Category Archives: Little Bits of Movies Main Menu

Honor Blackman

Yes I know I’m a little bit late on this, but I’ve been busy with other writing projects. Still, I had to make time to remember Honor Blackman.

Honor Blackman was born on the 22nd of August, 1925. When Honor turned 15, her parents paid for acting lessons for her at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While holding down a clerical assistant job and following her graduation from acting school, Honor appeared in a few stage plays in small roles. Hungry for more, she began seeking out a career in acting.

Her film acting career started when she appeared as Emma in the 1947 film, Fame Is the Spur, in a minor, non-speaking uncredited role. But it was the 60s when Honor’s film career really took off. A very memorable performance as the Greek goddess of women, Hera in the classic Jason and the Argonauts from 1963 got her noticed and she began to land more roles in both TV and the movies. In 1968, she starred in the western flick Shalako, alongside Sean Connery… not for the first time.

Honor also went on to find TV fame with The Avengers. Bowler hat and umbrella used as a sword The Avengers not Iron Man punching Thanos in the face The Avengers. A show where Honor played Cathy Gale, the first female partner of slick British spy, John Steed. Of course one can’t talk about Honor and The Avengers without mentioning…

Honor also appeared in the greatest TV show of all time Columbo, alongside the legend that was Peter Falk in the Dagger of the Mind episode. Other TV roles include Dr Who, Minder on the Orient Express, a spin-off from the British TV show Minder, Casualty and perhaps her most famous TV role (that wasn’t The Avengers), The Upper Hand. The British version of the popular US sit-com, Who’s the Boss?

Honor Blackman’s acting career continued through the 80s and 90s and even into the 2000s. 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary featured Honor Blackman and she also appeared in the comedy/zombie flick Cockneys vs Zombies in 2012. Her screen acting career spanned eight decades.

Of course, I’ve saved the best for last. Honor Blackman was my all time favourite Bond girl in the quintessential James Bond flick, Goldfinger (1964). There’s just something(s) about this particular Bond film that make it a classic.

Pussy Galore

You have the best actor playing James Bond with Sean Connery, then you have Bond iconography such as the Aston Martin DB5 with all it’s gadgets which has gone down in cinematic history. There’s the greatest Bond song of all time sung by Shirley Bassey and then there’s the bad guy, Goldfinger himself with that immortal comeback line…

“No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”

–  Auric Goldfinger

Finally, we have Honor Blackman herself as the greatest Bond girl ever, Pussy Galore. She was sexy, straight talking and tough. Her introduction to the film is stuff of legend, the greatest Bond girl moment ever.

That sultry smile as Bond wakes up, those deep blue eyes and of course, that raspy voice. Honor was amazing in Goldfinger and more than held her own against Sean Connery.

Honor died of natural causes aged 94 in Lewes, East Sussex on the 5th of April, 2020.

Honor Blackman 2

“I’m told leather drives men up the wall. I like wearing it because it because it feels nice.”

– Honor Blackman

T-800 V T-800 – Fan Made Film

I love the classic sci-fi/thriller/action/horror film The Terminator. Released in 1984, the flick is still as amazing to watch today as it was 36 years ago. The sequels… I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them. Yes even the mighty and massively popular Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a movie I’m not as keen on as others. It’s a great popcorn action flick… but it’s an awful sequel. Still, there has always been a question about the two films I’ve always wanted answered. Who would win in a straight up fight between the bad T-800 from The Terminator and the good T-800 from T2? Thankfully, that question has been somewhat answered by Mikhail Kramer on his YouTube channel, KRAMER’S MEDIA.

Mikhail has a bit of a penchant for creating fan made movies using Grand Theft Auto V‘s director mode and I love it when fans do things like this. Looking through the films he has made via GTA V is impressive. Mikhail has created short movies and trailers for The Matrix and I Am Legend plus others. He’s even had a go at making a Robocop 4. Using a cocktail of various mods, video/audio from the films he’s influenced by and of course GTA V itself, Mikhail has a few videos on his channel well worth watching. But it’s his latest video, Terminator 1984 Vs Terminator 2 that I want to give mention to here on my blog.

