Monday, November 23, 2015

Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, The Velvet Underground: Light & Tragedy

‘The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons; he wrote some of the greatest songs in the history of American music.’ ―Tom Hiddlestone (I Saw the Light) on Hank Williams.

Sony Pictures Classics were hoping that I SAW THE LIGHT, the Hank Williams biopic starring Tom Hiddleston, would be generating some major Oscar buzz and had the film appropriately slotted into the Oscar bait slot of November 28, 2015. However, despite the acting of stars Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen receiving praises, the film failed to generate the Oscar buzz that the studio wanted at last month's Toronto International Film Festival. Seemingly in response to that lack of Oscar attention, Sony has pushed back I SAW THE LIGHT to March 25, 2016. Source:

The gifted British actor Tom Hiddleston plays Hank Williams and also creditably sings his songs (musician Rodney Crowell worked with Hiddleston). I Saw the Light follows Williams’ life from his marriage to Audrey Sheppard (Elizabeth Olsen) at a gas station in Andalusia, Alabama in 1944 to his death, from alcohol and pill-induced heart failure, en route to a concert in Canton, Ohio on New Year’s Day 1953. Marc Abraham’s effort is a fairly standard film biography. “I got caught up in Hank’s story. He died at 29, wrote all these songs, divorced the same woman twice, married a 19-year old right after recording ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’. I thought what an amazing story. He was in the public domain, and I just started writing the script,” said Abraham.

Hank Williams had his first big hit with “Move It on Over,” about a man in trouble with his wife, in 1947. In fact, it is an early rock and roll song, one that unmistakably reflects the postwar atmosphere. After a successful stint on the Louisiana Hayride, Williams first performed at the Grand Ole Opry in June 1949, where his “Lovesick Blues” was a triumph.

The glory did not last long. He was eventually fired from the Opry for alcoholism in 1952 and his famed producer, Fred Rose (Bradley Whitford in the film), stopped working with him. His life went from bad to worse… In one of the better scenes in I Saw the Light, Williams is in New York—where he feels like a fish out of water—for the Perry Como television show in November 1951. He speaks frankly to a reporter from a big city newspaper. “Everyone has a little darkness,” he says. Williams refers to the anger, misery, sorrow and shame that everyone feels. “I show it to them [the public] … They think I can help.”

In another comment, cited by Colin Escott in his biography of Williams, the real-life singer told an interviewer in 1951, “Folk songs express the dreams and prayers and hopes of the working people.” Williams was born in immense poverty in rural southern Alabama and grew up during the Depression. His father was a terrible drunk and his mother was not an easy person. He drank, and ultimately took pills, all his brief life to alleviate physical and psychological pain. But his songs reflected something more than merely his own personal distress and striving. Their rhythms and words tapped into the sentiments of large numbers of people. As historian Rachel Rubin notes: “In its most important early decades (the 1920s to 1940s), country music told the story of urbanization, and the genre’s relationship to rural living was more a musical epitaph for a way of life increasingly being left behind.” Source:

Like a sonnet, or a hymn, Hank Williams’ songs are timeless both because of and in spite of their structural limitations, using primary colors to drill down to the primary essences of the most primary human emotions. Unfortunately, Marc Abraham’s Williams biopic “I Saw the Light” fails to mirror its subject, focusing on the footnotes, the asides and the marginalia instead of the singular genius at its center. Despite a thoroughly committed, impressive performance from Tom Hiddleston as Williams, the film tackles the life of one of the 20th century’s most seminal musicians with all the passion of a stenographer. Erasing all traces of Britishness from his voice, Hiddleston makes for a very effective country singer; he doesn’t necessarily sound like Williams, but as with Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line,” the sheer amount of effort the actor took to nail a number of the singer’s distinctive tics, hiccups and blue notes is obvious. Source:

Country song craft was in transition. From the dawn of recorded country music in 1923, country songs had been a mixture of traditional ballads, dance tunes, Victorian parlor songs, hymns, blues, and vaudeville numbers. Deep introspection was rare. As far back as a 1947 Montgomery Advertiser feature, Hank Williams was dubbed “the hillbilly Shakespeare.” His songs were the true-to-life blues. Like most truly great songwriters, he flirted with banality, but nearly always managed to sidestep it. Hank’s ultimate triumph as a songwriter was that he learned to tell an audience of thousands what he couldn’t tell someone sitting one-on-one across the room. Hank felt the need to mask his tenderheartedness with callousness and shitkicker bravado, but in his songs he let his weakness show, increasingly so once he discovered that everyone else was weak too.

