Monday, 26 November 2018

"What have I done?" - is Theresa May channeling Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson?

In Bridge on the River Kwai, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson accepts the challenge of building a bridge in order to improve the morale of his men, to demonstrate British efficiency to their Japanese captors, and out of pride:...

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Frank Ellement - the actor who was short-listed for James Bond and appeared on one of my favourite paperback covers

Frank Ellement, 1928-1998 (copyright: John Mott)
I recently received an email from a Mr John Mott, asking me if I owned the original artwork for this striking illustration, which appears on one of my Pinterest boards:

Best cartoon of the week? BOB in the Telegraph:

With a special mention for this one:

Friday, 9 November 2018

All the cats join in - swing classics from the likes of Cab Calloway, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton

That video of Cab Calloway and his Orchestra performing "Jumpin' Jive" (the dancers trying to destroy their own bodies were the incomparably wonderful Nicholas Brothers) comes from...

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Rise of the Theremin: 1949 and 1951 ensured a decade of creepy movie soundtracks

I've always responded like a Pavlov dog to the sound of a theremin on a movie soundtrack.There's something about the instrument's quivering, imprecise, other-worldy tone which causes instant cognitive dissonance. We know that something abnormal and possibly dangerous is happening, either inside the head of the character we're watching, or, in the case of science fiction films, to our planet. The Soviet inventor Léon Theremin patented his creation in 1928, and it was first used in a film score by Shostakovich for 1931's Odna. But it was eighteen years before it graced a Hollywood movie: Miklós Rózsa used it for Hitchcock's Spellbound (1949) to convey Gregory Peck's psychosis:

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Farewell, Tony Joe White - here are 12 slices of your very own brand of swamp magic

(Worth listening to just for the way he manages to make "voluptuous" sound so, well, voluptuous.) "High Sheriff of Calhoun Parish" (or, if you prefer, "Hah Chef of Calhoun Paish") was the stand-out track on...

Friday, 2 November 2018

I always knew our son should be doing art history documentaries for BBC4!

Until this morning, when my son emailed me the link, I didn't know the 2012 YouTube video, A Brief Guide to Futurist Art and Futurism - which he made and posted under a pseudonym after finishing his A-levels and before heading for university - existed. And I'd probably still be unaware of it had my son not recently discovered, to his utter astonishment , that it has been watched over 66,000 times!
Look, I know I'm his dad and everything...

Four excellent psychopath movies: They Made Me a Fugitive, He Walked by Night, Experiment in Terror and The Sniper

They Made a Fugitive (1947) is one of the most effective British noir thrillers I've ever seen...