Arnie

There are a few issues with the film. Of course there are restrictions. I mean, Mikhail is directing these short movies with very limited resources. Then he also has his hands tied by the limitations of just what GTA V‘s director mode can actually do, it’s not a dedicated film creation piece of software, it’s just a fun addition to a game. Then there are slight graphical issues that are out of his hands due to how GTA V is programmed. I have a few personal niggles with some of the action in the film too, mainly the fist fights between the two T-800s. They just go on a bit too long and feature some questionable physics… you’ll see what I mean.

But minor niggles aside, this short flick shows some great cinematic moments and direction. The truck/semi chase is a particular highlight, using very film-like camera angles. Coming in at a little over 30 minutes, Mikhail’s Terminator 1984 Vs Terminator 2 is a very well made and observed little film. The fact it was made with a piece of software that’s not a dedicated film editor is even more impressive.

You can watch Mikhail’s video right here…

 

 

Honestly, that’s pretty damn good eh? Full of Easter eggs and references to the first two  flicks. Certainly a lot more entertaining than Terminator: Dark Fate and that shit cost $196 million to make. Also, don’t forget to check out Mikhail Kramer’s YouTube channel for more great GTA V made fan films.

Covid-19 (Or Why I Detest The Human Race)

So I’m breaking protocol a little here. Usually, I use this blog to express my views and share memories of movies and games. But now and then, I do like to offer my view on things going on in the news… and right now there’s no bigger story then the Coronavirus and how people are reacting to it.

Now, Coronavirus is not exactly new. It was first discovered in the 1960s, but the thing about viruses is that they mutate and evolve. This particular strand of Coronavirus, Covid-19 is new and it is killing people. As of writing, there have been 244,364 confirmed cases worldwide with 10,007 deaths. And again, these are only the reported cases, I’m sure there are others that have not yet been confirmed. With a population of around 7,577,130,400 on this planet, one could say that 10,007 deaths isn’t a great deal. Some people are even saying this is just a bit of flu. Which for me, is a massive understatement. Yeah perhaps the flu kills more people worldwide… but there are various forms of flu and it has been around a lot longer than Covid-19. So if you are going to be as idiotic to compare the two, of course the flu will seem worse. But let me ask you this, when was the last time entire countries went into lock-down because of a bit of flu? Multiple countries, mainly in Europe are shutting down to try and prevent the spread of this virus. Others are beginning to put strict restrictions in place as I write this, with the possibility of also going into lock-down too (I expect us to go the same route within the week)… over a bit of flu? Then there are major companies such as Disney, who have shutdown their theme parks and they never shutdown their parks. McDonald’s have closed down their restaurants for inside eating are are only operating on drive-tru and takeaways, other big name establishments are going the same route. Films and TV studios are shutting down production on big, million dollar films and shows. Massive sporting events have been cancelled or postponed… but it’s just a bit of flu right?

It’s pretty clear that Covid-19 is a lot more serious than a bit of flu and I’m genuinely worried at the amount of people not taking this as seriously as it needs to be taken. There really seems to be two trains of thought over this whole thing. It’s not that serious (it is) or it’s the end of the world and time to panic. Now, neither attitude is helping the situation, we need people to be aware, but still remain calm. But the panic is the reason I’m writing this now as it just goes to show how disgusting we are as a human race. Particularly when it comes to shopping.

Look, these are scary and uncertain times, but running around the shops, ransacking the shelves of any and everything is fucking stupid. Those greedy, selfish imbeciles who queue up for hours before shops open, standing in line to grab anything they can. There are people out there that need shopping more than others, the elderly, disabled, etc. And sadly these folk have no chance of getting what they need when you have wankers filling up multiple trolleys with dozens of packs of toilet roll (why?), emptying the shelves of milk, pasta, tinned food. Then what about baby and toddler items, baby wipes, nappies, baby milk and food, etc? I have a 2.5 year old and a 3 month old. Now the 3 month old is easy enough to keep fed with breast feeding (not me, my girlfriend), but how am I supposed to explain to my 2.5 year old daughter that she can’t eat because some selfish pricks are stockpiling food, not giving others a chance? The baby wipes and nappies thing is a concern, but at least we still have hot water to clean them if needed or we could get some reusable nappies if things get desperate… but I can’t do that with the lack of baby food and milk. Yet the selfish out there continue to fill up their baskets and trolleys with as much as they can.

We have a 24 hour supermarket near by and I decided to go out on a late night shopping trip to help avoid the crowds. I was greeted by mostly empty shelves and fridges. Enjoy my slideshow…

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No vegetables, the meat section was completely empty, pet food gone, baby items are like gold dust, etc. I was walking around with no more than 5 items in my trolley and looking at all these ransacked shelves. There was this old woman trying to get some shopping done with a younger female, I guess her daughter. There was nothing for her. As I walked past, I offered up what little I had in my trolley as the scene broke my heart, I just thought if that were my Nan struggling to find food, I’d want someone to help. Yet despite my good nature, the young lady with her (I guess) mother turned down my offer. But what little I had, I was willing to give up just to help this old lady.

I’m currently off work with depression, but that shopping trip was one of the most depressing things I’ve experienced.

I managed to get a few items to hold us over, but this panic buying needs to stop. If everyone just shopped normally, stopped stockpiling, stopped panic buying then there would be more than enough for everyone. There isn’t a shortage of goods, just a shortage of intelligence. Just shop as normal, maybe do two shops a week instead of one if you’re really that concerned. But going out in droves and ransacking the shops is not helping this situation at all.

Now I’m sure some, a very small % of these people are trying to shop not only for themselves but others, elderly relatives and so on. But the majority of them are clearly just being selfish scum. There are even people bulk buying goods to then sell them at a hugely increased price on the internet or in their own shops. That’s fucking low, profiting from such a worldwide problem. I’ve even read stories and seen videos of shop workers being verbally and psychically abused just for doing their jobs, being blamed for the stock shortages. If only there was a pandemic that could wipe out these selfish, uneducated pricks.

But do you know what annoying me even more than any of that? Covid-19 spreads from person to person very easily and the chances of it spreading and even mutating further is multiplied when people are in groups. So let me just get this right, being in groups massively increases the chances of contracting Covid-19 and helping it to spread. So let me ask you this, given we know that being in groups is a bad idea… why are people lining up in large groups at supermarkets, all grabbing things off shelves and increasing the chances of spreading Covid-19? Just stop and think for a second. People are fighting each other for produce in an attempt to fend of Covid-19 and by doing so, they are increasing the chances of spreading Covid-19. They’re fucking idiots.

And to anyone out there ransacking the shop shelves for themselves or to make money by selling items on and to those smaller shops upping their prices (there’s one near me selling hand sanitiser for £7.50 a bottle when it’s worth closer to £2), to all you people. You are fucking low-life scum. You’re taking food from people who need it most, from the elderly, from babies. I’ll survive on a cheese sandwich, but when your taking food and items I need to care for my children… fuck you. I hope this coronavirus hits you hard. I hope the police issue huge fines to those who are price gouging and force you to give your stock away to charities. I hope your business closes down so you are left desperate like how you’re leaving so many others.

Even during World War II, people didn’t behave like this, there was solidarity, there was appreciation for each other, there was respect. And that was with constant air-raids and Nazi invasions. I thought that we as a people, as a species were better than this… clearly not. I’ve seen what humanity can be like the last few days and it’s disgusting.

My elderly mother had to go out this morning and get us in some basics for our babies, because supermarkets are opening earlier for pensioners. There’s something very wrong about that, especially given the fact it’s the elderly who are in high risk of contracting Covid-19. I should be looking after my mother, not the other way around. But sadly, due to the selfish people out there stockpiling and profiting from this virus, needs must.

Stop the panic buying and stockpiling and just shop normally, panic doesn’t help anyone and is just going to increase the spreading of Covid-19. Stay indoors as much as you can, only leave if it’s essential. In order to beat this virus, we need calm and thoughtfulness, consideration for others. We don’t need panic and people fighting over some toilet roll.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Terry Jones, Spam, Spam And Spam

I really don’t think I can write anything that hasn’t already been said about Monty Python. A pioneering group of comedians who changed British, and indeed, the world of comedy forever. I could sit here and talk about things like the parrot sketch, the lumberjack song, silly walks, spam and all that… but it’s been done hundreds of times over already

The sad news of Terry Jones’ death, while upsetting, was hardly a shock. He’d been suffering from dementia for a while now. He was diagnosed with the awful disease back in 2015, or as he put it…

“I’ve got dementia, you know. My frontal brain lobe has absconded.”

