:00 PM Out of the Fog (1941)
5:30 PM On Dangerous Ground (1952)
7:00 PM High Sierra (1940)
9:00 PM They Drive By Night (1940)
11:00 PM While the City Sleeps (1956)

John Wayne (Saturday, August 3):
11:00 AM Stagecoach (1939)
3:00 PM The Train Robbers (1973)
4:45 PM McLintock! (1963)
7:00 PM The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
9/:15 PM Red River (1948)

Julie Andrews (Sunday, August 4):
7:00 AM The Americanization of Emily (1964)
4:15 PM Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
7:00 PM Victor/Victoria (1982)

Gordon McRae (Monday, August 5):
11:00 AM Tea for Two (1950)
7:00 PM Oklahoma! (1955)
9:30 PM Carousel (1958)
11:45 PM On the Moonlight Bay (1951)

Jean Harlow (Tuesday, August 6):
9:00 AM Red-Headed Woman (1932)
10:45 AM The Girl From Missouri (1934)
7:00 PM Bombshell (1933)
9:00 PM Platinum Blonde (1931)
11:00 PM Hell's Angels (1930)
3:00 AM Wife vs. Secretary (1936)

Peter Ustinov (Wednesday, August 7):
9:15 AM Billy Budd (1962)
1:30 PM The Sundowners (1960)
4:00 PM Quo Vadis (1961)
7:00 PM Spartacus (1960)
10:30 PM Topkapi (1964)

Eleanor Powell (Thursday, August 8):
9:30 AM I Dood It! (1943)
11:30 AM Ship Ahoy (1942)
7:00 PM Broadway Melody of 1936 (1936)
9:00 PM Broadway Melody of 1938 (1938)
11:00 PM Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)

Montgomery Clift (Friday, August 9):
5:00 AM I Confess (1953)
8:30 AM Suddenly, Last Summer (1960)
1:00 PM The Young Lions (1958)
7:00 PM A Place in the Sun (1951)

Meryl Streep (Saturday, August 10):
7:00 PM Sophie's Choice (1982)
9:45 PM The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Cary Grant (Sunday, August 11):
7:15 AM Topper (1937)
9:00 AM Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
12:45 PM Gunga Din (1939)
3:00 PM Charade (1963)
5:00 PM Notorious (1946)

Anita Page (Monday, August 12):
9:30 AM Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
7:00 PM  The Broadway Melody (1929)
10:30 PM Night Court (1932)

Jean-Paul Belmondo (Tuesday August 13):
11:30 AM Two Women (1960)
3:00 PM A Monkey in Winter (1962)
7:00 PM Breathless (1960)
8:45 PM Pierrot le Fou (1965)
10:45 PM The Professional (1981)

Anne Bancroft (Wednesday, August 14):
8:30 AM 7 Women (11966)
5:00 PM The Pumpkin Eater (1965)
7:00 PM The Graduate (1968)
9:00 PM The Miracle Worker (1962)

Joseph Cotten (Thursday, August 15):
1:30 PM Journey Into Fear (1942)
3:00 PM Citizen Kane (1941)
5:15 PM The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
7:00 PM Portrait of Jennie (1948)
11:15 PM Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
3:00 AM Petulia (1968)

Jane Russell (Friday, August 16):
3:00 PM His Kind of Woman (1951)
5:15 PM The French Line (1954)
7:00 PM Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
9:00 PM The Paleface (1948)
11:00 PM The Outlaw (1943)

Jerry Lewis (Saturday, August 17):
7:00 AM At War With the Army (1950)
9:00 AM Sailor Beware (1951)
11:00 AM Scared Stiff (1953)
7:00 PM The Nutty Professor (1963)

Katharine Hepburn (Sunday, August 18):
8:30 AM Little Women (1933)
9:30 AM The Philadelphia Story (1940)
11:30 AM Bringing Up Baby (1938)
5:00 PM On Golden Pond (1981)
7:00 PM State of the Union (1948)
9:15 PM Woman of the Year (1942)
11:15 PM Pat and Mike (1952)

John Gilbert (Monday, August 19):
5:00 AM The Show (1927)
11:15 AM AM Bardelys the Magnificent (1926)
1:00 PM The Merry Widow  (1925)
3:30 PM Queen Christina (1933)
7:00 PM Love (1927)
8:30 PM Flesh and the Devil (1926)
10:30 PM The Big Parade (1925)

Jeanne Crain (Tuesday, August 20):
8:30 AM The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)
3:00 PM A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
9:00 PM The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951)
11:00 PM People Will Talk (1951)

Jose Ferrer (Wednesday, August 21):
5:00 PM I Accuse!  (1958)
7:00 PM Moulin Rouge (1952)
9:15 PM Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
1:00 AM The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Bette Davis (Thursday, August 22):
6:30 AM Front Page Woman (1935)
8:00 AM Dangerous (1935)
9:30 AM Marked Woman (1937)
11:15 AM The Catered Affair (1956)
1:00 PM Dark Victory (1939)
5:00 PM The Little Foxes (1941)
9:00 PM The Letter (1940)
1:00 AM Dead Ringer (1964)
3:00 AM The Nanny (1965)

Robert Shaw (Friday, August 23):
5:00 AM Libel (1959)
7:00 PM A Man for All Seasons (1968)
9:15 PM The Sting (1973)
1:30 AM The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974)

Grace Kelly (Saturday, August 24):
9:00 AM High Society (1956)
11:00 AM The Country Girl (1952)
1:00 PM The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
5:00 PM Dial M for Murder (1954)
7:00 PM To Catch a Thief (1955)
9:00 PM Rear Window (1954)

Fred MacMurray (Sunday, August 25):
5:00 AM Alice Adams (1935)
2:30 PM The Egg and I (1947)
4:30 PM The Apartment (1960)
7:00 PM Double Indemnity (1944)

Donna Reed (Monday, August 26):
8:00 AM Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
10:00 AM The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
1:30 PM See Here, Private Hargrove (1944)
7:00 PM From Here to Eternity (1953)
1:15 AM They Were Expendable (1945)

Ossie Davis (Tuesday, August 27):
11:15 AM The Sheriff (1971)
4:45 PM The Hill (1965)
7:00 PM Do the Right Thing (1989)
9:!5 PM Get On the Bus (1996)

Marlene Dietrich (Wednesday, August 28):
2:00 PM Rancho Notorious (1952)
7:00 PM Blonde Venus (1932)
9:00 PM Morocco (1930)
1:00 AM The Blue Angel (1930)
3:00 AM Stage Fright (1950)