In endless gestures of appeasement toward Audrey Mae Sheppard, Hank bought jewelry and things for the home as she performed the sacred task of perpetuating his line. All the while, Audrey was more interested in perpetuating her career. She could truly see no reason why Hank’s applause should not be hers. After four years as a singer, she still had little grasp of how she really sounded. The pickers said that she sang “between the frets” (meaning she hit neither one note nor the other). Horace Logan recalled: "Audrey was a pure, unmitigated, hard-boiled, blue-eyed bitch. She wanted to be a singer and she was horrible, unbelievably horrible. She not only tried to sing, she insisted on it, and she forced herself out onstage when Hank was out there."

Wondering what Audrey was doing while he was out on the road contributed to Hank’s broodiness and general upset. He saw the band members happy to get off the road and get home to their wives and families. He would go home and perhaps not find Audrey there at all. If she was there, they’d probably have a fight. As early as 1950, coming in off the road, he had told the guys that he was going to Acuff-Rose to pick up a check for two thousand dollars, go home, give Audrey half of it, then spend the rest of the night fighting with her over the other half. It just wasn’t funny anymore. Still, Hank loved Audrey, but it’s clear that she no longer loved him.

Audrey claimed that she was divorcing Hank for the good of the children. Hank knew that he had failed and, according to those close to him, still hoped from time to time for a reconciliation. In the cross-complaint Hank spoke of his humiliation and grief when he heard what Audrey had done (an abortion). Hank’s cross-complaint document was, by turns, sad and bitter. Hank more or less agreed to Audrey’s terms, despite the fact that his lawyer considered them punitive. This, according to Price, was because Hank wanted to show his continued love for Audrey and his regret over what had happened. Audrey got the house on Franklin Road, and one-half of all Hank’s future royalties with a binding obligation upon MGM and Acuff-Rose to remit them directly to her. If Audrey ever remarried, her claim upon the royalties would end and Hank’s only obligation would be a maintenance payment of $300 a month for Hank Jr. until he was twenty-one.

Hank’s self-defeating conduct stemmed in part from his perception that he was being marketed as a commodity. He was sent to fly the flag for country music in general and the Grand Ole Opry in particular. The comfort and joy he’d once drawn from checking the charts diminished now that he came to see himself as commodified. Never especially forthcoming, he withdrew all the more now that Audrey was gone. As 1952 wore on, Hank was increasingly past caring what the Opry’s plans were, and whether or not he figured in them. Most of those who worked with him that year talk of his rapid disintegration. There’s a romantic notion that the writer or poet calms his troubled soul by reducing it to rhyme, but as Hank Williams pulled off his boots and eased himself gingerly onto his bed, the little verses he had scratched out in his untutored spidery handwriting almost certainly offered him no relief at all.

The final paradox is that Hank Williams left no journals, almost no letters, and no extended interviews, and the people who knew him best have to admit that on some level they didn’t know him at all. Yet, for all the ambiguity and unknowableness, Hank Williams appears almost desperately real to us through his music. At his best, he froze a moment or a feeling in terms simple enough to register instantly yet meaningful enough to listen to forever. ―"I Saw the Light: The Story of Hank Williams" (2015) by Colin Escott & George Merritt

Musically, 1949 was also an important year not just for country music but for pop music in general, with the emergence of Hank Williams, already a major country star, as a mainstream ‘crossover’ artist, with the huge success of his definitive recording of ‘Lovesick Blues’. Williams’ music could be heard in Lubbock (Texas) thanks to his live broadcasts on country music stations – the Louisiana Hayride on KWKH from Shreveport, throughout 1948, and the Grand Ole Opry on WSM from Nashville, where he started in 1949.

Buddy Holly was fascinated by the Hank Williams sound, which involved a semi-yodelling style that stretched and bent individual syllables of words over several notes. But as John Goldrosen has pointed out, there was more to it than that. Williams wrote songs from the heart, drawing on his personal life and speaking directly to his audience, rather than simply performing (in effect, acting) someone else’s message. The fact that so many of his songs dealt in a plaintive or wistful fashion with lost or unrequited love simply made them even more appealing to teenagers. Like Hank Williams, Buddy Holly was deeply influenced by the spiritual sound of the old country church. ―"Not Fade Away: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly" (2012) by John R. Gribbin

"Buddy Holly was sort of a hero. Though a star, he still sounded and looked like a friend. He was one with his listeners, with one important difference: he could successfully express through his music the feelings that those listeners could not express for themselves. And since he was unusual only in his ambition, perseverance and musical talents, his concerns were shared by his audience. When he sang his song, his audience could claim that it was their song too." ―"Remembering Buddy: The Definitive Biography Of Buddy Holly" (2001) by John Goldrosen

Rave On Buddy Holly is a compilation tribute album released on June 28, 2011, through Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group and Hear Music. The track # 17 is "Peggy Sue" revisited by Lou Reed.

Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed, Maureen Tucker and Doug Yule (The Velvet Underground lineup in 1969). Those who have long been left cold by the Velvet Underground cite more than a waft of pretension, the sense that the music requires a pedigree. But that’s nonsense and The Complete Matrix Tapes collection (2015) makes you realize that. This is a band that, were time and circumstances different, could have reached a much wider audience; a band that was equal parts dangerous, demanding, assured, sarcastic, arty, unreal, sincere, tentative, patient, searching, ironic, unpretentious, formidable, and surprisingly capable of pure entertainment.

A lengthy take on “The Ocean” doesn’t just unfold with all the brawn and brain you might expect, it also sounds (despite some sonic limitations) as though it’s being revealed to the band on the spot and, consequently, revealed to us only now, in this very moment. It may be one of the finest moments of the Velvet Underground captured here or anywhere. The same might be said of the 37-minute take on “Sister Ray”. There is nasty, gnarled guitar work that comes crawling out of the speakers like snakes creeping from a swamp, like a transistor transmitting its thin, eerie tones into the night. Source:

"Beginning to See the Light" by The Velvet Underground, early version (recorded at the "Temptation Inside Your Heart" session, 1968) from the 'White Light/White Heat' album which was reissued on its 45th Anniversary in 2013.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fever City, Rock and Roll Fever: Buddy Holly

If you took James Ellroy at his most imaginative and Oliver Stone at his most conspiratorial, and mixed them up in a supersized martini shaker, you would produce the vivid writing, explosive events, and irresistible entertainment of Fever City.

The story kicks off in 1960 Los Angeles, with the daring kidnapping of the child of one of America's richest men. It then darts back and forth between a private detective's urgent search for the child, the saga of a notorious hit man in the days leading to JFK's assasination, and the modern-day story of a skeptical journalist researching the still-active conspiracy theories of the 50s and 60s, with the aim of debunking them. Just as the detective discovers that the kidnapping is a crime much larger than he imagined, and the hit man finds himself caught in a web that is astonighingly complex, the journalist discovers -to his horror, dismay, and even his jeopardy- that the conspiracy theories might well be true. Source:

The plane crash that claimed the lives of three rock 'n' roll stars, including Buddy Holly, could be investigated afresh by US transport safety experts. According to the Mason City Globe Gazette, the NTSB received the request from a pilot from New England called LJ Coon. Source:

Clear Lake, Iowa (May 1, 2015): The National Transportation Safety Board will not reopen the investigation of the plane crash in February 1959 that killed Lubbock-born rock pioneer Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and "Big Bopper" J.P. Richardson. The NTSB said Coon did not present enough evidence to back up his assertions. Source:

Gary W. Moore (author of Hey Buddy, 2011) discounted conspiracy theories alleging a gunshot from a handgun owned by Holly brought down the plane. Barb Dwyer, wife of Jerry Dwyer, who was the fixed base operator at the airport and owner of the plane, declined to comment on Coon's attempts to reopen the crash investigation. Source:

