Roadshow movies once provided musical magic

Roadshow movies once provided musical magicUnfortunately, nothing lasts forever Roadshow movies were once a thing, particularly in the 1960s. And certain characteristics defined the genre. You could reserve seats in advance; tickets were pricier than the norm; and the films were longer than usual, thus facilitating an intermission that mimicked the live theatrical experience. While it didn’t quite have live…

Swashbucklers on the silver screen

Swashbucklers on the silver screenPirates were always reliable entertainment. Lots of swordplay  When my lifelong movie habit began as a child in the early 1950s, adventure was the desired cinematic fare. There should be less talk and more action, preferably involving fights and chases. And please, no kissing! This made westerns the default favourite, but swashbucklers weren’t far behind.…

October 1962 a big week for pop culture

It was the month Johnny Carson and James Bond made their debut

October 1962 a big week for pop cultureIf you’re into pop culture anthropology, the first week of October 1962 offers a rich terrain for study. Within a period of five days, two notable events occurred. On Monday, Oct. 1, Johnny Carson took over hosting The Tonight Show, North America’s most popular late-night television slot. Four days later and across the Atlantic, the…

The legend of King Arthur is a gift that keeps on giving

Although it may be a fabrication, the story has powerful resonance

The legend of King Arthur is a gift that keeps on givingKing Arthur is back in the news, thanks to an archeological dig in Herefordshire, England. The dig site in question is Arthur’s Stone, a Neolithic-era burial chamber that’s somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 years old. It’s technically a dolmen with a capstone resting on nine uprights. And with an estimated weight of around 25…

Hollywood icons and the Second World War

Some Hollywood legends actually participated in the reality of war, rather than merely on celluloid

Hollywood icons and the Second World WarIf you’re like me, the most vivid combat images you have of the Second World War come from Hollywood movies. Whether it was John Wayne on Iwo Jima or Errol Flynn in Burma, heroism was very much the order of the day. And Americans were invariably at the centre of the action. Naturally, the historical…

Top Gun: Maverick fills the “Need for Speed”

The sequel does not disappoint

Top Gun: Maverick fills the “Need for Speed”Thirty-six years and some things pretty much remain the same. That can also be said of Tom Cruise, a.k.a Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Cruise, who turns 60 in July, still has that youthful look and is still up to his same tricks as the courageous and cocky test pilot persona reclaiming the top role in the…

What the Oscar night slap says about comedy and free speech

The 'Slap Heard ’Round Tinseltown' could end up being the final nail in the coffin for televised awards ceremonies

What the Oscar night slap says about comedy and free speechThe 94th Academy Awards ceremony will always be known for one stunning incident that overshadowed the entire evening – the Slap Heard ’Round Tinseltown. Comedian Chris Rock came on stage to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. He’s well known for his sarcastic wit and biting humour. He briefly focused attention on actor Javier…

Maureen O’Hara, Ireland’s Queen of Technicolor

O’Hara made more than 50 films including the perennial Christmas favourite Miracle on 34th Street

Maureen O’Hara, Ireland’s Queen of TechnicolorWith St. Patrick’s Day upon us, an Irish theme seems appropriate. And a little frivolity wouldn’t go amiss in these troubled times. It’s fair to say that Ireland has generally punched above its weight on the silver screen. Back in the 1930s, Maureen O’Sullivan (from County Roscommon) played Jane in the popular Tarzan film series,…

Was Wyatt Earp a righteous lawman or career criminal?

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was controversial. Murder accusations were levelled at Earp and Doc Holliday

Was Wyatt Earp a righteous lawman or career criminal?My first encounter with Wyatt Earp’s legend came via the 1957 movie Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Directed by John Sturges and starring Burt Lancaster as Earp, it was a dramatization built around the historical gunfight that took place in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, on Oct. 26, 1881. The picture it painted was heroic. You had…

A true story that inspired a classic western movie

Kidnapped by Commanches then rescued, Cynthia Ann Parker was a victim of cultural genocide twice over

A true story that inspired a classic western movieMovie enthusiasts invariably sing the praises of John Ford’s The Searchers. Released in 1956 and starring John Wayne, the film has been described as a masterpiece and shows prominently in critical lists of the best films ever made. It’s inspired by a true story. Or maybe that should be stories in the plural. The Searchers…
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