Shuffle the Music!

I’ve been nominated by  William at a1000mistakes to create a playlist which is an idea that originated at  the turntable talk blog dude.

No idea how this is going to work but here goes – a random, off the top of my head list of 15 tracks of music to watch and listen to!

 

  1. Crazy Horses by The Osmonds because it’s the first song I remember!

 

2.  School’s Out by Alice Cooper which sums up everything I feel every summer despite all the years that have passed since I left it! Rad!

 

3. I Feel Love by Donna Summer. This still sounds like it comes from another planet.

 

4. Surrender by Cheap Trick. One of the great bands and I finally got to see them on their European tour in 2011. They were as thrilling as I always knew they’d be!

 

 

5. Can’t Stand Losin’ by The Police. How I loved them!

 

6. I Got You by Split Enz. Love this new wave stuff. As fresh as the day it was minted.

 

7. Quiet Life by Japan. David Sylvian. Top of the Pops on Thursday nights. Once upon a time this was everything …

 

 

8. Party Fears Two by The Associates. Probably my favourite song of the Eighties. Incredible.

 

 

9. Take Me With U by Prince is probably my favourite of all of his – and goodness knows there’s a lot to choose from.

 

10. Welcome to the Boomtown by David and David. A compelling song about a great city.

 

 

11. Never Tear Us Apart by INXS. Simply epic.

12. I’m Not Scared by Eighth Wonder/Pet Shop Boys with Patsy Kensit. Just discotastically perfect.

 

13. Freak Scene by Dinosaur Jr. was a transitional song into another era. Loved them live!

 

 

14. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. Because for me the music died … You know.

 

 

15. And because this is a movie diary I’ve got to put up a score … so it’s Georges Delerue’s theme for Jean Luc Godard’s Le Mepris/Contempt.

Thanks to William for nominating me. I hope the links work … The buck stops here! Goodnight from beneath a very starry sky in the northern hemisphere.

 

Elvis Aaron Presley 01/08/1935-08/16/1977

EP Love Me Tender 1957.jpgEP Loving You 1957.jpgEP Jailhouse Rock 1957EP King Creole 1958.jpgEP GI Blues 1960.jpgEP Flaming Star 1960.jpgEP Wild in the Country 1961.jpgEP Blue Hawaii 1961.jpgEP Follow That Dream 1962.jpgEP Kid Galahad 1962.jpgEP Girls Girls Girls 1962.jpgEP It Happened at the Worlds Fair 1963.jpgEP Fun in Acapulco 1963.jpgEP Kissin Cousins 1964.jpgEP Viva Las Vegas 1964.jpgEP Roustabout poster.jpgEP Girl Happy 1965.jpgEP Tickle Me 1965.jpgEP Harum Scarum 1965.jpgEP Frankie and Johnny 1966.jpgEP Paradise Hawaiian Style 1966.jpgEP Spinout 1965.jpgEP Easy Come Easy Go 1967.jpgEP Double Trouble 1967.jpgEP Clambake 1967.jpgEP Speedway 1968.jpgEP Stay Away Joe 1968.jpgEP Live a Little Love a Little.jpgEP Charro 1969.jpgEP The Trouble With Girls 1969.jpgEP Change of Habit 1969.jpgEP That's the Way It Is 1970.jpgEP Elvis on Tour 1972.jpg

It was forty years ago today that Elvis Presley died. His film career echoed his musical life – the early films were better and some approached classic status:  Jailhouse Rock is a great musical, while his very first performance, in Love Me Tender, was impressive, a reminder that James Dean was his hero. His own favourite film remained King Creole but there were so many afterwards, thanks to the influence of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Some are cult favourites, some are terrible, some are great for kids and thus endeared him to me at an impressionable age (It Happened at the World’s Fair, Paradise Hawaiian Style), while some were instrumental in bringing huge tourist numbers to Hawaii! The better ones like GI Blues have wonderful songs or a great romantic pairing like Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas. Two didn’t have musical numbers at all and he was able to flex his acting muscle – Flaming Star, Wild in the Country – and very good he was too. Just as his musical choices became more baroque, his movies became ropy and questionable albeit some are redeemed by their settings (Speedway) or their lunatic elements (Harum Scarum).  There was one very good late film, with Mary Tyler Moore, Change of Habit, but it’s a very long time since I’ve seen it and would love to reappraise it. His screen legacy has been inherited by the wonderful actress (Danielle) Riley Keough, his granddaughter. But there’s only one Elvis. The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

 

