Tuesday, 26 January 2016

1978 Film Review, February Issue

At last I have been up into the attic for the next volume of my Film Review magazines. We now move into 1978, though unfortunately something prevented me from buying - or keeping - the January issue.

So we move straight to the February issue which the cover tells us is loaded with Star Wars facts and figures. How strange now with the seventh film just out, to realise that at the time this magazine came out most people hadn't the slightest idea that this was anything other than a single film. We'll have a look at just a small part of the magazine's facts and figures as they devote an incredible nine pages to the film.

And that doesn't count related adverts! On the inside front cover is an advert for Meco's album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk which became a huge hit with the single Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band troubling the singles charts. It was a disco treatment of John Williams' original quite classical-sounding music for the film. It was suggested that many people bought the John Williams album having heard this single and were subsequently disappointed at the lack of beat and robot and alien noises!

On the Contents page is a photo of veteran actors Peter Ustinov and David Niven from their upcoming film treatment of Agatha Christie's Poirot adventure, Death On The Nile.

And so into the nine-page look at the very first (now fourth-in-the-series) Star Wars. No mention of A New Hope because at the time it could easily have been the only film. But audiences loved it. I remember seeing the awesome opening shot of the huge Star Destroyer space ship which appeared as a point at the top of the screen and just expanded and expanded as it apparently flew over the camera until it filled the entire screen. That one shot was the most talked about film scene ever.

Perhaps the film eventually became A New Hope because of this scene. For ages people tried to get into gigs and theatres raising a hand at attendants and saying hopefully "You don't need to see my ticket...

A full page advert for the official soundtrack album. John Williams had already mesmerised audiences with the chilling score for Jaws, but the classical nature of the Star Wars score was not as immediately a hit. On second or third listening though, the way he interwove themes individual to the various main characters into the main theme is quite clever. His scores for Superman and Raiders of The Lost Ark had some quite similar motifs. For years afterwards my auntie used to phone me out of the blue to say "How does the Superman theme go?" to be closely followed by "But isn't that Star Wars...?"

Clint Eastwood's film The Gauntlet came out on release. Undoubtedly an exciting film, I have to wonder what the budget was for bullets (or blanks) alone!

This month's recipient of staples is the lovely Jacqueline Bisset, in a publicity still for the film The Deep.

And with no other cosmetic adverts to feature this month, in desperation we turn to the wart-relieving properties of Compound W. Warts vanish in days. It doesn't say just how many days...

Charles Bronson gets a double-page spread to himself in two roles - a KBG agent in Telefon on the left and playing Wild Bill Hickok in The White Buffalo on the right. I love one particular sentence in the article relating to the buffalo of the title where it says the buffalo "staged a lone stampede". Can you actually have a stampede of only one animal? And if so would it not just run off? Why would it need to stage a stampede - perhaps it planned or constructed a route or directed itself, saying things like "Knock down that fence then towards that rock so I can run round it..."

And it may be a new year, but the sex comedies are still with us. In our photo Crusoe finds himself in the cooking pot in Never on Friday (see what they did there?) The film is described in the mag as "a good laugh" so I wouldn't go searching it out especially for its erotic delights if I were you...

Not a great many horror films have been featured in this series so far. This was a weird tale to say the least - an accident victim is treated with an experimental technique and develops a blood lust which she satisfies using a "side-effect" stinger which protrudes from under her armpit. Everyone who she takes blood from develops the same condition. Directed by David Cronenberg it stars Marilyn Chambers - an actress more infamous than famous as a hardcore porn star. Lovely. I've not seen this one. ...or any of her earlier work, come to that. Ooh... unfortunate phrase...

Timex had been the number one company for manufacturing watches for the mainstream market in the UK, but had somewhat ignored digital displays with the result that Japanese firm Seiko captured and dominated that particular market. Here Timex fight back. I have memories of people saying "What do you mean: fourteen fifty one?" Wearers of digital watches developed that smug look children now get when granny phones for help with her Android tablet.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Letting The New Year In

On New Year's Eve, Creeping Bentgrass took to the stage at Coast Rider's Bar in Blackpool. It's become a bit of a tradition at Coast Riders to challenge us to do songs we don't usually do. Sometimes we are told in advance and have a chance to do a full backing and sometimes it's a song I've never heard of, leaving me to busk as best I can to whatever David is fondly imagining to be the tune... We did ok with Falling In Love With You but then came something called Seven Spanish Angels which I'd never heard of... Oh, and the one we had prior notice of was Lee Marvin's Wand'rin Star which tested how deep I could go!

A great night as always at Coast Riders - we are now proficient at previous challenges Running Bear, Penny Arcade and even my attempts to play Ravel's Bolero go down well! Happy New Year! We will be back at Coast Riders on 27 February for a charity night.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Film Review, December 1977 Issue

We've reached the last of the 1977 Film Review magazines. We are just over a quarter of the way through the magazines I have ("just over" because unfortunately January 1978 is missing from my bound collection of this magazine).

The December issue features Nick Nolte on the front cover. He also takes the glamour position, having a two-page centrefold in the middle of the magazine. Makes a change from Bond girls I suppose! The inside front cover is a Bacardi advert, but one we have already seen. On the Contents page is a large photo of Sylvia Kristel, one of three (and all fully clothed!) photos of the Emmanuelle actress in this issue. We'll have a look at one of the others later.

Remember the tale from the October issue where John Dark, the producer of Seven Cities Of Atlantis, had to swim for it after a boat he was in sank? Well here he is (far right) with the cast and director. From l-r Derry Power, Shane Rimmer, director Kevin Connor, Doug McClure, Lea Brodie and Peter Gilmore.

Perhaps the least successful for me of Smirnoff's series of adverts based around the tag line "Well, they said anything could happen". It's a good idea but you have to really study the photo very closely indeed before you realise that there is a shower running in the phone booth and that she is wearing a towel and not a cocktail dress... Subtle Smirnoff... Too subtle...

Child actress Susan Swift plays Ivy, a young girl who inexplicably starts to experience the sensations and memory of being burned to death in a car accident. The death matches that of Audrey Rose - also the title of the film - who died just minutes before Ivy was born. Also starring Anthony Hopkins, Marsha Mason and John Beck, the film was based loosely on the true tale of a young boy who was suddenly able to play piano brilliantly, this being attributed to being a skill achieved in a previous life.

A few issues ago I included a photo of Lynn Frederick who was, at the time, making this film. Now finished, it goes on release to tell the tale of refugees from Nazi Germany who crossed the Atlantic only to find their ship turned away from its destination Cuba, refused entry to the USA and themselves facing the dread of a return journey to an uncertain fate. Again the film is based on the true events of the 1939 crossing of MS St Louis from Hamburg to Havana.

Sylvia Kristel says Goodbye Emmanuelle in the third film of the French erotic series in which absolutely no one is soaked by soapy water or has to run out the back door halfway through sex... Whilst Miss Kristel is undoubtedly best known for her outings as Emmanuelle, she did make many other films. And although this was meant to be the last, several others would come along. Whilst Sylvia Kristel bowed out shortly after the start of No.4, she made a comeback later in the series. Meanwhile there were many imitations and even a Carry On film based on the character. That wasn't quite up to the erotic heights of the original series perhaps...

Whilst lamenting the supposed end of a series that delivered slightly more erotic content than Robin Askwith managed, we can draw consolation from this advert for The 1978 Sex Maniac's Diary... Packed with naughty facts and weekly kinks it is a mere £2 (inc. VAT) or you can go for the "more meaty" desk diary version which lists fabulous faraway festivals, a handy chart for "fathoming fetishes" and new seductive words. Things like "Bank Holiday" and "Full Moon" perhaps...?

And here's the be-stapled Nick Nolte, a centrefold dressed for diving in The Deep.

But thank Heaven we don't have to put up with all that proper erotica when we can watch Arthur Askey giving (or taking?) a bit of cheek with Debbie Ash in another British sex romp: Rosie Dixon - Night Nurse. Ooh I say, Matron! Debbie's real-life sister Leslie Ash played her on-screen sister.

"Forty films behind her and still as glamorous as ever". So says the tag line on a two-page interview with Joan Collins, here seen with director Michael Winner on the set of the remake of The Big Sleep. And as we know now, in another few years Joanie would be still stirring the men on TV as Alexis Carrington in the American soap Dynasty.

October 1977 saw the sad passing of actor and singer Bing Crosby. He was honestly a legend, accomplishing far more than a thousand or two records and almost 70 films. He financed and was involved with the development of both tape recording and better quality audio tape (so he could record his radio shows on rainy days and play golf on sunny ones!) He also farmed oranges and for a whole generation of Americans his name was as much associated with their morning orange juice as with music and film. He won the Best Actor Oscar for Going My Way, made the unforgettable Road To... series of films with Bob Hope and was the first singer ever to have his own radio show. And we still listen to the record and watch the film of White Christmas every year!

1977 ends with a look back at 50 years of Sci-Fi films. Star Wars inevitably brings us up to date, but our photo is from the 1936 epic Things To Come, from the H.G. Wells book The Shape Of Things To Come. In the photo, thousands of people line up to board the space craft that will take them to a new life somewhere in the Universe.

Reading these magazines from almost 40 years ago has made me want to watch some of the films I missed seeing in my twenties as well as some fondly remembered ones. Getting hold of them is not so easy though. The massive blockbusters are still around, but many films are nowhere to be found. One fondly remembered film I looked for - Fear Is The Key - was only available through Amazon at over £57. On VHS tape!!! Who in their right minds would pay that much for a jumpy and soft-focus copy that degrades every time you carry the tape past a loudspeaker?

But I did manage to get a DVD of a film I featured a couple of issues ago that I had never seen. The Cassandra Crossing with Richard Harris, Burt Lancaster, Sophia Loren, Martin Sheen et al. It was a good price and, despite the soundtrack having lost much of the bass frequencies, was a brilliant watch.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

House Party At Christmas

Once again over the Christmas period Creeping Bentgrass headed over to Darwen to play at a large house party.

With all the weather that had been going around we were pleasantly relieved to get there without having to wade the car through any floods. What an awful time many people have had at a time of year that should be enjoyable.

Ours at least was an enjoyable night and plenty of the party-goers told us how much they looked forward to it every year. In fact I'm sure there were more people there this year! And we heard from the organiser of the Harvest Festival we did earlier in the year that audience members from that event had been asking for our return too!

A huge than you to our hosts Brian and Christine!

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