Leo Gorcey (Thursday, August 29):
6:30 AM Hell's Kitchen (1939)
1:15 PM Maisie Gets Her Man (1942)
7:00 PM Angels in Disguise (1949)
8:15 PM Blonde Dynamite (1950)
10:45 PM Ghost Chasers (1951)

Ginger Rogers (Friday, August 30):
3::00 PM The Gay Divorcee (1934)
5:00 PM Top Hat (1935)
7:00 PM Swing Time (1936)
9:00 PM Shall We Dance (1937)
11:00 PM The Major and the Minor (1942)

Tony Curtis (Saturday August 31):
10:45 AM The Great Race (1965)
1:30 PM The Perfect Furlough (1958)
7:00 PM Some Like It Hot (1959)
9:15 PM The Defiant Ones (1958)
1:15 AM Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Monday, July 8, 2024

Film Editor Bud S. Smith Passes On

Bud S. Smith, the film editor who was nominated for the Academy Award for editing for The Exorcist
(1973) Evan A. Lottman & Norman Gay and was nominated for the Academy Award for editing for Flashdance (1983), died on June 23 2024 at the age of 88. The cause was respiratory failure after a prolonged illness.

Bud S. Smith was born on December 6 1935 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He began his career in television as part of the editorial department of the documentary television series Hollywood and the Stars. He was also part of the editorial department of the documentary TV movie Pro Football: Mayhem on a Sunday Afternoon. In the Sixties he was the editor on the documentary TV movie The Bold Men (1965). He edited the TV specials The Incredible World of James Bond, Lucy in London, and Petula. He also edited the documentary TV movies Prelude to War: Beginning of World War II and The Big Land. He edited both episodes of Time-Life Specials: The March of Time and National Geographic Specials. He directed an episode of Dundee and the Culhane. The first feature film on which he was an editor was Putney Swope in 1969. He edited Pound 1970.

In the Seventies he served as an editor on the feature films Greaser's Palace (1972), Rhinoceros (1974), Sorcerer (1977), The Brink's Job (1978), Cruising (1980), and Falling in Love Again (1980). For television he edited the documentary TV movie Tribute to Bogart and the TV movie A Death in Canaan. He was on the editorial department of the feature film The Exorcist (1977).

In the Eighties he edited the movies Personal Best (1982), Flashdance (1983), Deal of the Century (1983), The Karate Kid (1984), Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), Sing (1989), and Dark Man (1990). He was the supervising film editor on the films Zoot Suit (1981), Cat People (1982), and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985).

He edited the movie The Replacements (2000) and served as post-production advisor on Christina's House (2000). In the Naughts he edited the movies Young Black Stallion (2003), Ladder 49 (2004), and The Game of Their Lives (2005). He was an editorial consultant on the movie G-Foce (2009) and and an assistant editor on the short "Where's Barry?" (2014).

He also served as a second unit director or assistant director on the movies Sorcerer, Cat People, To Live and Die in L.A., Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), Virus (1999), and Driftwood (2006). He was a second unit director on the movie C.A.T. Squad. He was a producer on the movies Sorcerer, The Karate Kid (1984), To Live and Die in L.A., Virus, Driftwood, Lonely Street (2008), The Mighty Macs (2009), Alone Yet Not Alone (2013), and the short "Where's Barry?".

Saturday, July 6, 2024

The 60th Anniversary of A Hard Day's Night (1964)

It was sixty years ago today that The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night (1964) premiered at the Pavilion in London. I have already written a good deal about A Hard Day's Night on this blog, so for now I will leave you with the opening of A Hard Day's Night, featuring the legendary song of the same name.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Godspeed Robert Towne

Robert Towne, who received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Chinatown (1974), died on July 1 2024 at the age of 89.

Robert Towne was born Robert Schwartz on November 23 1934 in Los Angeles. He grew up in the San Pedro neighbourhood. His father ran a ladies clothing store called the Towne Smart Shop and later became a real estate developer. His family eventually moved to Rancho Palo Verdes. Robert Towne attended Chadwick Prep School and Redondo Union High School. He attended Pomona College, where he studied English literature and philosophy. He graduated in 1956. He studied acting under actor Jeff Corey, among whose other students was Jack Nicholson.

It was through the legendary Roger Corman that Robert Towne began his career. His first screenplay was for the Corman film Last Woman on Earth (1961). He also appeared in the movie as an actor, playing Matin Joyce using the stage name Edward Wain. The following year he appeared in Corman's Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), playing Sparks Moranaja (Agent XK150), again using the name Edward Wain. In the Sixties he wrote several episodes of The Lloyd Bridges Show, as well as episodes of the TV shows Breaking Point, The Outer Limits, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He also wrote screenplays for the movies The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) and Villa Rides (1968). He also worked as a script doctor, doing uncredited work on Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

In the Seventies Robert Towne wrote the movies The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), The Yakuza (1974), and Shampoo (1975). He did uncredited work on Drive, He Said (1971), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Cisco Pike (1971), The New Centurions (1972), The Parallax View (1973), The Missouri Breaks (1976), Orca (1977), and Heaven Can Credit (1978). As an actor he had appearances in The Zodiac Killer (1971), Drive, He Said (1971), and Shampoo (1975).

In 1982 Robert Towne made his directorial debut with Personal Best. He also directed Tequila Sunrise (1988). He wrote the films Personal Best (1982), Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), Tequila Sunrise (1988), Days of Thunder (1990), and The Two Jakes (1990). He did uncredited work on Deal of the Century (1982),8 Million Days to Die (1986), Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987), and Frantic (1988). He appeared as an actor in The Pick-Up Artist (1987).

In the Nineties he wrote the movies The Firm (1993), Love Affair (1994), Mission: Impossible (1996), Without Limits (1998), and Mission: Impossible II (2000). In the Naughts he served as a consulting producer on the TV show Mad Men. He directed the film Ask the Dust (2006), for which he also wrote the screenplay. As an actor he appeared in the movie Suspect Zero (2004). In the Teens he wrote an episode of Welcome to the Basement.

Robert Towne was certainly a versatile writer. In television alone he wrote for multiple genres. He wrote an episode for the medical drama Breaking Point, an episode for the sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits, and the spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. His screenplays for movies were similarly diverse. He wrote The Tomb of Ligeia, generally considered one of the best of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe movies. He wrote the classic and Academy Award winning neo-noir Chinatown. He wrote the comedy-drama The Last Detail. Robert Towne worked in multiple genres of film and television, and he did all of them well.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Happy 4th of July 2024

I want to wish my fellow Americans a happy 4th of July. As I usually do every July 4th, I am sharing with you some vintage, patriotic pinups. I do hope you appreciate them.

