Friday, 22 July 2016

Happy Birthday Terence Stamp!

Wishing a very Happy Birthday to this guy! A great favourite of mine, Terence Stamp turns 78 today. I hope he's having a good one!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Happy Birthday Natalie Wood!

Today was the birthday of Natalie Wood. So a very Happy Birthday to this precious soul.
Natalie is such an inspiration to me, she worked hard and always strove to do her best even when her life was not easy. She was vivacious, kind, talented and warm. For fans she remains, spirited Judy, lovely Maria, an actress they watched grow from a little girl into a beautiful woman. For us it is a treasure that she left such a fascinating body of work and was such a genuine, beautiful soul.

"I was always a lot tougher than what most people thought"
-Natalie wood

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Cathy Come Home (1966)

Broadcast on the 16th of November 1966, Cathy Come Home was part of an anthology series called The Wednesday Play, TV films that often dealt with issues affecting the wider British public. Cathy (Carol White) and Reg (Ray Brooks) are a young married couple and their life is initially good. However when Reg loses his job after an accident they are evicted from their apartment. With little money and three young children they are forced to seek shelter with relatives, and are eventually forced to live in a caravan, squat in run down houses and are finally forced into a halfway house for the homeless. Unable to find a job Reg abandons his family and Cathy is forced to watch in agony as her children are taken away by social services.

Directed by Ken Loach Cathy Come Home was watched by 12 million people on it's original broadcast. It put the issues of homelessness to the forefront of people's minds, addressing a subject that was previously seen as taboo. The following year a charity, 'Crisis', was formed as a direct response to the show. The film also caused a review in the practice of separating wives from their husbands when in homeless shelters. Written by Jeremy Sandford, whose real life dealings with the homeless had inspired the screenplay, the film was shot realistically, shot on location, with many scenes unrehearsed. Sean and Steven (Cathy's sons) were played by Carol White's real sons of the same names. Loach admitted that White was unaware of what would happen in the final scene, making her reactions all the more genuine.

Filmed in a gritty, documentary style the film used extensive use of voice over narration, as different characters described their lives in the squalid conditions they found themselves in. The film is both humanising and harrowing, Cathy's helplessness is heartbreaking, and she pays the ultimate price for something that was not her fault. The film is an expose of the system, the cruelty of those in charge and the shocking conditions that many Britons were forced to live in. At the end of the film it states that in the years following the war Germany had built more houses for its expanding population than Britain. The film had such an impact that for years afterwards people would try and give Carol White money, believing she really was homeless. In 2000 the BFI voted it the second greatest British television program of the twentieth century.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Happy Birthday Eva Marie Saint

Wishing a very Happy Birthday to the wonderful Eva Marie Saint who turns 92 today! May she grace us with her presence for many more years to come. I highly recommend watching her in On the Waterfront and North by North West. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: Double Feature

Double Feature is the third in a series of autobiographies by Terence Stamp (and the last in chronological order). It deals with his life in the sixties, his growing fame after his film debut, Billy Budd, his relationship with model Jean Shrimpton and his experiments with drugs and mysticism.

The book is sectioned into three parts which Stamp labels as, It Begins, The Great Middle and An End and a Beginning. But they could also be classified as 'Before Jean', 'With Jean' and 'After Jean'. Their relationship is at the heart of the book. There is an element of coldness to Jean that even Stamp couldn't hide with his loving words. He always seemed to love her more than she loved him. Stamp describes the relationship beautifully though and she was very much the love of his life.

"She would sleep in my arms like a creature from an ancient forest. Turning in the night I would stir, her perfume reaching into my subconscious, and I'd become aware of our breath in unison. If I traced the outline of her delicate shoulder with the inside of my wrist I didn't know where her skin ended and mine began; often, in that dark closeness the layer of separation between us would dissolve and I would be her" p. 140

"Mornings, I would drive us down Fountain to Gower, kiss goodbye and wait for her long-fingered wave as she cornered on to Sunset. After work I could hardly wait to get out of costume and run across the street to the little parking lot where she would be waiting in the car, head lowered over a magazine, her hair tumbling about her face. As I neared she would look up, and every day I gasped at the perfection of her" p. 134

Following their separation Stamp suffered a breakdown and in his depression turned to marijuana to ease his sadness. He formed close friendships with the cast of Blue and also began looking at different forms of mysticism, eventually deciding to travel to India, where he was to spend time in an ashram. Essentially however much of Stamp's searching in the final part of the book is because of Jean, and the hole she left within him which he continually tried to fill throughout his life. Stamp is honest and sensitive and never tries to cover up his own flaws and failings. What was supposed to be the best time of his life was also the worst.

"sometime around three or four a.m. I woke up, realised I was on my own in our bed and felt inconsolable. I searched my dressing-room for the only article of hers I possessed, the famous lavender jumper with the snag on the shoulder…I found the sweater, now paper-thin, rolled it into a ball and held it beside me on the pillow. In the blackness, that moment when the spirit is at its lowest ebb, I inhaled the faint memory, imagining her astral body lying beside me. In the morning I was ashamed and buried the woolly at the bottom of my chest of drawers, but neither it nor I was allowed to sleep in peace" p. 291

Stamp touches briefly on all the films he starred in during the sixties (except for Poor Cow). His initial nerves in Billy Budd, the tense atmosphere on the set of Far from the Madding Crowd, the difficulties faced on Modesty Blaise and his unique experiences with the Italian directors, Fellini and Pasolini. Stamp worked with some of the most famous actors of the day including, Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier, Monica Vitti, Julie Christie, Peter Finch and Karl Malden. As well as directors such as William Wyler, John Schlesinger and Ken Loach.

Stamp's story is often heartbreaking but it is a fascinating look at the era and a wonderful yet also tragic  love story between two of the biggest stars of the decade. Stamp's attempts to rebuild his life are sometimes painful to read and I think his friend Peggy Lipton described him best when she asked,
"You're the lost boy, aren't you?" p. 236
Yet he remains likeable and sweet and I think the final word should be given to him:
"Sometimes, driving aimlessly, even asleep in dream, I find myself taking the turn off Sunset Boulevard heading south on San Diego freeway, towards L.A Airport, on my way to meet the flight that brought her to me. With a start, I realise it's only a play of shadows falling on the mind, and ashes of memory dry in my mouth. I feel the chasm open in my chest. It is there, the heart concealed within the heart, an emptiness inside me that mourns, that seeps darkness into my daily existence. I grope towards the ache I've buried alive which constantly smoulders, in the hope of sealing up the ancient state, but it won't forget the moment it glowed and longs to be rekindled. To be warm. To come home. The very own dark star that leads me on, that takes me to far-flung dusty corners. Watching. Listening." p. 336


Saturday, 2 July 2016

Rest in Peace Bud Spencer

Carlo Pedersoli (Bud Spencer)

We lost the indomitable actor Bud Spencer on Monday at the age of 86. Rest in peace Bud and thank you for the laughter and joy you gave to the world. He was a man of many talents, acting, swimming, singing, writing, politics, the list goes on, but he was also a gentle soul and an honest man. He will be missed.
Originally published on my blog: