Thursday, September 30, 2010

R.I.P. Tony Curtis - The Boston Strangler (1968)

So Tony died yesterday at the age of 85. Most people remember him from movies like Some Like it Hot, The Defiant Ones, and Spartacus. I was always a fan of one of his lesser known roles as Albert DeSalvo, the title character in the 1968 thriller The Boston Strangler. It was a stark film based on the real-life serial killer. It used that very 1960's split screen panel effect to show different character perspectives at the same time, mostly his victims vs. the detectives that were hunting him. There has always been speculation that DeSalvo wasn't the real killer. Regardless, Tony played it super straight and reserved and it still holds up in comparison to today's rock video style slasher pics.

We'll miss you, Tony. He died in Vegas (duh, of course he did).

Monday, September 20, 2010

RIP Rudolph

Somebody on Twitter said that her ashes will be spread over the Island of Misfit Toys.

Billie Mae Richards dies at 88; Canadian actress best known as voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

more on her Rudolph trilogy here

Richards, who had suffered strokes, died Friday Sep 10th at her home in Burlington, Canada, west of Toronto, said Rick Goldschmidt, who documented the history of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and its producers.

Like most of the cast, Richards was a veteran of Canadian radio when the producers traveled north to assemble the voices for the program based on the 1949 song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Radio dramas were still going strong in Canada in the early 1960s, providing producers with a stable of voice actors, Richards told Filmfax magazine in 2005.

Her trademark — being able to speak like a young boy — was well-established when she took the part of Rudolph, the misfit reindeer who saves Christmas in the stop-motion animation production. She was credited as "Billy Richards," which further obscured her gender.

"Kids won't believe it when my grandchildren tell them that their grandmother is really Rudolph," Richard said in the Filmfax interview, but she said she could prove it by summoning the voice on the spot.

Producers Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass also went to Canada because they could record the voices for the special more cheaply, according to Goldschmidt.

Narrator Burl Ives, who voiced Sam the Snowman, was the show's only celebrity. He also was the only actor to receive long-term residuals, a point that rankled Richards and other Canadians in the production as "Rudolph" became a classic that is still shown during the holidays.

She earned residuals for three years, a business deal she regarded as a "sore subject," Richards said in 2000 in Toronto's National Post.

Yet Rudolph remained her favorite part, Richards once said, and she reprised the role in two sequels, "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" (1976) and "Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July" (1979).

Whatever Rudolph did, "he's doing it for a reason," she said in the Filmfax interview. "That's why it's been so popular. That and Burl Ives, for heaven's sake."

Born in 1921 in Toronto, Richards was the daughter of a silverware salesman who had aspired to a stage career.

She was taking dance lessons at age 2, and by 5 she was dancing and singing in stage revues.

During World War II, Richards joined the Canadian Navy and entertained troops in Canada and Europe.

After the war, she studied at the Lorne Greene Academy of Radio Arts in Toronto and went to work at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

For 25 years, Richards performed in radio dramas and had her greatest success playing a boy called the Kid on "Jake and the Kid," which aired in the 1950s.

She went on to act in more than 25 film and television projects, including Care Bears movies and animated TV shows.

As it became clear that she would be remembered for giving voice to Rudolph, "she really embraced it," Goldschmidt said.

As Richards said on National Public Radio in 2004: "What better legacy can you leave than a show that everybody loves?"

Richards had four children and 12 grandchildren as of 2005.

Oh, those Kooky Kuchars!

I skipped yoga class today and watched Kuchar movies instead. At least my Michael felt the stretch! I never realized eyebrows could be the shutters on the windows to the soul until today!

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Todd We Trust

When I heard about this remake of "Mildred Pierce" I just about choked on my gooseberry pie, but since it's from Todd "Far From Heaven" Haynes...well, I'll strap in for the ride:

Kevin McCarthy 86 @ 96

NYT obit here.
Coolest pic ever here:
King Donovan still deceased.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Wrong Side Of Art

Just a simply fantastic collection of Grindhouse Movie Posters can be found here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

UK Humor (Humour) Fest at

Arthur Askey
Will Hay has started to list Arthur Askey and Will Hay films. Both are great and the kind of films that beg the question of "Why no US distribution?" It's not like there's a wealth of exclusively understood-only-by-the-British references. I will say that for once when I went to archive-org to look them up, (ex: Askey and ex: Hay)I was not presented with endless garbage occluding my search as is so often the case. So, yay.

Will Hay in Windbag the Sailor

Arthur Askey in Back Room Boy

Will Hay in Convict 99

Arthur Askey in Bees in Paradise

Arthur Askey in Ghost Train

I'd prattle on about their history and careers, but resources for that will hopefully be evident through the links provided. Instead just enjoy the comedy, IMHO underappreciated in their own country. We tend to rhapsodize about the Marx Brothers and W.C Fields, but Hay and Askey (along with Formby and others)were providing top notch comedy for the era that just never made it over here. Well, now, over here is the world.

Ann Prentiss

Saturday, September 4, 2010