Rolling Stone critic Johnathan Cott eloquently singled out "Peggy Sue" as a masterpiece: "With Peggy Sue, he created the first rock and roll folk heroine. In Peggy Sue Got Married, Peggy Sue vanishes, like Lolita, into the mythology of American Romance." About this mythic Peggy Sue, the words revealed nothing other than that she made her moody paramour feel ‘blue’, yet still love her ‘with a love so rare ’n’ true’. Where she came to life was in the ever-changing shades and shifts of Buddy’s voice, her name repeated over and over like a mantra – now murmured in tongue-tied bashfulness, now stretched to a six-syllable schoolyard taunt (‘Sue-oo-oooo-oo-oo’), now hiccuped, now sighed in rapture, now transmuted into a ringing four-chord eulogy, perhaps the most infallibly nerve-tingling solo in all rock ’n’ roll.

The Real Buddy Holly: In truth, Lubbock always went on with or without Buddy Holly, the city’s only world-famous native son. Two decades passed before city officials, in the wake of a Hollywood film depicting Buddy’s life, saw fit to erect a statue of the great musician. This seeming apathy has been a matter of consid­erable outrage among Holly fans, but one acquaintance of Buddy’s suggests that Buddy would have had no hard feelings. “There’s a stubbornness in Lubbock, which Buddy himself had,” says Peggy Sue Rackham, the woman immortalized in two Buddy Holly songs.

Understanding Buddy Holly is a different matter. He could be numbingly shy or obnoxiously self-confident depending on whether he was holding a guitar at the time. Even his musical genius is hard to nail down. As a lyricist, he was disarmingly cavalier. He was a stealth rocker, that hayseed grin and those im­possibly daft glasses making the world safe for the audacious overtures suggested in “Rave On,” “Oh Boy!” and especially “Not Fade Away”: “I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be/You’re gonna give your love to me.” While Elvis’ gyrations were inducing panic in the world, Buddy was slipping hedonism through the front door like a bouquet proffered by a happy-faced delivery boy.

His was a triumph of subver­sion; but how such a feat grew out of a per­fectly ordinary boyhood in Lubbock is an astounding mystery, one that no one has ever come close to solving. Amburn’s primary source for Buddy’s teenage antics is a Lubbock musician named Tin­ker Carlen. If only there had been loose Lub­bock women in the fifties to have had one’s way with, several of Buddy’s male pals lamented to me, adding that Buddy was every bit as unlucky as they were. Similarly, several of Amburn’s sources scoff at the author’s theory that Buddy had a drinking problem, “He wasn’t even a moderate drinker,” Curtis told me. Leaden with, errors, Buddy Holly: A Bi­ography would be merely an embarrassment if it weren’t fundamentally mean-spirited.

Buddy Holly was on a roll. In June, while visiting his music publisher in New York, he laid eyes on the company’s rav­ishing Puerto Rican secretary, Maria Elena Santiago, asked her out that night, and proposed to her over dinner. In August the couple were married in the Holley home. They returned to Manhattan and moved into a Greenwich Village apartment. Despite his multitude of hit singles, Buddy was broke: The royalty money was tied up in the account of his manager, Norman Petty. Buddy convinced the Crickets that they needed to wash their hands of Petty and move permanently to New York, where they could get better representa­tion. After a tour in late October, they converged on Petty’s studio in Clovis. But Buddy and Maria arrived to find that the Crickets were already there, and that Petty had talked the boys into staying with him. “I want my money,” Buddy said. According to Maria, Petty replied, “I’d rather see you starve to death first.” Source:

In order to allow J.I. Allison to impress the real Peggy Sue, Buddy gave him the songwriting credit on the record. For his own reasons, Norman Petty added his name. Buddy could take someone else’s song and make it his own with a vastly superior rendition. By contrast, nobody, not even the Beatles, ever took a Buddy Holly song and improved upon his own recording of it.

Exactly why ‘That’ll Be The Day’ took so long to get into the charts never has been satisfactorily explained. For most rock ’n’ roll classics, success has appeared soaringly effortless with the frenetic pace at which America’s record business operated in the rock ’n’ roll fever of early 1957. The blend of sounds, which has seemed unimprovably right to modern ears, was an unusual, even eccentric one in mid-1957. And the voice sounded unlike that of a potential teenage idol, being totally lacking in sexual suggestiveness, self-pitying angst or any other clue that its owner belonged to the same generation as Elvis, Ricky Nelson or Eddie Cochran.