Elsa Martinelli 01/30/1935-07/08/2017

EM The Red and the Black.jpgEM The Indian Fighter.jpgEM Rice Girl.jpgEM Donatella.jpgEM Four Girls in Town.jpegEM Manuela.jpgEM Prisoner of the Volga.jpgEM Bad Girls Don't Cry.jpgEM Wild Cats on the Beach.jpgEM Tunis Top Secret.jpgEM Ciao Ciao Bambina.jpgEM Blood and Roses.jpgEM Captain Blood.jpgEM Love in Rome.jpgEM Pelle Viva.jpgEM La menace.jpgEM Hatari.jpgEM The Pigeon That Took Rome.jpgEM The Trial.jpgEM The VIPs.jpgEM Rampage.jpgEM All About Loving.jpgEM Je vous salue mafia.jpgEM Diamonds Are Brittle.jpgEM The 10th Victim.jpgEM Marco the MagnificentEM How I Learned to Love Women.jpgEM Maroc 7EM The Oldest ProfessionEM Woman Times SevenEM Manon 70.jpgEM The Belle Starr Story.jpgEM Madigans Millions.jpgEM Candy.jpgEM The Pleasure Pit.jpgEM Una sullaltra.jpgEM If Its Tuesday.jpegEM Lamica.jpgEM OSS 117.jpgEM The Lions Share.jpgEM I Am an ESP.jpg

EM Once Upon a Crime.jpgElsa Martinelli Vogue 1965.jpegElsa Martinelli Maroc 7.jpegElsa Martinelli Life cover.jpegElsa Martinelli and baby elephants.jpgElsa Martinelli Vogue 1955Elsa Martinelli make up

One of my favourite women has died. Elsa Martinelli was one of cinema’s real cool girls. Born Elisa Tia in Tuscany, she became a model at a very young age and was spotted by French director Claude Autant-Lara after she had a small role in an Italian anthology film and within a couple of years she did that rite of passage for all italian beauties – a rice film (Mangano and Loren did one too.) Kirk Douglas – who had a taste for fresh flesh – took her to Hollywood for The Indian Fighter but it wasn’t until she played Georgia in Roger Vadim’s perversely wonderful Blood and Roses (1960) (a 20th century update of le Fanu’s Carmilla) that she gained real star status. She had already done amazing work in Mauro Bolognini’s La notte brava (written by Pasolini) so she was by now an auteur favourite.   She played opposite Anthony Perkins in Orson Welles’ underrated interpretation of The Trial (1962) which he shot in Paris and then sent up her own image as Gloria Gritti in The VIPs (1963) – with Welles as the movie mogul to her petulant movie star. Then of course she was the fabulous Dallas in Hatari! (1963) a film that really exhibited her particular brand of Euro cool and of course that haircut framing such a defiantly modern look and determinedly independent character. Never mind that she wound up with John Wayne – just think of all those baby elephants!  That’s one of my desert island movies for sure. That look was what made me pay attention to her as a kid when I spotted her in the extremely bizarre and super fashionable Sixties crime movie Maroc 7 (1967) which was on TV now and then.  She was already out of her troubled marriage into the Roman aristocracy that had produced a daughter and she eventually married the brilliant photographer Willy Rizzo. She also became one of those weird Sixties hybrids – the actor-singer (there were a few of them, like Bardot and Birkin) and if you want to hear some truly mournful and striking chansons you can check her out on YouTube which has some of her TV recordings. She made a really great impression in The Belle Starr Story (1968), a rare western directed by a woman, Lina Wertmuller (who had to make it under a male pseudonym) and continued to appear opposite top Hollywood stars like Dustin Hoffman and even Raquel Welch! In between supporting roles and cameos in Hollywood travelogue comedy movies like If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium and her final screen appearance Once Upon a Crime where she has a small cameo, she was a definite part of the fabled jet set and there are many snaps of her partying with people like Ari Onassis. Latterly she was in a number of TV series, both German and Italian, with her last role in Orgoglio, a period romance which ran for a few years in Italy with Martinelli participating in 2005. Rizzo predeceased her four years ago and she was living in Rome at the time of her death. What a wonderful woman she was.

La Dolce Vita (1960)