–  Terry Jones

Yet even while on limited time and slowly loosing his humanity, his mind, his very person, he still remained active. According to Terry’s very close friend and fellow Python, Michael Palin, Terry loved to go for long walks, enjoyed a beer, loved watching classic movies and would talk as much as he could, right up to the point where the dementia eventually took over. Having lost family members to dementia myself, I know just how soul destroying it is.

Terry Jones

I can’t really remember how or when my love of Monty Python began, but I do remember my older brother having a copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail on VHS and us watching and re-watching it, almost to the point of it becoming religious. It was probably the first film that I recall that I could watch and watch, yet never get bored of it. I knew all of the dialogue by heart and would quote the film in every day life. I could re-enact scenes with pinpoint accuracy. Knew the lyrics to all the songs (“I have to push the pram a lot.”). I loved and still love the absurd silliness of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Of course, there were more Python films. The epicly funny and hugely controversial Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the bizarre Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. They did several live shows over the years including a reunion with all the remaining Python members in 2014, Monty Python Live (Mostly). This was where his fellow cast first noticed something was not right with Terry. He was known among his colleges to be fantastic at remembering lines. But during this live show, he had to rely on cleverly hidden cue-cards and a teleprompter to deliver his dialogue correctly and on time. If you have ever seen the show, then you can really tell Terry was struggling at times, yet he still did it for the fans and for himself.

Terry co-wrote and directed all of the main Python films, but his talents went way beyond just being part of one of the most famous and influential comedy troupes ever. He had a very successful TV and movie career outside of all the Monty Python stuff as a writer, director and actor. He wrote the screenplay for one of my all time favourite childhood films…

Labyrinth

Labyrinth, a wonderful melding of Jim Henson’s puppets, fantasy story telling and David Bowie’s codpiece. Loved this film as a child and still adore it today. You can really tell Terry wrote this one, the humour is there, it has that distinct Jones flavour and style. Terry also wrote and directed the overlooked Absolutely Anything. A fun comedy about a man (Simon Pegg) who is given the power to have/do anything he wants by some aliens… who are all played by the other surviving Pythons. It’s also the final film of Robin Williams.

Terry also loved history and wrote many books covering medieval history for children and adults. Terry Jones’s War on the War on Terror was a collection of articles and editorials published as a paperback condemning the Iraq War. He also wrote several poems that were featured in the long running Poetry Review magazine. In 2016, Terry Jones received a Lifetime Achievement award for his outstanding contribution to television and film.

There is just way too much to cover that this man was responsible for. His talent never seemed to end. He was funny, articulate, charming, clever and sadly, now gone.

I guess there is only really one way to bring this article to an end…

Life of Brian

Terry Jones 2

“I don’t think people who have children are acting selfishly or unselfishly. Having a child who’ll be loved, to parents who love each other, is the important thing.”

–  Terry Jones

The Film That (Probably) Killed John Wayne And Several Others

Hey folks. So first off and for my regular readers. I know I didn’t publish much on this blog last year. I was busy concentrating on other writing projects and that’s pretty much how things will be this year too. I made some great connections in 2019 and got my foot in a few doors, wrote a lot, published 2 books and almost finished a 3rd too, which I’ll be publishing in the next couple of months. Then I also have a few other big writing projects simmering away for 2020. So I won’t have the time to dedicate to this blog as I have in the past, but I’ll still be publishing a few articles through the year as and when I can.

And for my first article of 2020, I take a look at the film that most probably caused the death of one of Hollywood’s greatest acting legends, as well as other connected deaths and some interesting tit-bits about the film as a whole…

The Man

Marion Mitchell Morrison, a.k.a John Wayne, a.k.a The Duke. One of the all time Hollywood greats, a true tough guy known for playing heroic cowboys, cops, soldiers and much more. A multi-award winning/nominated actor, including winning the Oscar for Best Actor in 1963 for the film True Grit. A man with a worldwide fanbase that included my granddad. As a child growing up, I remember whenever we’d go round to visit my grandparents, granddad would always have his films on and 9 times out of 10, it would be a John Wayne flick.