June Clark was a highly attractive woman, slim and wavy-blonde, with snub, big-eyed features glancingly like those of Brigitte Bardot, the French ‘sex kitten’. Her job on the cosmetics counter at Hull’s drugstore gave her an aura of glossy, nylon-crisp untouchability. But she found herself increasingly drawn to Buddy for his charm, his kindliness, his singleminded ambition and the dark, lonely depths in him which now and then revealed themselves. ‘I knew he liked me because he was a normal young guy,’ June says: ‘But the thing he always wanted to do most when we were together was just talk to me.’ June had been prepared for a superficial flirtation. But the intensity of Buddy’s feelings began to alarm her. Forgetting the need for discretion, he phoned her constantly, and also took to hanging around the Hull drugstore. ‘He’d just stand there staring at me while I waited on customers, till it got to be really embarrassing and unnerving.’

Since groupies and drugs still were almost nonexistent pleasures of ‘the road’, having fun meant one thing only. ‘We’d sometimes be drunk in the morning,’ J.I. has since admitted, ‘and stay drunk all day.’ This slackness and unprofessionalism infuriated Buddy. Lubbock may have been slow to recognize his enormous fame, but at least that has prevented any hint of the tacky opportunism with which Elvis Presley is memorialized at Graceland. In death, as in his brief life, Buddy remains untainted by vulgarity. On a basis of simply counting heads, rock music surpasses even film as the most influential art form of the twentieth century. By that reckoning, there is a case for calling Buddy Holly the 20th century’s most influential musician. Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly are the two seminal figures of fifties rock ’n’ roll. -"Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly" (2014) by Philip Norman

In The Buddy Holly Story (1978), the legend from Lubbock, Texas, is reassessed in a thoroughly entertaining musical biography that mixes fact and fiction in equal parts, a practice Hollywood is unable to resist despite the potential for distortion and false allegations. Luckily, the film captures Holly's charm and stubborn individuality through Gary Busey's chameleon-like performance in the title role. As the story progresses from Holly's formation of his band, the Crickets, to his departure for a recording career in New York City, it also charts the evolution of some of the musician's most famous tunes. The Buddy Holly Story also took dramatic liberties with biographical details (the scene in the church where Holly's pastor attacks his music was fabricated - the two men were close friends in real life) and completely omitted Norman Petty, Holly's producer, from the story line.

For the actors, however, The Buddy Holly Story was a dream come true. Gary Busey, who was once a drummer with Leon Russell's band, threw himself into the lead role with such intensity that he began to resemble Holly, the result of heavy dieting and the makeup department's influence (horn-rimmed glasses and curled hair). He also got a charge out of performing Holly's music with co-stars Charles Martin Smith and Don Stroud.

Audiences and critics were into The Buddy Holly Story as well, and typical of the reviews was this assessment by Film Quarterly: "Director Steve Rash and Gary Busey have interpreted The Buddy Holly Story with an unpolished beauty that remains faithful both to the spirit of the man and to his music." The film went on to receive three Oscar nominations in 1978. Busey was nominated for Best Actor. He would later say he won the role of the late singer because "they finally realized I have the same-sized teeth." Source:

Friday, November 06, 2015

Rare Songs by Frank Sinatra, Chairman of the Board Film Collection

A rare recording from his 1945 radio program, Songs by Sinatra. Had he survived the cold, music legend Frank Sinatra would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. But there's still some of his stuff almost no one in the world has heard—so all of that is coming out in a new compilation this month. Sinatra had a long history of performing the American classic Ol’ Man River by Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II. The song was one of his go-to tunes for nearly three decades. He sang it during his Man and His Music TV special and even included a stripped-down rendition during his 1962 world tour. The version below is taken from one of his early performances, from a radio show in 1945. At just 30 years old, a young Sinatra sings what will become a lifelong favorite for one of the first times. Source:

To celebrate “The Chairman of the Board’s” centennial, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) release Frank Sinatra: 3 Film Collection DVD & Blu-ray on November 16th and we have a Blu-ray up for grabs! This collection includes newly re-mastered releases of Anchors Aweigh, On the Town and Robin and the 7 Hoods for the first time on Blu-ray and is packed full of new special features!