La Dolce Vita poster.jpg

In the summer of 1958 several layers of Roman society collided in the flashing lightbulbs of celebrity, with Hollywood actors, aristocrats, drug dealers, designers, artists, writers, prostitutes, journalists and street photographers engaging in salacious conflicts that kept several scandal rags going with outrageous tales of a demimonde that seemed to congregate around the Via Veneto. Federico Fellini was taking note. A photograph of Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Trevi Fountain seemed to encapsulate the scene and a story took root in his brain. Along with Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi and some uncredited assistance from Pier Paolo Pasolin, he came up with the script that would define the time and the place like no other. Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is the urbane gossip journalist who secretly hankers after the life of his intellectual friend Steiner (Alain Cuny, playing a character loosely based on Cesare Pavese) but cannot cease his lifestyle of instant gratification. The opening shot is stunning:  a helicopter is taking a statue of Christ across a football field surrounded by ancient ruins, and chased by another helicopter. All at once the image shows us Rome ancient, imperial and modern, and God is leaving the city, opening up a world of self-indulgence. Marcello is in the second chopper and dallies with some beauties sunbathing on a roof. Right there we have some very economical socio-cultural analysis about contemporary values.  38 minutes in, the film’s raison d’etre occurs:  Fellini re-stages the Ekberg image, starring Ekberg herself. Surely this is the ultimate post-modern shot in cinema. This is a very glamorous film about incredible people in a state of pure decadence. It was much criticised at local level but Fellini had tapped into fascism’s true expression – the cultivation of image above meaning, the use of culture to promote an antithetical belief system, the failure of humanity, mob rule. Popular culture was the vehicle through which fascism was transmitted. Fellini was working as a caricaturist during Mussolini’s alliance with the Nazis, he was involved with several of the neorealist classics made right after the war and he had already made a couple of classic films:  his concept of reality did not mean the subtraction of meaning. Christening the scattini (street photographers) Paparazzo was only the start of it. He understood the power of voyeurism. Marcello’s disenchantment as he pursues his personal satyricon is groundbreaking and inimitable. The role changed Mastroianni, as he admitted. You cannot walk through Rome and not see it as it is here – ironically, Fellini recreated most of it at Cinecitta (a Mussolini factory that lured so many American filmmakers to free up their frozen profits and enjoy the sweet life):  that’s how I discovered the real Via Veneto is very hilly.  Rome is Fellini, Fellini is Rome. And as for Nino Rota’s score! As Jonathan Jones said some years ago, Fellini thought of everything first. We are still catching up. Simply great.

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Happy 100th Birthday Dean Martin! Born 06/07/1917

DM My Friend Irma Goes WestDM Sailor Beware.jpgDM The Stooge.jpgDM Thats My Boy.jpgDM At War With the Army.jpgDM My Friend Irma.jpgDM You're Never Too WrongDM Some Came Running.jpgDM The Young Lions.jpgDM Ten Thousand Bedrooms.jpgDM Hollywood or Bust.jpgDM Pardners.jpgDM Artists and Models.jpgDM 3 Ring Circus.jpgDM Living it Up.jpgDM Money From Home.jpgDM The Caddy.jpgDM Scared Stiff.jpgDM Road to Bali.jpgDM Jumping Jacks.jpgDM Career.jpgDM Rio Bravo.jpgDM Bells Are Ringing.JPGDM Who Was That Lady.jpgDM Oceans Eleven.jpegDM All in a Night's Work.jpgDM Pepe.jpgDM Sergeants 3.jpgDM Ada.jpgDM The Road to Hong Kong.jpgDM Come Blow Your Horn.jpegDM Somethings Got To Give.jpgDM Toys in the Attic.jpgDM 4 for Texas.jpgDM Whos Got the Action.jpgDM Whos Been Sleeping in My Bed.jpgDM What a Way to Go.jpgDM Robin and the Seven Hoods.jpgDM Kiss Me Stupid.jpgDM The Sons of Katie Elder.jpgDM Marriage on the Rocks.jpgDM Birds Do It.jpgDM The Silencers.jpgDM Texas Across the River.jpgDM Murderers Row.jpgDM Rough Night in Jericho.jpgDM The Ambushers.jpgDM How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your LIfe.jpgDM Bandolero.jpgDM 5 Card Stud.jpgDM The Wrecking Crew.jpgDM Airport.jpgDM Something Big.jpgDM Showdown.jpgDM Mr Ricco.jpegDM Cannonball Run 2.jpgDM The Cannonball Run.jpg

June 7th marks 100 years since the birth of the King of Cool, Little Ol’ Wine Drinker Dean Martin, that icon of midcentury masculinity. A wonderful singer, his comic chops developed with Jerry Lewis and they made a cycle of amusing films culminating in some good work with live-cartoon auteur Frank Tashlin before making a really great impression as a serious actor in The Young Lions and Some Came Running, where he was teamed with Frank Sinatra. He then became part of The Rat Pack, and later in the Sixties was Matt Helm, that spoof spy par excellence. In between he would become master of the sex comedy with regular forays into comedy westerns. His TV show made him part of everyone’s lives and he remains a keen part of the culture through his masterful performances in all these genres. What a career! He may have died Christmas Day 1995 but there are those of us who still raise a glass to celebrate him. Happy birthday, Mr Martin.