John Wayne 2

It was the 11th of June, 1979 when John Wayne died of stomach cancer… but the fact he died of cancer is not that unusual. He was a heavy smoker and had a 6 pack a day habit. It’s the fact that more than 90 other people who all worked on the same film as John had developed some form of cancer and by 1980, 46 of those had died from the disease. That film was 1956’s The Conqueror.

The Film

I guess that today, some would call the film “racist” or “culturally inappropriate” due to the fact that white American actor John Wayne plays the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, complete with some questionable make-up to make him darker and appear more Mongolian. But even if we ignore the slight racism by today’s standards… it’s just not a very good film at all. It was critically panned when released and has gone down in cinematic history as one of those “so bad it’s good” flicks.

The Conqueror poster

Directed by Dick Powell, produced by Howard Hughes (yes THE Howard Hughes) and starring John Wayne along with Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Pedro Armendáriz. The Conqueror is a hot mess of a film. From terrible miscasting to a nonsensical and boring plot, with some of the worst dialogue you’ll hear in a movie…

“I feel this Tartar woman is for me.”

– John Wayne

The Conqueror tells the story of Genghis Khan (John Wayne) falling in love with, Bortai (Susan Hayward). When Genghis Khan kidnaps Bortai, he kick-starts a war. Long story short, there’s some fighting, betrayal and Bortai ends up falling for the Mongol chief and they live happily ever after. As stupid as the plot is… it is loosely based on fact… very, very loosely.

As I said before, The Conqueror is a terrible film and is considered one of the worst films ever made and definitely one of John Wayne’s poorest flicks. It’s terribleness and being slated by critics at the time led to the closure of legendary production studio RKO Radio Pictures due to losing so much money. And if killing off a world renowned film studio was not enough, it could be argued it also killed off a lot of it’s cast and crew too.

The Cancer Controversy

And so we get to the meat of this article, just how can a film give more than 90 people cancer? Well it all boils down to where they chose to shoot the film… in the vicinity of a nuclear weapon testing site. Pretty much all exterior shots were filmed at St. George, Utah which was several miles downwind of the United States government’s Nevada National Security Site. The same location with a good chunk of nuclear fallout from testing during Operation Upshot–Knothole in 1953. And if that was not bad enough, then Howard Hughes paid to have 60 tons of the dirt from the site shipped back to Hollywood so any filming done at the studio there would match up with the location.

Operation Upshot–Knothole

The deaths include, but not limited to the film’s director, Dick Powell, who died of cancer in 1963. Co-star Pedro Armendáriz took his own life in 1963 after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1960 and learned it became terminal later. Other actors like Agnes Moorehead died of uterine cancer in 1974. Leading lady, Susan Hayward was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1974 and died after suffering a seizure in 1975. Then of course, there was John Wayne himself who died of stomach cancer in 1979.

And that was just the main cast and crew as many others also died from various forms of cancer by 1980 that worked on the film. Then there were cancer scares of people not even in the film at all. Both of John Wanye’s sons, Michael and Patrick visited the location where the film was being  shot and both of them developed cancer related conditions. Michael with skin cancer and Patrick had a tumour removed from his breast. Even Susan Hayward’s son, Tim had to have a benign tumour removed from his mouth. Plus other visitors had to be treated for cancer related illnesses.

Howard Huges

Then we get to eccentric business magnate Howard Hughes who was the main producer on the film. Well if you know anything about Howard, then you know he went a bit off the rails in his latter years… and that’s putting it mildly. He went completely bat-shit crazy. Becoming a recluse, living in a Las Vegas hotel for years and storing his urine in bottles were some of his more tame endeavours. While hiding away from public life, he bought the rights to The Conqueror outright and every single print of the film for around $12 million. He reportedly would watch the film on a loop day and night during his final years before dying of kidney failure in 1976.

Around 220 people worked on the film, an estimated 91 of them developed some form of cancer and a total of 46 of them died due to the disease. And those numbers don’t include visitors to the set or the Native American Paiute extras who also worked on the film but were not credited. So the cancer deaths could very well be higher.

I once read a review of a film where the critic made the jokey comment that the film was so bad that it gave them cancer. Well in the case of The Conqueror that claim could very well be true.

John Wayne 3

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

– John Wayne