Thursday, 23 March 2017
Sunday, 19 March 2017
"I think the diva is kind of a cliche. My definition of a diva is somebody whose talent does not match what they're trying to play, so all this temperament comes out."
"I had given birth seven weeks before we started preparing for ['Dangerous Liaisons']. For the first time in my life, I had these great breasts. It'll never happen again, but for one brief, shining season, I had the most incredible breasts. James Acheson, the costume designer did the costumes, and I just loved it because they pushed my breasts up and made me have cleavage. I guess I should be saying something more intellectual about the film, but I just remembered how great it felt to have those breasts."
"The best thing I have is the knife from 'Fatal Attraction'. I hung it in my kitchen. It's my way of saying 'don't mess with me'."
"It's gotten out of control. It's taking bigger and bigger names to make smaller and smaller films. I worry that important films without a big name attached won't get made at all."
"Celebrity is death - celebrity - that's the worst thing that can happen to an actor."
Six time Oscar-nominated actress, the marvellous Glenn Close is 70 years old today!
Saturday, 18 March 2017
Sunday, 12 March 2017
It's the birthday today of our Patron Saint of Pizzazz, Miss Liza Minnelli! All hail.
Also worthy of note, however, if the fact that it is forty-five years since that magnificent cinematographic work of genius - the film that launched our elfin icon to international super-stardom - Cabaret was first released in cinemas.
I first saw it when it appeared on telly (lord knows when!), but I recall it had a life-changing influence on me. Not only was there the whiff of (divine) decadence and sleaze, the presence of a (slightly warped) heroine who gestured and emoted her way through a series of fantabulosa camp torch songs, and an "Emcee" of sinister-yet-thoroughly-enjoyable naughtiness, but also - and to me, this was everything - the sex-god that was Michael York playing a character admitting he was gay! I adored it way back then in my closeted youth, and it remains my favourite film of all time to this day...
Mr Bob Fosse is an absolute genius of a director. His sassy, vivacious, dance-oriented style is right up my street - and it is no surprise that his other memorable film Sweet Charity is also one of my faves - as one might expect given his long stage background, and the fact he was also the choreographer for such classic musicals as Kiss Me Kate, The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees. Yet, so it is said, he practically had to beg the producers to allow him on board for Cabaret [in Hollywood then, as now, commerce rather than quality is all; and Sweet Charity flopped at the box office (for some strange reason)]. But they gave in, thankfully - and the rest is history...
Facts about Cabaret:
- Bob Fosse decided at an early stage not to make a film version of the stage musical. Instead, he revisited Christopher Isherwood's original works upon which the stage adaptation was originally based, and included characters and plot lines (especially those involving Fritz, Natalia and Max) from I Am a Camera and Berlin Stories that did not appear in the stage version.
- Mr Isherwood himself felt Liza Minnelli was too talented for the role. Sally, an amateur talent who lived under the delusion she had star quality, was in his opinion the antithesis of "Judy Garland's daughter".
- Two of the original stage show's leading musical numbers Don't Tell Mama and Married were removed from the film version, yet both actually appeared in the film. The former's bridge section appears as instrumental music played on Sally's gramophone; the latter is initially played on the piano in Fraulein Schneider's parlour and is later heard at Sally and Brian's picnic in a German translation (Heiraten) sung by cabaret singer Greta Keller.
- The song Maybe This Time was not written for the film. Kander and Ebb had written it years earlier for Kaye Ballard (and thus it was ineligible for an Academy Award nomination in 1973).
- Cabaret has the distinction of winning the most Oscars (eight in total, including Best Actress for Liza, Best Supporting Actor for Joel Grey and Best Director for Mr Fosse), without winning Best Picture.
Friday, 10 March 2017
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Bonny and Read were pretty lookin' people, but I can tell you people, they were the devil's children
By fortuitous coincidence, today is not only International Women's Day, but also the (purported) 320th anniversary of the birth of one of history's most feared pirates - who was even more notorious due the fact she was of the so-called "fairer sex" - Anne Bonny. Between her and her pirate chum Mary Read, that testosterone-fuelled world of contraband, looting and buccaneering must have been quaking in its boots!
From The Way of the Pirates here is Anne's story:
It is hard to separate the legend from the facts of Anne Bonny....and here's Mary's:
...There are a lot of stories about her teen years; some of them even claim that she murdered a servant girl with a knife, and there is one about a young man that she put in the hospital for several weeks, after his failed attempt to sexually assault her.
When she was sixteen years old, she fell in love with a small-time pirate James Bonny, who just wanted her estate. Her father was against their relationship, but she was stubborn and married him... so he turned her out of his home.
