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Monday, 14 August 2017

The Saint 2017 TV movie

I've just watched the TV movie of the Saint on Netflix, and although I wasn't expecting much (after all this was a pilot that didn't get picked up), I did find it quite entertaining. And new Saint, Adam Rayner was fine in the title role - he looked good in the action scenes and delivered the witty lines with class. It is a pity that the show didn't get picked up for a series.

Ex-Saints Ian Oglivy and Roger Moore also appeared though Moore's part was little more than a cameo, while Oglivy steals every scene he is in and smoulders as the bad guy. Back in the day there was talk that Oglivy would make a great replacement for Roger Moore as James Bond, but that was not to be. Though judging by his performance here he would make a great Bond villian.

The TV movie looks great, with some incredibly stylish location shooting, and although it doesn't really hit boiling point, it is much better than the Val Kilmer Saint Movie.

Entertaining enough but a missed opportunity. Though fear not and watch out for the sign of the Saint for one day he will return.



Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Saddest story ever told - Elvis Presley: 40 years dead and still bringing in the bucks

This week marks 40 years since Elvis Presley died an inglorious death in the admittedly plush toilet of his Graceland home. That the little boy's room within which Elvis drew his last breath may have been the height of lavatorial splendour matters not, for he still died in the bog. What a sad end for a legend that still burns bright (arguably burns brighter then ever) today. Elvis was just 42 years of age.

The official cause of death was heart attack, but it has since become clear that it was a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs that killed the King of Rock and Roll -

 'The painkillers Morphine and Demerol.Chloropheniramine, an antihistamine.
The tranquilizers Placidyl and Valium.Finally, four drugs were found in "significant" quantities: Codeine, an opiate, Ethinamate, largely prescribed at the time as a "sleeping pill," Quaaludes, and a barbituate, or depressant, that has never been identified.




I was 12 years old when Elvis died - I can still remember the report coming over the television, what I was doing at the time. They say everyone can remember where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been assassinated, well the  King was my generation's Kennedy. Everyone remembers what they were doing when the news broke of Elvis Presley's sad and untimely passing. And now 40 years later in 2017, the ripples that young man made back in the mid 1950's, when he visited Sun Records to cut his first disc are still being felt today. These days Elvis fandom sometimes borders on the absurd; there are some people that even worship the man and attend one of the many Churches of Elvis...I kid you not..

When auditors looked into Elvis Presley's finances after his death they were shocked to find that his total worth was less than 10 million dollars -  and yet in his lifetime he'd generated many hundreds of millions. To put this into perspective when John Lennon died he left more than a hundred and fifty million dollars...then again Lennon's finances were being looked after by Yoko Ono, the daughter of a Japanese banker, while Elvis had old carnie Tom Parker in charge of his money. Of course Elvis has made much much more since his death - in 2016, an album of Elvis songs backed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra sold over a million copies. In fact it is estimated that now, 40 years after his death, Elvis pulls in over $50 million a year for his estate.

"There are now at least 85,000 Elvis’s around the world, compared to only 170 in 1977 when Elvis died. At this rate of growth, experts predict that by 2019 Elvis impersonators will make up a third of the world population."

The quote above, although intended humorously does make a good point - Elvis Presley continues to touch people's lives, even today. But amongst all this ridiculous nonsense, the jump suited middle aged men (and women) who claim to channel the spirit of Presley into their performance it is often forgotten just how groundbreaking Elvis truly was. His first album, 1956's Elvis Presley, is still an incredible listen and remains one of the finest rock albums every recorded.

The Elvis Presley industry is kind of distasteful - like a rock and roll Disneyland, and it's all about the money, not the sublime artist who actually drives it. Though in fairness his back catalogue has been given some respect with some great box sets available - every fan needs to own the 50's, 60's and 70's sets that came out from RCA several years back.

For all the heights in the Presley story there are so many missed opportunities - if only he'd given Tom Parker the elbow, if only he'd taken a few years off mid-seventies, if only he'd continued in the vein of his excellent 1968 comeback performance, if only he'd recorded a pure blues album, if he'd made less of those corny movies and actually paid attention to what he was recording in the studio.

