If you have been or are a diehard admirer of The Beatles, like myself, you won’t find much that is new in Ron Howard’s recent documentary despite claims to the contrary. There are a few pieces of footage here and there, but if you have watched the definitive, ten hour, Beatles Anthology, or any other of the many documentaries like the Maysles Brothers What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. (1964), The Compleat Beatles (1982), the multiple releases of The Ed Sullivan Show performances or more recent works like Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) and The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006) along with the many bootleg copies of concert tapes that have surfaced over the years, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, even with the participation of Apple, brings little that you have not seen already to the table. Continue reading
What would happen if you took an arrogant, caustic and cynical New York City intellectual and transplanted him into the heartland of America? That was the premise of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s hit play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. The play premiered on Broadway in October 1939 and ran for more than two years, 730 performances to be exact. Legend has it Moss Hart came up with the idea after a visit from the prickly theater critic, New Yorker columnist, Alexander Woollcott, to his country home and began making one demand after another, including shutting off the heat and insisting on a bed time snack consisting of cookies and a milkshake. Woollcott was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table, a self-proclaimed group of witty and sometimes verbally vicious intellectuals trading barbs and witticisms. They met every day for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel. Among the members were Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Robert E. Sherwood, Heywood Broun, Ruth Hale (Broun’s wife) and Marc Connelly. There were other members, some officially part of the group and others who were unofficial occasional visitors. Continue reading
When Jimi Hendrix arrived back in the states from England, he along with his new backup musicians, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, came back as rock stars. In Britain, The Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded a series of singles including, Hey Joe and Purple Haze. In 1967, the Experience came to America and really hit it big at the Monterey Pop Festival with Hendrix famously setting his guitar on fire. After the festival, the band went on tour with the headlining teen pop group, The Monkees, which Hendrix nicknamed, the Plastic Beatles. It was an odd pairing to say the least. The crowds were mostly fans of The Monkees, young teenybopper girls and their mothers. The site of the psychedelic rock threesome with their wild clothes, permed hair and hard rock music must have shocked the mothers in the audience out of this house dresses. They must of thought the group ranked to the left of obscene. Continue reading
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers and peace and love to everyone all over the world.
Young Peter Bogdanovich was an obsessive film lover watching over 400 films a year. In the days long before home video, this was an especially impressive count. Peter keep a file of 3×5 index cards with notes on every film he watched. In his twenties, while acting, directing and producing various theater productions including an off-Broadway production of Clifford Odets, The Big Knife, with Carroll O’Conner, Bogdanovich met Dan Talbot. Talbot, owner of the legendary New Yorker Repertory Theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, recently began programming classic films. Peter lived only a few blocks from the theater. In exchange, for free admission to the theater, Bogdanovich offered to write program notes for the films Talbot was showing. They had an agreement. Continue reading
In case you have not had enough of this political season, here are four films to watch while waiting for tonight’s results.
Arsenic and Old Lace is the story of two sweet and charming elderly sisters who happen to be mass murderers. It’s a delightfully hysterical farcical comedy with some dark overtones. Perfect for this time of the year and especially on Halloween. Continue reading