Throughout his six-decade career, Frank Sinatra performed on more than 1,400 recordings and was awarded 31 gold, nine platinum, three double platinum and one triple platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America. Sinatra demonstrated a remarkable ability to appeal to every generation and continues to do so; his artistry still influences many of today’s music superstars. He also appeared in more than 60 films and produced eight motion pictures. Source:

Sinatra had been growing steadily more impatient with Capitol Records, with which his contract would expire in November 1962. He had been agitating for many things—a greater share of the profits, a producer of his own, control of his master recordings—but it’s hard to escape the impression that what he wanted most of all was out. When one listens to the recordings Frank made on the night of May 14 —and especially to his new “I’ll Never Smile Again”— it’s hard to escape the impression that, consciously or not, he already had one foot out the door. Singing over Jenkins’s sad strings, Sinatra sounds tender and vulnerable and middle-aged; there’s a slight quaver to his voice that’s not at all unattractive. Yet as he sings the first chorus —I’ll never smile again, until I smile at you, I’ll never laugh again, what good would it do— something quite strange happens. His pitch is uncertain from the first syllable, and—after weirdly mispronouncing the word “laugh” as “luff”—he hits an unmistakable clam on the word “do.” Frank’s ear was exquisitely tuned: he was famous for bringing a take to a grinding halt if, say, the third violin was a half note off, fixing the offender with an ice-blue glare and saying, “Where you working next week?” He would do multiple takes of a song if anything about his vocal or the accompaniment displeased him. Why did he not rerecord this “Smile”? SINATRA: THE CHAIRMAN (2015) by JAMES KAPLAN

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Next projects: Buster’s Mal Heart (Rami Malek) & Mute (Duncan Jones)

Rami Malek, leading star of the so-hot-right-now cyber-thriller Mr. Robot, has today landed his first major role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the up-and-comer has agreed a deal to topline Sarah Adina Smith’s mystery drama Buster’s Mal Heart. Malek will spearhead the drama as an eccentric recluse who lives out his days in the mountains, breaking into one vacation home after another in order to survive through the harsh winters.

During his illicit escapades – which ought to be right in Malek’s wheelhouse after Mr. Robot – our protagonist is plagued by a series of vivid and indeed recurring dreams; dreams that cast him astray at sea without a hope. As the narrative unfolds, Malek’s character learns that the dreams are in fact real, and that his conscious is inexplicably split across two bodies in two very different locations. It’s this mind-bending plot that will underpin Buster’s Mal Heart. Source:

EXCLUSIVE: Duncan Jones’ long-cherished Mute, about a mute bartender who goes up against his city’s gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner, may be coming a step nearer to fruition with the news that Paul Rudd and Alexander Skarsgard have boarded the project. Also joining Mute is Lotus Entertainment, which will handle international sales and finance the ambitious film in time for AFM.

The film is set in Berlin, 40 years from today. A roiling city of immigrants, where East crashes against West in a science-fiction Casablanca. Leo Beiler (Skarsgard), a mute bartender, has one reason and one reason only for living here, and she’s disappeared. But when Leo’s search takes him deeper into the city’s underbelly, an odd pair of American surgeons (led by Rudd) seem to be the only recurring clue, and Leo can’t tell if they can help, or who he should fear most.

“I’ve been working towards making Mute for 12 years now. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that we’re finally going to shoot this utterly unique film,” said Jones. “Mute is a film that will last. It is unlike any other science fiction being made today.” Source:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

R.I.P. Maureen O'Hara (The Queen of Technicolor)

The actor Maureen O’Hara has died, her manager said on Saturday. She was 95.

O’Hara, who was born Maureen FitzSimons in Dublin in 1920, starred in John Ford’s 1941 Oscar-winning drama How Green Was My Valley, set in Wales, and The Quiet Man, Ford’s Irish-set 1952 film that starred John Wayne.

She starred with Wayne in a number of films, including the western Rio Grande, also directed by Ford.

She also had notable successes working with Charles Laughton (Jamaica Inn, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Andrew V McLaglen (McLintock!), and starred in the perennial Christmas hit Miracle on 34th Street, in 1947, and the Disney children’s hit The Parent Trap in 1961. She was never nominated for an Oscar, instead being given an honorary award in 2014. After accepting her statuette, presented by Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood, from a wheelchair, the then 94-year-old star protested when her speech of thanks was cut short.