You know I'm a fan, always have been and always will be, and whenever I think of the Elvis Presley story I realise that for all the fame, all the riches, it is actually one of the saddest stories ever told.

Rock on Elvis Presley.



Friday, 11 August 2017

Classic Trailers





Maybe it seems a little cheesey these days, but there is no doubting that the modern 007 movies have lost a lot of their distinctive style. This was Roger Moore's first stab at playing Bond and his hold on the character is still taking shape - it would take another two movies before Moore seemed perfectly comfortable in the role, but there is no doubt that he looked very much the part in this classic 1973 Bond movie. However it was not until 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me that Moore's take on the character was firmly established.




RIP Roger Moore...nobody did it better

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Bond 25 and 26 may be shot back to back

EON have offically announced that the 25th Bond movie will hit cinemas in November 2019 - the announcment provoked a flurry of rumours with one newspaper claiming that the new film would be based on Raymond Benson's Bond novel, Never Dream of Dying. However there was no truth in this and author Raymond Benson made the following statement -

'"Some of you may have seen an article published by U.K.'s The Mirror yesterday that claims that the next Bond movie will be based on my novel Never Dream of Dying. I know nothing of this, but as I have not spoken with any Mirror journalists at all, I can only assume that the article is a piece of fabrication. It would, of course, be wonderful if it were true."

Another rumour doing the rounds and one that seems more credible is that Bond 25 and 26 are to be shot back to back, and the release dates staggered so that we have a new Bond movie in 2019 and then 2020 - this would make sense to EON as it means they could keep Daniel Craig in the role for another two movies and reports are that the actor has been paid £150 million to shoot both films. Personally, as a Bond fan, I'd like to see a new actor in the role but the box office seems to like Craig's Bond and EON are desperate to keep the actor in the role.

It seems that the next two Bond movies, if indeed shot back to back, will be heavily based on Fleming's original stories with the second movie expected to be a re-make of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

All that is known for certain though is that Daniel Craig is back despite famously stating that he would rather slash his wrists than play Bond again

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Doctor Who: Gender Swapping Adventures in Time and Space

The hot news this week is nothing to do with Brexit. Nor does it concern Theresa May's futile cling to power. Even the criticism over Ed Sheeran's cameo in Game of Thrones pales into insignificance when placed beside such momentous events. Nope it's none of that - even Donald Trump has been relegated to the back pages by the one story that is burning up both the virtual and physical media - the big news, the world changing revelation, the pivotal  piece of information is .... wait for it....

HERE WE GO - Doctor Who has regenerated and he's become a she. Yep,  without a scalpel or hormone in sight the Gallifreyan penis has vanished and left behind a crack in time.

The BBC made the official announcement last weekend during the Wimbledon final - this Christmas current Doctor Peter Cabaldi will regenerate and become Broadchurch star, Jodie Whittaker.

'How am I going to masturbate to the Daleks now when there's a fucking woman in the way,' One angry fan Tweeted.

'The show is now dead to me.' Complained another.

'The show's pink agenda is now complete,' Tweeted yet another.

The 13th Doctor
Though does it really matter if the character of Doctor Who is male or female? Time Lords can of course regenerate when their current body is injured or grows too old for galactic adventuring. And since the show began way back in the black and white world of the 1960's, the character has changed time and time again...though each time the masculine gene has dominated. So does it really matter if a character who has throughout its fifty years plus history been a man suddently changes gender? Will the dynamic of the show change? I suppose the dynamic is bound to alter but will this be to the detriment of the show? There is always the possibility that this major change could actually freshen things up? In principle I've no objection to the Doctor being a woman, but I do worry that this will alter the show in such a way that it will no longer be the Doctor Who we know and love.

At the moment the show is not at its strongest point in any case, and it has already lost many of its classic era fans, as well as many who only found the show when RTD brought it back to the screen.  Personally I'm not against the idea of a female playing the lead, but I am dubious...it seems like too much of a gimmick, it seems desperate and I think it is too drastic a change and will fall flat on its feminine face. The casting of a female doctor was inevitable in the long run, but maybe now is not the time and the odds are that the show will turn into a kind of Buffy in space. Though honestly that's just my opinion and it's not sexist, nor is it misogynistic

The thing about the Doctor is that he's kind of Sherlock Holmes in space, he's  a cold fish and would a woman work as such an emotionless character? I guess only time will tell, and whilst I am no longer a part of the show's core audience I have grown up with the show, and for me Jon Pertwee will always be the Doctor, but I would like the show to continue and captivate children in the same way it once captivated my generation. And you know what, maybe a doctor with boobs could work.






Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Roger Moore - why he remains the best James Bond

Today I heard the saw news that Roger Moore, the screen's best Bond, has died at the age of 89 after a battle with cancer. I've been a fan of Roger Moore since I was a little kid, glued to the screen watching repeats of The Saint, and later The Persuaders. Then later still Moore took over the role of 007 and to my mind his Bond movies really were an all time high. I genuinely feel as if I've lost someone close to me, because in a way, even though I've never met Moore, he has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I'll be writing a full tribute soon but for now I repost this article from some years back in memory of the great man. RIP, SIR.

Why Roger Moore is the best Bond


It is Sean Connery who usually wins  polls to name the best James Bond, but it should be remembered that Connery was the first big screen Bond and he was making his films during a period of true Bondmania - the books had been red hot since President Kennedy named From Russia with Love as one of his favourite novels and when the Connery movies were showing in the cinemas, the UK was enjoying its status as the pop cultural capital of the world. London was swinging, The Beatles were sound-tracking the times and it also helped that there was little else being made that could compete with the glamour of the Bond movies anywhere in the world.

Connery was a superb James Bond but the longevity of the franchise and its ability to even survive the terrible miss-casting of Daniel Craig was down to Roger Moore. And Craig is indeed miss-cast - Fleming had enough trouble accepting Connery in the role but in comparison to Craig's Bond for our insurgent times, Connery's Bond seems the very definition of sophistication. What Fleming would make of Daniel Craig one can only guess but it is a safe bet his judgement would be expletive ridden.

At the time Connery's Bond movies were truly groundbreaking and whilst no one would say that he wasn't excellent in the role, he didn't have the ardous task Moore had when he stepped into the 007 shoes. Before Moore there was already one other actor who had tried to take over from Connery in the shape of George Lazenby and whilst these days his one stab at the role is fondly remembered, often considered something of a classic for the series, it was a flop at the time - fans didn't by large like him in the role. Maybe he would have improved and gone onto become one of the best Bonds - who knows? But it was not to be and Connery was brought back for Diamonds Are Forever.


Now Diamonds are Forever is an interesting film and is often called the first Roger Moore Bond film, even if it was Connery in the role. And there is some sense in this - the style of the film was far more comedic than previously, even more larger than life, so when people say that Moore brought too much comedy to the franchise they are clearly forgetting Connery's Diamonds are Forever which actually ushered in this style of Bond movie.

When Moore stepped into the role - the franchise had lost its original sheen and many people considered the series to be over - Diamonds, whilst financially successful, was not such a critical success and the thinking was that James Bond was a thing of the past, a glorious memory of Britain's final days as a super-power on the world stage. James Bond was in fact old fashioned and couldn't compete with the new wave of action cinema with stars like Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. James Bond was a hanger on from the British Empire and dreadfully unhip in this brave new world.


 Roger Moore proved that there was still life in the old dog and indeed his Bond movies were amongst the most successful ever made - time after time I have argued with people who have called Moore a terrible Bond and his films nonsense for this is clearly wrong and I would maintain that Moore was closer than anyone else to Fleming's original creation. And for me Moore will always be the definitive James Bond.

I thought Timothy Dalton was excellent too, as was Pierce Brosnan and George Lazenby was OK if a little amateurish at times. Daniel Craig, I think, is a great and very talented actor but I just don't think he's right for James Bond and I feel that both his Bond movies were lacking the essential ingredients that make Bond stand out from all the other action movies out there. It would be interesting to find out how many of the people who think Craig's Bond is the Bond of the books have actually read Fleming's original novels. Not many, I think.

But I digress - back to Moore.

When you analyse Moore's Bond, there's a lot of similarities between the way he and Connery played Bond - Connery also, at least from Goldfinger onwards, presented Bond as a larger than life, devil may care character and both actors were fond of the corny one liners. Of course Moore's tenure as Bond happened to coincide with a period where the comedy was becoming more important to the series, and it also helped that Moore was superb, far better than Connery, at playing for laughs.

If Moore's Bond had failed then we would never have had Dalton, Brosnan or Craig and Connery wouldn't have returned for Never Say Never Again. It was Moore that kept James Bond at the top of the box office for more than a decade and for that reason alone he deserves the accolade of the best ever James Bond.


Yep it's trendy to dismiss Roger Moore's Bond and claim that Daniel Craig is the closest to Fleming's vision but that's just bollocks. Fleming's bond was a professional killer but he killed out of choice, it was his profession and he was never the cold blooded thug as the latest films have seen fit to present him. Bond was a snob, a misogynist, and Moore brought out out all of these characterisations with the minimum of effort.



"Just keeping the British end up, sir."
Roger Moore may have made arguably the worse Bond movie in Moonraker,  but at least the film is good natured and fun, and I would rate it far higher than Quantum of Solace which was truly shit. And Moore may have gone on too long in the role, being far too old during A View to a Kill - It  doesn't change the fact that he starred in so many high-points of the series - The Spy Who Loved Me, Live and Let Die and For Your Eyes Only can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best the series has to offer. And no one, not even Connery, could deliver a quip with the style of Roger Moore. Let us not forget that not all of Connery's Bond movies were excellent - Thunderball was plodding and overlong, Diamonds are Forever was uninvolving and You Only Live Twice whilst having its moments suffered from a boring middle section. Connery did at least make three classic flawless Bond movies but then so did Roger Moore.


Roger Moore was an excellent James Bond and best not forget it.


And here we reprint another Moore/Bond based article

If Roger Moore had thought stepping into the shoes of James Bond would be a life of luxury. he was in for a big surprise.

'As the star of the picture I was given a caravan all to myself,' Moore wrote in his autobiography. 'Not a luxury Winnebago but the kind you see in motorway lay-byes selling tea and coffee. I did have a bucket in the rear though in which to relieve myself.'

One day on set an out of control vehicle collided with the caravan and obliterated the back of the caravan and Moore's bucket only moments after the star had done a number one. On screen Moore was expected to face danger with a nonchalant eyebrow, but it was dangerous enough behind the scenes. One afternoon Moore watched as his double was almost eaten by an alligator while performing the famous stepping stones/alligator scene.

'He was wearing my crocodile skin shoes and ruined them.' Moore jokingly grumbled later.

Prior to taking the part of 007 for Live and Let Die, Moore had been considering sign up for a second season of, The Persuaders, but while filming the later episodes of the series Moore had found the Bond team filming Diamonds are Forever at the same studio. Moore met the producers of the story and he had a pretty good idea that the offer of the role was coming his way. TV mogul, Lew Grade was furious when Moore signed for Bond and warned that the move would ruin the actor's career.

How wrong he was.

Lots of criticism has been leveled at Moore because his Bond was so light and more comedic than earlier films, but Connery's last Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever actually set the blueprint for the direction the series was going. In some ways Diamonds can be considered one of the Roger Moore Bond's even if it was Connery  in the role, and in truth Moore's first Bond, Live and Let Die is a far better movie than Diamonds are Forever. And the lightening  of the Bond character had actually started some years before with Goldfinger, often considered the best Bond movie. So to criticise Moore for his lighter Bond is actually nonsensical even if the comedy and outlandish elements were to reach all new highs - not necessarily an all time high.

Moonraker for instance may the worse Bond film of all, though personally I'd give that dubious honour to Quantum of Solace. But at the same time The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the best. Moore made as many good Bonds as Connery and was guilty of only a couple of really dreadful ones. To my mind the two bad Moore/Bonds are Moonraker and A View to a Kill and the failings of both movies are due to more than the leading man.

I'm a big Bond fan and I think that each of the actors who have played Bond have delivered both good and bad -  George Lazenby whose one Bond is now considered a classic managed to be both excellent and terrible in the same film.