James took his wife to the pirates' hideout of New Providence. He had a hard time supporting her, and in the end he became a pirate informer for the governor, Woodes Rogers. Anne was disappointed because she had made many pirate friends. With the help of her good friend, Pierre, a celebrated homosexual who ran a famous "ladies' establishment", Anne left her husband. She ran away with Calico Jack Rackham, romantic Pirate Captain, who even offered to buy her from Anne's husband.
...[When she fell pregnant by him] he left her in Cuba to deliver the baby. There are several theories about what happened to Anne's first child. Some people think that she just abandoned her, some believe that Calico had a friend with a family in Cuba who agreed to raise their child. Some even believe that her child died at birth.
After few months, she returned to Rackham's ship, but now the infamous Mary Read was also on board...
Mary Read was born in Devon in the late 17th century ...Her father had died before she was born and her half-brother Mark passed away soon afterwards. Mary's paternal grandmother supported Mary and her mother, only because she thought that her grandson Mark was still alive. To keep the death of Mary's brother as secret from his grandmother Mary was raised as a boy, pretending to be her older brother.Cross-dressing. Swashbuckling. A celebrated homosexual brothel-keeper. A romantic Pirate Captain. Hints of lesbianism...
When Mary Read was about thirteen years old, her grandmother died. Mary still dressed as a boy and with boyish habits, had to find a job. She became a footboy to a wealthy French woman, who lived in London. Unsatisfied with her current position, she escaped and boarded a Man-o-War. Few years passed, and she became bored again. This time she joined the Army, where she met her future husband. After confessing love and true gender to him, they left the army, married and opened an Inn called Three Horseshoes near Castle Breda.
Mary Read was always surrounded by death. After just a few months of marriage, her husband got sick and died. Desperate, she just wanted to escape from everything and ...boarded a Dutch ship that sailed to the Caribbean. Almost at the reach of its destination, Mary's ship was attacked and captured by Calico Jack, who took all the English captured sailors as part of his crew. Unwillingly she became a pirate. However, soon after, she started to like a pirate way of life. When she had a chance to leave Rackham's ship, Mary decided to stay.
On Rackham's ship, she met Anne Bonny. Being the only women on the ship and sharing a lot in common, they quickly became good friends. Some people believe that Mary Read was in a romantic relationship with Anne Bonny, Rackham or even one of the crewmembers.
However Mary's pirate career ended in October 1720... Captain Barnet, ex-pirate, now commander in the British Navy attacked Rackham's anchored ship "Revenge". Almost the entire crew was drunk. They were celebrating all night because they managed to capture a Spanish commercial ship. The fight was short because only Mary and Anne resisted. However, in the end, they were also overpowered.
The crew of "Revenge" was taken to Port Royal to stand trial. The trial was a big sensation because the background of the female prisoners was reviled. Anne and Mary were women who escaped from traditional restrictions and in their way, fought for equality between men and women.
Everybody was found guilty for the crime of piracy. The sentence was death by hanging. However, Anne and Mary were spared, because they claimed to be pregnant.
Mary died in a Jamaican prison from fever, but the fate of Anne Bonny is unknown.
These two women have been a constant source of fascination for me over the years. Arr!
Monday, 6 March 2017
"[My face] looks like a disreputable bloodhound, a melancholic camel or an apologetic yak."
“I plead for my life! I plead for justice!...oooh, I'm a miserable pleader!”
“Very clever, all those boys are, very clever boys. I think they should turn professional. They tell me now they've learned to put on make-up. Soon they're going to use it on the stage!”
"I'm flabbergasted! My gast has never been so flabbered!"
It is the centenary today of one of Britain's greatest and best-loved comedians, Mr Frankie Howerd...
From The Twentieth Century Files blog:
Fellow comedian Barry Cryer described his career as “a series of comebacks”, which spanned six decades. Beginning his professional career in the late 40s, he got a real boost in the 60s appearing on That Was The Week That Was and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum in London’s West End. After featuring in Carry On Doctor, he started to get his own shows on TV, especially in Up Pompeii!, appearing as slave Lurcio. The show got its film version in 1971, and Howerd played versions of Lurcio in the follow ups Up The Chastity Belt and Up The Front.Master of the innuendo and the "stage whisper", Frankie was certainly one of the great "Queens of Comedy"!
Throughout his early career he had to hide his homosexuality (acts between consenting males were illegal until 1967). He once said to Cilla Black, ”I wish to God I wasn’t gay.” In 1958, he met wine waiter Dennis Heymer while dining with Sir John Mills. Heymer became Howerd’s lover and manager, and they remained together until Howerd’s death.
Howerd contracted a virus whilst on a trip up the Amazon river in 1991. Suffering respiratory problems the following year, he died of heart failure on 19 April 1992, aged 75, just one day before fellow comedian Benny Hill.
We miss him.
Francis Alick "Frankie" Howerd, OBE (6th March 1917 – 19th April 1992)