Saturday, 13 October 2018

Go West, Old Man! Red River, The Westerner, 3 Godfathers, The Professionals, The Man from Laramie, Duel in the Sun and The Left-Handed Gun

Some of the greatest films I've watched in my ongoing vintage movie-fest have been Westerns. I fell out of love with the "oater" genre many moons ago, but my boyhood passion has been well and truly rekindled by finally catching up with a whole slew of truly magnificent classics. Howard Hawks's Red River (1948) is probably the best of the lot:
Unconvinced? Try this breathtaking stampede sequence:

We all paid for this, thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded...

Friday, 12 October 2018

Tears of Rage - starting with Quentin Letts's splendid evisceration of Theresa May in the Daily Mail

The Mail's political sketch-writer started Wednesday's article this way:
Prime Minister’s Questions left me hoping the Conservatives lose the next election – lose it so badly their buttocks sting – and that Jeremy Corbyn, with whom I disagree on almost everything, becomes Prime Minister.
Having summed up Mrs May's wretched performance as "No fun. No verve. No imagination..." Letts ended his piece with this stirring call to arms:

Vote for Philip Mamouf-Wifarts - a genuinely honest politician (h/t: James Woods)

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Some real gems from "1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die"

Sorry if this strikes anyone as ghoulish, but I downloaded 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die a few days ago (having gone through 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die the previous week). I've reached the early '70s in the song book, and, apart from non-Anglosphere numbers, I don't appear to have missed much. However there were a few tracks on the list I'd never heard, and some interesting ones buried in the text along the way. Here's a few of them, starting with Sol Hoopii's delightful "Hula Girl" from 1934:

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Classic Hollywood literary adaptations: David Copperfield, Design for Living, The Body Snatcher, The Asphalt Jungle, The Letter and A Walk in the Sun

I'd always avoided the 1935 Hollywood version of David Copperfield. The casting of W.C. Fields as Mr. Micawber suggested it would probably be a vulgar travesty, especially...

Monday, 1 October 2018

The greatness of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune: Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Stray Dog and Sanjuro

One of the worst things about being stuck in hospital for nearly a month was not being able to watch vintage films. Having seen  some 400 old movies in the last year, I reckon I've almost achieved "film fanatic" status, albeit only for films released between 1935 and 1965.  Since returning home three weeks ago, I've been making up for lost time.  I've long been a fan of the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and his lead actor, Toshiro Mifune (Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo), but, checking through the list of movies available on the BFI subscription service available via Amazon Prime, I realised how many of their most celebrated collaborations I'd never got round to watching. I've been putting that right, starting with Throne of Blood (1957), an almost flawless adaptation of Macbeth 

Friday, 28 September 2018

Health news update: Oh, bugger!

I feel a bit self-important posting all this information in a public space, but I'm so knackered, it would take me ages to email everyone who's been in touch individually. I had my first appointment with the oncologists at Hammersmith Hospital. My wife was with me, thank God, because the whole process took over three hours, there was so much stuff to take in that I'm sure I'd only have remembered a fraction of it if she hadn't noted down the key points - and I was so whacked after the first two hours that, if it hadn't been for Mrs. G, I'd probably still be slumped in a seat in one of the hospital waiting-areas trying to summon up enough energy to get home. Here, for those of you who are interested, is where I'm at:

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The fact that referendums aren't elections means that Brexiteers aren't responsible for the mess Theresa May's government has got us into

One of my many sensible Remain friends asked me the other day why what he called "the Brexit camp" still "don't seem to have any idea of how to manage a graceful, coherent and productive exit from the EU.  There's absolutely no leadership.  You'd think that after all these years of opposition someone would have put some thought and work into a proper hard Brexit plan - something comprehensive and practical.  Perhaps even something attractive and inspiring?" He asked if he was missing something, and it took me a while to figure out what that something was. For the past two years, practically every Remainer and an alarming number of Leavers have been treating the referendum as if it had been a general election (I've found myself doing it occasionally). The difference is crucial...

Sunday, 23 September 2018

I don't know about the rest of the NHS, but Hammersmith Hospital has improved beyond recognition since the late '80s

I experienced two week-long stays at Hammersmith Hospital about 30 years ago, both as a result of  attacks of acute pancreatitis. I'd suffered at least six previous attacks over a number of years, but a variety of GPs had misdiagnosed every damned one of them, whereas the Irish nurse who collected me from reception on my first hospital visit simply asked me where the pain was and immediately said, "Oh, that'll be pancreatitis". My experiences of Hammersmith back then were so depressing, I've always dreaded the thought of having to go back to hospital for an extended stay. On both occasions, I was stuck in an enormous, positively Dickensian, dormitory-style ward with between 25 and 30 other patients...