It was during the filming of Moonraker that Moore met a young director named Steven Speilberg who was currently a hot property and the director, a huge fan of the series told that actor that he would love to direct a Bond movie. Moore told Cubby Broccoli about this but the producer dismissed it by saying Speilberg would be too expensive. And so Speilberg and Bond never happened and so the director went off and made Raiders of the Lost Ark, James Bond with a whip.

THE POSTERS FOR MOORE'S BONDS WERE AMONG THE BEST

'My contention of playing Bond light is that it's all a big joke. How can he, a secret agent, walk into any bar in the world and be recognised and served his favourite tipple? It's pure fantasy,' Roger Moore


Moonraker had been rushed into production after the success of  Star Wars and all things science fiction. The movie that was supposed to have been in production was to have been For Your Eyes Only. This was a mistake and For You Eyes came after Moonraker and turned out to be one of not only Moore's best Bonds but anyone best Bonds. This was the way to play Bond tough and at the time, after growing used to Moore's light style, it was truly shocking. Awesome, we would have thought had such yelps of delight been in common usage then.

"I am happy to have done it, but I'm sad that it has turned so violent.I would love to be remembered as one of the greatest Lears or Hamlets, but as that's not going to happen, I'm quite happy I did Bond." Roger Moore


Now I've already written about why I think Roger Moore was the best Bond above, but as we await the return of James Bond to our cinema screens, in his all new thuggish  persona, we realise that the series has never truly recovered from the loss of Roger Moore.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Hammer, Duffle Coats, Chocolate Biscuits and the Studio that stole my sleep

Duffle Coat Manor doesn't have that much of a ring to it and yet that was the locally used name of the manor house that Hammer films turned into Bray Studios. The house had been used immediately following the war to store duffle coats -  but the roof leaked and the coats took in so much water, swelled to blob like propotions, that the weight caused the entire inside of the building to collapse, and when Anthony Hinds visited the building it was little more than a shell.  The film company  took over residence of the manor house in 1951 - Initially the building was rented for studio space but a year later it was purchased and became world famous as the home of Hammer Films.The colourful nickname of Duffle Coat Manor has now been largely forgotten, a footnote in the history of this remarkable studio.

When I was growing up - I was ten years old in 1975 and during this period the movies were regularly shown on late night television, usually as a double bill - my parents took their parental responsibility seriously and I was never allowed to stay up to watch the movies. Either they considered the movies too scary, too graphic for my young mind or they didn't want me staying up after they had retired and munching on  all the chocolate biscuits. I don't know what the reason was but this resulted in the movies taking on the status of forbidden fruit. And we all know that forbidden fruit tastes better than any other kind.

BBC2 was the channel on usually on a Saturday night they would start a horror movie double bill - the channel regularly ran a double bill horror season from 1975 until 1981. The show would start somewhere around 11pm and go on until 1am - then we would get the test card as the station closed down for the night. The days of 24 hour TV were still some years away. Often it would be a double bill of the old black and white Universal horrors, and I loved those too, but on times they would select films from studios such as Hammer and Amicus. These two studios produced the films where the blood dripped impossible read and the heaving breasts were bared. I reckon I saw my first pair of tits in a Hammer movie and believe me that leaves a lasting impression - thank you Ingrid Pitt.

Now I vividly remember sneaking downstairs one Saturday night after everyone else had gone to bed, and switching on the TV. I kept the volume low and didn't dare turn on the lights and this was my first experience of Christopher Lee as Dracula. Checking back in BBC listings I think this must have been the 14th September 1976, I was two months aways from my 12th birthday, and I think the movie was Dracula: Prince of Darkness. This was the first Hammer movie I'd ever seen and I was transfixed to the screen, which often ran blood red. The reason this sticks so clearly in my mind is because that night I had the most vivid nightmares and my father had to run in when I woke up screaming, pointing, yelling - 'He's behind the door.'  True story that, not a word of a lie and I'm sure my father remembers it. After all he went bat shit crazy the following day when he discovered the dent I'd made in the packet of chocolate biscuits.


Of course today the films have dated, but there's a certain something to a Hammer film that makes them so watchable. Horror films today are far more graphic, the special effects more realistic but give me a Hammer movie over an Exorcist Part 9 any day of the week.