First up is Cyd Charisse, who is celebrating the 4th of July with Tom and Jerry.

And here is Helen Twelvetrees riding a bottle rocket.

You might say Rita Moreno is a real firecracker.

Joan Dixon is ready to light a rather large firecracker.

And here is a patriotically dressed Ann Miller!

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

The Late Great Martin Mull

Actor and comedian Martin Mull, who starred on the TV show Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and played Colonel Mustard in the cult classic Clue (1985), died on June 27 2024 at the age of 80. He had been suffering from a long illness.

Martin Mull was born on August 18 1943 in Chicago. His father was a carpenter while his mother was an actress and director. When he was two years old his family moved to North Olmstead, Ohio. He was 15 years old when his family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut. He wanted to be a painter and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1965. In 1967 he earned a Master of Fine Arts from the same school. He paid his way through college by forming bands, which is how he entered the entertainment industry.

In fact, for the first part of the Seventies he was best known as a musical comedian. He wrote the country song "A Girl Named Johnny Cash" for Jane Morgan. In 1972 his self-titled, debut album was released. During the Seventies he released several more albums, including Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture in Your Living Room (1973), Normal (1974), Days of Wine and Neuroses (1975), I'm Everyone I Ever Loved (1977), Sex and Violins (1978), and Near Perfect/Perfect (1979).

He made his acting debut on television in 1976 playing Garth Gimble and later his twin brother Barth on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. He continued to play Barth on the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman sequels Fernwood 2 Night and America 2 Night. In the Seventies he guest starred on the shows Wonder Woman, Laugh-In, and Taxi. He made his move debut in FM in 1978. He appeared in the moves Serial (1980) and My Bodyguard (1980).

In the Eighties Martin Mull starred on the sitcom Domestic Life, which he also  co-created with Steve  Martin, Howard Gerwirtz, and Ian Praiser. He made several appearances as himself on It's Gary Shandling's Show and starred in the sitcom His & Hers. Martin Mull guest starred on the TV shows Square Pegs, George Burns Comedy Week, Tall Tales & Legends, Fast Times, D.C. Follies, The Magical World of Disney, TV 101, and The Golden Girls. He appeared in the movies Take This Job and Shove It (1981), Private School (1983), Mr. Mom (1983), Flicks (1983), Growing Pains (1984), Clue (1985), O.C. and Stiggs (1985), The Boss' Wife (1986), Rented Lips (1987), Home is Where the Heart Is (1988), Cutting Class (1989), Think Big (1989), Ski Patrol (1990), and Far Out Man (1990).

In the Nineties he starred on the TV shows The Jackie Thomas Show, Roseanne, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He was a regular voice on the animated series Family Dog. He guest starred on the shows Get a Life, Dream On, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, The General Motors Playwrights Theatre, The Larry Sanders Show, L.A. Law, Burke's Law, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Drew Carey Show, Life...and Stuff, Over the Top, The Simpsons, The Nanny, Sin City Spectacular, Family Guy, The Wild Thornberrys, Twice in a Lifetime, Recess, Just Shoot Me!, and The Geena Davis Show. He appeared in the movies Ted & Venus (1991), The Player (1992), Dance with Death (1992), Miracle Beach (1992), Movies Money Murder (1993), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Mr. Write (1994), Eddie & Pen (1996), Jingle All the Way (1996), Zack and Reba (1998), and Attention Shoppers (2000).

In the Naughts Maritn Mull  was a voice on the animated series Teamo Supremo, Danny Phantom, and American Dad!. He was a regular on the show The Ellen Show and 'Til Death. He guest starred on the shows Dexter's Laboratory, Kristin, Less Than Perfect, Greeting from Tucson, Reba, Life with Bonnie, Half & Half, Reno 911!, Crumbs, Thick and Thin, The War at Home, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Gary Unmarried, My Boys, and Eastwick. He appeared in the movies The Year That Trembled (2002), Come Away Home (2005), Relative Strangers (2006), and Killers (2010).

Two and a Half Man, Dads, Veep, Life in Pieces, I'm Sorry, Arrested Development, The Cool Kids, and The Ranch. He guest starred on the shows Working Class, Mad Love, Franklin & Bash, Psych, Community, NCIS: Los Angeles, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bless This Mess, and Bob's Burgers. He appeared in the movies And They're Off (2011), and A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018).

In the Twenties Martin Mull guest starred on the shows Grace and Frankie, Maggie, Not Dead Yet, and The Afterparty.

Martin Mull was a remarkable talent. While many actors will be best remembered for one or two roles, Martin Mull played so many brilliant roles that it is like that each individual person will remember him for something different from other people. On Mary Hartman Mary Hartman he played the rather unpleasant, abusive Garth Gimble and his twin brother,, talk show host Barth Gimble on the show's two sequels. He was Colonel Mustard in the movie Clue, a military officer who had engaged in war profiteering. On Arrested Development he played incompetent private detective Gene Parmesan who regularly worked for Lucille Bluth. (Jessica Walter). One of his many guest appearances I best remember is the one he made in the Golden Girls episode "Snap Out of It," in which he played an aging and agoraphobic hippie named Jimmy. Martin Mull certainly had a gift for comedy. Furthermore, he could play a wide variety of characters.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

An Update

As I mentioned in my prior post, it was Wednesday might that my desktop computer started making a lot of noise. What is more, I don't think it is the fan. For that reason, I started using my phone for most of my social media stuff. Unfortunately, it is difficult to do a blog post on a phone. For that reason, I only made three posts last week.

Anyway, we have an old laptop that still works fine, so the past few days I have been getting things moved over to it. I completed that task today, so I am ready to go. Tomorrow I will eulogize the late, great Martin Mull. I am so thankful to be able make blog posts again.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Technical Difficulties

If you are wondering why I haven't been posting, my desktop is dying. I am then getting everything transferred to my laptop. I should be up and running tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The MTV News Website R.I.P.

On May 9 2023 it was announced that MTV News, the news division of MTV would close. It was then just two days ago, on June 24 2024, that Paramount Global shuttered the MTV News website, making it clear that MTV News was no more. Apparently editorial content on the website for CMT (essentially what was the country music version of MTV) is gone as well.

