Of The Silent World:Dolores

As a self-confessed fan of both old movies and old photographs, I love this. It is Dolores Costello, who married John Barrymore, and is the grandmother of Drew Barrymore.

I’m sure there are other family members who could be name dropped here, too. ūüôā

Oh the days before the world succumbed to sound and colour.

img_2071

Introducing Pennywise

I’ve always been a Stephen King fan. I grew up reading him. I love his depictions of small town American life, as well as his more epic stories. Though I also read his thrillers, it is the horror books of old that I have a penchant for.

My two favourites are¬†Salem’s Lot,¬†and¬†It.¬†King’s stories don’t always translate well to the big (or the small) screen. In regard to¬†Salem’s Lot,¬†I do like the original television adaptation, starring Hutch himself-David Soul. Though perhaps more faithful to the book, I’m not so enamoured with the remake.

As for¬†It,¬†I last watched this years ago. I don’t recall much about it except that I was disappointed. Well, now a new, two-part movie is being made. The first movie is about the children,¬†The Loser’s Club,¬†who come together to fight the evil presence that resides in Derry. The second film will depict the next confrontation, when the children are now adults.

I’m looking forward to seeing a fresh perspective of King’s great novel. Today, I saw the first glimpse of the new, evil Pennywise. I shared it today on Facebook, tagging in the picture two of my friends ostensibly because they are King fans, but also because they are afraid of clowns.

You’re welcome. I’m that kind of friend.

image

Daisy, Daisy, Give Us Your Answer Do

Imagine that you want to be an actress, so you go to a school for performing arts, and on qualifying your first real movie role just happens to be a major blockbuster and the biggest film of the year. When suddenly you can’t even pop into your local superstore to pick up a loaf of bread without being reminded of it.

image

This is precisely what happened to Daisy Ridley, an unknown suddenly thrust into the limelight after landing a starring role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

How did she cope with this life-changing event? How would you?

I’m not sure, but I wanted to share this with you guys. It is a three minute clip of an interview that she did on The Tonight Show, and it includes something that I both laughed at and loved: it shows Daisy, lay in bed while staying at a B&B, watching the trailer for the movie.

Witness the emotional reaction of a girl seeing for the very first time the fruit of everyone’s hard work in creating something wondrous, looking on a realised dream as she is on the cusp of becoming a star.

I wonder if she has gotten used to it yet? Daisy, please give us your answer, do.

Where In The Tree Is Vivien?

I recently finished reading a biography about possibly my country’s greatest actress: Vivien Leigh. Triumphant and tragic, always lovely, ever fragile, her most difficult part was that of her own life.

image

My post on an old movies site on Facebook provoked a conversation about her being England’s greatest actress. I was asked what it was about her that made me of this opinion, and how she faired in comparison to the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren. (The question was asked in all innocence, purely out of curiosity, as it was posed by a fan of Vivien’s who was curious as to why I hold her in such similar esteem.)

I replied that both Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are fine actresses, (Elizabeth Taylor too), but to me there seems a certain gravitas in both Leigh’s performances and in her attitude towards her craft. Most of her performances were on stage and not before a camera, and she would often say that she was an actress, not a film star. Two Oscars not withstanding.

If only her Lady Macbeth, among other roles, had been recorded!

She brought both beauty and art to her roles, but she thought that her looks obscured her abilities as an actress.

image

Responding to the original question in making a decision about where she ranks, we can only go off anecdotes, regard, performances and achievements.

There was a firm courage that underscored Leigh’s sometimes fragile demeanour, which becomes apparent when you learn of her long struggle with both tuberculosis,(which ultimately would claim her), and mental illness. There are accounts of her appearing on stage after undergoing electric shock treatment, burn marks still visible on her temples.

When she was making her final film, Stanley Kubrick said that it was obvious she was ill. About to shoot a scene, she would be shaking on set. Leigh would take herself off to the side, master control of herself, then come back and complete a perfect take, her trembling  returning on finishing.

This final indication of dedication and braveness underlines her greatness. One man’s meat and all that, but when considering the pantheon of our great actors and actresses, for me Vivien Leigh is up there at the very top.

MBDGOWI EC051

VIVIEN LEIGH holding her Academy Award for Best Actress for Gone With Wind. 1940.

When The Stars Shone Brighter

Well, the Oscars are almost upon us. You know what? Current controversy aside, I have never watched a single Academy Awards presentation. Not a full show, live, anyhow. I may have caught the highlights the odd year.

Do any of you guys watch it? Maybe it’s because I like old movies, but, to me, the Hollywood of the past seemed much more glamorous.

The stars appeared brighter. More luminous.

image

 

Hammer Chooseday #15: Rasputin The Mad Monk

Rasputin The Mad Monk (1966) 3/5

This film is a fictional account of the real life Grigori Rasputin.

image

Christopher Lee is commanding as the peasant-mystic who we first encounter when he uses his healing powers to save an innkeeper’s wife. He then heads for St.Petersburg, where he begins a campaign to gain influence over the Tsarina.

image

“You want to introduce us to someone? His name is Rasputin? He is a Mad Monk? Go on then- let’s take tea.”

He uses her lady-in-waiting Sonia (Hammer favourite Barbara Shelley) to both satisfy his sexual appetite and gain access to the royal family, the latter he does by putting her in a trance and instructing her to injure the Tsar’s son and heir so he can then heal him.

Oh go on then, I like your beard.

image

It’s a hard life being a Holy Man.

image

But someone has to do it.

image

You just look at him and think ‘I bet he lives in a cabin in the woods. I bet he has vittles cooking on the hearth. I bet he uses hypnotic powers to ingratiate himself into the royal household.’

Once ingratiated into the royal household (told you) having no more need of Sonia, he instructs her to commit suicide. Like an obedient girl she does.

She likes his beard.

image

Ra ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen. Okay, so that song wasn’t in the film, but Lee did display some fancy footwork.

As his influence and power grows, he begins to make enemies, and eventually two of these plan to murder him. After luring him to a meeting, they give him poisoned chocolates and wine. When these aren’t enough to kill him, there is a struggle, and he is pushed through a window to his death.

image

Death by chocolate.

This was one film that I never really fancied, despite Lee and Shelley being in it, but it was okay. Probably wouldn’t watch it again though. Unless I should look into those eyes…

image

(I must add, that when I was writing this post, my autocorrect kept changing the title to Rasputin The Mad Mink. It amused me no end-filling me with a whirlwind image of fur and saliva and teeth. If Hammer did Natural History programmes…)