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All reviews - Movies (26) - TV Shows (3) - DVDs (5) - Books (4) - Music (3)


Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 27 July 2008 08:07 (A review of Ace in the Hole)

This is one of my favourite Billy Wilder movies. Kirk Douglas was superb as cynical newspaper reporter Chuck Tatum and Jan Sterling was just magnificent as unfaithful wife Lorraine Minosa. The impressive supporting cast includes Ray Teal, Porter Hall, Bob Arthur and Richard Benedict. Charles "Chuck" Tatum (Kirk Douglas) is a down on his luck unscrupulous New York reporter fired from various papers for his indiscretions. He is forced to take a job on a small Albuquerque newspaper as the New York papers will no longer employ him. After a year on the paper and bored with his routine assignments he dreams of the day he will eventually make a name for himself with the "big story". Out with a younger reporter (Bob Arthur) one day to cover a local story about rattlesnakes he discovers that a man named Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) is trapped alive in an old Indian mine. He jumps in and takes over the rescue mission but deliberately delays the attempts to get the man out as he can see the opportunity to make a name for himself by feeding stories about the trapped man to the major newspapers. Tatum enlists the help of a crooked sheriff (Ray Teal) to give him exclusive access to the mine and thereby keeping all the other reporters out. Leo's disloyal wife Lorraine (glamorous Jan Sterling) wants to leave but Tatum forces her to stay to run the diner which is now packed out with curious onlookers and making money. When the film was released in America it received bad reviews and lost money. Paramount, without Billy Wilder's permission, changed the title to "The Big Carnival" hoping to increase the box office take but it didn't work. I have always thought this was a mistake as "Ace in the Hole" is a far better title in my opinion.
Favourite lines:
Kirk Douglas (to Porter Hall): "I've done a lot of lying in my time. I've lied to men who wear belts. I've lied to men who wear suspenders. But I'd never be so stupid as to lie to a man who wears both belt and suspenders".
Jan Sterling (to Douglas): "I've met a lot of hard boiled eggs in my time, but you - you're 20 minutes!".
Douglas (to Hall): "I'm on my way back to the top, and if it takes a deal with a crooked sheriff that's alright with me!".
Sterling (to Douglas): "I don't pray. Kneeling bags my nylons".
Douglas (to Hall): "How'd you like to make a thousand dollars a day, Mr Boot? I'm a thousand dollar a day newspaper man. You can have me for nothing!".

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 27 July 2008 07:52 (A review of Charade)

"Charade" is a brilliant film with a touch of Hitchcock about it. Great performances by Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and skilfully directed by Stanley Donen and written by Peter Stone. Excellent support from Walter Matthau and George Kennedy. A clever plot that never lets up and keeps you guessing right up to the final twist.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 27 July 2008 07:40 (A review of Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition))

"Sunset Boulevard" is one of my favourite films and is in my "Top Ten" list in fact. I have long been an admirer of Billy Wilder and this was one of his greatest achievements. The DVD has some interesting extra features including the theatrical trailer, a commentary by Ed Sikov, original morgue prologue script pages, Hollywood location map, photo galleries, a feature on Edith Head, and best of all - a documentary on "The Making of Sunset Boulevard" which features my good friend Paramount film producer A.C. Lyles.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 10:25 (A review of Murder in Mind Box Set )

This collection of thrillers and murder mysteries from the BBC is just wonderful. Well written and acted and with some of the most unusual plots imaginable. Each one is different but holds your interest throughout. There are so many outstanding stories it is difficult to select individual episodes but two of my favourites are "Vigilante" with Ian Kelsey and Tim Healey and "Contract" with Adam Faith and Jamie Theakston. All three series are featured in the collection - 23 episodes in all. Well worth looking at.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 10:12 (A review of Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman)