The closure of the MTV News website essentially erases nearly thirty years of content. This includes news articles, interviews with major artists, and news columns. Quite simply a good deal of music history is gone now. Some of the content dated back to 1996, when the MTV News website was launched. It seems likely that some of the content may have been archived by the Wayback Machine. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the Wayback Machine archived many of the early MTV News content (it began archiving pages in 1996, the same year that the MTV News website was launched). Also, the Wayback Machine can be hit or miss in archiving many websites, particularly ones from the late Nineties and the early Naughts.

In many ways the closure of the MTV News website is the final nail in the coffin of MTV as we originally knew it. When MTV was originally launched in 1981, it was a cable channel entirely dedicated to music videos. In 1987 MTV News began. While MTV would add programming other than music videos and music-oriented programming over time, in 1996 much of its programming was still dedicated to music. Sadly, as time passed, MTV eventually phased out its music content in favour of reality shows and the occasional scripted show.  MTV ceased to be "Music Television" long ago.

The MTV News archive was the last vestige of MTV's days as a music channel. With its closure MTV has now completely become a channel dedicated primarily to reality shows. Once a cultural phenomenon that even inspired a fad towards music videos in the Eighties, it is now pretty much just another cable channel. I honestly doubt that they have the audience they once had.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

TCM Pays Tribute to Roger Corman in July 2024

Legendary producer and director Roger Corman died on May 9 of this year at the age of 98. Next month, July 2024, Turner Classic Movies will pay tribute to Mr. Corman. On the first three Wednesdays of the month, TCM will be showing movies produced or directed by Roger Corman. Below is the schedule of the films they will be showing. All times are Central.

Wednesday, July 3:
7:00 PM X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
8:30 PM A Bucket of Blood (1959)
9:45 PM The Wasp Woman (1960)
11:15 PM The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Thursday, July 4:
12:45 AM The Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)
2:00 AM Atlas (1961)
3:30 AM Tower of London (1962)

Wednesday, July 10:
7:00 PM House of Usher (1960)
8:30 PM The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
10:00 PM The Raven (1963)
11:45 PM The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Thursday, July 11:
1:30 AM Bloody Mama (1970)
3:15 AM Wild Angels (1966)

Wednesday, July 17:
7:00 PM Boxcar Bertha (1972)
10:30 PM Dementia 13 (1963)

Thursday, July 18:
12:00 AM Caged Heat (1974)
1:30 AM Piranha (1978)

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Announcing the 11th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon

I am proud to announce the 11th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon, which will take place on September 20, 21, and 23 2024.

While many people think of Hollywood when they think of classic movies, the fact is that the United Kingdom made many significant contributions to film over the years. From the Gainsborough melodramas to Hammer Films to the British New Wave, cinema would be much poorer without the British.

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

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

2. There is no limit on subject matter. You can write about any film in any genre you want. Posts can be on everything from the British New Wave to the Gainsborough bodice rippers to the Hammer Horrors. I am also making no limit on the format posts can take. You could review a classic British film, make an in-depth analysis of a series of British films, or even simply do a pictorial tribute to a film. That having been said, since this is a classic film blogathon,  I only ask that you write about films made before 2014. I generally don't think of a film as a classic until it has been around for thirty years, but to give bloggers more options I am setting the cut off point at ten years ago.

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

4. I am not going to schedule days for individual posts. All I ask is that the posts be made on or between September 20, 21, and 22 2024.

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

Below is a roster of the participants:

A Shroud of Thoughts: The Italian Job (1969)

Realweegiemidget Reviews: Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Miranda (1948) and Mad About Men (1954)

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: The Wrong Box (1966)

John V's Eclectic Avenue: The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)

Taking Up Room: The Way to the Stars (1945)

The Stop Button : Local Hero (1983)

Smoke in the Library: Get Carter (1971)

Moon in Gemini: Shallow Grave (1994)

Liberal England: Last Resort (2000)

Paula's Cinema Club: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Nitrateglow: Corridor of Mirrors (1948)

Below are graphics you can use for the blogathon or you can always make your own!

Friday, June 21, 2024

Pop Culture in June 2004

Earlier this month A Shroud of Thoughts celebrated its 20th anniversary. It was on June 4 2004 that I launched this blog. I then thought it would be interesting to look back at what was popular at that time. In many ways, June 2004 was not particularly remarkable.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find out what the highest rated show that week was. I did learn what the no. 1 show in primetime on June 4 2004 was. It happened to be Dateline NBC, which was the no. 1 show that night by a long shot. The second highest show that night was JAG. Other shows that aired that night were George Lopez, Married to the Kellys, Hope & Faith, Life with Bonnie, and 20/20 on ABC. On CBS there was Joan of Arcadia, JAG, and 48 Hours. The first two hours of primetime on NBC were occupied by Dateline NBC, followed by Las Vegas. Fox aired the movie Cats & Dogs (2001) on their movie anthology Fox at the Movies. The WB aired Reba, What I Like About You, and two episodes of Grounded for Life. On UPN was another movie anthology, UPN's Night at the Movies, on which American Outlaws (2001) aired.

The no. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for that week was  "Burn" by Usher. I am not at all familiar with the song. I am not familiar with the no. 1 song on the British singles chart that week either. It was "I Don't Wanna Know" by Mario Winans featuring Enya & P Diddy.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) was released in the United States on June 4 2004. In its opening weekend in the United States and Canada it made $93.7 million. This made it the movie with the highest opening weekend for a movie released in June until Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009. It should come as no surprise that it was the highest grossing movie for June 2004.

As I said, June 4 2004 was not particularly remarkable with regards to pop culture, not unless one counts the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the United States. I supposed that made it as good a time as any to launch a blog that would become devoted to nostalgia and popular culture.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Late Great Donald Sutherland

Donald Sutherland, who starred in such movies as The Dirty Dozen (1967), MASH (1970), Klute (1971), and Ordinary People (1980), died today, June 20 2024, at the age of 88 following a long illness.

Donald Sutherland was born July 17 1935 in Saint John, New Brunswick.  He had polio when he was very young and later rheumatic fever. He as twelve years old when his family moved to Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. There he attended Bridgewater High School. He later attended the University of Toronto. There he studied engineering and drama. He worked in regional theatre for a time before attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He dropped out after a year, after which he acted  for year and a half at the Perth Repertory Theatre in Scotland.

Donald Sutherland made his television debut in 1962 in an episode of Studio 4. In the Sixties he guest starred on the shows Man of the World, Suspense, The Odd Man, The Sentimental Agent, The Sullavan Brothers, ITV Play of the Week, BBC Play of the Month, Court Martial, Theatre 625, Gideon's Way, The Saint, The Avengers, Man in a Suitcase, The Champions, and The Name of the Game. He appeared in the mini-series A Farewell to Arms. He made his film debut in 1963 in The World Ten Times Over. In the Sixties he appeared in the movies Il castello dei morti vivi (1964), Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Fanatic (1965), The Bedford Incident (1965), Promise Her Anything (1966), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Billion Dollar Brain (1967), Sebastian (1968), Joanna (1968), Interlude (1968), Oedipus the King (1968), The Split (1968), MASH (1970), Start the Revolution without Me (1970), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Act of the Heart (1970), and Alex in Wonderland (1970).

In the Seventies, Donald Sutherland appeared in the movies Little Murders (1971), Johnny Got His Gun (1971), Klute (1971), Steelyard Blues (1973), Lady Ice (1973), Don't Look Now (1973), Alien Thunder (1974), S*P*Y*S (1974), The Day of the Locust (1975), Der Richter und sein Henker (1975), Novecento (1976), Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976), The Eagle Has Landed (1977), The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), The Disappearance (1977), Les liens de sang (1978), National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), The First Great Train Robbery (1978), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Murder by Decree (1979), A Man, a Woman and a Bank (1979), Bear Island (1979), Nothing Personal (1980), and Ordinary People (1980).

In the Eighties he appeared in the movies Gas (1981), Eye of the Needle (1981), Threshold (1981), Max Dugan Returns (1983), Crackers (1984), Ordeal by Innocence (1984), Heaven Help Us (1985), Revolution (1985), Oviri (1986), The Rosary Murders (1986), The Trouble with Spies (1987), Apprentice to Murder (1988), Lost Angels (1989), Lock Up (1989), A Dry White Season (1989), Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990), and Eminent Domain (1990).

In the Nineties Donald Sutherland appeared in the television mini-series Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and the TV movie Citizen X. He was a guest voice on The Simpsons. He appeared in the movies Buster's Bedroom (1991), Backdraft (1991), Cerro Torre: Schrei aus Stein (1991), JFK (1991), The Railway Station Man (1992), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Rakuyô (1992), Shadow of the Wolf (1992), Younger and Younger (1993), Benefit of the Doubt (1993), Red Hot (1993), Punch (1993), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), The Puppet Masters (1994), Disclosure (1994), Outbreak (1995), Hollow Point (1996), A Time to Kill (1996), Shadow Conspiracy (1997), The Assignment (1997), Fallen (1998), Without Limits (1998), Free Money (1998), Virus (1999), Instinct (1999), Panic (2000), Space Cowboys (2000), and The Art of War (2000).

In the Naughts Donald Sutherland starred on the TV shows Dirty Sexy Money and Commander in Chief. He appeared in the mini-series 'Salem's Lot, Frankenstein, Human Trafficking, and The Pillars of the Earth. He guest starred on the show Sunday Pants. He appeared in the movies Da wan (2001), Piazza delle cinque lune (2003), The Italian Job (2003), Baltic Storm (2003), Cold Mountain (2003), Aurora Borealis (2005), Fierce People (2005), Pride & Prejudice (2005), American Gun (2005), An American Haunting (2005), Land of the Blind (2006), Ask the Dust (2006), Beerfest (2006), Reign Over Me (2007), L'âge des ténèbres (2007), Puffball (2007), Fool's Gold (2008), and The Con Artist (2010). He provided voices for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) and Astro Boy (2009).

In the Teens Mr. Sutherland starred on the TV shows Crossing Lines, Ice, and Trust. He appeared in the mini-series Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and The Undoing.  He appeared in the movies The Mechanic (2011), Horrible Bosses (2011), Man on the Train (2011), The Hunger Games (2012), Sofia (2012), Dawn Rider (2012), La migliore offerta (2013), Jappeloup (2013), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), The Calling (2014), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014), Forsaken (2015), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015), Milton's Secret (2016), The Leisure Seeker (2017), Basmati Blues (2017), Measure of a Man (2018), American Hangman (2019), Ad Astra (2019), The Burnt Orange Heresy (2019), and Alone (2020).

In the 2020s he had recurring roles on the TV shows Swimming with Sharks and Lawmen: Bass Reeves. He appeared in the movies Moonfall (2022), Mr. Harrigan's Phone (2022), an d Miranda's Victim (2023). He provided a voice for the animated movie Ozi: Voice of the Forest (2023).

Donald Sutherland was an extraordinary actor capable of playing any genre out there, from comedies to dramas to thrillers. He did a fantastic job as irreverent, insubordinate surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in MASH. At the same time he was impressive as Calvin Jarett, the father attempting to connect with his younger son after his oldest son had died in an accident, in Ordinary People. In The Dirty Dozen he played the none-too bright Private Pinkley, while in Animal House he played the aloof, unassuming, pot smoking Professor Dave Jennings. He was no less impressive on television. On the Avengers episode "The Superlative Seven" he played Jessel, the antagonist of the episode who trains assassins. On Lawmen: Bass Reeves he played the historical figure Isaac Parker the imposting judge known as "the Hanging Judge." Donald Sutherland appeared in everything from comedies to thrillers to sci-fi movies to dramas and he always gave a great performance. He was nothing if not versatile.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Godspeed Anouk Aimée

Anouk Aimée, who starred in such movies as La dolce vita (1960) and 8 1/2 (1963), died today, June 18 2024, at the age of 92.

Anouk Aimée was born Judith Dreyfus in Paris, France on April 27 1932. Her father as stage actor Henry Dreyfus (who used the stage name Henry Murray) and her mother was actress Genevieve Sorya (nee Durand). During World War II, she took her mother's maiden name to avoid Nazi persecution due to her Jewish last name of Dreyfus. She attended boarding school in the Alps.

She was 14 years old when she was discovered by director  Henri Calef. He cast her in the role of Anouk in La maison sous la mer (1947). She kept Anouk as her stage name. Author Jacques Prevert suggested she adopt Aimée as the surname of her stage name. In the late Forties she appeared in the movies The Lovers of Verona (1949) and Golden Salamander (1950).

In the Fifties she appeared in the movies The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (1952), Les crimes de l'amour (1953), Contraband Spain (1955), Noche de tormenta (1955), Bad Liaisons (1955), Ich suche Dich (1956), Nina (1956), Stresemann (1957), Pot Bouille (1957), Anyone Can Kill Me (1957), Montparnasse 19 (1958), The Journey (1959), La tête contre les murs (1959), Les dragueurs (1959), La dolce vita (1960), and Le farcenur (1960). She provided a voice in the animated film La bergère et le ramoneur (1952). She guest starred on the anthology television series Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Presents.

In the Sixties Anouk Aimée appeared in the movies Lola (1961), L'imprevisto (1961), Quai Notre-Dame (1961), The Last Judgement (1961), Sodom and Gomorrah (1962), 8 1/2 (1963), The Shortest Day (1963), Les grands chemins (1963), Il successo (1963), Il terrorista (1963), Liolà (1964), White Voices (1964), The Escape (1964), The Dreamer (1965), Le stagioni del nostro amore (1966), A Man and a Woman (1966), Lo scandalo (1966), Vivre pour vivre (1967), One Night...a Train (1968), Model Shop (1969), The Appointment (1969), and Justine (1969). She appeared on the TV series Festival and in the 1961 TV movie Hors jeu.

In the Seventies she appeared in the movies Hustle (1975), Second Chance (1976), Mon premier amour (1978), and A Leap in the Dark (1979). She appeared on the TV show Le roman du samedi. In the Eighties Anouk Aimée appeared in the movies Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981), The General of the Dead Army (1983), Viva la vie (1984), Success is the Best Revenge (1984), A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later (1986), Arrivederci e grazie (1988), and Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990). On television she appeared on the TV series Piazza Navona (1988) and the mini-series Mon dernier rêve sera pour vous.

In the Nineties she appeared on television on the TV show Screen Two and the mini-series Solomon. She appeared in the movies Ruptures (1993), Les marmottes (1993), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma (1995), Dis-moi oui... (1995), Hommes, femmes, mode d'emploi (1996), Riches, belles, etc. (1998), L.A. Without a Map (1998), 1999 Madeleine (1999), and Une pour toutes (1999).

In the Naughts Anouk Aimée appeared in the television mini-series Napoleon and the TV movie Love Letters. She appeared in the movies Festival in Cannes (2001), La petite prairie aux bouleaux (2003), Happily Ever After (2004), De particulier à particulier (2006), Stranger Than Fiction (2006), Celle que j'aime (2009), Ces amours-là (2009), and Paris Connections (2010). She appeared in the 2008 TV movie Love Letters.

In the Naughts Anouk Aimée appeared in the movies Tous les soleils (2011), Mince alors! (2012), and Les plus belles années d'une vie (2019).

Anouk Aimée was a remarkable actress who played a wide variety of roles. In La dolce vita she played Maddalena, the world weary and wealthy heiress who is one of the lovers of  Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni). In 8 1/2 she was  Luisa Anselmi, the estranged wife of Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni). In A Leap in the Dark she played Marta Ponticelli, a mentally disturbed woman who had raised her younger brother, Judge Mauro Ponticelli  (Michel Piccoli). She played fashion designer Simone Lowenthal in Prêt-à-Porter. Throughout her career Anouk Aimée played a wide variety of roles and she played all of them well.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

"Tous les garçons et les filles" by Françoise Hardy

As I related earlier in the week on my 20th anniversary post, for much of last week I had a fever. I have not been tested, but I am thinking it was Covid. At any rate I am still feeling under the weather. I will then leave you with the first hit by the legendary Françoise Hardy, "Tous les garçons et les filles (literally in English, "All the Boys and the Girls")."

Friday, June 14, 2024

The Late Great Françoise Hardy

Singer, songwriter, and pop icon Françoise Hardy died on Jun 11 2024 at the age of 80. The cause was  laryngeal cancer.

Françoise Hardy was born on January 17 1944 in Paris, France. She attended  Institution La Bruyère in Paris. After passing her baccalauréat, her father gave her a guitar as a gift. She enrolled enrolled in the Paris Institute of Political Studies, but dropped out to attend the Sorbonne to study German. In her free time she composed songs on her guitar. She played at the Moka Club, and then auditioned for record label Pathé-Marconi. They turned her down, but the audition encouraged her to pursue music. She tried Philips Records, who suggested she take singing lessons. She joined Le Petit Conservatoire de la chanson, a school for radio performers.

It was on May 14 1951 that Françoise Hardy auditioned for the label Disques Vogue. They suggested she study music theory and harmony lessons with a pianist. She was eventually signed to Vogue. Her first single, "Tous les garçons et les filles," was released in June 1962. It proved to be a hit, reaching no. 1 on the French singles chart. It also reached no. 1 in Belgium and Québec. It proved to be one of her few hits in the United Kingdom, reaching no. 36 on the British singles chart.

Françoise Hardy proved to be a phenomenon in her native France, following "Tous les garçons et les filles" in the Sixties with such hits as ""L'amour s'en va," "L'età dell'amore," "Frag' den Abendwind," and others. During the Sixties she became a style icon, and she served as inspiration for such fashion designers as as André Courrèges, Yves Saint Laurent, and Paco Rabanne. Her success as a music artist would continue into the Seventies, with such hits as "Soleil," "Message personnel,' "Je suis moi,""Que vas-tu faire?," "Femme parmi les femmes," and "J'écoute de la musique saoule." In the Eighties she had such hits as "Tamalou" and "Partir quand même." Françoise Hardy's career would slow in the Nineties, although she continued to be a popular artist. From 1962 to 2018 she released over thirty albums.

Françoise Hardy also had an acting career. She made her film debut in Château en Suède in 1963. In the Sixties she had a cameo in What's New Pussycat (1965) and appeared in the movies Une balle au coeur (1966), Masculin féminin (1966), and Grand Prix (1966). She went onto appear in the TV series Numéro un  in the Seventies.

Françoise Hardy was certainly a phenomenon. She was incredibly popular in France and much of the rest of Europe. And while she was not particularly well-known in the Anglosphere, she did have a cult following in English speaking countries as well. She proved influential on such diverse music artists as Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and Blur. Françoise Hardy certainly had a wonderful voice. It was capable of great emotional depth and sensitivity. Certainly few could deliver a song quite like she could. And she was also a very talented songwriter, even having written her very first hit, Tous les garçons et les filles." Early in her career she was often counted as part of the "yé-yé" movement, although that never quite sounded right. Not only did she sound very little like the contemporary "yé-yé" singers, but her even her earliest work displayed an emotional depth lacking in some of the other "yé-yé" singers' work. Regardless, Françoise Hardy had an impact that went well beyond her native France and will continue to be felt for years to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Godspeed William Russell

William Russell, the English actor who played the title character on The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and Ian Chesterson on Doctor Who, died on June 3 2024 at the age of 99.