On Saturday the Irish arts minister, Heather Humphreys, said O’Hara was “the quintessential Irish success story”. “Maureen O’Hara left Ireland to carve a successful life in America,” Humphreys said, “but in the hearts and minds of every Irish person Maureen was the quintessential Irish success story.

She went on to become one of the icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age at the height of her career.”

Humphreys said O’Hara would be “best remembered for her fiercely passionate roles in classic films and in particular the films she made with her great friend John Wayne”. Wayne once famously said he preferred to work with men, “except for Maureen O’Hara. She’s a great guy”. In 1991, O’Hara said of Wayne: “We met through Ford, and we hit it right off. I adored him, and he loved me. But we were never sweethearts. Never, ever.”

Humphreys added: “It was in [O’Hara’s] role as Mary Kate Danaher in The Quiet Man, the iconic film made over 60 years ago and still very much celebrated in Ireland and abroad, that we were first alerted to her natural beauty and talent. In later life, O’Hara married her third husband, Brigadier General Charles Blair. He died in a plane crash in 1978 and O’Hara took over management of the airline, which she eventually sold. “Being married to Charlie Blair and traveling all over the world with him, believe me, was enough for any woman,” she said in 1995. “It was the best time of my life.”

“My first ambition was to be the No1 actress in the world,” she said in 1999. “And when the whole world bowed at my feet, I would retire in glory and never do anything again.” In 1957 her career was threatened by scandal, when the tabloid Confidential magazine claimed she and a man had engaged in “the hottest show in town” in the back row of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. However, as she later told the Associated Press, at the time she “was making a movie in Spain, and I had the passport to prove it”.

O’Hara most often played strong and willful women. In 1991, she was asked if she was the same off screen. “I do like to get my own way,” she said. “But don’t think I’m not acting when I’m up there. And don’t think I always get my own way. There have been crushing disappointments. But when that happens, I say, ‘Find another hill to climb.’”

 “Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life,” the O’Hara family said in a statement. “She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world.” Source:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mr. Robot Season 1 on Blu-Ray

As cinema and television increasingly converge, TV shows are looking more and more like film – and Mr. Robot is arguably the best current example of that. The show’s all odd angles and characters edged into the corner of frames, like chess pieces on engulfing tableaux; not only that, but it looks at New York City in a completely new way, turning the shiny tourist-magnet into a cold, tech-y future metropolis.

Even though you can probably see the twist coming a mile away, it doesn’t stop the moment of revelation being heart-breakingly powerful.

And in those scenes, when the twist comes, Malek is absolutely devastating. Slater’s is the biggest name in the cast, but it’s Malek who emerges as the star of Mr Robot: approaching Elliot’s at-times difficult nature with a radiant mix of easy charisma and vulnerability, Malek is awards-worthy in the main role. He’ll likely go onto even bigger stardom on the silver screen after this, but it’s hard to imagine – as with Jon Hamm and Don Draper, Bryan Cranston and Walter White – that he’ll find anything so worthy of his talents.

Mr. Robot, which actually has meaty roles for its female characters, features two of the more interesting, conflicted women in TV, in Carly Chaikin’s Darlene and Portia Doubleday’s Angela. Angela gradually shows herself to be a quietly complex figure throughout the first season, a corporate lackey looking for revenge that also secretly seeks approval from the same powers-that-be that she despises. Source:

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that it will release on Blu-ray Mr. Robot: Season 1. The release will be available for purchase on January 12, 2016.

Synopsis: Enter the "completely captivating" world of Mr. Robot. Cyber-security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night, Elliot (Rami Malek, The Pacific) finds himself at a crossroads when the mysterious leader (Christian Slater, Very Bad Things) of an underground hacker group recruits him to destroy the firm he is paid to protect. Compelled by his personal beliefs, Elliot struggles to resist the chance to take down the multinational CEOs he believes are running (and ruining) the world. Now, watch all 10 Season One episodes back-to-back and uninterrupted of the psychological thriller that critics rave is "damn near perfect" (Jessica Rawden, Cinemablend). Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Source: