Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Film Review, October 1978 Issue

Did you have a favourite night to go to the "pictures"? I seem to remember that the programme changed every Thursday and my parents - when there was a suitable film showing - would take us on a Tuesday as by then it was a bit quieter. The circle was my favourite place to sit. Either at the front or at the front of the second block back, at the side of where the stairs from below came up.

We have reached October 1978 in our series drawn from the pages of Film Review magazine. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John get top billing on the cover and a full eight pages is devoted inside the magazine to Grease. I wonder whatever happened to my sachet of hair colour? I wonder whatever happened to my hair...

On the inside front cover Bacardi rum have yet again set up shop on a tropical beach and the bar tender has installed a notice saying "No coaches". I suspect it didn't do him any harm as I've rarely seen people pouring off coaches gasping "Bacardi and coke... find me a Bacardi and coke...!"

Let's scoot straight to Barbra Paskin's gossip from Hollywood, where it appears that the famous sign, which was dismantled in the August of 1978 as it was in imminent danger of falling down through age, was to be replaced at a cost of $250,000.

Playboy millionaire Hugh Hefner helped towards the total by throwing a gala dinner party at the Playboy Mansion where the $150 ticket price raised $50,000. Further money was raised by holding an auction to sponsor some of the letters. The idea had been started by rock musician Alice Cooper a few weeks before when he donated the equivalent of £15,000 to fund one of the letters O in memory of his close friend Groucho Marx. At the party Andy Williams donated a similar amount ($27,700) for the letter W and Hefner himself donated for the Y. The sign was replaced in October 1978 leaving a three-month gap where the famous hill was without its equally famous landmark.

Julie Christie was being tipped to play Scarlett O'Hara in a proposed remake of the legendary Gone With The Wind. She was just one in a long list - which still goes on. Why on earth Hollywood would even in a million years think that a remake was a good idea, I've no idea and frankly...

Meanwhile in the cloudy, smelly, slightly yellow-stained 1970s, a modern age cowboy is still coughing his guts up... His smoke is rising up out of the valley, causing the horses to stampede along the top of the ridge.

Roger Moore takes time out from his role as James Bond to make The Wild Geese, a film about mercenaries trying to rescue a deposed president in Africa. He admits that he hates firing guns and has a tendency to turn his head away from the noise which, given the roles he played demanding the use of firearms, shows a certain level of determination on his part!

"At last! The Thirty Nine Steps as the author intended" enthuses the header to a double-page article on the third version of the film. Starring Robert Powell, seen here with Karen Dotrice (the magazine mistakenly names her as her sister, "Michelle" but even her name was spelt wrong - there's only one L, i.e. "Michele"). It includes an exciting moment as hero Richard Hannay climbs out onto the face of the Westminster clock tower to stop Big Ben from striking after German spies have set explosives to be detonated when the bell's hammer strikes. The film was so successful that a TV series featuring Robert Powell as Hannay was to follow.

William Devane and Vanessa Redgrave star as American GI and the English girl with whom he has an affair in Yanks. Set in the north of England, the film featured local celebrities of the past in small parts. Comedians Leslie Saroney and Nat Jackley, names almost forgotten now, were both featured in straight roles for the film. Looking at the magazine today as I prepared this article, I wondered (never having seen Yanks) why I knew William Devane. A search of the Internet Movie Database reminded me that he played one of the key starring roles in the TV mini-series of From Here To Eternity in 1979.

Another of those witty Smirnoff Vodka adverts. "Well, they said anything could happen..."

An advert for boxes of Good News chocolates try out their wit in this ad where each chocolate is a reason to celebrate. No.1: "She's taken up knitting". No.2: "You help her unwind". No.12 "You spent a fortune on fireworks". No.13: "She gave you a rocket". Ah, yes, I'm going to have to go lie down for a minute...

"Grease is the word!" The eight-page extravaganza article on the new musical experience that is Grease kicks off.

Set in the 1950s - oh come on, you surely don't need me to set out the plot? It confirmed John Travolta as a star for the Seventies as bad boy turned mellow by the sweet teenage - er... well late twenties - innocence of Olivia Newton-John. At the end of the film she makes over her innocent self, donning skin-tight black and a hip - surely that's a before-its-time 1980s - hairstyle to create such an impression on young and middle-aged boys alike that her name gets changed to Olivia Neutron-Bomb... Towards the end of the film it was hard to drag your eyes away from her if you were a male...

"Tell me more, tell me more..." The entire film was filled with the oldest teenagers you've ever seen... John Travolta was 24; Livvy was 29 when making it, 30 by the time this magazine came out; Stockard Channing (the film's lesson in morals) was 34(!); Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 28; Didi Conn (Frenchie) was 27... The film also brought back to the big screen the fabulous Joan Blondell, the sexy minx from many a Busby Berkeley film of the 1930s and real-life 1950s popster Frankie Avalon.

And to finish for this time a black panther and a choice of stack systems. I think I'll just play my 45 rpm vinyl of Hopelessly Devoted To You... Are you? Are you really, Livvy...?

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