William Russell was born William Russell Enoch in Sutherland, County Durham on November 19 1924. His family moved to moved to Solihull, and then Wolverhampton. There he attended Wolverhampton Grammar School. Later he attended Fettes college in Edinburgh and Trinity College, Oxford. Initially he studied philosophy, politics and economics, but he found himself ill-suited to economics. He then switched to English. His national service was in the Royal Air Force. Afterwards, he played in weekly repertory theatre in Tunbridge Wells, fortnightly rep at the Oxford Playhouse.

William Russell began his career using his part of his given name, Russell Enoch. It was under that name that he made his movie debut in Gift Horse in 1952. He used the name Russell Enoch he appeared in One Good Turn with Norman Wisdom in 1955. Mr. Wisdom objected to his surname because he had a rival by that name years go. William Russell then took up his first name and middle name as his stage name.

In the Fifties William Russel Sir Lancelot in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. He also appeared in the mini-series St. Ives and in the mini-series Nicholas Nickleby. He guest starred on the shows BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Lili Palmer Story, Assignment Foreign Legion, The Adventures of Aggie, Hour of Mystery, Sword of Freedom, Television World Theatre, Saturday Playhouse, Television Playwright, ITV Play of the Week, Armchair Theatre, and Tales from Dickens. He appeared in the movies Appointment in London (1953), Intimate Relations (1953), Malta Story (1953), Always a Bride (1953), The Saint's Return (1953), They Who Dare (1954), The Gay Dog (1954), One Good Turn (1955), Above the Waves (1955), The Man Who Never Was (1956), The Big Chance (1957), and The Adventures of Hal 5 (1958).

In the Sixties William Russell played Ian Chesterson on Doctor Who. He appeared in the mini-series Triton, Hamlet, and Jane Eyre.  He also starred on the show Breaking Point. He guest starred on Tales from Dickens, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, Drama 61--67, Moonstrike, Suspense, Dr. Finlay's Casebook, This Man Craig, Who-Dun-It., and Parkin's Patch. He appeared in the movies The Share Out (1962), The Great Escape (1963),and Return to Sender (1963).

In the Seventies William Russell starred on the shows Harriet's Back in Town. He guest starred on the shows Justice, Father Brown, Whodunit?, The Main Chance, Against the Crowd, The Doll, Scene, Crown Court, Van der Valk, Strangers, Parables, Disraeli, BBC2 Play of the Week, Spearhead, Shoestring, Armchair Thriller, Play for Today, The Professionals, and ITV Playhouse. He appeared on the TV series Mackenzie. He appeared in the mini-series The Hanged Man and Testament of Youth. He appeared in the movie Superman (1978).

In the Eighties William Russell appeared on the shows The Black Adder, Robin of Sherwood, and Boon. In the Nineties he was a regular on Coronation Street. He guest starred on Casualty, Great Performances, and Heartbeat. In the Naughts he guest starred on Poirot. His last appearance was in 2022, playing Ian Chesterson one last time on Doctor Who.

William Russell was a remarkable actor. Chances are very good he will always be best remembered as Ian on Doctor Who and then as Sir Lancelot. Despite this, over the years he played a wide variety of roles. He was Sorren ("Security") in The Great Escape. In the Justice episode "Point of Death" he played a doctor accused of hastening a patient's death so he could harvest the kidneys. On The Black Adder he played the Duke of Winchester on his deathbed. In the Robin of Sherwood episode "The Pretender" he played the villainous Duke of Gloucester. William Russell played a wide variety of roles throughout this career and played all of them well.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Godspeed Janis Paige

Janis Paige, who appeared in such movies as Silk Stockings (1957) and Please Don't Eat the Daisies  (1960) as well as the TV show It's Always Jan, died on June 2 2024 at the age of 101.

Janis Paige was born Donna Mae Tjaden in Tacoma, Washington. She started singing in public when she was only five years old. After she graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, she, her mother, and her sister moved to Los Angeles. She sang at the Hollywood Canteen and at a club on  Cahuenga Boulevard for military personnel that was set up during World War II.

It was in 1944 that Janis Paige made her movie debut in Bathing Beauty. From the mid to late Forties she appeared in the films Hollywood Canteen (1944), Her Kind of Man (1946), Of Human Bondage (1946), Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946), The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946), Love and Learn (1947), Cheyenne (1947), Always Together (1947), Winter Meeting (1948), Wallflower (1948), Romance on the High Seas (1948), One Sunday Afternoon (1948), The Younger Brothers (1949), The House Across the Street (1949), La strada buia (1950), and This Side of the Law (1950).

In the Fifties Janis Paige starred in the short-lived sitcom It's Always Jan. She made her television debut in ABC Album in 1953. She appeared in the TV shows The Philip Morris Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Studio 57, Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars, Shower of Stars, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, General Electric Theatre, and The Ann Sothern Show. She made her debut on Broadway in Remains to Be Seen in 1952. She starred in the original production of The Pajama Game. She appeared in the movies Mister Universe (1951), Two Guys and a Gal (1951), Silk Stockings (1957), and Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960).

In the Sixties she appeared on Broadway in Here's Love and Mame. She appeared in the movies Bachelor in Paradise (1961), The Big Step (1961), Follow the Boys (1963), The Caretakers (1963), and Welcome to Hard Times (1967). She appeared on television in the shows Wagon Train, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, 87th Precinct, Aloca Premiere, The Dick Powell Show, Burke's Law, The Fugitive, and The Red Skelton Show.

In the Seventies Janis Paige had a regular role on the TV show Lanigan's Rabbi and a recurring role on Eight is Enough. She appeared on the television shows Sarge, Columbo, Banacek, Mannix, Joe Forrester, Doc, Medical Story, Police Story, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All's Fair, The Nancy Walker Show, The Betty White Show, The Love Boat, Alice, Hawaii Five-O, Charlie's Angels, The Rockford Files, and All in the Family.

In the Eighties Janis Paige had recurring role son the shows Gun Shy; Baby Makes Five; Trapper John, M.D.; General Hospital, and Santa Barbara. She appeared on the shows Happy Days; Bret Maverick; Flamingo Road; Lewis & Clark; Too Close for Comfort; Romance Theatre; Matt Houston; St. Elsewhere; Fantasy Island; Trauma Center; Night Court; Capitol; Mission: Impossible; and Shades of LA. She appeared on Broadway in Alone Together.