"Brass Diva" by Caryl Flinn is the life story of Broadway star and Hollywood actress ETHEL MERMAN and what a great story it is. Her voice was legendary and the author writes in splendid detail of all her Broadway successes from the 1930s onwards. Her shows included "Girl Crazy", "Anything Goes", "Red, Hot and Blue", "DuBarry Was a Lady", "Panama Hattie", "Something for the Boys", "Annie Get Your Gun", "Call Me Madam", "Gypsy", "Hello Dolly" and many others. The book has 542 pages and covers her personal life, Broadway career, and the many Hollywood films. Also her friendships with Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and others. A wonderful life and a fascinating read.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 10:00 (A review of Judy Garland: The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend)

This 438 page glossy coffee table book is one of the best books I have read on Judy Garland for some time and is hard to put down. It is different to the usual biography as it takes the reader on a day by day journey through Judy's life and gives you lots of personal information. Much of it was new to me even though I have read many of her previous biographies. The photographs are wonderful and again I was seeing many of these for the first time. There are many books available about Judy Garland but this one by author Scott Schechter certainly deserves a place on your bookshelf if you are a Judy Garland fan. Highly recommended.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 07:43 (A review of The Dick Cavett Show (1968-1974))

I have just purchased a DVD collection of Dick Cavett TV shows and they are wonderful. This particular collection features the "Comic Legends" and what an impressive guest list it contains: Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball, George Burns, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, the Smothers Brothers and more! Highly recommended.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 07:32 (A review of Judy and Her Guests, Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet)

I was lucky enough to see Judy Garland in person at the London Palladium back in 1960 which was a memorable evening. I have many of her TV shows and films on DVD and this one features singer Robert Goulet and comedian Phil Silvers.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 07:25 (A review of The Jack Benny Show)

Jack Benny is one of my favourite comedians although I never had the opportunity to see him "live" - only on TV and in his films. He had a unique style all his own and fortunately many of his shows are now available on DVD and I own several of them. This show features Don Wilson, Dennis Day and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson with Special Guests Mel Blanc and Eddie Cantor. I have many books on Jack Benny including "Sunday Nights at Seven" by his daughter Joan and "Jack Benny - a biography" by Mary Livingstone Benny and Hilliard Marks with Marcia Borie.

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Posted : 15 years, 7 months ago on 26 July 2008 02:19 (A review of Witness for the Prosecution)

I have always been very partial to films with a surprise ending and "Witness for the Prosecution" has a real stunner. I also enjoy courtroom dramas and this is one of the best. Add to this great performances by a exemplary cast and one of my favourite directors Billy Wilder (who also co-wrote the screenplay) and you can't lose! Charles Laughton's performance alone makes the film well worth seeing. "Witness for the Prosecution" is from a play by Agatha Christie but it also has the feel of Hitchcock about it. Tyrone Power plays Leonard Vole who is the prime suspect in the murder of a lonely wealthy widow Emily Jane French (Norma Varden). Charles Laughton is Sir Wilfrid Robarts - a most distinguished and respected London barrister - who takes on the difficult task of defending Vole. He is reluctant to accept the case at first but then becomes intrigued with the complexities of the murder and can't make up his mind whether Vole is innocent or guilty. Vole's only hope is the testimony of his wife (Marlene Dietrich) but his airtight alibi falls apart when she reveals some shocking secrets of her own. The film will keep you glued to the edge of your seat with many red herrings, plot twists, double crosses and surprises galore. In one scene Vole tells Mrs French that the film they go to see at a visit to the cinema is about the famous outlaw Jesse James. This was probably an "in joke" as Power had played the title role in "Jesse James" (1939). William Holden was first choice for the part of Leonard Vole but was unavailable. Other actors considered included Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon. Eventually Tyrone Power accepted the part when he was offered $300,000. This was sadly Tyrone Power's last film who died shortly after its completion.
Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth were both approached to play Christine Helm but the role went to Marlene Dietrich. The film was remade in colour as a TV movie in 1984 with Ralph Richardson, Beau Bridges and Diana Rigg.
Favourite lines:
Tyrone Power: "But this is England, where I thought you never arrest, let alone convict, people for crimes they have not committed".
Charles Laughton: "I am constantly surprised that women's hats do not provoke more murders".
Elsa Lanchester: "Wilfrid the Fox! That's what they call him, and that's what he is!".
Elsa Lanchester: "Sir Wilfrid, you forgot your brandy!". (closing line).

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