A Foreign Affair (1947)

A Foreign Affair poster

When tightly wound Iowa Congresswoman Phoebe Frost (Jean Arthur) arrives in rubble-strewn Berlin on a fact-finding mission about GI morals she doesn’t reckon on falling for smooth-talking black marketeer Captain Pringle (John Lund) or indeed his mistress Erika von Schluetow (Marlene Dietrich) whose ex is a former Nazi high commander… Billy Wilder was stationed in his favourite city for the US military in 1945, years after he’d fled when Hitler came to power. He was shocked by everything he saw and was charged with reorganising the entertainment industry and editing footage from the camps. He shot film of the city and instead of going to a mental hospital when he discovered what the Nazis had done to his only family, returned to Hollywood where he made a crazed Bing Crosby movie about interspecies breeding in the Tirol called The Emperor Waltz. Then he returned to this subject – post-war Berlin and how diplomacy was a thin veneer over a lot of mucky surviving and blind eyes being turned to the reality – via a story by David Shaw. It caused a lot of censorship problems for Paramount, where the interiors were shot, while locations filming took care of the exteriors. Dietrich is the only possible person to be Erika, the slinky seductive songstress who winds everyone around her finger delivering louche songs by Frederick Hollaender that speak to her own background on the cabaret scene in the city. She and Arthur are cannily deployed against one another and this led to serious frostiness on the set. The politics of occupation and accommodation and the pointlessness of reeducating the shameless were never so hilariously depicted and this wasn’t even screened in Germany until 1977. Nobody gets out of this unscathed. Adapted by Robert Harari and written by Wilder and Charles Brackett. You can read more about this in my article on Offscreen:  http://offscreen.com/view/billy-wilders-a-foreign-affair.

London Town (2016)

London Town poster.jpg

This is a strange one – a coming of age story set against a few songs and performances by The Clash and a couple of run-ins with the iconic singer/guitarist Joe Strummer, a man who inhabited several different musical incarnations but whose major persona was forged in the late Seventies against a maelstrom of sociocultural chaos. Shay (Daniel Huttlestone) is from a broken family with dad Dougray Scott running a music shop and driving a taxi by night to support him and his little sister. Mum Natascha McElhone has run off to live in a squat with Tom Hughes and some other handsome alternatives to find herself on the punk scene. Shay meets Vivienne (Nell Williams) a cool punkette scenester who introduces him to The Clash but when his dad has an accident moving a piano which hospitalises him, Shay has to man up, run the house and the gauntlet of debt collectors. With Vivienne’s help he drags up to take over his dad’s taxi runs and takes Joe Strummer (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) home one night.  Strummer serves as a kind of Jiminy Cricket or even Humphrey Bogart a la Play it Again, Sam but there is no real reason for him to be in this story and the conclusion is unbelievably low-key considering the potential in a narrative which sees real-life footage of an Anti-Nazi concert, with Rhys Meyers doing his trademark immersive performance (he’s already portrayed Bowie and Elvis with some success). Directed by Derrick Borte from a screenplay by Matt Brown. London was definitely not calling this one with neither story strand properly developed. The only real attraction is to hear The Clash originals and some of their songs reworked (even anachronistically). How odd.

Happy 93rd Birthday Doris Day! 04/03/2017

DD Romance on the High SeasDD My Dream is Yours.jpgDD It's a Great Feeling.jpgDD Young Man with a Horn.jpgDD Tea for Two.jpgDD The West Point Story.jpgDD Storm Warning.jpgDD Lullaby of Broadway.jpgDd On Moonlight Bay.jpgDD I'll See You in My Dreams.jpgDD Starlift.jpgDd Winning Team.jpgDD April in Paris.jpgDd By the Light of the Silvery Moon.jpgDD Calamity Jane.jpgDd Lucky Me.jpgDD Young at Heart.jpgDD Love Me or Leave MeThe Man Who Knew Too Much 1956.jpgDD Julie.jpgDd The Pajama Game.jpgDD Teacher's Pet.jpgDd Tunnel of Love.jpgIt Happened to Jane poster.jpgDD Pillow Talk.jpgDD Please Don't Eat the Daisies.jpgDD Midnight Lace.jpgDD Lover Come Back.jpgDd That Touch of Mink.jpgDD Billy Rose's Jumbo.jpgThe Thrill of it All.jpgDD Move Over Darling.jpgDd Send Me No Flowers.jpgDD Do Not Disturgb.jpgThe Glass Bottom Boat poster.jpgDD The Ballad of Josie.jpgCaprice poster.jpgDD Where Were You When the Lights Went out.jpgDD With Six You Get Eggroll.jpgThe Doris Day Show.jpgDoris Day 1957.JPGDoris Day.jpg

One of my favourite women is 93 April 3rd. Whoda thunk it?! Doris Day is forever cowgirl, comedienne, romantic heroine, Hitchcock Blonde, dramatic lead, musical star and one of the great singers of the twentieth century. Long retired to Carmel, California, she has remained an animal rights advocate and one of the legendary stars. What an astonishing career! Every day should be Doris Day. Happy Birthday!