In the Nineties she continued to appear on Santa Barbara. She guest starred on the shows Hearts Are Wild, Room for Two, Legend, and Caroline in the City. She appeared in the movie Natural Causes (1994). In 2001 she guest starred on the show Family Law.

Janis Paige was an incredible talent. She was a great singer, with an absolutely beautiful voice. It is no wonder she was cast in so many musicals. Of course, she also had great talent as an actor. For many she may be best remembered for her guest appearance on All in the Family on which she played Denise, the diner waitress who tempts Archie Bunker to cheat on his wife Edith. In Silk Stockings she played Hollywood actress Peggy Dayton, who is unsure about playing in her first drama. On Trapper John, M.D. she played Catherine Hackett, the hard-nosed hospital administrator who often comes into conflict with the surgeon of the title. In The Caretakers she played one of the patients at a mental hospital, a former prostitute named Marion. Throughout her career Janis Paige played a wide variety of roles in a wide variety of movies and TV shows.

Monday, June 10, 2024

The 20th Anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts

Last Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts. I was planning to do a post for the occasion on that date, but Monday night I developed a runny nose and sore throat, along with a low-grade fever. By Tuesday morning the low-grade fever had turned into a medium-grade fever. I spent the next several days mostly just sleeping. I didn't even eat. By Friday morning the fever had broken, but I have spent the past few days regaining my strength. I cannot be sure, but I think I may have had Covid.

Regardless, it was on June 4 2004 that I launched A Shroud of Thoughts. From about 2002 to 2005, blogs were a bit of a fad. They had actually been around since the mid-Nineties. Jorn Barger coined the term weblog in December 1997 and Peter Merholz shortened weblog to blog in the spring of 1999. Regardless, it was in the early to mid-Naughts that the mainstream media began to take notice of blogs. At that point in time, it seemed as if everyone and their siblings had their own blog. Among the people with a blog at the time was a lady friend of mine. It looked like fun, so I decided to start my own blog.

At the time the fashion in blog titles tended to involve the word "thought" or some synonym thereof. I then took the title A Shroud of Thoughts from a phase from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage canto iii stanza 113:

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

If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have chosen a name more fitting a blog devoted to pop culture and nostalgia. As it turned out, by the time I thought to change the blog's name, it already had a small following. I worried that if I changed it, then my readers might be confused. It has remained A Shroud of Thoughts ever since.

A Shroud of Thoughts has evolved over the years so that it is a bit different from what it was back in 2004. It has always been devoted to pop culture and nostalgia, but in those early years, I wrote some posts of a more personal nature. Since I am a fairly private individual, I eventually dropped those sorts of posts. I also reviewed more recent television shows and movies, although those fell by the wayside as time went by. This was not a conscious choice on my part, but simply the case that I was much more interested in classic films and television shows.

Of course, the world has changed a great deal since 2004. As of 2004, television broadcasts in the United States were still in analogue. We would not make the change to digital for another few years. Furthermore, in 2004 only a small majority of Americans had access to cable television, a mere 58.7%.  This meant the broadcast networks were much more powerful then than they are now, although cable channels had eroded the sort of audiences they had enjoyed from the Fifties to the Eighties. Streaming as we now know it really didn't exist in 2004. It wouldn't be until 2006 that Amazon would introduce Amazon Unbox (which would evolve into today's Prime Video). Netflix entered the streaming field in 2007. Even then, it would be many more years before it would become prevalent.

Cell phones were around in 2004, but they were not nearly as prevalent as they are now. At that time only 66% of all Americans had cell phones, contrasted to 97% of all Americans now. Smartphones were only in their early days then, and would not become prevalent for many, many more years. In 2004 90% of all Americans still had landline phones. That number has since dropped to 25% in 2024.

Social media was still in its infancy in 2004. At the time I launched A Shroud of Thoughts, Friendster was a little over a year old. MySpace was a couple of months shy of its first birthday. Facebook had launched a few months earlier, although at the time it was only open to college students. Twitter would not launch until a little less than two years later.

My own life has changed considerably since 2004. I started this blog working one job and then quit it after I got another job. After many years of working that job, I was laid off from it. Since then I have published a few books. It was in 2011 that my best friend died at a terribly young age. It was also in that year that TCMParty, the collective live tweet of movies airing on Turner Classic Movies, was launched. Through TCMParty, I would meet many of my closest friends, including my dearest friend, Vanessa Marquez. Sadly, she died tragically in 2018 and I have missed her ever since. I have been on TCM, went to Hollywood, met Margaret O'Brien at a TCM event, and became friends with yet other celebrities in all that time as well.

I suppose that since 2004 A Shroud of Thoughts has become my life's work. My first book was largely a collection of posts from this blog. It has afforded me opportunities I might not have had otherwise. And I have met many friends through this blog. My life would certainly be poorer without it.

Anyhow I want to thank anyone and everyone who has ever read this blog over the years. as well as my fellow bloggers who have supported me in this endeavour. I really don't know if A Shroud of Thoughts would have survived the past ten years without them.

As I promised last Monday, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts I would share a list of what I consider to be the 20 best posts from the blog over the years. After being rudely interrupted by Covid, then, here is that list.

"The NBC Mystery Movie" November 13 2004 

"The Rise and Fall of the Independent Television Station" June 13 2005

"The Most Successful Studio Never to Exist" June 11 2006

"Doc Savage's 75th Anniversary" March 1 2008

"Bus Stop: A Lion Walks Among Us" September 14 2008

"All of Your Toys: The Monkees vs. Don Kirshner" April 17 2010

"The CBS Late Movie" August 12 2010

"The Gothic Horror Boom of the Sixties" October 30 2011

"The 60th Anniversary of King Kong (1933)" March 2 2013

"The JFK Assassination's Impact on American TV & Film" November 22 2013

"Rock & Rule: Canada's Animated Masterpiece" October 4 2024

"The 60th Anniversary of The Phil Silvers Show," September 20 2015

"The 75th Anniversary of Archie" January 13 2017

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

"Stand and Deliver Turned 30" October 5 2018

"The Greatest Movies Hammer Films Never Made" July 18 2019

"The Wild Wild West: 'The Night of the Murderous Spring" March 20 2021

"The 50th Anniversary of Sanford and Son" January 14 2022

"The 30th Anniversary of Twenty Bucks (1993) January 22 2023

"The 30th Anniversary of State of Emergency (1993)" February 12 2024